Friday, March 1, 2013

Postcards from Colorado

One of my birthday gifts last October was the promise of a trip to Colorado this February to attend the Boulder Bach Festival. Several generous family members contributed to this fantastic present, and on Thursday my sister and I flew out to Denver for a long weekend of fresh air and mountain views.

My nephew picked us up at the airport, and our first stop after landing was the DaVinci Machines Exhibition in downtown Denver - a fascinating display containing models of machines designed by Leonardo da Vinci, hand-built to scale from sketches found in his  notebooks. Next on the menu for me was lunch with my bloggy friend Deb, aka Snowcatcher. (And did either of us think to take a picture of us together? Of course not - we were too busy talking.) :)

This morning (Friday) we were up bright and early, and on the road to Estes Park for an unexpected treat: my nephew was taking us horseback riding at Sombrero Ranches. And look who came along for the ride:


One of Snowcatcher's adorable crochet turtles, stitched in my favourite colour of lavender, with a tiny snowflake shell. (I've named her Tallulah.)

The morning is gloriously clear and sunny. Dominating the view is Longs Peak, at 14,259 feet the tallest mountain in the Rocky Mountain National Park and the 15th tallest in the state (depending on which authority you consult - I also saw it listed as 13th and 16th on various websites). Whatever its ranking, it's majestic and beautiful:


We're early for our appointment, and have time to chat with several of the guides. Then we're introduced to our mounts:

Jack, for my nephew

Alvin, for my sister

And Smoky, for me.

The ride starts off with a bit of excitement. About 10 yards out, a coyote is seen in the brush beside the trail. Jack (my nephew's horse) shies and tries to bolt, which startles my horse into a short run. But the horses soon settle down and we head on peacefully up the trail (though I do begin to wonder if I ought to have accepted one of the riding helmets offered by the management).


The trail offers stunning views, including this one of the cloud-wreathed Continental Divide:


Horsey shadow shot:


The happy riding party (I'm the one in the purple hat):


Jack and Smoky exchanging a few words while the guide adjusts the cinches:


The trail is rocky, steep, and mostly dry as we wind our way up the hillside. (There should be more snow, but Colorado has had a very dry winter.)


As we climb higher we begin to see at least some patches of snow along with the amazing views:




We also see plenty of deer:



All this time Tallulah has been riding in my pocket. I put her on the pommel for a moment to enjoy the sights, but the trail gets particularly bumpy just here and I don't want to drop her - so back into my pocket she goes.


The guide points out an aspen tree, referring to it as part of the largest living organism on Earth (aspens grow in colonies and are connected underground by their root systems which can cover huge areas).


We're on the shady side of the hill now, and there's much more snow on the ground:


Another mountain peak can be seen in the distance:


We come across another group of deer. Smoky (my horse), who all along has displayed a tendency to wander off the trail, now wanders again, straight towards the deer - so I'm able to get a good shot of this handsome buck:


Smoky seems very interested in the deer and would like to move even closer, but the guide says it's time to get back on the trail.

As we head down the hillside, the horses pick up the pace. (They're ready for second breakfast.) One last shot of the Continental Divide, framed by a blasted tree trunk...


...then I have to give all my attention to holding on properly as Smoky keeps trying to pass Jack and I have to keep him (Smoky) in line. (Passing is discouraged, as the guide explains, because the horses work better if they stay in the same order throughout the ride. Staying in line also protects horses and riders from sideways kicks from other horses.)

We reach the stables and climb stiff-leggedly off our horses. (None of us is an experienced rider and our muscles aren't used to this at all.) A pat for our mounts, a trip into the office for some final formalities (and to admire the collection of boots behind the desk)...


...then we're back out in the sunshine and thinking of lunch.

And after lunch, dessert. We visit a local yarn shop (The Stitchin' Den), where we spend a happy hour or so being overwhelmed by the beautiful selection of yarns.


Tallulah seems particularly drawn to this purple yarn with felted bobbles:


Are you my mother?

Despite the surfeit of beautiful yarns, I restrain myself nobly, and come away with just a single gorgeous skein destined for a giveaway to be held this month. (Planning a giveaway is a great excuse for buying a yarn you would never buy for yourself.) Here's a glimpse of it, with a proper Colorado backdrop:


Tomorrow we're off to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to visit a famous outlet store. Then back in the evening for the Boulder Bach Festival, where we'll be treated to a performance of Bach's St. John Passion.

All in all, it's been a pretty good birthday gift so far. :)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

44 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness, Colorado with snow, horses, yarn and Bach. You really know what I love!!
    Funny that you talked so you didn't get a photo with your bloggy friend. I so understand that!
    Love your little turtle friend cozying up to it's "Mother". You are so funny.

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    1. Thanks, Kay. I do love it here in Colorado - so very beautiful. :)

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  2. I am so happy for you, because this is a dream-come-true kind of a trip. And simply beautiful photo ops. Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!

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  3. Such beautiful pictures! What a great trip. Can't wait to see more :)

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    1. Gosh, I haven't taken very many more photos - there may not be much more. But thanks Sandy. :)

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  4. Oh, Happy You! What a wonderful gift.

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  5. What a great birthday present! Your pictures bring back good memories for me, we use to have horses when we lived in Colorado.
    As to Bach, he's a composer I struggle mightily with, hope you enjoy it though.

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    1. Handel is much more get-at-able than Bach, but I do love JS. Can't help it. :)

      So glad you enjoyed the photos. You must miss the horses.

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  6. Woo Hoo! Woo Hoo! Yay, you got to see SnowCatcher!!!! Did Lizard come too? I LOVE Tallulah! What a lucky turtle to get to see such beautiful views. And the horsey shadow shot, well that is just over the top! :) Happy Happy Birthday trip! Hugs to you (and to SnowCatcher too if you get to see her again) :)

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    1. No, Lizard had to work. But I got to see the famous view from the 32nd story lunchroom, AND an even more amazing view from the other side of the building facing the mountains.

      Of course that shadow shot was for you - glad you liked it!

      I love Tallulah too. She's going to live in my purse and go everywhere with me. :)

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  7. What a lovely outing on horseback you all had!

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    1. It was very lovely indeed, and the air was delicious. :)

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  8. What a fantastic gift and what a fantastic trip :-).

    I've had a bit of a crappy day (nothing bad, just stroppy kids and so on) but looking at those photos brings my shoulders back down from somewhere round my ears to where they're supposed to be! I can practically smell the pine-needles and snow :-).

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    1. Thanks Ginny! So glad the post helped you feel better. :)

      It smelled wonderful up there. When we were being introduced to the horses I thought of your profile photo and of how much you would enjoy this experience.

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  9. I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED THE HORSE BACK RIDE ride along~

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    1. Thanks Kathy - so glad you enjoyed it. :)

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  10. Heavenly! I lived in Colo for 10 yrs - miss it so! Happy for you - what a delightful outing and great gift from your family!! Thanks for sharing....

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    1. It's been wonderful. I can see why you would miss Co. :)

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  11. Wow, what an adventure. I wonder what words were exchanged by Jack and Smokey? Willllllllber, of course...perhaps?

    I love Colorado and I would love to retire there...with a little yarn shop. Would you visit?

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    1. Of course I would visit - I'd work there if you let me. :)

      I don't know what they said to each other - possibly something about low branches, because Smoky took me under several (the bugger).

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  12. Astri, I'll visit your yarn shop!!!

    Sue, these photos are wonderful, and you're right, one of the two of us is missing! I didn't think of it until after you'd left. Darn it!

    But what's really sad is we didn't take a photo the first time we met, with husbands in tow... Next time, we gotta do something about that!!!

    Enjoy the rest of your trip in Colorado! I'm so glad we had beautiful weather to greet you!

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    1. Perhaps next time we get together.... ;)

      P.S. Got some new cycling shorts at Sierra Trading Post!

      P.P.S. Tallulah says hi. :)

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  13. WOW. So far it looks like a fantastic trip. Nice sunshine, horseback riding, and a yarn store. And doesn't even include being with you sister, and nephew, and a meet up with a blogging buddy.
    Can't wait to hear about the rest of the trip.

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    1. Thanks Beth - it's been great. The concert was amazing and I cleaned up at the outlet store. :)

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  14. What a wonderful trip. The horse riding and scenery looks very special. Juliex

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    1. It was so beautiful up there. Thanks Julie. )

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  15. What an amazing birthday gift! I felt like diving through my computer screen into Colorado and to see those deer and amazing scenery. Wow Mrs. M, I hope you enjoy the rest of your very special time. I'm like you and would definitely have to squeeze a visit in to a local yarn shop,for sure ;o) xox Penelope

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    1. Thanks Penelope - we went to another yarn shop yesterday - equally amazing. I didn't buy anything but coveted quite a few things! :)

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  16. How very lovely....what a great gift! The scenery looks awesome there, and to see it on horseback seems pretty perfect. I do hope that you enjoyed/are enjoying the rest of your trip

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  17. Oh lucky, lucky you!!!
    I grew up in New Mexico and long for the scenery you are in right now! Horses and all.
    (And lavender is one of my favorite colors too.)
    Have fun!

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    1. Thanks, N.W. - we did. (I'm home now.)

      It's always very hard to say goodbye to the high desert and the mountains and the fresh clear air.

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  18. Gorgeous scenery ... I used to be a pretty good horsewoman but these days I think I'd be as stiff as you were ... worth it for those views though :)

    I do hope the rest of your weekend was as enjoyable x

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    1. Thanks Annie, it was. A good rub of the knee tendons sorted most of that stiffness, for me at least, though we could all feel our "sit bones" the next day. :)

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  19. Beautiful scenery! Love the look of the mountains.

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    1. They are indescribably beautiful and majestic - and the farther you go in the better they get. :)

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  20. P.S. Looking forward to the giveaway!

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    1. Me too - now I have to find some other things to include. Chocolate for one. :)

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  21. Gorgeous birthday gift I must say!
    I loved so much going up hills with you :) I never rode a horse, and it's one of my dreams.
    The yarn seems to be nice, I like the color.
    Have a wonderful day, Mrs. Micawber!

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    1. Thanks Anna. I had not been on a horse since childhood - and then I only did it once or twice. So I was a beginner, but luckily the horse knew what he was doing. :)

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  22. Thank you for sharing your birthday gift! And Tallulah's question to the bobble made me laugh out loud.

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    1. We laughed a lot in the yarn store ... and even more on the plane ride home. :)

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