Tag Archives: Colorado

Entertaining Angels – Part One

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  

Hebrews 13:2 KJV

I have a long and, well, colorful, if you will, “relationship” with hitchhikers.  I was not brought up to pick up random people off the street, but I learned at a youngish sort of age that my path would often lead me to places where I would do just that.

My driver’s license was not even dry yet before I had my first experience with a hitchhiker.  It was dusk and I was driving alone down a long stretch of road.  The road was chain link fenced on both sides and I was the only car on it.  I passed a young man going the same way as I with his thumb out.  Without a thought I drove right past him.  Women alone in cars don’t pick up strangers, right?  But I immediately felt the Lord prompt me that I should have offered the man a ride.  I made a U-turn as soon as I could to go back, but the man had disappeared.  To where?  There was no one else on the road, and there was no way to get off the road.  I had thoroughly missed an opportunity.  And I decided that in the future, if I could help it, I would not let that happen again.  Over the years I practiced listening to that prompting and picking up people that I felt I was in the right place at the right time to render aid to.  I never felt much in the way of hesitation.  Until eight years or so ago…

Instead of flying on my annual September pilgrimage from Colorado to California to visit my people, I was driving this time.  The sun was just rising as I crossed from Colorado into Utah.  I found myself alone on the vast expanse of the freeway winding my way through the high desert.  Off in the distance I saw a figure walking along the edge of the road.  “Please Jesus”, I begged, “please don’t make me pick up someone out here in the middle of nowhere.”  I slowed down as I drove past him.  He looked pretty rough, was unshaven, and was barefoot.  I kept him in my rear view mirror so I wouldn’t lose sight of him as I briefly argued with God, ultimately pulling over and stopping about 200 yards in front of him.  He walked up to my window as I was tossing things into the back seat from the passenger seat next to me.  He was rather incredulous as I told him to get in and asked where he was going.  I knew full well this guy might be in my car all the way to Los Angeles.  Offering him a ride stretched even my usual calm reserve about picking up hitchhikers.

No, I don’t remember his name.  He was on his way to Phoenix and I told him I wasn’t on a schedule and offered to take him there.  He declined that offer.  We decided on Moab.  A big detour, but what the heck.  As we talked I learned that he’d been trying to get to Phoenix from the East Coast for months.  It had been a huge struggle.  He’d walked most of the way as few had been willing to stop and pick him up for more than a few miles at best.  His shoes wore out some time ago.  He hadn’t bathed in weeks.  He was hungry.  He had absolutely no money.  His little kids were in Phoenix and it had been years since he’d seen them.  We ate breakfast out of my cooler.  When we got to Moab, we went shoe shopping.  I gave him money, offered one more time to take him to Phoenix, and prayed with him.

But none of that was all that important.  After he first got into my car, he told me why he almost couldn’t believe that I’d stopped for him, and it’s truly amazing…

“I slept out in the desert last night.  I was cold and I was wet.  It was the worst night of my life.  I was feeling desperate, and I was feeling so angry.  This morning I stood up and raised my fist to the sky and shouted at God at the top of my lungs…WHY WON’T YOU SEND SOMEONE TO HELP ME?????  That was fifteen minutes ago.”

This man learned that God sometimes answers prayers immediately, even ones that weren’t asked in the nicest way.  And I learned that I never want to forget what it felt like to know that had I not listened to that voice I would have missed out on the opportunity to be the almost instantaneous answer to that desperate shouted prayer.  Now, instead of waiting to hear the voice, I ask God if I’m supposed to pick up this or that person.  I even offer rides to some people who are not asking for one.  Part Two of this particular story takes place on the way back to Colorado on this same trip.  Stay tuned.  (Click HERE for Part Two)

But don’t tell my dad.


Fire, Flashback, and Fever

On Tuesday, while my phone was silenced for work, I received numerous texts.  I retrieved them as I was leaving my office in Denver for home in Colorado Springs.  Fire.  Fire in the Black Forest.

As I made the long drive home, I could see the huge plume of white and gray smoke climbing in a massive column into the sky off in the distance.

Probably shouldn't have been taking pictures while driving....

Probably shouldn’t have been taking pictures while driving….

Closer to home and farther off into the distance I could see the smoke from yet another fire in the Royal Gorge creeping its way across the horizon from behind Cheyenne Mountain.

Different fire, different smoke.

Different fire, different smoke.

When I reached the exit for New Life Church, I headed that direction.  I parked on the side of the road and watched the fire.  The nearest edge was only a mile or so away.  Chinook helicopters were already chugging their way back and forth dangling Bambi buckets filled with water beneath them to, and empty from, the fire.  They looked like mosquitoes dropping trickles of water into hell.

Not again.  These fires are only supposed to happen once in a couple of lifetimes.

But last year at almost this exact time, there was a fire burning in the mountains behind my own house.  It started in Waldo Canyon, one of my favorite hiking spots.  I had been out shopping when I looked up into the mountains and saw smoke rising.  By the time I got home a short time later, it had doubled in size.

Almost home, the Waldo Canyon fire had been burning for an hour.

Almost home, the Waldo Canyon fire had been burning for an hour.

It seemed like it was far enough away that it wouldn’t threaten my neighborhood.  As it burned, I had to keep my house sealed up as the smell of smoke was so strong.  It was so hot.  No air conditioning, no breeze through open windows.  I would go to sleep (fitfully at best) at night with those fires burning “back there” praying none would be caught unawares in the middle of the night.  I would wake up in the morning with a lurch because of the smell, and I’d check the news and look around outside in search of fire.  Always with the smell of smoke in the air.  No one thought the fires would reach as far as the city, but I evacuated my dad who was on vacation and staying with me, just in case.  I didn’t want to have to try to have any future evacuation any more complicated than need be.  And a couple days later, devil winds picked up and blew that fire like a river down into the beautiful Mountain Shadows neighborhood just a couple of miles from my own neighborhood.

I had been taking photographs at a local school that looked down into a number of the canyons that were on fire when the winds inexplicably “collapsed” over the mountains and tripled in velocity.  I watched in horror as the fire began to run out of the canyons and around the mountains seemingly directly toward my home.  As I rushed to my vehicle and to home, I could feel my heart racing.  When I reached home, I could see the flames not too far in the distance.

The view from my window as the fire entered the city.

The view from my window as the fire entered the city.

As I was taking pictures of the fire from my bedroom window, I all of the sudden realized, I needed to leave.  The smoke and flames were getting awfully close very quickly.

Not too much later and the smoke was just down the street.

Not too much later and the smoke was just down the street.

I had already packed up in “pre-evacuation”, so I took a quick video tape of all the things in my house rapidly explaining in a very shaking voice what it was I owned, and what I thought things might be worth…for insurance purposes, and to remember.  Smoke was blocking out the sunshine and burning my throat.

Within moments the smoke was filling my neighborhood.

Within moments the smoke was filling my neighborhood.

I caught and loaded up my cats and picked up a few last minute items and headed out as the smoke and embers blew into my own little neighborhood in a toxic choking cloud.  I said good-bye to my neighbors as they also evacuated and thanked my next door neighbor as he watered down our building one last time before he and his family left.  As I was leaving, I got an electronic reverse 911 call instructing me it was time to get out NOW.  I had already resigned myself to losing nearly everything I owned and was at peace about that.   By the time I reached safety, everything I had evacuated with, including my cats, smelled like forest fire.  I thought watching from a distance as the fire consumed everything in its path, that all of Colorado Springs was going to be ashes by morning.  But it wasn’t.  Miraculously, the fire was contained to, and stopped in, Mountain Shadows.  The fire had been traveling a half a mile an hour, and the nearest burn to my house was only a mile away, but I lost nothing.  Not true for so many.  I thanked God for graciously sparing me.  But 346 families’ homes were a total loss, quite a few those of friends.  That fire was declared the worst in Colorado history.

But that record was not to stand for long.  On Tuesday, less than a year later, the hellish quadrad of high winds, high temperatures, near zero humidity, and a longstanding drought lead to a another fire of epic proportions raging out of control through one of the most lovely areas in all of Colorado Springs.  As I watched from New Life Church, I saw pops of black smoke rising out of the gray.  That was homes burning.  So awful to watch, even from a safe distance.

For the past five days, I have been experiencing that same sick and uncomfortable feeling remembering my own experiences a year ago.  This fire was 10 miles away.  I could see the smoke out the same bedroom window, only looking in the opposite direction.  Across town, thousands and thousands and thousands more new evacuees were experiencing the same emotions and fears that we on this side of town experienced last year.  I could feel it again like it was happening to me.  There was one morning in particular, when I was awakened early to the smell of smoke, that I felt that shaky uncertain sort of scared feeling in my chest again.  I quickly got up and looked out all of my windows, went outside to look for evidence of fire, and checked the news to see if there was a new fire, perhaps nearby.  I had this feeling I should be packing up and going somewhere, just to be sure.  I didn’t like it.

I had put the word out that my home was open for fire refugees, but no one took me up on my offer.  Which turned out to be a good thing as a few nights ago my phone rang at 1:30.  Those early morning phone calls are never good news.  It was my friend Abner.  And he was calling to tell me he was very sick.  He was in Casper, Wyoming for work, and it sounded like he had malaria.  I told him my house was available and to get here as soon as he could.  What a weird thing to have happen in the middle of a totally different kind of crisis.  So, as Abner, a malaria refugee, was getting over the worst of his fever and other symptoms, the heat lifted, the humidity rose, we got some rain, the fire abated, and evacuees started to return to their homes.  Those who still had them.

As of tonight, 483 homes are a total loss.  The death toll is two.  Two souls trying desperately to evacuate who were captured by the flames.  And, just like that, less than a year later, we have a new worst fire in Colorado history.

Things eventually begin to return to some normalcy.  My windows are open and I don’t smell smoke.  Abner was well enough to get to his parents’ home to spend Fathers Day with his pop.   My mother, two sisters, nephew, and their cats, who were all evacuated the evening the fire broke out, have returned to an undamaged house.  And that jittery feeling is abating for me.

Colorado Springs is an amazing city.  For the second time in a year, the community absorbed 10’s of thousands of evacuees.  Lines for donating food, water, and other supplies stretched for miles at various drop off locations.  By basic standards, it’s a large city, but it acts like a small town.  People line the streets cheering the firefolks who run in when others run out.  When I had to evacuate last year, I had a dozen people offer a place in their home to me.  I imagine that this is the same story many others would tell.  It is likely that last year’s evacuees returned the favor to the exact same folks who took them in.

I am blessed to live in such a great place.  I am blessed that all I have had to endure with these fires is some temporary inconvenience and a ongoing sense of  uncertainty about future fire.  When I lived in Southern California there would be times when it seemed more quiet than usual…more still than usual…warmer than usual.  The birds would be quiet.  There was no rustling of ocean breeze through the vegetation.  Even the bugs were silent.  We called it “earthquake weather”.  Now, when it gets hot here, when the humidity dips into single digits, and when the winds kick up, it will be “fire weather”.  And I will pray that epic firestorms are a thing of the past.  I pray that lightening does not strike my wonderful community three times.

Happy Winter!

Today marks the first day of winter.

In celebration of that, I bring you (again, not my first time!) the song that makes me all warm inside about winter…

John Denver’s “Aspenglow”

Update 7/27/2012:  Unfortunately the lovely version I originally linked to went away when the YouTube account it was posted on was removed.  The previous version had great pictures of Aspen.  This one has great pics, too, just not of Aspen.

The Wonder Tower

Roadside kitsch.  LOVE IT!

Yesterday my dad, my nephew Mitchell, and I, headed out to Genoa, Colorado for a day trip to “The Wonder Tower”.  It was soooo much better than I even imagined it would be!  There is a maze of dusty rooms filled to the gills with all kinds of strange and wonderful collections.  The tower is a series of themed rooms (the red room, the yellow room, the big room, etc.) which houses a number of creaky worn out wind-y staircases and ladders that lead to a lookout platform way up at the top.  You can see the air above six states, supposedly.

From the minute I saw it from the freeway I knew I was in for a treat!

If you like weird collections and oddities, and especially if you like to take pictures….this place is the place for you!

Maybe I’ll see you there!

The List of Fifty – White Water Rafting

“Go white water rafting” has been on The List of Fifty since its inception.  And finally this past week, I was able to check it off!  Woo Hoooo!  And it was a Woo Hoo adventure!  My brother Phil is in town with his kids and we decided to take the two oldest up to Buena Vista for a little WW Rafting on the Arkansas.

We went with an outfit called “Noah’s Ark” and it was GREAT!  Having never gone before I really had no idea what to expect.  We chose to go on the kind of raft where the guide does the lion’s share of the rowing and steering and to do a half day trip on a class II and III stretch of the river.

Once an item on “The List” has been checked off, a new item needs to be added to keep the list at fifty.  After this little adventure, I’m putting “go white water rafting” BACK on the list, only this time it will be to go on a trip that includes class IV rapids.  AND next time I want to do more of the rowing and maybe make it an all day sort of trip.  Good times.  If you are keeping your own “list”, and it doesn’t have “go white water rafting” on it, may I recommend that you add it????

Here we are, going through the “Seven Steps” rapids!  (I’m in the far back where you can’t really see me!)

Another Dripping ‘Cicle

Dripping ‘Cicle

Photo Friday – “Photo Gadgets”

This week we are revisiting photo gadgets on Photo Friday.  I really wanted to Obamafy myself, but was unsuccessful with my attempts.  And I love the Warholizer, so I decided to revisit that as well. 

Recently, Becky (from my Malawi team this past summer) came out from PA to spend a couple of weeks with me.  The day that I had planned for us to drive up to the summit of Pikes Peak it unexpectedly snowed.  So I dragged her to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo instead.  It was cold, but clear.  We pretty much had the place to ourselves.  When we left we were informed that we were visitors number four and five to the zoo that day!  In total, there were only seven!  The animals that weren’t indoors because of the cold (like the zebras) or in quarantine because of a new arrival (like the elephants) were pretty much out and about.  The tigress was one of those animals.  I’ve never seen the tigress except for a brief glimpse of orange and black and white through the brush before.  She is a glorious animal.  Her name is Helga. 

Tigress by you.

And Warholized:

Tigress Warholized by you.

Here’s Mr. Linky:

You know what to do!

Photo Friday – “Unlucky”

“If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all” – George Jetson

In “honor” of the second of three Friday the Thirteenths we will have this year, today’s Photo Friday topic is “unlucky”.

Recently my friend Donna visited me from California.  It was her first time out here.  We had a GREAT time!  This visit, though five days long, was about a month too short.  We never have enough time, no matter how much time we have!

A reasonable and lovely drive’s distance away from where I live is a delightful little Victorian mining town called “Cripple Creek”.  They have legalized gambling there.  It’s like a little Las Vegas, really.  All the lights, and bells, and clangings of Vegas, but at about a millionth the size.  Donna loves her some Vegas, so we, along with my sister Whitney, decided to make a day of it and go throw some money down a rathole.

I say throw money down a rathole, because I never, NEVER, EVER win at gambling.  So I try to make my 20 or 30 bucks last as long as possible while I watch other people win!  🙂   BITTER!!!!  Donna in the end didn’t lose too much, but she did win during the course of the day.  Whitney it seems won at every machine she played.  I think she won the most on the penny slots, which is crazy, but true.

Here are Donna (left) and Whitney (right) in fronto of the Brass Ass…

The Brass Ass by you.

If you’re playing, don’t forget to add your link to Mr. Linky.  If you’re not, please visit the other players and drop a comment!

Coming up on Photo Friday:

Friday 20th March 2009: Author’s choice: Photo Gadgets (back by popular demand! Author herself!) Photos you’ve gadgetised or photo-shopped etc!

Friday 27th March: Author’s choice: FRIENDS, I HAZ ‘EM! (a  selection of photos of friends – you could use a mosaic maker if you choose – or any other photo gadget if they don’t want recognisable pics of themselves on the internet)

22 X 2

It’s an odd favorite number, but it’s mine.  Been mine for a looooong time, but not as long as it’s been Hollister’s favorite number, in that Hollister was “established” in 1922. 

I have a bunch of original “22” pictures, but they are all still stuck on my old computer with most of my picture files.  So I borrowed one!

Today was my 44th birthday!  (More technically, it’s the 22nd anniversary of my 22nd birthday!)  It was a great day from start to finish!

My little bro (Low, in from out of town) and nephew Mitchell drove up to the mountains to spend the day.  To the spectacular ski resort of Breckenridge to be precise.  Our goal?  Find snow to play in and take pictures.  We succeeded at both of those, and also I got to see Sarah from my Zambia 2006 team!!!  She was also in from out of town working as a nanny of sorts for a family who were there for the holidays.  I was so excited to see her (our visit lasted about 20 minutes!) that I forgot to take a picture!  BUT I do have some pictures of playing in the snow!

Low Airborne by you.

Mitchell Airborne by you. 

We found a baseball field that was, at least until we got to it, untouched!  It was about 18 inches deep in fluffy white snow.  Low took a few flying leaps into it, and he also tossed Mitchell into it a few times.  I of course had to take one of my world famous (hahahahaha) foot pictures which was actually more of a leg picture!

Snow Feet by you.

During our drive up to the slopes my car hit a paricularly slick spot in the road.  I couldn’t get past it and I had to break out my chains for the very first time since moving to Colorado!  And on a beautiful warm and sunny day of all times!  My sweet brother Low slapped them on my tires and we made it the last 100 feet up the hill!

Back at home we met up with family and friends for a great Mexican dinner with my favorite cake for dessert (chocolate chocolate chip with powdered sugar) and presents!  One of my best birthdays ever.  Only I ate too much, and now I think I should go to bed and sleep off too much fun and too much food!  Thanks to everyone who helped make this a most memorable birthday!

Happy Birthday to me!

Photo Friday – “Winter”

Winter!  My new favorite season since my relocation to Colorado.  Before I decided on Colorado as my new home state, I had visions of the entire state being buried under feet of snow for months on end.  Now, while there is plenty of snow in the mountains, where I live, even though I’m at about 6,000 feet, the snow is only intermittant, and never lasts for more than a few days.  The snow rarely interrupts one’s daily life, though on some days you have to plan ahead and give yourself a little more time to get between points A and B.  And sometimes you need to sweep snow off the car, or shovel a bit of snow in order to get your car out onto the street.  But I will take what I can get, and I love every flake of the stuff.  Winter here is strange.  It was nearly 70 degrees here this past Tuesday.  We had snow two days earlier, and a light snow floated down all day long yesterday!  As I send this to post, it is 11 degrees outside. Who knows what the weekend will bring! 

I posted this picture previously here in another photography meme I did in the past.  It was, and remains, one of my favorite winter pictures that I’ve taken so far.

You can click HERE if you’d like to read the entire original post.

Don’t forget to add your name to Mr. Linky if you’re playing this week.  If you’re not playing, make sure you check out the other players work, drop ’em a comment, let ’em know what you think!  

Coming up on Photo Friday (blatantly cut and pasted from “A Curious State of Affairs”):

12th December: Slim’s choice – Christmas Lights

19th December: Author’s choice – The Festive Season

26th December: Photo Friday is taking a break ……. BUT as an option … for those full up with turkey … stuffed to the gills with chocolates … all boozed out … needing a break from the relatives … sick of the festive TV programmes … itching for some “me time” on the computer …. you can post: “funny Christmas photos OR video or of my family” – past and present pictures acceptable! The funnier and more festive the better!

2nd January: New year Video Challenge entitled: New Year Resolutions! (be brave, commit your New Year Resolutions to video so we can all check up on you achieving them as the year progresses!)

Blah Blah Blog vs. the Yellow Pages!

Some time ago I posted on my Dad and his quest for a straight razor shave while visiting me.  That search led us to Paul Hansen.  Since then, my Dad has gone to him whenever he is in town to get another great shave.

He’s in town again this week.  And he dropped in on Paul to get my nephew’s hair cut.  My Dad got to talking with Paul about my blog post.  (Check out the link for more info on Paul’s and for his phone number.)

Paul says that he gets a couple of new customers every week because they read about him on Blah Blah Blog.  He got zero customers from his Yellow Pages ad.  Since my blog has proved to be much more effective advertising than the YP, he dropped the ad!  He told my dad to send me to his shop because he’d like to buy me lunch!

I asked my Dad if Paul had ever seen my post.  Nope.  He doesn’t own a computer!

Getting the folks in for a great shave…just another service my blog offers!  🙂

Photo Friday – “Colours (of Autumn)”

Firstly and most importantly, today is my little sister Liz’ birthday.  Happiest of birthdays to you, Lizzie!  🙂  I love you bunches!!!!!  (Crossing my fingers you get the ER job!!!  You will love being an ER nurse…)



I sort of wish this was NEXT week’s challenge as my OTHER little sister, Whitney, and I are taking her son Mitchell on a road trip to look at the golden autumnal Aspens up in the mountains tomorrow!  One day late!!  🙂  I made the same drive three years ago during my first fall in Colorado.  The pictures I took on that drive were with an old camera and didn’t turn out well.  So I am going to share a picture I took in the Rocky Mountain National Park two falls ago here in “Color”ado, or should I say “colour”ado!  :-).

 On Fire by you.

Coming up, on Photo Friday…

3rd October: Eiain’s choice – Music (musicians, concerts, still life of musical instruments or musical  scores, musical boxes etc – I could go on and on …..) You may also like to add a YouTube clip of your favourite music!

10th October: Mrs Nascar’s choice – Night ( moon, stars or any interpretation of night)

17th October:CuriousCs choice Bridges / Arches

24th October: Eiain’s choice – Paws for thought

31st October: Author’s choice – Halloween!

7th November: Tina’s choice – Action Shots

14th November: Author’s choice – Windows (unusual or favourite windows, in your own home, or other homes, or churches, buildings etc – you may even include the view through a window. This can be a selection of photos or just one favourite pic).

Please take the time to visit the work of the other players and tell them what you think!

Click on Mr. Linky so that you can access the links to the other participants’ blogs!

Happy Birthday, Julie!

Today is my cousin Julie’s birthday.  A few days ago we decided, should the weather permit, that we’d drive up to the summit of Pikes Peak.  Until recently I didn’t even know that there was a road up to the summit, but there is!  It’s called the Pikes Peak Highway.  Parts of it are a little hairy, but we made it to the top without incident.  This was my second time up to the summit.  Last time it was winter and we took the cog railroad up.  Very cool!  Next time up, I hike!

Click HERE to read about my last trip up to the summit and see a wicked cute picture of my nephew!  And HERE to see another picture of my niece, Alaska, from the same trip.

Here Julie and I are.  Taking the requisite touristy picture in front of the summit sign.

At the Summit by you.

From “down there”, those little red rocks in the middle of the right side of this photo are massive monoliths at the Garden of the Gods!  On a clear day, you CAN see forever!

Garden of the Gods, From 14,110 Feet! by you.

Weird looking railroad tracks, huh?  These are for the cog railway that goes from Manitou Springs to the summit.

Cog Railroad Tracks by you.

And of course, a foot picture.  We are facing west.  More of the Rockies off in the distance, and two lakes!

Two Feet at 14,110 Feet! by you.

We had planned on stopping at one of the rest areas/picnic areas/scenic overlooks to have a picnic lunch, but time was not our friend and so we ate in the car while driving back down the mountain in the lowest gear my car had to offer.  It’s such a steep drive that there’s even a mandatory brake check on the way down, and if your brakes are hot, you are off the road until they cool off!  Never seen that before!  AND on the way back down we actually got snowed on!  It was a perfectly clear, bright, and beautiful day, and out of nowhere, snow!  That’s why they warn you that the weather is unpredictable up there.  Unpredictable, indeed!

Happy Birthday, Julie!  For sure we’ll do this one again!  On foot next time!

And under the category of “ask, they can only say no” goes this one!  I told the ranger at the tollroad that Julie was only 12 and that it was her birthday, and could we get her in for the child’s fare…

And he did it!  Ask.  They can only say no!  🙂

Photo Friday – “Emotion”

I am very late posting my entry for this week’s Photo Friday, but I have a good reason.  I had company from California here for the past few days and I wanted to spend my time with her.  Thanks for visiting Shawn!  It was a gooooood time!  🙂  Safe travels, my friend!

And so, without any further ado…

Today’s Photo Friday is entitled: Emotion

chosen by: Julie

Follow the links below for other entries (I will add links as entries come in!):

Tall chick tales 

 Idea jump! 

 Just for fun

 A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

A Curious State of Affairs

It’s always “fun” to conquer, even if just a little bit, one’s fears, don’t you think?  I am quite the acrophobe.  I fear heights.  Not ALL heights mind you.  My fear of heights is rather specific.  I’m fine with being at the top of very tall buildings, I LOVE roller coasters and other rides that include heights, and I have no problem with flying (planes of ANY size and helicopters are all just fine with me).  I don’t even mind hiking upwards.  What bothers me are things like being on bridges, hiking DOWN, driving next to drop offs, snow skiing, that sort of thing.  I don’t like being in high places where there is, at least to me, a perceived or actual lack of control in the situation.  I can’t stand having people anywhere near me if I am standing in a place where they could startle me, or end up close behind me without my having seen them come up on me.  My fear is more of a fear of falling from any sort of height, even if from a small height.

I used to be able to climb trees, climb up onto roofs, and climb ladders without any problem whatsoever.  I was rather fearless, in fact.  But I was startled twice, once when I was 16 and once when I was in my twenties, which resulted in my developing fear.  The first startling occured when I was laying concrete blocks on a less than sturdy scaffolding on the second story of a building.  When I was deep in  concentration and hard at work, a guy reached up from the ground and grabbed my ankles and shook me.  And that was the start of it.  I got so fearful of heights that I had a problem using the second step of a stepladder!  I worked on desensitizing myself and was almost over my fear.  But then, at the top of the Hancock center in Chicago I got my second startling.  While I was deeply in thought and looking down, my brother came up behind me and shook my shoulders and gave me one of those “Bahahahahha” shouts in my ear.  I again spiraled into my old fear pattern.  And I’ve been working on overcoming it, or at least occasionally temporarily conquering it, since. 

Yesterday my visiting friend, Shawn, and I took a hike up to some abandoned train tracks and tunnels.  The hike up to the location was really more like a loose gravel scramble!  Staying well ahead of Shawn (for my mental sanity) we climbed quite a distance at a very steep incline on a very slippery slope and it wasn’t until we reached the top that I thought “Gee, I just HOPE I’m going to be able to get down!”.  Putting that thought aside until I HAD to deal with it, I threw myself into enjoying the view from “up there”.  And I carefully picked my way around the washed out areas along the trail.  With the sound of the highway and river far below us, we worked our way through each of five tunnels and enjoyed the rock formations, the plant life, the insects, the sky and the feeling of relative solitude that being far away from civilization invokes. 

My emotion is “exhilaration”. 


Lou and Shawn, a self-portrait in front of the entrance to one of the tunnels

I didn’t do a Rocky sort of dance when I arrived at the top, nor did I shout with glee.  But inside I had this exhilarated “Whew!!!  I am DOING this!” sort of response.

Shawn also has her own heights issues, so we were quite the pair.  When our hike had to be over as we had a reservation for some horsebacking riding and HAD to get going, we found our way back to where we climbed up, and boy, did it look even more steep and slippery from up there.  We pretty much just slid down on our backsides holding onto anything at all that would give us a sense of security!  We were dusty, filthy, hot and sweaty, and our hearts were pounding when we got to the bottom, but get to the bottom we did!  Yay us!!!

(I will have to conquer my fear to get back up to this location again, as there is a geocache hidden in one of those tunnels that I failed to locate this time around!)

If you fear heights/falling, you might want to (or maybe not!  I could hardly watch it!) check out this link e-mailed to me by a friend, and also seen on “A Curious State of Affairs”.  This gave me the biggest case of the willies I’ve had in a loooooong time!  🙂


Please visit the links to the other participants work using the links at the beginning of this post and leave them a comment!

Friday 30th May : Title by CordieB: Phantasmagoria

Next Friday’s challenge will be my last for awhile.  I leave June First and won’t be home for two months!  Yikes!

A Day in LoDo

A couple of weeks ago I met my friend Abner up in Denver to spend the afternoon.  It was a lovely day.  We’d been threatened with snow, but there was barely a cloud in the sky and it was warm in the sun.  We decided to meet at the Breckenridge Brewery.  It’s one of the local microbreweries and I’ve heard they have some good offerings.  I tried the Agave Wheat.  It was a murky looking glass of darkish amber stuff.  But it tasted awesome! 

The area of town that is host to the Breckenridge Brewery is known as “LoDo”, or Lower Downtown.  It’s an historical district, also known as the ballpark district.  The brewery is right down the street from Coors Field where the Colorado Rockies play.  I love baseball (I believe I have mentioned this before).  I used to adore the Dodgers, but fell out of adoration with them in the 90’s.  I tried to fall in love with the Anaheim Angels, and things were going sort of okay, but then they became the Los Angeles Angels, which, even removing the absolute redundancy of the name from the equation, was just wrong.  End of that fledgling relationship!  And then I moved to Colorado.  I wondered if I could become a Rockies fan.  Well, after seeing the Rockies “house”, I think I could very well do so.  I drove past Coors Field the last time I was up in Denver and I wanted to explore it further by walking all the way around the stadium.  Of course that took us into a couple of restricted access areas, but despite passing a number of empty security vehicles, we were successful without even being approached.

What a great stadium and wonderful location for it.  On the 20th street side there was a pedestrian walkway which brought you through an archway of sorts.  The supports had a collection of “ball” tiles on the fronts and backs.  Here’s one of the panels:

One day I’ll go back and try to individually photograph each and every tile in these columns.  Some are mighty clever.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

Through the archway and a there’s a perfect “out in left field” gate upon which to take a foot picture, which of course, we did.

In the process of meandering around town, and laughing hysterically at this and that, we passed by a number of buildings which had either been, or were being converted into lofts and condos.  Of course, with my love of 1)  cities, 2)  buildings, and 3)  real estate, my heart was pretty much palpitating.  There was one small row of loft-type spaces in particular that caught both of our attentions.  The units were three stories tall, and on the backsides there were balconies off the second and third floor.  Rising from the third floor balcony was a spiral staircase leading to rooftop terraces.  From those rooftops I bet you could see the entire downtown skyline as well as Coor’s Field.  And I bet you could easily hear the roar of a baseball crowd from there, too.  I was imagining being up there on a hot and sticky summer day basking in the fierce high altitude sun and BBQ’ing with friends while hearing the crack of bat on ball.  Perfection.

I have longed to buy a property in a city center for decades now.  Chicago has always been my city of choice for this, and Dublin would be pretty amazing, too, as would London.  An apartment in Syracuse, Sicily or Kinsale, Ireland has been a dream floating around my head.  I even looked at lofts in Los Angeles which were pretty spectacular, but after being in this area of Denver, I think Denver could suit me nicely!  Pipe dreams!!  🙂

Near the end of our LoDo traipse, we crossed a street only to be faced with the biggest set of doors I’ve ever seen that weren’t at the front of an old European church!  Here’s Abner being dwarfed by the doors:

Thanks for another fun day just hanging around, Abner!  Let’s do it again soon.


This year I needed to update my immunizations for my trip to Malawi and Ethiopia.  My Polio, Typhoid, and Yellow Fever are outdated and I’ve never had Hepatitis A.

Today I met with Becky at Passport Health to discuss just what my travel needs were going to be.

The final list?  Here you go!

  1. Hepatitis A injection
  2. Polio injection
  3. Yellow Fever injection
  4. Oral Typhoid series

Still need to get:

  1. Tetanus booster
  2. TB skin test (last one was over a year ago, will be able to procur this at work)


  1. Influenza vaccine (I never get this)
  2. Meningococcal meningitis vaccine (I’ve been exposed so many times to this I must have some sort of immunity)
  3. MMR (measles, mumps, rubella).  I have now had this vaccine three times and while I have converted on my mumps and rubella, my titers continually come back negligible for measles, so I’m figuring no additional attempts will work either.

Definitely don’t need for this trip:

  1. Japanese Encephalitis vaccine  🙂  TRUE! 

We also discussed malaria and dengue fever.  Since it is winter, the chances of getting these diseases are lower as the mosquitos are fewer and farther between, but, as history has proven to me, I can get malaria from that one mosquito.  The malaria carrying mosquito gets you at night, the dengue carrying mosquito gets you during the day.  When in Zambia I didn’t take malaria meds nor did I use insect repellent.  I will use repellent this year.  I’m still thinking about my options for meds.  The cheap option is doxycycline, but that often leads to an unpleasant other kind of infection.  The other “cheaper” options have given me night terrors and generally creepy feelings which make them very undesireable to take again.  The best option is MUY expensive.  Almost $9.00 a pill!  AND I’d need 60 pills.  I don’t even want to do the math on that.  We’ll just have to see!  For sure I buy some Arinate when I get to Africa.  I want that on hand whether or not I’m pre-treating.  That’s a miracle drug for malaria and I don’t want to be without it.

Then there’s avian (bird) flu and cholera.  Since I’m in control of food preparation and water sanitization, I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to avoid getting either of these.  Just gotta remember to keep “my kids” away from any chickens and not serve any eggs that aren’t fully cooked!

Lastly, I picked up a prescription for Cipro.  I can take that for traveler’s diarrhea or an upper respiratory infection.

I got the three injections today.  Praying they don’t make me sick.  The last time I got the Yellow Fever one I was sick (gastro stuff and fever) for days and my arm was useless and excrutiatingly painful to the touch for over a week.  That was years ago.  Maybe this time it won’t be so bad.  I’ll wait to see if these round of shots makes me sick before I tackle the week-long regimen of oral Typhoid vaccination.  That one can cause pretty good gastro side effects and I don’t want to pile that on anything else I might be feeling!

AND we (Becky-also a nurse-and I) talked about my working there in the future!  Just to fill-in for her, nothing major.  She took my info and seemed very delighted at the possibility of having someone who could help out there in a pinch, or for vacations, etc.!

This is the first time I have used a traveler’s health clinic.  Very convenient, very easy.  Always before I have had to call around and find this place or that place who could accommodate my needs.  When I showed up at Passport Health, Becky had already prepared a full packet of very useful information and recommendations.  Live in Colorado?  Ever need to discuss travel needs and get shots and scripts?  Consider Passport Health.  I guess it’s another Unpaid Service Endorsement from me!  🙂  It’s a pay up front business, so I need to look into filing a claim with my insurance to see what they might pick up.  Never done that before.  New skill to learn!  🙂

I haven’t been really great at posting lately, but if you don’t hear from me for awhile, you’ll know why!  (Because I’m curled up sick in my bed not far from a bathroom!)

Now, as I am expecting company in a few days, I’m off to clean my house, just in case I’m not feeling up to it later!

02/18/09, an update:

I should have updated this post long ago!  I had absolutely no side effects from any of my shots, not even any arm soreness.  I ended up choosing doxycycline for my malaria prophylaxis and was diligent about taking it as directed and diligent with my bug repellent.  Despite being chewed alive at dusk, I did not contract malaria (which was a great relief, having had it twice before).  I had only some minor gastro-intestinal side effects from the oral typhoid, but nothing hardly even to mention.  It could have even been coincidental.  The next time I travel to a place where meningitis is recommended, I will probably get that vaccine.  And, if it is available, I am considering getting the rabies series as well.  But as of this update, rabies is only available post-exposure as there is a shortage of it.

Bye for now!  And remember, traveling smart includes getting your vaccines!

“Photographic Art-2” – Photo Friday


(click above for more information)

Photo Friday

Today’s Photo Friday entry is entitled: Photographic Art-2 © Jan Marshall 

I was really glad when our latest Photo Friday assignment was to give us another shot at “Photographic Art”.  I call this offering “Petrified Warhol”.

The original picture was of a petrified tree stump at the Florissant Fossil Beds in Florissant, Colorado.  Taking a little bit of inspiration from Andy Warhol, I came up with this:

The colors are bit tamer than the ones Warhol used for his repetitive image silkscreens, but I like the overall effect.  I think it looks more like a frozen waterfall than wood.

Please check out the other participants’ work!

A Curious State of Affairs

Idea Jump

Sky Windows

Just For Fun

I’ll add links more links if any more participants decide to play!

Next week’s challenge is a really good one!  “It’s Life Imitating High Art”.  We are to recreate an actual work of art in a photograph!  Fun fun!


“It’s All Downhill From Here…”

…”except for the uphill parts.”

This was something my brother said to all of us when we (Phil, his kids, and I) were hiking this past December.  I was reminded of that today while hiking with Vickie.

We had planned to hike yesterday, but the wind was absolutely ferocious so we decided to hike today instead.  Gooooood call.  Today was a gorgeous day for hiking.  Since this was our third outing, we decided to add in the “loop” portion of the Waldo Canyon trail.  As I previously wrote, this added an additional 3 1/2 miles to our currently 4 mile hike.

What I was unaware of was that it adds who knew just how much altitude to the hike as well!  About 1/2 mile into the loop I wasn’t so sure about it anymore!  I was huffing and puffing and really feeling the altitude.  I live at about 6,000 feet.  I was guessing we must have been hiking at 8,000 feet.  I got home and looked it up, and at the top it was 8,200 feet and my lungs felt every foot of that altitude gain, believe me!  Vickie kept telling me that just around the corner and we’d be going downhill.  She lied!  She told me that a number of times.  I finally had to ask if she knew what downhill meant.  We would have had a good laugh, but I couldn’t breathe.  😉

I would LOVE to show you pictures of what is to be seen from up there, but I haven’t felt that taking my camera is a priority yet.  I would have taken pictures of the red rock cobblestones, the ginormous boulder with the overhang you couldn’t pay me to sit under, the sandstone layers visible across a ravine which are reminiscent of Arizona and Utah, and the phenomenal views of Pikes Peak around every corner.  You’ll just have to imagine it for now.   Last week’s snow had turned to ice in many areas of the trail and some of the stretches of trail were pretty treacherous.  I am looking forward to doing the hike without the impedence of snow and ice.  I hear that there are wildflowers and blooming bushes that are to die for up there when things warm up. 

We crossed a stream a couple of times which I imagine ups the beauty ante in the spring as well.

I have posted before on the sensitive nature of my feet and how they blister very easily.  Well, today I got a couple of doozies.  Mind you, I was wearing hiking boots that I’ve been wearing, and wearing A LOT since I moved here 2 1/2 years ago!  Ouch.  I didn’t want to tell Vickie that my feet were dying since I was already having a hard time just breathing!  But I can whine to you folks, now, can’t I?  Just gotta remember to put band-aids in those spots next week.  Don’t want Vickie knowing just how much of a malingerer I am, afterall!

All in all, a very successful hike.  Each week shows marked improvement in stamina.  My goal for next week is to shave some time off the hike.  Oh, and to not die.  That’d be good, too. 🙂

“Where’s Waldo?”

I have two regrets in regards to my summer involvment with Teen Missions…

  1. I only ran the obstacle course at Boot Camp with my Zambia team once.
  2. I never ran the obstacle course with my Sicily team.

The obstacle course (O.C.) is a rather grueling course which requires significant stamina and strength.  There are tire mountains to be climbed, tunnels to be crawled through, rope bridges to be gone over, rope ladders to be climbed, water to swing over on ropes, and among other things, a 12 foot wall to be scaled.  You run it every day before the sun is even up, even if it’s raining.  When I was a younger person going on and assistant leading teams, I ran the course every morning.  I loved it.  It was invigorating and exciting.

But then was when I was younger, and in shape.  I was able to finish the course the one time I ran it (though we ran out of time before I could get over the wall) with my Zambia team, but this past year I had injured my back and sprained my ankle before my kids even got to boot camp and I just couldn’t manage it, not even once.

This year my goal is to run it every day.  In order to be able to do that, I really need to get into shape so that I don’t kill myself!  I will have the advantage of coming from high altitude to sea level, which will help with stamina, but I have the disadvantage of having gained 40 pounds since I was in my teens and twenties.  The weight slows me down and aggravates my back, my knees, and my ankles (I’m kind of an orthopedic bad dream).  Sooooo, in order to reach that goal, the weight needs to come off.  Mind you, I really hate exercise.  I mean, REALLY.

Enter Vickie.  Vickie is a co-worker of mine.  Last year she had a goal to run The Ascent.  (In brief, The Ascent is a race up Pikes Peak).  So she got together with a friend and got in shape and did it!  In the process of getting in shape, she lost 25 pounds.  Over the holidays she put on some weight and was telling me that she was wanting to get back into shape again.  I shared with her my goal, and she decided that we could help motivate each other.

So, this morning we took our first hike in our collective goal reaching plan.  We hiked the Waldo Trail, well, part of it anyway.  We hiked up two miles and then headed back down.  I was dreading it.  But it wasn’t bad!  I was breathing hard and my heart was pounding, but we kept a good pace and it was BEAUTIFUL.  I was worried that I’d slow Vickie down, but I really didn’t.  Vickie has decided we’ll do the same hike for a couple more weeks, and then add the next three and a half miles to the hike.  After getting comfortable with the seven and a half mile hike we’ll move on to a more difficult trail and work up from there.  We’ll do this on Sunday mornings (I’m changing to the Saturday evening church service which I attended last night and loved).  I have very little self-motivation when it comes to this sort of thing, so having a hiking buddy to keep me doing it will be most helpful!

I’d like to lose at least 20 pounds before June and greatly increase my endurance.  And in the process it will be fun to explore more of this beautiful state in which I live.

I normally wouldn’t put something like this out into the public arena, but perhaps doing so will help to keep me on track.  So, please feel free to give me encouragement and to check in on my progress.  I hope to be able to report positively over the coming weeks and months!

Wish me luck!  🙂

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