Colorado

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Greetings from yesterday’s hike at Castlewood Canyon! We met a former coworker of Greg’s, along with his wife and two adorable pooches. The wind was wild and woolly up top, but down in the canyon, it was cooler and only mildly breezy, thank goodness. With gratitude to recent rain and snow, it’s looking quite verdant for these parts. The babble of water was a pleasant addition to the tree breezes and dart of hummingbird sound track.

I haven’t a clue what these tiny flowers are, but there was a profusion of them dotting the trail, smelling rather exquisite.

Pike’s Peak! How I love seeing it from different angles and distances. In Arvada, atop the hill on Wadsworth, some seventy miles as the crow flies, it looks equally lovely, and a reminder of home while visiting my parents. It’s funny how I have no memory of it as a young person on my every day route to high school. How curious what grabs our attention at different ages.

Alan gives Seurat a view above the oaks. It was very much appreciated!

Emily and Alan were our most stellar company! They also endeared themselves to me by loving the green chile (updated recipe here) and prickly pear margaritas (scroll for recipe here) I made for our picnic lunch. Woot!

The hike was the cherry on top of an action packed four days. On Friday, my Aunt Mari and cousins (Stephanie and Stella) came for a visit before a trip to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (recently voted #3 in the nation, I think). I am not a zoo person, but am happy to fill people with food on their way. We shared a fun meal of mac and cheese and fine conversation.

Saturday brought Michael and Mary for one of our epic sleepovers. We indulged with pizza (the wood-fired oven is doing swell!), a nectarine and rhubarb cream pie (no photo, wah!), a riff on a famous Chimayo Cocktail, puzzling (a 500 and a 1000!), jewelry making (three bracelets by myself and Mary), dog walking, espresso sipping, and of course, the lovely company of two of our besties!

They also spoiled us with a new pan for the wood fired oven, a cool homemade smock for yours truly, and a very fine loaf of homemade rye bread, which we are still enjoying, slice by glorious slice.

We are full up on love, excellent company, and wonderful food. Yes, ma’am!

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Rolling along Highway 50 and the Arkansas, gazing westward toward the Collegiate Peaks. With soaring granite walls and the steady rush of the river, this drive is one of our favorite excursions, putting Colorado’s full glory on display: sun, stone, water, sky!

In the awe of people doing what they truly love category: despite what I imagine to be rather frigid temperatures, we spied many a fisher in chest waders out on the water.

Wet Mountains

The sky put on quite the light show as we headed south!

The Mellow Moon was our cozy landing spot, an easy walk to delicious eats at Raisin’ Rye (cinnamon roll, jalapeno & sausage kolache, almond croissant!!), Three Barrel Brewing (Firecracker Pizza, honey kolsch!!), and Chavolos Mexican (carnitas, chile relleno!!). Oh, and a giant-wonderful jar of honey and a bar of bee pollen soap at Haefelis!

It was an equally easy amble from the Mellow Moon to the Rio Grande and all the small town charm. Some large beast, a deer or elk, we guessed, left ample evidence of a hearty roll in the snow. Juniper could not help but to follow suit!

Horizontal snow…

Our trip on Friday was a leisurely three hours, including a stop in Canon City for Indian food at Nirvana and another for marijuana treats in Salida. We are very infrequent flyers and found ourselves agog at the choices! Greg got some Bliss Drops to, as the kindly salesperson put it, have the the equivalent of “three glasses of wine without needing to pee!” I chose Wyld Peach gummies for my annoying migraines. As luck (???) would have it, I did get a migraine while in Del Norte. I could not have been happier. I suffered no headache pain. Woot!

Sunday started as a rather gorgeous, snow coated morning. We made no tracks to rush while still getting on the road at nine. After breakfast in Alamosa (nothing remarkable, sadly), the skies turned, and we inched along in whiteout conditions up and over La Veta Pass (La Veta Loca, as the hubster put it), adding two hours to our normal trip length. Luckily it was beautiful, and there was only one jerk on the road, so it was all good in the end. Life as it should be.

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It rained and thundered much of the night, and we awoke to the hush of fog. Our drive to the grassland slow and deliberate, scarcely a car length ahead visible to our eyes. But it was warm, and countless unseen larks, scaled quails, and other birds sang in praise of morning. Turtles and frogs hopped along the roadside. Cows!

Then, as if it had been one shared dream, the fog lifted. We watched this hawk (a Swainson’s, I think) and another and another and another set out for breakfast, eyes steady on the plain.

The best surprise of the grasslands was learning about the canyons, places of respite for the weary bodies of my Comanche ancestors and any other body willing to make the journey. Countless more birds, and a billion insects to our party of three, all humming and buzzing, chirping and singing.

Most noticeable was the void of human sounds. We heard not one car, nor plane, nor voice, save our own, for hours, a sensation wholly magical and awe inspiring.

Then, on our roundabout drive home, we stopped at Bent’s Old Fort, a meticulously detailed recreation of the original. How fascinating to gain a clear glimpse of life in this place, some 180 years distant.

A banana cupcake with banana frosting, part of a set made Monday. A very fine end…

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Saturday morning, we sipped coffee outside, hats and sunglasses and shorts! I wandered the garden, to watch every little bit of life foisting itself into the world, quiet and furtive, in the case of weeds, loud with a fanfare of trumpets, in the case of flowers. How I love spring!

After our coffee and requisite a.m. pup stroll, we headed south, to Canon City. Which, is pronounced like canyon, not like an explosive cannon. I have heard this incorrect pronunciation a bit lately, and as a proud native citizen of Colorado, feel obliged to rectify it.

Anyhoo, I digress! My favorite Desert Canyon Farm is open for their brief retail window, and Greg and I took advantage of a beautifully warm Saturday to enjoy it. We bought all manner of plants: scarlet runner bean vines, hyssop, mint in two varieties, hot and mild peppers, kohlrabi, foxglove, rose, and more. We are thrilled, as always, to watch them grow.

The view just south of Desert Canyon Farm, with a glimpse of winter holding steady atop the Sangre de Christos.

After our plant buying extravaganza, we headed into town, originally intending just to stroll a bit and get Juniper’s wiggles out. Much to our surprise, it was Blossom Festival, with streets blocked in anticipation of a parade, and booths with people selling their wares.

There was also a Wild Bird booth! We were delighted to meet the Red Tailed hawk and diminutive Screech Owl, who was wet from a refreshing spritz of water. Both kept very watchful eyes on Juniper, who was rather to keen to play. Our girl will make friends with just about anybody!

Greg noshes on a fry pie, which was a bit like the McDonald’s pies of our youth, but much, much better. Larger, and positively bursting with blackberries before being fried to perfection, my word!

And for the best surprise of the day, we had some pretty darn fabulous Indian food in tiny Canon City! Chicken Tikka Masala, butter naan, and Keshari Kofta. The first two were most excellent, but the kofta, rather sadly, while tasty, was not as good as Mandeep’s bit of perfection at Portland’s India Oven. I keep trying!

How wonderful it was to walk about, snap photos, sit on a patio with Greg and Juniper and watch the world stroll by, anticipate the summer garden, buy honey and wonderful tinctures, nibble on pie. Almost Normal. Almost.

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A quintessential Colorado view, on high and down to the plains, probably to Kansas on a clear day.

Step back, if you will, to Friday, a gorgeous day for a drive. South to Florence, where you can wave at the Super Max and think upon what wild words are flowing from the disturbed mind of Ted Kaczynski. If he has a window view, regardless of direction, the surrounding country is rather fine. Buttes, bluffs, mountains, bleached earth, peregrine falcon sky. We wound through the Wet Mountains on the Frontier Pathways Scenic Byway, a joy for all the senses and early or perhaps late enough to spare us from the snail pace of campers inching their way to somewhere.

A late breakfast at Three Sisters, always a treat of kindly service and excellent fare, remarkable for the sparsely populated location and just shy of an I-25 Rest Stop.

Pueblo and the River Walk for part two of our adventure, with treats for humans and pups alike from Hopscotch Bakery. We shared the most delicious Pike’s Peak brownie and Juniper had her own dog biscuit. Woof!

Our wanderings took us to the stately Pueblo Union Depot with eye candy indoors and out, plus green grass and cool shade for pup lounging and cloud gazing.

Completely unrelated, but very much on rotation at this old house, some Fontaines D.C. A dream of every punk & 80s sound I ever obsessed over making a wonderfully raucous and genius band. A Hero’s Death…

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