Colorado

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Victor

Hello! After some strange glitch in photo sizing that ultimately deleted half of the post, I am starting from scratch. Apologies to those on the mail list for multiple notifications.

A day trip to Victor! We were too early for any leaf peeping, but right on time for a fun day of Steam Punk regalia.

Her socks!

Many of the costumes we saw that day were handmade, like the lovely leaf cape, and all just spectacularly wonderful. Steam Punk is very easy on the eyes!

Also easy on the eyes were the fabulous assortment of tattoos. I shall never tire of the individuality and artistry on display. Kudos to have a vision and meeting the right person to make it come to fruition.

We had a fun wander, gawping at costumes, jewelry, and art, even buying a couple as gifts. We also enjoyed a hearty lunch at the Side Door and kettle corn from a street vendor. Our bellies were full and our hearts happy on such a spectacularly beautiful day!

Southwest to the Wet Mountains and the Sangre de Christos

West to the Collegiate Peaks

Pike’s Peak – the dot on top is the new visitor’s center

Also Pike’s Peak – the mountain of many guises!

Now for some good news and bad news. First the bad, that way we end sweetly. On the day of our Victor ramble, I got a scratchy throat. Greg had been experiencing a tender tummy for a few days. The following day, I got a fever. Since we had COVID tests on hand, we took them. It was a resounding yes. The shock. The horror. After all our good care and vaccinations. Boo.

I am also pretty astonished by the very different responses our bodies have had to the virus. My fever only lasted a day, but I’ve had a horrible headache and insomnia ever since, any night with more than four hours rest is a triumph. Greg had a fever for five days and has been coughing so very much, but blessedly, he’s like one of those baby dolls who immediate falls asleep when given a gentle lie down. It’s been nine days, and honestly, there seems to be no end in sight. Say a little prayer for us.

Now for the good news. My surgical incisions are healing nicely, and the very ugly bruises are all gone. While I will not be able to do a proper stretch, weight lift, or normal exercise routine for another few weeks, I am no longer in any pain. Where my back was plagued by my lazy gallbladder is flesh without discomfort. It had been so very long. I can also eat like a normal person without worry – after 4 p.m., even fatty foods. Hooray!

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Views from the road to Westcliffe. It was the first leg of a Southern Colorado mini-break and early birthday celebration for my favorite human ever (Greg is 52 today!), with two nights in Trinidad as our final destination.

We had a fine lunch and wander in Westcliffe, enjoying stellar sandwiches at the Sugarlump and a cinnamon licorice treat from their sister shop, Lollypop & Co. A fun time in a cool town.

On our way to Trinidad, we stopped along the Huerfano River Valley, where my Williams, Serna, and Casias ancestors were among the first permanent settlers. There’s even a creek named for the Williams side nearby. As is my wont, I visited the cemetery and brought some sweet decor. Handsome Louis is my Great Uncle times three.

The land in the foreground was owned by my family. The first time we visited, there was a house just down the road that was also on land they owned, and we considered buying it before deciding a forty minute one-way to the grocery or a hospital was not our jam. It was, however, quite tempting to imagine waking up to that stunning view on the daily!

Buried just outside Aguilar, Colorado (where Al Capone once lived) is Esquipula Maes, my Great Grandmother times four. We stumbled amongst a sea of Italian headstones in 100 degree heat to find her. Boy was I happy when we did!

p.s. the dates on her headstone were wrong, so I erased them.

Trinidad is just a hop, skip, and a jump over the pass from Raton, New Mexico, so we did just that. I do not recommend arriving on a Monday at lunch time, however, as the town is pretty much closed. The theater did look quite nice though.

My Great Grandma Tillie lived in Trinidad in 1900. She’s looking every bit adorable (that wisp of a curl!) with her equally handsome older brother, Henry. They lived on Convent street in a house that no longer exists.

Up until this trip, Trinidad was only ever a stopping place on the way to New Mexico. I am so happy to have spent more time here now, enjoying its beauty, both natural and architectural (with a little bit of cheek!), friendly people, great food, and fun shops.

Mutiny, in addition to a superb service and a nook of black light posters (!!), offers used books, comics, and music, along with every child in an adult’s body (aka Colleen and Greg) superb coffee, a sugar cereal bar, the ultimate selection of lunch box pastries, and pop tarts! We chose strawberry and a hardcover book about Mongolia.

So many sights for sore eyes! Many of these buildings were here when my Grandma Tillie lived here, which made my heart so happy to expereince it somewhat through her eyes.

Definitely not present during her time, but surely worthy of her approval were the Indian Fry bread delights at Three Sisters.

Same goes for the margaritas at the Las Animas Grill. History lessons from the kindly owner are also on offer! Also worth noting, but totally without a photo because we ate them too quickly, were the wonderful pastries from Colie’s. We had a sticky bun cinnamon roll and an almond croissant. Yum.

We literally chose the hottest day of the year to hike, and my red face shows it. Yowza!

In addition to wanting to see the streets where my Grandma Tillie toddled about as a child, Greg and I were keen on vising Colorado’s newest state park – Fisher’s Peak. It’s about a five minute drive from downtown, and could not be easier. Worthy of note is the fact that dogs are not allowed at the park. No fretting needed, Juniper napped in the security of her crate and the air conditioned luxury of our rental while we hiked.

This was our longest and most difficult hike in ages, the first section 900 feet in elevation gain in the first mile, so yeah, steep. Not gonna lie, our legs and my right knee did some complaining, but it was certainly worth the incredible views of its namesake, the Sangre de Christos, and Spanish Peaks. Most definitely!

Last look east from Simpson’s Rest. Thanks for the memories, Trinidad!

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High Country

MarĂșaweeka, and Happy Indigenous People’s Day! The first word is how to greet a group in Comanche, one small, yet significant, branch of my Ancestral Tree. I am proud to be all that I am, which is partially what brought our family unit out on our latest adventure in Southern Colorado.

After ambling by more times than we can recall, we decided it was about time to visit Fort Garland. It is a marvelous example of adobe construction and steeped in important local history. Union Soldiers stationed here helped defeat Confederates at the Battle of Glorieta Pass, while the 9th Cavalry of Buffalo Soldiers stationed here helped keep the peace between the Native Utes and white people in the 1870s.

The most recent exhibit, which I am not certain will be permanent, highlights the enslavement of Native People in the area. I sure hate how humans have made use of this wicked practice for time immemorial. It’s a heart breaking fact, to be sure.

Now we have the road to Conejos and Antonito, the skies a most gorgeous welcome. The first church in Conejos, Our Lady of Guadalupe, is considered the first permanent church in the state of Colorado, on land chosen in 1858. This, the most recent incarnation, was built after fire destroyed the previous building in 1926 and expanded in 1948.

The second church, Saint Augustine, in neighboring Antonito, is especially important to me, because my Great Aunt Cirilia (Casias-Atencio) was baptised here in 1862. The roots run deep.

The final photo is Cano’s Castle in Antonito. I’m not certain if it is made from beer cans or simply covered in them, along with hubcaps and other bits and bobs of the lost and found, but it sure is a sight to behold. Oh, the light!

East to San Luis, Colorado’s oldest town.

Rio Grande

What a gorgeous day of exploration!

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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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