Friday, December 31, 2010

Mon, Dec 20, 2010: Paint Mines Reprise

I of course had to ask my parents if they wanted to visit Paint Mines Interpretive Park, and I think they ended up loving it as much as I do!
It was somewhat more sunny than the last time I visited, and the sky was absolutely beautiful.
The rocks here are crumbly as if made out of air-dried clay, and their textures are so beautiful.
Panorama of the park from a high place on the trail:
Last time I visited there were some people in the spot where the next picture was taken, so I wasn't able to see it. This time, we had the park to ourselves. I think this was one of the most beautiful and colorful views in the park, and I'm grateful to have seen it this time. :)
This formation towered above me like a castle growing from the top of a massive mountain.
We wandered down an area to one side of the park and found caves in the rocks!
More rock textures. This one really looks like tiny rivers of water flowing through sand.
We think that someone broke or threw this rock from another area, which is a shame but was also a gift in that we were able to see its beautiful layers.
The sun came out and shone brightly for a brief time, awakening the vibrancy of the rocks.
I'm still so grateful to have learned of the Paint Mines, and continue to live in awe of this place. I can't believe it's not a state park and is completely unprotected - especially since the structures are so delicate. If you touch them, the rock brushes away under your hands like sand (since learning this, I have stopped touching the rocks). I am in awe of the Earth for having created such a place.

Sun, Dec 19, 2010: Denver City and County Building Christmas Lights

One of the things that people around here do during the holidays is stop by the Denver City and County Building to check out the light display. I figured it's about time I do this, since I haven't in the 3 years I've lived here!

I'm still working on my night photography skills, but here's a blurry approximation of the Capital building. :)
The Denver City and County Building is HUGE, and I thought it was the federal mint until B corrected me last week. The light display seemed brighter and more colorful than in previous years, though perhaps that's because in previous years I only drove past it.
There is something about Christmas lights, casting a warm and colorful glow in the depths of the darkest nights of the year, that really warms my soul.
It's inspiring to see them shine brightly even in the darkest of times.

Sun, Dec 19, 2010: Red Rocks

((The next 3 posts are a bit out of order and are looking back on my parents' trip out here a week ago. I'm finally feeling sufficiently inspired to post about them. :) ))

My parents came out for a week to spend the holidays with us in Colorado, since I have spent the last 3 years traveling to them! I wanted them to see Red Rocks, for its view and for all the amazing music that has been created there.
View of Denver from the top of the amphitheater:
They sky was clear and the sun was strong, and we ate a December picnic at the park.

Fri, Dec 31, 2010: Like a Dragonfly Floating on a Puddle

This past March, I attended the semi-annual Denver Metaphysical Fair, which has become somewhat of a tradition for me since moving to Colorado. :) I really like getting readings from the individuals there and feel like it's a good reality check for me; sometimes I get so lost in my head that I need some help getting back out again. The woman who did my reading was great, and I already shared some of the things that she told me I can be doing to grow closer to my soul's purpose on Earth. What I didn't share were the things that she said about my relationship with B, because at the time it just felt very personal and didn't have a great deal of bearing on what was going on with me in my life... however, that has since changed.

She was able to pinpoint something that is missing in my connection with B, and hearing her say it rang so true in my heart. I was so grateful to her for summing up some of my frustration with him and our relationship in such a simple statement, and was surprised that I wasn't able to do so for myself.

I shared this information with B like it was a magical key that held the potential to our relationship, and hoped that something wonderful would blossom inside of him. Now, 9 months later, I continue to feel like a dragonfly floating belly-up on a puddle, wings saturated with stagnant water, baking in the sun as the earth slowly sucks me in. And I look to B to see if he feels this too, to see if we can help each other out of the puddle... and it seems he doesn't even notice he's wet. In this puddle my wings are too heavy to fly, and all of my passion and inspiration and motivation isn't enough to fuel me, let alone the two of us. My efforts to fight this and make my passion win out have left me feeling very, very tired. I wish that the magic of the key would just open up in him and save me from drowning in this puddle, but I also know that I can't hold anybody else accountable for my own ability (or inability) to fly.

For New Year's, my wish is that my passion and inspiration will burn so brightly that the puddle will disappear and I can fly again. It would be nice if B found his wings too, so they could dry and he could take off and soar.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Weds, Dec 15, 2010: The Smells of Denver

Today as I was leaving work, I noticed the smell of manure hanging in the air and took it as a sign that it's going to snow at some point tonight. This is something that I learned from residents of Denver, and I think it's so funny that the smell of cow poo is somehow an accurate meteorologist! Even when I lived in Golden, the smell of cow manure meant it was going to snow.

I think the biggest storms out here tend to be accompanied by some arctic air blowing in from the north. This air, and the millions of cows who reside in and around Greeley, Colorado, is the reason why Denver smells like manure before it snows.
Also of note, though perhaps lesser recognized, are the smells of the oil refinery along I-270 and the dog food factory along I-70. Some days, I am able to smell these places at work all the way across town.
When visiting my friend last week, I stopped outside her house, which is located in a suburb of southern Denver, and took a deep breath. All I could smell was... air. Fresh, clean, wonderful air that smelled like regular air from the Earth. It made me realize how much the smells of oil, cow poo, and dog food truly dominate my olfactory experiences both in my own neighborhood and at work. I don't know what's up with Denver, but the smells are inescapable.

The funny part is, I think the smells are more accurate than the meteorologists. :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sun, Dec 12, 2010: Castlewood Canyon

Fifty and 60 degree days in the middle of December are not to be taken lightly! This is outdoors weather!

... and we arrived at Castlewood Canyon State Park! I don't know much about the park except that the dam burst in 1933 (thanks Wikipedia) and that there are pieces of foundations of old structures laying around one part of the trail. This one is my favorite because it's the most intact.
I love the smooth, round rocks of this wall and want to know what it's story is. Maybe that's why I like psychology so much, even though I am a shy person: I love knowing about a person's past and learning how they were shaped into the particular person they have become.
A short hike provided a great view of the back of the structure:
Nestled between the hills and the Black Forest.
Trees really do have amazing shapes out here. :)
View of the dam, which is an amazing feat of engineering!
Side-on view of the dam.
I love that it looks like a castle to me. :)
Complete with a hobbit hole! (B says this was once where the extra water ran out, but I don't believe him. That's totally a hobbit hole).
There was snow and ice built up around the edges of the stream, which was very odd to see because by this point it was in the upper 50's and I was walking with my sleeves rolled up and my jacket unzipped.
The canyon opened up and the water roared as it poured through the rocks and down the waterfall.
One last view of my favorite structure in the park.
It's nice when the dogs actually act like they enjoy each others' presence.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mon, Nov 29, 2010: A Single Crane

Just now, I was cleaning off my desk and found a perfect square of origami paper left over from my senbazuru project. The 1,000 cranes are displayed prominently in my room, fanned out in groups across the ceiling like a massive flock in flight. This single piece of paper somehow never managed to make it into that flock.

I took the paper and turned it over... and over... in my fingers... and had no idea how to begin. As I sat, I felt more and more betrayed by my fingers, who ran along the paper uselessly despite having manipulated similar pieces so artfully so many times before. I ended up having to look up the directions online and was happy to feel my memory being triggered by the act of creating the crane. The memory of focusing my energy and creating those pieces of joy and beauty is still there, just under the surface, waiting to be tapped whenever I want it.
Has it really been a year and a half since I began folding the first cranes of this huge undertaking? I remember when creating them became my meditation, and their presence filled my days with color and beauty and joy.
When I think back to that time in my life, I am amazed that such an explosion of life and joy, such a statement of my being and my energy, burst forth at such a time. The little crane that I created tonight is sitting on my computer monitor and has renewed some of that joy of creation in me.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fri, Nov 26, 2010: Florissant Fossil Beds

I have wanted to visit the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument since moving to Colorado, but for some reason just hadn't done it yet. B and I decided to change that up on Friday, and we headed down all bundled up and ready for a cold hike.

On the way to the park, we passed the Hornbek Homestead and turned in to take a look. Up on a hillside overlooking the buildings was this odd door, which I think might have been a root cellar (?).
View of the homestead from the random door on the hillside:
The first stumps that we saw near the Visitor's Center were massive and protected under metal structures. You can see that this one is banded together to keep it from falling apart.
Just outside of the Visitor's Center was a stump that had another tree growing out of it!
This tree survived a lightning strike and has the scar to prove it.
A sign pointed out that this rock is shale, which is peeled back to reveal fossils inside.
I love the twisty shape of these trees!
By this point, we hadn't seen any stumps aside from those just outside the Visitor's Center, and I started getting sad. Was that it? Where were all the stumps? One sign informed us that at one point in the forest's history, tourists used to flock there in order to cut up the stumps and bring a piece home. I wondered if there were any left, or if the monument still existed to remind people of the consequences of being foolish with natural treasures. While these thoughts were swimming in my head, we suddenly came upon the biggest stump in the park, named The Big Stump. Here is B next to it. The stump towered over his 6 1/2 foot frame.
We continued wandering through the park and I was happy to see in the field ahead of us some more fenced off stumps. PHEW! B decided to climb up a little hillside to get a better view while I was putting something away in my backpack. He called me up when I was finished and when I arrived, he pointed out a small hill in front of him. The small hill had pieces of petrified tree scattered around all over it, from tiny shards to pieces bigger than my head. B said he guessed the small hill was actually a stump that hadn't been excavated yet. This area ended up being the highlight of the trip for me, as I carefully made my way around and admired every ancient piece of tree with awe and wonder.
This piece was covered in lichens:
B was attempting to meditate and go to a spiritual place up on the hillside, but I kept calling him down. Didn't he realize that experiencing his discovery is in itself a spiritual experience? He said later that while he was sitting on the hillside, something kept disturbing his mind, as if the earth was poking him in the head and insisting that he pay attention to the amazingness that was right in front of him. It's the first time I know of that he has listened to his intuition since we've been dating, and it made me really happy. :)

Finally, after the earth and I proved that we would not give him peace in that moment, he came down and joined me. He found this sliver of wood which had actually crystallized at the tip:
We headed back onto the beaten path and admired the rest of the stumps in the field. One was so well preserved that you can actually see the growth rings.
I found it odd that the park allows plants to grow on the stumps in the fields, since this will eventually lead to the breakdown of the rock. The few remaining stumps seem like such a treasure, I can't imagine why some are so well preserved under roofs of metal and some are left to nature.
Looking back at our hiking trail, one would never suspect that a massive redwood forest once thrived here, or the number of stumps that once existed before collectors and tourists thinned them out.