This stream of consciousness is intended to be an unfiltered account of my journey to fight my way to a healthier, happier life. One day at a time, one step at a time, one organically-grown-emotionally-raw blog post at a time…
A well seasoned patty cooked to perfection (which translates to cooked as requested by the person ordering it).
A toasted bun is a must.
Don’t skimp on the cheese. (Or sauce If that’s part of the deal.)
Other toppings as desired, also prepared according to advertised specifications. And also not so much that it overpowers the taste of the burger.
Everything is hot and fresh, looks great and tastes juicy and delicious.
That’s it. That’s a solid 4.5 cheeseburger. That’s what Deno’s mountain bistro, in Winter Park Colorado, has to offer (almost).
They did all the aforementioned things great! It was also impressive as a to-go order as packaging everything for take-away can be tricky. The bun can get soggy and toppings intended to be crisp like lettuce, tomato, and pickle can go limp. Nobody likes limp lettuce yo. but they left the top bun on the side inside the container which worked well.
Notice however that I gave the burger a 4.0 and not 4.5. It was downgraded slightly due to the fact that I ordered it medium and it came out pink all the way through, teetering on red in the middle. I also feel like they did skimp on the cheese (and sauce) a bit. The sauce was delish and it’s a good thing Jim got his on the side cuz I ended up using that as a dipper.
I’m really on the fence about fries being a part of the total equation, but then I realize while it’s tough to keep a burger from losing something in transport, it’s truly impossible with fries in a closed container. They go soft and soggy in their own heat. I think Deno’s fries might have been good, but after spending time inside the package, they were not good.
Perhaps they absorbed the moisture from the steaming burger. Taking one for the team, as it were. If that’s the case. Good job fries!
So that answers one of the questions I posed yesterday but did not have time to elaborate on during our 9 hour drive home.
What were the other questions?…
Yes, we did the hot tub working but it refused to get any hotter than 99 so it was kind of a bummer. Especially since it was so chilly out. Still, we must have soaked and chatted for like an hour. As we sat there, the sky cleared a bit and we could see the stars.
Living inside the city, you forget just how many stars are out there. It was really neat.
And yes… I did down some more margs through that hot tub session. But not sure what time I went to bed. Fitbit says I fell asleep at 10:30 MST, which is actually 11:30 CST, so super late based on current SugarCookie standards. 😜
So I gave Deno’s a 4 out of 5 and described how to hit 4.5. Which invites the question.. what is the criteria for a 5.0?
5 is perfection. Perfection is elusive. And reserved for like the best burger you had in your life.
The hunt continues…. ~Miss SugarCookie
Featured Image photo was lifted off yelp. Fairly certain it was taken by the business owner.
I woke before the sun again today. 5AM I think. I’m afflicted with the inability to sleep.. in. I mean, I’ve been able to, in the early days of my life and in more recent years if I’ve taken something to help me sleep. But not now. And certainly not here, in a bed that is far away from my own. It’s ok though. It gives me quiet time, with my own thoughts and time to write and wonder about things.
The difference between waking up early yesterday and today is that today I don’t have a headache to contend with. It means my body is acclimating to the altitude here. I mean, I certainly indulged in the same evening activities as the night before (and perhaps more so) and I feel great!
Our air-b-and-b is on the side of a steep hill. To make the most of the space the town has to offer, buildings are constructed more vertically. This one is 3 stories. A basement that walks out the back of the condo to a covered patio where the hot tub is. A main floor that has a garage at street level in the front and living and dining areas with lots of windows in the back that have a great view of the surrounding foothills. Are they foothills here or mountains? I am not sure.
The master bedroom and bath are up another flight of stairs on the second story. With this setup, a person starts to pay attention to where they leave something and when they might need it next. Going up those two flights of stairs reminds me I’m in Colorado. Which is to say, I can’t make it all with one go. I’ve got to stop in the middle to catch my breath. How sad is that?
It’s probably partially due to my age and partially due to the fact that I’m just not acclimated to the altitude here. We went on another hike yesterday and opted to go on one tagged as “easy.” Easy for a flatlander translates to moderate. Moderate translates to difficult. Difficult translates to, “you gonna die if you go on this hike yo.” So one has to do the conversion before making a decision.
The hike we chose yesterday was called “Viewpoint.” It was about a 40 minute drive north from Winter Park to the trailhead. The opposite direction of the hike we went the day before. We drove the now somewhat familiar road of highway 40 to highway 34 which leads through Rocky Mountain National Park to Estes Park. The turnout for the road that leads to the trailhead was just shy of the entrance to RMNP. Which, in case you did not know, you have to have a reservation to visit these days. Crazy times!
Highway 34 on this side of the park hugs Grand Lake which I had not been to before. It’s massive (compared to lakes I’m used to). The hike was on a trail that was well established but, like the one the day before, there was not another human in sight. It was all walking and no climbing and we wound our way gently through a young grove of pine trees that had sprung up to replace what appeared to be a burned out section of forest.
This is kind of what I was talking about yesterday. This is evidence that nature just takes care of itself. There is no way humans planted the hundreds of adolescent pine trees we walked through. It’s just a part of the cycle of forest life. The aspens were pretty sparse on the trail and most were about done for the season, but every once and awhile there were pops of yellow and gold that looked incredible against a backdrop of green and brown.
The undergrowth in the area were fine shades of yellow and gold and red as well. We were just in awe of the colors. And the top of the trail was like a little mini-peak with a 360 view of the area. RMNP to the north/northeast and the valley of Grand Lake/Grand County to the west and south, with mountains rising up in every direction.
There were a few fallen logs situated just so at the top of the trail which made a lovely spot for sitting and looking out (and maybe having a puff or two of Colorado’s finest, if you are into that sort of thing). We spied on a red tail hawk in a nearby tree (whose presence was made known to us because of the screech he issued forth). We watched him until he took flight and soared away in quite a majestic fashion.
The hike back down was lovely too. The sun was kind of getting low in the sky and the way it hit the trees and the adjacent hillside caused the colors to pop. The shadows cast by the trees across the path felt like we were getting to witness something special. A rare treat.
Just about the time we were back at the trailhead and getting in our car, we were reminded we had not eaten since breakfast. I’d already professed that it would be a good day for cheeseburgers. The only renaming question was where.
Though truth be told.. I’d already researched where and my mind was made up. I had our call in order for Randy’s Irish Pub ready to go as soon as we were closer to home base. But then my call could not be completed as the receiver was busy.
I called a second time and then a third from Jim’s phone. No dice. We decided to just get back to the condo and decide from there what to do. Passing by Randy’s, the parking lot was empty. Go figure.
Would I be denied a cheeseburger on vacation? Would we get that hot tub working? Would round 2 with the perfect margaritas land me in bed again by 9pm?
Answers to all this and more in part two of day two… coming to a SugarCookie blog near you soon (gotta get rolling on the road).
I’m waking up on my second day here in Winter Park Colorado— before the sun and with a fairly healthy headache. It might be a hangover, you know, because at this altitude it only takes a few cocktails to affect a person. Despite reminding each other numerous times last night, we still did not alter our intake of perfect margaritas. But wait, there’s a lot more to the story of our day than just that. Rewind.
After a lovely breakfast yesterday I took my sweet time showering and getting ready for a day out exploring while Jim did research on good hiking trails nearby. That was our first objective of the day, to get the body moving and get lost a little bit in the wilderness. He picked a great little spot that was at a turn-off on mile marker 241 on highway 40, about 10 miles back the way we came in.
It was perfect for several reasons. First, there was a larger turn-off on mile marker 240, just one mile before the one we wanted which had a ton of cars. The perfect carrot for all the wanna-be hikers in the area. So I think most people stopped there. But we went the extra mile to the other turn-off that only had two other cars. The description of the hike in the book that Jim found on the ottoman in the living room of our air-b-n-b (Hiking Grand County Colorado), describes the hike as moderate. The name of it is “Current Creek Loop.”
There’s a description in the book too, on which way to go and where on the trail, but good luck with that. We followed the creek up the hill, on the right side as instructed but with no markings, and no discernible trail, completely lost it near the first junction where we were to “take a right at the ’t’.” We were not sure we were at a T but went right anyhow. It sort of felt like just traipsing off into the wilderness with no clue where to go. But that was OK. We were not really there to follow directions, we just wanted to get the heart pumping and enjoy the sights and sounds.
Lemme tell you, after less than 24 hours, the lung of the Nebraska traveler is no where near ready for the lack of oxygen that hiking causes. That was OK too, though, as we were in no hurry to get anywhere. I mean, the hike promised an aqueduct and a pond at various points, but we had all day and nowhere else to be. That’s the best part of being out here. Freedom.
So we kept going right up the side of the mountain— due north, past a boulder field and through the trees (where the supposed pond would be), but all we found was more slope, boulders, and trees. Each time we went further up, it looked as though we were on the right track but then we would get to the top to find more of the same. We climbed pretty high and I daresay we turned the moderate hike into a more difficult one, but we’re pretty inexperienced so we don’t even know the difference. At a few points it was pretty steep, but for the most part, not really that treacherous.
Finally we declared a final time, “get to the top of this ridge and then that’s it. If there’s no pond, it will be time to turn back.” Surprise, surprise, there was no pond, but the view was pretty badass. And somehow it felt as though we were in the right spot because the top of that ridge line had a trail that looked as though it had been blazed by human beings. We had traveled almost due north to get to that spot so I was sure all we had to do was go due south to get back. But Jim had other ideas. He wanted to walk the ridgline for a bit.
We did that for a while, until I started getting antsy about having gone too far in the “wrong” direction. At that point we began gradually to descent on a path of least resistance. The way we descended was completely different and there were large clearings with only grasses. That looked like a nice flat area to walk across, but the ground was mush. My guess is that perhaps that was the pond at one point and it had grown over with grass since that book was printed. In any case, there was no crossing that so we went around it.
Down and down, meeting up again with the stream and following that back to the trailhead. I’m not sure how long we were out there, but we never saw another person the entire time, which was glorious. The same two other cars were there at the turnout when we arrived back. I took a ton of snaps and coaxed Jim into taking a few couples selfies along the way. It was a good hike.
It was also good to get back in the car and head back toward Winter Park. By then, I had worked up quite an appetite. Neither of us were in the mood to cook so we hunted for takeout instead. I wanted a cheeseburger and Jim wanted tacos. There’s lots of options here which is nice. The place we got take out from was in Fraser and it was called “Azteca” (you can guess who got their way on that one). Doesn’t matter, food cooked by someone else is always delicious.
It was actually the perfect compliment to the margaritas we were planning to have. That has kind of been our thing lately. The margs. We’ve perfected our recipe and brought all the necessary supplies with us— glasses, marg salt, limes, a jigger, simply lime, and of course, the tequila (Patron Silver).
So we nommed on our Mexican food and sipped our drinks and chatted about what else might be in store for our day. With the goal being R and R, we had no plans to leave anywhere else that afternoon/evening. And the less we were exposed to other people and potential virus, the better. Our options were hot tub or Netflix. I brought a deck of cards hoping to entice Jim into playing something with me. I miss playing cards, but I don’t know too many two person games.
We ended up watching one show, which was terrible. And so sipped some more. Then we tried warming the hot tub up, but were unsuccessful, so we sipped some more. I showed Jim a game of solitaire I played when I was a kid and he said it looked like I was making the rules up as I went along. Then we sipped some more until we sauntered up to the bedroom to crash hard.
Which brings me back to the beginning and the lovely hangover I’ve tried very hard to type my way out of this morning. I did pause briefly to take a picture of the sunrise. I imagine with all the fires in the area, the smoke has made for some neat sunrises. Sometimes I think that the main problem with fires isn’t the fires themselves, but the human beings that feel inclined to stop them. Yes, lives are at stake, so they have to try, but forest fires are natures way of cleansing the land. Right? I dunno, perhaps I just heard that somewhere and want to use that to profess that we should just leave it alone and let nature takes its course.
Not sure what today has in store for us. We’re for sure going to fiddle with the hot tub some more to see if we can get that working. Soaking in 99 degree water sounds very relaxing. Maybe we’ll go for another hike. Maybe I’ll try reading one of the many books I brought with me. Maybe we’ll just lay around all day doing nothing but chat. For sure I’ll insist on finding a place that serves cheeseburgers.
It’s nice— the fact that it can be whatever we want. We just need to decide what that is.
Cheers to All That (and a bag of chips), ~Miss SugarCookie
Yesterday was a loooonnnnng day. We did not get on the road until about 6PM as Jim had a full day of work in CB. They say Denver is a 7 hour drive from Omaha, but I believe that’s only possible if you 1) Have a serious fire behind you and 2) Aren’t afraid to break the law a little bit with regard to speed (being good at Mario Cart with the road construction helps here too) and 3) Have a bladder that can hold out for the entire duration of the trip.
To be fair, Winter Park is a hot minute beyond Denver proper and once you hit the mountains the driving slows considerably. All in all, it took us 9 hours and we did not arrive until just before 2AM (that’s with the shift in time zone). But it was worth it. Since it was quite dark when we arrived we could see nada. So when we woke this morning and came down the stair of our air B and B to the front picture window in the living room, it was incredible. We’re at a condo in the town, but nestled on a hill and can see healthy foothills all around. The pines rise up as far as the eyes can see, and it looks like we hit the tail end of autumn glory from the aspens.
I did peek out the window of our bedroom before I came down the stairs and saw one aspen with about 3 yellow leaves left on it. I said “looks like we missed the boat with the aspens. Good news is, we didn’t come here for that.”
It’s true. We didn’t. That would have been icing on the cake, you know, if you are into cake. But since we’re not, it’s all good. We really came to get away from our normal lives. Jim with work and the kids and house and me with the house and kids also but in a way, just doing a bit of fast-forward on my transition away from work. So the main plan is to have a couple of really balanced days, hiking to get our bodies in motion and then retreating back to our lovely home away from home for some super chill time together.
We brought all our own food and I made breakfast as usual which we sat and ate looking out those front picture windows. It was lovely. Jim’s already researched where we could go exploring today which includes a stop to Frasier so we can acquire more of what Colorado has to offer for the weekend. As I sit here now, with my laptop at the kitchen island, I can see the dirty breakfast dishes piled next to the sink. I’m NOT doing those dishes (if I can help it). You don’t pay a 200 cleaning deposit for nothing in these places.
I’m a little torn about not reaching out to friends and family in the area. Feel like I should, but going to try to resist doing that too. We only have the weekend so our time here is limited.
On that note, we’re going to pack up and get out the door.
Peace and Love from a Mile Above, ~Miss SugarCookie
I woke up this morning with more vigor than I’ve had in a while. And when breakfast was over I bounded toward my treadmill with a little more spring in my step. The primary reason for this energy comes from the fact that today I’m going to be getting in my car for a weekend road trip to Colorado.
I love road trips. It’s no secret. Road trips are in my top ten list, right up there in my bio next to gardening and hunting for the perfect cheeseburger. So far this year I haven’t been able to get my fix like I normally would have. I did go on one trip with my Z earlier this year which was a substitute for the original adventure we had planned for her graduation. That was also to Colorado.
I was talking with my friend Steph yesterday about how Colorado is the perfect quick getaway for those of us who live just to the east in the flatland. The driving is pretty boring, admittedly, until one gets away from the monotony of Rolling farmland, unless of course an alternate route through the Sandhills is chosen.
The Sandhills and northwest Nebraska are beautiful and often overlooked, but if the goal is Colorado and you are limited on time like we are this weekend, then the scenic route is not really a good option.
Nope. The goal for us will be to get to the mountains as quickly as possible which means it will be I-80 west across the length of Nebraska.
Steph lives in southern Texas and was thinking they need to discover their perfect road-trip getaway. New Mexico maybe? I’ve never been but would like to visit sometime. I’d love to visit all 50 states. I should keep track of those I’ve visited and make a point to go to new places.
As it is now I often frequent the same spots. Mostly because of the people I’m visiting or, like this weekend, proximity. Who knows when air travel will be ok again so I’ll take what I can get!
This will also be the first time since my honeymoon in February that I’ve gotten to go anywhere alone with my love. The last bit of time off we both had we elected to try “staycationing.” We planned a week when no kids would be at the house. Just us, you know.
And then Jim’s adult son decided he was going to come stay for that entire week. And then his other son decided he was going to be over too, with friends, so it did not turn out quite as we had planned. So this road trip is also a welcome departure from the kids and house and chores and adult responsibility.
Normally we would reach out to family and friends who live near Denver and try and schedule a meet-up. But not this time. We will be short on time anyway, so all that we have will be dedicated to just us. Jim said, “I’m packing stuff for hiking but we might not even do that.”
By contrast, were bringing three swimsuits for the hot tub at our air B and B. Plus lounge clothes and food to sustain us for the duration. That’s it.
My prime directive today is to get the car packed up while Jim is at work. Other than that, I’m planning on chipping away at that list of stuff I’ve been procrastinating. This includes sorting through mail, paying bills, and cleaning. But probably I’ll end up working on the GLR or putting together manuscripts for submissions. Goodness knows I’d rather do the latter any day of the week, which is probably why the procrastination happens. I mean, who wants to scrub toilets anyway?! Not this girl!
Perhaps if I just pack the car really slowly I won’t have to do anything else. 😜
In any case.. I feel the rest of the day calling now and should prolly move along.
We arrived home from our Colorado road trip late afternoon Sunday. It’s now Tuesday. That’s what happens. And.. if I don’t take the time To reflect reflected on our trip, it will start to slip away…
At the very least, I’d like to capture the highlights so I don’t forget them. Pictures are worth a thousand words, as they say, so maybe that’s the way….
Day 1 (Wednesday): We get one the road about 2PM and drive straight through to Denver with just a few stops for restrooms, gas, food AND a stop in Kearny to visit my friend Tre who I haven’t seen since the wedding. That was definitely my highlight of the day. Z was so grumpy the whole way, which is not something I’m typically want to remember, but the emotions we both had were part of the overall experience.
We arrived in Denver at about 11 and after 2 failed stops at gas stations (hunting for Ben and Jerry’s) we gave up and went to my sisters apartment. We chatted briefly and then crashed out in her spare bedroom.
Day 2 (Thursday): We had take out brunch in the park with my sister before she had to go to work. Z was still tired and grumpy after that so I let her go back to sleep while I caught up on emails on the couch with the two cats.
When we finally got moving we drove south to Colorado Springs where we had reservations to stay the night at Glen Eyrie Castle. We explored the castle and the grounds and then headed out to resume our quest for Ben and Jerry’s and visit Cheyenne canyon.
The quest took us on a bit of a detour and we ended up at the great Wolf Lodge which presumably has a Ben & Jerry’s inside but it was closed because of the pandemic. It took two more stops but we finally found the coveted ice cream darling daughter was craving at a 7-Eleven. Huzzah!! She had her ice cream while we drove to Cheyenne canyon and proceeded to explore that whole area. By car.
Most of the stops were too packed with people and, being weary about social distancing, we opted to stay in the car most of the way at the canyon. We finally got out at the top and walked on a dirt road along the Ridgeline.
After that we made our way back to the Castle for the evening. It was great to take a shower and just relax and chat. Z did her own thing and I spent time mostly researching activities for us to do. Not sure what time I fell asleep.
Day 3 (Friday): We had a lazy morning once again and didn’t get moving until about eleven. That’s when we checked out and made our way to the Academy Riding Stables where we embarked on a 2 hour horseback ride. It was a tour up and around the garden of the gods and as hot as it was, it was a great choice. I would not have wanted to hike through there on foot.
Riding the horses was fun (a favorite activity of my Z) and it helped us keep our distance from the people. We were at the back of the line and several times hung way back so we could engage the horses to trot and catch up. It was a good little refresher, but boy were we both sore that night!
After that we drove through Manatu Springs and elected not to get out of the car (almost no one wearing masks) and also skipped the drive up Pikes peak (we have both been up to the top on previous trips) and were sort of just driving around looking for a good cell signal so we could figure out what to do.
Just about that time a healthy storm started to roll in and so we drove back to Colorado Springs proper and got a room at a Holiday Inn express. I would say we waited out the storm there, but we did get hungry for dinner so we ventured out in the pouring rain in search of fast food.
There is no Del taco in Omaha so I jumped at the chance to get that fix and my pudding pie had one of her favorites—raising canes (3 finger combo with extra crispy fries, toast buttered on both sides, and a Dr Pepper with light ice (she’s so high maintenance!) 😜
We had a pretty chill evening in the hotel and watched a B movie from the bed. Then she did her own thing again while I again researched activities for us to do the next day. Once I had a solid plan, I crashed out. Not sure how long she was awake after that but she sure likes to stay up late and sleep in.
Day 4 (Saturday): Surprise, surprise.. we get a late checkout again! 😏 After packing everything into the car AGAIN, we drove another hour south west to hit the Royal Gorge. Despite the pandemic the place was packed! Again, it felt like the wild Wild West with very few people wearing masks, and it was quite annoying how disrespectful people were getting too close in the queue to get inside the park.
The bridge is super cool and it was crazy windy. We struggled to get good pictures because the hair situation was just bonkers. I think it was a combination of factors but most the attractions were closed. No gondola ride, no theatre, no sky-coaster (though we did see that run at least once while we were up at the top of the hill on the opposite side of the bridge.
It actually worked out perfectly because we had just enough time to explore around before jumping back in the car to hit our scheduled Zip-line adventure.
It was 9 lines through the Colorado high desert outside of Canyon City. A really great hike and the Zip-lining was super fun. It’s the kind of thing Z is really into. She likes thrill rides. She asked me at one point if I would go skydiving with her. Uhhhhh, “maybe” I said and then dropped that topic like a hot potato.
After the zip line we were both super hungry and about an hour plus away from real civilization. I mean there were places to eat in canyon city but again, it did not look like they had any rules in place for protecting customers so we opted to drive back to Colorado city and get food from A Texas roadhouse.
My original plan was to drive home on Saturday but it was super late in the day so we just had to plan to go as far as we could and then stop again one more night. The way things work out, Sterling was not far enough for us and Ogallala had no rooms at my preferred hotel. So we ended up driving all the way to North Platte and arrived there around 2 AM. Yikes!
Day 5 (Sunday): waking up in North Platte was actually nice, knowing that we only had about four hours to get home. We drove most of the way through but took a detour in Lincoln so we could drive around University of Nebraska campus where Z it’s going to be a freshman in the fall. She wanted to see where all the dorm rooms were and get a first look at what’s in her future.
From there, home is only about 45 minutes away. Which is really good for so many reasons.
Arriving back home was a relief! It was a good trip but, you know, it always feels great to be in your own space again and sleep in your own bed (and spend time with those you have been missing while away).
I think the time together was super valuable and the time away was great for our mental health, even if I’m paying the price now trying to catch up on work (not to mention the inherent risks in so much exposure outside the home).
Wowza! That was a long session on the treadmill. I’m already at 10k steps today!! Definitely enough for now.
As I eluded to in my last post, it’s now three days after the day I was writing about and I’ve been home for several days. Life just moves too fast sometimes.
On Sunday we woke to more snow falling and though it was beautiful, I was kinda over it and ready to get back to Nebraska and real summer temps. I’ve made a little note to my future self to not travel back to Grandby Ranch in June. When we go again it will be in July or August.
Sunday was our travel home day and the intent was to make stops to visit both my sister and brother before heading for the airport and that’s exactly what we did.
My sister moved to Denver this past week so it was literally her second day in her new apartment which was lovely. She’s already on a weekend camp/hike with one of her besties and I’m positive she will be super happy in her new home. That makes me happy.
My brother has lived in Broomfield for about 20 years (I asked when we were at his house in the afternoon) and his oldest child who just graduated this past May was born there. He’s also an avid hiker and goes out a lot, in all kinds of weather. If it’s not hiking, it’s snow-shoeing. They will probably spend the rest of their lives in Colorado.
Jim and I agreed that Colorado is cool but have ruled it out for ever moving there. Visiting with all these folks has made us think about where else we might like to live though, and that’s fun to daydream about. For us it’s much more likely to be Oregon, probably somewhere near the coast. I’m partial to the Lincoln City area. I’ve driven the stretch of road from Manzenita to northern Cali about 3 times now and just love it. But this post isn’t about Oregon, it’s about Colorado.
I’m inclined to wrap this up with some things I want to remember before the vividness of the trip fades into a daydream…
All my initial plans to visit folks arriving Tuesday were squashed by sitting on a plane for 4 hours (2.5 longer than expected). We actually sat on the plane on the ground in Omaha longer than we were in the air. I ended up spending the night in Denver instead of driving the mountain pass that night.
The view from the apartment on Larimer Street.
We had one nice day of weather and took advantage of that by being outside for the majority of the day. A couple of hikes with the dogs and the kids. We rode the ski-lift up and hiked back down.
We came upon a small herd of deer on one hike and tried to quietly approach to get pics but that area is littered with mountain bike trails and a biker came zooming through and they all scattered across our path.
I also saw a fox (twice) and a big horn sheep on the trip. I’ve not seen either before out in the wild.
I really enjoyed the drive to and from Denver and got to travel it several times, once with bright sunny weather and once with snow. Both incredibly beautiful!
On Wednesday I did some journaling from the back deck of my friend’s house and their daughter who is 7 wanted to join me. She was excited to get markers and paper and then crayons and a book to use as a hard surface to write on. I gave her a few suggestions to get started and she ended up writing a brief letter to a friend and drew a picture. It was sweet. What was even sweeter was that later in the day she said it was her favorite part of the day, “writing with Aunt Shyla”. 😊
During our stay the card game of choice was some Monopoly Spin-off game, Monopoly Duel, which I had never played before. I had a great run of beginners luck and won like 8 of 10 games I played, though I feel like I had found a great strategy for the game. I’m considering buying it for the kids and I. Who doesn’t love winning. 😜
Despite all I have written this far, the trip was not all fun and games. Our room was in the basement right under the kitchen and not only was it frigid with the drop in temps.. if there was anyone in the kitchen and dining area it was impossible to sleep with the foot noise. We had a couple of very short nights and even considered trying to get a hotel room in town for the last night.
It was also a bummer to not get to do the things we wanted in Winter Park including riding the gondola up the mountain and the alpine slide. But whatevs.
I got to meet the two new pups, Wally and Winston. Always Reliably excited to see new people coming in the door and always up for a walk. When they crashed, they crashed hard and have not yet figured out they have outgrown sitting on laps. 🐶❤️🙃
Last, and certainly not least, I had bites of cheeseburgers from three different establishments. I don’t have much to say about that except I discovered I’m not a fan of goat-cheese on a burger. Ewwwww. Reviews of those places will not be coming to a blog near you anytime soon as the details (besides the goat cheese) have already been let-go.
That, my friends, concludes the latest SugarCookie Colorado Adventure. My next trip will actually be back in Nebraska City for my MFA residency, which opens up a whole other host of topics. I’ve got about 2 and a half more weeks until then. Just enough time to solidify my thoughts on what I want to get from my 3rd term. We’ll see.
Snow, for real!! Last night my friends and I stayed up late playing a card game and talking. It was a fairly rainy/stormy day, off and on, and as we sat by the picture window we could see the sky light up periodically with lightning. As we crossed over from the First Day of Summer to the second, the rain transformed into large fluffy snow flakes and began covering the Field grass and wildflowers with white.
Then Steph says “I’ve never been where there it was snowing on my birthday.” Quite right. I think it is rare indeed to have snow anywhere in the US on the first day of Summer. Of course it has something to do with the elevation but “locals” here are saying it is truly atypical to have this kind of weather here at this time in the year. Were at 9k feet and you can see the snow on the caps of the mountains in the distance but it’s rare for it to be snowing here in June.
When we woke this AM it was already sunny and most of the snow was melted. I knew we would have limited time to get outside as the weather conditions held the promise of more rain and snow. It sort of feels like the sketch weather we had on our Nebraska adventure in May followed us right to our little Colorado Adventure. Go figure!
We wanted to go to Winter Park to ride the Gondola and Apline Slide but when we arrived they were not running the lifts because there was the threat of lightning. Instead we sat at a bistro having lunch and talking. I avoided drinking as it has not agreeing with me on the trip at all. I had a headache almost immediately both times I had a drink and felt so much better today not drinking.
The weather has put a damper on our activities for sure, but I’m not too bothered by it because I travel to spend time with my good friends. For me the focus is on catching up and spending QT and it does not matter what we are doing. It was also a chance for them to get to know Jim a little better which makes me happy.
In any case, it was sort of cool to see Snow in Summer. ❄️ ⛄️ Someone has taken the time to make a snowman at Winter Park. That would have been a good pic but I didn’t think of that at the time.
It’s like 3 days later and I’m finally getting back to finishing this up. I’ve got a little more to say about our trip to really wrap it but today is not the day for that. Perhaps tomorrow. 😉
Yesterday was a good day with the stress of traveling behind me and the peace of being in a very special place taking over. The drive here was incredible and though I had a bit of a challenge adjusting to the altitude (headache, upset stomach, yadda, yadda), catching up with my peeps into the evening was great. The promise of today is even better.
I woke up headache free, thankfully, and refreshed and ready for what looks like will be the best weather day of the trip. There is a chance for rain and isolated storms almost every day but not today. Today will be sunny with a high of 71. It is fairly chilly at this elevation when the sun is not out, but when the sun is out, 71 feels quite warm.
After breakfast my friend and I took the dogs and the kids for a walk up on trails through the hills. The sky is so blue and everyone is in the best mood.
When we were done with walking the dogs we came back to the house and continued our walk along the streets of this little community just meandering, you know, and catching up one on one. That’s the best. I’m not sure what else is in store, really. I think we’ll go on a more serious hike later without the kids and talked about also taking the tennis racquets down to the court to do some volleying. We’ve already agreed that the point of tennis should be to see how long we can volley back and forth and stay in control and that it’s no fun at all to see if you can make the other person miss. Those are my kind of people.
Whatever is in store this afternoon, I will need to wrap it up by about 4:30 because I’ll be making my way back to the airport to pick up Jim. It’s about 4 hours round trip and it will be dark when we arrive back at the house. I’m actually enjoying not having a set agenda and also looking forward to doing that scenic drive again. Then Jim and I will have a nice time in the car catching up (though it’s only been a day and a half) before joining the group.
I’m really feeling the peace of being detached from the normal daily routine. I’ve never been in this place before or in this house but something about it just feels like home. That’s one thing I’ve found that always rings true in life – home is not about the place, it is about the people. Although when you are some place that Is as quiet and remote and beautiful as this, its even easier to get to that feeling.
I’ve got just a few more minutes alone, sitting in the sunshine, looking at the view off the back deck before we will be on the move again. I think I’ll try to get a bit of reading in.
The travel day yesterday was dismal. I sat on a plane that was not allowed to take off for two hours because the destination airport (Denver) was “shutdown” due to a massive storm in the area. Shutdown just means that no planes were allowed to take off or land. I sat reading and thinking and thinking and reading and watched as the minutes ticked by. At the time we were due to land, we were taxiing back to the terminal (of our departure point) so people could get off the plane if they wanted. There was no guarantee the flight would or would not be cancelled.
All my worry about plans and driving in the dark and visiting my brother versus my friend Lance had been ironed out early in the day. I had already determined I could not “do it all”, which is a thing I often fool myself into thinking. Broomfield and the visit with my bro would have taken at least 3 hours and the reality is, there just would not be time for that. The plane being delayed was that 3 hours. I arrived in Denver after 8PM, and by the time I had my things and the car and was on my way to downtown Denver where Lance lives it was about 9PM. Not even enough time for a nice meal and a chat.
We walked to a bar and had a drink and then walked back to his building and basically crashed out. Not quite the QT I was hoping for, but truly, when do things exactly meet our expectation? Rarely. But the rule of the Universe is Balance so things exceed our expectations about as often as they fall short. It’s just the Way. Not good or bad, it just is.
At the present moment, I am sitting in the new house of my bestest friends after having the most beautiful drive through the mountains, listening to music and marveling at being eye level with the clouds wafting through at the same time. It’s otherwise bright and sunny and now I’m hanging out with one of my favorite families. The view out the back picture window is more amazing than I expected.
The house is nestled among the hills with views of mountains off in the distance. It’s on the opposite side of a mountain pass which made the drive quite interesting. It’s so “nestled” that there is no cell phone service here. I quite like the idea of being off the grid, or at least partially disconnected. Of course there is still WiFi and all that jazz so communication is possible.
More of our “crew” is arriving later today, and Jim tomorrow, and by the weekend there will be 7 adults and 2 kids. It’s just like it is in Austin except for the delightful change in scenery. It’s my AAC (Austin Advisory Committee) but now it’s the CAC (?ewww no). That doesn’t really fit and so I guess it’s a good thing I no longer need the advice of the committee like I used to – about everything. My job/career, my relationships, my ex and that drama. It was a great way for me to check something before I wrecked it. 😉 And I definitely wrecked my fair share of things.
All that was not that long ago really. My oh my how the scenery of my life has changed.
Apparently we are going to take the kids to some “adventure camp” here in just a bit and i probably should unpack and figure out what is what with my newest “home away from home”.