Last day

(Interesting skies.)

It’s our last day in Estes Park.  We’ll take one more short hike tomorrow morning before we head back to Boulder to spend the night with M the Younger and Mere.  Early Tuesday morning we head home.

The past two days have been full and have included some long hikes with lots of elevation changes.  Believe it or not, I actually find going up easier than coming down but that’s due to having acquired my own injury on this trip, one that involves my hip and leg.  I’ve kept moving up until today.  Other than two short hikes (with a total mileage of about 2 miles or so), I’ve been resting.  We started with an early morning hike with the newlyweds, who left us shortly after the hike to return to their home.  M and I set up picnic camp at Endovalley picnic grounds in the Rocky Mountain National Park and hung out there for a while, having lunch and then taking a short hike to try to find a waterfall that M had read about.  We didn’t find the one we set out to find but did find another.

(On the Gem Lake Trail.  From this morning.)

I’ll be kind of sad to leave this area.  It’s incredibly beautiful and I have no problem visualizing myself living here for the rest of my life.  I’d certainly end up in great shape if we lived here.

The weather has been wonderful.  Today was the first day we had any rain or storms.  I took the above “Interesting Skies” photo a couple hours ago.  We sat in the Moraine Park area of RMNP and watched as the storms rolled in.  We saw a few bolts of lightning and heard plenty of thunder rumbling behind the mountains.

As soon as I finish messing about here on the computer we’re going out for drinks and dinner.  Then I guess we’ll come back and start packing.  If I have time, I’ll come back and update with a few more photos.

On top of the world

I’m too tired tonight to describe our day.  We started out before 9:00am and got back to the hotel around 5:00pm.  We went up to what, for me so far, is the top of the world.  We were up beyond 12,000 feet.  It’s hard to breathe up there.

We saw plenty of mountains and some wildlife including chipmunks, various squirrels, marmots, pikas, and elk.  The wildflowers are still blooming and adding a lovely touch of color.

(From the Alpine Visitor’s Center on Trail Ridge Road.)

We did some hiking, a little here and there.  Grand total was maybe 3-4 miles.  Mostly we traveled by car along the Old Fall River Road and Trail Ridge Road.  It gave us a great overview (literally!) of this part of Rocky Mountain National Park.

(Too lazy exhausted to find my notebook & look up where this was.)

All the exercise we’ve had at higher altitudes than the Bogs has changed me considerably.  The dry air has added to those changes.  I’ll show you:


Dinner tonight sucked.  I’ll deal with that at TripAdvisor when I get home.  If anyone has any recommendations for decent food in Estes Park, Colorado, I’d appreciate it if you’d leave me a note about it.  So far, it hasn’t been good.

And on that note, I’m off to bed.  ‘Night!

Golden Gate Canyon State Park

It’s been a long day.  A wonderful day, but long.

We left early this morning to go to Golden Gate Canyon State Park (about 40 minutes or so from Boulder).  What an amazingly beautiful place!  I loved it.  M the Younger and Mere picked us up at the hotel so we could spend the day together.

The weather, when we got to the visitor’s center, looked like this:

By the time we were a little way into our hike, it looked like this:

At some point during the first part of the hike, after feeling more than a few raindrops, M and I put on our rain ponchos and that pretty much took care of the rain because shortly after we put them on, it began to look more like this:

(At the quarry)

It had obviously rained (and stormed — we heard thunder) somewhere, but we were lucky and it went around us.

We hiked about 4 miles.  We started out on the  Mountain Lion Trail and got on the Burro Trail at some point and then I’m not sure which trail we were on from there.  We got off the Mountain Lion Trail briefly to hike a half mile uphill to a quarry where we took a break and had a snack.  I think the highest elevation we hit was about 7800 feet.

The colors were amazing.  Wildflowers were blooming all over the place.

I’m not sure any of my photos captured the colors or the flowers well.  I’ll have a better idea when we get home and I can look at them on my computer.

We had a picnic lunch at Panorama Point where there are views of the Continental Divide.

I’m not sure where the Continental Divide is in any of the photos I took but the photo above gives you some idea of what the views are like.

This cutey tried to join our picnic:

I suspect he or she has been fed a few times because it was one aggressive chipmunk.

After lunch we went to Golden:

We walked around a bit, listened to some music (there were stages set up along Washington Street (the street in the photo above), looked around in one of the shops, and had some ice cream.  Then it was off to Heritage Square where they have an alpine slide.

You ride a chairlift up to the top of the mountain and ride down a 1/2 mile track on a plastic sled.  I chickened out and didn’t go, but staying below did allow me to get some nice photos of M the Elder, M the Younger, and Mere.  (Don’t tell them but… if we go again, I’m gonna do it.  There has been some talk about going again.  It might happen.)

We finished the day back at M the Younger and Mere’s place where we had dinner and picked up The Bike (which we left there last night as it was dark by the time we finished canning the peaches and we don’t have a light on the bike).  We pedaled back to the hotel, went for a swim and a soak in the hot tub/whirlpool, and now I’m ready to call it a day and hit the sack.

First hike

(Somewhere on the Canyon Loop Trail.)

We went on our first mountain hike today.  It was a relatively short and easy hike (3 miles), or would have been considered short and easy if we’d been doing such a hike in the flatlands at lower elevations.  It was a good first hike, though.  A way to get started and see how acclimated we’ve become.

I had a little trouble in the beginning with more lightheadedness.  And the uphill parts were a little harder than usual.  It’s an odd feeling because my legs were working just fine, not really feeling much exertion, yet I was winded as if it were a long, steep climb.  That’s high altitude for you, I guess.  We’re going to be in amazing shape when we return home if we keep up the kind of physical schedule/activity we’ve been doing for these first three days.

M the Younger picked us up early this morning and drove us up to the Betasso Preserve, located at the junction of Boulder and Fourmile Canyons.  He chose the Canyon Loop Trail for our first hike.  It’s also a mountain bike trail.  He biked it while we hiked it.

Somewhere I read that Ernie Betasso who I think donated the land to be used as a public park, said that once you live in the mountains it’s impossible to leave because one leg becomes shorter than the other.  If you look at the trail in the photo above, I think you’ll get some idea of what he meant.

(M the Younger on his mountain bike.)

M the Younger managed three loops for our one.  It took us about one hour and 45 minutes to hike it.  That’s about 15 minutes over our usual time for a 3-mile moderate to difficult hike.  Not too bad, all things considered.

It was a beautiful hike with plenty of scenic views.  The weather was a little iffy, but it worked out well.  We felt a few raindrops here and there, and the cloud cover kept the temperature cooler than if the sun had been beating down on us.

We saw a few mountain bikers during the first half of our hike, but no other hikers.  Somewhere towards the end the hikers began showing up, many of them with loads of small children.

There were plenty of wildflowers in bloom.  I don’t think I managed to capture the color in my photos.  I can’t be sure because the colors and such are odd on this laptop.

(My favorite hiking partner up ahead.)

After the hike we had lunch at the Boulder Beer Company with M the Younger and Mere.  I had my first buffalo burger.  It was good.  I’m not a big fan of eating meat lately, but thought I should try at least one while we’re here.  M and I each had a beer (12 oz. rather than a pint).  It went right to my head.  They say you don’t need to drink much at higher altitudes.  Perhaps that’s true.

M and I walked back to our hotel after lunch where we went for a swim and then settled in for our afternoon rest.  Now it’s time to hop on the bike and ride around for a little while.

(The infamous bike.)

Hiking shoes

(058:  Unidentified flower in the wildflower meadow.  Photo © 2009 by Robin)

M and I are planning a trip to Colorado to visit with the newlyweds and to do a little hiking around Rocky Mountain National Park.  In preparation for the trip, I ordered new hiking shoes from NB Web Express.  I normally wouldn’t even think of ordering shoes online but these are New Balance shoes.  New Balance is one of the few trustworthy brands that come in extra (and extra-extra) wide shoes.  I’ve been buying and wearing New Balance shoes for years now, and got to the point where I could order them online because there is (or was) consistency in their sizing.  And whenever they recommended that you order a half size bigger or smaller, they were right.

My new hiking shoes arrived on Wednesday and were obviously not an extra wide no matter what was printed on the label.  I could barely get the widest part of my foot into the shoe and that took a great deal of pushing and force.  I realize hiking shoes should be a little snug.  This was beyond snug.  This was so tight my toes were squished on top of each other.

I’ve never had that problem with New Balance shoes.  Never.  I was disappointed.  And a little frustrated as there aren’t many choices in hiking shoes that come in an extra wide.  This particular style seemed my best bet in terms of the type of hiking we’ll be doing.  I’m trying to avoid boots because I don’t like wearing boots.  They’re uncomfortable to me.

The good news is that NB Web Express has free return shipping.  It’s quick, easy, and painless.  I shipped the shoes back yesterday.  The problem now is figuring out where to go from here.  New Balance doesn’t have the shoes I want (or need) in an extra wide.  Finding someplace around here that actually carries hiking shoes in an extra wide will present a challenge because I usually go to the New Balance store when looking for something that will fit my wide feet.

I’m sure I’ll figure something out.  I can always wear my old hiking shoes if need be (which happen to be New Balance hiking shoes).  It should be noted that this has not put me off New Balance shoes.  I’ll still buy my walking and running shoes from them.  As far as I’m concerned, they are the best.

I’ve been spending a lot of time outside lately.  The weather here in the Bogs has been amazing.  It started to warm up a bit yesterday and it’s expected to be pretty hot (in the 90’s) today.  The garden wouldn’t mind some rain.

Speaking of the garden, I often wonder why I struggle with myself over the weeding.  Once I’m actually in the garden, pulling weeds, I find it to be an enjoyable pasttime.  Hard work, yes.  But it slows down my thoughts.  Sometimes I reach a point where my mind is quiet and pulling the weeds is all there is.  Sometimes it’s cathartic and/or symbolic, pulling the weeds of my thoughts (believe me, my mind can get pretty cluttered with stuff that turns out to be nothing more than weeds).  It’s also great exercise.  I must remember all of that the next time I put off going out to the garden to work.


(Seed of Life mandala in summer colors.)

On Sunday I decided to finally do something I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time.  I colored a mandala.

In January of 2008, after reading QuoinMonkey’s post Coloring Mandalas, I did a search for free mandala templates and found this website where I printed out The Seed of Life mandala.  I set it aside with plans to do it someday soon.  It was winter and I was sure I’d find plenty of free time to do some coloring.

In May of this year, Norm at Unmerited Gifts posted a similar version of this mandala and that reminded me that I had the same one sitting around here somewhere, waiting for me to be inspired enough (or not) to sit down and color.  Kel at the Xfacta posted an Art Attack asking you to create your own mandala that same month (you can find it here).  Not quite ready to create my own but wanting to color one, I searched for the mandala I printed out over a year ago.  No luck.  I didn’t know where I’d put it and then got sidetracked by something else.

This past Sunday I was sitting at the desk I set up for my granddaughter to use when she comes to visit.  It’s a little corner of the office area in the basement where she can sit and create (color, paint, glue, whatever comes to mind).  There is a window next to the desk that provides plenty of natural light (or distraction if you look out it and start watching the birds that like to hang out in the bush near the window).  You may recall that I bought an antique, leather-topped desk for the creativity corner back in March and it’s a place where I, too, can go if I’m feeling the need to be creative.

Getting back to my story… I was sitting at the desk, waiting for M to finish using the computer so I could do something on it (I can’t even remember what), and I decided to look through the drawers of the desk for my box of crayons.  I didn’t find the crayons (I wonder what happened to them?) but in one of the bottom drawers I did find the mandala.  A big container filled with markers was sitting there in front of me so I started coloring, figuring I’d just a color in a few spaces while I waited.

Well, one thing led to another and the next thing I knew, I’d colored it all in as you see above.  The colors are a little off in the scan.  I used three different shades of orange representing the three different orange-colored lilies that are currently in bloom on our property.  The colors, I came to realize after a few minutes of randomly choosing, turned out to be the colors that are dominating nature in my neck of the woods right now.  Summer colors.  Our orange period of summer with some of the greens and blues thrown in for good measure.  The yellow in the center are for the sun.

I’d forgotten how fun and relaxing it is to sit and color.  Coloring a mandala seems to add a meditative quality to the relaxation and fun.  The pattern kept changing as I looked and colored.  When I focused on the area I was working on and stayed in the moment, it went pretty smoothly.  When I lost focus and started thinking about the finished product (the future) or what I’d already completed (the past), I stumbled.  I didn’t bother to try to cover up the stumbles.  They’re good reminders for everyday living.

I’m looking forward to coloring another mandala sometime soon.  It’s a wonderful way to relax and free up my mind from the usual mental clutter.

I’ll be back later with today’s photo.  I have a date with the yoga mat this morning and don’t want to miss it.


(019:  Bella in bed.  Photo © 2009 by Robin)

That’s Bella, cuddled up in the waterbed next to my pillow and under the covers.  Both Izzy and Bella like morning cuddles, but Izzy will stay on top of the covers whereas Bella really likes to snuggle in.

I did Cathe Friedrich’s Muscle Max workout this morning.  I’m going to be hellasore tomorrow.  Or the day after.  It’s usually the day after the day after that’s the worst for these things.  It was a killer workout that challenged me to the max.  I was feeling pretty shaky and weak by the time I finished the entire 63 minutes (or whatever amount it is over one hour).  To me that’s the sign of a good workout.

We have friends dropping in for dinner tomorrow, on their way home from wherever they went.  I’ll be making chicken enchiladas.  I seem to have a Mexican food theme going this week.

Another rainy day.  It’ll be a good day for me to concentrate on all the indoor work I need to do.