Thursday, August 6, 2015

Celebrating Colorado

Colorado turned 139 years old this past Saturday.
We decided to celebrate both the birthday and the State of Colorado by visiting one of her treasures:
Red Rock Canyon Open Space.

I'd never been to Red Rock Canyon Open Space before.
In fact, as a third generation Coloradan, born and raised in the City of Colorado Springs, I am ashamed to say I'd never even heard of Red Rock Canyon Open Space until a few years ago.
I grew up spending many happy days throughout my childhood exploring Garden of the Gods.
I couldn't even tell you how many times in my lifetime I have driven past the 787 acres that comprise this spectacular treasure tucked unnoticed in the canyon along side of Highway 24.
How did I miss it?
How did I not know it was there?

The short answer is that until the early 2000's it was owned for over eighty years by a private family.
It was not on public lands.
It was private and inaccessible.
The story of how the City of Colorado Springs acquired this area will not be recounted here in this post, but I have provided a link for those of you whom might be interested in reading about about it.

I wish my uncles were alive.
No doubt in their days of exploration of the Colorado Springs area during the 1920's and 1930's, I have ever reason to speculate that they visited this place while looking for arrowheads and places to climb and explore.
They knew about such secret places.
They had explored them.
I doubt that rumors of a man with a gun protecting the place would have kept them out.
I just wish I could ask them about it.

This area, known as the "secret Garden of the Gods," is truly, as the article I linked for you says, 
a geological wonder.

If you have been to the Garden of the Gods, you have seen similar outcroppings of red sandstone rock as you will see in this open space.
In fact, both areas are one whole geographic ecosystem.
Only in modern times have they been viewed as separate systems.

I am not a geologist, though I wish I had studied more of this field, but the rock formations in my hometown have always fascinated me.  


Having never been to Red Rock Canyon Open Space,
Jim and I did not know what to expect when we set out for our adventure.
We tried to explore the area last summer when son Jonathan and grandson Atticus were here.
We only got a photo to commemorate the start of the hike when the rains came.

This year, we again took a few photos to commemorate the day and
hoped rain would not end our hike.
(Typical blogger activity: take photos for the blog at the start of any adventure.)

The smile is a real one.
Feeling well and energetic,
I was so excited to finally get out and do a hike with my man and my dog.
There is no better way to celebrate Colorado Day than by taking in her beauty 
with the ones you love.

Our first task was to choose a trail to explore.
We started down the path.
The day was warm, but the clouds were not threatening a storm.  
They provided a welcomed cloud cover from the sun.

I love that blue Colorado sky.
I love those red rocks.
Yes, Colorado is colorful.
Colorado means:  colored red.
Now you know how Colorado got her name.


Enjoy photos from our walk.


I believe this peaceful looking lake is not without its controversy.
It was built by the previous owners of the area to catch and store rain water.
That is against the law in the State of Colorado.
Colorado Water Laws are very strict.
Retaining pools are illegal.
Pools like these have been dry during periods of drought.
Spring rains caused them to flood and damage the surrounding trails.
On this day, the pool was beautiful and serene.
You can read about the damage and the water controversy here if you are interested.


Look, the sky is changing.
That is a part of celebrating Colorado.
Her weather is quite unpredictable.



I honestly don't know what this monument is commemorating.
I failed to record it in my notes.
I was more interested in getting a photo of the Peak (Pikes Peak).
It is the distant mountain in the center of the photo.


This past spring many of the hiking trails in Red Rock Canyon Open Space were washed out by spring rains.

This waterlogged field, covered in natural grasses,  was quite marshy and wet.


Look closer.
Can you see the dragonfly?
(It's barely visible in the center of the photo.)


Dragonflies, symbols of change
a change in perspective and self-realization,
have been showing themselves to me on several long walks Jim and I have taken this summer.
They have become an important symbol of what I have been experiencing this year.

This self realization has at its source the type of change that comes from
mental
and 
emotional 
maturity,
and from the 
understanding 
of the deeper meaning of life.  

Dragonflies have become my symbol of the entry into my seventies.
I am seventy.
I am learning to embrace the changes in my life and in my perspective of life.
I am reminded how important this time of life is when I encounter unexpected sightings of the dragonfly.

They are so magical.
Their iridescence
 reminds me that it is good to end
one's self-centered illusions.
It is time to have
a clear vision of the realities of life.*

Live in the moment.
Live life to fullest in that moment.

   Few things are more healing to the mind and the soul than walking through areas where one can observe and reflect upon nature.

I recognize and acknowledge the awesome power that created this geological specimen.


Since my earliest days I have marveled at the trees that seem to grow out of rocks.
It is a reminder that while the soil may seem unfriendly,
and
it may appear as if nothing will grow in such circumstances,
there are examples all through nature that show us
that environment is not the only predictor of growth or of survival.
Life springs forth under the worst of circumstances.
I love the lessons of nature.


Colorado,
you give us much to celebrate.
I love this place, the place of my birth.
I'm so grateful to have this beauty just a few short miles from my home.


The hike ends with a reflection.



We have found a new place to explore and enjoy.
We will be back.

Jim and Boston posed for one final photo,

while I counted these two among the blessings of my day.

* Reflection on the dragonfly were recorded in my journal earlier this summer.  I don't know where I found these definitions to the meaning of the dragonfly.  No doubt they were found on some internet search.  I did not cite the reference before I wrote these line in my journal.