Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Has Sprung

When spring comes to the Rockies, we know what's coming next:
Who can complain when we see sights such as this?

Yesterday, as my husband and I drove out of our little village to enter the main road, we literally gasped at the beauty that had visited our part of the world overnight.  Every tree, every bush, every weed along side the road seemed to be a work of art.  The Master Artist had frosted the entire city.  Our drive down the main road was so beautiful that my husband stated that he had never seen blossom laden trees lining an avenue that could compare to the beauty of the frost covered trees that lined the main road into town.

The photo above was snapped quickly with my iPhone.  Later in the morning, as I walked out of church, the sky was more of light blue, the clouds were lifting, but the trees were still covered in frost.  I have rarely seen such beauty all over town.  I wanted to snap a photo of every tree I saw.  I hated to see the sun come out and melt the spectacular show that left me repeating the phrase, "This is just spectacular."  To my husband I said, "We could travel all over the world and never see  more beautiful sights than we have seen today in our own town."

Spring Break

All of the schools in the area are on Spring Break.  We were teachers way too long not to join in the celebration that happens on the first Friday night of Spring Break.  We had a wonderful Mexican food dinner in a part of town where we rarely go.  On the way home, I asked my husband if he would like me to treat him to dessert at the old Ivywild School, an old school that has now become a brewery, bakery, and eatery.  Once there, of course, my husband headed straight to the principal's office.  He didn't stay though; the office is now the bar.

We bought some delicious cherry pie from the bakery and sat down to enjoy the ambiance and energy that filled the place while we ate our food.  I immensely enjoyed my time with my favorite principal.  (As you can see from the empty plate, he didn't like the pie at all.)

We have not made special plans for "Spring Break."  We had our break nearly two weeks ago when we went to Moab.  The time with family was invigorating in so many ways.  As I said in an earlier post, we went to Moab to watch Jim's daughters and son-in-law run a half marathon.

On the day of the race, the runners got up very early to get to the start of the race.  We slept through their leaving.  When we finally got up, my husband and I went downtown to have breakfast at an awesome cafe that my massage therapist had told me not to miss.  If you are ever in Moab, don't miss going to The Love Muffin Cafe.  I had their Verde which is slow roasted brisket, home fries, cheddar cheese, two eggs, and chili verde.  My husband had their whole wheat waffles.  He was a bit jealous when he saw my choice, so thankfully, he ate half of it while I had a bit of his waffles.  I don't know when I've had better chili verde.

After we were through eating, we went to the finish line of the race to watch our runners come in.  I got  intrigued with watching all the other runners.  I loved their determination, their spirit, and the energy they gave to the rest of us.  Concentrating intently on trying to photograph a woman who was running in a tutu, I completely missed seeing Jim's son-in-law.  Then I heard his name being announced as he approached the finish line.  Oppps  I got the tutu wearing runner quite well, but I only got

a photo of Brad's back.  There he is in green.

I did not see Jim's daughter Thia come in at all.  Soon, I saw Trinette.  I recognized her body and her run and knew it was her long before I could see her face.  (She is toward the right side of the photo dressed in turquoise.)
Soon she was in front of me.  Cheering wildly, I told her to smile for me.  She smiled and kept her eyes on the finish line.

Here are our awesome runners:  Thia, Trinette, and Brad.  

Here are the runners and the fans that came to cheer them on.  I sure hope they run this race again, and I hope next year my kids can make it too.  It was so much fun.

The runners were tired, but they wanted the kids to have some fun, so we all drove up the canyon along the Colorado River looking for a campground called Hittle's Bottom.  Brad told us the legend of how this place got its name.  It goes like this:
It seems that many years ago in pioneer times, Hittle, a young girl, was trying to cross the river and got stuck in the mud.  Those around her were able to toss a rope out to her.  She placed the rope around her waist.  Then, the other end of the rope was tied to a horse.  The horse pulled the rope.  Horror of horrors, poor Hittle was cut in half by the rope.  They never found her bottom.  It is still in the mud.

Poor Hittle.  We never made it to the campground, and we never found her bottom either.  Instead, because the wind was just terrible, and because the kids were tired, we stopped at a beach called Sandy Beach.  (That's a very original name, don't you think?)  We piled out of the car to play in the sand and toss some rocks in the river.  My true love and I did not make it to a sunny beach in Hawaii this spring, but we did make it to a beach.  

 I celebrated making it to a beach by lying in the sand.  Yes, I have a parka on, but it was sunny in this spot, and it was much warmer here than it was at home.

That evening, my husband and I left the runners and the rest of the family and drove back to Grand Junction, Colorado about one hundred miles away.  I had promised my mother I would return that evening in order to take her to church the next day.

After church, my husband and I took my mother to lunch.  I want you all to see this amazing mother of mine.  She will be 98 years old in May.  She lives on her own and gets around very well.  She is as sharp as she ever was. The next day was St. Patrick's Day, so she is decked out in her green.  We went to three different restaurants looking for corned beef and cabbage.  No one was serving it until dinner time.  Since we wanted lunch, we ended up having fish and chips instead.

A Short Reflection

 I need this time away from home when we went to Moab.  I think my husband and I both did.  We needed to have a change of scenery.  We needed to be with family just having fun.  I was hungry for the sight of flowers.  Thankfully, I got to see the daffodils blooming and the forsythia in bloom.  I needed to feel the sun on my face.  

Mostly, I needed to remember that the race is won by those who endure the path set out for them.  The path may not always be down hill, in fact it may be up hill a lot of the way.  The wind will not always be at your back, but somehow, the runner finds a way to keep putting one foot in front of the other despite limitations.  My sweet daughter by marriage wondered what her running time would be like if she didn't have asthma.  She said she had to use her inhaler on the race.  To me, I am just amazed and proud that she ran at all with or without a limitation.  

I've learned many lessons from my mother.  At nearly 98, she says her legs don't work like they used to work, but look at her, she is still walking.  She is still involved in life.  She is healthy.  She laughs like she did when I was a girl. 

 I think the secret to a long and happy life is to keep on the path. Keep the faith.  Always hold fast to the hope that is within you.  Each winter of my life has come to an end.  Each spring, I have seen my beloved daffodils bloom.  They symbolize rebirth to me.  Thankfully, again, spring has sprung.  

Friday, March 21, 2014

Our Trip to Moab

This winter has been so hard for so many.
For me, it has been especially hard

I think it was the endless sieges of ill health that assailed my body that caused me to think that those days when the mind, soul, and body are renewed and energized by warm weather and sunshine would never again occur.  
Several weeks ago, I bought three bouquets of tulips.
The snow swirled around my car in a blinding storm as I brought the flowers home.
Once home, 
dressed in my snow  boots, and my warmest down filled hooded parka, I carefully made my way across the street to deliver a bouquet of tulips to my neighbor who had been housebound for weeks.  
Independent, a lover of dogs and of flowers,
this neighbor had slipped in the middle of a city street and broken several ribs.
The injury had left her unable to do much of anything.
I knew she needed flowers as much as I did.  
Once home, I arranged a few bouquets to brighten my own home.
Outside the kitchen window, the trees covered with snow provided a beautiful backdrop for the tulips and for the springtime flowers sent to me by my son for my birthday.
With flowers such as these in the house, spring could not be far away, I told myself.

The snow from this storm quickly melted.
But the earth near our home did not give me any indication that spring was coming.
I needed greenery.
I needed to see some yellow daffodils,
or some yellow forsythia.
I needed to feel the sunshine.
I needed a change of scenery.

Months ago,
my daughter had wanted to run a half marathon to celebrate a milestone birthday.
Most of my children and all of Jim's decided they would run with her.
life got in way for her, and she could not run,
nor could my other children because of injuries from training.
Jim's daughter's and his son-in-law trained all through the
and windy
We wanted to make sure we supported their efforts,
so last week my husband and I left our home and headed to Moab, Utah.

As we drove over the high mountain passes where snow was piled higher on the sides of the road than I remember seeing  it in a long time, I began to wonder what the coming of spring would mean to the high country.
With all that snow, I worried about the danger of flooding as it melted.
Not even believing that I was expressing the sentiments I felt in my heart, I said to my husband,
"I hope we have a cool spring without any early warm days."
My head and heart knew that it would be best for all if we did not see a rapid melt of all that snow.
Still, I longed for a sign of spring.

Once we were on the Western Slope of Colorado, green began to appear.
I'd hoped my mother's daffodils would be blooming as a way of greeting me to her home.
We were a few days too early for that, but one bud had a slight yellow tip.
"There is that sign of spring I needed," I thought as I walked to my mother's front door.

We only spent one night at my mother's home.
The next day, following her suggestion, we traveled Highway 128 to Moab, Utah. (click on the link to see more about this highway and see photos of it.)
We stopped along the side of the road for a moment because my husband got a phone call.
With spotty cell phone coverage, he decided to stop and take the call where he had a good signal.
This provided the perfect opportunity for me to stretch my legs, and so I stepped outside the car and took a photo of the desolate land before us.
At this point in the journey, my husband, who had never been to Moab, or traveled this route, probably wondered why I had said this would be a beautiful, scenic route to take.
If you look at the base of the mountains, you will see the mesa like landscape that are the magnificent rock formations that are near Moab, Utah.

When we came to the place where the road crossed the Colorado River,
we saw the remains of the old Dewey's Bridge spanning the river.
I asked my husband to park the car in the Dewey's Bridge Campground.
This is the view of the rocks that are on the other side of the river from the river.
I had to get out and walk now that we were in a beautiful setting.
Just look at that sky.  What a beautiful day it was.
  As we approached the bridge, I couldn't help but think how great it felt to again be out walking in air that was warm on ground that was beginning to show signs of spring.
Built in 1916, the Dewey's Bridge has a wonderful history.
The wooden plank single lane bridge was the longest suspension bridge west of the Mississippi River when it was built.
It held many memories for travelers to this part of the country before it was burned down in 2008 by child playing with matches.
Photo from internet

One can only imagine how intriguing it must have been to cross this once great bridge.

Cow now graze under where the planks of the bridge were supported by this suspension system.
(Do you see the black cows just right of center towards the bottom of the bridge?)

Jim took my photograph near the bridge site. Can you see how happy I am to be out in the warm sunshine?

This part of Utah is so beautiful and unique.  If you ever get a chance to travel Route 128, take it.
I didn't take many photos, but here are a few.

Moab, Utah is a destination place for bikers and hikers.
It is also the setting for the Moab Canyonlands Half Marathon which is held every spring.
As we drove closer and closer to Moab, we began to sense the great excitement that others who had been training all winter must be experiencing.
All along the river, camps where very hearty runners would spend the night before the big race were being set up.
I can't imagine sleeping on the ground in a tent before running a half marathon the next day.
Can you?

It was quite easy to determine where the race would begin.

Porta pottys were being set up to serve the hundred of runners who would be transported by bus to this area the next morning from Moab.  From this starting place, the runners would run 13.5 miles on Highway 128 along the Colorado River back to Moab, Utah.

I can only imagine how exhilarating this race must be.

Once we got to Moab, I thought I might try to pick up the race packets for my children even though they weren't going to be able to run the race.
They had paid the registration fee, and I thought they might want the cool shirt that was in the packet.
That way they could wear the shirt and pretend they ran even when they didn't.
Seriously, the shirts were very nice, and one can always use another shirt to run in.
I was able to pick up four packets for each of my four runners that did not make it.
I took the four energy bars that were inside as payment for picking up the packets.

I could not believe how good I felt in Moab.
The altitude of a little over 4,000 feet meant that I could sleep without oxygen.
I could walk and not suffer from tachycardia.
The sunshine helped to lift my mood.
It seemed we had truly left winter behind.

We spent the night a large rented house with the family members that had actually showed up to run.
(My children really did have good reasons why they couldn't run, I just wish they could have made it.)
Jim's two daughters and their families were there with us.
Jim's oldest grandson and his fiancé also stayed with us.
It was great to meet our soon to be newest addition to the family.
Aren't they a cute couple?

We had eight adults and five children in the house.
Jim's daughters made a wonderful pasta dinner for us that night.
The next day was the big race.
More on that later.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Interesting Rock Formations in My Neighborhood

On a recent morning walk, I took some photos of some of the interesting rock formations near our home.  Since I was a child, my imagination has always been activated when I look at rock formations.  In Colorado, we certainly have a lot of famous rock formations.  The Kissing Camels in the Garden of the Gods come to mind.  Perhaps this is why I grew up naming the outcroppings that dot various parts of Colorado.  Last week, without really looking for anything in particular, I happened to see an interesting formation across the road from where we were walking.  Can you see what I saw?

Here is another shot of the same hillside.  Can you see the horse head?  It is a palomino (orange or gold) color, and is located in the center of the photo below.  (I only had my iPhone with me.  I will have to try to get a shot of this on another day.)

Just up the road, from the horse head, I found the perfect spot for a photo shoot.  Jim and Boston posed in front of this rock which is actually right on the corner of a block in the subdivision near where we live.  A house is right behind the rock.  I could probably fool you into thinking we were out in the mountains somewhere when this photo was taken.  

The area where we live has many of these outcroppings of rock.  Their unique shapes have fascinated me since childhood.  Some describe various rocks such as the rock below, as mushroom rocks.  I call this one a table top rock.  This particular rock is located about a block and half from our house on the hillside next to a public park.

Boston, usually on a leash, gets a bit of freedom in the park since no other people or dogs are around on the day we took our walk.  He soon found his favorite rock and perched himself upon it. 

Before long, he was off running into the play area of the park.  I walked along at a more leisurely pace and continued to study the rocks on the hillside.  Up on the top of the hillside, in the middle of the trees, I thought I saw a coyote.  Or was it a rock?  Can you see it?  The formation is near the center of the photo between the trees.  I really could not tell at first if I was seeing a live animal or a rock formation.  After moving my position a few times, I could clearly see it was a rock.  (I told you I have a vivid imagination.)

I have my favorite formations near my home.  This one is an outcropping at the end of my block.

Here is another shot of this rock.  I keep thinking that perhaps the grandchildren and I will walk up here and spread out a tablecloth and have lunch on the top of this rock someday.

One evening this past fall, I ran outside to try and capture a beautiful sunset.  I was too late to get the shot I wanted, but I thought this one was quite nice anyway.

As I leisurely walked home with my camera in hand, I notice a small herd of deer nearly hidden from my view as they grazed in hillside grass at dusk.  My shots of the deer were unsuccessful.  As I tried to get a shot of the animals, I noticed the sight below in my viewfinder.  I didn't notice this interesting nighttime scene with my naked eye.  Do you see that giant cat sitting next to the tree?  (Do you ever see things differently through the viewfinder of your camera?)
I am quite frustrated by blogger right now.  The photo I took at night of this formation is quite dark and spooky.  I can't seem to post it without blogger correcting the light on it.  Any ideas on why this happened?  My photo is very dark with black shadows.  This photo below is nothing like my original photo.

I'd hate to see this huge black cat on Halloween night.  I thought the figure was a bit scary looking.  
The next day, I went back to the same spot to get a photo of this same rock in daylight.  I think she, yes, this rock is a she, is a beautiful marmalade colored cat.  (Jeanie, of The Marmalade Gypsy, this rock is for you!) To the rest of you, this formation may look like a rock, but to me, she is the cat that protects the neighborhood.  
Here is a daytime shot of my two favorite rocks grouped together. 

You may think I live out in the woods.  The beauty of the place where I live is that the woods surround me.  I can be walking in the most beautiful peaceful surrounding within minutes of leaving my house.   After I gaze upon my beautiful rock table and cat rock at the end of my block, I can turnaround and head down the road toward home.  

This photo was taken last fall.  My home is the first one you see on the right.  The porch light is on.  The red truck bed is just to the right of my home.  This photo was taken one half block from the photo of the cat rock.  
I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the interesting sights in my neighborhood.