I Follow My Own Advice about the Woods

Any person who has read dozens of books about how wonderful trees are and how going out in the woods is so good for the psyche had BETTER go check out their own woods as often as possible. So, yesterday, after a day of writing and staring at screens, I went to check out the woods around here. Much has changed, but much has not.

Ah, trees and water.

As I mentioned earlier, fencing is going in to make a better experience for the dogs and us. To accomplish that, they had to make space for tractors to get in and build the fence. Many cedar elms and mesquite sacrificed their lives for that, but it was unavoidable if it’s eventually to be part of the residents’ cattle ranching empire.

It was a scorched earth policy.

I know perfectly well that a whole bunch of wildflowers and such will pop up immediately, so the earth will not be scorched for long. There has been talk of benches for viewing the woods and a treehouse being erected. We’ll see how long it takes for cattle to eat it, if it comes to pass (one thing I’ve learned about this family is they like to make plans, but only SOME of the come to fruition (probably for the best; I’m not complaining, just stating).

Currently, the chickadees think we built this pile just for them.

On my forest bathing adventure, I went past the tree cemetery and enjoyed some time listening to birds, trickling water, and leaves gently falling. While we probably do have an over-abundance of cedar elms, the wonderful thing about them is that they’re deciduous, so we get to enjoy some autumn color and a new view while the leaves are gone. They also explain why the soil is so rich and beautiful.

Where the fish and crawfish live.

I ended up just following the deer paths that wind through the wooded area between our house and the creek bottom. It was fun, but once I got home, I realized that all that ducking under branches had left me with interesting tree stuff in my hair. I washed my hair this morning, for your edification.

The path the animals use.

I checked out the pond in the bottom, which still has plenty of water in it, though it really didn’t rain much the whole time I was in Colorado.

I do love this pond. And hello, neighbors.

I also enjoyed the wide spot in the stream that leads to the creek, which I always called Deer Haven Pond, but now realize is a part of the stream and only a pond when the stream stops flowing. It is where all the animals hang out, because it’s quite hidden.

The “pond” enjoyed by deer, cattle, and apparently hogs.

The smells in the woods (other than cow poop) are so rich and earthy that I ended up just standing around and enjoying the scents and sounds. A little bunny hopped by, which alerted me to the many holes in one spot that must be their dens. Many little animals must enjoy all the fallen trees (mostly from the drought over ten years ago) as well.

The drought damaged many trees, so they keep dying off, slowly.

The coral berries are also decorating the woods. They don’t have a nice smell, but the color livens up the place and provides bird food all winter.

Cheerful coral berries.

In any case, just visiting my favorite area on the property was enough to keep my good mood flowing, even when the Bobcat Lair property failed to fund yesterday like it was supposed to, and our plans for the evening all changed. Big deal. I’m just living day by day and enjoying whatever comes up. I must have excellent blood pressure now!

Enjoy a few more images, and have a good day, whatever is going on in your part of the world. Unless it’s shopping. Ugh. I’m tired of Black Friday ads. Who had to invent that just to make yet another holiday all about shopping?

A Last Trip Up

It was really cold last night, but warmed up with bright sun, so I decided to talk a walk at lunchtime. I wanted to do the path on the other side of the Blue River from downtown Breck, just to see what I’d see. It was a pleasant walk, and I took pictures of statues that the town has put up, as well as views of the river.

That one must have been fun to make.

The problem was that all the smells from the backs of restaurants made me hungry. After checking to see if the distillery shipped (nope), I looked for a place to eat. I ended up in the Thai/Japanese place and treated myself to some sushi.

It was quite a rustic Thai/Japanese place, no doubt because it had to fit in with the town theme, which is that everything is a mountain lodge or a mine.

Blue River

The lunch was fun. I watched dogs as I ate, since I always try to sit by a window when I’m alone. There are certainly more huskies per person than anywhere I ever have been before. At least they are in their element! They must enjoy the weather.

Happy cowboys

I then carried on, like someone’s wayward son, and just kept walking until I realized I was at the end of the historical part of town. When I turned back, it was clear that I had also passed the gondola. Should I go up? It would make my lunch hour very long…but when would I have another chance?

Sack race.

So, up I went. Perhaps it was not a great idea to go on a swinging high-rise conveyance after a large meal of fish. I did end up getting a bit gondola-sick going down, but the views were worth it! I still like that wetland area that the gondola goes over the best. The mountain views are second, and the woods (still stubbornly free of animals that I could see) are third.

I stumbled out of the gondola car at the end, and decided I needed a break, so I went in a place called Cashmere and Chocolates. Living in Texas, I do NOT need any cashmere items, but being me, I could always use some chocolates. I got one that looked like the Earth!

It contained a smoky tequila truffle.

I survived the walk back, happy to have hit my exercise goal again (I’d have to raise it if I lived here, because my heart rate finally speeds up at this altitude). I’m glad I allowed myself to be spontaneous and eat nice food and see the scenery again. There’s plenty of time to finish work now!

(I wrote this post during a particularly lengthy update process on my work computer that failed, so I had to do it twice.)

A River Walk in Silverthorne

It’s Saturday! I was all excited that I can do stuff all day long. Cathy S. Came to get me and we went for a walk with an organized walking group. They were women in my age bracket, but they were in great shape and lots of fun.

What a pretty river!

We walked along what I think was the Blue River. It was a great trail with bridges, good paths, and fine views. I took one of my hiking poles, and it helped a bit in some places. It was fun to use.

A memorial bridge.

We saw guys fly fishing for trout. That’s such a graceful sport. I looked for wildlife, but only saw a large woodpecker. That’s okay, though, because the trees and water were plenty entertaining.

The funniest part to me was that we ended up invited into a woman’s home at the end. She was a member of the group who had just had knee surgery. She had a great sense of humor.

At the end of the paved trail, there was a fun teepee kind of thing. This lady posed as a chipmunk in it. I told her she’d be in the blog! Great humor.

I really enjoyed the walk and the conversation. I mostly talked to Cathy’s friend, Sarah, who’s interesting, funny, and so smart. But everyone told great stories and laughed a lot. It was a fine way to get exercise.

With Cathy and Sarah

The weather was pretty good, too. It was chilly at first, but warmed up to 50. It felt very warm.

Looking happy.

I wish I had people to walk with at home!

Here we are telling the third from right woman that her hat was not ugly.

After the walk, we met Ken for lunch in a restaurant with really cool decor, the Red Mountain Grill. I’m glad we went, because it sure was cool from the outside. The décor was Mexican crafts on steroids. It looked way more Mexican than the Mexican restaurant last night. But it wasn’t an exclusively Mexican restaurant.

Crazy lighting.

I had excellent eggs Benedict and enjoyed endless mimosas. I can see why the locals like the place! That was a fine end to a fun morning.

I’ll share more from today when I get up tomorrow morning. It was a wonderful day, though!

Found the Troll, but It’s COLD at the Top of the World

Thank goodness I was feeling better today. The current theory is I had low blood oxygen for a couple of days. It was the last day of those extra-early meetings for a while, so I was all energized to help people out and get work done today. Nonetheless, when Cathy and Ken said they were coming to get me this afternoon, I did not say no!

Yay, it’s a troll!

They are such great tour guides, and they seem to like to show off the area as much as I like to see stuff, so it was a fun time for all. First, we headed over to the Illinois Creek Park where I couldn’t find the troll before. There was a well-marked sign that I had completely missed before, pointing the way to the troll, whose name is Isak Heartstone, and has only been there a short while. He’s by a Danish artist and made of recycled wood.

Wooden guy in the snow

It was pretty icy today, but we slid our way to the big guy. Not too many other people were there, so we could admire his beauty. I love how he’s holding a tree in his hand.

We were sliding in this picture.

Next, Ken drove us to the other side of Breckenridge, where we took a ride on the free gondola that takes you up to some resorts way up in the mountains (but not all the way up). The scenery we saw was so wonderful. You pass over a wetland that must be great in the summer and becomes cross-country skiing area once the snow gets deep. It was just right today, with some ice and some flowing water.

We looked and looked for moose and elk but didn’t see any. The woods were beautiful anyway. I enjoyed wandering around the ski village at the end of the gondola ride. They even had another statue of Ullr. The first day of ski season was booming, but not overly full of folks. I hate to think how crowded it will be later. I’d not be there.

Back into the Subaru we went, headed to the ski sites that we didn’t see last week. I think I grew tiresome repeating, “It’s so pretty” under my breath. After a stop to get water (because Cathy had skied in brisk wind this morning and was all dried out), we headed out to their favorite ski area, which is Keystone. It was a lot of fun to look at all the beautiful river and statues there. Lots of people were skiing, so I enjoyed all the people in their outfits as they warmed up at little fires and went to drink beer. It was quite stereotypical, but still fun to see. I can see why Cathy likes it there. There will be a LOT of slopes to ski down as it gets colder and snowier.

We then headed up and up to the Arapahoe Basin ski area, which is the highest one in the US, or world, or something. It’s way up there. Lots of young people were at this resort, where there was a lot more snow. But, were we as high in the Rockies as possible? Oh, no.

Arapahoe, really up there

It was a bit snowy, but the roads we were on were so full of forest and mountain vistas that I never wanted to stop looking. Those lodgepole pines with snow nestled in their branches had me grinning constantly. I could tell it was getting colder as we went up and up on what must be one of the prettiest drives I’ve ever been on. My pictures do not do it justice.

Ahead of us, I kept seeing the mountains rising up above the treeline, all rocky, snowy, and windy. Suddenly, Ken pulled into a parking area. We were on the top of the world! Of course, I wanted to take some pictures of the Continental Divide. Cathy wanted to take a look at skiers who started from there and went down the whole way (one of their sons has done it). We got out and, um, it was a bit brisk.

The winds were so strong it was hard to walk, and it was blowing bits of ice at us. Ken stayed in the car, and I didn’t blame him. But by gosh, I was going to go look at the highest part of this pass. Who knows when I’d be back?

What a cool place.

It was not hard getting photos, but we did our best. I had one very warm hand and one cold one that took pictures. For some reason I thought this was about as fun as fun gets, and kept laughing, even though I’d only ever been colder during Champaign, Illinois winters. What a treat!

On the way down, Cathy and Ken showed me where those skiers who started at the top of the world ended up. They just sort of shoot out of the woods right where the road is. There, people wait for them, or they hitch-hike back up to do it again. That’s extreme snow sports for you.

Hitchhiking back up

We went back down and saw another ski resort, but I am running out of names. Update! Cathy reminded me it’s Loveland Ski Area. This one was near Interstate 70, which we took on the way back. It was good to see it in daylight! The sun was coming out from behind clouds, and it was magical.

Were we done? Nope, when we got back down, we went to Silverthorne, Colorado, next to Dillon, where we drove through the neighborhood where their golf course is. They often see cool animals there. We did not see anything, but the golf course sure was pretty in the sunset hour (as were the amazing homes, where I did see two more elk statues).

By then, we were getting hungry, so we tried out a tiny new Mexican restaurant hiding in a shopping center in Dillon, Lili’s Bistro. We were the only Anglo folks that evening. The food was elegant and delicious, though the place looked nothing like any Mexican restaurant I ever ate at before – all gray and minimalist. My mole enchiladas were quite good, as was the salsa and spicy shrimp appetizers. We had such pleasant conversations that only the hard chairs inspired us to leave. I’m glad we took a chance on the new restaurant!

Mole enchilada, slightly used.

Now to rest, try to finish that baby blanket (hint, it’s turning out GREAT), and get ready for some hiking tomorrow. After a pretty hard few days, I am very grateful to my kind friends for giving me such a fun afternoon.

Suna Seeks a Moose

I was sitting in my condo, knitting on my sad baby blanket and watching a very depressing football game. It occurred to me that I could do something fun instead. So, I set off for “a little walk” around the neighborhood, to go down the road I hadn’t been down yet. It was pleasant outside, so I just wore a t-shirt and light jacket thing. That would be fine, I figured. And I wore my normal shoes.

I needed to be cheered up by some electric purple pansies or something!

I did pretty well for a while, walking like a person going for a little stroll. I even went and sat on a ski life chair, to pretend I was skiing.

I have on sunscreen.

But, of course, I saw a trail. It said to look out for moose, and I said to myself, I’d like to go find a moose. And yes, I know they are big and scary. But, off I went. It started off a nice, dry trail, so it was fine.

A nice, dry trail. Still okay for my regular shoes.

Then, I turned and it was muddy and a little icy. I believe I was on the ski slope. In any case, I eventually found my way to another trail and another, and had a wonderful time looking at trees and mountains.

I followed some woman who went right when I probably would have gone left and headed back, and I’m glad I did! There were lots of wooded areas where I looked as hard as I could for moose, but just saw a crow.

There are lots of these. Must be fun for kids.

Then, I was absolutely delighted to see that I had stumbled on the trail to the “lake” I’d seen on the map, which turns out to be a beautiful reservoir with a nature center around it. It was crystal clear where there was no ice, and I was happy to realize there was a trail going all the way around it.

You can see how clear the water is. And how beautiful this place is.

It had gotten a bit cold given my inappropriate choices of clothing, but I figured if a woman in a wheelchair could make it around the trail, a slightly chilly woman could do it, too.

So clear!

I was rewarded with some fine views of this one mountain I kept taking pictures of, the runoff from the reservoir, and views into the woods (where there were absolutely no moose). There were just a few people there with me, so it was almost like I had the place to myself.

A couple of young folks were fishing for cold fish.

Actually, there is a remarkable lack of any wildlife here. I am so used to seeing so many animals, insects, and such, that just seeing a couple of birds has seemed weird to me.

I found my way back down by locating an actual road that went by giant fancy houses. And that’s where I finally found my moose!

MOOSE!

Its antlers even moved in the breeze. That was a fine moose. Down the road just a bit was a house with other statues, including this beautiful one, which I think is their mailbox. I just love the look on the cowboy’s face, along with his faithful cowdog or wolf.

I enjoyed the walk back, since the GPS took me through some little shortcut trails. Right after I turned onto the Primrose Trail to our building, I saw something on the ground. Holy shit, literally. It was moose shit. I looked it up.

It’s either a moose or Fiona.

So, yeah, I walked over 5 miles only to find the dang moose have been right on my road. I’ve sure enjoyed the funny things that are happening on my vacation. Thankfully, tomorrow I’ll have friends to hang around with, and Tuesday, too!

So, I had gone to the end of Four O’Clock Road, hiked to the reservoir, then gone back down that Westridge Road. I’m staying at Valdoro.

Maybe, if I’m around people, they will tell me that I should dress appropriately, carry my sticks, and wear boots when I go out, no matter how short of a walk I plan to take. This is my kind of solo vacation, one with plenty of alone time, but also with random friends from all parts of my life showing up every so often.

Wandering Pays Off, but No Troll

I smile a lot when I’m spending time in a new place all by myself. I’m easily charmed by little things, which makes me have fun traveling, even without any big plans.

Wandering took me here!

Today was no different. I was really tired after work (I was trying to write software training material, which is always hard on the eyeballs due to all the fidgety screenshots). But I told myself I really need to do something fun each day, especially since it was sunny and not all that cold.

Stuff like this is out there! I must go see it.

So, I set out in my normal shoes and headed toward downtown. The normal shoes were there to supposedly keep me on sidewalks and off of icy trails. You can ponder a moment about how that worked out.

When I got to Main Street, I turned right, just to see what was down there. At first the most exciting thing I ran into was a gas station (you don’t see many around her in the land of the quaint). But then I spotted something good. It was a beautiful little steam engine! It was one of the ones used in the early days of the area.

I wonder if it’s heard of Thomas the Tank Engine?

There was also a little boxcar and tiny caboose that you could look into. I was giddy with happiness, because I really like steam engines. I had run into High Line Railroad Park. It’s probably a lot more fun in the summer, but I enjoyed looking at the narrow-gauge rains and train cars anyway.

I saw a sign pointing to the troll, which is a wooden sculpture that is famous here, so I headed through the ice-skating arena parking lot to find it. I used Apple Maps, but it was not where the software said it was. I didn’t fret at all, because my wandering took me to a beautiful woodland park along a pretty creek. I wanted to explore.

Want to know what my idea of rejuvenating surroundings is? This.

Hey, remember those shoes I wore? They weren’t exactly cut out for the trails going up, which I quickly realized when I saw very serious hiking dudes putting on crampons. Still, the bottom parts of the trail were mostly free of snow and ice (and I’ve learned to walk on ice), so I allowed myself to be surrounded by the huge trees, which smelled so good. That plus the happy sounds of the creek made me not care one bit about a troll, which I figure my local friend Cathy can show me when she’s back from Texas.

After some forest bathing time, I headed back. I didn’t realize how pretty it would be when I headed toward the mountains, so I almost gasped aloud. I had a great walk back, the highlight of which is a real Suna highlight. I found a house with a big birdfeeder and stood there for ten minutes watching birds, including just about the most beautiful thing I ever saw. This bird was BLUE.

I also saw a little woodpecker (not sure what kind), and those cute little chirpy things I hadn’t gotten a good enough picture of yet to ID. I figured it was some kind of chickadee, and yep, iNat told me it’s a mountain chickadee. And, of course there were crows. The pictures were too crummy to share.

I took the back road, French St., to downtown and got to see some nice places to live or rent, and some of the old houses as well. There are a lot of purple houses. I have to like a town with purple houses.

One house I admired the paint job on the corbels when I realized it was also a cute boutique having a sale. I got some tiny earrings and a surprise holiday gift for the relatives back home. It will win the most hilarious gift of the 2021 season, I’m pretty sure.

See the pretty teal accents on the corbels?

By the time I got home, the sun was behind the mountains, and it was getting chilly again. I made myself some delicious ravioli with fancy mushrooms in it. See, I can cook if I have a jar of sauce and refrigerated pasta!

I guess people get used to this. Not me so far. This is from the ice arena.

That was one successful day of wandering and surprises. Tomorrow I get a visitor!

Climbed a Mountain and Turned Around

Today was quite a workday, so I decided to go for a nice walk when I was done. The sun was shining, and the snow all melted, so I broke out the new hiking boots and off I went.

Going up! The clouds are so close!

I had planned to just walk along the road leading uphill, but I saw a sign saying there was a stable a mile thataway. I thought that would be fun to check out.

Well hidden, they are.

Unfortunately, there were no further signs, no roads, and no hints about where to go, so I just followed a muddy road heading up. It turned out to be the access road for the skiing on Peak 10 (that’s the names of mountains here, numbers) and the really, really big resort down the road. It’s as big as a town.

Genuine ski lifts

I decided that, since someone ahead of me had climbed the hill I saw, so could I. So, up and up I went. The trail was actually a ski slope, as I discerned from the snow-making machines I saw everywhere. I had a good time tromping through the snow, until I hit the deep parts that were higher than my shoes. I didn’t have on good tucked-in pants, so snow got in my boots.

I followed those footsteps.

But, panting as only a Texan in the Rockies can, I kept going. The scenery was pleasant and stopping to pant let me look at it. I kept going up about halfway, and then I saw this sign. I liked that sign. I’d climbed enough of Peak 10.

Easiest way down? I’ll take it!

So I turned around, just like Stevie Nicks, and headed down that trail. I was rewarded with a new bird I’d never seen before. It is apparently a Canada Jay. It was pretty and flew around a lot so I could see it well. What a treat!

I continued down the little trail and saw wildlife tracks everywhere. I saw rabbit tracks in more than one place, deer tracks of some kind, and what I am pretty sure were coyote tracks (no human tracks going beside them, and they were later joined by another canine). I don’t think it was a wolf, because the tracks weren’t very big.

I enjoyed looking at a little mountain stream, which was primarily snow runoff, but sounded pretty. As the trail ended, I tromped through a snowy area that must be gorgeous in the summer, because it was full of native grasses and wildflowers. By the time all that tromping was over, my feet were soaked, but I was quite happy.

I also spotted a disc golf course I might try going down later.

This looks less snowy.

As I made my way back, I went into the Beaver Creek Resort, which was dismal and sad as far as I can tell, but I guess it’s not “the season” yet, so no one is there but a few workers. There were a lot of areas under repairs. Maybe it’s on hard times since the pandemic.

Back at the Lodge (which still features the screaming child and its door-slamming relatives), I plan to enjoy a nice delivery dinner followed by knitting and a bath in the jacuzzi. That will get me all energized for tomorrow. My shoes and socks are drying and will be ready for more fun tomorrow.

I climbed pretty high!

I know I do weird things on a “vacation,” but I like just doing one thing a day and really enjoying it, rather than rushing to do a lot. And it’s been quite nice working here. No complaints, other than it rained all day at the ranch, so no pool work got done. Rain is good, of course.

Hitting the Deck at Breck

It was more like hitting the sidewalks, but I wanted the post title to rhyme. Anyway, yes, on my fourth day here in Breckenridge, Colorado, I finally made it to the scenic downtown.

Look at the stained-glass window in this lilac house.

It’s an interesting contrast to Vail, where we were last Saturday. Vail was sort of like Disney World for physically fit adults. Nothing is natural or what it appears to be and nothing is old. If there were little snowmen and moose characters wandering around, I wouldn’t be surprised. Of course, they’d have to be luxe snowmen and moose.

But here, they have statues of donkeys! This is called “Fast Friends.”

Breck has a lot more history, having once been a mining town. There are museums and old buildings, plus some cool Victorian houses that have been fixed up and made into businesses with lodging on top. I really enjoyed looking at them, even though it was snowing hard enough to mess my glasses up.

Early Breck.

It wasn’t cold, so the snow was melting quickly, which made it an enjoyable day to go for a walk. I got myself a t-shirt, a coffee mug, and some warm pants like everyone around here wears. They are so comfy I may wear them all winter at home. Plus, I think I can ride in them.

I love that they are preserving history, even with all the trendy shops everywhere.

After I finished work, I headed over to the new hot tubs they just installed here at the lodge. They are placed in the front of the building, with a pleasing view of the trees and hills. It was great to sit there watching the trees drip and the steam rise. Since it was around 4:00, there was only one other person there, and she was in another tub. The only downer is that the ceiling is very low on the tub platform. Even I hit my head. But I forgot that in the steam. Ahh.

My happy place.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it’s rainy, but some work got done on the pool. It is looking rather good, I think.

There’s also good horse news! Not only is Apache still cute (thanks to Kathleen for the photo)…

He looks so clean. And there is a piece of Fiona in the picture.

…but Drew is getting ridden at last. He’s getting better at cantering in the round pen, but he still has issues with his back, thanks to being ridden way too young by people who were too heavy. I’m glad he is well cared for with the trainer and she isn’t rushing him. It will take as long as it takes to get him in shape to be a partner to me for as long as possible.

Look, he’s being ridden!

I’m looking forward to a couple of reasonable and not-too-cold days coming up. I’ll have to do a lot more walking during my lunch hours and before it gets dark. Things are looking up in the visitor department, too, so I’ll have some friends to hang around with.

Right on Main Street

This is a delightful place, other than kids moving in an hour or two ago, right across the hall, who run back and forth and screech constantly. I like being surrounded by quiet, ancient people. OMG I AM OLD.

Rocky Mountain, Literally, Very High

Hello from someone who has crammed an entire vacation’s worth of visiting an area into two days. I had a blast today traveling all over Summit County, Colorado, as well as a nice, long visit to Vail. I don’t think I would have ever imagined going to any of these spots in my whole life, so I’ve checked things off my bucket list that I didn’t even know were on there!

I am very lucky that one of the women who’s been on an email list/Facebook group with me for many, many years (since our children were young) retired to the area where I’m visiting a few years ago, and she and her husband volunteered to take me on a tour of all the ski resort towns around here. Cathy and Ken were fantastic tour guides and magically seemed to know the kind of stuff I’d be interested in seeing (mountains, water, quaint towns, tasty food, and some shopping).

As soon as I finished unpacking, Cathy came and got me. She took me to a beautiful spot where we went for a short walk with splendid views of the Dillon Reservoir, which is a HUGE lake way up high here! I was happy to discover that I wasn’t too winded at all. I only had to slow down once. It was interesting to look at the forest after all that reading I’ve been doing on them. There were signs of beetle infestations as well as some controlled burns.

Can’t deny it’s breathtaking, not just because of the altitude.

Looking out over the mountains, it was easy to see where fires had been and where there have been other issues. We were grateful, though, to see new trees coming up, vibrant and healthy.

After dodging a wedding party, we went for a tour of Dillon, including Cathy’s lovely neighborhood. Their house is very Western/Mountain in theme, because they bought all the furniture from the previous owners, who had the house as a vacation home and hardly used it. That was convenient, since they were moving from those horrible floods in Houston a few years ago.

Cute bench Cathy got thrifting on Facebook.

Their house is in a valley, but has amazing mountain views, including the Continental Divide from their game room. Anyone who ever wanted to visit them would really enjoy the home’s bedrooms (and the occupants’ hospitality).

That’s a view!

From Dillon, Ken joined us and was an absolutely perfect tour guide of the area. I learned a lot, and wow, I saw some beauty. The little reservoir we stopped at, which is at one of the trail heads of a hike they’ve taken in the past, was so pristine, clear, and serene. I could have sat there and looked at it for hours, but there was so much more beauty to see!

So pretty.

We decided to go to Vail, which was a scenic trip. We went over a super high point, up and up. You could see where there were avalanches, old mines, beautiful trails and so much more. It’s hard to believe they were able to build an interstate highway through there in the 1960s. I actually can’t imagine how the people who lived in the area in the 1800s coped. Mining could not have been an easy life.

We made it to Vail in time to eat at the Blue Basil restaurant, which was one fine experience for us all. I really miss eating “fancy” food with beautiful presentations and interesting ingredients, so I was in heaven. We all agreed it was one of the nicest meals we’d had in a long time.

After the great lunch, we spent some time wandering around Vail. I hadn’t realized it was a sort-of-planned community place. Who knew? There is a lot of faux Bavarian architecture, to fit with the alpine theme. It’s pretty, though, and certainly was a fun place to wander through. I’m glad I wasn’t there in mid-summer or mid-winter, though, because Cathy said it’s full of people then. I enjoyed the stores being open, but not too many people. Last year, when I was in Park City, Utah, most of the stores and restaurants were closed, so I’m glad the ski season opens a little earlier here.

I got myself the all-important smelly candle for my condo, and some darned important lotion for my hands, as well as a nice necklace from a local artist, on sale. I’d say that the highlight of Vail was the immense store selling every kind of rock, crystal, and thing made of it, that you can imagine. Cathy and I oohed and aahed at huge geodes, natural crystals, and jewelry made from every kind of stone imaginable. I am impressed that I left the place with no treasures, but it was like going to a museum, not a store!

We detoured through neighborhoods of the type you’d imagine in Vail. Thus house has a funicular to get up to it!

We came back through Frisco, which was okay, but I can be okay with not going back. I did like Dillon a lot, though. Then we went back to Breckenridge where I stocked up on wine, bourbon, and a few more groceries for the days I’m going to be pretty stuck in my condominium with no transportation. I even got some flowers. I’ll be fine, because I have a lot of pasta, yogurt, and ice cream. Oh, and coffee, of course! I am set up for Suna’s version of decadence.

Now it looks like a homey place to watch animal shows.

Anyway, it was really kind of the Steeles to do all this with me today. We will hang out some more later, too. I enjoyed getting to know Cathy better and meeting Ken, who I’d heard nothing but good things about in the past. They are such athletic people, too. It was fun listening to all the mountains they have climbed, cycling trips they’ve taken, and skiing they’ve done. And by the way, Cathy loves pickleball. I now know where all the pickleball courts in the area are.

Here’s where I’m staying.

Once again, the internet has brought people together who enjoy each other’s company and can have fun in real life! I’m so lucky to get out of the hermitage occasionally and see people (well vaccinated people, of course).

Goldie the Great Dane Goes Mudding

You don’t have to go out of town to have adventures, as the Hermits’ Rest’s biggest canine, Goldie, discovered today. We made it home from Bandera and getting new job paperwork done in plenty of time for daily chores and a bit of fun.

Explorer Goldie.

The deer stand on the property had gotten blown over by the wind, so I went along to watch the tractor right it. Goldie ran alongside us.

It’s pretty here.

Once the stand was righted, we just had to enjoy the beauty of the back part of the ranch. I love it there, where all you see is grass and trees. It’s really fun on a horse, but pretty darned good on foot.

Up it goes.

We wandered around a bit finding big rocks for Lee’s pond. Then we went to check one of the small tanks/ponds that hides back there. I got all distracted by this walking stick on a Christmas cholla cactus.

The brown thing is an insect.

Goldie decided she was thirsty. After all, it got over 100 degrees today, and she ran all this way. She did her best to get to the water in the muddle of the pond, but nope. The mud was up past her knees.

I can’t get to the water.

The sound of Goldie pulling her feet out of the mud was the definition of “suck.” It was pretty funny, but I was glad she didn’t get stuck. She was too.

She was sooo dirty.

It’s hard to say what’s more

This evening, though, we looked down and saw Carlton patiently cleaning Goldie’s legs. They made a lot of progress before all the dogs erupted in play. Yeah, we miss our dogs when we leave.

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