Friday, September 26, 2008

Autumn in Iowa

(Jan) Iowa in the fall is a very pretty place! We spent a couple of days at Ledges State Park, a couple of days at the farm and now are at Yellowsmoke County Park near Denison N 42 01.696 W095 19.129 - 1285’ elevation We come here often when we are in the area and with it’s autumn finery displayed and mirrored by the lake it is indeed picturesque. The sites are large and shaded and there's great paved walking trails around the lake and into Denison. Our friends Jim and Jeri, Lynn and Mary and daughter Christine have been here also this week so there been plenty of camaraderie, good food and campfire conversation. This morning Jim and Jeri & Chuck and I make brunch over a wood fire. Delicious!

Yesterday we had to make a trip to Des Moines to the Iowa Retina Specialists. My dad has had loss of vision in his ‘good’ eye and got a drug injection right in the eye to stabilize his eyesight. There is a 33% chance he will see improvement in his vision. It is the only option currently available for ‘wet’ macular degeneration and we are hoping for the best. Chuck’s dad is still struggling with health issues, also. Leg circulation continues to be a problem and at this point he is at a rehab/nursing facility in Yuma.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

She's here!

(Jan)This little bundle of joy is our new granddaughter Madeleine Marie. Our son and wife, Brent and Donna, welcomed her into the world last evening. Madeleine joins brothers and sisters, Stephen, Katherine, Michael, Anne and Elizabeth. We went to see her at the hospital today and everything is going fine for our new little miss and her mom. When the other kids got out of school, we went to their house to see them again. Tomorrow mom and baby come home and tomorrow night Grampa and I are in charge of dinner.
We made it back to Iowa last night an hour or so before Brent called with the good news so this morning we packed the few things we had taken out of the rig and headed over to Ames. We did stop to see my parents on the way and they are doing well. Tonight we are in beautiful Ledges State Park near Boone, Iowa N 41 59.820 W 093 52.446 - 1120 feet elevation. We walked the CG tonight, tomorrow morning we will hike some of the trails of the canyon

Monday, September 15, 2008

Colorado - Kansas

(Jan) We ended our stay in Colorado with stops in Salida, Woodland Park and Trinidad. At Salida we boondocked along the Arkansas River on BLM ground N38 30.481 W105 57.652 – 7,010 feet elevation, a great place for walking along the river, doing laundry and grocery shopping in town. At Woodland Park we were at Pike NF South Meadows CG N39 03.889 W105 05.675 – 7,835 ft. elevation, a place we had camped with the boys back in the ‘80’s. We visited the fabulous Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, walked the loop around the tall rock features in the center of the park and also stopped at the famous balanced rock. We browsed the gift shop and enjoyed ice cream out on the deck under the trees. It was very rainy when we got back to the CG so didn’t get to take the cog train up Pikes Peak the next day. In fact the next morning there was snow on the mountains!

In Trinidad we stayed at Budget Host CG N37 08.372 W104 31.092 – 6,370 ft. elevation and had full hook-ups. This morning we headed across eastern Colorado which has some interesting buttes in the wide open country; you could really imagine wagon trains rolling along through the valleys between the buttes on the Santa Fe Trail. The dust and sun must have seemed overwhelming at times. We spent a couple of hours at the Bent’s Old Fort National Historical Site thoroughly enjoying our tour guide, in period dress, explaining day to day living at the fort. The fort is a carefully reconstruction of the actual non-military fort that was built in 1834 at this site. At that time it was on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Primarily a trading post with the Indians for buffalo hides, it was the only white settlement between Missouri and Santa Fe. As we were driving along, after leaving the fort, we saw something on the highway that we hadn’t seen since our days at Ft Sill in 1974; big, hairy tarantula spiders sunning themselves on the warm pavement!

In the afternoon we stopped for ice cream (two days in a row!) in Lamar. CO., and then headed over through the Kansas plains to our overnight stop in Pawnee Rock, KS. The elevation there was 1,920 feet; probably the lowest elevation we have been at since July.

Today we drove to the eastern side of Kansas to visit my sister and brother-in-law, Linda and Richard. Good to see them again; wonderful visit, delicious dinner and great apple crisp fresh off the tree! Must be an old family recipe....right , Linda? Tonight we are at Cabela's, 10 miles from their house, right off of I435 in K.C., KS. N 39 07,300 W 094 49.061 - 975 feet elevation. Tomorrow it's north to Iowa.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Zapata Falls & Game Day

So what does one do after hiking to the top of High Dune? Plan an afternoon hiking trip.....
Lee and Edie, Chuck and I did go home and have lunch and rested for a bit but got together again and headed out to Zapata Falls. The road to the trail was a mile and a half of washboard switchbacks. We started our 20 minute hike from there on a fairly steep trail that was part off road jeep trail and part dry stream bed strewn with rocks. When we got to a stream we could hear the roar of the falls close by. The temperature dropped noticeably as we waded through the ice cold stream and entered a crevice in the wall. And what did we see as we turned the corner?
A magnificent 60 foot water fall!
We arrived back and went to Dave and Marie's for a late happy hour and Marie asked us to join them for Green Chili Stew. Yum! and having little energy left, we gladly accepted.
On Tuesday we walked the loops in the campground and visited with Dave and Marie in the morning. The afternoon was set aside for Pegs and Jokers. The six of us remaining Boomers spent the afternoon outside in the sunshine locked in friendly competition. Chuck and I are fairly new to the game, our experience coming from a couple of games at Q last year, but we joined in enthusiastically. The guys won both very close games! That evening we grilled at Dave and Marie's and visited the evening away. The next morning it was time to say goodbye to our friends and once more head out on the road. Bobbie and Jim and Nancy and Chuck G. had left on Monday; Lee and Edie and Chuck and I on Wednesday with Dave and Marie camp hosting at GSDNP through October. We've had the pleasure of spending time with our Boomer friends off and on since July 19 and leave with many fond memories.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hiking up to High Dune

On Monday we decided it was time to hike to the top of High Dune. Lee and Edie joined our quest and we started hiking at the Dunes parking lot. Armed with lots of water, snacks and sunscreen we started plodding up the 650 foot sand pile. High Dune is about a mile from the parking area but a winding path following the firmer sand on the top of the sand ridges took us probably twice that far. The picture to the left was taken about half way up looking toward our campground.

Sometimes the sand was fairly firm but most of the time, as you can see from Edie's and my footprints it was pretty soft and took quite a bit of effort!

Lee was in the lead and here he is going up the final ridge to the summit of High Dune. We did find some 'wild life' on our way up; a lady bug and a sand beetle who was digging down into the sand to find a cool place. During the summer the sand temperature can get up to 140 degrees.
WE MADE IT! After about 2 hours of climbing, rest stops and water breaks here we are at the top of High Dune. Luckily the weather was sunny and we had very little wind. There are 5-14,ooo ft. elevation mountain peaks behind us in the distance. To our right is a deep hole that fell off steeply from the crest of the hill.
Time for a granola break at the top. The view was spectacular in all directions. While we were at the top several other hikers joined us. One was a college gal who had jogged part of the way up and made the summit in 45 minutes. Oh, to be 19 again!

Going down was much easier! Our return trip took about 40 minutes. We were still plodding through the loose sand but we could run, skip or jump....isn't gravity great!

With High Dune directly behind us, here Edie and I are back down on the fairly flat stretch of sand where we began. Yeah! Notice the two hikers behind us who are beginning their trek up.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

What a great place, so much to do and see and a fun group of Boomers to enjoy happy hours, dinners and campfires with. Bobbie and Jim’s campsite became our official meeting place with Jim as our official griller. Pictured at left are Lee and Edie, Chuck and Nancy G., Jim and Bobbie, Dave and Marie and Chuck and I.

Saturday evening we went to a meditative drum presentation performed by the Kaminari Taiko Drummers from near by Crestone. The group was very talented and it was an inspirational evening.

It was 4-wheeling day for four of our guys the next morning. Jim picked Chuck up in his jeep and with Lee in Chuck G.’s jeep off they went to challenge Medano Pass. They crossed Medano Creek seven times or so and enjoyed the beautiful mountain scenery along the way up to the top where they could look down on Westcliffe. We had stayed near Westcliffe in August on the other side of the Sangre de Cristo Mts. The Spanish transilation for Sangre de Cristo is ‘Blood of Christ’ so named because of the way the sunset shines on the mountains.

While the guys were out, we girls gathered at Bobbie’s to talk about blogging and then took off on a walk around the three loops of our campground. We treated our selves to some fabulous pie at the Oasis restaurant just south of the park after that. We all tried a different flavor and then passed them around so we could all sample each other's. Yum! Pictured above with our pieces of pie are myself, Bobbie, Nancy, Diane Vittorio, the pie creator and author of 3 pie cookbooks, Marie and Edie.
As always, if you would like to see an enlarged view, just double click on the picture.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Lower Beaver CG to Great Sand Dunes NP

(Jan) We left Lower Beaver Sunday after 3 days of rainy weather. There were several hours each day that were sunny and we could get out and walk but Friday and Saturday afternoon and evening it hailed and rained hard. Saturday there was a Musicfest in South Fork from noon to 10:00 that evening. We went at noon and listened for awhile and then decided to come back later for a blue grass band. That’s when it started raining so we went to Mass at the mission church in South Fork that we had been to the week before. We were going to go to the Musicfest in the evening but it was 52 degrees and sprinkling and decided to go on home.

Sunday we packed up and headed for Alamosa. We made a shopping stop at the local Walmart and then called Bobbie and Jim. They had invited us to stay with them at their pad, with a view of Mount Blanca, in Alamosa for a couple of days. We had a wonderful time. Bobbie and I did our daily walks, we played lots of golf, went out to eat Mexican at one of their local favorites and grilled steaks to celebrate their anniversary. On Tuesday we headed over to Great Sand Dunes National Park. We were met at the entrance by our friends Dave and Marie who are camp hosting here in September and October. What a beautiful place! The dunes are remarkable and we’re again surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and a forest of pinon and juniper trees. Laurie and Odel were here in the park, also, and joined us for lunch. On Tuesday we decided to hike the Mosca Pass trail; 3.5 miles to the top and a gain in elevation of 1,600 feet. It was a very enjoyable but exhausting 5 hours, as we stopped for water and visiting breaks often. The trail followed a small stream, through aspen and pine forests and ended on top in a wide open upland meadow.

It rained shortly after we got back down but cleared up so we could enjoy a campfire at Dave and Marie’s that evening before Laurie and Odel left the following morning. We spent Thursday around the campground, at the Visitor’s Center and the stream near the base of the Dunes. We went to Happy Hour at Bobbie and Jim’s but it was short lived for me. I got sick and ended up at home for the rest of the evening eating soda crackers and drinking water. Chuck stayed for the fish fry and checked on me several times. Apparently, I got a little too dehydrated and my body demanded more water and rest.

The next morning everything was back to normal but I learned my lesson and haven’t stopped drinking water since. Friday brought more Boomer friends to join us as Lee and Edie rolled in that morning and Chuck and Nancy came in the afternoon. We had a fun Happy Hour(s) catching up on everyone else’s activities. That evening we were treated to another spectacular sunset.
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