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  (I didn't look for it - am sure it's gone and has been replaced by student apartments.)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