Archive for March, 2014

What a sight!

Sunday morning, as I approached the bridge, I saw a BEAVER swimming in the creek!!!  He was just upstream of the bridge and heading downstream, so I ran like crazy to get to the far side of the bridge before he crossed under it.  That guy was so sleek.  He swims with his “hands” folded back under him and just glides along under water like it’s nothing.  I watched till he was out of sight, and I kept walking, smiling.

“Driver, when you’re clear”

Sometimes people – chief among them, people in my very own family = ) – do things that really impress me, and such an event has yea and verily occurred.  I learned this week that Jessica is now the proud possessor of a Hong Kong driver’s license, meaning that she can and does legally drive in Hong Kong.

Now, driving is not in and of itself all that impressive.  Jessica has been driving for some seven years and has never been in an accident, and to her credit she several years ago also mastered driving a manual transmission.  (This did involve quite a few stints on the access road featuring that infamous “starting-from-a-stop-on-the-uphill-without-stalling-or-giving-yourself-whiplash” manuever.) Personally, I think driving a stick is to driving an automatic as playing an organ is to playing a piano, but that’s beside the point.

The point is that Jessica is now driving on the left side of the road in a car that has the steering wheel on the right!!!  Even though she tells me that she occasionally turns on her wipers when trying to apply the turn signal, and that she generally hugs the left lane for security, I am still ROYALLY impressed!  I think driving in a British setting would be kind of like skating backwards; totally counter-intuitive, but probably lots of fun once you get used to it.

What a charming chauffeur our Jessica must be!

In the spring a fish’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of. . . ?

A couple mornings ago, when I stopped on the bridge to look for turtles – I always stop on my last lap to stretch my calves and scan the creek for peaceful and/or interesting sights – there were, as has been the case on every day except one since late September, no turtles in evidence. BUT, as I stood there carefully perusing the waters upstream of the bridge, I suddenly did see something unusual.

A lot of fish were all in one accord in one place.  I mean, a LOT of fish.  Like about 150 fish, each about a foot long, all pointing upstream, all close together, all perfectly still.  Usually, when fish are trying to stay in one place in moving water, they sort of writhe back and forth, but these fish weren’t moving at all.  No wriggle, no motion whatsoever!  It was as if they were playing freeze tag or something.

What the heck were they doing, and why were they there?  I do not know.  I assume it was some springtime sexual thing, but what?  Were they spawning (whatever that means)?  Or laying eggs?  Or holding some kind of major fishy convocation?  I have no idea, but I watched them for several minutes and nothing changed.  No fish moved.  No fish left the party.  No new fish arrived.

I don’t know what they were thinking, but I was thinking, “This is the biggest gang of fish I have ever seen in my life!!!”  Very interesting.

More amazing weather

It’s been a tough season for church services.  Sunday morning service has been cancelled  either three or four times, and Wednesday night at least once.  This is a total bummer for a lot of reasons, but the wonderful thing has been the cause of the cancellations:  SNOW!!!

Saturday, March 8 – We left Georgetown, Colorado in a foot of snow.

Tuesday, March 11 – We took our first kayak run of the season at home in 75 degree weather.

Sunday, March 15 – It snowed steadily at home for five hours, with a two-inch accumulation.

This morning I could not walk my standard four laps because the bridge, which is smack dab in the middle of my path, was icy, and its shoulders (where I walk) were completely iced over.  Instead, I had to walk over to the bridge and back eight times, which was not nearly as fun.  Then I took Andrew to work and we had to wait uncommonly long long for his boss to arrive, so when I got back home, things were beginning to melt.  But I parked below the bridge and walked very carefully up to the center of it (by then the driving lanes were fine, but the upstream shoulder was still solid ice because it’s in the shade) to get some pictures of the creek surrounded by snowy trees.  That kind of scenery is rare and precious around here.

Now it’s 4:00 PM, 58 degrees, and there’s no evidence that it ever snowed at all.  When I told Andrew it had been two inches deep here this morning, he said, “No way!” I assured him it had been, and he said that at the house he was cleaning, twenty minutes SOUTH of here, it had been four inches deep!  Very uncommon, but it makes sense because I heard on the TV weather report that Harrison (some 45 minutes south of here) had reported four to six inches of snow!  I’m sure the Harrisonites are rejoicing greatly.

Of course, it is not possible to have too much snow.  I am sighing with great contentment (“Ahhhh!”) because I think my snow “battery” is now fully charged.  My guess is that it won’t snow again here this season, but if it does, I will be smiling.

To Zone Nine and beyond!

Scott usually works from home on Tuesdays and Fridays.  This makes sense only to other folks who work from home.  Many people seem to think that if Scott’s “working from home today,” it means that he can talk on the phone with them, meet them places, or spend time with them if they show up at our door.  We family members understand that what it really means is that he is on “DO NOT DISTURB” for all practical purposes, except for about 30 minutes midday.

What it also means, however, is that if he can schedule his remote meetings appropriately, and if he has the major blazes under control, he can sometimes take time off work on Tuesdays and/or Fridays to do other things.  Sometimes these things are financial or legal.  Sometimes they relate to home repair or car maintenance.  And sometimes, they are just fun.

Such was the case on Tuesday.  We had returned home from Colorado (read: 20 degrees and 10 inches of SNOW!) very late Saturday night, and the forecast for Tuesday called for breeziness and a high of 78 degrees!  Monday evening (thanks to the time change, it was still light), Scott looked at the creek at the bridge and declared that there was “plenty of water.”  Translation:  “Let’s take our new kayaks out and float the creek!”

I had looked at the same water (eight times, to be exact) that morning while I was walking, and it didn’t look deep enough to me, but then, I was up on the bridge, so I couldn’t really tell how deep it was, and even had I been able to accurately ascertain its depth, I didn’t even know how much water was necessary to float a kayak.  I asked Scott about the amount of water.  I thought that streams were generally deeper lower down – and shallower higher up – which would mean that even if there were enough water at the bridge where we’d take out, there might not be enough water up wherever we put in.  I told him I was excited about going kayaking, but the one thing I did NOT want to do was to scrape and push and pull and walk and carry and drag.

Scott assured me that there would be “plenty of water” through the whole distance we’d float, so I let it drop.  Why worry about something that was completely out of my control, especially if it was all on Scott’s head anyway?

The prep for this float trip was. . . ahem. . . intense.  Andrew had a piano lesson in town at 2:30.  We’d leave at 2:15 and be home at 3:20.  Since we couldn’t float before that – not knowing how long the float would take – we’d have to do it after, but that meant we’d need to leave right after we got home.  Everything would need to be ready and packed and loaded in advance, so the two of us could sail in, put on our swimsuits, and drive away.

Therefore, at lunch, Scott and Andrew went out to load the kayaks onto the still-muddy-from-Colorado Durango.  And this was quite the process.  For one thing, the guy at the kayak shop had told Scott the best way to store kayaks was standing up on their ends.  Well, when Scott gets a thought in his head, he is tenacious, to say the least.  Andrew’s is small, and Scott’s is bigger, but they can both stand up in the shop.  No problem there.  But mine is too tall to stand up in the shop.  Yes, I have the longest kayak in the family.  It’s not that I wanted or needed a long boat.  It’s just that the kayak that had the features I wanted and that was the most comfortable (and comfort is a BIG deal with kayaks) happened to be long.

Anyway, my thought was to just clear some of the junk out of the shop and set mine on the floor in there.  (Sadly, kayaks need to be secured, because they are so easy to steal.)  But no, that could not occur.  There was supposedly not room in the shop for my long boat, so it had to be hung (horizontally, that is) outside in the toyport in the manner of our now-leaking-like-a-sieve fiberglass canoe, and this proved to be both a royal pain to get up there, and a royal pain to get back down.  I think I will gently lobby for kayak-in-floor-of-shop again sometime soon. . .

So, it took the guys a good long while to get my kayak down, put the racks on the Durango, load the kayaks up, and secure them in the wind.  I was pretty sure it was better for the marriage for me not to watch, so I stayed inside during that procedure.  But, some 40 minutes later, the deed as done.

Andrew and I arrived home at 3:20, changed by 3:27, and were ready to go.  Scott was on a conference call till 3:40, and we left at 3:50 PM.

There’s always the question of where to put in.  Creek access goes like this:

Highest put-in:  Round Mountain Road (public access; room to leave parked vehicle)

2nd possible put-in:  Gaar Ranch (private property but we know the owners and can ask permission and they’ve never said no yet; steep muddy road down to creek)

3rd possible put-in:  Shady Rapids (private property POSTED, must drive past NO TRESPASSING signs to access creek, nowhere to leave parked vehicle)

4th possible put-in:  Low water bridge (only one mile above highway bridge take-out point, no parking allowed)

Of course, one could put in at the highway bridge by our house and float down to Bull Creek Village, but that area can be rather seedy, and leaving a vehicle would be a significantly less than brilliant move.

Personally, I have always had issues with putting in at Shady Rapids.  I’m okay for Scott to drive us there, but I will only be a passenger in the car.  This has caused a bit of strain between us in the past, so on Tuesday, I just asked, “Hey, where are we putting in?”  To which he replied, “Where do you want to put in?”  and I responded, “Not at Shady Rapids!”  He considered Gaars, but I said I thought we ought to ask permission before driving through their property, and he took us on up to Shady Rapids.

As mentioned above, my concern was that in going so far upstream there might not be water, but there was and we shoved off on our adventure, with me in the lead.  I was leading, not because I’m good at that, but because Scott had had to hold my kayak for me to get in.  There were people there, and I hate the humiliation of tipping a canoe (or being unable to even get into a kayak!) in front of people.

But once we were on the water, everything was great!  It was the maiden voyage for me kayak, and it was superb. Once I got the foot rests and back adjusted properly – not easy to do while drifting and trying to keep your nose downstream – I was totally comfortable.  It made all that time spent climbing in and out of kayaks at the store worthwhile.  My “Dagger” is clearly the perfect kayak for me.  It handled well, and even better after Scott pointed out that I had my paddle upside down.  Now, really, how was I to know that?!?

And besides the boat itself, the scenery!  Oh. My.  Goodness!!! It was so beautiful it almost hurt!  The trees, the birds, the sun on the water, the ripples, the rocks, the bluffs, the piercingly deep blue sky.  WHAT at gorgeous day!  Over and over and over, I couldn’t help saying, “This is so beautiful!  WOW!  We are so blessed!”  The weather was just perfect, about 75 and sunny with a breeze that was at times nearly a wind.  Sometimes a headwind.  = )  It is simply God’s lavish grace that lets us live in such a wonderful place and have a floatable creek right by our house.  That would clearly be amazing grace.

Here we were, at 4:30 on a Tuesday afternoon, having the time of our lives!  And what did any of us ever do to deserve that?  Absolutely nothing.

It turns out that I miscalculated on the water depth.  There was plenty of water up high.  Maybe that’s because the creek is generally a little narrower upstream, so the same amount of water is deeper there?  I don’t know, but there were also quite a few times when we got stuck.  The creek would get broad and shallow and gravelly, and then suddenly, ugh; I’d be stuck.  Sometimes it was in a rapid and I was wedged or high-centered between two big rocks.  A couple times, Andrew came to my rescue, pulling me forward, or even getting out of his boat and wading over to me and yanking (or pushing) hard.  Usually, I could stay in the kayak, but a couple times I actually had to get out and drag ‘er forward a bit till the water was deep enough again.

I got pretty good at the rock and roll maneuver.  That’s where you sit in your boat because you don’t want to bother getting out and dragging it, and you grunt and rock your body forcefully forward while shoving your paddle back into the gravel with as much upper body force as you can muster, in an attempt to free your boat from the streambed’s clutches.

Because the water wasn’t excessively deep, it wasn’t flowing very fast, and we had to keep paddling most of the time.  I was a little bit concerned about the time.  We had put in at 4:00 PM, and even given the time change, daylight wouldn’t last forever.  I did NOT want to be on the water in the dark!  I had a hard enough time figuring out where the most water was in the daylight.  Also, Andrew was cold.  Andrew is frequently cold in water – probably because he has not one ounce of fat on his slim, muscular bod – and I knew that if he got too chilled, even in the relatively warm weather, hypothermia could be a problem.  In his defense, the water was quite cold.  It was, after all March 11, and there had been a two-day snow just ten days earlier.

So we stroked on.

Scott and Andrew are a lot more familiar with the creek’s meanderings than I am, as they have canoed it quite a number of times.  They remember certain landmarks and rapids, and Scott broke down the Round Mountain Road to Highway 160 run like this:  Gaars is about a third of the way, and Shady Rapids is about two-thirds of the way.  Turns out Gaars is really farther – about halfway – and Shady Rapids is fairly soon after that.

The stretch to Gaars was totally lovely and fun.  The next section, I was getting a little antsy about the time and was stroking pretty steadily.  When we got to Shady Rapids, there wasn’t really enough water to go under the bridge, and I was leery about that anyway.  If you are adventurous, you go under the bridge between the concrete supports and it drops down quite a bit, and just as you get past the bridge, you have to turn really tightly to avoid rocks and other debris.  I am not adventurous.  My plan was to beach just above the bridge and carry (with the help of one of my men) my kayak up and over the bridge and put in again below all the challenges.

BUT the owners of the land(s)adjacent to Shady Rapids have always been very protective of their property.  I get this, because I, too, take property rights very seriously.  We learned within days of moving here – when we attended a service at the Walnut Shade Baptist Church and were invited afterwards to a 4th of July “dinner on the grounds” at the pavilion at Shady Raipds – that there are two clans of folks in and around these parts, and they don’t particularly enjoy each others’ company, although there has been some intermarriage between the two.  There’s the Bilyeu (“Ballew”) family more or less in “downtown” Walnut Shade, and the Cummings family out in the “suburbs.”  The Walnut Shade Baptist Church is a Bilyeu enterprise – and don’t you forget it – and they are the landowners around Shady Rapids.  I have always thought that going onto their posted property would be a fairly easy way to get shot, so I don’t do it.

Now, serious kayakers (which I am not) really like Shady Rapids.  In the spring, when the water is deep and running really fast, they go up there and shoot under the bridge, and turn around and paddle back upstream and do it over and over again. They also use the spot just down from the bridge (where it pools deeply in the section where you have to turn fast) to practice their tipping maneuvers.  That’s where you sit in the kayak and flip it all the way upside down and on around and back up.  It’s quite the thing to watch, and I have wondered not only how they do it, but how they keep from wanging their heads on the rocks while they’re under water.

Years ago, we used to drive down there – yes, past the NO TRESPASSING signs, but Scott was driving, so it wasn’t on my head – and park and walk out onto the bridge and watch the kayakers do their thing.  Shady Rapids bridge is also where some of us got flipped out of a borrowed canoe, which quickly filled with water and sank.  Despite Herculean effort, it could not be raised, so the decision was made to go home and return in a few hours when hopefully the water would have gone down a bit, allowing the canoe to be lifted.  Upon our return, the canoe had been stolen.  Sigh.  That was a sticky one.

Anyway, I prefer to completely avoid the whole Shady Rapids area, and in fact, the ONLY time I volitionally set foot on dry land anywhere near Shady Rapids is the minute or two it takes to get out of our canoe on the upstream side, walk up and around the end of the bridge, and get back in on the downstream side after Scott has screamed “Ah-yee” while navigating victoriously through the rapids under the bridge.

So, as we approached the hallowed spot and Scott waded out to the middle to see if it was deep enough to float under the bridge, I beached my kayak and walked up to the end of the bridge to reconnoiter whether I could drag my kayak alone up and over, or if I woudl need to have help carrying it, but what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a wooden FENCE, completely preventing me from getting up on the bridge from the water!  And there were LARGE, easily readable PRIVATE PROPERTY, NO TRESPASSING signs on the fence.  There was also some smaller print that I couldn’t read from where I was, but I assume it said something like “Violators will be shot.”  Scared me, and I got the point!

It turns out there was a little footpath at water level that went under the far right end of the bridge, and I walked through there while Scott eased my kayak through between a couple of the bridge supports.  So we made it through, and I got back in, eager to get on down past the Bilyeu lands.

From that point, things became a bit more challenging.  The sun was just about to set behind the hills, and I was exhausted from the past couple hours of constant paddling, grunting, rocking, and paddle-in-gravel digging as we approached. . . “The Gulf of Doom.”  However, with sheer determination and astute observation of the chosen path of My Hero before me, I was able to successfully navigate that little obstacle.  Yes!

But the water was getting shallower and shallower.  At the top of Zone Nine, I again found myself stuck and unable to proceed.  The problem was that the guys were way ahead of me and didn’t realize how far back I was.  In addition, my arms and upper body were just about completely spent.  I just sat there, watching my menfolk go on down, trying not to cry.  I wasn’t scared. . . I mean, we were only a mile from home.  Worst case scenario, I could just drag the boat to shore and walk, but I wasn’t about to abandon my dear “Dagger,” and besides, I was too exhausted to try to stand up and get out of the kayak.

I sat a while longer and then resolved that one way or the other, I would get the kayak moving again, and with much effort, I finally did, only to get stuck again 50 feet farther down.  Sigh.  When we got to the low water bridge, I got out and shoved my kayak under the bridge for Scott to catch while I walked around.  From there on, it was just paddle, paddle, paddle like crazy and negotiate a few little obstacles, and eventually, I made it (in the lead) to the 160 bridge.  Yay!

But what then?  Kayaks can’t walk home, so Scott and I carried his and mine (me walking in front with a kayak handle in each hand, and he at the rear, likewise) along the highway and into our back yard.  Meanwhile, Andrew, buff guy that he is, carried his own with one hand!  Up on his shoulder!  Andrew was kind enough to haul mine up to the toyport where it is currently standing upright with the other two, against the camper, in the SNOW!!!

Yes, as I type on Sunday, March 16 at 5:45 PM, it has been SNOWING heavily for four-and-a-half glorious hours!!!  Scott says the snow today should make for good kayaking in a few days. . .

O, Georgetown, how I treasure thee!

I have actually completed all my daily vacation blog posts, so you may want to scroll back and catch the formerly unwritten, placeholder ones.  But there are a few more things I want to say about Georgetown, so I will list them here.

Dogs reign.  I have learned that everyone in Georgetown has a dog.  Generally that means one large dog, but in some rare cases two small dogs or even two small dogs plus one medium dog have proven acceptable substitutes for the norm.  Most of the dogs about town are on leashes most of the time.  This is good because, just like the people in Georgetown aren’t generally as friendly as the people in Branson (you don’t get many cheerful waves from passing motorists or pedestrians in Georgetown), the dogs aren’t, either.  The one tied up in the snow on a blanket in the yard around the corner from us acted like he wanted to eat me every time I walked by!  I was thankful for his leash.

Dogs are so omnipresent that just below the hours of operation signs at the post office, there are two “professional lettering on the glass” sings that say. “No Dogs Allowed.”  Dogs also have their own park in Georgetown.  Werlin Park, which used to be a small ball field located catty-corner to the City Park with a sign indicating that persons of fourteen or more years were not allowed to play there, has been remodeled into a “park for pets;” “pets” in Georgetown obviously meaning “dogs.”  There’s nearly always someone out there walking a dog, throwing a frisbee or stick for a dog, training a dog, running with a dog, or otherwise playing with his or her one large or two small dog(s).

Nearly all the streets in Georgetown are dirt.  I like that!  Even though it makes for mud when the snow melts, I still like the dirt roads.  The city also snow-plows the dirt roads just like the paved ones.  = )  There are potholes in the dirt roads, and these are useful because they force one to slow down.  I have learned that slowing down can be good.  Of course, you could hit them at full speed (generally 25 mph), but doing so could also throw your front end out of alignment, so why bother?

The roads are narrow and there’s precious little parking anywhere (although at dusk in the one open parking lot “downtown,” we nearly walked into a deer who was obviously wondering why we were using her sidewalk), so parallel parking is the norm.  No one seems to have any problem with this at all, expertly whipping vehicles of all sizes into small spaces, always perfectly aligned on the first try.  I assume this is because in order to get your license in Colorado, you are required to parallel park on a narrow road with on-coming traffic in the snow at night.

The women in Georgetown seem old.  Not like ancient, but older than they are.  As in, your average 40-year-old female Georgetownian appears to be about 50.  Is it the rough weather?  The lack of make-up?  The liberal political climate?  The lack of evangelical Christian influence?  I am not sure.  Maybe it’s a combo effect.

Most of the shop owners are friendly and willing to take time to answer your questions.  Of course, it IS a tourist town, and they have surely answered the same “dumb” questions six zillion times, but even when they know good and well you’re not going to buy anything from them, they don’t seem to hold that against you.

There is no First Street in Georgetown.  Our house was on Eighth at Main (both roads being dirt/mud), and Sixth Street is the main drag with all the shops, cafes, post office, government buildings, and library.  Sixth is paved, as are Fifth, Fourth, and possibly Third.  Georgetown is situated at the base of a mountain, and the east-west streets are numbered out therefrom.  So, in an effort to better understand the layout of the town, Josiah and I drove south (parallel to I-70) toward the mountain(s), and noted that the lowest number was Second Street.  Had there been a First Street, it would have been Guanella Pass Road, one of my very favorite higher-altitude places.

Running north-south, and beginning next to the freeway, Rose and Taos are paved, but Griffith, Main, and Biddle are not.  And that’s about as wide as Georgetown is!

I much prefer the southern, downtown section to the newer uptown part.  The uptown part is depressing to me, so I avoid it, except when necessary – as when one is going to the visitor center, getting on the freeway, returning skis to Black Diamond Cycling and Ski Rental, or scoping out the ice racing down on Georgetown Lake.  Yes, many people really were out driving all kinds of four-wheel vehicles at high speeds through flagged tracks ON THE LAKE!!!  There’s admittedly something really tempting about driving your car onto the ice. . . but I didn’t have the required permit, insurance, entrance fee, nerve, or specialty tires (there were race categories for both smooth and studded, and you should have seen those studs!), so I did not.

Walking is my favorite way to get around Georgetown, but I guess I have mentioned that before.  That’s another reason it was great to be right near “downtown.” Everything I could possibly want to see, do, go to, or buy, could be walked to in ten minutes, max!  One superb find was Kneisel and Anderson, the local (and I do mean LOCAL) grocery store.  This fine establishment is now run by a woman whose great-grandfather opened it in the 1880s.  Four generations have been running this store!  It’s long, fairly narrow, kind of dark, and dripping with history.  The wood floors, cabinets and shelves, and long marble counter are all original!  It’s like going into an old-timey hardware store.  Well, there actually IS an old-timey hardware store next door, associated with Kneisel and Anderson, but it’s no longer open to browsers.   = {

There are old (original) scales to weigh your produce, pencils in a cup for five cents each, low refrigerated cases like in the 1930s, all kinds of meats and cheeses in a deli case, and very small quantities of most anything you can think of.  One box of confectioners sugar.  Six oranges.  Eight tomatoes.  Two bottles of apple juice.  The prices are high (Scott paid $5.69 for a box of Corn Chex), but since the alternative is Safeway 12 miles down in Idaho Springs, it’s okay.  Besides, you really can’t put a price tag on quaint, charming, and “from-a-slower-time.”  I just loved that store!  The lady behind the counter said they have been featured nationally.  Wow!

Did I mention that there are four fire stations in Georgetown?  Only one – the most modern – is used today, but the other three are really neat old buildings.  Georgetown must have the highest per capita number of “National Historic Site” placards on buildings and houses of any town in the continental U.S.  When you walk down just about any neighborhood street, you’ll see them on four or five houses in a row.  And when you walk through the Sixth Street business district, you simply must stop every two or three buildings to read some interesting historic blurb about when a given structure was built, by whom, and for what purpose.

There are a several wooden, one-lane bridges in Georgetown.  I like them very much.  They cross one or the other arm of Clear Creek.  The north and south arms flow down from around two sides of the main mountain there, and they come together just before the creeks empty into Georgetown Lake, in the suburban part of town.  Did I mention that I like the bridges a lot?  I can stand on one and watch Clear Creek rush by for a long time.  It seems to rush year round, sometimes loud enough that you can hear it from half a block away.  I am especially fond of that creek.  = )  Admittedly, I have a thing about creeks in general, and Clear Creek is pretty special.  Heck, it has a whole county named after it!  There’s even one purple house – on Taos (or maybe Rose?) that is built partially over the creek.  One corner of the house sticks out over they creek!

There’s an elementary school downtown, between Fourth and Fifth Streets, I think, and the kids walk to school in the snow.  (I guess they don’t ever have snow days in Colorado.)  Or their parents walk with them to school.  One dad and his little boy walked by every morning at about 7:50.  For high school, though, you have to ride the bus down to Floyd Hill, which is several miles past Idaho Springs.  I can’t quite figure that one out, though, because I thought there was a high school in Idaho Springs – the Goldiggers.  But maybe that was a junior high?

I saw three churches in Georgetown, two of which (Presbyterian and Episcopalian) were built in the 1870s and have – I believe – continued to meet straight through.  The Presbyterian one is built right against the creek, as in, the outer wall of the church goes down into the water.  Amazing!  Great background noise for a sermon, that creek.  The Catholic church building is more modern, but I think the congregation dates to the same era.  I didn’t seen a church of the kind I think I would prefer to attend, though.

Tourism is Georgetown’s bread and butter, and living near Branson, we know what that’s like.  I wanna be a Georgetown tourist again, preferably in the winter.  It’s one of my very favorite places to be refreshed!

And thus ends – I think – my writing about our trip to Colorado.  = )

Day 8 – in which I drive again


The loading and packing is never simple.  There were some attitudes, there were some unmet expectations, there was a LOT of stuff to load.  We eventually completed the task, made slightly more challenging and much more lovely by the ten to twelve inches of SNOW on the ground.  And on the trees.  And on the Durango.  And everywhere else!

I was glad I had filled the washer fluid reservoir the previous morning.  When you drive on snowy, or icy, or slushy roads in Colorado, the cars that pass you spray up whatever grimy gunk is on the road and it lands all over your car, specifically on the windshield.  Because it’s windy, in 6.7 seconds it dries all over your windshield, eliminating any possibility of visibility. To remedy this situation, you squirt washer fluid on your windshield and run the wipers, and suddenly everything is again crystal clear – until you go through a puddle or another car passes you, generally within the next 20 seconds.  This means that you hit that squirt button quite frequently, resulting in a rapid reduction in the washer fluid level in the reservoir.  I wanted to be ready for our drive down out of the mountains.

We left Georgetown at 7:00 AM (mountain time) sharp, headed for the airport on the northeast side of Denver.  The road was nearly dry and clear and there was no traffic eastbound.  But westbound – OH. MY. GOSH!  It was two lanes, bumper-to-bumper, moving at less than 20 mph for – are you ready? – more than twenty MILES.  And I am not exaggerating.  And it probably continued that way west of Georgetown for the 13 miles up to the tunnel. . . and maybe down the other side, for all I know.  I guess on Saturday morning, everyone goes west to ski, and on Sunday morning, they all go east to go home.  It was astounding, and Josiah commented that he could see why some folks want a mag-lev rapid transit system west from Denver in the I-70 corridor.  A drive from Denver to the Eisenhower tunnel in no traffic would probably take about an hour, but we calculated that it was taking three hours that morning!!!  You’ve gotta really want to ski to do that!

We dropped Josiah (who thought he was on a different airline, wasn’t sure where/how to obtain a boarding pass, and didn’t have access to the appropriate confirmation number – gotta love that Llama!) at the airport.  While he dealt with the above, I checked out the facilities, since I’ve never met a bathroom I didn’t feel obligated to review.  It was hard for me to say goodbye to him.  I keep thinking it will get easier, but I guess I’m not to that point yet. I gave him a long, hard hug, told him I loved him, asked him to let me know when he arrived Dulles, and walked away.  I don’t care much for that walking away part.

Scott had driven to the airport, because it was so snowy where we’d been.  Turns out I could have driven it easily, but that was okay.  From the airport, I drove home.  Yes, all the way to Walnut Shade.  I drive.  I like to drive.  And, truth be told, I even like driving through Kansas.  It’s very unpopular to say this to my family, so I don’t, but I happen to think Kansas is pretty.  It’s lovely in a different, peaceful sort of way, and it’s calming to me.  And besides that, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to drive through the wind farms and see those enormous windmills!!!  It’s worth driving for hours just to see those!

We ate both breakfast and lunch at Subway (to go) and supper at KFC (in the restaurant).  We listened to more of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” Scott worked, Andrew watched lots of “Duck Dynasty,” and I listened to Chris Tomlin.  All was well, and including some eight or so bathroom stops for me, about which my amazing menfolk complain not at all(!!!), we arrived home at 11:10 PM (central time).

We unloaded, dumped most everything in the living room floor, and got to bed about midnight.

The next morning, we were an hour late for church, because, for what I believe is the first time in my entire life, I had NO IDEA that that was time change Sunday!  I, who always secretly view with disdain those poor souls who don’t have the innate good sense to set their clocks appropriately, yes, I failed to do so, and so, when I thought I was getting Andrew to a class he needed to attend at 9:15 – when there are normally four cars in the lot – was actually arriving in the middle of praise and worship and wondering why on earth the lot was so full at that early hour.  Oh, how Tracy grinned at me!  Pretty funny.  Pretty embarrassing for me, but no one ever actually said anything about it.

We had had a superb trip, and it was good to be back.

Day 7 – in which I squeal with glee


This morning, when I went out to walk about 8:00 AM, it was snowing just barely discernible flurries.  Within fifteen minutes, it was snowing HARD!  What joy!  This was our day to stay home, rest, relax, enjoy Georgetown, and do nothing in a significant way, before heading home tomorrow.  We knew that snow was forecast today; an 80% chance, but while one forecast had it staying cold enough for snow, another forecast said it would turn to rain about 10:00 AM.  Yuck.  I much preferred the first.

I had an absolutely wonderful time walking in the snow, and by the time I got back to the house, much of the ground was covered.  The boys slept in, Scott and I relaxed together, and it kept snowing!  Hard!  Later in the morning, I couldn’t stand being inside any longer, so I walked to the post office (four short blocks away) to mail some post cards.  It was snowing HEAVILY by then, and it was maybe three inches deep.  Glory!

On the way back from the post office, I stopped at the library, simply because I hadn’t been there yet, and after all, who can resist a small-town library?  = ) This one is particularly charming and fun to me, and as a bonus, a sign next to the door said, “Book Sale.”  That, of course, did it for me.  In I went, and straight down to a massive book sale in the lower level.  I did find four items of interest, which I purchased for a total of $3.00.  Fun, fun, fun!

As I walked back home with a bag of books under my arms, I continued to take pictures.  Snow-laden evergreens just do something powerful for me.  I did slip once, but didn’t fall (there’s quite a bit of ice under all that snow), and back at the house, survey said the snow was probably four or five inches deep.

It’s not just snow; it’s a glorious, heavy, large-flaked snow that is simply pristine in this mountain town.  I am so happy!!!

Scott and I went out in the early afternoon for a walk, during which we finally bought the elusive framed John Wayne print for our cowboy-themed vacation rental.  (That’s another story.)  We also stopped by the Mountain Girl Bakery, which smelled WONDERFUL, and got a loaf of raspberry cinnamon bread.  Yum.

On that return, the snow was clearly over six inches deep, and I just kept exclaiming over and over, “Look!  It’s SO beautiful!  God has given me all this snow as a special gift on our final day here!!!”  It was all I could do to keep from flapping with joy.  And sometimes I didn’t keep from it!

The heavy snow has continued all day long.  Scott and I went out for another long walk around 5:15 PM.  We went down Main Street all the way to the Visitor Center and back up to “downtown” and wandered several blocks there.  The snow is still coming down as I type this at 7:00 PM, and the forecast says we are under a winter storm warning till 2:00 AM!

Right now, we estimate that the snow is ten inches deep.  I have never seen such heavy snow in such a gorgeous place, ever.  In fact, I told Scott earlier today that I think this has been the best morning of my life!!!  And still, it keeps. on. snowing!!!

Ahhh!  The crunch underfoot is just so very satisfying.  When I walk about town, I generally walk in the road – in the snowy part, not the tire ruts, so I don’t slip and fall – but sometimes on Sixth Street I walk on the sidewalk.  When I get to a corner, I can’t tell for sure where the curbs are, so I just step and sink.  And smile.  And squeal with glee.

Day 6 – in which I experience great joy


This was the day I had set aside to do some serious writing and walking and thinking.  I had had a hard time getting “into” my rhythm for such stuff, partly because I was putting things off, and partly because some aspects of our trip had not gone as I had expected, and adapting to change is still a challenging task for me.  I had determined that Thursday (the last day for the guys to ski) was really going to be my day, and I was really going to accomplish my most important goals.  Time was clearly running out; Friday was forecast to be very snowy – good for watching and walking, but actually not good for skiing – so the guys were likely to be home that day, and then we’d be leaving early Saturday morning.  I was all systems go for solitude and productivity on Thursday.

I did have to make one more grocery run; Scott needed contact lens stuff, the boys wanted more Juicy Juice, and there were a few other odds and ends to obtain, including strawberries cheaper than they are at Wal-Mart at home!  (Go figure.)

I was back home by 10:30, and my plan was to work and then take a short walk – probably just around a block or two – every hour.  That would be good for me both physically and emotionally, and the combination of quaint historic houses and breathtaking natural scenery in Georgetown just can’t be beat.  My reward for following my plan was that at 1:45 PM I would walk down to the visitor center and watch the video about the history of skiing in Colorado.  I always enjoy the Georgetown visitor center, and when I was in in there a few days ago to get postcards, the lady there said that they had just gotten a new video that was really interesting.

So everything rocked along really well.  I did some reading, worked on a writing project, ate some fruit, walked every hour, and did some blogging.  I know that relatively few people read my blog and I am fine with that.  I blog for me, because it’s fun, and because I like to document the wild and wonderful (and sometimes difficult and painful) stuff that happens with our family.  It’s recreation for me.   = )  At 1:45 PM, I was a few minutes away from completing a blog post, so I kept going, knowing that I had allowed enough margin to walk to the visitor center and back, see the skiing video, and still have plenty of time to leave by 4:10 PM to go shuttle the guys home.

At 2 PM, my phone rang.  It was a close friend who has had some major difficulties lately.  Honestly, had it been anyone other than a family member or this friend, I wouldn’t have answered the phone.  I had told her she could call me any time (and I meant exactly what I said), so for her to call when she knew we were on vacation meant that it was pretty important.

I took the call, and she mainly needed someone who understood and was willing to listen while she talked through some situations and questions.  I listened for a few minutes, pacing around the house, and then it occurred to me that I could probably walk to the visitor center and keep listening.  I was wearing what I wore every day in Georgetown:  jeans and a tank top with a hoodie over. (I have two very nice, very warm PCH hoodies and I wear them proudly a lot!)  On vacation, you could have seen me modeling my fairly serious navy PHC hoodie, or my more fun-loving lime green PHC hoodie.  That’s it!  I traveled light – at least in the clothing department.  = )

The thing about Georgetown is that it is frequently windy there.  In fact, there’s a sign on I-70 in front of the town that warns of gusty winds being likely for the next two miles.  This seems to be true year-round, I think because of the shape and length of the Clear Creek valley in which Georgetown is situated.  In winter, in means that even on a relatively warm (40+ degrees), sunny day, it still feels kind of cold because of the wind.  Holding phone to ear, I set out walking down Main Street (a charming little dirt road), and went a couple blocks before realizing that although it wasn’t really cold enough to need my coat, it was too cold for just the hoodie, and besides that, I needed my ear muffs.  I have this thing about cold air blowing into my ears.  I can’t stand it, so even at home, I end up wearing ear muffs farther into spring than most people do.

Back at the house, with my friend still talking, I figured out that there was not way to layer up more without hanging up, which I wasn’t about to do, so I just walked around the house, listening and commenting occasionally.  It was really a God-conversation.  I understood what she was dealing with, having been there myself, and I was able to answer her questions from  personal experience, as well as from the Bible.  She had some clearer direction, and I could tell that she was encouraged.  That was really exciting and energizing to me!  I felt like I was making a difference.

We talked for nearly an hour and-a-half, and I knew I wouldn’t have time to walk to the visitor center and see the video before picking up the skiers, so I loaded up all I’d need (coat, ear muffs, belt bag, water – in the winter, one NEVER heads to the slopes without those items, even if it’s 65 and sunny in Georgetown!), drove to the visitor center, watched the video which was great, and went to retrieve my favorite menfolk.

I arrived promptly at the stroke of 4:30, but it being their final day to ski, Scott was in his “buy-everyone-a-Loveland-T-shirt” mode, so added to the usual trips down and back up the steps to haul all the gear, there were more trips in and out of the gift shop with questions of style, color, and size.  We appreciate Scott’s generosity in this matter, and we smile throughout the process, which is never at all efficient, but which usually results in meaningfully memorable attire that is treasured through the years.

White Chili was in the crockpot at home and after showering and vegging for a while, it was heartily enjoyed by all.  That night, Josiah used the Scarne card book to teach us how to play poker.  We didn’t have any chips, and there weren’t enough Skittles in the house, so we used the copper, silver, and gold Dominion cards as “money.”  I was willing to play and did so cheerfully, but frankly, I just don’t get the appeal of that game.  I won, but I still didn’t really care for it.  That’s okay, though, because we all played together and it was fun.

The next day, there was an 80% chance of snow, and we were looking forward to staying home, resting, relaxing, and watching it snow.  Well, I was looking forward to walking in the snow.  Maria had her “Favorite Things,” and walking in the snow is one of mine!  We were not looking forward to packing up, but that would obviously also have to be done on Friday.

It had been a joyful day, and I fell asleep wondering when the snow would start.


Day 5 – in which I shop and walk


It was a beautiful day for skiing.  Or for anything else outdoors.  After the usual delays and frustrations in getting ready to go, we went.  They skiied.  I walked and relaxed.  I think I did some laundry, too.

They reported much fun and great success on the slopes.  Some of them wiped out.  Scott hurt his hip and bruised his elbow while losing both skies.  The boys found that humorous.  = )

I think I went to the grocery again that day.  Scott needed contact lens solution.  The boys needed more Juicy Juice.  I needed bananas, and we were low on tortilla chips.  I also bought some more gas and got another BOGO lift ticket pass.  On the way home, I stopped in the Visitor Center to get some postcards.

That afternoon I walked all around town and it was wonderful.  I stopped in the post office for stamps and walked some more.  I took pictures of four different fire stations in town – three historic and one currently in use.

We ate pizza and it was good.  Josiah is sick of Dominion, so the three of us played while he mine-crafted.  Afterwards, we played Wizard, and I won!

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