Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sat, Aug. 17, 2013: Paint Mines Tour Guide

Wow... I can't believe that it's December and I'm posting about something that happened in August! 

I have a lot to say, but haven't been sure how much to say here, which is why I've been relatively quiet.  Brennan and I have been traveling some, but every time we go I either forget my camera or am so busy living in the moment that I don't feel like taking pictures.  I think that will change as time goes on, but for now that's how it is. :)

Way back in August, we headed to the Paint Mines, since I clearly need to take everyone I know there!

It was fun wandering around the place, bright wildflowers popping out in the sunlight, showing him the places among the rocks that I find to be the most beautiful.
Like me, he enjoys climbing up for a better view!
Ever since this summer, I've been feeling different.  Some extremely intense things happened, including my friend's husband (who was also my friend) passing away from cancer.  I have not experienced a lot of loss of that nature in my life, and it has been an extremely difficult experience.  My heart feels so heavy to think of their beautiful relationship ending too soon due to circumstances that neither of them could control.  They always seemed to make the best of every moment together and I hope that I can learn from them. 
Another major thing that changed is that I met Brennan.  I think those two things worked in conjunction with each other to do something really powerful to me.  I have this image of myself as running, running, running, always running... and then life comes and places two giant hands around my shoulders.  They don't hurt me, but I am quickly pulled to a complete stop.  And I stop, and I look around, and it's like I'm seeing the world around me for the first time in a long, long time - really seeing it, and not just breezing through.  It's a little bewildering, and I imagine myself looking all around and blinking with wide eyes...
...because this guy...
... is this guy.  And this guy.  And by that, I mean the elemental angel I was told would come into my life.  I wrote years ago that learning about him would always be a "what if" in my life, but I was wrong because he's actually a real person and not just some concept I was told about.

It's funny: I completely forgot about the messages given to me by the dowser and woman at the metaphysical fair and the random girl at the mall in Florida.  Then their words started creeping into my mind again and it all suddenly came flooding back to me.  I shared some of the things that they said about him in the posts I linked above, but I was told other things that I chose not to share here, and they're all true.  Even the month in which we met (June), though I was impatient and decided that it should have been June 2009!

The only thing they were wrong about is where I would meet him, though they did say he wasn't in the state at the time which was accurate.  He's traveled and lived all around the southern US, though not in any coastal cities as I was told.  I wonder where that came from, and if they were intuiting my longing for the ocean.
It's weird that life can sometimes be so hard and sad, and so joyful and amazing, all at the same time.  I feel in awe, and humbled, and hopeful. 
It's a good place to be.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fri, July 26 to Sun, July 28, 2013: Sekrit Camping

Ever since I moved to Colorado, I've envied people who know the secret amazing places to go, devoid of the flocks of front range residents who swoop in every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  I always imagined going to these places, far away from the crowds that infiltrate the easy drives and nearby parks.

My guy knows many of these places, having apparently spent a decent amount of his adolescence looking for the same thing I've wanted since arriving here: space, and quiet.  Luckily, he wanted to share this place with me.

We headed out on Friday afternoon and made it there just as the sun was beginning to set.  I somehow managed to forget my camera (which has become a common occurrence when I travel with him...), but he brought his and let me borrow it whenever I wanted.  This was the sunset view from our camping spot...
 ...and this was our view in the morning.  We were literally camped in a small clearing perched on the edge of a mountain, overlooking other mountains.
 We spend the day wandering around with our dogs, the crisp air and rolling oceans of green penetrating my soul.

 There were wildflowers scattered around in the meadows, and I loved their brilliant little touches of color.
 The pine cones on one particular type of tree were a brilliant reddish purple:
 Indian Paintbrush:
 At one point in our wanderings, we arrived at a hillside that had several thistle plants growing on it.  I don't think Brennan knew what he was getting himself into, or exactly how obsessed with thistles I am.  Furry honey bees were dancing along the flowers, weaving and diving and picking at the delicate purple tendrils that curled around their legs.

There was a small lady bug hiding in the leaves of this flower, can you see it?

 At one point, I had taken so many pictures of the thistles and bees that he made some comment to the effect of, "slow down" or "you take enough pictures yet?"
 To which I replied something to the effect of, "enough pictures?  Never!"  And I continued following the bees around with the camera, and I loved it.  (And was later totally validated by the number of beautiful scenes I captured!)
 These flowers grew near a campsite that was nestled in a grove of pine trees.
 While the pine trees looked cozy and protective, I became more and more convinced that we had the best campsite in the entire area.


 As we made our way back to our campsite, a couple of birds chatted with us:

There is a rock ridge that rises out of the meadows and served as a pretty good landmark for finding our way back to our site.  We climbed up the ridge to check out the views, then headed back down to our beautiful little area.
A few people stopped at our campsite wanting to see the view.  While I understood their desire to share what I concluded was the best view in the place, it felt kind of invasive having them there.  Sometimes I wish that I could be somewhere in the middle of nature with nobody else around for a while, and that was a day for me when that wish was strong.  It was mostly fulfilled, though, and I love knowing that this place exists.  Now that I've been there, I find myself wondering even more what other secret places Colorado has been hiding from me. :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fri, July 20 to Sun, July 22: Estes Park, With a Different Family

My guy invited me up to a wedding in Estes Park, where I got to meet his ginormous family.  It was a leeeetle intimidating to say the least...

...but we had beauty and fresh air, blue skies and trees all around us to soothe my nerves.


These photos are courtesy of his cell phone, since I managed to forget my camera.
Even through the lens of a cell phone camera, it's so beautiful here. :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Weds, July 17 and Thurs, July 18: Estes Park and Zip Lining With the Parents!

On Wednesday, we headed for a tour of the Stanley Hotel up in Estes Park.  Apparently they don't give their ghost tours all the time anymore, which was a huge disappointment!  My mother and I really wanted to take my dad on the ghost tour.

Oh well, we still got to take a neat historical tour of the hotel and spent the day wandering around Estes Park.  While Estes Park is a pretty commercialized little mountain town, it doesn't have the attitude of some of the other mountain towns so it's one of my favorites too. :)

On Thursday, we headed down near Canon City to see the Royal Gorge Bridge.  For my father's birthday, my mom and I secretly booked a zip line tour near the bridge, so we did that first.

This is me.  Whee!
I wasn't even that nervous about it, which made me feel really proud of all of the work I've done to confront my fear of heights.  Take that!

Unfortunately, there had been a forest fire near the Royal Gorge Bridge.  The staff at the zip line tour company said that most of the park had burned down as well as most of the woods around the bridge, though the bridge was untouched by the fire.  I was so bummed that my parents couldn't see the canyon, with the gorgeous Arkansas River roaring way, waaaaay below you.  For me, it was one of the most amazing sights I was able to see when I first moved out here.

My parents are flexible, though, and we all just let it go and enjoyed doing the fun things we were able to do together.

Not many people come out to visit me here.  Usually it's me heading back there - because it's cheaper for me to travel as I'm alone, but also because I miss Connecticut and I need to head back every once in a while to drink up enough of the east coast to somewhat satisfy me until my next visit.  It was really awesome, though, having them come out and showing them some things about Colorado that I love.

Tues, July 16, 2013: Mt. Evans With the Parents!

We had wanted to head to Mt. Evans earlier during their visit but had to wait for a clear day to make the trip.  Tuesday was that day.

Summit Lake:

 This is where I saw the nuns on my birthday a couple of years ago.  It feels like yesterday....
 Kaylee!
My father and I hiked our way up the small summit that still remains above you even after you're in the parking lot.  My mom had a lot more difficulty and sat at the bottom for a while, unsure if she wanted to attempt the climb.  The altitude can be really brutal when you're not used to it.

Once she reminded herself to go slowly and not try to "race" up (my advice!), she decided to try again and ended up joining us on the summit.  I loved that she did that, just a small reminder that we all have nothing to beat but our own doubts nagging us in our heads.
Beautiful mountains... it's been too long since I saw you like this.
The last time was the day that my own doubts, echoing in the cavernous expanses of my vast imagination, kept me from ascending my mountain.  I still want to rise to meet that challenge and defeat those doubts, but to be honest it was really nice to just experience the beauty without going through all the struggle to get there.  My friend Becky, during a conversation with me years ago, once said that perhaps things are supposed to be hard for me.  (We had been discussing the fact that things were moving along smoothly for her and her family once they moved to New Orleans).

I think that there is some truth to that - I definitely do like learning from challenges and difficult times.  I do, however, firmly believe that I get in my own way WAY too much.  I wonder what my life would look like if I were better able to just take a deep breath, sit back, and remain open to whatever comes my way.  Maybe someday I'll know. :)    

Mon, July 15, 2013: Nederland With the Parents!

My parents wanted to head to some cool little mountain town.  They came equipped with the names of lots of mountain towns that they either knew of, or that other people told them about: Aspen, Vail, Central City... none of which are really all that neat to me.  Sure, they're interesting and worth a visit, but they're so... "done up".

So I suggested we head to Nederland, one of my favorite mountain towns, which I love for its lack of pretense.

It's strange to look at these pictures of Boulder Canyon now, knowing that the road that we took up to the town was destroyed by the floods that happened a few weeks ago.  But then, the drive was gorgeous and peaceful and I think my parents enjoyed seeing scenery that's so different from where we're from.  
Barker Reservoir, one of my favorite bodies of water nearish Denver:

There is a small general store in the middle of the town, and as we wandered around there we came across this:
Coolest spice rack of all time!  I want something like this someday.

It stayed pretty cloudy and gray all day, though it didn't rain like it did in Georgetown so at least Colorado didn't continue to make a liar of me in front of my parents. :)  The Flatirons were pretty, dodging in and out of the clouds as we drove home.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sun, July 14, 2013: Georgetown With the Parents!

My parents came out for a rare visit in July (the last time they were both out here was Christmas 2010!).  One of the things I frequently tell my family is that it never rains in Colorado.  So, what does Colorado decide to do when my parents come out to visit?

It rains! :)  So we spent a misty, drizzly, cool day in Georgetown, dodging into shops to avoid sporadic downpours.  


Guanella Pass was gorgeous and green, though I was disappointed that my parents couldn't admire the mountain tops as they were buried in the thick white clouds.
The mountain tops, then, would have to wait for another day. :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Everything Is Just a Little... Crazy....

My friend Jen recently asked me if the passing of a friend this summer is part of the reason I haven't been posting here as much lately.

The short answer: absolutely.  The longer answer: some extremely deep, powerful, moving things happened to me this summer, and so quickly that I feel like I can't even remember anymore what the person I was a month ago, or 2 months ago, used to think.  It's hard to get back into her shoes when I feel like I'm in a whole different universe where people walk around barefoot.

There are so many things going on in my life right now, but they're the types of things that I don't really write about here.  One, because they don't fit the ideas that I like to share in this public forum, and two, this is a really public forum and they're private things.

I do have several more adventures to write about before I can catch this site up to the present time, and I will be doing that.  I'm also going to continue documenting my adventures. :)  Life has just hit a strange spot in her music lately and I'm waiting to see how it's going to develop.  I'm hoping to have the time and energy to post more this week.  The leaves are changing up in the mountains too, so I'm hoping to have some more time and energy to head up for a road trip this weekend.

I hope that you're having wonderful adventures and being kind to one another.
-Kristine

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fri, July 5 to Fri, July 12, 2013: Nawlins in the Summer

Fri, July 5th - Denver, CO to Gainesville, TX
I headed off on my usual I-70 East route that seems ingrained in my brain at this point in my travels.  In Salina, home of the gorgeous emerald green of the Flint Hills, my route turned south and took me through Wichita.  It was strange being in the city again, knowing that some horribly damaging tornadoes had ripped through the city just weeks after I traveled through there last time.  (Even scarier were the tornadoes that came through the Dallas area, almost on my heels when I returned home last year!)  This time, at least I was traveling through Tornado Alley off the peak spring season.   (Let's not mention that I was traveling into Dixie Alley during its busy time, ok?)

My drive was peaceful and uneventful and easy.  My favorite surprise, once again, were those gorgeous rocky hills in central southern Oklahoma.  I wish that I could have been a passenger in the car to capture a few pictures, or that I could have taken a couple of days to explore the land around there.  It seems like this beautiful oasis of rocks and trees and lakes in the middle of a grassy wasteland.  I couldn't touch the cool water or smell the tangy scent of green, but my eyes were content drinking in the subtle hills that manifested and faded as I rounded each curve.

Sat, July 6th - Gainesville, TX to New Orleans, LA
It always seems to me that the states I expect to feel endless don't, and the states that I think I should pass through quickly feel like they take forever to traverse.  Florida was one of those states, and so is Louisiana.  I passed miles and miles of flat thickly wooded land, white herons dotting the swamps and drainage ditches that lined the roadsides.  

Landmarks from my previous trip called to me: crossing the Mississippi in Baton Rouge, miles and miles passed on elevated roads that raced across swampland, and the bridge that skirts the shore of Lake Ponchatrain and allows me passage to the Crescent City.  

When I visited last spring, my friends were living out of their motor home and were about to move into an apartment within walking distance from the French Quarter.  This time, they were packing up their apartment to move back into their motor home, but I was glad that I got to see their place.  They live in a sprawling basement near Esplanade and Rampart, with arched windows and cool tile floors and the constant air conditioning that seems to be a requirement for summers in the south.

One of the reasons that this post has taken me a while to compose is that this wasn't really a "traveling" trip but more of a "visiting" trip.  For the rest of the day, Becky and I hung out in her home while her husband Chris was working, and I was reacquainted with their older daughter and got to meet their youngest for the first time.  Sometimes it can be so strange, but so comfortable, reuniting with old friends, and I really didn't care much about getting around the city if I could just hang out with them.

Sun, July 7th
Spent more time hanging out with Becky and her daughters. :)

Mon, July 8th
Way back when we used to live outside, Becky and I both got into learning about the medicinal properties of plants, though it's something I think she's done a better job of keeping up with since.  There is a small local herb shop near her place, Maypop Community Herb Shop, that she likes, and I asked her to take me there.  The store was small and quiet and filled from floor to ceiling with jars of dried herbs and teas and tinctures and oils, and I felt in awe of the wonderland of plants around me, and a bit overwhelmed by how much I don't know about them.

I love that about life: there's so much to learn... but not enough time!

That evening, when Chris was home from work, he walked with me down to the French Quarter.  It was HOT, like the middle of a sunny summer afternoon, even though it was completely dark and around midnight.  I wore jeans, thinking for some reason that the heat would have abated.  I suppose it did cool down a bit, from the steamy 110+ of midday to somewhere around 90 maybe, but that's not exactly cool.

I loved strolling along in that swampy, soupy air, feeling that strange sensation of steaming as I walked in night's darkness, with nature tricking me by offering something that differed so greatly from my expectation of her.

We headed to a local coffee place on Decatur Street.  My brain was still so convinced that it would cool off (because everywhere cools off in the night time just because Connecticut and Colorado do, right?) that I ordered a hot chocolate.  It was of course delicious, but it didn't do much to help me cool off!  We strolled down to the cathedral area as we sipped our drinks, chatting about the city as my eyes followed every enormous palmetto bug that crossed our path.

There is a small lookout area between the cathedral and the Mississippi River, and from there we could see the lights of the boats on the river and the bustle of a midnight French Quarter around us.  I love that about New Orleans: despite being a big city, it somehow gives the feeling that there are all these little places to discover.  Most cities don't feel like that to me, but New Orleans just feels so inviting of exploration.

Along the way back to their apartment, we saw this cool little lizard hanging out in a doorway:      
Tues, July 9th
Though I wasn't particularly touristy on this trip, I did ask Becky if we could see one thing I regretted missing on my last trip: a cemetery.  There are a couple that are visible from Route 10 when you're driving through the city, and I was completely fascinated by the strange little house monuments that are built to house bodies.  They have to do things this way down there, with the ground being so swampy and the city being so prone to flooding.

Becky took me to St. Louis Cemetery, just north of where they live on Esplanade.  I loved being a passenger in the car for a brief time, looking out at the boulevard shaded by massive old live oak trees.

When we got out of the car, it was like slamming into a wall of hot Jello.  I have never experienced anything like it in my life.  It had been rainy and partly cloudy for the past few days, so Tuesday was really the first day I experienced in full sun.  
It was so strange, seeing these old monuments all lined up in neat little avenues.  Becky said that cemeteries in New Orleans are called "Cities of the Dead", and it's not hard to see why.

This picture I took with my phone, but I like it a lot. :)
We walked along the rows for a bit, probably less than 5 minutes, before Becky and I turned to each other and decided that it was entirely too hot for walking around.  We headed back to the car and Becky drove us around a bit, up and down the rows and rows of tiny monument houses.
I'm so grateful that I got to see the cemetery and that I experienced that heat, but I was perfectly content to stay in the air conditioning for the rest of the trip. :)

Weds, July 10th
Becky and Chris were wanting to get into their motor home to start cleaning it up for their upcoming move, so we spent some time in their new-old home on Wednesday.  Becky wanted to install wooden floors in their kitchen and living room area, so we started experimenting with ripping up the carpet to see what was underneath.  Chris and I ended up pulling up most of the carpet while Becky vacuumed the rest of the place, and it was really fun helping my friends out with their project. (The AC was blasting the whole time so it was entirely tolerable!)

We went out and saw a movie (Despicable Me 2), hit up Target and a couple of thrift stores, and had dinner at a little restaurant that reminded me of Chipotle.  Again, it wasn't very "travely", but it was peaceful and perfect.

Thurs, July 11th - New Orleans, LA to Clayton, NM
For some reason, my GPS likes to take me to New Orleans by bringing me across Kansas, then down into Oklahoma and Texas.  But when it calculates my route home, it takes me across Texas to Dallas, then up to Amarillo, then into New Mexico to pick up I-25 back to Colorado.  I enjoy the change of scenery so I didn't mind, but I find it funny that I had a different route home.

Dallas seems to be an environmental turning point in Texas, at least from what I could see.  Roughly east of Dallas, Texas is full of green grass and trees and water in the form of small streams.  To the west, especially the northwest as I headed to Amarillo, the green seems to quickly fade away as the water dries up, revealing a relatively barren desert landscape full of gorgeous deep red soil and mesquite trees.

I wasn't sure how far I would get that day, but figured if I could at least make it to Amarillo then I'd be in good shape.  When I reached Amarillo, though, it wasn't even time for sunset and I couldn't justify stopping and wasting all that time.

Plus, I really love driving and watching the sunset change the colors all around me, and seeing the stars start popping out of the darkening sky.  How could I pass that up?

I continued through the barren hills of northern Texas (which probably only seemed like hills compared to endlessly flat Louisiana!), and the sky greeted me warmly with a beautiful sunset show.  With eyes conditioned all my life to the rich brown color of the earth in Connecticut, it's still always so amazing to me that soil can come in so many colors.  The dirt and rocks around me were painted by orange and gold and pink light, softly shifting as the sun marched past.

As the sky grew dark, I passed massive white windmills with the last fragments of daylight still clinging to their flawless forms.  The stars began to shine... so many stars, so far away from the city.  My eyes scanned the sky for the constellations that are familiar to me, those little points of light guiding me home.

Fri, July 12th - Clayton, NM to Denver, CO
I woke up well rested and excited to head back to one version of home.  Knowing that I had only a few hours' drive ahead of me made me feel pretty buoyant as I headed north that morning.  As I crossed the mountain pass between New Mexico and Colorado, I found myself thinking of times I have made the trip in the past, and how frightening some of them have been (with this one being the most intense by far).  I enjoyed every second of the gorgeous sunny weather around me and was grateful not to have to navigate the pass through the snow.

Denver.. picking Kaylee up from my friends' house and reuniting with her after a week away... then heading back to my place and reuniting with Pea and Severus after a week away... my animal family and I were together again, in the place where we live, and it felt good to be Home.

((Just a quick aside, I can't believe how far behind I am right now on these posts!  I've been happy and busy and I promise I'll catch up. :) ))