Note: this blog entry is dedicated to my mother, Phoebe Alice German, who passed away Friday, August 9, 2013. Mom, we love you and miss you.

Moab2Denver

On the road and precious moments, August 2013 … On August 1st, we took US-191 out of Moab, hung a right onto the I-70 and headed east for Denver.  As we climbed upward and onward into Colorado, we gaped at spectacular Glenwood Canyon with the majestic Colorado River running through it; flew by trendy Vail; and, with our ears popping, reached 11,000-plus feet as we slipped through the Eisenhower Tunnel. Before us lay the Rocky Mountains in all their glory. The road trip to Denver was another spectacular visual feast for us orchestrated by the I-70.

Coming to Denver was, first and foremost, dedicated to spending time with our one-year-old granddaughter Madalynn (oh, and her parents and our son too, of course). We stepped away from our vagabond mindsets and were dazzled by this little person. It is hard to describe how absurdly wonderful it is to view the world through such an innocent lens.  Everything that we took for granted (refrigerator magnets, plastic bins, dogs, bits of stuff on the floor, Dr. Seuss, water, music, walking on grass and on and on) was mysterious and fresh for Madalynn.  We found ourselves talking to each other using her small vocabulary and verbal cadence, and imitating her comic facial expressions.  In her presence, it was impossible to think about anything serious or complicated (other than feedings, diaper changes, walking around and around through the house with her tiny hand gripping our fingers, passing toys back and forth while nodding affirmatively and with total gravity knowing that productive sharing had occurred). Ah, to be a child again.

 

Thunderstorm forms over Rocky Mountain National Park's Nymph Lake.

Thunderstorm forms over Rocky Mountain National Park’s Nymph Lake.

Exploring in and around Denver … We took off some time from our grandparenting activities to explore the grand outdoor venues in and around Denver. Ron spent a day at Golden Gate State Park snapping photographs. We hiked through Castlewood Canyon State Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.

Our days in Denver would begin with a blissful azure sky and warming temperatures.  Later, the afternoons would blow in enormous clouds that piled up and ominously blocked the sunshine.  Grey curtains of rain would fall on discrete locations off in the distance.  We experienced a hail storm on one of these afternoons – it was quite impressive. Lightening crackled horizontally (I had never seen anything like that before!) across the sky, followed by loud, thunder claps.

ron_roxRoxborough State Park was another special and unusual site. Enormous, slanted rock formations, born out of the Ancestral Rocky Mountains and shaped by millions of years of uplift and erosion, lined up for miles like jagged, leaning red dominos. I was reminded – for some reason – of Jordan’s ancient carved city of Petra (which we’d visited in 2007), another rocky landscape that went off into the distance seemingly forever.

Heading out of Roxborough State Park, we noticed that afternoon thunder clouds were building.  We stopped at a roadside rest stop to watch and listen to the burgeoning storm. The sky darkened, then crackled and sparked with lightening. We waited for the thunder drumrolls.  That localized rain was falling in the distance.  We felt some  isolated drops as we hopped back into the car.

 

Reconnections and a little musical interlude … My Colorado Springs cousins met us for dinner in Castle Rock and, on another day, dropped by my daughter’s home for a Madalynn sighting. Our last week in Denver, Ron and I got together with one of my college roommates. I’d lost contact with Susan for 40 (yes, it’s true!) years.  We joined Susan and her husband Michael for dinner and a recap of who, what, where and when. Our visit played out, in so many ways, as though no time had passed. Michael was a new friend, which was a lovely bonus. We all agreed to see each other next year for more fun, but no more time lapses.

Before we left Portland in late July, I joined the Denver Ukulele Community (DUC) via their website. I attended their end-of-August gathering at Moe’s BBQ (famous for banana pudding?) and was overwhelmed by a preponderance of uke-slinging enthusiasts. There were about 40 attendees.  It was great fun. The DUC folks welcomed this struggling ukulele rookie with sheet music and lots of encouragement.  I hope to encounter more of these kinds of musical gatherings during our travels as opportunities present themselves.

 

Time to move on … The month in Denver sped by.  We packed up, hugged our big and little children, and began our journey back to Cetacean and Mexico. We still had a few stops and responsibilities to take care of along the way, though.  Our next destinations would be San Jose, then Sacramento, and finally, Portland, to put away Old Faithful for the cruising season.

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