On June 13, Mom, the boys and I were given a lovely tour of the best backyard ever by my brother, Aaron, and his girlfriend, Kelly. They live right next to a trailhead, so we just trotted on over to it and chose a hike up to a little saddle. Aaron was a very gracious host, making sure he picked a hike that wouldn't wear us out.
Here's a piece of the trail. It took us not quite an hour to reach the saddle. It usually takes Aaron about 20 minutes. He's, you know, an actual athlete.
Wahoo! We made it! Mom took this pic of the rest of us.
On a little rise near the saddle, we sat down and beheld this spectacular view. And we played I Spy, at Jonathan's request. We spied flowers and dead trees and clouds and I can't remember what else.
The view facing the other direction. See Aaron's house down there? Yeah... me neither. But it's there. I promise.
On the way back down, we took a side trail out to the remains of an old cabin. The structure is gone, but we found lots of rusty tin things and broken plate pieces. Even some ancient shoe soles. Pretty cool.
The purpose of the side trail was beaver ponds. It was so awesome to see evidence of their busy lives. Pool after pool after pool of the dammed creek. Very beautiful. And Aaron took me up another hiking trail far enough to be able to see their lodge. Biggest beaver lodge I've ever seen. And right in Aaron's backyard!
Our Very Own Tree
In 2004, we went for a family hike out the north fork of Deer Creek over 4th of July. Dad, Mom, siblings, and my friend, Ruth. Jeff put three-year-old James on his back and took off with the rest of them, while I stayed behind and watched nine-month-old Jonathan sleep in his car seat. (See how many iron-clad excuses I've had over the years for not exercising?)
Dad led the way up the trail, with Ruth and some of my other siblings doing their best to match his pace. Jeff got bogged down by James and fell behind. After a mile, he beheld the rest of the group at the top of a hill he had yet to climb, and he decided to turn around.
Before he headed back to me, he carved our initials in a tree. He took a picture of the carving, which I now can't find anywhere. But that's okay, because this year, on June 19, he took me out to see the tree for myself. After a mile in, 500 vertical feet up, and the careful scrutiny of dozens of trees, we finally found it.
When we arrived, Jeff laughed as he discovered he had put an X on the front of the tree so we could spot it easily from the trail. Very useful, that X. Would have been even more useful if we'd remembered it was there.
Facing away from the trail, embedded in time, I finally saw this with my own two eyes.
Jeff got to work updating his proclamation.
He loved me in 2004, and he loves me in 2010.
He also updated the X. His gushy wife loves those hugs and kisses.
I love you too, Mr. Man.
O Canada, My Home and Native Land
Mom and I went to see my brother, his wife, and their three children from June 20-28. While we were there, we did a few walks. My sister, Kimberley, showed us a beautiful walking trail out to a bench, and we saw a deer trotting along nearby. A couple of days later, I walked by myself around the perimeter of the town, about 3 miles. The day after that, I got to walk with my brother downtown for an errand. It was great to get him all to myself for half an hour. I love that man. And finally, on the weekend, Mom and I did a practice 10K, to prepare for an upcoming race. We walked north of town to the top of a hill and back, 6.37 miles. I took pictures of none of these traverses. Alas.
But I did take some very lovely shots of a few of my favorite things.
This building rests magnificently along the border crossing at Sweetgrass. Very beautiful. I'm a sucker for gables.
My niece. Bright, passionate, sensitive. I love that girl.
Her sister. Delightful. Best two-year-old photo pose ever. So precious.
My nephew with his Nana. Oh my goodness. My heart's all melted.
See? There are mountains on the horizon. See them? Those are the Canadian Rockies. Spectacular, even from a distance. I spotted these as we drove across southern Alberta back to the U.S. A lovely benediction to a lovely trip.
Rocky Mountain High (Colorado)
I've always wanted to see Colorado. Once, I drove through Denver at night. Missed the Rockies entirely. So depressing. On this trip, which I took to visit my college family from July 1-6, I drove through Denver at night again. *sigh* But two of my college siblings, Mary and Greg, who live in Colorado Springs, promised me spectacular views in the daylight. And as my mom would say, they weren't just a-kiddin'!
Look! It's Pikes Peak! Named after a guy named Pike. Who climbed it a long time ago. So it should be Pike's Peak. And it used to be. But over a hundred years ago, the government recommended against the use of apostrophes in names. The apostrophe was officially dropped, but anyone with any semblance of grammatical training continued to use it. So in 1978, the Colorado State Legislature had to actually pass a ruling against the use of the apostrophe in the name. Ridiculous. Boo on the government. But yay for Pikes Peak! I didn't get to drive to the top this time, but I hope to someday. And I found out the peak is actually one of the lower 14ers in Colorado, but it is the most famous because of the alliteration. How ironic that they ruled against one bit of grammar but rode to fame on the coattails of another. I'm irked.
I planned a four-mile hike in the hills around our campsite from a Google satellite image, but we hadn't gone more than a quarter of a mile before we encountered a gate and a no trespassing sign not visible from space. Hmph. So instead, we walked around this lake in our campground seven times. Seven. I got very tired of the loop, complete with aggressive summering Canadian geese who were clearly offended by our presence on their lakeshore. But I figure, we must have been cured of our leprosy, or knocked the walls of Jericho down, or something. I had a very good talk with my college sisters, Mary and Kiersten. And it's gorgeous, eh?
One morning, I walked up a little path to be alone for a while. I'd wanted to walk further, but the elevation kicked my butt. We camped at 6,400 feet, and at 6,450 feet, I plopped down on the ground, panting and gasping for air. Where I found a blog post. Ready?
I sat down in front of these cacti. All prickly. Didn't notice them until I was seated, and almost sat on them. For a few minutes, under the bill of my hat, all I could see were cacti. Like life. Focusing on the prickly parts of life can be overwhelming. But all ya gotta do is...
Look up! "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1-2
There. A tidy little blog post.
I had never heard of Garden of the Gods, but now I've both heard of it and hiked it. Well, sort of. We strolled a little ways up a couple of paths. But holy cow. Those are some dang tall orange rock formations. I'd like to go back there some day and explore all 23 miles of hiking trails.
I got this shot on the way back from the Denver airport. Finally! The Colorado Rockies in daylight -- barely! They truly are spectacular. As is Colorado.
I finally arrived home on July 6, super happy to be with my Mr. Man and our two knights-in-training. But I brought a heat wave with me from Colorado, so after a day or so of sweat-soaked, heat-induced lethargy, I finally convinced Jeff to whisk us off to the coast.
Nice, overcast, foggy beach. *Happy sigh.* Jeff taught Rosy to brave the waves by tossing her ball into the surf.
We found a centaur lounging around in the sand.
And a floating head. A frowny floating head.
James is growing up so fast... now he's sporting facial hair!
Yep, I'm wrapped up in a blanket. Happily.
We camped in this field, next to a laughing creek, which was the only thing that separated us from...
Hey, Mom! Look! It's another water bottle commercial! I took this pic just for you.
The next day, we drove up the coast until we found a beach that wasn't fogged in. But we didn't want Rosy to get a sunburn, so, ya know...
The boys were very pleased with this accomplishment.
We picked up some sand castle equipment at the boys' request, but I ended up being the construction crew. See the big rock in the distance? My God made that.
I love my wave jumpers. And I love this father-sons moment. And I love that my God made these men. And I love that He gave them to me.
Go Girl Trail Run
And finally, my most recent escapade.
My friend, Brenda, and I walked this 10K a couple of days ago.
They gave me a real number and everything.
Here I am jogging toward the finish line, which was one of my goals. We finished in 2:11.38, under our goal of 2:15. I was fifth from last overall, achieving another goal, which was to not be last. We started in an early untimed wave at 7:30am, and the timed racers began at 9am. My final goal was to cross the finish line before I got lapped by any of the 9am racers. We made it with 3.5 minutes to spare.
Brenda says the rule is that you're not supposed to wear the t-shirt until after you've completed the race. Well, look who's wearin' the t-shirt!
This concludes the recording of my recent adventures. Up next: can she or can't she get all the trip laundry washed, dried, folded, and put away? Stay tuned.