Friday, August 01, 2014

Colorado I

Earlier in the summer we volunteered to Jeff and Valerie (Easterling - we do have two J and Vs to keep track of) that we would come to Denver if there was any time this summer when Malia's and Macy's day care arrangements had a gap - and that turned out to be last week.  So, after a week of turn-around activities after our Arizona-Las Vegas trip, we headed to Denver Saturday, 7/19.   We made a two-day Tuzigoot trip out of it, spending Saturday night at an RV park at the top of Raton Pass.  We got to our campground at Chatfield State Park, near the SW corner of the Denver metropolitan area, and just 10 minutes from Jeff's house, in early afternoon, set up, then went to the Easterling house for some play, bike-riding, and grilled hamburgers.

Monday it was just us and the girls.  We played games and did puzzles, then went to a movie (Planes: Fire Rescue - pretty cool bunch of airplanes fight forest fires) and lunch at McDonald's.  A fine time was had by all.

Tuesday the girls had activities lined up, so we were free to go do our own thing.  Thought about driving to Estes Park to scout out the area where we'll be next week for an Easterling family reunion.  Decided we didn't need to do that - all the info about rooms and facilities are available online.  Instead we took a shorter drive to Boulder and Longmont.

I went to first grade in Boulder, while my Dad was in school at CU, and we spent several summers there at around the same time.  I got online and found a list of Boulder Elementary Schools and the one that rang a bell was Whittier.  Was located in the right part of town, as I recalled.  And it looks like a school from that era - however, no bell in the tower, I don't think.  Anyhow, I'll claim that this hallowed, ivied monument of education is my first-grade school.

A couple of memories from that time:  In first grade, I couldn't say 'animal.'  I said 'am-in-al.'  Took me years to overcome the shame of that.  So, don't bring it up to me.  You can tell that I'm still sensitive on that issue.  Bullying is not new.

I also remember learning to ride a bike that year - Dad running down the street holding me and the bike up then releasing us.

Another story:  We lived in a small house that was the only house on a short block.  (I didn't look for it - am sure it's gone and has been replaced by student apartments.)  The house backed up on an irrigation ditch.  Lots of trees around, a little spooky.  Well, there was an attack, maybe even a murder in Boulder.  Dad was away on Navy duty.  He called Mom and said, Get out of there.  So, Mom loaded my brother, Lael, and me into the car, in the middle of the night, I fantasize, and we drove to Oklahoma and stayed with her parents until it was safe to go back.

We got to Boulder, this day, by driving the foothills road from Golden to Boulder.  Very scenic.  I pointed out some mountains just outside of Boulder to Susie, saying those are the Flatirons, you'll see why they're called that as we get closer.  Eventually, she believed me.  This is an online picture.

Go here to see more Flatiron pictures.

When we got to Chatfield on Sunday, I called a friend and former Albuquerquean, Larry McConahy.  He and wife, Linda, now live in Longmont, CO, just a ways north and east of Boulder.  Larry and I go back to the days when his two sons and my two sons, and we dads, were in Indian Guides - lots of memories of slot car races, rocket launches, and hot-air balloon flights (the heat source generally burned up the balloon, rather than levitating it), and other character- and skill-building activities.  The McC's were also members of St. John's Methodist Church, so we saw them regularly over the years.  Their two sons and eight grandchildren are located in Longmont and nearby Fort Collins, so about four years ago, quite understandably, Larry and Linda moved to Longmont.  At any rate, I called Larry and said, We'd like to come visit and go to lunch with you.  So, after Boulder we drove a bit further north and east to Longmont.  Here are Larry and Linda in front of their house.

We had a nice lunch in the nearby town of Niwot and a good visit as we caught up on life since Indian Guides, and since St. John's, too.  I had forgotten, but last September there was serious flooding in Longmont and upstream on the St. Vrain River.  Here are some pictures.  It was categorized as a 500-year flood.  Maybe even more rare than that - September is not usually a time for floods.

Which reminds me of a true statistical story.  Years ago, probably in the 1970s, there was a major flood in the Country Club area of Kansas City.  We happened to be in Kansas City a year later.  It was raining heavily as an intrepid TV reporter on remote location in the Country Club area earnestly said: 'Some merchants in this area are worried about another flood like last year's, except those who know that a flood like that will not occur for another 99 years.'  It's hard to get statistical predictions any more apparently precise than that.

Wednesday we took M and M to Wings Over Colorado - the state's air and space museum.  I discovered this museum a few years ago when Mandi and Paul lived nearby on what was Lowry AFB.  Jeff took the girls there a while back and they were eager to go back.

One of the neatest things at the museum is a Harrison Ford film on Wings Over Colorado - lots of great flying scenes over the Colorado landscape.  Lots of planes to see in what was an AFB hangar.  There are planes being restored on site and I was intrigued on an earlier visit to see veterans of various vintages exchanging stories about the 'birds' they had flown.  Here are some pix:


The museum has a simulator by which you can fly the Wright Brothers plane at Kitty Hawk.  Malia had a smooth flight and landing.

Wednesday afternoon we brought the girls out to spend the night in "the bus."  Some scenes:

It was Malia's choice to sleep in the recliner.

As you can see, Macy will pose any time she sees a camera.  I had my bicycle and we took theirs to the campground, so we did a couple of bike rides around the area.  Break time for Macy after completing a tough climb.

Playground fun.

Next morning: everybody on their iPad.

Later in the morning we drove around to a swimming area on the lake and had a good time in the water and building sand castles on the beach.

I did some bike riding early one morning along what I think is called the hi-line canal.  Here are a couple of shots from that ride.  Pardon the intrusion of my finger over the lens in this first picture.

And here's a sunset over the lake shot.

Friday morning we departed early.  Traveled home via Alamosa, CO where we had lunch with grandson Andrew.

He's a senior at Adams State University.  Since his parents have just moved to the Philadelphia area, he's sort of our semi-responsibility.  Primarily, we'll be traveling up there for soccer games when school starts.

So, another good week with and for grandkids.  More to come as the Estes Park family reunion gets under way next week.  Watch for the Colorado II posting.

Susie and Rob

Friday, July 18, 2014

Las Vegas

Friday morning we left for Las Vegas to visit daughter Heidi, husband Joseph, and twin sons Landon and Julian.  From Williams, AZ to the Vargas house in NW Vegas it is about 185 miles and four hours of driving.   Trip was uneventful.  Twins, of course, were thrilled to see their grandparents!

I never succeeded in uploading a video into blogger, but in separate e-mail I will send an excerpt - the twins dancing to the World Cup video.

Here are a few photos.  It is really hard to get a good picture - they're (almost) always on the move.

Watching a video in the castle.

New educational developmental puzzles from grandparents: when you fit the object into its cut-out position, you get the sound of the appropriate animal or vehicle, as the case may be: Mooo!

Landon is Susie's main buddy.  Julian latches on to me.  He's the one with curly hair and the yellow shirt.

I took my bike to Vegas and did a couple of early morning rides in the neighborhood.  This area was once rural, now it is becoming surrounded by new homes and businesses.  The old properties sort of remind me of the North Valley of Albuquerque.  There are large estates, horse stables and pastures, even an arena.  

I did a double-take as I rode by one fence and tree line and thought I saw a buffalo the other side of the trees.  I did!  Two of them.

And here's a horse picture.

We stayed for the World Cup Final, Sunday afternoon, then drove back to Williams.  Timing worked out so that we could stop in Kingman, AZ in late afternoon for Cracker Barrel's Sunday fried chicken special.  Very good.  Mountain showers as we returned to the high country en route to Williams.  Uneventful trip home the next day.  The dashboard A/C worked just fine.

W.r.t. road trips, I came across this article on how to eliminate boring road trips.  Number one: Leave the interstate.  We do this some of the time, but obviously not on this trip.   On earlier trips across this same terrain, we have traveled and enjoyed some stretches of historic Route 66.  Which reminds me: Williams advertizes itself as "the last Route 66 town bypassed by I-40."  Just taking Business 40 (old 66) through Williams and Seligman are worth your time occasionally.  For a longer diversion, take old 66 from Seligman to Kingman.  Did that once.

All told a very nice two weeks with friends and family.  We've got this week to do laundry, then it's off to Colorado for most of the next week with our granddaughters there.  Stay tuned.

Susie and Rob

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Flalgstaff and Sedona

When I was in graduate school at Oklahoma State University, Judy and I met and became friends with Wayne and Cynthia Sjoberg at our Sunday School class at the Methodist Church in Stillwater.  We  both graduated in 1967 and Wayne became a professor in the Psychology Dept. at Northern Arizona U in Flagstaff.  For several years, he had the additional duties of being the Faculty Rep for athletics.  We've exchanged Christmas cards and gotten together (all too) occasionally over the 47 years since.  While in Williams, I contacted Wayne and we arranged to get together on Thursday.

We drove over to Flagstaff, about 25 miles from Williams, and found our way to the Sjobergs' house.  They took us on a drive through Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona for lunch.  Had a very nice lunch and a great time catching up during lunch.

Oak Creek Canyon had a serious forest fire recently and all of the recreational areas in the canyon are closed.  With the "monsoon" season upon us (we had rain every day in Williams, I believe), there is great concern about mudslides and the road has been closed recently on very short notice.  But, we got through both ways.  Here are a couple of Sedona pictures.

Can't you just feel the harmonic vibes in those scenes.

Driving back to Flagstaff we stopped at the Oak Creek overlook and a very friendly Dutch man touring the States took our picture.

Had a great day with Wayne and Cynthia and look forward to seeing them again some time.

I should mention that the rest of our Allegro group left on Wednesday, so we were on our own Wednesday and Thursday.  As I mentioned, we decided Williams was close enough to Las Vegas that a side trip was justified.  So, Friday we drove the Explorer to Las Vegas to see Heidi, Joey, and the grand-twins, Julian and Landon.   We had considered driving Tuzigoot to Vegas but high temps and uncertainty about whether we could maneuver Tuzi into their driveway led us to leave Tuzi in Williams and drive the Explorer.  Anyhow, Vegas next.

Grand Canyon

On Wednesday we rode the Grand Canyon Railway train to and from the Grand Canyon.  It's just over a two-hour trip, traveling at 40 mph, arriving just about noon.  We opted to ride up in a dome car, back in a coach.  Here's an uninteresting shot of the view from the dome.  We did have a cowboy singer come up and serenade us on the way.  And survived a hold-up from some desperadoes on the way home.

At the Canyon we had lunch in the El Tovar dining room, overlooking the canyon.  Our plan was to ride the park shuttle along a portion of the south rim to three or four vantage points during the three hours or so we had available before our return train.  The crowds and the wait for a shuttle, plus threatening weather, in which case the Ranger in charge told us that the buses would be shut down, made us decide to stay within walking distance of the train station.  Didn't want to get stranded and have to spend the night on a park bench.  For future reference, the better way to do this trip is to stay overnight at a Canyon lodge, rather than make a one-day trip.  Here are some shots of the Canyon.  You can see that it was a cloudy day.

The sun came out briefly and illuminated one promontory nicely, though.  Anybody know the name of that?


Next: Flagstaff and Sedona

Susie and Rob

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Train Stuff

I've been taking early morning bike rides since we got here.  Today, Tuesday, I rode around the train yard, the other side of the tracks from Railside RV Park, and got a few pictures that might be of interest.

Wheels - would make some nice yard art - or the base for a picnic table.

Bus wheels, too.

Here's a restoration candidate.



Could make it into guest quarters.

More wheels.

A couple more cars.

That's it.

Next blogpost: Grand Canyon.

Rob and Susie