A Weekend in the Rockies

Last Saturday, my sons, a friend of my oldest son, and I drove to Estes Park for the day, stayed the night, and returned Sunday afternoon.

One has to reserve a slot in the allotted times available to enter Rocky Mountain National Park for the morning and afternoon hours. This was a new protocol for the park since 2020. Before that, you just entered at one of their entrances by paying for a day pass or week pass. I assume this change was done post-covid/2020 when in 2021, everyone seemed to have flocked to the national parks to enjoy nature and breathe in the fresh air.

Well, I didn’t think to reserve our slot before arriving to Estes Park, so we couldn’t get into the park Saturday afternoon. Thankfully, the hotel clerk where we were booked for the night told me that you can get in free after 6 p.m. At first, when we got there around 1 p.m., I didn’t understand going out that late in the day/into the evening to visit the park. We certainly weren’t going to do the hiking we’d come to do at that slotted time.

So, I googled hiking trails available in Estes Park. There were plenty listed, and we found one to go to that turned out to be free! My son, Christopher, and I went on the shorter hiking trail to the left, while my son, Nicholas, and his friend took the longer, tougher route.

Since I hadn’t hiked in Rocky Mountain National Park since the summer of 2019, and since I’ve been on blood pressure medication since January 2020, I decided to take the easier path and see how I would do.

Well, I did have to acclimate a bit. My heart was beating like a beat box–too fast–and I was a bit lightheaded and out of breath at the beginning of the walk. It took until midway on the path and constant sips of my bottled water to acclimate, the dizziness to be gone, and my heartbeat to be more regular.

In any case, my son and I had a great adventure on the trail. Took lots of pictures, and embraced the nature around us. Here are some of our pictures. The last few with the precious baby chipmunks and Gem Lake are taken by my son, Nicholas, on their trail.

Inviting hiking trail we embarked on!
Longs Peak hidden by the clouds
Cool passageway!
My son actually petted these little critters!
Gem Lake

After our hiking adventures, we waited until 6 p.m. and entered Rocky Mountain National Park for free. The good thing about being there in the evening around that time is that we were likely to see some animals because they usually come out around dawn and dusk to eat.

The first animal we saw was a moose! But he was too far off to get a good picture of him. It was the first moose I’d seen outside the zoo!

The moose!
Elk pretty close up!
Some flowers we saw on LRT and RMNP

Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park are where I go for my little bit of peace in this world. We had a blessed and beautiful short trip. We will go back soon!


The Rocky Retreat

Next Friday, November 5, 2021, my entertaining, funny political satire novelette, The Rocky Retreat, will be published in digital/ebook format for interested readers!

If you’re looking for a light, humorous, and short read, purchase your Kindle, Nook, or Apple Book copy via pre-order or when it’s published!

Look here or here to order.

Here’s the blurb:

Environmentalist Callie and her best friend go on a save-the-wetlands-and-wildlife retreat in a small town nestled in the Rocky Mountains. During those four days, Callie and her friend encounter much more than altitude, jagged peaks, sparkling rivers, and welcoming townspeople. On the contrary, adversaries of all stripes litter their vacation with protest clashes, chemically-laden products, and dangerous weapons. While Callie and her friend fight for the survival of the wetlands and wildlife, will they survive the retreat?

Check it out and enjoy a good laugh!


A Place That Brings You Joy

RMNP Colorado Rockies June 2017

Have you ever been to a place, or lived in a place that brought you such joy and peace that every day you looked out your window or stepped outside your door, you smiled at the grand and scenic landscape around you?

I grew up a military dependent, so we moved around every two to four years.  I was painfully shy growing up, and it took me many months to make friends, and that friendship was enjoyed for a couple years or less, and then it was off to another place.   The moves were difficult, but I adapted.  I kept in touch with my friends over the years via actual snail mail that seems unheard of these days, but it was great fun the years my friends and I wrote each other.  I still remember the excitement I felt when I got a letter from a friend.

The pattern of my emotions in each move consisted of initial sadness when I found out we were moving, to tingling anticipation in the last few weeks before moving day, wondering what the new place would be like.

Here’s a short history of where I’ve lived up to the place I found to be my happy haven.  I was born in Maine, and from there moved to Taiwan, then Massachusetts, Virginia, Alabama, Germany, Illinois, Virginia again, and then Colorado.  All the states and Germany (which was amazing, clean, and gorgeous) pretty much had the same climate–four seasons, humid and hot in the summers, various bugs depending on the area….bigger ones down South (ugh).  So I knew no other type of climate other than hot, muggy buggy, and cold, humid in the winters. Until Colorado.

I remember when we drove into the state and I first stepped outside the car at the local Air Force Base’s gas station.  We were headed to the TLF (temporary lodging facility) until the house Dad and Mom had purchased, was ready to move in, as it was a new house in a new subdivision down in Castle Rock.  As soon as I stepped outside the vehicle, I noticed immediately the difference in the air.  It was light, thin, and fresh.  The sky was an incredible deep azure, with the sun shining so bright, it was nearly white.  Although it was mid summer, it didn’t feel as oppressive as it had in Virginia, Illinois, or Alabama.  And the first time I saw the Rocky Mountains, I caught my breath.  They dominated the western landscape, and demanded respect.  If it were at all possible in some type of sense, I fell in love with Colorado right then, and this has never dissipated.

Colorado Rockies and elk

I was blessed and lucky enough to have lived there twice.  The first time was from 1987 to 1995, and the second time was from 2007 to 2013.  Both times that I left this wonderful haven was not because I wanted to, but more because I didn’t really have a choice.  The first time was when I was in my early twenties, and my job was being phased out, and therefore, I moved south to Northern Louisiana where my parents had moved months before me, and also where my sister had been living for many years because her husband was from there.  The second time was because my husband believed he had a calling to the priesthood, and so we needed to go to Boston for him to attend the graduate school there.  But for several reasons, his degree at that time didn’t come to pass, and because our house in Colorado was being rented out, we couldn’t go back to it, and at that time, my husband wasn’t sure if he’d return to school at a later date.  Therefore, we ended up in Pennsylvania, the state in which my husband had grown up. Also, his family still resided there.

We settled in Lancaster, and struggled for the first year and half as my husband searched and applied for many jobs.  Finally, he was hired last May in 2017 at a local school district.

Lancaster is a lovely area dotted with many farms, rolling hills, and Amish buggies.

Lancaster, PA

We were fortunate to take a vacation back to Colorado in June of 2017 where we stayed at Estes Park in a beautiful, little rustic cabin and hiked the Rocky Mountain trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, and then visited our spiritual father and his family, and our parish family in Colorado Springs.  It was a great respite that truly felt euphoric.

Lancaster is charming, but we knew when we moved into our rental home here and know now that it really is a temporary place in which we have been blessed to regroup, work out personal issues, heal, and grow.

We don’t know how long we’ll be in Lancaster.  I only know that Colorado is always in my heart and in the back of my mind, and the urging to return never goes away.  My husband feels the same way, which works out well for us; no arguments or disagreements on where we want to retire.  God willing, we’ll return some time in the future to this glorious state that has me literally smiling and my heart soaring every time we drive into it and spot those majestic Rockies.

RMNP June 2017

Do you have a place that makes you happy and causes your heart to swell?