Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Alpine Loop

It's a FAMOUS scenic drive
. Well, it's celebrated by the locals, that's for certain.

To do it right, you need the better part of a day so you can stop a hundred times and get out of the car and breathe deeply and really, truly TAKE IT IN.

The road is narrow and winds up and up and up. The altitudes are NOT for the faint-hearted. It's definitely ALPINE terrain and the drop-offs can be rather unnerving.

My mom was game right up until her last month of life - just before her 84th birthday. That was the last time I took her. . . the last of many such excursions, punctuated with countless OOHs and AAHs and futile attempts to describe the majesty with mere words.

Photos are, indeed, a superior modality for such descriptions.

My friend, Ms. Luke and I embarked bright and early, packing several components for our picnic lunch, tossing in a fold-out table and two chairs into the back of the Subaru.

Then a decision had to be made.

Do we take the dog or leave the dog?

Good decision.

We began the ascent on the Sundance Side, as it's called, since the road takes you right past Sundance Ski Resort.
In this shot, you can see the ski slopes just beyond the spectacular splash of autumn colors.

My little Subaru climbed nearly 4,000 ft.

After a gzillion hair-pin turns and many stops along the way,
we selected a place to dine al fresco.

Our chosen spot (with a million-dollar view) was quite close to a trailhead, but away from the road.

Convivial hikers were surprised to go around a bend and find us there with a full-on banquet.

The feast included:

homemade guacamole and chips

swiss cheese

yogurt mixed with raspberries from the farmer's market

veggie salad

hummus and romaine lettuce leaves for dipping

dog food for Chica

a quart of home-canned grape juice crafted from the fruit of Ms. Luke's vines

After our banquet, we back in the buggy,
taking in another round of grandiose vistas.

Sooooo worth the $$$ for a tank of gas.

And that, dear friends, concludes the Autumn Wrap-up.

Did you think it would NEVER end?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Kids on the Move

Extraordinary measures were taken to recover these photos,
which I shot during last month's trip to Ohio where I cared for my grandkids.

Somehow, I managed to erase them,
and so I mailed the memory card to Duano Braino who managed to retrieve them.
Every family should have at least one computer whiz and one doctor.

I hit the jack pot with my dear son-in-laws.

Gotta say, sometimes photos are VERY REVEALING.

For example, the shot BELOW shows my two granddaughters in a tussle.
They were going to have a foot race, but the younger child 'jumped the gun'.

Brinley, the oldest sib, emphatically told her sister Avery that the race needed to be started over.

Well, when words don't work, kids resort to other means.
In this case, it included DRAGGING the the wanton sibling back to the starting line.

Here you see the dragging. At the top of this post, you see the actual foot race after dragging.

(Sometimes it pays to sit behind the camera and give them a chance to work things out.)

I wish Big People could make up as easily as children do.

"Would you like a few tomatoes from our family garden, Grandma?"

Here's Aspen, currently the youngest, whose world will be changing with the expected arrival of a baby sister.

These girls are oozing with healthy imaginations. Their inventive shenanigans include . . .

FLYING with the aid of plastic bags full of air.


I caught some 'end-of-summer' sales with great outdoor play stuff, including these bubble wands.

They were a hit. Grandma SCORES!

However, sometimes this particular granny got a wee bit tired.

One afternoon, I was sort of dozing on the bed while the kids removed ALL the pillows from ALL the bedrooms
and engaged in heavy-duty pillow fight while I listened for cries of injury during my light repose.

By the time my little rest was over,
the pillow fights had concluded (without tears) and here's the sight that greeted me at the foot of the bed.


THE BETTER YOU'LL JUMP, and you just MIGHT make it in the pool.


Splashing is half the fun of a backyard wading pool.

This little gal was trying to create the experience of wearing a beard.
She thinks she's cute.

She is.

How I love catching kids in motion!

Before leaving for Mexico, my daughter counseled "Just sit on the couch and let them dance for you."

Great advice. Taken in large doses.

And they could really CUT THE RUG!

I'm sure missing these kids. They write to me. They skype with me.

But there's nothing like BEING THERE.

(My glasses. Not hers.)

P.S. The special effects on some of these photos were created during a quiet evening of Photoshop Play.
They were NOT the outcomes of my son-in-law's retrieval. His work was absolutely FLAWLESS.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Roughing It in Colorado

Just got back from a trip to Vail, Colorado.

With the RIGHT CONNECTIONS, we landed a suite at a swank lodge. (Not quite roughing it.)

My friend Nancy's son is a concierge for the Ritz Carlton
and he was able to snag accommodations with extraordinary views at a Motel 6 price:

Yes. There's a ski lift right outside our balcony.

The place was practically deserted because it was 'off-season', but I think the season was mighty fine.

This resort is super DOG FRIENDLY.

In fact, dogs are permitted to jump up on the furniture in the lobby:

The St. Bernard on the left belongs to the hotel
and will be available for guests to enjoy dog-walking in the mountains when he grows out of puppy-dom.

Wowie-zowie I was crazy about that furry pup . . .
even though he likes to give slobbery hand nibbles!

Nancy's son arranged all sorts of fun for us,
including nightly meals at upscale restaurants which were FREE, sans tips.

Being the friend of the mother of a concierge comes with amazing benefits.

Here's Senor Concierge (Kenny) with my friend and I jeeping in nose-bleed country:

He arranged for us to go with a guide named Theo who was absolutely fearless
driving on snowy high-country roads at 12,000 ft. altitude without snow tires.

(It was dicey.)

As we ascended, we saw hillsides populated with naked aspens.

It's WINTER up there.

Theo showed us where bears have pawed at the aspen bark.

Coming back down, we returned to autumn, although there was fresh snow on the rugged peaks in the distance.

One evening, Vanessa, the daughter of my friend 'Bonsey', drove up from Aspen, Colorado for a visit.

She joined our three-some for a hike and we ended up getting lost.

It didn't matter. The company was delightful and the laughter between the four of us sustained us.
Eventually, we found a way off the mountain, trail or no trail!

The morning of our departure, I snapped a last photo from the balcony.
The clouds shadowed the tops of the mountain adding to the richness of the colors in the foreground:

It was definitely hard to leave such a luscious place.

During the car trip, I stepped on the brake and pulled over to the side of the road for this unusual site:

Spanish Fork Canyon, Utah. Near the summit.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Seasonal Surprises

Once again, it's been happening.

Why does it always take me by surprise?
After all, it DOES happen every year.

I have proof: 2009 & 2010

So, early this week, I decided to spend a day with AUTUMN.

I do this every year. Well, since I've retired.

I clear off a full day on the calendar and head to the back country.

My 'back country' is about a 20-minute drive from the house.
(Notice front bumper of new Subaru.)

I travel on a well-maintained dirt road . . . where the traffic is literally non-existent.

I set up my lounge chair under a tree that is ON FIRE.

I read a little and hike a little and read some more and gaze a bit and read a little and listen to the nature sounds.

I try not to think very much. It takes away from the experience.

My dog loves spending the entire day romping around out-of-doors.

In the late afternoon, I take the road back home.

It's the only season when the local GIANT of a mountain stands 'naked' without snow.

You can see it behind the choir of reds:

Here's how our mountain looked TODAY:

The angles are different, but I swear to you it's the very same mountain.

When the first snow storm of the season arrives, we find ourselves reeling.

This one literally POUNCED on us.

It was darn sobering after the recent riot of colors.

Actually, this mountain CAN blush with color in the snowy season. . .

for about ten minutes before sunset.

February 2010

We did NOT have those conditions today. Nor yesterday.

However, in spite of this dreary weather,
I'm stimulated by the textures of the mountain facade.

They inspire me to throw in a few 'effects'.

Taken with a telephoto lens from my front porch - today.

Be that as it may, let me just declare, loud and clear,


After all, the O'Henry peaches were just barely harvested and the Fuji apples haven't been picked yet.

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