Our third day in Colorado Springs was another glorious day for hiking. At least for me. Suzanne was scheduled to give an in-person reading, so I took the opportunity to push myself a bit, and set out to complete the Stanley Canyon Trail, a 2 1/2 hour, 4.4 mile, 1,200 ft elevation gain “difficult” rated trail in the Rampart Range. The brown squiggly lines on this topographic map indicate changes in elevation. The closer together they are, the steeper the terrain.
We had been told about this trail by Lt Col Jim Lovewell, USAF, who had stated, “You will be cursing me under your breath for the first mile or so. It can be a scramble in places. Then it gets easier, and it’s beautiful.” Jim was correct on every point except one. I was cursing and thanking him out loud, not under my breath. “Thanks, Jim. Darn you, Jim.”
The route up was over a lot of broken rock, and much of it loose “scree”, similar to gravel. I was glad to have a trekking pole (a telescoping hiking stick made of aluminum) to give me a third leg of stability. Going up, it was helpful. Going down, it was critically important… I fell on my keister three times on the way down as it was; without the trekking pole, that would have been double digits.
As scenic as the steep canyon trail appeared, what made the hike unforgettable were the aspens which had started to turn yellow in earnest. This was my first late September hiking in the Colorado Rockies, and I urge you to find a spot on your bucket list for the chance to see the aspens changing color in person.
I liked looking up into the treetops to see the yellow leaves against the blue sky.
Stanley Reservoir itself was very nice, but almost anticlimactic after the canyon and the aspens. There had been very few people on the trail, but here at the reservoir I found eight other hikers. It was like walking into downtown Manhattan after being alone in the woods… well, okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration…
After finishing my hike, I returned to The Coach where Suzanne had completed her reading. A quick lunch and we were on our bikes for another ride on the Falcon Trail, the primo mountain bike trail here at the Air Force Academy. Then a very fast dinner, and then off to our last event in Colorado Springs, where Suzanne gave her Making the Connection presentation at the High Plains Unitarian Universalist Church. Thanks again to Annabel Carney for all your help in making this visit possible.
On Thursday morning we got underway for three long days of driving to Dallas. As I was writing this paragraph, we were driving through northern Texas, the area called Texhoma, since it borders the state of Oklahoma. This is cattle and oil country, and about an hour ago, I was driving past a gas station with $3.43 diesel. Suzanne was on a phone call, and wondered why I was making a quick U-turn. The price here was 30-40 cents a gallon cheaper than in New Mexico or Colorado, so it was a no-brainer. (Many of my decisions are made without using my brain, but I think this was a good one.)
People are more friendly out here in the country than in cities. A guy with a shovel standing on the roadside at the entrance to his ranch just waved at us when we drove by. Yeah, like that would happen in Orlando, Detroit, New Orleans or Philadelphia. Speaking of ranches, many have tall log, timber or metal gates; most just give the ranch’s name, but one near Lake Arrowhead, Texas, the 4P’s Ranch, also displayed “World Champion Foxtrotters”. I turned to Suzanne and said, “Sweetheart, how nice that that rancher and his wife have the time to practice ballroom dancing while their cows are out grazing.” She looked at me kinda funny and said, “Ty, you had better look that up.” So when we traded drivers in an hour or so, I discovered, much to my dismay, that the 4P’s Ranch specializes in raising and training trail and versatility Missouri Fox Trotting Horses, including 3 time world champion “Boss’s Midnight Cash”. Their website also states that this breed “… can do anything that other breeds can do, except be rough, which has identified the breed as the Baby Boomers’ most chosen horse.” Who knew???
“SEXIST!” That’s what I mumbled when Suzanne was driving and was pulling onto I-35 near Denton, Texas. The traffic was heavy, and moving slowly, and she had smiled sweetly and waved at a semi driver hauling a big 53 ft load to her left. Unexpectedly, the guy stood on his brakes and graciously waved her into line ahead of him. My Lovely Bride waved to thank him and asked me, “Ty, do you think he would have let you in so nicely?” “No, Sweetheart, if I had thrown him a smile, I probably would have received a one finger wave…”
My Lovely Bride used to be a Bandie. That’s someone who plays in a band… a marching band, in her case. Throughout high school, she was a piccolo and flute player for the Henderson HS Warriors. (As a side note, I am appalled that in spite of today’s political correctness, they still use that warlike native American nickname. They should be the Henderson Nice Friendly Persons, or perhaps “The Fighting Earthworms” if an animal mascot is required. But I digress…) Anyway, yesterday as we were departing Dumas, Texas, a small town in the Panhandle, I heard a school marching band practicing.We were headed to Wichita Falls, and I suggested that we take in a Texas high school football game and hear their marching bands perform. This was one of my Truly Brilliant Ideas, because I earned Big Brownie Points with My Lovely Bride.
After setting up camp, we had a quick meal and set out for the local high school, expecting there would be a few hundred people there sitting in portable bleachers. Wrong. We arrived to find that there were very few people at the school, and they were watching a volleyball game. There was no one at the school’s football field. Instead, we were directed to a college-sized stadium for the contest between the Wichita Falls Coyotes (pronounced “Ki-oats”) and the Brewer Bears from Fort Worth, 125 miles away. The Coyotes were in black and red and the Bears in white and blue. There were several thousand fans in the stadium, and the air was alive with the excitement of the game, but nothing compared to the excitement of my ex-bandie bride.
The game was exciting up to the last minute, with Brewer winning 28-24. But MLB was most enthralled with the two bands. The Coyotes had the best music…
… but the Bear Babes took the prize for best legs… oops… er, what the BlogMeister meant to say was that the Brewer High School dancers had the best choreography.
Finally, the ladies will understand how important nicely polished nails are to My Lovely Bride when she speaks in front of hundreds of listeners in church, which will be the case about the time this blog is published Sunday morning. Well, today, Saturday, we arrived in Dallas, and her first order of business was to get her hair trimmed just a wee bit, and to have her nails done. I heard the story about her nails experience and almost lost my coffee through my nose. After selecting the color, she sat down and the young nail tech started to work. Suzanne must have dozed off for a moment or three, because she opened her eyes to see the tech finishing up her now very sparkly nails… as in, Las Vegas showgirl nails… or maybe Bourbon Street dancer nails??? She could hardly speak, and just then the shop owner walked up, looked at her nails and said, “They look very nice… very sexy.” Suzanne had recovered her voice at that point and said, “I have to speak in church tomorrow morning.” Both the owner and the nail tech gasped at once and said, “Oh, no! We can fix!” There is still just a teeny bit of sparkle, but MLB is sure that no one at the church will be shocked by her nails. (Darn… and I didn’t even get to see them…)