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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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.