Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadowed!

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Shadowed.”

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

Aren’t wonderful childhood memories the best? We lived in Colorado Springs for six years when I was 4 – 9 or so. My favorite memories are of Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, playing on my sister’s husband’s family ranch, and Glenwood Springs. I was able to take my husband to all these places in 2011, except the ranch! The family moved. But my last picture showed what things I loved about the ranch, the boulders!

So while there on this particular trip, we also traveled to the top of Pikes Peak where I learned “America the Beautiful” was written – in part and was inspired.  So looking at these shadows, helps one see how this song was created:

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Written by Katharine Lee Bates, and the music was composed by church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward.

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 TravelZoo.com, 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.”

Chapter 12 – Our Colorado vacation Part 1

We have lived a charmed and blessed life.  But we have not taken enough vacations, so this is one of our best as we start to enjoy retirement! Our past has given us much time and perspective to look back on our lives as well as to look forward to how we can make the most of what time we have left on this earth. 

I am reminded of Proverbs 16:9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  Heavenly Father, guide us!

As we began our trip, Bill heard about a man who was conflicted on attending the funeral of his ex-mother-in-law.  The man wanted to attend and thought it was the right thing to do even though there were many obstacles.  His new fiance, who was asking for the advice from Dr. Laura, asked if flowers and a card would be enough.  The response was that if the man thinks he should show up, as the newly beloved (the fiancée) she should make it as easy as she can for him to do what he thinks is the right thing. Bill liked the answer which included, “Help him achieve what he values rather than telling him what to value.”

If you love your spouse, you will help them do what they feel is right and then you will support them in their decisions even if you disagree.  And our postscript – if it turns out to be a bad decision, love them, please don’t say, “I knew it was the wrong decision.”  This is part of our BEST Principal (see Chapter 7 – RX for the BEST marriage).  But even better is to pray as a couple about what is right and what WE should do!  We do like to do things as a couple, what is best for our relationship, for our health, our safety?

This is where we are in our lives.  It has been a journey trying to figure out how to live happily ever after, let alone in these tough economic times!  How do we fully support each other in our hopes and dreams?  We started out young, dumb, naive but in love!  But we had so many problems early on (wanting our own way or neglecting to ask each other for our opinion) so it was hard to support each other.  Sadly, like so many, we did not really know or understand what love is.  (see Chapter 5, “Just what is love anyway?”)  We have now figured it out and are doing all we can to support each other!

Bill wants to travel to places he has never seen (that is just about anywhere) and I want to combine our travel to visit family (we have family all over this country that we need to see)!  Bill likes a slow pace, easy-going, no hassles, no schedules, no obligations.  I love life in the fast lane, so much to do in so little time and I am an organizational freak!  Give me a schedule and I flourish!

Do you see any possible conflicts? But after over 36 years together, we have learned to dance in the kitchen (he is the cook and I am the cleaner upper) and in our travels.  Caveat – I can’t keep tune to the beat of any music, so I am not talking ballroom dancing!  I just figured out how to pace myself to him, while keeping myself otherwise occupied or rather, out of his way as he whips up our dinner in 15 minutes or less!

This past week in Colorado was only our second really exciting trip in the past six years – since I retired. Until this week, one of our best and a rarity, was to celebrate our 35th anniversary with our daughter and new son-in-law on a cruise.  In fact, as we look back, we have not taken many week-long vacations!  We’ve actually only had about 5 one week vacations in all those decades.  We got into a habit of long weekends, three or four days.  Why?  Because we are workaholics and just did not feel we could “afford” to take more time off!

So on September 10, 2011, off to Denver we flew!  A week in the mountains – what could be more exciting?  And the bonus, we have a nephew in Denver and a niece, her 3 month old baby and husband in Colorado Springs.  More exciting is that I lived in Colorado Springs for six years, from ages 3 to 9 (or thereabouts).  Ah, the wonderful childhood memories I was able to relive!  Bill was not sure about some of the things I wanted to do, but he supported me.  So we danced together to make this a fabulous vacation!

Hadassah!If you know me, you know I love babies!  Upon arriving in Denver, we meet our niece, Rachel, her husband Fernando and three-month old Hadassah for lunch!  I snatched Hadassah from Fernando and began loving on her!  She is so beautiful and easy to love!  I held her as much as possible and only had to give her quickly to her mom when she was hungry!

Haddassah, Rachel and HannahSo to make things even more special, we were joined by Hannah, Rachel’s cousin. Hannah, a college student, is a gifted dancer!  She is using her talents to grow closer to the Lord in a dance troupe of like-minded students.  We missed her first performance by a few hours, but she sent us a link to watch it!  We are all so proud of her!

After we ate, we ventured downtown without Hannah. I don’t remember Denver being such a beautiful and clean city!  And I even forgot it was the Capitol – I think the elevation got to me!  We walked around a Memorial Park to Veterans and then strolled downtown.

Bill is musical and performed a sweet melody for me!  Then off we went to our hotel and had a great night sleep to prepare us for our journey to Beaver Creek, a very nice resort in the Rockies.  We had no idea how exciting the drive would be to our destination!  When we lived in Virginia, we enjoyed Shenandoah National Park, taking day hikes on the Appalachian trails.

We are trying to stop and smell the roses. On our journey there, I discovered I needed more gum to help my ears acclimate to the mountains. So the first exit we see is to Buffalo Bill’s grave and a museum on Lookout Mountain. Bill was hesitant to stop there, saying they did not advertise a store….How many times have we been to a museum and they did not have a store?  So he reluctantly took the exit and we had one of our most exciting times of the week!

Exit to Lookout Mountain. House on a hill. Water Carves Canyons.

The view up to the top of the mountain was breathtaking, as was almost all of the Rockies and the blue sky! It was a long, winding steep road up to the top. Amazingly, we saw hundreds of bike riders on the way up and down! That is what these people do for fun!

Anyway, at the top, we took time out to learn about the legendary Buffalo Bill (a scout, showman and visionary), saw the grave site he picked out (because he said you could see four states from the view) and visited the informative museum.  It was well worth the diversion from our trip to the resort.  And we were able to buy me some gum to help my ears in the elevation!

Later that day, we arrived in one of the most beautiful resorts we could imagine, Beaver Creek. It is nestled in Avon and just down the road from Vail.

Click here for the next blog with more pictures and details about our fabulous vacation. I will also be able to relive some of my favorite childhood memories!