After dropping Suzanne at the Denver airport for her trip to North Carolina, I drove the coach up to Golden Gate Canyon State Park, north of Black Hawk, Colorado, for some hiking. GGCSP has 36 miles of hiking trails in its 12,000 acres, located in a ruggedly beautiful area of the Front Range at elevations from 8,000 to 10,000 feet. Snowline was up around 11,000, but the weather was still crisp and dry, except for the occasional passing afternoon thunderstorm.
My best day found me hiking 11 miles on the Coyote, Mule Deer and Raccoon trails, which ranged from easy to very difficult.
Because it was mid-week, there weren’t many other hikers out. This was a typical scene; trees, a well-defined trail, and no one else in sight.
This was one of the few relatively flat sections of trail, often used by mountain bikers. The trees were mostly aspen or Ponderosa pine, with a few hardwoods mixed in.
My favorite trail (and the hardest) was the Coyote Trail, which is only a couple of miles long, but very steep. This section of trail was typical – lots of rocks, and a few places where scrambling was required. I only met two other hikers on this trail, both older than me! (Unfortunately, I forgot to get a photo and their names.)
There were several mountain bikers on the Mule Deer Trail. This guy was screaming down the incline and having a ball…
There are only a handful of small ponds here; this one is called Dude’s Fishing Hole. Seriously. I didn’t have a license, so the trout were safe…
While Suzanne was on travel, I also had several free days in Golden, Colorado, a fun town with lots of young people on bikes. I rode almost every day, and got to see most of the city, at least from the saddle of my bike.
At one point, I came upon a wedding scene; a photographer was capturing this couple for posterity, and I thought, “Maybe I should change my hair style… wouldn’t Suzanne be surprised?”
While in Golden, I met Bev Garlipp’s nephew, Jeff Clark. Jeff lives in the Denver area, but works for the Post Office only minutes from my campground in Golden. He took me for a tour of Lookout Mountain and Idaho Springs, an old mining community founded in the 1850s during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. It’s now a tourist town and a bedroom community for a ski area, and we had bison burgers for dinner at a brew-pub. Jeff was a very gracious host, and I really appreciated his taking the time to show me around.
While riding around Golden, I saw a group of guys practicing river rescue in the ice cold rapids of Clear Creek. As one big guy walked by, I introduced myself and asked him where they were from. Mark Seaton told me that they were volunteers from across the country, and that he was from Minnesota. I mentioned that I knew a few people from his lovely state, one of whom, Terri of the Frozen North, lives in a town with a really funny name, Coon Rapids. Mark said, “Well, in fact, I’m a firefighter in the Coon Rapids Fire department.” Fortunately Mark has a good sense of humor and didn’t throw me into the rapids for besmirching the name of his home town…
On the same ride, I came upon some street musicians (buskers?)… I was amazed to find that they were indeed outstanding classical musicians. Named The Young Trio, Michael and Napashnee are eighth graders, and little Kate is a sixth grader! I could have stayed for hours, but I had to get back to our puppies, Rudy and Gretchen.
I did have one dinner out in Golden, Bang Bang Shrimp at the Bonefish Grill. I sat down at the bar for my meal, and started talking to the couple next to me, Bob and Myrna. When I mentioned that I was from New Orleans, Bob turned to show me the logo on his purple and yellow jacket – Rock ‘n’ Bowl, a world-famous bowling alley/restaurant/jazz music emporium on South Carrollton Avenue, mere blocks from where I lived as a youngster in the Mid-City section of the Big Easy.
Suzanne had a great five days in Raleigh-Durham, NC. She was keynote speaker at the Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies (ASCS) and taught her Serving Spirit course over the weekend. Bev Garlipp, Suzanne’s amazing assistant, flew up from The Villages for the events.
When Suzanne returned, I had relocated the coach to Buckley AFB in preparation for some repair work to our broken slideout. It took two full days to complete our repairs, but the manufacturer, Winnebago, paid for the parts and labor, so the coach is back to full functionality.
After our repairs were complete, we took our bikes up to a trail in Aurora for a ride. It was a beautiful day, and all was going well until we rode down a badly rutted dirt farm road. It was washed out in a couple of places, and I found the worst possible spot to try to change lines… in a matter of a split second, my front wheel had turned 45 degrees and I was… airborne… but only momentarily, and then came “impact”. Some bad scrapes and bruises were expected, but after the adrenaline wore off, my right arm was almost unusable.
I took lots of Motrin to ease the pain, but when it wasn’t better 24 hours later, we made a trip to the E.R. for x-rays. Fortunately nothing was broken, but my arm still hurts like heck. The E.R. doc was also a mountain biker with scars of his own, so understood my situation and didn’t say, “What’s an old geezer like you doing riding a mountain bike?” He gave me a real “Excuse from work” form, so My Lovely Bride is doing all the heavy lifting this week, and I’ll probably put on a few extra pounds while recuperating… oh, and please, no wise cracks about the hospital gown…
Finally, just before departing Denver for Suzanne’s next event at Unity Village in Kansas City, we coerced Lynn and Jeff Hollaman over to the coach for dinner. They had hosted us twice, at their homes in Scottsdale and Denver, and we had hit it off so well, we couldn’t leave Colorado without seeing them again. We had a great time, with lots of laughter and even some sea stories. We hated to see them go, but after I almost set the coach on fire with my famous Cherries Jubilee, they were probably glad to escape with their lives…