Drastic Measures

The snow-capped mountains were peeking at us on our sunny hike this morning!

We thought we started early enough to avoid the heat, but we miscalculated. (We ended up doing *almost* 3 miles before calling it quits.)

Our hike got hotter faster than we anticipated. Therefore, we were forced to take drastic measures.

Hello, Summer!

Hello, summer! May you be as long as our shadows were tonight!

Duck, Duck, Goose

…only, we call this one “Birds, Birds, Birds, Birds, Birds, Flower.”

 

Today, Denver had record-breaking temps, so Claire and I got our first level of steps in by 10:30am, and I put together a fun collage of our pictures from today’s hike! (My official Fitbit goal is 10,000, but I usually try to double that.)

Claire’s Little Buddy

No, I haven’t updated about Grandma’s trip out to see us yet, but I will! In the meantime, Claire and I went on a long hike this morning out at Standley Lake Reservoir.

As we were hiking, we saw the tail end of a brightly colored snake (maybe a fox snake?) slither off the trail. He startled us, but not like the snake we saw a couple weeks ago, and he was gone before we could even give him a second thought.

Then, we saw a coyote!

He stayed around long enough for us to get pictures.

This trail is just gorgeous. Because we went pretty early, it wasn’t too hot. Perfect!

Pano of the trail and the lake

 

The trail near the spillway

 

We’re zipping along, and Claire is behind me. All of a sudden, I hear her gasp, and by some mystical, magical move, she’s no longer right behind me; she’s completely over on the other side of the trail! How she cleared that distance in a single bound, I’ll never know. I think she thinks she’s speaking (or screaming?), but only strangled whispers are coming out!

“Snake! Snake! Snake!” she gasps, as she frantically gestures toward a clump of weeds.

Do you see him?

Go ahead. Click on the photo to zoom in. I’ll wait. No?

I didn’t see him at first either (clearly, because I’d walked right by him), but then I did!

She was like, “GET THE PICTURE AND LET’S GO. What are you doing!? Why are you so close!? WHY ARE YOU TAKING SO LONG. Ssssssnnnnnnaaaaaaaake.” (I wish I had an audio of her gaspy, strangled, gargle-y pleas.)

Funny…he looks so innocent. These tales of “He tried to eat me!” and “He whipped me with his tail!” and “He hissed at me!” may be somewhat exaggerated. Claire vehemently defends her case. (I know the feeling of being startled by a snake, so I didn’t make too much fun of her.)

Here’s the answer key

 

Here’s a zoomed in shot of Claire’s Little Buddy.

From then on, every branch or dead weed stalk made her twitch, which led to our favorite quote from our hike: “Jeez, you see two snakes & a coyote, and you get all jumpy.” 😀

 

DMNS and a Mishap with a Mastodon

Where have we been? I said I’d keep things updated here on the blog, and then *poof* we disappear. Well, Grandma came to visit, and she’s still here! I have been spending too much time hosting and not enough time updating, but I thought I’d risk doing things out of order and pop in to share some fun photos from today. (I’ll update about the rest of her visit later.)

Today, we took her to one of our absolute favorite places in Denver: The Denver Museum of Nature & Science (or the DMNS, as we like to call it). We’re members here and love taking our guests to explore!

Grandma has been here before, but there’s never enough time to see everything in one visit, so we made a point to put this on the itinerary again. She was thrilled!

We had an opportunity to check out the Planetarium AND the Viking’s Exhibit. We always go up to see our favorite view of the city, and this time, the solar telescope was there! (What a treat! If you’re there, you need to check out the terrace level and see if they have it set up!)

Then, when we were done for the day, Claire was unexpectedly crushed by a mastodon.

The End.

😉

 

 

Ladies Who Brunch

Today, Claire & I decided to combine our hike and our lunch plans by walking to our favorite place for brunch! In true City of Arvada style, the sidewalks are absolutely amazing until you get just close enough to your retail destination, and then they vaporize. So close, yet so far.

We made it safely, but we both got an adrenaline rush.

While finishing our meal, we planned our escape route for the way back and pulled that off without a hitch, too. (With “without a hitch” meaning, “we took our lives in our hands, and it all worked out for the best.”)

In other news, the new bridge is done by our lake, and we’re totally smitten.

New bridge…same ol’ view. 😉

 

Knowing what I know is coming

Normally, I love Facebook’s “on this day” feature. I love looking at posts from over the years and the reminders of fun adventures, full-on belly laughs, and milestones. Today, though, knowing what I know is coming makes me sad. It’s reminding me of pictures and fun times we had with my mom last year, on this day, the day before my sister’s world came crashing down, the day before we lost our nephew Trenton, the day before I got the most horrible call ever.

…A call I still can’t think about without crying.

Look! There we are with Grandma at the railroad and mine! Look! There we are with Grandma on our hike!

Look! Look at our happy faces! There we are! …And we have no idea what is about to happen.

Look.
Maybe I don’t want to look.
Maybe I should.
I don’t know.
…and that’s okay.

Time marches on with an audacity that breaks my heart, but thankfully it does so whether we want it to or not, because right now, my heart can’t be trusted to make those decisions.

The Saga of the Not-a-Lot

A few years ago, Claire and I set out on a letterboxing adventure at an open space near us. When I was looking for hiking adventures to do this summer, I thought of that place, and knew we would get a good little hike out of it. (We could plan it before lunch, since it was easy to get to and relatively quick.) I figured out where it was (which took a while, because we’ve done more than 300 letterboxing adventures!) and had it on the calendar to do today.

We didn’t get out of the house as soon as I’d wanted to, but again, it was close and easy to get to, and relatively short. I thought we’d have plenty of time to hike before lunch.

I’d remembered the parking lot for this open space was tricky to get into and out of, but I remembered where it was, roughly, and I knew I’d recognize it when I saw it, so we set out. As we were driving along, we got to where it was supposed to be, and it wasn’t there! Because traffic was crazy, I drove by and did a U-Turn. As we approached from the other direction, I saw where it was supposed to be again, but it was all overgrown and not truly a parking lot anymore! What?? (The signs for the park/open space were still there, and there was a visible trail, so I was more than a little confused.) I didn’t pull in, because it just didn’t feel right.

I’d remembered looking up the info online and vaguely remembering the City’s website saying something about how parking was available on a side street, but it hadn’t said the lot was closed, so I’d just ignored it. (This isn’t our city or county, by the way. It’s a neighboring one, and they need to up their game!!) Fine. I drove past the Not-a-lot and drove to the side-street in hopes of finding the entrance on that side.

We drove around super-fancy houses and oodles of NO PARKING signs, but NEVER saw the sign for this blasted park. We could SEE the park behind a barbed-wire fence, but NO entrance.

That’s when I decided to be a rebel and rule-breaker and go back to the Not-a-lot and park there anyway. I hadn’t seen a sign saying I couldn’t. It’s just weeds. I have a Subaru. Try to stop me!

I make another U-Turn and head back. As I’m waiting to turn into the lot, I notice a bunch of little NO PARKING signs and another sign with explicit instructions on where to park on the side-streets. What?? Gah! Fine. I learned a long time ago NOT to park where the signs actually say NO PARKING, so I made ANOTHER U-Turn. (I’ve lost count at how many this is.)

“Look kids! Big Ben! The Parliament!”

At this point, Claire suggested we just skip this hike and go to lunch, but by this time, I WAS DETERMINED to figure out how to get in…AND WE WOULD GET IN!

I drove BACK to the side-street and drove past the pond. Maybe it was clearer from this side? Nope. All over this fancy neighborhood were NO PARKING AND NO TRESPASSING signs (probably put up to discourage those pesky hikers…). I found a legit spot in front of a house and pulled over to check google to see what was up. That’s when I noticed the same directions about parking on the side-street. (When we’d tried that, it was littered with No Parking signs, but I had to be missing something!)

Back we go. “Look kids! Big Ben! The Parliament!”

I found another side-street off the other side-street and parked there. (There were no signs to be seen.). As we made our way on foot back out to the street by the pond, we STILL could find NO signs indicating how to get into the blasted thing. We saw a lady walking her dog and decided to ask HER how to do it.

I explained our predicament and asked if she knew how to get into Vogel Park. “Well, yes and no,” she said. (Great. If a local is stumped, we’re doomed.) She pointed in a general direction and said that we could get in there. She warned us that the trails weren’t obvious, and if they were, they weren’t maintained, so they’d be muddy (it rained last night). We didn’t scoff at her out loud, because she was being very nice, but we’ve yet to see a truly muddy trail, so we were skeptical.

Do you hear that ominous music, or is it just in my head?

We thanked her, and we headed off in the direction she mentioned.

Sure enough, we found it. It wasn’t a break in the fence, it was past where the fence turned a corner. (You can’t see this from the street, and I’d have to draw you a map, and then you still may not get it.) We marveled at how there was absolutely no signage from this side of the park, but we could see a “trail” (quotes are necessary) heading off through the grass that turned into a trail (no quotes). This part of the trail was bone dry, so we got cocky. We could see the pond, so we figured we were headed in the right direction.

As predicted by the local, down by the pond, the trail turned really muddy (Ha! First time for everything!), and there was no way to avoid it, but we continued on. The pond was pretty, but this hike wasn’t what we expected (and it wasn’t nearly as much fun as coming in from the Not-a-lot, so we started to head back (which put us through the muddy section again). We noticed another trail that forked off around the pond a different way, so we opted to check that out before calling it quits.

We were following the path around that side of the pond when our hike ended abruptly.

Looking at the pictures now, we determined that it was probably an Aquatic Garter Snake, but at the time, it was so hard to tell. Friendly or not, he was alone right after I snapped the last photo. 😉

Needless to say, the hike back to the car was a bit faster than the hike in.

This hike did serve as a reminder for us:

  1. Don’t forget the water. We always travel with our water bottles, but those got left at home in the mad dash from the house. It was a short hike, and we were going to lunch right after, but nice cool water to gulp after being startled by a random snake would have been very nice, indeed.
  2. Bring flip-flops to change into. Despite the fact that our trails out here are rarely truly muddy, apparently they are sometimes. Figuring out how to scrape our shoes to get them to a presentable enough level to go to lunch (see #1) was comical.
  3. Smile. Even though this hike was a dud, in that we have no desire to go back to this area (the parking situation alone is ridiculous), we had a fun time exploring together, and the pictures turned out great.
  4. Sometimes figuring out which hikes aren’t worth doing again is great information to have, too!

 

Chasing the Sunset

Tonight, we set out to chase the sunset. Mission accomplished.

Majestic View

This morning’s hike was another gorgeous stop minutes from our home. (Again, how lucky are we to live in an area that integrated natural spaces into its development!?)

When you hike in the morning, it’s cooler, and you beat the school/summer camp tours. Bonus! In fact, just as we were wrapping up our hike a whole busload of neon-shirted explorers arrived! Perfect timing on our part!

This park is a nice mix of paved trails (!?) and well-maintaned gravel ones. The vistas are just stunning!

It’s baffling as to why this is called “Majestic View.” 😉

 

Panorama of Majestic View

 

I love the cute little adobe building!

Myth: Sunflowers are happy flowers. We discovered the sobering truth in the Nature Center! Hahahahaha *snort*