Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Weds, Nov. 21, 2012: Kindness, Again

I took myself out for a late breakfast-for-lunch at one of my favorite little breakfast places in Golden (Blue Sky Cafe, yum!) for the first day of my Thanksgiving break.  I wanted to treat myself, to give thanks to myself for how far I've come over the past year.

As I munched happily away at one of my favorite breakfasts, I was surrounded by only a few other patrons: some young families and several older couples.  Toward the end of my meal, my waitress stopped by my table, gestured toward my check, and asked, “Can I see that for a minute?”  

I responded, “Yes”, thinking nothing of it, until I was ready to leave and she still hadn’t returned my check.  When she stopped by again to ask if I was finished, I asked if I they had my check up front for me to pay.

She looked down at me with that deadpan face of hers (I’ve had her as a waitress at this place several times before) and informed me that my check had already been taken care of.

I just stared at her, not comprehending, and said, “What?”  The waitress repeated herself and I just sat and stared at her again before stumbling over my oh-so-eloquent response of, “Oh… um… okay… well…!”  I left the restaurant in a weird sort of daze and sat in my car for a few minutes to collect myself.  

Once I got over the weirdness and embraced the awesome of what just happened to me, I realized I wished I had asked the waitress to thank that person for me, or that I had at least stood up and just said, “Thanks” in general to the restaurant.  So, from my car, I conjured up the warmest Thank You that my heart could possibly feel, encapsulating the amazement and gratitude and wonder that I felt over a random stranger offering me this kindness, and sent it out to the idea of that person in the universe.   

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful to be alive.  I am grateful for my friends and family, and friends who are like family, whose presence in my life warms me and makes me feel connected.  I am grateful for the multitude of beautiful places I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to visit this year – of special awesomeness were watching the sunrise at the Grand Canyon, seeing alligators in Louisiana, and playing in the ocean with Kaylee!

Most of all, though, I am thankful for the little things, the everyday things, and the small treats like the kindness that a random stranger offered me that afternoon.  Not only did that person unquestionably make my day amazing, but I was reminded that it’s pleasure in the little things that often make our days worth living.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mon, Oct. 29, 2012: Cave of the Winds, Part 2

We headed off to Garden of the Gods for a picnic lunch and some time outside.  Jen stopped at a little place with some large red rocks that fell quickly away to rolling scrubby hills, with Pike's Peak lording over the view in the background. 
Colorado Springs really is one of the most beautiful places out here!
We saw this funny bird, who kept eyeing our food but would fly away and hide whenever somebody else came through.  I thought it was a Lark Bunting, having been told in the past that they were blue, but when I looked them up after returning home I found that was untrue.  Now I think it was a Mountain Bluebird, maybe?  In any event, he or she was beautiful and bright, comically watching us from the end of a gently swaying pine branch as we ate.
Panorama, from Pike's Peak to the main rocks of Garden of the Gods:
I know Pike's Peak is a gigantic and imposing piece of nature, but he looks so peaceful to me, protecting this little city.
We spent some time just wandering around, aimlessly and worry free, enjoying the beautiful earth.

This white rock formation is in the main are of Garden of the Gods.  I love the fantastic shapes of the scrubby oaks as the branches kink up toward the sky.
Life has been somewhat difficult to handle lately.  It was refreshing, though, to spend a day of peace and exploration with my friend and her kids.  They brought lots of smiles to my face, as did the beautiful earth who shared her presence with us that day.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mon, Oct. 29, 2012: Cave of the Winds, Part 1

My friend Jen mentioned that she wanted to take her children to Cave of the Winds for a family outing.  I was on break that week, so I tagged along!  I hadn't visited Cave of the Winds yet, and after my experiences at Carlsbad Caverns (here and here), I have fallen in love with caves. :)

The cave was located high up in the walls of a canyon.  I often think that we have made special places in nature so easily accessible that it detracts some from the wonder and amazement that fill us with awe at finding such a place.  It was so easy for us to drive right up that paved road and walk into the visitor's center, which is perched right at the edge of the cave entrance.  

Back when the cave was discovered, though, it was by two young men who were hiking in the canyon and noticed the strange sound of the wind, amplified and howling as it moved through the entrances to the cave.  I imagine them, determined and excited as they scaled these walls, seeking out the source of the wind's voice. 

The foothills, here, roll upwards to the right, increasing in size until they reach Pike's Peak.  The view from the visitor's center, while easy to obtain, was still beautiful and breathtaking as the dry, rocky land tumbled quickly down into the narrow canyon.
A tiny piece of Colorado Springs, the biggest city of the Front Range that is actually nestled into the foothills. This city looks the way I imagined Denver would before I moved out here.  In reality, Denver's footprint is firmly pressed into the prairie and is separated from the mountains.  In Colorado Springs, the foothills and homes of the city melt together at the edges.
The interior of the cave was beautiful, cool, and somehow peaceful despite the presence of so many others on the tour.

This ladder was pointed out to us as a means for navigating through the cave a long time ago, before all of the connected passages had been discovered.

This stalactite was really neat: can you see the darkened number 7 hanging from the darkened ceiling?  It stood out against the illuminated background of other formations and was awesome!  The tour guide gave the formation a different name, since it actually grew sideways rather than just straight down... but I don't remember what he said. :)

As we were leaving, I noticed this sign pointing to the entrance to the cave:
Good to know!

I am still surprised by how much I have grown to love caves, given my discomfort in small spaces that are not easily escaped.  Their energy just feels so peaceful to me, and it's humbling to see the rock formations and imagine how long it took for them to look as they do.

I left the cave happy and relaxed, and we headed off for a picnic.  But that is another post. :)