Off to Colorado I go

Off to Colorado I go

Work travel with a side trip to visit with one of my besties! 

Got to Denver for a meeting and had some time to burn before checking into the hotel so I took off for my favorite restaurant The Berkshire. If you love bacon this is the place for you. When I landed it was spitting snow and raining so I had the grilled cheese with BACON and tomato-parmesan-basil soup. Absolute deliciousness!!!

If you ever have time to tour Celestial Seasonings in Boulder, Colorado I highly recommend it. I had the opportunity to be a taste tester for green teas they are trialing, and I was compensated with a box of Peppermint tea. A great trade off for sure!

Sassy

Once my meeting was over I hit the road to meet up with my friend Cindy and I was finally able to meet her fiance. He’s a sweetie and he’s lucky to get her…just sayin’. (Obviously, I’m writing this after the wedding, so if you are just now reading and missed the trip to Colorado for that event you can catch up here. Rollin’ down the highway Part 1 and Part 2 of the Colorado Trip)

We had a blast with her being my tour guide. I actually started my day birding along the Arkansas River. Cindy knew I would love it and sent me on my merry way with a set of binoculars. I added to my life list, was able to contribute some finds, and in southern tradition I met people that know people from my home town. So much so that our families are buried in the same cemetery. Really folks I just have a knack for finding these encounters. Give me a plane full of people and I bet there’s an Aggie on it. Instant rapport and recognition of shared experiences. That actually happened on my trip to Pittsburgh two weeks ago. The guy sat next to me on the first leg. I never talk but I chatted with him. Alright back to CO.

I’d always wanted to visit the Royal Gorge, which is just outside Canon City. We road the gondola. Cindy rode it but didn’t want to look down. I would’ve hung over the side I was so excited to be hanging in air.

A true test of friendship!

It’s funny how I live in Arkansas and the Arkansas River flows through our great state, but it doesn’t look near this pretty. It’s muddy and nasty by the time it gets to Little Rock. The first time I ever waterskied was on the Arkansas River in southern Arkansas. I was staying with my aunt and unlce during the summer. I remember it being dirty and that I about drowned learning to ski. Experiences that last a lifetime. I’ve spent other days hanging out on the river with my cousin and friends of hers. Despite the brown color of the water we had a good time. Just had to keep sunscreen on her ghostly figure. Think vampire and you’ve got the right color. ❤ her!

The Arkansas River…I want to raft that one day!

Look ma no hands!
Aster’s peaking out
Looking upriver – I want to ride the train too!
Quartz is used everywhere – beautiful
A lovely pine

It was a hot was day in comparison to the spitting snow and rain I had when I landed in Denver a couple of days before. I was melting and grateful for any respite that included shade.

Royal Gorge Bridge

The bridge has lots of movement because of the type of construction and there is a boat load of wind whipping through there. Cindy walked down the center and provided interesting tidbits about the bridge and surrounding area.  In the most recent past there was a fire that burned up the gorge area. Devastating to look at the land and see the carnage fire can bring to nature.

Love this photo because it makes me think of art for some reason! 

This is only a portion of my trip. I’m going to have to break this one down. Next part will be about the mountains and a castle. Really you don’t want to miss it. Oh and a cat named Bandit! A real charmer.

Enjoy-G.

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Happiness shared

Happiness shared

Happiness only real when shared ~ Christopher McCandless

I watched the movie ‘Into the Wild’ the other night and this quote struck me. I travel a lot, I live alone, I spend a lot of time alone so did this make all the experiences I’ve had unhappy or lacking happiness. Sometimes I want someone there to share the experience, to enjoy the moment and to revel in the freedom but there are plenty of times I know I’m content with myself. 

So I’m thinking about some of my shared experiences. Like the day I bought my boat my sister was with me and we shared in the excitement. She went on the test drive up and down the lake. It was a beautiful summer day that was exceptional because my dad took us to pick up my boat – it was a family experience and we all shared in the happiness. We’ve had many more days like that on the lake either running about or just relaxing on the back of the boat listening to music and sharing our thoughts and lives. 

Another great example of happiness shared was the day I got word of my new job. My sister was visiting and all the kids made congratulations signs, we had a celebratory meal, and I knew I was going to be able to not only survive but thrive. As a single parent providing for your child the basics is priority number one, but when you can personally advance yourself professionally to meet their wants it’s like icing on the cake. It was a spectacular day shared by my family and friends. A true blessing that continues even today. 

The first time Seth flew on a plane in his own seat and described to the kid in front of us how the wings, flaps, etc work. He was a first grader. One of his tv options was the history channel. Obviously a good choice for an inquisitive mind. The ride to Boston and back was entertaining with him. Love that kid and wouldn’t miss a single shared minute!

There are more than those three memories, but I reflected on those times where it was just me and I felt happiness. As a kid climbing up in a big tree and looking as far as I could see, feeling the wind as it blew through the canopy and the limbs would sway, the smell of the pecan leaves as I would pull myself up, and then the fear and challenge of leaping to the ground when it was time to go into the house. That feeling of success that I overcame my fear AND not breaking anything vital! It was the same as when you leap out of the seat of the swing at the highest point. No fear just exhilaration in the moment. Might’ve been the beginning of some of my adrenaline junky ways. Sometimes I might have a sister join me but there were plenty of times I liked the peace of alone time. 

Or sitting on the hill looking out over the land smelling the lilac bushes and petting my dog. Probably more contentment and dreaming of the future. The beauty of the Ozarks was a major part of my youth. When I moved back as an adult I don’t have the same kind of view but I took up bird watching. It’s the whole nature thing. Very soothing. I can sit on the back deck with my binoculars and gaze up in the trees looking at species I hadn’t previously identified. I have some real happiness in discovering a new bird that was not checked off my list. There’s no one with the same interest and it gets made fun of so the quiet joy that comes from adding to my life list is reserved for myself most of the time.

The movie is about Christopher and his alone time in the wilderness. He finally realized that he would only have true happiness by sharing the experience. In the movie it was one of the last thoughts captured before he was incapacitated it is believed. No one will ever know for sure but I know for myself that I need both. Alone and shared. I’m an introvert at heart and I push myself to move beyond the comfortable. Comfortable is easy I don’t always want easy. A good challenge or puzzle makes like interesting. 

I asked my son what he thought about this quote from Christopher. He said ‘happiness is better shared’. He has a point. Laughter is better when shared. A good case of the giggles by yourself isn’t as fun. 

Conversation and laughter make life more vibrant. Recently I got to spend two separate days running around with friends enjoying life and just being. I appreciate the fact that I have people in my life that get me and all my weirdness. Love ya peeps!

Photo is about time shared. We drank flights of moonshine and whiskey at Copper Run Distillery (click on pic for link). If you’re ever in the Branson, MO area it’s a great stop. We spent hours hanging out on a bar stool. Time well spent!

It’s the weekend so enjoy it by yourself, with others or a combination of the two!

Peace-G.

Anyone for pie?!

Anyone for pie?!

Don’t you just want to bake someone a pie and then drop the mic on them like Minnie did in ‘The Help’. 

It sounds nice in the moment but most of us won’t follow through with it. It’s like having a conversation in your head with nasty replies you want to say except that’s not what comes out – it’s all polite. Bless their heart! Ugh…not really.

Nothing really sparked this blog other than me trolling through Facebook and I see this gem posted by someone else. Loved it and then I thought “how often would I like to make that special chocolate pie”. The collection process is a deal breaker. Gag

Oh well politeness wins out along with southern manners. I have to really think about a time I might’ve been that ornery. Still not coming to me. Of course my mom and siblings might pull out a laundry list if I’m not careful.

If you’ve never seen the movie here’s the clip about the pie. Enjoy!

https://youtu.be/EaWfoNPDz74

Not that I expect anyone to share their deep dark deeds BUT if you have a good story to share please leave a comment. I love getting to hear about others adventures in life.

Skipping the “special” chocolate pie and I’ll have a healthy snack…oh the joys of being an adult.

-G.

Long distance parenting 

Long distance parenting 

Being a parent long distant is agonizing lots of times. I try to have regular communication without appearing to be a helicopter parent which is challenging from a state away. Plus he’s a teenager and you want to give them some space, room to make decisions, and try to find the balance between it all.

Ugh! Today is a trial. He’s got stuff but doesn’t want to talk about. I have stuff and don’t want to burden him. We’re a pair for sure. How to turn a depressing day into a laugh – make fun, crack jokes, do something crazy – and I’m doing all that by text because that’s the way we communicate the most. Easiest way to have a conversation without being interrupted a million times by others. Sad but true. 

Life isn’t easy and it seems to come bottled in the form of a struggle for me most of the time. What I wouldn’t give for a smooth path on occasion except then I remember there is probably a reason I’m dealing with this trial in my life. Bless the Lord o’ my soul….that verse keeps drifting through my mind. We both need some blessing hence the reason it’s floating around up in that crazy head of mine.

Things that just tear me up about being a long distant parent are those times when I would like to cook his favorite food or go to Sonic to get a Route 44. Like today after I left the dentist our normal routine is to hit up Sonic but no kid, so I opted to not make the trip. I made a version of his favorite food last night which made me miss him. Probably why I feel all melancholy and then to find out he had a bad day too. Well crud.

My trusty companion, Ginger, is more than happy to share in his favorite food except that little rat terrier is on a diet! She scavenges through any bag left unattended, trash or scraps thrown out by the neighbors. Devil dog. Not the same as cooking for my kid and trying to cheer him up after a bad day.

Life kicks us down. Maybe stomps us a few times which is fine I’ll just pick myself up. Ok maybe drag. And then I get on with what needs to happen. When it’s your child you want to coddle, protect, listen…hard to do from here. 

I was looking through pictures and saw the one of him walking the tightrope and thought isn’t that how life is lots of time. We pray we make it from one safe area to another without falling but it’s a tricky walk. Lots of times we fall. I know the day he went indoor climbing he fell off that rope lots of times. I’ll always be there for him but there’s a lessons for each of us as we walk our own ropes through life. Praying we both stay steady for awhile! It’s a new version of Jesus take the wheel.


-G.

Will:Grit:Perseverance=Us 

Will:Grit:Perseverance=Us 

I’ve heard the saying “fake till you make it” or the new version by Amy Cuddy “fake it till you become it.” My thinking runs more to “I may not know it now, but I’ll figure it out.” Sometimes that’s just me messing around till I get it right, could be asking someone for help and guidance, or I’m not above saying I don’t know but I’ll find out. Faking it doesn’t even cross my mind. Why fake it when I have the will and the confidence in myself to be able to just do it. 

Growing up the oldest of three sisters, out in the country, with parents that worked long hours breeds resilience and perseverance. Anyway it did in us girls. My sister’s are different from me in there own way, but we have a solid core that is called WILL. Don’t tell us we can’t because for sure we’ll thumb our noses as we do it or give you the finger. Keeping it real here!

Oh the younger years!

Making responsible decisions were an expectation not a fluke. When we made poor choices our parents called us out on it. It’s the same with my son. I love him but I’m also raising him to make sound decisions and to be accountable. I can be harsh or in another light it might be called tough love. High expectations are the norm. If you set the bar low then they will achieve low. When he needs a hand up I’m more than willing to support him, but he is putting as much or more effort than I am. I’m not slacking and neither should he. Of course there is time for fun and I feel he does a good job of being a teenager too. He kills me every single time we play some game on the Xbox. He thinks it’s hilarious and an opportunity for me to improve my game. Obviously I have none. Definitely a win for the kid.

I think my sister is the same with her kids. They are fun and lively, and they are being raised in a household that holds achievement and education to a high standard. My brother-in-law is a testament to that with all his degrees. They all have their own interests and they pursue it. It’s awesome to see!

My middle sister is the entrepreneur with her own photography business. Starting a business is never easy but she has taken advantage of every learning opportunity to advance herself and her business. She was so patient with the process of launching. I certainly wasn’t and it’s not my business! She thought through everything from branding to a website. Super proud of her and what she’s doing. 

It takes some real grit to start a business or to raise kids to be responsible adults. We have taken those experiences of our youth and we have put our own stamp on our lives and the lives of our children. I know my son is already working on his own stamp, figuring things out, and making decisions that will lead him down a path of his own making. It’s exciting to watch and at the same time, as a parent, I want to give advice from my own experiences. Cause you know we’ve all had those rough roads that we want our kids to avoid at all costs. It’s a continuous prayer that I follow Gods plan for my life and wherever it might lead and that my son does the same. 

I’ve been traveling again and I was telling my fellow road dog that there are many times I’m saying God I see all the signs – I know what path I should be going down – yeah that is a path/sign. Wasn’t that you?! I’m sure that was you saying here’s your sign. I’m just trying to do what you’re indicating. Um ok maybe that was me looking for a sign and called it God. Hmm that’s a real possibility. Now I need to pray for discernment, not for what I want to be seeing cause you know you’re going to see it EVERYWHERE! 

Now I’m back to having the perseverance to see through all the crap life is throwing at me to know what’s true and real. That’s where the grit comes in. Road dog says I’m overflowing in grit. Totally got that covered. God filled that cup up real good. As we are sitting at the Pittsburgh airport I bought a book that has a grit assessment. Yeah I couldn’t resist that purchase. I was an easy mark for that book store.

That title is probably what inspired this blog. Of course it took a left from where I started…like normal. I’m trying to get in the groove of writing more and I saw a quote yesterday that made me go hmmm.

Stephen King says “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Love Stephen King and all his scary horror books. The Stand is one of my favorites but IT scared me the most! Only book in all my years of reading that I read ONLY during the daylight hours. So with this tangent: Read if you want to write, have the will and the grit to persevere through the easy and the hard times, and don’t look for the easy signs cause they might be wrong – pray hard.

-G.

Part 2 of the Colorado Trip

Come Saturday morning we were up and gathering our belongings to hit the road once again. We had a short visit then on the road to Colorado Springs. We decided to go a different route heading home. The drive down from Westcliffe was spectacular! The rock formations and shear cliffs were a reason to stop and capture the beauty around us. Evergreens galore….the scent just makes you think Christmas.

It was just over an hour later and what felt like a steady decent downward that we arrived in Colorado Springs. My sister and I headed straight for the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. PSA: it cost $10/adult to enter. We enjoy checking out archeological sites, especially ones we remember hearing about when we were kids in school. We wandered in and out of the cliff dwellings. Took lots of pictures. I had to shed my light jacket because the temperature difference was a solid 20-30 degrees from Westcliffe to Colorado Springs. I was starting to sweat and I wasn’t doing any hot yoga in those yoga pants.

She’s Cray Cray

❤ my sister!
Pike’s Peak in the distance

We didn’t take time for the Seven Falls but I’ll try to see that another trip. It’s supposed to be amazing. Instead the GPS was kind enough to route us through a heavy construction zones to a side entrance for the Garden of the Gods. We stopped right away to grab some lunch out of the cooler and take some selfies. We got back on the road and wound our way around stopping along the way for more pics of the rock formations. We finally made it to what is the front entrance and followed the signs to the visitors center. 

Camels kissing

At the visitors center on the viewing deck on the second floor is the best view of the Garden of the Gods. You get a greater perspective and it helps having the information pointers handy. We browsed the gift shop and then hit the road. We didn’t get far when we saw a gas station with a car wash. Time well spent cleaning the dust of my ride!

Our trip back was mostly uneventful considering we traveled the entire state of Kansas. We saw lots of crop land, turbines and the wind blows constantly. Cruise was set and we rolled on towards home. Once we got to Missouri and in the wee hours we stopped for coffee aka espresso. Cause we were making it to the house come hell or high water! At 2:45am we rolled into the drive. We were dead tired but we had covered five states, attended a wedding, saw the sights, made new friends, and had a grand adventure together.

What’s your next adventure? 

Enjoy-G.

Rollin’ down the highway Part 1

Rollin’ down the highway Part 1

Originally my plan was to fly to Colorado and rent a car to make the drive to Westcliffe for my friends wedding. I bought a car and had the epiphany that it might take longer to drive but cheaper in the long run. I needed a trusty sidekick for this trip. A co-captain that wouldn’t sleep the whole way, so I enlisted my sister. She’s a photographer. An easy mark, I mean potential sidekick, to entice with visions of grand vistas and mountains galore. She said yes!

We loaded up on a sunny Wednesday afternoon and hit the road to Woodward, OK. I had been trying to set up my hotel through the app on my phone with no luck. Finally I breakdown and call. The chick that answered was super polite and when she confirmed the address it was with extra emphasis on Woodward Okla-homa. I got the impression she wasn’t sure I had called the right place. This amused my sister and I to no end. I told her ‘Yep, that’s my stopping spot for the night before heading on to Colorado. So we’ll see you later tonight.’ 

After several hours of driving I noticed that I had 3 confirmations for a room. Hmmm that was going to be interesting when I arrived and it was. The girl at registration was proud to tell me that she had put all the rooms together on one floor. I had to explain I only needed one of those and the app issues. She looked so disappointed.

Driving to Woodward was uneventful which I delight in that fact. We saw an amazing sunset over a lake, but I had no place to stop for my sister to take pics. A little further down the road we had crested a ridge and the purples and pinks in the sky were fantastic. It looked like I was pitting at a NASCAR race for the perfect spot for her to get some amazing shots. What can I say I was booking it down the road.

Somewhere in Oklahoma
Westbound and down

Somewhere out in the middle of nowhere I narrowly missed a huge buck and what looked like a black bucket in the middle of the road. Possibly a wild hog but we’ll go with bucket. 

I know my Chrysler 300 won’t straddle that bucket like my Nitro. Back in March of this year my son and I ran up on a gray tote at night in the middle of the road. Oncoming traffic and a car in the lane next to us. I slowed but not much else I could do. I pulled over so we could investigate and the darn thing was hung under the vehicle. He pulled and I backed up until it finally popped loose. Thank goodness it was empty – strap that crap down people!

Back to Oklahoma – we made it to the hotel and I crashed in 5 minutes tops! Long day but I loved seeing new places and driving is something I enjoy. We still had at least 7 hours of driving the next day so you would think we would be up at the crack of dawn. Nope! We were all leisurely about it and thank goodness. Just about the time we were loading up to leave I had an email from my new boss. Um I needed to respond to that and then decided I’d just go ahead and jump on the conference call we were discussing. 10:30ish that’s what time we left. As we tooled through the panhandle of Oklahoma my sister got the task of being my admin. She took dictation for emails, kept an eye on our route, looked for anything interesting to take a picture of…I found that bit of interest. Hooker, OK (see below). The jokes in my head are endless and I’m told the mascot is a Horny Toad. I’m not checking that bit cause I really want it to be true!

Makes me laugh every time!

Once we got past Boise City, OK the road got smaller. Two lanes with no shoulder. Not pulling over in the car but we had a huge discussion about native grasses, crops, cattle and crop rotation. That’s what you get with a farmer and a horticulturalist. When we crossed into New Mexico it was with little fanfare other than the huge pumpkin patch that was being harvested that we whipped past on our way to I-25.

I love karma sometimes. We had a red Grand Cherokee pass us like we were sitting still. I’m no slack behind the wheel and I was estimating that he had to be doing close to 90mph. I really didn’t want a ticket in my new car plus I just paid for the tax, title and license, so I couldn’t afford a hefty fine. Miles down the road I see blue lights flashing and I said to my sister ‘bet that’s the Jeep.’ My sister and I laughed as we passed that Grand Cherokee that thought 90mph was justifiable. That policeman didn’t think so.

Somewhere between Raton and the Colorado State line the sky was just beautiful. You could see the rain coming down in the distance. I told my sister get your camera I’m pulling over. She was like What – ok! I didn’t have to force her at all. I sat in the car since I was sitting just off the interstate. She tells me to get out here so I can take your picture. Um, what. I hate being the model. Lol she did a great job for a stop that was on the fly. We had lots of stops like that – no sense in wasting good scenery!

Before we hit the rain in New Mexico
Made it to Colorado

The best part of the trip was the exit off I-25. It looked to be in the middle of nowhere. I pull up to the stop sign and I see a car sitting off to the right parked next to a fence. No right and straight puts you back on the interstate. I’m looking at Google maps like what left turn I don’t see anything except the drainage space under the road. Looking down at the map I creep forward and the arrow moves along the line on the map. Hmmm that’s so strange. It points right at the drainage space under the interstate. It’s literally one lane! My sister and I look at each other like you’ve got to be kidding. We took pictures of course.

The car fit!

One thing I noticed about Colorado was all the signs for animals. On the way to Westcliffe we saw deer, elk, bear, and buffalo. Once we got to The Historic Pines Ranch we were given warnings about badgers also called bashers by someone’s phone. My phone changed badger to grudge…wth. Autocorrect needs to get with the program. 

The ranch is beautiful! We were just under 9000′ elevation. Our normal is just over a 1000. We did a little huffin and puffin but it was worth it. The aspen weren’t turning yet but they were still beautiful with their stark, white bark with accents of black. I think it’s got to be my favorite tree just for the bark alone. I know plant nerd outta control here. The bonfire reception with chilli and Fritos was delicious. The wedding the following day everything my friend had imagined and more I’m sure. She was a beautiful bride and the groom was handsome as can be. Their joy rolled off them in their body language, facial expressions and actions. Makes the heart go pitter patter to see a couple like that or in my case brings some tears to my eyes. Can’t help it I’m a big ol’ crybaby. Hallmark commercials slay me!

Just outside of Westcliffe
Beautiful church in Westcliffe
Rehearsal – fun times
Aspen trees!!!

More aspens – love them
Ready for the wedding! ❤ my sister!
The happy couple!

Since this was a 5 state trip full of stops, pictures and adventure I’ve broken this blog into two parts. I hope you’ve enjoyed the fun of our sister trip so far.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Enjoy-G.