What season is this?

This past week, our high temperatures have been in the 50s more times than we would like and today, we watched a storm that turned Pikes Peak white down to timberline! I’m thinking it’s about time to head for a warmer climate! One more week here at 9200 ft might just about do me in.

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We are so spoiled to having most of our meals cooked for us during the summer here at Golden Bell and now that summer staffers have gone home to start school and the campers are gone, we’re passing cooking duties around among the volunteers. This week we were thankful for tarps to put around the pavilion in the RV park and a wood burning stove inside while we enjoyed ham and beans and cornbread with good friends. Envy us!

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Dale and Judy Foster from Gardner, KS have already gone home but the rest are from California, Alabama, Kansas and Colorado. The tallest couple in the pictures aren’t volunteers this year, just familiar campers from Monument, CO. Quite a few have already committed to being here for at least part of next summer, so we have friendships to look forward to.

This weekend has been a “small world” weekend. A church in Woodland Park, Our Lady of the Woods, had a campout here and we met a couple Friday night who told us they had Kansas friends coming later. While they were from western Kansas, we found several friends in common with them and had a good time talking. Then last night, we met a couple from the church, Ted and Kathy Bonner, who are planning to join the full time RV ranks very soon. As we were talking, we discovered that one of LeRoy’s Facebook friends from Wichita is their summer neighbor in Woodland Park! We love giving tours of Liberty, especially to new full timers, so we had a great time with all of our new friends.

During this next 9 days, we have some camp projects to get done while the park is mostly empty. Next weekend is Family Camp at Golden Bell and the RV park will be full again. The bathroom floors need to be painted and that’s tricky when there are people in and out all the time. We’ll see how that goes and we’ll get our things stored away to be able to leave once the Labor Day crowd is gone.

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Man (and woman) at work

In a blog in early June, I wrote about nearly getting stuck in the driveway of our acre.

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The car wasn’t hooked up yet when the ruts came to be and in the rocking back and forth, LeRoy backed into a tree at the edge of the yard without realizing it. After we were on the road, we discovered that the rear view camera was skewed. LeRoy worked on straightening it enough to be able to at least see rearward, but knew it would require more extensive help later. Well, this week was “later”. He needed to put washers on it to keep it from pulling clear through the rear cap. The rear clearance lights were broken in the fracas, too, so it was a project. A two-person project, in fact, one on the inside and one on the ladder outside. Since I don’t do ladders if I can help it, guess which job was mine?

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I also happen to be the one who fits in the opening!

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It would have been easier if I’d had longer arms, but all the new lights are now in place anyway and we think the camera is positioned better, although without the car hooked up behind, it’s hard to tell.

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One of the best things about being at Golden Bell is the view of Pikes Peak we have nearly every day and it is available all over the camp. Here in Colorado, the Peak is known as America’s mountain. Today we attended a worship service in the Dan Walker Memorial Chapel on campus. When we were here two years ago, the chapel was a hole in the ground with some footings poured. Today was the first time we had been inside since it was completed. As you sit looking at the front of the sanctuary, Pikes Peak takes center stage, a reminder of God’s wonderful creation.

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In the RV park, there is a bench sitting in front of a perfectly tree-framed view of the Peak. I made a sign to put there this week that says “This view brought to you by Almighty God” and I felt just as blessed seeing that view from the chapel. We’re enjoying our waning time here and praising God for MY mountain!

 

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BIG gap!

Due to several things, it’s been a while since I’ve had pictures for a blog and I tend to think no one wants to know about our day to day activities. Now I can catch up on our time with Jadelyn and since.

We’ve been coming to Colorado on vacations since our kids were very small, but back then we couldn’t afford all the tourist attractions. We did the gift shops, mostly as window shoppers, and hiked a lot. Now that we don’t have the expenses of a house and children, we’re a lot more likely to take the grandkids to places we’ve just driven or walked by. This year, we took Jadelyn on the Molly Kathleen mine tour near Cripple Creek. Other than the ride down 1000 feet in a wire cage elevator, I think she enjoyed it.

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Years ago, they told us that when gold got up to $100 an ounce, it would be profitable to mine and the tours would probably end. Well, gold is more than $1300 per ounce and it still hasn’t happened, so I’m thinking tourism is pretty profitable in itself!

The day we were in Cripple Creek, Hells Angels were congregating there. On the way into town, we saw a group from New York surrounded by police and sheriff cars and as we turned onto the main street, there were bikes everywhere. The other side of the street looked the same and the parking garages were filled, as well.

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We didn’t tangle with any of them. I guess they probably were more interested in casinos than the 2-mile high ice cream cone shop.

Since Jadelyn was on a swim team this summer, we took advantage of the camp pool almost every day for her to swim laps so she wouldn’t get behind on her training. Amazing, though, in the pool she just looks like a head!

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Our favorite place to go out to eat here is McGinty’s in Divide. Two years ago, we took the three grandkids who were with us there for their woodfired pizza, so Jadelyn had instructions from Bailey to eat pizza for her. This was all that was left when we remembered to take a picture. Yum!

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The senior volunteers at camp had been looking for elk all summer and no one had seen any. After we finished our pizza, we drove south of town and just over the hill we saw this group grazing. I think there were about three dozen in all.

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Two years ago when Tim and Heidi came to pick up Ben, Bailey and Jadelyn, they all climbed the 40′ climbing wall to ride the 900′ zip line. This year, since Jadelyn was just recovering from a broken foot, we decided the 400′ was probably a better choice. She and LeRoy still had to climb the tree to get to the nest but it was much less of a climb. Our team, Brent and Bryan Stone and Taylor Rodriguez, did a great job of instructing and encouraging, both on the ground and on the climb.

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Notice that none of the pictures are of me. I think I might be able to zip if I didn’t have to climb to get there, but I’m content to take pictures from the ground.

The trip to Nebraska was uneventful. Google Maps told me that the fastest way was to go was through Denver but I chose to avoid that. Jadelyn made a pretty good navigator since the route we chose was one I’d never taken and my phone decided not to talk to us for the majority of the trip. Heidi and Tim, Ben and Bailey, came for Cait and Jeremy’s wedding on Saturday evening and took Jadelyn home, so I drove back on Sunday by myself. I tried a slightly modified route with a lot less turns and highway changes and got home just in time for a pot luck meal that the senior volunteers provided for the summer staff. We had one uninvited guest, as well.

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This past week we visited one of LeRoy’s high school friends who lives less than an hour from us in the mountains. Dean Wilson and his wife have a beautiful home in a great setting and we had a great time visiting. We’re hoping to see them again before we leave in a few weeks.

One of the things that has been good for us this summer is the forced exercised. Well, it’s only forced if we choose to eat at the lodge and even then we could drive if necessary. Living in a 40′ bus, it’s easy to be sedentary so any encouragement is good. I’ve increased by step goal from 7000 per day at the beginning of the summer to 9000 this weekend. That doesn’t mean I meet it every day but at least I’m trying. Cleaning bathrooms and hanging welcome signs on the various campsites helps!

The summer staff is gone now and the senior volunteer ranks are thinning, too. Three more weeks and we’ll be on to new challenges.

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And one makes three!

After a quick trip yesterday to Colby, KS to meet Heidi, we (LeRoy and Anne and Jadelyn) are now back at Golden Bell in Liberty.

Traveling with grandkids has been a fun experience. Our two oldest granddaughters were already grown when we moved into the bus and have never had time to travel with us. Alma, our college student granddaughter, stayed a week or so with us every summer from the time she was 8 until high school activities got in the way. Mostly she came to visit in Wichita but after we were in Liberty, she flew to meet us for sightseeing in Colorado and Wyoming. Beginning in the summer of 2011, Ben and Bailey spent time with us each summer and there were always two of them to share each experience. Starting three years ago, Jadelyn came along with them and we really had a bus full. This year the twins turned 16 and are busy with jobs, so Jadelyn is here for a week by herself for the very first time.  We’re hoping to do enough fun stuff that she won’t be totally bored! She is still recovering from a broken foot, so even though the “shoe” comes off mid-week, hiking probably isn’t on the agenda. This is beautiful country, though, so we’ll at least explore it from the roads.

Speaking of roads, Jadelyn and I will be exploring some new ones next weekend. My great-niece Cait Wissel is getting married next weekend near Weeping Water, NE and I will take Jadelyn there to meet her mother. We’ll spend the night with my sister Florence Marie, who is the grandmother of the bride. It should be a fun trip, although I’m going to be thankful for Google Maps, since I’ve never traveled that route before. It is our weekend to be on duty in the campground, so LeRoy can’t go along. Someone has to stay and clean bathrooms and pick up trash!

 

 

 

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Typical

This has been a fairly typical weekend in the life of a Golden Bell RV Park camp host, with a few exceptions. It started Thursday afternoon instead of Friday, for one thing. We usually start with a park empty of everyone but volunteers and end with nearly every site filled with energetic campers. This week was maybe even more than typical, since most of the new inhabitants came bringing a multitude of bicycles, along with their young riders. Crossing the road was a real adventure, with children on bikes zipping by intermittently.

Most sites in a winter RV park are filled with travel trailers, fifth-wheels or motorhomes of various sizes and shapes. This summer park is overflowing with tents, all the way from the smallest one or two man tents to the supersized outfitter tent complete with woodburning stove if needed. Tent campers mean several things to us, but one of the most labor intensive has to do with the restroom facilities. RVers tend to use their own facilities, but tents don’t come equipped with toilets and showers, so bathroom and shower usage multiplies exponentially! We’ve been off this weekend, but I know our co-hosts have replaced toilet paper and paper towels, as well as emptying trash and cleaning showers where people walk in with their shoes on and leave mud and pine needles behind. And did I mention hair? Probably my least favorite thing about bathroom cleanup is the amount of other people’s hair that is found all over showers, counters, sinks and floors. Yuck!

We’re about to find out just how many tents and people can be stuffed into a few sites. Usually, by the time we come home from church and lunch on Sunday, the park is back to its sleepy mid-week self. This week, though, a Youth for Christ group from Pratt, KS had already begun unloading as we drove in. The first site I noticed had 3 or 4 four-man tents in it and teenagers were everywhere! Typically this group comes one weekend and sets up, then the following weekend they take that bunch of kids back to Kansas and returns a day or two later with a whole different bunch. Wish us luck!

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God Bless the USA!

Monday was July 4th, the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence calling our country out of servitude to a distant king. In truth, the King of kings did that long before, calling us to be set free through the sacrifice of Jesus. How very appropriate (and yet confusing) that we celebrated our freedoms on Monday prior to the disturbing events of the week that played out across the country. I know there is much I don’t understand. I’ve never been either black or a policemen, so I can’t fully grasp either situation, but as a Quaker and an American, I fail to see turmoil, hatred and violence as a solution. I can’t help thinking about Rodney King’s quote from the early 1990s, “Can’t we all just get along?”

On a brighter note, we did enjoy Independence Day celebrations in Woodland Park this week. Their Old Fashioned 4th of July Celebration throughout the day was a little disappointing to me, since there was very little “old fashioned” about it. We did enjoy visiting the historic cabins in the downtown area and visiting with the volunteers who did the narration for each one. Possibly our favorite was a little girl, probably 11 or 12 years old and dressed in period costume. She knew her stuff and did a great job of telling about the house and its furnishings. The evening’s fireworks were nice and we enjoyed watching and hearing the kids around us oohing and aahing over each new burst.  It wasn’t a long display, only about 15 minutes, but it was very nice.

The best part of the 4th of July celebration here really happens on the 5th. Each year, the Colorado Springs Symphony has a concert in Woodland Park on the 5th. Since Woodland Park calls itself the city above the clouds, this performance is billed as Symphony above the Clouds. This year they had announced that they would be doing music from a bygone era and that included everything from Big Band tunes through McArthur’s Park. When McArthur’s Park is from a bygone era, I know how old I really am! Even worse, Katy Perry’s song Firework was also included! Something missing in the classical, almost operatic rendition of a pop song, it seemed to me, but I suppose the theme of fireworks was carried through. The conclusion to the evening was the 1812 Overture, complete with cannons and fireworks, and all available with free admission. In all the years we’ve been coming out here, we had never attended the symphony before but I’m sure we will in the future.

I’ve been working in the gift shop at the lodge here at Golden Bell when campers are coming and going. I’ve never been in retail sales but I’m adjusting. LeRoy is more comfortable fabricating and building. His project one day this week was a new top for water system pit. After evacuating the ground squirrels who had taken up residence and putting screen over their means of ingress, he built a sturdy, not rusty top to cover it.

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Today we are celebrating our 51st wedding anniversary. We drove to Colorado Springs to worship with the congregation at First Friends Church. It’s really nice to walk in and be greeted by friends from past years of visits and some of them from LONG ago and far away. The greeter at the sanctuary door is the brother of the man (just a teenager then) who introduced us originally and that same greeter is the brother-in-law of the preacher who married us. Lots of warm memories! Here’s to another 50, LeRoy!

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Monsoon season

Monsoon? That’s something that happens in a foreign country, isn’t it? In fact, the very definition of the word monsoon calls it the seasonal wind of the Indian Ocean and S. Asia, blowing from the southwest in summer and from the northeast in winter OR the season during which this occurs, commonly marked by heavy rains OR the rainy season. The first time I heard the term “monsoon season” other than referring to another country was when our son was stationed at Ft. Huachuca, AZ. Tucson has been on the news recently for the moonsoon wind and rains there and the damage that has been done.

It wasn’t until we started spending summers in Colorado that we discovered the afternoon and evening rains we had always taken for granted here are actually the tail of monsoon rains coming up from far into Mexico. And now, it’s monsoon season here again. We’re having cool temperatures just about every day, along with cool, predictably rainy afternoons, sometimes on through the night. We sit comfortably dry and warm in our bus, remembering the nights shivering in a tent reminding our children not to touch the sides of the tent so it wouldn’t leak! For the past week and a half, our park here has been filled with Boy Scout tents and I’ve wondered how many kids woke up with dripping sleeping bags.

The Scouts left yesterday and they have been replaced by holiday campers, getting away from jobs and household chores for the long July 4th holiday. Deer meander through the RV park looking for the corn one of the volunteers puts out and the small children on bikes or on foot are in awe. They just don’t have it in them to be still enough to get close to the deer. Someone always has to run. We enjoy watching that interaction, though.

Early last week we had bus friends stop by for the night.  Facebook first brought us together with Jim Wilkerson and Wendy Crosby (mightybus.wordpress.com) and then we met them in person at a Blytheville, AR rally several years ago. This is the first time since then that we’ve been in the same place at the same time.

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Monday afternoon they drove in, gathering attention as they came. If Liberty gets attention, their bus gets a mega share! Her paint scheme was done by a street artist and is really spectacular.

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And just because you’ve seen the koi on the driver’s side, don’t think you would recognize it from the dragon side.

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In addition to Jim and Wendy, the bus also carries Carmella and Astrid, their pretty cats. Carmella found the chipmunk hiding under the log fascinating. She waited very patiently but she never did catch it.

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Celebrate our country’s freedom wisely and safely. Later!

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