Chapter 23 – Aspen!

The most photographed place in Colorado, The Maroon Bells

We recently traveled to the Colorado Rocky Mountains for a vacation (September 2012).  We spent one day in Aspen, having timed our trip to capture the shimmering gold Aspens during the peak fall season.  Little did we ever expect we would stumble on the most photographed peaks in Colorado!

Just a few of the photographers.

We used TripAdvisor to help us select places to hike and to see. We were warned that while this is the most beautiful sight to see, it is very popular and to expect crowds!  Well, not on the day we went!  While there were a number of people taking similar photographs, we felt we were nearly alone once we began our hike up the Maroon Scenic Trail Hike.  This spot is the trailhead to at least two different hikes.  So after taking several pictures we started off to the left for our easy hike.  There was a much more strenuous hike to the right, but we knew as we were still adjusting to the altitude, it was to the right for us!

One the hike, we were so pleased to enjoy the solitude!  For the most part, we were nearly alone on the hike. That is our preference as I am sure it is with other hikers….

Our quest in life is to live as we believe God intends:

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:7

We are most sensitive to His calling in our marriage, so we are not only sharing our struggles and victories in our marriage with this blog, but we are honestly trying to be a better husband and wife to each other!

So as the peaceful setting is disrupted, almost out of a television sitcom, we hear a woman saying, “I thought you knew which way to go! This is not right! Where are we? I knew I should have taken the lead! I HAVE been here before. This is ridiculous!”  Or something to this effect!  Here we are in this most tranquil setting and this woman is chewing her poor husband out!  We ended up stopping to chat with them for a few minutes and learned they were looking for Crater Lake Trail.  We had looked at it and at this late in the day, 3:00 pm, to try to tackle that hike would not be wise.  It is considerably higher, much more strenuous (although this hike was nearly a walk in the park) and the weather could turn severe without warning!  The woman informed us she was an experienced hiker, hiking many 14ers (mountains over 14,000 elevation)!  Her husband did not look as fit as us, remember, we live in Florida at sea level and the most we hike is over a sand dune! But she insisted they needed to find it! Bill remembered the sign and they went off on their merry way, well, the dog seemed merry anyway!

It was so disturbing to witness her berating her husband, we vowed to say the word “Aspen” IF and whenever one of us steps out of line!  “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife” (or spouse to be politically correct) Proverbs 25:24.  But honestly, Bill has never been the quarrelsome one and we think the Bible knows it well, it seems the wife is usually the one to do the nagging!  So on our way back to hour hotel, fully grasping the beauty of the day, we vowed to never need to say to one another, “Aspen!”  May we continue to live in the peace that passes understanding!

Chapter 13 – Colorado Vacation Part 2

We had no idea what we were in for when we made our reservations at Beaver Creek, Colorado.  We are bargain shoppers, believing we should be good stewards with what God has given us.  “And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?”  Luke 16:15.  I know by many standards, we are wealthy, but we only have any wealth because we began to live by God’s standards in our 14th year together.  We have both always worked, Bill doing “side jobs” for most of his life to supplement our income.  We should have been “rolling in dough” but in fact, we lived pay check to pay check until after our remarriage.  We just didn’t understand the theory of reciprocity:  The more you give the more you receive!  What really solidified it for us was Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender.”  We did not want to be borrowers and slaves! And finally, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:24)

We just heard a great teaching by Pastor Andy Stanley.  To simplify it, he showed how he has taught his children to divide any financial gifts into thirds, putting the money in jars:  1/3 to give, 1/3 to save and 1/3 to spend.  He was surprised to see how his children’s spending jar stabilized as their giving and saving grew!  And that has been how it is with us.  The more we give, the more we save, the more we have!

All this to say, we bargained shopped for this vacation!  Bill has subscribed to, where we find many bargains!  We had two free tickets to fly on Jet Blue (that is another story) and I have been wanting to go to Colorado.  Bill saw a bargain at Beaver Creek.  I asked some relatives about Beaver Creek and none had been there, but heard it was nice…so that was all we needed.  Upon arrival, we found out that is a very elite ski resort!  We can’t imagine what it would be like during the ski season, since we don’t like the cold (or snow), the off-season was perfect for us!

Reminiscing, if we had to pick a year to be the best year of our lives, where we consistently were blessed with goodness, it would be 2003 – 2004.  What made it so special was that we decided to start hiking.  We were only about an hour away from the Shenandoah National Park where the Appalachian Trail meanders through hills and valleys!   We were both on great shape and life was sweet!  Soon after, we moved to Florida and our hiking stopped.  We wanted to recapture that with our vacation and we did!

Sunday, September 11, 2011:  We arrived at our resort around 2:00 pm.  The ride there took our breath away, but upon arrival, we continued to be in awe of the majesty of God’s creation!  The sky is so blue in Colorado, unlike our blue Florida sky’s, a deeper blue!  Check in is at 4, but our room was ready! We couldn’t wait to unload our car, change clothes and go for a walk.  We needed to acclimate to the mile high or so elevation above sea level.  So a nice stroll around Beaver Creek was in order, plus drinking lots of water!

One view of Beaver Creek from our room

The mountains took me back to wonderful childhood memories of living in Colorado Springs from about age 3 to 9. Bill loved the mountains we had in Virginia, but they were nothing to what we were experiencing here. We couldn’t wait to go hiking!  But first, we had to get acclimated.   So we strolled downtown and found Beaver Creek, the creek runs right through the town! It was so refreshing!

This is the Beaver Creek!


Overlooking Glenwood Springs

Once at the top of the tram, we had time for lunch before the cave tour. This was the view we had.  I wish I had a 3D camera!

Cave Cross

So my favorite picture inside, as you can imagine, was of an illuminated cross. My picture was not the best, but it was so cool to hear the cave guide point it out to us! Ah, as Louie Giglio shows us, our God is Indescribable and He is everywhere, from the end of the universe, the Hubble Cross, to Laminin, the rebar of the human body! Bill was given a job as we went from room to room, to close the door as we all entered the different rooms! There were about 15 of us, including one young child. He did amazingly well!  A highlight was when the tour guide had us turn off all of our own lights/cell phones and then she turned out the interior lighting. It was pitch black. I thought the child would cry, but his dad had him prepared. Here is a picture of us as we exited one part of the caves onto the side of the mountain.

Cave Ledge

Also on the side of the mountain is a ride, a huge swing that goes 55 mph! No thanks, we passed and were just happy to stand on the ledge!

Next was to go to the hot springs lodge and enjoy the huge swimming pool from the natural springs. What a joy to relive a childhood memory!

Bath house
Hot springs pool

I didn’t remember the swimming lanes from my childhood memories. But I certainly used them on this day! The water temperature is always 105. That works best when it is cool or even cold outside. In fact, I remember being here with snow on the ground! It was about 85 degrees but the air was still cool, a bit of a breeze.

As I finished typing this, speaking of breezes, two neighbors came over for coffee and tea yesterday. We sat out on our lanai (or patio for northerners) and enjoyed a nice breeze rustling in the trees. My neighbor, Eileen, said it reminded her of a scripture, Psalm 96:12: “…let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”