OK, now that we got all the repairs, hospital visits, and other nonsense from my last blog out of the way, I want to let you know about the good parts of the trip, Fun Facts and a surprise to both of us.
Rocky Mountain High
We drove through the twisty, turny Rocky Mountains to Grand Lake, Co. I now get it when I hear Rocky Mountain high, and it is not weed-related. The altitude changes everything from your capacity to breathe and walk simultaneously to pressure in your sinuses from the thin air. (Self-diagnosis)
I wore my Buffalo Bills sneakers, and Mitch and I both sported our Bill’s hats. Everywhere we walked, we were greeted with, “Go Bills!” (that was still when we were playing well!) In fact, everywhere we travel, we bond with Bills’ fans!
Grand Lake was an artsy town with plenty of shops (YAY!) and views (YAY!), ice cream!, turquoise, cool people and Buffalo Bills fans.
Fun Fact: Grand Lake
Formed by glaciers less than 12,000 years ago, Grand Lake is most famous for being the largest and deepest of all the natural lakes in Colorado, covering more than 500 acres and plunging almost 400 feet deep. OK, the deep end of a pool is maybe 6 feet maybe a bit more! Add 394 feet to that! It has history dating back to the mining boom and wild west!
On October 1st, we landed in Aspen to watch the Bills game, celebrate my birthday, STAY IN A HOTEL and shopping! So many women looked like tall models! As Mitch’s grandmother used to say, “they were all dolled up!” While I schlepped around in my Bills gear…
Fun Fact Aspen
Aspen records about 300 days of sunshine, annually. In contrast one site indicates my region near Buffalo, NY gets an average of 155 sunny days per year. Aspen is located 7,945 Feet above sea level so the weather in Winter can drop to a chilly 0°F. Buffalo’s temperatures can drop to 0°F without climbing to 7,945 feet! (We boast 600 Feet above sea level)
Black Canyon National Park
Our next stop was Black Canyon National Park at Gunnison (Colorado). Yes, I write these names down. Mitch memorizes everything, and I am busy taking notes of all our locations. My friends Stacie and Tami always teased me about my notetaking (Maybe that’s why I became a writer?), but it is how I process information.
Fun Fact Black Canyon NP
Black Canyon gets its name because some parts of the gorge receive only 33 total minutes of sunlight per day. It is the least-visited national park in Colorado, and one of the lesser visited parks overall. (Not sure why, it’s beautiful to see.)
AND The Biggest Interesting but NOT FUN Fact – If you visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park you’ll notice they do not shy away from the word “death” on more than one page. For every activity taking place anywhere within the canyon (kayaking, climbing, backpacking), the NPS is very upfront that you’re taking on a risky endeavor. But this caution of the dangers regarding anything deep within the canyon is nothing new. I AM GLAD I READ THAT AFTER VISITING THE PARK!
GREAT SAND DUNE
Have you heard of the Great Sand Dune National Park? It combines the beach without water and ski slopes without snow! Mitch and I rented sleds, and we surfed down the hills.
Mitch was braver than me, as you can see from the video.
Fun Fact Great Sand Dunes
Why is there all this sand in the middle of the mountains? Glad you asked. (The dunes were formed by the right combinations of wind, water, and sediment. Creeks and streams brought large amounts of sediment and sand into the valley. The wind then blew the sand toward the bend in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where opposing storm winds helped squeeze the sand into the tall dunes you see today) I Wish I had written that explanation, but Google did a great job! For more information, click here.
On October 8th, we watched a Bills game in the RV campground laundromat in Taos, New Mexico.
Next, we went to Taos Pueblo, a community that is 1,000 years old. The Pueblo is made entirely from adobe. There are still 150 people who live in the Pueblo full-time. Their ancestors lived in this area before Columbus discovered America. The rich history and stories told by our tour guide were enlightening.
Fun Facts About Taos
An ongoing low-frequency noise, audible only to some, is thought to originate somewhere near this town and is consequently sometimes known as the Taos Hum. Those who have heard the Hum usually hear it west of Taos near Tres Orejas. The Taos Hum was featured on the TV show Unsolved Mysteries, and it was also briefly mentioned in an episode of The X-Files.
Not surprising, we did not hear the hum. Mitch can’t hear me when I am sitting right nest to him so I had low expectations for the humming sound.
Santa Fe was our following stop. Ironically, friends of ours, whom we rarely get to find a date to meet when home, were visiting Santa Fe on the same day. So we had dinner with friends and laughed that we had to go to Santa Fe to finally get together!
Fun Fact Santa Fe
Santa Fe was made the capital of New Mexico in 1610. It is the oldest state capital in the United States. It is also the highest capital in the United States at 7,199 feet above sea level. I bet you thought I was going to mention cannabis again….
ALBUQUERQUE BALLOON FIESTA
We met our friends from Western New York (not the Santa Fe couple) who parked behind our RV at 5:45 AM – We were all ready to witness the Dawn Patrol– The balloons were bright, and their fire in the basket belly was vibrating on and off. A beautiful glow of color and anticipation filled the field. Little did I know that this was the appetizer of what was to come next.
Once the sun rose, we witnessed the Mass Ascension. Believe me, when I first heard this, I thought it may be a religious thing. And, I guess, in a way, it was!
The balloons launch in two waves. The launch directors, also known as zebras because of their black-and-white-striped outfits, serve as the traffic cops.
Witnessing all the balloons taking off, colors galore, belly fires blazing, and the crowd in awe. It felt godly to watch this spectacular ascension into the sky.
A question I was asked over and over. Did you go up for a ride? The answer is No. Would I have considered it? Maybe. This event is for watching, but if you are looking for a thrilling ride, Rainbow Ryders is the authorized company that can provide that bucket list checkoff.
I did not go up for a ride but was tempted!
Nobody is going for rides during the event.
But I did get to pretend by standing in a basket with a pilot!
Since I couldn’t go up and away in a balloon, I settled for a bungee trampoline jump!
I asked before I went on if I was the oldest person to jump. Oddly, I was not. There are older, crazier people than me – willing to break bones for a thrill.
A Surprise Ending (or Beginning)
When we got home, we decided it was time for a change. Although we loved being on the road and seeing our country, we also realized it was time to move on from an RV to a smaller ride. Instead of a 24-foot rig, we bought a 13-foot hot rod. It has no bathrooms, no beds, and doesn’t even have a spot for my backpack. But it has a stick shift and a convertible roof!
Mitch and I have wanted a Mazda Miata for 30 years, but it was never the right time. Two weeks ago, we walked into the dealer, not intending to buy a car. The salesperson, Garfield, was not pushy, but he was good! He let us in on a secret: they just received a 2013 Club Miata with a hard top convertible roof and only 8,000 miles.
It happened quickly and we were thrilled with our new ride. The best part is that Jessica can easily get into and out of the car with only a pivot and turn. Of course, she needed full assistance to enter and Decar like Deplane- is that a word- but it was remarkably easy! She loves being my co-pilot and so far has not tried to grab the stick shift from me…..yet….
RV TRIP PART TWO
What a ride this has been – literally!
Thankful For You
I am thankful for my blog readers, and wish you all a Happy and Healthy and Meaningful Thanksgiving
For inspiring stories about Raising a Child with a Rare Chromosome Deletion, check out the 3-time award-winning memoir Raising Jess: A Story of Hope!