A Photo Life Review: Adventures with Laura!

Dad Laura Diane and John small January 1961

Dad and the kids.  The junior world explorer is in red, 1961

Recently I have been on a protracted trip down memory lane. Last night I started looking at all of my photo books, that’s six thick albums! I’m slowly working up to possibly reading my many volumes of journals back to age 14.

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Near the Bridge on the River Kwai, northern Thailand 1973

As I viewed many old photos, one thing struck me. I seem to have forgotten exactly how adventurous my life has been. From 18 on I traveled the world. I started out in Mexico, Bangkok and northern Thailand, then spent months in Taiwan and Hong Kong, traveled up through Malaysia from Singapore, and right before we moved here, the Andes and Cuenca in Ecuador.

Cuenca washing clothes in the Rio Tomba

Yes! Women still wash clothes in the Tomebamba River in Cuenca Ecuador!

Wuzhou

Once, before China was officially open to American tourism, I took a trip up the Pearl River in southern China on what I called “the People’s Ferry.” We arrived in Wuzhou, what appeared to be a town made of mud, and much to our surprise there were PRC government officials there to escort us onto a bus to Guilin, but not before the citizens of Wuhan surrounded us to point and exclaim, “What is that? A foreign ghost!” They had never seen a European or American before.

caribbean blueI visited the Caribbean a number of times, and did a couple island-hopping sails with my first husband, a windsurf instructor and sailboat captain from USVI St. John…

Canyonlands

Locally I started out at Colorado College on a backpacking trip to Canyonlands my freshman year. Half of us got lost and I did flyovers with the rangers until my friends were found. Unfortunately the rangers mixed up our names and called my parents saying I was lost, a fact NOT appreciated by my parents. I then spent years exploring Colorado and Utah. So many hikes, backpacking, ski and river trips.

My first professional library job was in Salt Lake City. Luckily I found the BEST group of friends there, including Roy Webb, who took us on a number of fantastic week-long river trips on the Dolores, the Green, the Colorado, Desolation Canyon, etc. He has been a famous river runner for decades now, and the author of many books about river history.

My first husband pretty much insisted that we go hiking, skiing or backpacking most weekends. Those trips included a number of trips to southern Utah like one memorable backpacking trip down into Escalante Canyon to enjoy “some of the most outstanding hiking opportunities to be found on earth.”

sking

I climbed a few fourteeners in my time, and skied from I-70 up to Shrine Pass (11,089 feet) and then into the tiny town of Minturn twice. I never forgot the glisten of fresh snow on that eleven mile trek.

Mtns and wildflowers

So many great memories, so many wild times…

Now I see how fortunate I was to tackle these physical challenges while I could still breathe well above 7,000 feet. I’ve had bronchitis regularly for decades and in some of the most exotic places! With a recent diagnosis of COPD, alas those days are gone. So happy I spent my youth exploring the world near and far when I could handle long flights, driving long distances and the general risk and chaos of getting off the beaten path.

Mike at home

Now I find myself  in this lovely “soft place to fall” with Mike and Rasta, where I can appreciate how profoundly fortunate I am to have done most of what I wanted to do for most of my life, and I even enjoyed most of it!

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Sand Dunes Hot Springs in Southern Colorado!

When you live in Colorado in winter you need to know that there is somewhere to go to experience a tropical environment just an hour or two away. We go over La Veta Pass to the Sand Dunes Hot Springs for the day. And, BTW, if you’re making the trip anyway, check out Lu’s Main Street Cafe in tiny Blanca, Colorado! Wonderful breakfast menu, best breakfast burrito ever, and amazing, spicy green chili!

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This photo was taken a few years ago, the tropical plants are gigantic now!

The hot springs is only 45 minutes further down the road and so worth the drive! Some new friends turned us on to this place on Valentine’s Day 2016. Such a fun adventure in mid-winter!

Mike at Sand Dunes Pool December 2018

As you can see, the tropical plants have really taken over in the past few years!

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They have a regular-sized swimming pool outside, but we always pay a little extra to go into the adults-only “Greenhouse” with the “Steel Box Bar. This natural hot springs fits the bill when winter’s got you down. With tropical plants everywhere and featuring 3 small soaking tubs with varying temperatures, a 10 foot by 75 foot zero entry pool complete with water fountain feature, a 10 person sauna, gardens, numerous deck and patio spaces, and an onsite libation stop. You can relax for hours as the old, fun Boomer songs fill the air.

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They also have a few interesting features like a plant stand made out of an old piece of driftwood. How cool is that?  Check it out sometime…so worth the drive!

A Genuine Colorado Country Christmas

First I saw the funniest FB announcement yesterday! On our community bulletin board it said:

“Has anybody lost this chicken?” with a picture and everything.

You’ve just got to love living rural. And the chicken did find his way home too!

fresh Christmas tree 2018

Then we went out to cut our own tree! Pretty nice huh?

Bright Sahara Christmas Tree 2018

We decorated last night…

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…and this morning we had a new coat of six inches of snow!

It feels just like Christmas!

We have fallen in love with living in tune with the sun and seasons, waking up each day amazed to find ourselves in such a beautiful, quiet, natural place…

memoir of retirement 2016

Are you ready to follow your dreams? Here’s how we found ours!

Please feel free to contact me at: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com to order any of my books as Christmas gifts for family & friends who are struggling with midlife mayhem!

& Please follow us on TWITTER!

An Amazing Week of Spanish Peaks Sunsets!

Those of you who come to this area just for the summer are really missing out on the best sunrises and sunsets! This week they just keep getting better…

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This is the daily view from our home.

Some have suggested that it is the strong winds here that create the complex cloud arrangements over the peaks at dusk. I don’t know…

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I just know I love having front row seats to this kind of momentary natural beauty!

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Last night I was sitting in my living room trying to resist taking one more photo of our sunsets. I mean, how many do I need? But then this happened right at the end of the day. See what I mean? Who can resist taking a picture of that?

Who can resist feeling gratitude when we are given such fantastic gifts each morning and evening?

Walsenburg and La Veta, a tale of division between two great Colorado towns

Walsenburg city limits signEver since we decided to move down here to southern Colorado in late 2013, I have been studying these two towns. Although only 16 miles or twenty minutes apart, they do differ greatly in style and substance. When we moved here to rent, while building our solar home in Navajo Ranch, I preferred to live in La Veta, but it cost so much more than Walsenburg, that we were happy to find a very hard-to-locate rental near downtown Walsenburg.

Yes, I did have a hard time adjusting to life in Walsenburg. The best way to describe my feeling was culture shock. Coming from a thriving and popular city like Fort Collins, I felt initially let down. And yet what I eventually discovered is that what I found most different here, like few traffic lights or traffic, felt both strange and better. I mean who wants to spend the rest of their life standing in line in traffic? I did struggle at first with the lack of places to buy anything besides groceries. My other difficulty was making real connections with town people. I found most friendly, but also quite hesitant to welcome strangers into their life.

View of La Veta valley from highway

One day when I felt lonely in our first summer in Walsenburg, I drove over to La Veta to shop and hopefully meet new people. There I found most folks I met more friendly and open to talking to a stranger. I felt like I fit in a bit better. Eventually I started attending exercise classes in La Veta and made a few friends that way. As I spent more time with “La Veta people” I learned that they rarely went to Walsenburg for anything except groceries. Most knew very little about the small town 16 miles east of them. I also learned that La Veta people are much more likely to go elsewhere in the winter, usually to warmer climes.

Because we live halfway between Walsenburg and La Veta we must choose which way to go whenever we need something. Now that my La Veta friends have left for the winter, I feel more motivated to get to know more Walsenburg people and a recent “Lunch & Learn” put on by the Spanish Peaks Business Alliance seems to be pushing me in that direction.

Here is my dilemma: Why do most of the people in Walsenburg not hang out with La Veta people? There seems to be some sort of great divide between these two towns, which I don’t understand or appreciate. I believe the folks in these two towns could really help each other out if they would start working together to improve the economies of both towns. Those of us who are relatively new here notice this ‘great divide’ more than the locals. I would love to do something about it.

There must be some way to get a grassroots movement going to introduce Walsenburg people to La Veta people so we can all work together for the common good!

memoir of retirement 2016Please feel free to check out my memoir about choosing to leave a lively, popular Colorado city behind (Fort Collins) to move to rural southern Colorado. We built a passive solar home for our retirement and love it! So many feelings when you make a major life change like this! This book is available in paper or e-book through Amazon or direct from me at: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

The Colorado Spring Fire: Deja Vu

Galena Fire March 2013As the death toll continues to rise in both northern and southern California, I cannot help but remember this past summer, when we were evacuated from our home for the Spring Fire. For one week we watched and waited to see if our area would survive bone dry conditions and high winds. Luckily we received a good rain just in time to quell our fires and save most of the area, except for homes west of here in the mountains. They were burned down before the nation’s firefighters arrived to save this valley and the town of La Veta.

Words cannot describe my anger at our ridiculous president for criticizing anyone whose home is burning down before their eyes. Or worse, who died simply because the fires came through so quickly that there was no way to escape. Who is this IDIOT, criticizing those who risk their lives everyday to save the lives of others?

Those who are suffering now in California will suffer for the rest of their lives from this kind of trauma. It is impossible for those who have not experienced something like this to truly understand the feeling of loss and hopelessness when everything you know goes up in smoke before your eyes. Think about these poor souls as you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner or gather around the tree at Christmas…

P.S. I feel no sympathy for those stuck in traffic on the East Coast right now. Try burning to death sometime!

My Salute to Local Entrepreneurs!

NICE view of sunflowers in garden and Spanish Peaks summer 2017

The Spanish Peaks of Southern Colorado

I had the very good fortune yesterday to attend a WONDERFUL lunch and learn presentation by the Spanish Peaks Business Alliance. What an enthusiastic and friendly group! To put this into context for those of you who live in large metropolitan areas, we live in a 1,600 square mile rural southern Colorado with only 6,700 souls total in the whole county. Consequently, starting and keeping businesses going here can be no small feat.

The first person I met was Michelle Tschetter of Zoomadesign.com, a passionate, professional young woman who “enjoys creating branding and websites for her clients with no sales pressure and unnecessary add-ons.” She’s very new to town and comes from Loveland, the last city I lived in before moving here. Loved connecting with someone from my previous town and talking about developing a broader social media presence for my writing and books.

Michelle then introduced me to Sarah Jardis, who helped put together yesterday’s great event. She has been here only about two years, but couldn’t keep from signing up for a number of volunteer positions here. She’s already a member of the Spanish Peaks Tourism Board, attending numerous business conferences all over our state to learn more about putting this gorgeous area on the Colorado map.  I love her energy and intelligence when it comes to improving life for all of us down here!

One of the first presenters was Carlton Croft, an account executive with KSPK Radio, our own local station. I hadn’t ever considered local radio advertising for my tiny business until I had a short talk with Carlton at the end of the meeting. He’s another new transplant to this area. We had a good talk about the culture shock one can experience when moving here from the big cities up north.

I must also mention the excellent lunch provided by the Ryus Avenue Bakery. Their pizza is whole wheat and fantastic, as well as their soups and cookies!

I left this meeting all fired up about working cooperatively with most of the business people I met. Just what I was looking for down here!