Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sun, July 29, 2007: Flatirons Again and Equine Madness

Today I went for a second trip to Chautauqua to visit the Flatirons. After 27 years of living at sea level (and a year of playing computer games on and off... mostly on...), I'm still working on adjusting myself to the altitude here. I realized that when I posted pictures from my previous trip there, I didn't really show what the Flatirons look like, except for the one giant slab of rock looming over my shoulder in my "I'm ridiculous" picture.
Sunflowers grow wild around here, something I noticed almost as soon as I crossed the Kansas border into Colorado on my trip out here... I still can't believe that trip began almost 3 weeks ago. It seems like both yesterday and 100 years past.
Once I was finished with my hike, I couldn't possibly be expected to head straight home. I made the drive back take about 2 hours longer than it should have by exploring some curvy mountain roads that I haven't driven on yet. The roads I chose took me through a small town called Rollinsville, where I pulled over at a small grocery store to buy some M&Ms (eating M&Ms on road trips being a favorite pastime of mine). As I parked next to the store, I was greeted with this very awesome sight:
Yes, that's right... someone rode their horse to the local restaurant. The horse looked very friendly and kept turning around to look at me as I first exited my car, then the store. Either that or he wanted lunch too and thought I looked palatable.

A friend called me earlier today, and said she thinks that the universe used my feelings to trick me into moving out here. As soon as she finished, I exclaimed, "That's exactly what I think too!". Knowing that I'm not alone in thinking this, in addition to discussing the Saturn return idea, has given me the most mentally and emotionally peaceful day I've experienced since moving to Colorado. While driving around today I could feel a half-smile turning up one corner of my mouth in wry acceptance of my fate. There is also a warm feeling that has started bubbling in my stomach in anticipation of why it was so important to move me out here. I don't feel nervous or afraid right now, just excited.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Fri, Sept 28, 2007: Menver

((Present Day: Looking back at this is kind of funny, because my perceptions of people have changed so much. I think at this point last year I was still very hurt and depressed by the way that my ex treated me, so the way I saw things for a while was very slanted. Sometimes when I look back at these blogs, I just want to give my past self a hug and reassure her that life will get better than she's ever imagined)).


Okay, this is my last blog with no pictures, I swear tomorrow I'm going for a drive in the beautiful aspens!

I've been thinking all day today about a conversation I had with two friends the other night. They said they've been talking recently about the dating scene out here, and one friend shared and observation based on her dating experiences that men out here are cowards. Of course, my cynical inner voice said "Aren't they like that everywhere?", but the more I think about it the more things about some people out here fall into place.

I associate cowardice in relationships with low self-esteem and selfishness. Both traits seem to fit with many things I have observed out here: obsession with material possessions, bragging about how many 14ers you've climbed or how many marathons you've run in or how many bike races you've won, the "coupley" atmosphere of the city and always needing to have someone hanging on your arm.... I think maybe she's right.

She also commented that they seem not to like independent women very much and a lot of guys out here just want a little trophy to parade around. I'm afraid I'm going to have trouble dating out here....

Things have become somewhat lonely lately. My roommate (who is very neat) has her best friend from college visiting her out here. Her friend is also very neat and is looking for work and an apartment out here. They hang out together a lot and I've sort of become the third wheel. It makes me sad but I am seeing this theme over and over again, being cut off from social contacts and left to my own devices. What is the thing to do in this situation, run around Denver by myself every weekend? I don't know, but the fear of being alone is very scary!

Providing there isn't a natural disaster or something bad doesn't happen to my camera, I should have a fun story and pictures for tomorrow. : )

Friday, July 27, 2007

Fri, July 27, 2007: Crestone and Sand Dunes

Training for work begins this Monday, and I already had plans loosely scheduled for this weekend. That made this Friday my last official unplanned day for a road trip before I become an average working woman. I wanted to visit Crestone and Great Sand Dunes National Park at some point, so Friday became the day to do it!

I woke up eaaaaarly in the morning because I had no idea how long it would take me to get there. Mapquest boldly declared that the route I intended to take would take me approximately 3 3/4 hours. Knowing that the fairly straight roads depicted on maps out here are often a tangled jumble of switchbacks and meanders, I assumed it would probably take me about 6.

I woke up at 5 and after getting lost on the way to grab a bagel for breakfast, ended up leaving the city around 7. I'd been up this early once so far since arriving in Colorado, but this time was much more beautiful. As anyone who is reading this knows, I have taken probably a million pictures of the mountains by now... and will continue taking millions more for as long as I live here. Here is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful pictures I've taken out here.
I was up in what I think of as a "mountain plain" (as in, up in the mountains but on flat land... as is fairly obvious from the above picture), and it seemed like I could stand and stretch my hand upward and tickle the bellies of the clouds above me. The mountains were littered with shredded clouds and a steady mist rose from the plains through which the highway passed.

The next 2 pictures show more of this mountain plains area, which seemed to be the prevailing landscape throughout my journey to Crestone:

Somewhere north of Crestone, the mountains parted like water to flow around the large mountain plain along the edge of which Crestone is nestled. Once the point of the mountains opening up is passed, they seemed to change. The mountain plains areas that I'd driven through earlier that morning were significantly smaller than the one holding Crestone, and there was a sense that the mountains still possessed the greater power over the land. Upon reaching this more southern mountain plain, I was surprised to see how vast it was, and how greatly its size diminished the grand appearance of the mountains. The mountains also take on a different shape in this area. Until this point in my drive that morning, the mountains had a fairly even triangular shape that amusingly resembles the way a child would draw a mountain (or the way that someone ridiculously talented at drawing would depict them, such as me). Once I entered the plateau of the Crestone area however, the mountains took on a new shape. They reminded me of the curve of a specific equation and its variations that we used to graph in AP Calc on our handy TI-85s. They curved slowly, slowly up and then suddenly became bored with the gradual growth and sprung straight out of the earth. They reminded me of times I have looked down the beach at the ocean and observed a long wave steadly curling toward the sand, each part of the wave at the same point in progress toward curling inward on itself.
The Rockies, which up near Denver are a densely braided jumble of massive earth, tended to unravel into delicate North-South ridges the farther south I traveled. The peaks of the Sangre Cristo mountains, which hold Crestone at their feet, are approximately 13,000 feet tall each, and stand out 6,000 feet above the mountain plains. Here is a picture of them, with some of the buildings of Crestone peeking out from the trees.
When I arrived in Crestone, I drove around for a bit near the center of town... which took all of about 20 minutes, and that was driving at 15 mph. Here is a picture of one of the main streets:I wandered around, hoping to see some of the neat temples and construction experiements this area is known for, but was unable to find them. While driving around, I suddenly realized that I had not felt so grounded for a very long time, definately not since arriving in Colorado. It felt as if a powerful magnet had attached itself to the back of my bellybutton and was pulling straight through my tailbone to the earth. It was an incredible feeling. For the first time since arriving here, the worries that have been a constant source of annoyance and pain for me (think: swarm of bees relentlessly circling your head) were just gone. Not that the thoughts were gone, but they became nothing to worry about anymore. I felt so intensely grounded that if a car hit me, the car would have my sympathy because I wasn't moving anywhere.

The sensation was so intense that I could feel it draining from me inch by inch as I took the road back out of town toward Route 17. It was so powerful that I actually turned around and drove back toward town, just to drive around one more time before having to lose that feeling. As I drove away for the second time, I felt myself becoming lighter, driftier, almost dizzy (and not because of the altitude; I'm used to the way that feels by now). I felt like a piece of seaweed in the ocean, subject to the whims of waves and currents. I think the most amazing thing about the grounded feeling that came with Crestone is that it took zero effort to maintain. The idea of maintaining it at all was just silly. It just *was*.

After I grudgingly pulled myself away from Crestone, I headed south toward the Great Sand Dunes National Monument. Along the way, I was greeted wtih my first view of a field of wildflowers since arriving out here.
The sand dunes were strange, forming a long sandy wall along the base of the mountains. I wished I could get out of my car and explore them a bit, since it seems kind of difficult to get lost on a sand dune when all you have to do it climb to the top and spot where everyone's cars are parked. By that time though it was early afternoon, and the predictible early afternoon thunderstorm had rolled in. Playing on the sand dunes during a thunderstorm sounded not fun to me, as I'm not sure I like the idea of being struck by lightning. In this picture, the very edge of the dunes are visible to the left... in case that's not obvious.
While the mountains had thinned out by this point to become random giant peaks among the plains, the area to the south of the Dunes offered another drastic change in the landscape. The mountains all but disappeared and the land became sandy rolling hills covered in scrubby looking bushes. At the point where I took this picture, I was about an hour from the border of New Mexico, maybe even closer.I passed by these neat mountains which I called Elephant Feet while naming my pictures:And by two random mountains protruding from the plains which I later learned are the Spanish Peaks:Someone out here once remarked that Pueblo is the ugliest city they have ever seen, that it's all flat and monotonous and dull. At the time, I thought to myself that it can't be that bad, that there must be something beautiful about it. But driving through the Pueblo area definately didn't offer me anything to love about the city. My disclaimer to this statement is that I didn't actually go into the city, walk around, or explore... just drove through on I-25. So there is still hope. :) This picture is of the Pueblo area on I-25, looking in a general Northerly direction:

Since I was not at all interested in taking I-25 all the way back up to Denver, I hopped onto back roads once I reached Colorado Springs. I wound through the mountains and right into my first mountain thunderstorm. I had just commented to a friend on Thursday that I missed all of the late afternoon thunderstorms we used to get during the summer in Connecticut. Well I found one out here.... Lightning and thunder scrambled over each other to be the first to reach my senses. The streams which usually bounced along their way were furiously rushing, laiden with the extra water being fed to them by the mountains. It was kind of terrifying being so much closer to the clouds and the lightning was intense. I smiled the entire time as I drove through the storm.

As I neared Jefferson County (south and west of Denver), I found another area that looked as if a forest fire had recently cleared it... unless it was another attack of the Black Charcoal Trunk Fungus.
Since this has become the longest blog entry of all time, I have only 2 more things to say and then it's done.

One is something that a friend recently said to me, with regards to my situation: "Life is seldom predictible and often less than courteous in how is deals with us, but in the end it teaches you a lot even when it's a monster about it".

The second is a realization I had today (today being Saturday). I was out and filled with a strong desire to go home. And for the first time since moving out here, "home" meant my home in Colorado, not the home where I grew up in Connecticut. That made me smile. : )

(I lied, 3 more things...) The other night, a friend reminded me of Saturn return and described his experiences with the return to me. All I have to say is hellooooo Saturn return.

((Present day note: I later had my chart read and learned that it wasn't Saturn but Pluto that was turning my life on its head)).

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thurs, July 26, 2007: Gross Reservoir

Does the place *have* to be called Gross Reservoir? I mean seriously... they could have called it pretty much anything else and it would be an improvement.

This morning I wanted to resolve my question of "Where does this road lead?" that I posed when on top of Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder this past spring. (The answer, by the way, given by someone who lives 10 minutes from that road was "I don't know"). Since not knowing where a road leads is unacceptable to me, I had to check it out!

I drove up Route 36 to Boulder (to pick up some mail that my school sent to the address where I was supposed to live, which was not fun...) and headed up the windy road to the top of the mountain. This picture was taken past the point of my posing the question above ("Aah... so this is where this road goes!"). The road flattened out in the mountains, then eventually dipped down through several valleys before depositing me, after a long and windy trip on a dirt road, into something resembling civilization.I knew from looking at the map that there was a resevoir along the road, but I didn't anticipate such a spectacular view from the road:
I was surprised to see a view between the mountains (I think the left hand one in the picture may be the back of one of the Flatirons) which usually greets me on my way home, not in the middle of a drive. I could see the flat prairie land peeking at me between the mountains. There were some very neat rock formations in this area, which was fenced in with signs stating that the park is closed. All of the trees were charred trunks, so I'm assuming there was a forest fire that claimed most of the trees in the area, unless there is some sort of Charred Trunk Fungus of which I am unaware.
There are some beautiful little wildflowers out here that remind me of morning glories. I have no idea what they are called....
And one last mountain view for the road:I posted in my trip to Winter Park that many of the pines in that area were brown, adding color to the landscape. I learned from one of my house mates that there is some sort of beetle that has been killing the trees. I mention this now because there is one very obviously dead and brown tree right in the middle of the above photograph.

I continued driving down through some of the southern parts of Denver, which I haven't seen as much as downtown and my neighborhood. I'm having a really hard time dealing with the housing situation out here. Apparently Colorado is big into preserving its open spaces, which in many ways is a fantastic idea and I'm sure is the reason why Denver hasn't infested the foothills.

Their solution to this problem is to build houses right on top of each other, like the suburbs in Connecticut except more intensely crowded. Some of the homes in these neighborhoods are huge and expensive looking, but in order to walk around them you basically have to keep one foot in your neighbor's yard the whole time. The areas that are beautiful to live, where you are 30-40 minutes west of the city (only west, cause that's where the mountains are... who wants to live east? Not me!) are made up of sprawling homes that cost millions of dollars... a leeetle bit of a stretch for the budget of a school psychologist.

I keep reminding myself, "Think of New Britain, and Newington, and West Hartford. Think of Springfield and New Milford and Worcester, there are places like this around home too", but it's not doing me any good. All I can think of is my parents' house, close enough to I-91 and downtown Hartford, with a big yard and beautiful trees, a stream on one end of the road and a pond on the other, cornfield down the hill past the backyard. I feel like in Connecticut, people have sprawled out in the rural areas. Yet there are few untouched places there, as opposed to here where the majority of places are untouched. I told a friend yesterday on the way back from hiking, as I pointed to an anonymous apartment house type thing which looked terrifyingly like the 500,000 other apartment house things surrounding it, "If I ever have to live in a place like that, I will shrivel up and die."

He explained to me the merrits of keeping open spaces (namely that Denver hasn't invaded the mountains, so they are still beautiful and untouched), but it's very hard for me to see things through those eyes. Maybe we are spoiled in Connecticut, or maybe it's just my hometown. I can't tell.

I have no idea why I'm even thinking about good places to live out here anyways... I mean, I don't even know if I want to stay past next summer when my internship is up. When I originally planned on moving out here it was to be a permanent move, but things are obviously no longer following the original plan. It's hard for me to see where I would fit in here, I think: I'm not a city girl, and I'm definately not a suburban girl either. I need space, room to move and air to breathe. But living in a rural area out here means a town population of 1,000 and a 3 hour drive to any major city. Apparently the places where I'd like to live are where everyone in Colorado would like to live (does this mean I have good taste at least?)

This is not intended to be critical of Colorado at all. I think that my friend raised a very excellent point when he said that open space helps keep this state looking beautiful and wild. But within the areas that are inhabited and not too far from civilization, I can't see myself thriving. I guess the awesome thing about living out here, regardless of how big your yard is or how many trees it has, is that you're always a fairly short drive from beauty and peace in the mountains, hiking and biking and climbing and all those crazy things people do out here. : )

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Weds, July 25, 2007: Chautaqua Hiking

This is like a retro blog (retro all the way back to yesterday) because a friend was kind enough to share the pics he took during this excursion, since I didn't bring my camera! Since when did I not bring my camera somewhere out here? What was I thinking?!

This is a view of the Boulder area from sort of near the beginning of the trail:
Here is a view from higher up!
This is a picture of this neato little rock cave we saw on the way up. After living in a tent for 2 summers, I tend to look at natural shelters a little differently now. I think this would be a neat place to stay.
This is my amazing picture of the top of one of the Flatirons. You can't really see them, but there are 2 climbers up there! My friend was kind enough to point them out with an arrow.
This is my favorite picture of the day... not because I like pictures of myself, but because I think I look really happy in it. It's nice to have a fun day. : )

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tues, July 24, 2007: Guanella Pass

The woman who owns the house where I live told me about a neat place to drive called Guanella Pass. It crosses over the mountains from Route 70 to Route 285 (not that those routes mean anything to most of you...). She raved about the beautiful wildflowers that cover the lands crossed by the road, and said that this is a good time of year to see their beauty. As I had nothing planned for this afternoon, I figured I'd check it out.

While leaving Denver, I snapped a picture of the skyline which is way better than the one I posted while driving in from my trip out here. My new home city!
The Guanella Pass begins at the west end of Georgetown, a cute small town which seems to have a lot of history and which I'd like to visit again. The first neat sight I came across on the road was a multi-tiered waterfall. I stepped out of my car and breathed deeply as I approached the sound of rushing water, hoping to smell that moist, earthy smell that always accompanies water in New England. I haven't found that smell out here, and I'm guessing that I won't... and I didn't today.
I'll never get tired of these mountain views...
I passed a couple of beautiful lakes, or what would have been beautiful lakes except that they were greatly controlled and civilized. Brightly colored dams and powerlines etching a boundary between the lakes and mountains saddened me, as my landlady had talked about the many lakes I would see up in the mountains along this drive. I did see quite a few, but none with the pristine mountain beauty I'd hoped for.

Speaking of the influence of humans... I was horrified to come across a compound of high-power lines along the road. What better way to detract from the magnificent landscape around me? I think they found the perfect one, though a sewage treatment plant may have topped it.
Luckily as I drove farther away from town the signs of civilization trickled away and I was left with the landscape that I'm growing to love. The mountains turned to rolling green hills, and I was reminded of my thoughts of the "mountains" at home being velvety rolling humps swelling across the land. It made me very happy to see these mountains, and think of them in a similar manner. I'm wondering if this area is one of those which becomes enshrouded in wildflowers when in season. I'm thinking I should take a trip back here next year in early summer to see the mountains covered with blossoms.
While driving, these little bell flowers caught my eye. I thought of a friend at home, and how she said that she likes purple flowers because their color is so unexpected in the landscape. I have to say I agree.
This last picture I looooove... it reminds me of a puzzle I used to do when I was young, complete with the split-rail fence.
I listened to Colbie Caillat and Kings of Convenience all day, as I find their music both soothing and reassuring. I'm in this strange place mentally; I can't believe I left home 2 weeks ago today. It feels like I've aged a lifetime since then, yet it still seems so close that I could pack up my car and head home and it would be as if I never left. I think Colorado would just seem like some strange dream. I still can't believe I'm out here!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mon, July 23, 2007: Lessons at Red Rocks

Last night my roommates and I went to Film on the Rocks, which is a neat event put on by the Denver Film Society. The evening consists of a musical act that performs for about 2 hours, and then a movie played on the stage afterwards.

Red Rocks is hands-down the coolest place I have ever seen someone perform. The entire construction is natural, with giant rocks lining both sides of the amphitheater as well as the area behind the stage. Nothing about the acoustics of the place was artificially created. The seats consist of rows and rows of platforms and reminded me of an old Greek theater, and were very steep!

Several of my house mates and I went to see The Shining. As we settled in to our perches near the top of the venue, we had a fantastic view of the greater Denver area. The lights of homes and cars shimmered, and we wondered whether this was because of the heat rising from the city or if Denver is just a sparkley city. Our seats felt so high up! The sight of the massive rocks surrounding me and the city sprawling out before me was dizzying at times.

Here are some things that I learned from my trip to Red Rocks:

1. When they play a classic movie that was written about and filmed in Colorado, everyone and their mother is going to show up. Get there at least 2 hours early.

2. Every time that something regarding Colorado is mentioned in said movie, everyone in the theater will begin screaming and applauding wildly. (I was surprised when some people screamed at the mention of Maine as well!).

3. Whatever you do, do *not* wear heels to Red Rocks. Only in Colorado do you have to hike in to a theater....

4. Don't lose your balance, or you will fall over at least 2 rows of people before you stop rolling (this was not me, but a guy sitting in the row in front of us). And because of the ease with which people can observe everyone below them, expect half the venue to laugh at you if you do such a thing.

5. Make sure that your personal belongings are a safe distance away from the backs of the seating platforms, as there is a trough there which carries liquid (think: spilled beer + purse).

6. Watching a scary movie is about 100 times better when you are surrounded by thousands of people than if you are watching it in a small group (aka, it's hard to get scared when around so many people. : P ).

That being said, Film on the Rocks was an awesome experience!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sun, July 22, 2007: Garden of the Gods

One of my house mates asked what I was doing today, to which I replied nothing much, probably going for a drive. She asked me if I wanted to go to Garden of the Gods with her... did I?! I jumped on the offer, so we left early this morning and headed down to Colorado Springs.

I was pleasantly surprised by my ability to find the place again, having driven past it one of my first days here on the way to Pike's Peak. I was happy to return with a friend to explore the area.

Here is a general view of what the place looks like near the main entrance. The rocks are in shadow, but in the bright morning sunlight were actually a bright brownish orange.One of my other house mates told me last night that there is a formation called the Kissing Camels. Once I saw these rocks, I guessed that name referred to these guys! So cute!
This is a picture of this random plant that grows everywhere around here. It must be beautiful when it blooms; most of them have a long, dead stalk protruding from the center of the plant. I can't wait to see it next year.
We walked around some of the trails and had a lovely conversation with some Texans. In fact, I snapped the first photo in this blog entry right next to the Texan woman, who was snapping the same photo. After being run over by a million tourists and their children, we decided that we wanted to wander off the path. We crossed the road that circles the Garden and headed up a dry stream bed to a stack of large, flat rocks. This is a picture of the rocks:
Apparently along the way, I missed seeing a lizard that was in our path, which was disappointing! Once we ascended, we had an amazing view of some of the major rock formations, as well as some interesting stacked rocks which we hadn't been able to see from ground level:We also had an amazing view of an interesting rock formation across the road:
We chatted for a bit while on top of the rocks, enjoying the strong sunshine and the blessing of an occasional breeze. She eventually stretched out on the warm rock and closed her eyes, basking in the sun. I sat with my arms resting across my knees, listening to the sounds of the cars and children and horse riders below. As I sat, a feeling of deep peace and calm seeped into me. It was something like the state one tries to reach while practicing meditation: the people talking below, the insects flying nearby, the birds calling out to each other, the heat of the sun on my skin... all of these sensations moved through me, because they were part of this environment and so was I. I have not experienced such a feeling of deep peace within me for a very long time, and definitely not since arriving in this place with the chaos that has lately entered my life. Thinking about that feeling as I write this makes me smile, and reminds me that things will always get better.

We made our way back down from the rocks (by the way, I'm afraid of heights so this was not exactly easy for me) and headed back toward my car. Along the side of the path was a small cactus in full bloom. I still can't believe that I live somewhere that has cacti! I find it funny that in this picture, this exotic cactus with its beautiful flower is nestled alongside familiar oak leaves...
Here's one last random picture of a cool formation, just because it's cool:
As we headed back home, my house mate took a nap in the car and I had some time to digest my day. I am very happy to have found a house with nice roommates, the best part of that being that we are interested in some of the same things. Though I enjoy my own company, there is definitely something to be said for having another person around to enjoy things with. I am glad that today reminded me that peace is there inside of me, waiting for me to be ready to accept it once again.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fri, July 20, 2007: Routes 40 and 9

(Present Day: I find this blog funny looking back on it. I love how I was still learning about my new home and was such a recent transplant that I didn't know the name for "sagebrush").

Ok... so am I becoming a "blogger"? I don't know if I like that... but I do like having a place in which to share things in my life with lots of people!

I found a place to live this past Sunday and have spent the past few days moving in and taking care of paperwork for my internship. Today was the first free day I've had in a bit, and I wanted to go on a little road trip. I don't know what it is about traveling, but the thing that makes me happiest in my life right now is to drive around and explore this new place. I was wondering if this is because I wish that I could run away from my life or my problems for a while, but I don't think that is the case. Driving around beautiful areas in Connecticut always made me feel peaceful too. I think because I'm moving and covering a lot of ground in my car, there are more opportunities to see beautiful things in a day than in most regular days.

Speaking of my car, allow me a moment here to mention how much I adore mine. It's been driving up and down mountains without ever coming close to having issues. Today it drove me up 6,000 feet and never complained. <3

And a word about this whole blog thingy. I am obsessed with taking pictures out here at the moment (if you can't tell...). So this will be, as the others have been, a bunch of pictures and some of my thoughts. If looking at pictures of mountains or reading my thoughts is getting boring, I apologize. : P

Here is what Route 70, the major East-West highway that crosses Colorado, looks like as you are driving West from Denver:
I joked in the post of my journey out here that the sign which declared Colorado as a "colorful" state was misleading. However, during my drive today I discovered that Colorado (at least, the parts that I saw today) is extremely colorful. Like in this picture, there are silvery green Aspen trees, rich green Pines, and the tans and greys of the rock of the mountain. Throughout my drive, I noticed that a lot of the pine trees were reddish brown and looked very dead. I have no idea if that many trees actually are dead or if it's some sort of seasonal thing for that particular type of tree... in any case, the variety of colors in the landscape was almost like driving around in autumn in Connecticut, only the colors were more muted for the most part.
I found this sign a little hilarious and really scary...long range weaponry? If an avalanche falls in the woods, does it make a sound?
I took this picture at a turn-off on Route 40 as the road wound up the side of a mountain.
At the same turn-off was posted this sign:
I have felt strange and different and turned around inside ever since I arrived out here. It's hard to separate out which parts of that are caused by the emotional turmoil of my break-up and recent move, and which parts are a natural result of the energies of this new land acting on me. I can't even pinpoint yet what exactly inside of me feels different, or how it feels different. All I know is that I feel like shifting sands and ocean tides.

While driving, I was trying to think about these new feelings... maybe not even feelings, but shifting of awareness... inside of me. I was trying to figure out where this is coming from, and realized that I feel Colorado very deeply in my heart. This is strange to me, because the land seems so large and strong I expected it to react with me in my solar plexus. But this land resonates strongly with my heart. Again, I can't say if that is because of the emotions that I am experiencing in my life right now or if it is simply where the land is acting on me regardless of my emotional baggage.

I remembered meeting Ron and Raven at Brushwood years ago, and Raven as Venus telling me that Venus likes me and she especially likes me with flowers in my hair, especially daisies. I haven't seen any daisies so far on my trip, so I came to the conclusion that they probably can't grow up here because of the altitude. So I was surprised, yet not surprised, to find daisies near the place where I stopped for lunch. I picked one and thanked it (and apologized for taking its life...) and tucked it behind my ear before getting back in my car.
The next two pictures are of the Winter Park area. Once you pass the town and continue heading West, the land flattens out and you are in this sort of alpine plateau (ok I don't technically know what elevation is considered "alpine", but it was really high and had not many trees). The flat, high fields were surrounded with what appeared to be rolling hills but were actually the peaks of tall mountains. I like these pictures because they show off some more colors. : )
I am finding that Colorado is a land that changes very drastically in a short distance. Only a short drive from where the above two pictures were taken, the landscape looked like this:
While driving through this new barren landscape, I saw that there was a river echoing the road to my left. A river.. water!! I was so excited to see its rippling surface and realized it's been a long time since I saw a river (since Missouri I suppose, when I saw the Mississippi River). I wondered if most people who live out here get so ridiculously excited to see water, or if it's going to be some freakish trait of mine, acting like a water-deprived wetlander from sea level (I recently re-read Dune and found myself amused by the idea of myself as water-fattened. I half expected to see someone walk out of the trees in a stillsuit).
The road opened once again into a beautiful green valley-plateau surrounded by mountains. Although the elevation of this place is very high and I'm sure they get monstrous snowstorms in the winter, it somehow seemed protected to me. I've always thought it would be amazing to live in a valley surrounded by mountains; I imagine it would feel safe and secure.
These next couple of pictures were taken along Route 9, heading south. Again, acting like a water-crazed fool, I couldn't resist pulling over and taking about 100 pictures near the Green Mountain Resevoir. And, of course, there are more beautiful colors!

In this alpine plateau-valley place there were two primary types of ground cover: some long-stemmed grass which grew in clumps, and this strange blue-green evergreen looking bush. The frosty blue-green color of this plant added greatly to the colorful feel of the land.
Heading back home is always the hardest part about a drive to me. If I didn't have to worry about showering, I would be perfectly content driving around for days, sleeping in my car and eating wherever I could find a place to grab some food. The final picture I took of my outing today was from Route 70, heading East back toward Denver. Through the hills, you can see the flatness of the... hmm, is it a prairie?...the flatness of the prairie upon which the city was built.
I can't believe that I've been out here for a week already, and that a week ago I was crying in my motel room, calling everyone I know for support and guidance. I think that once I arrived here, I suddenly realized what a tremendous step I had taken with relatively little support, and how alone that step left me. Now, a week later, I am once again single, have a place to live, have started learning about my new job, have been reunited with two old friends from high school and have made some new friends, and have begun memorizing routes around the city to various places I have visited.

Every day since I arrived here I have been afraid, but every day it fades as I gain confidence and feel more comfortable in my new environment. I am still afraid, but it doesn't immobilize me and that's all that matters to me. I don't mind if I'm afraid, because this is a scary thing! But it's also been amazing and beautiful and is doing something to me that I don't really understand yet. I'll just have to wait and see what it is.