Sunday, June 10, 2018

4006 miles Part 2.......

Long delay between part one and part two!  I thought I would be publishing part two the next day and then the mulch truck backed down the driveway and dumped 20 yards in front of the studio door!  As I am a one woman, one wheel barrow show it took me a while to move the mountain of mulch ........ which made the Rocky Mountains look like a couple mosquito bites on the western horizon. 

 Thankfully today is a rain day and pots finally got glazed and I have time to pay bills and catch up!  

I think I left off as we drove into Gunnison for graduation and a long stay at the Holiday Inn.  Saturday morning, the big event.  The event that made us load the car with camping equipment, a 91 pound dog, snacks and a road map.  This was IT!  The day we have anticipated for 10 years!  Daughter #2 took the round about way to graduation but she did it and we were here for all the festivities!  We were told to bring winter coats, rain gear, boots, ski hats, googles, mittens etc.  Outdoor graduation at Western State Colorado University.  We were told it rains and/or snows every year for every graduation since 1901.  Yup, we packed it all!  Even insulated bleacher pads for our frozen bums on frigid metal bleachers!  But alas Mother Nature had a hot flash and we couldn't have been happier!  Our coats peeled off and the sun was so bright our scalps were sunburned! 

The class of 2018 has arrived!  The bleachers were packed, standing room only.  We listened to the President of the college, who was actually pretty good.  And then the guest speaker who should have just sent a grizzly bear to speak, some people should know their limits and decline.  She went on and on and the rugby team started passing flasks up and down the row.  Then they started dashing off to port-a-potty in the end zone.  And then the ambulance showed up as a woman (someone's Mom) went down hard and was whisked away with the graduate.  If you're a speaker, this is your sign to STOP TALKING!  Phew and she did and the parade of graduates started to take over the stage.  

As the name of Daughter #2 drew near, the big guy sitting next to me started quietly vibrating and sputtering; I leaned over and offered him water and asked him if he was OK?  Allergies, he said.  This is the guy who wrote the checks and cheered with encouragement every time this graduate found herself a bit lost in the woods called life.  With his encouragement and guidance and checkbook he couldn't believe this day had arrived.  And then they called her name and he just sobbed, not quietly. The guy behind us, also a Dad, slapped him on the back and said:  Man we hear ya!  Us too and they were laughing so hard and crying ...... well it was a random graduation parent bleacher kind of moment!  I asked him if he was ok again and he said out loud.... these damn allergies!  And then everybody behind us just busted out laughing!   Allergies my ass!  Shear release from ten tense years! 
He had climbed more than one mountain to be here and so had D#2.  But this family had reached the summit and we were still intact and we were celebrating!  

he's still overwhelmed...... 

We managed to make our way to a restaurant and celebrate.  Go back to our rooms, go for a quick hike and then back to a real sit down dinner at the place D#2 had worked the last couple years.  Her fellow friends and employees seemed to know this was a big deal dinner and they so awesomely decorated the table! 

We had a great dinner, great celebration and great company. 

We departed Monday morning after one more family breakfast, hugs and all around sighs of relief and happiness.  

We decided to meander back to Ohio via ....... 
Taylor Park Reservoir and Crested Butte, frozen and snowy.

Staying for a day in Fort Collins and meeting old friends and new friends. 
Kirby made new friends with a bunch of chickens.

Hiking in Arapaho and Roosevelt National Park and seeing the skeletal remains of trees. 
The wildfire caused by lightening, burned over 87,000 acres in 2012; the scars, still so visible and devastating.  

We made our way to Rocky Mountain National Park for more hiking. 

and one of us found a new toy....... NO!  Get in the car! 

Made our way to Bear Lake, elevation 9,450 ft.
frozen and snowy.

Kirby refused to get out of the van....... 
At Bear Lake we ran into tourists and too many people and then I heard it!

An old geezer holding up his wife as she shuffled across ice and snow, both clearly terrified.  AND he says TO ME..... "you think they could clear this ice and snow!"  I said, nicely; Well the parks had all their money taken away so vote better next time and I walked away.  WE ARE IN THE MOUNTAINS and you sir are an entitled old man, YES! let me roust those minions, who work for below minimum wage to get their flame throwers and shovels out, to clear a path for you and your ambulatory wife.  And thankfully they turned around and got into their GIANT RV and chugged away.  As my head was exploding from that encounter I watched a young dude run out on the slushy, cracking ice.  Thousands of dollars of camera equipment strapped to his body, a lens I would have tripped over and started snapping pictures while the ice cracked beneath him.  Bear Lake is pretty deep, it's off season, not a ranger station open or park attendant around.  I call this culling the herd, had he fallen through I'm pretty sure I would have kept walking and slept fine that night. 

We got in our van and attempted to cross the Great Continental Divide but alas snowed in and impassable.

We saw elk, big horn sheep, a moose who so big he blocked the sun, a mother bear and her cubs emerging from hibernation and I chased a wild turkey up a hill until he posed for his glamor shot. 

And this guy, who two years ago came from the Cleveland APL and had been locked in a garage for the first 3 years of his life, paws that had never touched grass, who had never been swimming, who came with a broken jaw, a bunch of missing teeth, more scars than I could count and no eyesight.  This guy had climbed the Rocky Mountains and felt the wind in his face and loved it!  

As we left Colorado, I looked in the review mirror and my heart hurt for a little bit.  
It had been a good trip.  
We had not been on a vacation since 2009. 

We drove across Kansas with the temperatures reaching 93-95 degrees F.  We saw cattle standing in empty water holes looking for water and keenly aware it was May.  I was truly happy to be heading home to the Great Lakes and new Spring green and know gardening was only 24 hours away.  


  1. Beautiful pictures. What a trip! I have yet to see a bear in the wild. I do want to, but only if I see it before it sees me. Way before.

    1. Haha....... did you happen to hear about the 400 pound black bear hit and killed on I77 yesterday? They're in Ohio but rarely seen, thank goodness! I used pick wild berries and always kept one eye roaming as we ran into a mother coyote two years ago. Not sure who was more shocked...... Now growing raspberries is the way back of the yard LOL! It was an amazing trip!! thanks for stopping by!

    2. No!! One was spotted hanging out by KFC some years ago in Marietta. Probably had a craving for extra crispy.

  2. I loved reading every bit of this report, and the one before, but this bit really got me:
    Kirby "had climbed the Rocky Mountains and felt the wind in his face and loved it! "
    I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it.