A few weeks back I went online and found a site I bookmarked last year – Every Kid in a Park. If you have a child in fourth grade (or the homeschool equivalent) you can visit the site and have your child complete a fun activity and get a 4th Grade Annual National Parks Pass for free. This pass will grant access to National Parks across the country for your family (as long as your 4th grader is present).
I have a 4th grader this year, and we live about 45 minutes from the gates to Rocky Mountain National Park, so we are trying to make good use (and many memories) of this opportunity. We decided to make Alberta Falls our first RMNP adventure.
The hike is a short one. It is just a little more than half a mile from the trailhead to the falls, but like many hikes at Rocky Mountain National Park getting there amid the bustling park traffic can be a challenge. This was out first out-of-the-car excursion to RMNP. We have been before, but only to drive up Trail Ridge Road. We had no idea how congested it could be.
We were greeted by a road sign letting us know parking at the trailheads was full, but that the Park and Ride was open. We had no idea there even *was* a park and ride, but we turned in and rolled around the packed lot in the Subie until we found a spot.
Essentially, the parking at the trailheads near Bear Lake fills up very quickly in the morning, so there is a large lot halfway up with shuttles that run all through the park. When that lot fills (which apparently happens often) there are also shuttles from the park visitors center closer to town.
We had aimed for an early-afternoon start for our hike, which turned out to be a good choice. According to the shuttle driver and fellow passengers, the trailhead parking was full by 8am and the park and ride lot was full by 10. Some of our fellow hikers had attempted to come mid-morning but couldn’t park and were returning to try again. Apparently, this is fairly normal for the park, so if you have the option it is best to avoid visiting on weekends.
We took the shuttle to the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, though you could start the hike to Alberta Falls at Bear Lake as well, or even make a day of it starting from further spots.
For as busy as the roads and parking were, the trail was relatively quiet. After we got home, I looked the hike up on AllTrails and read that Alberta Falls is one of the most popular hikes in the park. There was steady traffic on the wide, smooth trail, but not so many hikers that it felt crowded. If you are looking for solitude, you might try a different path, or hike just past the falls, where most of the crowd turned back.
This school year has begun in a markedly different way than all our past years. After 6 years of homeschooling and a substantial location change, we took the plunge into a new normal in mid-August. Our kids are now attending a local charter school that we are quickly growing to love. This marks the first time my kids have left my side each and every weekday since they were preschoolers – a change that has been wonderful for all of us.
They are growing, making new friends, and finding their place in a social world. We have asked a lot of them and they have consistently stepped up to the challenge without hesitation, and I am SO proud of them for that.
This morning we undertook our newest challenge – biking to school. The charter school isn’t too far from our house by car (just under three miles) but the “safe” biking route that avoids major intersections and travels on wide multi-use sidewalks and on the Greenway takes us a bit out of our way so the trip totals about six miles.
We have done the ride before, but never at 7am when the traffic is getting crazy. I’m happy to say the trip actually went pretty smoothly, other than everyone yelling at each other about going too fast or too slow, complaining that the someone was being mean, griping that their brakes must be stuck, and other random grumpy morning-ness, not to mention the kickstand that lost a screw and its bottom half as we pulled into school. At one point I was informed that *this* is why we need a three-person tandem bike – so that no one would be ahead or behind and we would all be together. I’m not sure that’s the solution, but I guess you can never rule it out. 🙂
We did cut things a bit close leaving at 7:05, and that was my fault for assuming we would go faster than we did. The ride took about 50 minutes (Google maps said it would take 30). You get no pictures because the kids might have killed me if I took the time to pause. They are still at the age where it is really important to them to be at school early. If my own childhood is any indication, in a few short years they won’t even remember that concern.
The best thing about our ride was that once the kids were dropped off and their bikes locked to the rack, I got to ride away to start my day. I meandered back down the greenway and stopped at a park along the way with a grove of apple trees. I set my bike in the grass and picked a fresh apple for breakfast. It was crisp and sweet. Something about picking and eating that apple just felt comfortable. In that moment I was grateful for this town that feels more like home with each passing day.
I rolled on with my apple, nodding hellos to other trail-goers and letting the sound of traffic fade behind me until all I could hear were the whispers of the river as it quietly slid past. I crossed the wooden bridge with the familiar whumpity-whump of bike tires over boards and rolled my bike over the dirt to rest at the top of the waterfall. The quiet of the morning gave way to the sound of the falling water, gifting me with a restful, introspective moment.
These quiet moments of mom-freedom that were begun in the time shadow of full school days and have punctuated my August are to be short-lived. In less than a week I will be starting a new adventure – one I am truly looking forward to. I am excited to have this challenge ahead of me, and I know that the future holds good things.
But today – if just for this hour – I will sit by the rushing water, be still in the moment, and read.
One of my favorite things about Colorado has been the number of awesome parks and open space available to explore. Our adventures today brought us to LaVern M. Johnson Park in Lyons, CO. This park is wonderful destination for families with children young and old and grownups as well.
Have you visited LaVern M. Johnson Park? If you have I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!
A quick jaunt to the garden this morning uncovered a mystery. One of my cabbages has something munching on it. My first thought was maybe a monsterous cabbage worm, but there isn’t really any poop around or in it so I’m thinking maybe it is becoming a snack for something larger. Do squirrels eat cabbage?!
Like many people, we had a number of places close by with fireworks shows. We decided that Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast at Folsom Field would make for a great “first year in CO” choice, as we had yet to visit the stadium for any games or events.
For as busy as things were, parking was easy to find and we took a nice walk through campus towards Folsom Field. The evening was beautiful – warm but not hot – unlike lots of areas of the US last night. (I’m looking at you, Illinois, with your 100+ degree heat advisory…) We had a few random sprinkles drop on us during the walk to the stadium, but it looked like any real rain was going to pass.
The musicians on the field put on a great show for the crowd. There were beach balls and paper airplanes flying all over, and the crowd had a “wave” rippling all the way around the stadium. There was a group preparing for the next part of the event down on the field, and Ralphie the Buffalo was in the corral, ready to run (at the right of the picture below). The sprinkles had passed, but there was some lightning to the south. We were keeping an eye on it as it approached, hoping it would head off to the east.
Alas, that was a no go. Before Ralphie got her chance to run, a voice came over the loud-speaker, and the big screen changed to a message instructing the crowd to head to the nearest shelter in place location.
The entire stadium emptied out down into the concourses below, and everyone milled around while the lightning passed. It never even rained.
After about twenty minutes people started filtering back into their seats. An announcement was made, and the big screen updated. The show was back on.
Ralphie the buffalo was gone however, so we didn’t get to see the run. So instead, you get this YouTube video from the Denver Post. 🙂
As the huge lights went dark the crowd’s excitement was palpable. The stadium reverberated with echos of stomping feet and was lit up by phone screens waving in the dark. It was time.
Patriotic music blared from the speakers as the first fiery trails lit up the sky over Boulder. Hoots and hollers from the crowd were rendered mute underneath the sound of the explosions shaking the stadium with each burst of color.
At least four different times I clapped – thinking we had reached the end of the show – but the fireworks persisted.
When we did reach the grand finale, it felt like we were holding our collective breath. The white bursts went off one right after another for what felt like forever. It was an amazing finish to the finest fireworks show I have seen.
If you haven’t watched Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement address, I highly suggest taking a quick break to give it a listen, or click over to the Stanford website to read it.
If you have spent any time at all on the internet in the last 10 years you have likely seen this quote:
Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
It’s a gem, and one of my favorites. The whole speech is friendly, almost conversational, and filled with many more beautiful and thought-provoking insights. Here are a few more of my favorites:
I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
We get one go of it in this life. Knowing when to stay the course and when to change it up can be difficult to discern, but I think Steve’s formula here is spot on.
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.
I first read about Steve when researched and bought my first two Mac’s back in 2006, when they switched to Intel processors. My move away from Windows into the unknown of Apple was greatly motivated by the sheer clean beauty of Apple’s OS and the software it ran. In the speech, Jobs’ mentions the calligraphy class he took at Reed College, not because it fulfilled any requirement but simply because he found it interesting.
As a bit of a typography geek, this makes my heart happy. That one typography class has effectively changed our world for the better in ways we likely can’t even comprehend.
Imagine if every website used the same bland font! Every billboard, document, license plate, book. Visual interest in the written word can be made or broken based in a huge part on how the text looks and how different formations of text stimulate our brains. The psychology of typography is a fascinating subject. Different styles of text and formatting nudge our brain to draw different conclusions about the intention of the message and its sender.
I could easily sidetrack myself here, but instead I’ll share some links so you can fall down the same rabbit hole if you feel so inclined. 🙂
I, for one, am grateful for that calligraphy class at Reed College, and for Steve and all those following their interests and their hearts to pioneer change in our world every day.
Our future is bright. Find what you love to do, and do it. And then get out there and tell the world, so we can share in your enthusiasm and learn from each other.