Adventures In Beekeeping

Last Minute Costume Prep

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.

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That small yellow sign says that there are dangerous elk in the area and to be cautious and not approach them. We didn’t see any.

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A short distance up from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, the path splits off to several other destinations.

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.

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Not far beyond the trailhead, the path crosses over a wooden bridge.

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Rock steps help with the slight incline.

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The fall colors are starting to show across the park.

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Approaching the falls.

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View of the falls from about halfway up

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Resting at the top of the falls

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Above the top of the falls, the basin widens.

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A short distance above the falls there is a sparse path. We explored a few hundred feet beyond the trail before turning back.

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If you are looking for a quiet spot amid the crowd at the falls, hike up to the top and back in a few hundred yards. The sound of the wind in the trees mixes with the rushing water here, and it feels like another world.

 

Living Slowly in Quiet Moments

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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.

About a month ago we took off down the road looking for a new adventure. We drove a bit and then settled on a hike at Button Rock Preserve which was a fabulous choice. The map below shows the location of the trailhead. Zoom out a bit to show the reservoir. 🙂

The trailhead is just northwest of Lyons, CO off of US-36. Head north out of Lyons towards Estes Park and look for Longmont Dam Road on the left. Follow that to the trailhead.

There are a number of different hikes here. We chose at random while we were out and ended up heading up the Sleepy Lion trail off to the left about halfway to the dam. This was our route:

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The path starts out as a wide gravel road heading up out of the parking lot. There is a pit toilet a few hundred yards up. The gravel road is an easy hike up and will take you all the way to the dam and beyond, with the North St. Vrain Creek running alongside the whole way. It would be a great hike with younger kids as it isn’t at all technical.

About halfway up there is a trail that splits into the woods off the to left of the gravel road. This is the path we took. Because adventure.

The path winds uphill through the woods and eventually pops out into a beautiful meadow. I took no pictures of this because I was winded and trying to keep going. One of these days I’ll be able to keep up with the kids and my husband and I will take some pictures on the way up one of these hikes. 🙂

It was at about the halfway point that I started taking pictures, at the spot where you come out above the reservoir. The view is gorgeous. You can see in the bottom of the picture where the water is being released below the dam. It is at the point in the hike that the trail splits again and you can head down towards Hall Ranch open space if you want to.

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From this point the rest of the hike is mostly downhill.

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Eventually you will come out and meet the gravel road you were on originally. This is where the dam outlet is that you could see earlier. We stood for a few minutes and watched the water gush out. It was quite a sight and the mist was nice and cool in contrast to the heat of the summer sun. The picture below is looking back towards the Sleepy Lion trail from a spot near the bottom of the dam.

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From here it was a leisurely walk back down the road to the parking lot. The wildflowers were pretty, as was the small waterfall running under the road feeding the creek.

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The picture below is looking back up towards the dam. The dam outlet, the Sleepy Lion trail, and another trail (Hummingbird something-or-other that was lots of rock steps up to the dam) is up the left fork. I’m not certain what trails are off to the right. Possibly the other side of the Hummingbird one? That path is saved for another day’s adventuring.

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We stopped to dip our toes in and cool off once we got closer to the parking lot. The water was cool and clear and anywhere along the creek would make for a lovely spot to bring a book and read.

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After a quick pass by the pit toilet we were back down the hill in the parking lot, headed off for home with tired kids and new stories. I can’t wait to head back out and see what other adventures await us at Button Rock Preserve.

Have you had any adventures on the Sleepy Lion trail or one of the other hikes at Button Rock? Share with us in the comments!

Kids Wading and Splashing in North St. Vrain Creek

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.

This park has it all – camping space for tent and RV camping (with some spots right along the creek), two playgrounds, lots of water areas for splashing and tubing, even an area that becomes an ice rink in the winter. The bigger playground has lots of cool climbing structures, a zipline, and a splash stream running through the middle of it that kids of all ages were enjoying on the summer day we visited.

Creek around the park

The North St. Vrain Creek wraps all the way around the park. The creekbed was redone after the 2013 flood and is perfect for tubing and splashing or just reading a book on the bank. It was quieter mid-morning when we arrived, but things really picked up as the afternoon sun brought out families with tubes and floats.

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This is the smaller of the two play areas. This one is near the camping area and the restrooms and is close to the parking lot. Make sure to keep following the sidewalk from here past the big open grassy area to check out the bigger play area with the stream.

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This big open field just past the parking lot gives a good view of the scenery that surrounds there park. There isn’t a bad picnic spot to be found anywhere in this park.

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The stream that runs through the playground was wonderful for cooling off on a hot day. All the kids worked together to use rocks to build a small dam to make the water a little deeper for splashing.

Rocky Play Structures and Zipline

The rocky play structures in the bigger play area made for awesome forts and shaded space in the heat of the day. The line running through is the zipline that allows kids to swing through from one end of the play area to the other.

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On the Northwest side of the park, furthest from the parking lot, there is an area that is a bit deeper than the rest of the creek (Though no deeper than about 4 feet the day we visited). Kids were jumping from the rock overhang into the water below, though my mom-nerves felt like it was a bit shallow for that. Across the creek from where the picture was taken is the River Bend Event Venue and the WeeCasa Tiny Home Resort.

Kids Wading and Splashing in North St. Vrain Creek

The backdrop was incredible for a relaxing summer splash. The creek has some areas that are sandy, but much of the creekbed is small rocks. Watershoes or outdoor sandals make things much nicer on your feet.

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.

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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.

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The entire stadium emptied out down into the concourses below, and everyone milled around while the lightning passed. It never even rained.

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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.

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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.

img_20180704_220826Patriotic 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.img_20180704_220912

 

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At least four different times I clapped – thinking we had reached the end of the show – but the fireworks persisted.

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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.

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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.  🙂


https://getflywheel.com/layout/psychology-of-typography/

https://www.companyfolders.com/blog/font-psychology-how-typefaces-hack-our-brains

https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/psychology-of-fonts-infographic/


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.