Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Violet-green Swallow

It happened again. I was dressed in my jogging shorts, t-shirt and speedy runners; headphones in my hand, ready to head to the gym when Bill came home from flying and asked if I'd rather go hiking. Heck yes! We headed to the north end of Palmer Park - my favorite part. The hiking is more technical and challenging - but the views are beyond compare. I'm excited to share some of the pictures I took.

This Violet-green Swallow made my day. He was perched fairly close and the sun was in exactly the perfect position. Look at those colors!

My goal for the day was to get a decent picture of a Black-headed Grosbeak so I was pleased when we spotted this one early in the walk.

The view of Pikes Peak from the top of the trail is gorgeous. We were at an elevation of about 6600 feet.

This isn't a very good shot of the Downy Woodpecker - but it's the best of the couple I was able to get before he scooted around to the other side of the tree and disappeared. We haven't seen many this year and only saw one in the yard since returning from Florida. Last year they were daily visitors so we don't know what has changed.

This afternoon I'm heading over to Colorado College to sit in on my son's Colonial Numismatics class. I hope he doesn't call on me to answer any questions!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Right Around the Corner

I haven't done anywhere near enough hiking in Palmer Park lately. So, the other day when Bill and I were on our way to the gym for our usual boring workout, and he said - "we should go hiking instead," I couldn't get my hiking shoes on fast enough! Palmer Park is an uncut gem set in the center of this sprawling town, and right around the corner from our house.

The Towhees were thick in the brush. We could hear them singing the entire time we hiked.

We also saw more than our share of Scrub Jays. Their call (you can't call it a song) is nowhere as pretty as that of the Towhee.

Bill spotted this lizard out sunning on a rock.

And I saw this butterfly sipping nectar from a blooming thistle. We hiked a couple of hours, taking it relatively easy as the day warmed. There were lots of runners in the park on Sunday and as we got closer to the end of the trail, we could hear them announcing winners of a race.

South of town, the cactus is in full bloom and I don't remember ever seeing them so beautiful.

And there are lots of them!

All different colors and sizes...

Look, but don't touch!

We stopped at the City Park in Pueblo to see if there were any ducks on the lake. These Geese seem to be there all the time.

I was delighted to see Wood Duck families swimming around. Unfortunately, there are enough geese that the entire area, including the water is a dirty mess - feathers and feces everywhere. Budget cuts have hurt park maintenance throughout the state so there was more trash than I've seen before - and the rest rooms are locked.

This is a Western Grebe and the first we've seen in Colorado. We were at Stem Beach for a "float fly" and there were quite a few ducks on the other side of the lake - too far away for decent pictures.

This was our first trip to Stem Beach - a rather secluded lake south of Pueblo where RC enthusiasts fly float planes twice a month - taking off from the water - and, if all goes right, landing upright back in the water.


Afterwards, we went to the Pueblo Street Rod Nationals. I used to attend Rod Runs on a fairly regular basis in a past life and only cars from 1949 and earlier were allowed. To encourage more participation (and make more money) the National Street Rod Association (NSRA) now welcomes classic cars through the 60's. At first it was odd to see muscle cars next to hot rods - but I did enjoy the variety.

The show was held at the State Fair Grounds. Don't you love the sign over this classic Rolls Royce?

Bill enjoyed looking at the cars and was pleased that there is a hobby that costs more than RC planes - a lot more!

Son John arrived on Saturday to teach at the annual ANA Summer Seminar at Colorado College - an event I once headed as ANA Director of Education. I stopped by to donate some items for the scholarship benefit auction and it was wonderful to see some of the regulars again - especially my "kids." I really do miss the people and the excitement of two weeks totally immersed in education, camaraderie and numismatics.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Need a vase, partial set of dishes or maybe a TV stand?

Bill and I have been working around the house, sorting through our accumulation of "stuff" and getting rid of lots of things we no longer use, need or have room for. I can't believe some of the items I've hung on to - many for years and years! Hopefully, we are doing our kids a favor so they won't have quite as much to sort through when the time comes - and they won't have the burden of deciding what to do with the pretty blue candy dish with the crack and the missing lid that belonged to some long-gone ancestor, or those size 6, 8 and 10 clothes that I've hoped to get back into for so long that they would be a hit at the "vintage" consignment shop.

We staged the garage with areas for 1) trash, 2) Goodwill, 3) sell and 4) undecided-but-it's-not-going-back-into-the-house. Some items made their way through all four piles while others that I thought I could part with - I couldn't, and hauled back into the house. Sometimes it's hard to let go. At one point, I burst into tears as I unpacked a box from two moves ago and found a small dessert dish with a bunny on it that belonged to my mother. It has a new home - in a display cabinet - inside the house.

Last weekend, we held a garage sale and sold furniture, tools, pictures, nick-knacks, kitchen wares, books and out-dated electronics for next to nothing - probably more than some of it was worth. Looking at the amount of stuff that's left, I wonder if I imagined that the nice young neighbor hauled away 4 tables and the 2 men that spoke not a word of English really took the television, table saw, highchair, old suitcases and folding cot (that we never used).

I've also sorted through all my numismatic collections. Next week is the ANA Summer Seminar at Colorado College and I have boxes of things that I'm donating to the auction that raises money for seminar scholarships. Son John arrives tomorrow to teach at the Summer Seminar and I have a box of things for him to take back to New York and another couple of boxes for him to help me sell.

All this rambling should answer the question why I don't have many pictures to share - even though I haven't written a blog entry in a couple of weeks.

We did take a break for a couple of hours on Sunday and went to an RC event east of town. This cute little chipmunk was watching from the side of a dirt access road.

The RC airplanes were taking off and landing within 10 feet of where this Horned Lark was hunting in the grass for insects.

On the way home we detoured into a lovely upscale community where all the homes had access to the runway of a private airport nearby. It looks odd to see a private jet parked outside the garage!

Back at home, Bill is working on a new remote control model airplane - a float plane. Notice where he tested it to see if it would float. It did and this weekend he is taking it to a lake near Pueblo to test it out. This weekend is also the Pueblo Street Rod Nationals - so we may have to stop and look at the old cars.

We have a beautiful Hibiscus that is just full of buds. I received the plant as a gift from Bill's sister Terri when I retired. Our very good friend, Nancy has taken it home for the past two winters and taken wonderful care of it. Last year, it had bugs and she carefully removed them and treated it with a natural insecticide - now that's a good friend! Thanks Nancy!

This is a baby crow and he hung around the yard for a couple or three days yelling MAW, MAW. She never answered. He could fly - but not well - probably just out of the nest.

Bill took pity on him one of the very hot days and gave him a shower and a drink of fresh water. He's gone now - probably figured out if he wanted to eat, he was going to have to help himself.

On the way to the grocery store, we stopped and watched the Pikes Peak Soapbox Derby for a few minutes.

Dalton was getting last minute directions from his granddad. This is quite an interesting sport for youngsters. The car kits cost just under $1000, but there are lots of sponsors to help defer the costs.

Kyle was one of the younger contestants.

Even good ole Ronald McDonald came out to cheer the kids on.

And the winner at 29.43 seconds is.....

Today is Friday and that means dance class! Bill and I take Line Dancing at the local Senior Center. What a hoot! I don't have a clue what I'm doing - but it's fun and excellent exercise. We are trying to get ready for the Friday night dances back at OTOW.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Baby Chickadees

The baby Mountain Chickadees in our birdhouse are growing up and, like most teenagers, are more demanding.

This little guy is hungry and is demanding food RIGHT NOW.

Momma (or is it pops?) returns with a juicy meal worm. We don't know how many babies there are - or whether any have left the nest yet - but we enjoy watching them stick their little heads out waiting for their parents to return with lunch. The parents are good providers and take turns bringing back insects, seeds and bird butter.

We don't have many Hummingbirds in the yard right now - but we spotted several while hiking in Palmer Park the other day.

The Spotted Towhees were singing every where in the park.

Bill spotted this marmot out on a ledge. He looks like a big squirrel.

The yuccas are in full bloom all over the park. Even at their prettiest, I don't think they really are. It was nice to get out and hike in the cool of the morning. We broke heat records for a couple of days with temps in the mid-90's but today is rainy and cold.

We were hoping to have a garage sale this week-end and try to get rid of some of our clutter - but the weather has not cooperated so we closed up shop until next week-end when it is supposed to be nicer. Please let me know if you need any dust catchers as we have plenty of extras.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Royal Gorge Railroad

Colorado has some great train rides - and there is no better way to see the beautiful scenery our state has to offer than to take a leisurely ride through the countryside. Six years ago, on one of our very first dates, Bill and I road the dinner train through the Royal Gorge. The ride was memorable for the fabulous food, awesome views and, of course, the wonderful company.

Last week, Bill and I again road the train through the gorge. The scenery was just as awesome with the Arkansas River running high and wild from the melting snow.

And the company was again memorable. This is Bill with his eldest daughter, Laura and her hubby, Tim. We always enjoy our time with them.

Since we were on the afternoon trip through the gorge and back, we did not have a meal, although Tim and Laura enjoyed what looked like delicious Bloody Marys.

After dinner at the White Water Bar and Grill, we went up on Skyline Drive to see the dinosaur tracks. This is a Ankylosaurid footprint.

All of the outcrops are dinosaur footprints and there were ancient fossils everywhere.

Click on this image and you can read about them.

The view from the top of the narrow one-way road was spectacular. Nice way to end a great day!

Yesterday, Bill and I took a ride out east of town. The terrain is mostly open prairie - horse and cattle ranches. This Horned Lark was sitting along the side of the road. We saw several more on our travels, but this one was the only one showing how he got his name.

This picture is for you, Nancy.

Momma Kingbird was tending her eggs...

... while papa waited patiently nearby.

Quite a collection! Our friends tell us this farmer not only collects antique windmills, he rebuilds and restores them.

Bill spotted a large herd of Antelope in an open field. When I got out of the car to get their picture, most of them dispersed - but these three youngsters wanted to have their picture taken and posed nicely for the camera.

We still have lots of birds at the backyard feeders. The Lesser Goldfinches have finally arrived and they entertain us while jockeying for position on the thistle feeder. The males do not like to share! The Mountain Chickadees are still busy bringing food back to the birdhouse. We expect the babies to fledge any day now. It's early enough in the season that mom and dad might raise a second family before cold weather sets in.

Last week, Bill and I drove to Kansas City to meet up with daughter, Pamela. She was there for a conference and I just couldn't miss the opportunity to spend some time with her. This view of the Kansas City skyline was taken from the World War I National Museum.

Pamela took us to a fabulous restaurant (Fiorells's Jack Stack Barbeque) for ribs, fries, cole slaw and some of the best baked beans I've ever had (thanks Pam!). It was a long drive (10 hours each way - through Kansas) but worth every minute. Two nights in a cheap motel: $175; gas, $60; spending time with Pamela, PRICELESS!

In other news, we've started dance classes. Every Friday morning, we head to the Senior Center for line dancing lessons with 60 or 70 other energetic oldsters. What a hoot! I don't have a clue what I'm doing - but it's fun (and great exercise) anyway. We may add another class on Thursday nights.

While I was sitting here working on this blog entry and Bill was in his workshop working on his airplanes, we had a nice surprise - a visit from oldest grandson, Kyle. Since he is in college now, we don't get to see him often - so we were thrilled that he stopped and had lunch with us - catching us up on what he's been doing. Kyle - you are welcome anytime!