Cumbres And Toltec Scenic Railroad

Yesterday we took a ride on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, something I would definitely recommend doing if you are ever in Antonito, Colorado, or Chama, New Mexico. This scenic railroad “takes you on a journey through the spectacular mountains and valleys of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico on a historic narrow gauge railroad line that was built in the late 1800s.

It was not only a beautiful, fun, ride, but it was very educational as well. I will share some of what we learned over our 6 1/2 hour trip.

“The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic railroad is America’s longest and highest narrow gauge (3 feet between the rails) railroad. It is also one of our country’s best preserved railroad museums, designated both a National and State Registered Historic Site and National Civil Engineering Landmark.”


This is a steam engine locomotive. Coal is used to heat water that produces the steam to run the train.

Almost every car on the train was completely full, although once we were on our way, we were free to move about from car to car, and go out to the observation car.

“The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is 64 miles of what once was the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railway. It is the finest example of narrow gauge, mountain steam railroading in the country.”


We saw trees of every kind along the trip.

We had a volunteer on the train who was well versed in the history of the railroad, and everything we were seeing along the way. He told us that trees with yellowish marks on them, like this one, were most likely hit by lighting.

I just loved being in the middle of the train, and watching the front of the train round the bends. I was hanging out of the window to capture this picture.

And everyone was hanging out of windows to try and get a picture of the train entering the first of two tunnels.

This was the view immediately when we came out of the first tunnel. I wasn’t about to hang out the window to get this picture, but I did get a pretty good shot while standing in front of an open window.

Because the train runs on steam, and you need water to produce the steam, halfway through the trip we had to stop at a water tower to fill up the water tank.

This house is where the family of the man who was responsible for maintaining the water tower lived. There were 12 children in that family living with their parents in this little house. The windows look like they have lace curtains, but those curtains are actually painted on the windows.

About halfway through our trip, we passed another train full of people that were just as interested in taking pictures of us, as we were interested in taking pictures of them. Ha!

There was no shortage of beautiful scenery to see.


This is a picture of the Historic 1880 Depot located in Osier, where we stopped for lunch.

Someone actually lived in this tiny depot.

Our volunteer guide told us that they couldn’t get anyone to donate a historic safe for the depot, so they hired someone to make a replica of the original safe out of wood.

We learned all about the whistle blowing of the train as well. Here is what we learned,

It’s called Whistlespeak:

One short blow = Apply brakes. Stop

One long and one short blows = Warning whistle

Two long blows = Release brakes. Proceed

Four long blows = 5 minute departure warning

Two long, one short, and one long blows = Approaching highway crossing

Two long and one short blows = Approaching station

Three short blows = When stopped, back up. When running, stop at next station

It was another beautiful, fun-filled, educational day.

Stay Tuned!


Happy Birthday Shantel

Wow, I can’t hardly believe our baby girl is turning 25 tomorrow. As I’m thinking back over the years, and our lives together, I want you to know what an honor, and privilege, it has been for Papa and I to adopt you, and be your parents. We are sharing an incredible journey together, one that has had extreme, heart-shattering challenges, as well as overwhelming joys. I remember the day you were born like it happened yesterday, and I wanted to take this opportunity, on your 25th birthday, to share with you some of my fondest memories. This post is a little long, but it’s full of things I want you to know, and to have documented for you to reread in the future.

I was the labor coach when you were born, and Papa was there as well, so from the moment we first saw you coming into this world, you had our hearts. Of course, we had no idea then, what challenges we would face together. We had no way of knowing that from the day you were born, cancer had already started working to rob you of your eyes, and thus your sight, and that within two and a half years, you would be blind for life. But, now, looking back, we know it was meant to be that we would all make this journey together.

I’m posting the only picture I have of you when you still had your natural eyes. I love this picture because it shows you as our beautiful baby girl all dressed up in your first Christmas dress. It was all white, layered lace, with just three red bows across your chest, and you have a white lace headband in your dark, curly, hair. I remember so well when Papa and I took you to have this picture made. We had to wait for a long time in line, you were tired, and fell asleep in my arms. Thankfully, just as it was time for your picture, you woke up happy and smiling, as you always did, and we got a precious picture that I treasure.

 Shortly after you recovered from the surgeries to remove both your eyes, we enrolled you in the Foundation For Blind Children in Phoenix. It was a day program that you went to four day’s a week. They were wonderful, and  instrumental, in helping us learn how to help you live blind, in a sighted world. You were the youngest child ever, at the Foundation For Blind Children School, to learn to walk with a long cane. That is because you were so strong, and it takes a lot of strength in your arm and wrist to hold the long cane correctly, and move it from side to side to keep yourself safe in your space. I posted a picture that shows you, and your two little friends from the Foundation For Blind Children, holding hands as you participated in a fashion show to help support the Foundation For Blind Children School. You were only three and a half in this picture, and already mastering the long cane.

I took you to religion classes, and helped teach you about Jesus, and beamed with pride as I walked you down the aisle to receive him in the Holy Eucharist the day you made your first Holy Communion. But as you were learning about Jesus, you taught me so much more. You taught me about having absolute, unconditional love, compassion, and empathy for all people, not just those in your family, or those that are easy to love, just like Jesus teaches us to do. You taught me what real inner strength is, and that no matter how hard things get, if you have faith, and love in your heart, all things will work out as they are meant to be. You taught me that there are worse things than being blind, and that seeing with your heart is a true gift from God. I posted a picture of you in your communion dress standing with me in front of some beautiful roses just outside the church.

Your love knows no boundaries Shantel. You love all people, and all beings, even Carmen, the cat you insisted you had to have. She made herself irresistible to you when we went to find a cat for you at the Humane Society. We agreed that the cat that came up, and was the friendliest to you, would be the one we would get. Then, once we got her home, you said she turned on you. She didn’t like that you always put your hand above her head when you went to pet her, so she would swat and scratch you. You said you thought she must have been a “bait and switch” cat, because she didn’t seem to want to have anything to do with you once we got her home. But you continued to try, and try, to win her over because you loved her, even when she wasn’t being very loveable to you. We all loved that cat for 12 years, and it was a sad day when she had to be put down. I posted a picture of Carmen here.

As much as it sometimes got on my very last nerve, Shantel, I really did love all our baking times together every Sunday, even though I don’t like to bake. The main reason I loved those times so much, was because of your passion and love of baking. I learned so much from you during those baking sessions. I learned that things don’t have to look perfect, to be perfect. I posted a picture of you licking the beater after you mixed up some kind of sweet desert.

And I always admired the love, and special bonding time, you and Papa had every time you would cook or bake Christmas cookies together. I posted a picture of you and Papa cooking, and baking, together in your apartment.

I will always treasure all the early mornings you and I spent at McDonald’s, just before I would drop you off for your college classes. You would eat while I drilled you on your lessons for the day. Sometimes I thought you were not paying attention, as you seemed more interested in eating, so I would ask you to repeat what I just said, and you always would repeat it back to me verbatim. I posted a picture of you eating your McDonald’s breakfast.

I so enjoyed watching you meet, and bond, with who I believe will be your lifelong friend, Jaz.  You met in college, and still remain great friends today. I knew Jaz would be a lifelong friend when I saw that she allowed you to be you. She accepted you just the way you are, and never tried to change anything about you. She always walks beside you, not in front of, or behind you. She talks to you, not at you, and she really enjoys hearing your opinion on things. She learns as much from you as you learn from her. What a great person she is inside and out. We love her, and consider her part of our family. I posted a picture of you and Jaz walking together at college.

Papa and I loved that you love our love of hiking, and that you would ask Papa and I to take you hiking every chance we could. I loved that you trusted me as your sighted guide out on the hiking trails, an even more difficult world to maneuver without sight. So many great times, and memories, we made together while we were hiking the trails. I posted a picture of you and I out on the hiking trails.

And, oh my, how I love, how you do love to eat! Every time we take you out to eat, it is pure joy on your face. I posted a picture of you enjoying your king crab legs at Joe’s Crab Shack on Easter.

The day you got the keys to your first apartment, shortly after your 21st birthday, was such a bitter/sweet day for me. I knew that day would come, and it is what Papa and I worked so hard to prepare you for. From the day you lost your sight, our full focus and attention was to help you truly become an independent adult. But as much as my mind knew you were ready, and this was the right thing for you, my heart struggled so with letting you go. I tried so hard to keep my selfish feelings tucked inside (I posted a picture of you holding your apartment keys in your hand),

so I wouldn’t take away from your excitement, and joy, of starting out to make a life of your own, on your own. I posted a picture of you laughing while stuffing more of your things into a hamper as you were packing to move out.

As Papa and I drove you to your apartment, and new life, it was like I was watching it all happen in slow motion. You were ready, excited, and showed no fear. But I, was by far, not prepared for the panic, fear, and emotions, I was going through. I posted a picture of you sitting with your stuff in your lap as we drove you to your first apartment.

I remember how happy you were with the brand new sofa and coffee table you bought with your own money, that you saved up from birthday’s, and your graduation from college money. I posted a picture of your sofa and coffee table.

You were so happy to have brand new appliances in your little kitchen, and talked about all the cooking and baking you would do. I posted a picture of your kitchen.

Your sense of humor is what always got Papa and I through the really tough times of chemo treatments, and years of fighting for your rights in the school systems. I remember when you were in first grade, and you had to have your tonsils out, and the teacher sent home an art project for you to complete. You had to glue feathers, candy corn, and uncooked macaroni on a picture of a turkey as part of a demonstration of how the first Thanksgiving went… You dropped a piece of candy corn on the floor while we were working on the project, and you just bent down, scooped the candy corn off the tile floor, and ate it. I told you not to eat things off the floor. At the end of glueing the candy corn, feathers and macaroni on the picture of the turkey, you got up and knocked the remaining macaroni on the floor. I told you to pick up the macaroni, and you said “you know I’m blind”. I said “well, you weren’t blind when you dropped the candy corn so pick up the macaroni. You just smiled that same “thought I got you smile you still have today” and picked up all the macaroni.

In addition to your great sense of humor helping us get through the hard times, Shantel, we also had great friends that always stepped up, and supported us in every way. Friends like Holly and Chuck, who were there every step of the way from day one, providing emotional support, encouraging us, visiting us, and welcoming us into their lives, and home. If not for their love, emotional support, and generosity, we would not have been able to buy our first home where we planned to raise you. They also loaned us the money to retain a lawyer when we had to fight the school system to get them to provide your school work, correctly, in braille, in a timely manner to give you a level playing field with your sighted peers. Over the years, we became so much more than friends, we became a real family, so much so that we named them in our will as the people we wanted to take you, and raise you, in the event something happened to us. I don’t know what we would ever do without them in our lives. We love them so.

And our dear friends, Robin and Bob, who always welcomed all of us into their home for the many parties they had, that we would not have been able to attend if they had not welcomed you as well. That alone, provided emotional support to us, and gave Papa and I an outlet to having a social life while keeping you safe. They also fell in love with you, so much so that they gifted all of us with an all expense paid trip to New York City for your graduation from High School. You always said you wanted to visit New York City, and ride the subway, and eat all the great food. There was no way we could afford to have taken you on a trip like that in New York City. Special friends like that are hard to find, and when you have them, you never let them go.

It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child. We were beyond blessed to have more than a village, Shantel, we had good-hearted people, that did more than give us a passing glance, while patting us on the back and thinking, tough break… Holly and Chuck, Robin and Bob, got involved, and helped us along the way. With their emotional support, and their generous hearts, they made our lives easier during very difficult times. We are forever grateful, and know that we are truly blessed that each of them are in our lives.

You still have that same beautiful sense of humor, and free spirit, Shantel, in everything you do. I love that you meet every challenge life gives you with a peaceful, joyful, heart. I love that you never let life’s challenges bring you down, and that you never let yourself feel sorry for yourself, but instead, you find ways to make your world work for you.

The next picture is of you with three cowgirl hats stacked together on your head. We were shopping for Halloween decorations, and knowing, unlike me, you never liked anything to do with cowgirl or cowboy stuff, I asked you to let me put one of the hats on you and take a picture. You smiled that same smile I love so much, and put not one, but three, cowgirl hats on your head.

You are our greatest joy Shantel. You are our heart and our soul. You are our hero, and you have always inspired us to want to be the best people we can be. Papa and I love you. We are so proud of the beautiful woman you are, and we are so thankful, and grateful, we were blessed as to be your parents. We would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Happy Birthday, baby girl. You’ll always be our baby girl. I posted a picture of you, me, and Papa, together on one of out family outings.


With all our love,

Papa and Mom

Another Day Of Adventures

We have been fishing at the Conejos River, that runs through the RV Park where we are staying, for the past week and a half. We hadn’t even had one little nibble. So we decided we were going to go to the Trujillo Meadows Reservoir and try fishing in some deep water. The owner of our RV Park, John, told us he had a lot of luck catching fish there. The reservoir is about an hour and a half drive from where we are staying.

When you get to the turn-off for the reservoir, you have to travel down a pretty well maintained gravel road that doesn’t really have clearly marked signs letting you know where the reservoir really is located. So, we spent about another half hour driving through a campground, trying to figure out how to get down to the reservoir.

Finally we found the road that would take us to the reservoir, where we would find the deep water, and where I just knew I was going to catch that BIG fish… But no. What we found was that the reservoir was all dried up! Are you kidding me? Why would our camp host/owner, John, send us to a reservoir that was dry?


Mud pies anyone?

So now, we decide we will go try our luck at the other reservoir we heard about, Platoro Reservoir. On the way out of the dried up Trujillo Reservoir area, we saw two deer romping across the road. Perhaps they were looking for some deep water too.

All was not a complete loss, because the drive to and from Trujillo Meadows Reservoir is beautiful. We passed through “Caminante” To… – Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic & Historic Byway. The welcome sign read “Bienvenidos Caminantes! Come! Take a walk with us. We know an old song, El Caminante, which tell of taking a long walk along the ancient roads. Like the first prehistoric inhabitants, you too are a caminante, or one who walks upon this land”.

When we reached the turn-off for the Platoro Reservoir, we find out we have to travel down 25 miles, on a not well maintained, washboard-like, dirt road. The first few miles were deceiving as to what was to come further down the road… But, on we went, in search of the deep water, where I was going to catch that BIG fish! Hey, if you’re not going with a positive attitude that your going to catch a big fish, you might as well stay home. Right?

On the way down the long, and bumpy road, we passed these two beautiful horses standing peacefully in their field.

And, again, we saw lots of beautiful countryside while we were going down that long, and really bumpy road. 🙂

Finally, after an hour and a half on that very long, and really, really, bumpy road, we came to the Platoro Reservoir with deep water in it.

YES! I’m getting out and I’m going to catch my BIG fish. But no! You see those ripples in the water? Well those ripples were coming from wind that was blowing so hard we couldn’t even cast out our lines without having them blow right back in our faces. And, what looks like a simple shoreline that we could just walk around to the other side of the water, was actually a steep drop off. No way were we able to get around that water unless we had some fly-fishing waders, which of course, we didn’t. So, with dashed hopes, we called it a day, and started making our way back home without ever putting our hooks into any water at all…

On the way back down the mountain, like three hours later, we passed the same horses, standing in the exact same positions. I thought to myself, these horses really know how to stay in the moment and enjoy life. I guess we could all learn something from them. Stay in the moment, expect nothing, and hope for the best! 🙂

The next day, when we saw our Park Owner, John, we told him the reservoir he sent us to was all dried up. He looked surprised and said “really, I thought that would have been filled up again by now. They drained it to work on the dam, but that was only supposed to take a month”. So much for being in the know about your area. But we’re still loving it here, and we’re still having lots of fun.

Stay Tuned!

Playing On The Great Sand Dunes

Yesterday we visited the Great Sand Dunes National Park. We had never been there before, so we made a stop at the Visitor Center, to see what we could learn before heading out to play on the dunes. We learned that “these huge dunes-North America’s tallest-are about 11 percent of a 330-square-mile deposit of sand. Eroded from mountains, then shattered by freezing and thawing, and tumbled by streams and winds, sand grains cycle through the dunes system.” That’s amazing.

We also learned safety tips to protect yourself before going out on the dunes. We learned :

  1. The sand can be REALLY HOT.  “In summer months during mid-day, sand temperatures can reach 150 degrees F. Hike during the morning or evening to avoid heat exhaustion and/or burned feet.” We were there in the morning and the sand was not hot.
  2. “Lighting can occur anytime during the warmer months, when afternoon storms approach the dunes. Avoid fatal lightning strikes by experiencing the dunes and other open areas during morning hours. Remain in a building or vehicle until 30 minutes after the last thunder. If you are in immediate danger, crouch in a low-lying area on top of a pack to prevent ground charge.” I guess if you don’t have a pack to lay on top of, you just crouch, and kiss your ass good-bye. Ha! 🙂
  3. “High winds are possible any time of the year Especially during the spring season, storm fronts can produce high winds which cause sand to blow. Hike during these conditions at your own risk. If hiking during windy conditions, consider wearing eye protection, long sleeves and pants to avoid getting sand-blasted“.

But hey, if the sand isn’t too hot, there’s no lightning, or storm clouds in the area, and no high winds, then you’ve got this, so go have fun. Ha! 🙂

So off we went.

Let me just say, it’s a long hike from the Visitor Center, through constantly shifting sand, to reach the top of these Great Sand Dunes. When we first started out, I asked Bill/Papa if he wanted to rent a sandboard so we could slide down the dunes once we reach the top. He said “how do we get to the top”? I told him that I didn’t see a chair left anywhere, and that I read it was a calf-burning adventure.. He said ‘oh, ____ NO”! We laughed, as we were trudging our way along, and talked about how nice it would be if there were some way to have a chair lift to the top, but of course, that would be impossible on the ever shifting sand. I’m telling you that you can get your toes in the sand here and never even have to take off your shoes.

After you reach the top of what you’re going to call your summit, which doesn’t have to be the highest peak,

the easy, and fun part, would be sliding back down if you had a sandboard. Because when you fall down, sit down, or come to a stop sliding down, it’s an even bigger challenge getting back on your feet in the shifting sand. Ha!

Bill/Papa said “this is a lot of sand, but unlike Oregon, where you walk in the sand and reach water, here you walk in the sand, and reach a hill of more sand”.

The Great Sand Dunes National Park is beautiful, and I’m so glad we got to visit, and experience for ourselves, how truly amazing the Great Sand Dunes really are.

After we finished playing on the dunes, we brushed ourselves off, emptied our shoes of an excessive amount of sand, and made our way towards the Great Sand Dunes Lodge and RV Park, where we were going to have lunch. On the way there we passed by these deer who didn’t seem to mind interrupting their lunch to pose for a picture.

We had a delicious lunch in this adorable diner next to the Lodge and RV Park.

I couldn’t resist getting pictures of these signs they have hanging around the ice cream and homemade pie counter. I think we could use a few of these signs in our Visitor Center back at McDowell Mountain Park. 🙂



Of course, I couldn’t leave the area without buying my token magnet. I think this one is just perfect to remind me of our day at the Great Sand Dunes.

Stay Tuned!



My Kind Of Place

That’s what this adorable Twin Rivers RV Park, here in Antonito, Colorado, is to me. I wanted to capture this lovely place in pictures for my travel memories, as well as to document our experiences here in Antonito, Colorado. I will also try to describe in as much detail as I can for our daughter, Shantel, who likes to read about our adventures.

This morning after breakfast, Bill/Papa and I took a walk around the grounds. The first place we investigated was the cute little shower house. One side says Cowboys, and the other side says Ladies.


The ladies shower room was spotless and decorated all in a pretty shade of blue and white.

Next we checked out the pavilion. This is a place for sure decorated just to my liking, with wooden floors, checkered tablecloths, rocking chairs, and lots of antiques spread throughout. Campground guests are allowed to use this anytime they want, to play board games that are provided, read books that are also provided, or to entertain their guests that stop by to visit them.

I fell in love with these blue jeans made into little curtains. How cute is that?

They have a coin operated washer and dryer for guests to use. Bill/Papa was for sure checking that out.

Our little slice of this heaven is really shaded, especially towards the back of our motorhome, so that is where we set up our table, chairs, and outside cooking equipment. Just the perfect spot for coffee in the morning, and happy hour in the afternoon.

Just beyond the back of our sitting space, is a huge spot filled with nice, big, cottonwood trees that provide shade throughout the park.

They also have little cabins for rent here.

The outside of the office is all fixed-up with flowers

that are so pretty and welcoming. Some of the flowers are planted in tin bathtub type of containers painted in pretty colors,

and there are flowers in hanging pots all around the park.

A large covered wagon greets you as you enter the park. That was my first indication that I was going to love staying here.


One of two rivers runs right through the park, and we can fish there anytime we want. We do love to fish.

All along the river bank there are cute benches. I love this one that has wagon wheels attached to each end and is painted blue. And, there are bridges so you can cross the river.

In addition to the benches, there are chairs throughout the park, placed beside the river, that almost seem to beg you to come, sit, and stay awhile.

And if all that were not enough, if you have horses, you can bring them, and keep them in the corral that has a nice size pasture right beside it.

They also have a nice little playground for the little children.

The only negative thing I can say, if I had to say anything, would be that I would like more space between neighbors. But, that just makes me appreciate, even more, the generous amount of space we have at McDowell Mountain Regional Park when we are there for the winter months.

Love, love, LOVING this area!

Stay Tuned






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On the Road Since 2010, Traveling Across USA & Europe With 12 Paws

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family life..with a unique perspective of motherhood

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Blooming Burgh Boomer

Living An Active Full Life

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