Fort Collins to Grand Junction: A Long Day and Long Post!

We were going to drive to Grand Junction, but Bob decided we were too early to check in to a hotel, so we drove on the Arches National Park and then to Green River. What a long, exciting day.

10:58 AM which will matter as the day unfolds.

The drive from Fort Collins goes down towards Denver, then across the Rockies via I-70. This follows Glenwood canyon along the Colorado river. The mountain pass at Vail is 10,603 feet. We saw things that were too far to photograph and new to us. Like not just exits for skiing areas, but actual snowboard courses with people flying down them. Have seen that on TV, but cannot imagine actually DOING snowboarding, or skiing for that matter. I have never been known for my coordination or sports prowess. Ramps and ski jumps and things that amazed me, people willingly riding lifts to the top. I am also not a fan of heights, so there is that wonderment, too!

We saw signs for Aspen, Beaver Creek, Vail, Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, Arapahoe, and Keystone, all famous ski areas that we had never visited, but often heard about on news and sports channels.

Years ago we took our children to the west coast from Ohio on the Amtrak. The train followed parts of this same road. We were delighted to see the tracks and confirm our memories!

Colorado River 12:25
See the tracks on far side of river!

And such terrain change in one day! Huge mountain peaks, national forests, the glory of the mountains with snow, without snow, river canyon, tunnels, scenic overlooks and then on towards the Colorado plateau of eastern Utah with dry, rocky terrain anywhere from 4,500 to 6,500 feet in elevation at Arches.

Two hours later, 2:35, still Colorado!
Gives an entire new meaning to get out and stretch your legs! People walking along the lower edge, up the path with shadows, and on the ridge if you can see them! 3:11 PM
5:21 PM Long but amazing day! Now in Utah for certain.
5:30 Arches National Park
Is it a Sphynx or a dog?

Bob had to climb alone as the day was wearing me thin energy-wise. He made it into the big arch.

Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints! 6:14 PM
I appreciated the Three Wise Men (shadows) on our way out of the park at 6:40 PM

On our way to our hotel we agreed there were almost more landscape/environmental changes in one day than we could comprehend. Sort of sightseeing whiplash 😉

We also agreed the next day NOT to make such a long day again on this month-long journey.

Cheyenne Wyoming

We are tired of staying at the same hotel chain. And the quality of the chain has become so unpredictable. We decided to try some thing new. This is a shameless plug. This was BRAND NEW! Our first stay at a Tru hotel by Hilton. Great for a single traveler. CRAMPED for a couple! We did like the hooks on the wall and the great shower though! Not certain how we might book it next time to try to get extra space in our area? It was designed with young people in mind, including the huge lobby area with pool table and plenty of quiet booths for business work and phone calls.

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See the source image
See the source image

We lit out of town the next morning after doing an interview with fact finding Hilton staff. They made it worth our while with a payment for our time. Pretty sweet for retirees on a journey! Cheyenne to Ft. Collins, Colorado 47 miles, (plus mileage into and through part of Rocky Mountain National Park).

7,000 miles and

16 states, slept in 10 of those in at least 3 different motel chains. All but one night was pretty good sleep! 48 years of marriage and this was the longest trip we had ever taken since our one year anniversary trip moving from California to Ohio. In all those miles there was only one moment when we both thought we were about to be in an auto accident through no fault of our own. We still marvel at how were kept safe, day after day, hour after hour.

Most children have an hour or two a day when they get cranky. Low blood sugar, need for parental attention, whatever. And adults can get that way, too! Eating routines disrupted, NO NAPS, navigating strange places, being in the car for hours on end together days on end. We had those moments. Most were navigated with humor, kindness, and sometimes snacks or coffee stops.

Realizing neither of us knew the way at every moment in time, we were able to not take things personally. Accepting the fact that those moments were going to occur almost daily helped, too.

Seeing something new and wonderful or just reflecting on the vast differences between today’s scenery in contrast to yesterday helped restore a sense of wonder.

Things such as is this typical grain storage or caused by the trade wars? We had no answers, just a sense of wonder at the abundance the agricultural families of our country produce. We saw many of these seeming impromptu storage set-ups. There were abundant silos, but these appeared in plenty.

Tire tracks from truck deliveries!
Does the fan provide circulation to keep it from spoiling?

We discovered during the trip that we were uneducated in so many areas, prone to still be human, able to travel together long distances and still in love after all these years. Determined to face the chapter of older adults as joyfully as possible we seemed to have at minimum one good laugh a day. Now I wish I had written down those comic moments!

Itinerary – Days 1 & 2

Cincinnati through Louisville to St. Louis. Day #1, 358 miles. We saw the flooded Mississippi and ate toasted ravioli at award winning Zia’s on the Hill.

That day we also saw an eagle in flight and my favorite, the great blue heron!

This is above the St. Louis walkway along the river. The wind and waves were such that the top steps were under water and waves kept splashing up when boats went past.

I kept applying what I saw to myself. Flooding puts river banks and pastures under water. Some say this refreshes the land like no other phenomenon, dropping fresh silt on the soil. Flood me Lord with Your Living Water and Presence in my everyday moments. Open my ears so that when You speak, I will hear You clearly and move towards obedience.

Day #2 St. Louis to Topeka to Kansas City, Missouri, 309 some miles. We stopped in Kansas City Kansas to look around and stumbled upon graffiti artists. Here is a local diva having her photo taken before their art.

Bar-B-Que lunch at Mr. Gates. The after church crowd joined us. I had fun watching and older gentleman watch me make a mess with barbecue sauce all over my face. He was waiting for his family to place their orders and bring his food. They were all dressed to the nines! When I finished they had just placed his tray in front of him. I teased him that it was my turn to watch him eat and not make a mess. Turns out he was blind in one eye and in his nineties. He was a retired preacher and song leader, sort of retired. His son was now in the pulpit. All his sons were preachers. We talked about how important it is to try to inspire the younger ones. I left him to enjoy his lunch with blessings upon the rest of his day and silently upon his life and legacy.

The Bar-B-Que was delicious going down and gave me fits all night! What a way to go though ;-D.

A Prompt in Plain Sight

Found this a year or so ago on the sidewalk. I have kept it ever since. It is a writing prompt and in some ways a prod. How so? you ask.

If you have a broken pencil you cannot write much unless you sharpen it and determine to use it. And that is the prod part. Was I willing to use it and sharpen it? This was before I started writing the blog. For years I had been putting off actually writing with regularity and purpose. Once again, I was being given the choice of just keeping a broken pencil, throwing it away, or putting it to work.

And the prompt? Even the stub of a pencil can be used to write. What is to stop the finder from using it? Yes, some kid is missing a green pencil from their colored pencil set, but what about the senior citizen who found and kept it. Will she make use of it, even in old age and gray hair? Will she step out in faith and just do it?

You can scroll through my posts and see if you agree. I think I am onto the discipline of using it and helping the last years of the pencil produce a harvest! Not to mention, the older woman holding said pencil.

Steve Green summed it up nicely with the song “You Want To, Now Will You”


You’ve heard the words
And know they’re true
And now they ring inside of you
They’re calling you to come away
Now will you come or stay.

You want to, now will you
You want to, now will you
The truth that burns within you
Like a bed of fiery coals
Contains that power to liberate
A thousand captive souls
But if the truth will ever set you free
Depends on you
You want to, now will you
You want to…now will you

A Calendar Quote

From my 2018 calendar produced by Sounds True, this quote from Kelly McGonigal:

“Our capacity to notice suffering, be moved, and respond is not just a form of caregiving or love – it is a form of courage.”

In February of 2018 this was the page on my calendar. As I learned more about my husband’s suffering from a critical illness I also learned more about caregiving, my capacity to notice suffering and the courage required to walk through that awful illness and recovery. Every day the calendar spoke to me and helped me.

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Similar calendar page

 

Recently we were made aware of the suffering of a 78-year-old widow. Living alone she had slowly let herself stop eating and drinking, falling into a deeper and deeper depression. When her family discovered her condition, she told wild tales of falling down the stairs. Said she did not want to bother anyone after she fell. She evidently waited three days to tell anyone. Weird thing was there was no bruising on her. No stairways that would let her fall head first, though maybe bounce on her bottom. CT scan showed no brain bleed or other problem. Her isolation, mental habit of worry and fret, lack of exercise and nutrition likely all contributed to her condition. She was hospitalized for several days to rehydrate her and get her stabilized. Then moved to a care facility to work on her strength, physical stability and mental capacity. They will eventually move her to a small apartment in the same complex.
When we went to help the family make sense and put into order her condo, everyone was stunned. The mailbox had not been opened for about 2 months. The dishwasher was overflowing with dirty dishes as were the kitchen sinks and counters. Broken and burned out light bulbs were in several places. When the light was returned to the laundry room, empty bottles of laundry soap, fabric softener and piles of soiled laundry along with broken glass were deep on the floor.
My first response was fear. Oh my! I better get back to walking or being in the pool at the YMCA or this could be my future. Especially if something happens to my husband. Then pity that she let herself despair to this point. I too suffered a bad bout with depression several years ago. When I worked my way out of it with therapy and loving care, I vowed to never let myself do that again. No matter what others do or how they behave, my mental health would be my #1 priority.
Then I was angry at her. And we are not even related. It has taken  a reminder from the calendar quote to bring me back to the point of noticing her suffering and having the courage to go see her. I want to be loving and non-judgmental. I do not live in her head, so I really do not know exactly the components of her suffering.
God help me to respond and be moved with Your love and the courage of the Lion of Judah.