Beautiful Colorado Wildflowers

Oh, my, I don’t even know if I have the words to express how I really feel about all the beautiful scenery we have seen, and the fun we are having here in South Fork, Colorado. The day after we arrived, our neighbors, and now new friends, Ken and Patricia, parked right next door to us, and we almost immediately struck up a friendship. They are from Alabama, but have spent time in South Fork, Colorado. So they know the area well. They love to fish, and hike, just as much as we do, and they have taken us under their wings, and shown us places to fish and hike that we would not have known about if not for them taking us to visit all these beautiful places.

Yesterday, we left our campsites at 8:00 a.m. and spent the whole day driving through the most beautiful countryside on our way to see the wildflowers in full bloom. This first picture was taken off the side of the road of a steep mountain we had to drive up in order to see the wildflowers.

Even though, we had to drive up a very narrow mountain road, where you had to pull over as far as you could if you encountered another car coming down the mountain, the beautiful wildflowers, and surrounding mountains, were well worth the adventurous trip up the mountain. I will let the next few pictures speak for themselves.

My new friend, Patricia, studies wildflowers and birds, and she could identify almost every wildflower, and almost every bird we saw.

Patricia told me this is the Colorado state flower, the columbine flower. Isn’t it pretty?

Everywhere we looked, we saw a field of beautiful wildflowers.

When we came back down the mountain, after spending ample time with the wildflowers, Ken and Patricia took us to a place where we had a delicious pizza. Then we move on to see the North Clear Creek Falls. Oh, wow! Another hidden treasure we would most likely have overlooked, had we not crossed paths with Ken and Patricia.

After a fun-filled day of seeing a small glimpse, of what Mother Nature has to offer in this area of South Fork, Colorado, we headed home. We arrive home at about 5:30 p.m. Then we sat out on Ken and Patricia’s covered patio, and had happy hour before we called it a day/night.

A BIG thank-you to Ken and Patricia for spending so much quality time with us, and showing us things in this area that we wouldn’t have known about if not for them.

Stay Tuned!

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Exploring Creede, And Last Chance Mine

We have been having so much fun here in South Fork, Colorado. Our next door neighbors, and now friends, and fishing buddies, Patricia and Ken, are from Alabama, but come here in the summer, and they know all about this area, and have taken us under their wing to show us around.

They drove us to Creede, Colorado. OMG, what a beautiful area. This is my kind of place. I will let some of the pictures speak for themselves.

Well, if the adorable shops in Creede were not enough to knock your socks off, they were also having an arts and crafts fair on the day we were there.

After we looked in all the shops, and visited the art fair, we continued on the “bachelor loop” drive,

where we visited old mining claims, and even found one for sale…

Bill took a look inside, but decided this was not anything we would be interested in buying..

I didn’t find this sign too inviting if I was going to be interested in making an offer on the place… 🙂

Moving on from the old mining claim, we continued up, way up, the mountain to visit the last chance silver and  semi-precious gemstone mine. The views from the top of the mountain were spectacular to say the least…

The next few pictures are what you will see when you first arrive at the last chance mine.

This next picture shows the summer home of the people that own and run the mine.

This is a picture of the sitting porch they built. Our new friends, Patricia and her husband, Ken, walked right on out there so I could take their picture. I wasn’t about to go out on that limb. No way, I’m afraid of heights. Ha!

This is the jewelry shop you have to go into if you want to shop for any rings, earrings, necklaces etc. made from the silver and semi-precious gems mined here. The man who owns the mine makes the jewelry and his wife runs the jewelry shop. To get into the jewelry shop, you have to walk across that long, tin walkway, that has a shaky wooden floor that you can see through, and right down the side of the mountain. I mean this thing is scary, and as you can see, it’s being held up on stilts and some cables…

I wasn’t thrilled to go into that shaky building, but my friend, Patricia, told me she wasn’t either the first time she came to this place, but once she was inside and looking at all the pretty jewelry, she forgot all about the fact that this building was hanging off the side of a mountain.

Well, Patricia talked me into going in and taking a look around, and she was right… They have some beautiful jewelry. As a reward for my bravery of going into the shaky building, I bought this silver and amethyst ring. I love it! Some say “Amethyst stones are natural stress relievers with healing properties that rid negative energy and encourage inner strength, wealth, and clarity of the mind” I guess we’ll see about that! 🙂

 

Having the time of our lives..

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

2018 Summer Celebration Trip

In April, I will turn 66, in September, Bill and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, and in December, Bill will turn 70. To celebrate all these special events in our lives, we decided to take the entire summer off from hosting/work-camping, and just relax and spend some quality time exploring New Mexico and Colorado. We’ve been to both of these states but never had the opportunity to spend the time needed to really appreciate the beauty of these states and what all they have to offer.

I’m documenting our summer travel here for our daughter, Shantel, and any family and friends that care to know where we will be this summer.

5/2 – 6/1  We will stay at the Sierra Hermosa RV Park in Questa, New Mexico. We picked this area because we thought it would be the perfect hub for taking day trips to surrounding areas that include: Eagle Nest which is situated on the enchanted circle scenic byway, Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument and Wild River recreation area, Carson National Forest, Taos, and the Village of Red River. Lots of fun things to see and do!

6/1 – 7/1  We will stay at Mogote Meadow Cabins RV Park in Antonito, Colorado. Here we will visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park, ride the Toltec scenic railroad, and visit the Conejos River, just to mention a few day trip activities this area has to offer.

7/1 – 7/31 We’re staying at Aspen Ridge in South Fork, Colorado. We are looking forward to traveling the Silver Thread Scenic Byway which includes visiting Lake City and Creed.

7/31 – 8/30  We will be at the Red Mountain RV Park in Kremmling, Colorado. This park is just six miles from the Wolford reservoir which offers all kinds of water activities as well as lots of hiking trails in the surrounding area.

8/30 – 9/29  We’re really looking forward to staying at the Monument RV Resort in Fruita, Colorado. This RV park is only about 30 minutes from where our kids and grandkids live in Grand Junction, Colorado, so we will have lots of  time to visit with our family that live there. Of course our day trips there will include exploring the Colorado National Monument and James R. Robb State Park with access to the Colorado River. More beautiful hiking trails to explore in this area.

Then, after a fun-filled summer, we will make our way back to our beloved Arizona. We plan to arrive back at McDowell Mountain Regional Park on 10/1 to enjoy another fun-filled winter season here.

Both Bill and I are beyond excited to take this summer to just relax, do lots of hiking and sightseeing, and have lots of time to visit with our family in Colorado. If any of our family or friends find yourselves in any of the areas where we will be over the summer, please feel free to contact us as we would love to have you come and visit us too!

Stay Tuned!

 

 

 

New Year’s Traditions

My husband, Bill, and I never go out on New Year’s Eve. Not that we don’t like to socialize with family and friends, we have many opportunities to do that throughout the year, but 30 years ago, Bill and I started our own New Year’s Eve tradition. We decided we always wanted New Year’s Eve to be spent with just the two of us enjoying each other’s company. We have a nice dinner, and spend quality time talking about things we want to do in the New Year that will help us be overall better people. We talk about what we want to do that will help us continue to keep Christ front and center in our lives, what we can do to continue to grow our love for each other keeping our relationship and our marriage strong, and the priority in our lives, how we can help our family and friends that may need our help, and now that we are full-time RVers, we talk about what we want to do in regards to summer travel plans in the New Year. We find it is a great way to reflect on the past year, center ourselves, and make goals for the New Year ahead.

Making sure we get enough exercise is a big part of our lives. We try to take a walk or hike at least five times a week. So today we took a lovely walk around the Fountain Park in Fountain Hills. This park is a little gem that sits right in the center of the lovely town of Fountain Hills, just 4 miles from where we host at McDowell Mountain Park.

The fountain goes off every hour on the hour for 15 minutes. We can see the fountain from our host site at McDowell Mountain Park.

It was a beautiful day and lots of folks were out taking advantage of the beautiful mid 70 degree weather… This is why I never want to be anywhere but Arizona in the winter months.

From every angle around the park there are beautiful views.

They even have a Veterans Memorial in the park. So special. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

 

 

 

 

The park is surrounded with beautiful plants,

and artwork is everywhere…

There are sculptures with memorials to loved ones lost throughout the park. This one brought tears to my eyes.

 

This one was titled “my buddy.” So special.

As you make your way around the park, there are lots of shops and places to eat…

The park also has frisbee golf. That looks like it would be fun!

Bill and I had a fun time exploring this beautiful park in the middle of Fountain Hills, something we have talked about doing but haven’t done until today. We loved it and will be back.

Over the years, I have had many people say to me “you and Bill always seem so happy and in love. What is the secret after 30 years together?” The answer is there is no “secret”. Bill and I were friends first, then, over time, that grew into a love relationship that we treasure, and decided right from the start we never wanted to lose. We are certainly no experts (we have both been married before) but we have learned, from past mistakes, if you really want to keep any relationship alive and well, you have to give it the time and attention it needs. It is now our number one priority. For us, we never keep score, but we know that as long as we keep each other first, me giving all I can, and him doing the same, the rewards triple any effort.

I thought the next picture from the park expresses what I am sharing in regards to relationships, so much better than I can say. Just like you don’t mind the time and attention you would give to your child, pet, etc, We give that time and attention to each other, but we don’t think of it as a “job”. You get the idea…

Bill and I wish all of you the very best of 2018. Whatever your heart’s desire are worth the effort you put into achieving it..

Stay Tuned!

Sixty-nine And Counting

Today is my husband, and very best friend, Bill’s, birthday. To celebrate, Bill and I met our daughter, Shantel, at her doctor’s appointment, and the three of us went out to lunch to what was once Bill/Papa’s favorite Mexican restaurant, Abuelo’s, in Chandler.

We arrived, and were seated promptly, and everything looked to be the same as the last time we were there last year.

Bill ordered an appetizer of jalapeno cheese fritter balls, served with a sauce. They were delicious.

We were served warm chips and three kinds of salsa, just like always.

I ordered grilled sea bass taco’s that were the bomb! They were served with a side of rice and pinto beans cooked with bacon.

Shantel had one chicken and one spinach enchilada, served with beans and rice. She loved the chicken enchilada, but said the spinach one tasted like “tea leaves” to her.

Bill ordered a green chili smothered beef burrito. That was always his favorite, and the only reason he wanted to go there for his birthday lunch (the other option was Cheesecake Factory that was just across the street). Unfortunately,  the recipe changed, and what he was served was not anything like what he remembered, and loved so much in the past… He ate it, and said it wasn’t awful, but he was just really disappointed that it wasn’t what he remembered it to be…

But, as with all things in life… or at least this is what we try to live by…, it’s not about what you get, or what happens…, it’s more about how you react and deal with all of it… Bill, Shantel and I all agreed that today was not about the food, it was about taking the time to spend quality time together to celebrate another important event in our lives…, Bill/Papa’s birthday.

Happy Birthday Bill/Papa, we love you!

Stay Tuned.

 

Christmas Cookie Baking 2017

Today Bill went to our daughter, Shantel’s apartment where he spent the day helping Shantel, and her best friend, Jaz, bake Christmas cookies for Christmas Eve, and to take to our family friends home for Christmas Day. This cookie baking day is an annual event for Bill, Shantel, and Jaz.

They made Neiman Marcus and Ginger Snap cookies, and a lot of them! They also made a batch of fudge for the Christmas celebrations.

Shantel loves, loves, loves, to bake. Bill captured the pictures below that show how well Jaz and Shantel work together to accomplish the job. Shantel and Jaz met when they attended the same college, and they have been best friends ever since. Bill and I feel so blessed to have Jaz in our lives as Shantel’s best friend. She is a very special young lady, and we love her like one of our own daughters.  Bill was helping with the cookies as well, but he had to stop every now and then to capture pictures to send to me so I could document the event on my blog for Shantel to read back on over the years. I just love seeing that big smile on Shantel’s face!

Shantel has no problem working in her kitchen. When she is cooking or baking, she likes to keep the cabinet doors open (so does her papa) but when I’m there, I have to keep asking her to shut the cabinet doors because I tend to walk into them… Funny how she is blind and doesn’t hit her head on the open doors, and I can see but seem to always walk into the open doors… Ha!

 

This next picture shows Shantel placing cookies on her coffee table to cool, and placing them in the storage tins after they were cool. She so loves to know that there are plenty of cookies for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and beyond… 🙂

From the looks of the first storage tin, I don’t think she is going to have to worry about not having enough cookies!

After all the cookies and fudge are made, the next part of the annual cookie baking tradition is that Bill takes the girls out to lunch which is the perfect ending to their perfect Christmas Cookie Baking Day!

I so love that Bill, Shantel, and Jaz, have this time together every year to bake and bond. They all look forward to it.  And, since I don’t like baking, it allows me an opportunity to have some “me time” without having to be involved in smelling the cookies I don’t eat, bake, or be involved in cleaning up the mess that goes along with it… Win, Win…

I spent my “me time” today making coconut curry chicken for our dinner, took a nice long walk, did some laundry, and posted this blog post… And now, I’m headed to happy hour!!!

Merry Christmas!

 

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