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Cruisin’ on the River; It’s a Sign; Arkansas State Parks; Puppies are Chick Magnets! Blue Beacon; In the Treetops; Burnt Ends with Great Friends; W-holy You! Aurora, Colorado – A tale of Mosquitoes, Friends and EMTs; Steamboat Springs; 25th Anniversary; Carbondale; Mt. Sopris; No Beer for Nellie!

For those of you who haven’t had the privilege of living on the Mississippi River, here is a shot of a river cruise ship off Natchez, Mississippi.  I have never spent any time on these ships, but I suspect that the food ain’t too bad and the booze flows readily…. 

The City of Natchez obviously has rule(s) about mask(ing)… but if you’re an English teacher, beware!

Next stop, Marianna, Arkansas, at Mississippi River State Park. This bench has a terrific view, and was located only 25 yards from our campsite. Lots of boating and fishing here, and bike riding along lightly used trails and back roads. 

Okay, so everyone has cute puppies, right? Well, Rusty and Nellie are in that category as well… Rusty (on the right) is only 7 months old, while Nellie is 19 months. She is a svelte blonde, while Rusty is a “tank”… sort of a canine “Arnold”…. and he is all boy! But they are both “chick magnets”. MLB is careful not to let me out with them unchaperoned for more than five minutes at a time, because the girls flock to them!

Here is our new/old (2008) coach just after getting a bath. The guys/gals at Blue Beacon truck/RV washes around the country can do the job in 10 minutes, whereas I would take two hours; let’s see, who gets the job?… duh! Well worth the moderate price!!!

Hiking is one of my passions; it’s nice to find another hiker along the trail to enjoy it with! (She is cute…)

This old fire tower in Roaring River State Park, Missouri, provided a nice hike and climb to the top. You are literally in the treetops when you get to the top of the tower!

Okay, onward to Lee’s Summit, Missouri, for Suzanne’s W-holy You Retreats at Unity Village. On our first night there, we had a great BBQ dinner with Guy and Mary Swanson (Guy is the COO of Unity World HQ), and Jim Velghe, a dear friend, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. If you’ve never had Jack Stack’s Burnt ends, you haven’t lived!  

Suzanne’s two W-holy You retreats were both “sold out” and very well received. (Special thanks go out to Bev Garlipp, Lynette Setzkorn, Debbie Henson, Nancy O’Neal, and Mindy Spitz for their extraordinary efforts to make the two weeks go so smoothly.) Participants were very receptive and eager to learn. An added bonus was Candace Blair, a friend from Hilton Head. Candace is an amazing kundalini yoga instructor, and also a gong and sound healer. Candace and Suzanne performed a gong bath/sound healing session at both retreats.

In between retreats, My Lovely Bride and I got out for a couple of long bike rides on the Lee’s Summit Bike Trail, which runs along the old Rock Island Railroad line for about 18 miles. Not too bad a climb, and much of the route is shaded, a real advantage during summer heat. It was hard keeping up with her, but putting lead weights in her bike bag helped!

Our next stop was Aurora, Colorado, where we stayed at Cherry Creek State Park, a beautiful oasis in the Denver metro area, but which had the most vicious and prolific mosquitoes I have ever encountered (and I grew up in the South!). “Oh, we had a very wet Spring.” “And do you spray insecticide here, like we do in Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina?” “Oh, no, that would be hurtful to the environment…” Duhhhhhh……..

On the positive side, while in Aurora, we linked up with Anne and Mel Wernimont – Anne had attended Suzanne’s retreat, and asked that we stop and see them in Aurora. Mel and Anne are both psychologists, and their lovely home and garden are right out of a magazine. Our dinner was “over the top gourmet”, and we had great fun sharing stories.

While in Aurora, Your Humble Correspondent had a serious lower back problem… I had never before experienced pain level 10 of 10 – it was like a knife stabbing me in the lower back. Unable to get out of bed one morning, I asked Suzanne to call 911, and we had a fire engine and crash truck at our campsite in about 10 minutes. The firemen and EMTs were super, and wrapped me up like a burrito in a portable stretcher (really just a tarp with handles) and delivered me to the Aurora Medical Center ER. Six hours later, after being treated with morphine, Flexeril, Prednisone dose pack, local anesthetic, Tylenol, Advil, and lidocaine patches, I was back on my feet, albeit a bit unsteady. The really amazing thing was that I had been in the exact ER treatment room five years ago, being treated for a mountain bike injury…. I’m thinking that Aurora isn’t in my travel plans for a few years!

From Aurora, we went up to Longmont to have some work done on the bus, and to visit our dear friends Charlie and Elaine Cunis. Regrettably, I forgot to take pictures, but we owe Colonel Crusty and Elaine at least one (if not two) more dinners for Navy’s losses to Army in football; we are looking forward to that opportunity in the future!

On to Carbondale, Colorado… but due to I-70 being closed due to mudslides, we had to add a day to that trip and rerouted through Wyoming and Steamboat Springs, CO. Steamboat is one of our favorite stops – it’s a neat ski town with lots of great shops. Our campground was small and intimate, 7 miles out of town, just what we needed after the hustle and bustle of the Denver metro area with its traffic and weed shops on every corner…

On to Carbondale, about 30 miles north of glitzy Aspen. We always stay in the city’s Gateway RV Park on the Roaring Fork River; this was our fourth visit there. We were there over the Independence Day weekend (older readers may recall the significance of that holiday… it’s much more meaningful than “just a day off”.)  It was gratifying to see Old Glory proudly displayed on Carbondale’s main Street.

But wait… there was another celebration that meant a lot – our 25th wedding anniversary, which we celebrated in a gourmet restaurant in nearby Glenwood Springs. (Am I a lucky man, or what?) Neither of us could believe that it’s been 25 years… 

On the way back to the car, Suzanne posed for this great photo.  Yellow butterflies have special meaning for us, as they were signs sent to us by our daughter Susan just after she died…. You’d think Suzanne planned her outfit for this photo, but we had no idea the wings were there until we “just happened” to stumble upon them.  Thanks, Susan!

Suzanne did a presentation for the Davi Nikent/Center for Human Flourishing Group at the Third Street Center in Carbondale. About 100 people attended, some flying in from California. Thanks to Rita Marsh for all her efforts supporting Suzanne, and also for being our mail collection agent!

Mt. Sopris (12,966 ft.) towers over the Carbondale area. This was the view from our campground of this spectacular mountain. (I would have loved to climb it, but after my back issue the week before, didn’t feel I was up to a 2 or 3 day, 26 mile round trip backpack… sigh… but thanks to Rita Marsh, we now have a beautiful print of Mt. Sopris to hang in our home back it South Carolina! 

We did get a couple of day hikes in; in this shot, Suzanne is standing atop Mushroom Rock, with the Roaring Fork River Valley a thousand feet below.

It was in the 90s during the day in Carbondale, but we thought that a 15 mile bike ride on the Rio Grande Trail would be fun… then we decided that we really needed to have lunch in Basalt, Colorado, which turned the 15 miler into a 27 miler. We look fresh here, but we were both a bit frazzled at the end of the ride…

We took Nellie and Rusty on their first big hike of our summer trip, on the Twin Lakes trail on the flank of Mt. Sopris. Both puppies did very well, trotting along for a couple of miles.  When they slowed down, we loaded them into special backpacks so they could get a lift but still see all around. Mountain wildflowers were in bloom, and it was a beautiful, if warm, day to hike.

Finally, a candid shot of Nellie… she loves to sit between us, and after our hike, I was enjoying a cold brewski – her nose alerted her to something interesting in that bottle that Dog Dad was holding, and he wasn’t sharing! Too bad, Nellie, you’re not old enough to drink beer!




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