Oct 16, 2017

Chasing the Sun

10/16/2017 — cori
Yesterday we took a 2 1/2 hour drive to go hike in Vail, Colorado. We were prepared to spend the whole day up in the mountains taking in all the beauty. When we got there we were super surprised to still find some fall color left. 

The trail we hiked was called Booth Falls Trail. It has a 1390 foot elevation gain. Our calves felt each and every foot. There was lots of huffing and puffing going on. As you can see, it was a wee bit cold to start off the day. I think it was in the 30s but projected to reach the low 60s. We failed to take into account the shady side of the mountain. That's the side we were mostly hiking. Let's just say it was much colder than the 30s. As we were traversing ever farther up the mountain we kept telling the kids, "Look, right around the bend, I bet the sun is over there. Let's keep going until we reach the sun." 

What a gift! The sun was at the perfect angle to make this tree look like it's glowing against the backdrop of the mountains behind it.

Even though it was colder than we anticipated during our morning hike, it allowed us two cool things: an almost empty trail and beautiful lighting for pictures.

I literally gasped in awe when we came upon this grove of Aspens. The yellow strip of leaves in the center made this section of the Aspen forest look like something from a fairy tale.

I think this is Chuck's rule: "If there is a big rock on our hike, I must climb it." It doesn't look like a huge boulder from the picture...but it was. And when you're trying to climb with cold, numb hands on a rock that feels as cold as steel, it adds to the challenge.

My traveling buddies.

Walking into this part of the pine forest was a little foreboding. Definitely no sun back here. We also thought this would be a prime spot for some bears to be hiding. The sign at the start of the hike warned us of bears in the area. We just kept talking real loud the entire time and I believe that is what saved us from any bear encounters. We're still not sure if we're happy or sad about that fact.

The other side of the dark forest led to the whimsical, white, bright opening of another Aspen grove.

Finally! We found the sun. Here my people are basking in it's warmth. I think we're all part reptilian.

Since it was too cold to hammock on our fist hike, we promised the kids we'd hammock on the second hike after lunch. We ate our picnic lunch and then headed over to Frisco, CO for our second hike of the day. Thankfully, it warmed up considerably. This was the view I had from my hammock.

Hammock positioning is of utmost importance. Apparently, everyone wants to be next to me. Chuck and I were able to find a spot close together....until the kids invaded.

Our serene, romantic little setting was turned upside down by these crazy kids. I think Chloe changed the location of her hammock at least 4 times. They weren't happy until they were all snuggled right next to us - literally.

Bennett was so close he was resting his foot in my hammock. Chloe was so close to Chuck she was laying her head on his shoulder. I think we need to have a talk about hammock etiquette with these jokers.

One happy, cozy, snuggly, warm family. Perfect way to end a day of hiking.

The view we were treated to on the way back to car from our last hike. Ample sun and warmth - just the way we like it! 

Oct 13, 2017

True Story

10/13/2017 — cori

Obviously I did not take this picture, but it was the best one I could find off the world wide web to help you better visualize this story. So, the other day I'm walking back to my car after coming out of a store. The parking lot is very small and cramped. I had a hard time parking myself. The cars were very close together (take note of the example in the picture). As I was nearing my car a big, orange truck was trying to pull into the spot next to me. So I just stood to the side and waited (while thinking to myself please don't hit my car, please don't hit my car). 

As I'm waiting, the lady opens the truck door and comes out of the truck all distraught, "I can't do this!, I can't do this!" Looking at me she says, "Can you please park my truck for me?"


I say, "I could stand back here and try to direct you so you could see me in your rearview mirror."

"No. No. You do it for me." Then she just walks away from her truck to stand on the sidewalk.

What choice did I have? I hopped in the truck, with her baby still in the back seat!! and Tejano music blaring. I try to adjust the seat so that I can actually fit my legs under the steering wheel. I couldn't find the knob for the volume though. I then manipulate a truck I've never driven, in a parking-lot that's way too small, into a parking spot that seems impossible. 

But apparently to your random stranger, I look like just the person who could fulfill this type of challenge.

Somehow I succeeded and the lady was extremely grateful. Just goes to show...you never know when someone will ask you to park their car out of desperation. It felt good to help someone today. I just never envisioned I'd be helping anyone in that particular fashion.

Being open and willing to whatever life throws at you can lead to some pretty hilarious situations.

Oct 12, 2017

Look For Pockets of Good

10/12/2017 — cori
I can't seem to get this thought out of my head as of late. It is undeniably true. I get so caught up in sadness with the world around me. When I watch the news, when I hear the president speak, when I see the many natural disasters wreaking havoc around the world, when I watch the persecution of certain groups of people simply because of their religion or the color of their skin, when I see people being mean to each other, when I see the disparity between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots', when I hear hate speech....my heart breaks with each piece of bad news. I'm overwhelmed with the wretched state of humanity sometimes. I get super disappointed in people. I become overly critical and cynical. I often expect the worst in people because that is what I see time and time again.

But then I'm reminded of all the people out there doing good...doing their part in their little part of the world. And the cynicism begins to fade, the sadness turns to joy, the hopelessness is replaced by hope. I hear stories of people who work their entire lives for those wrongly accused and oppressed as is the case of Bryan Stevenson with the Equal Justice Initiative. I read first hand accounts of Jeremy Courtney with Preemptive Love putting himself and his family in a war zone to help Iraqis and reach across the racial/religious divide. I catch glimpses of random people doing kind things for other and it melts my heart. I watched with tears in my eyes as neighbor helped neighbor over and over again in the replaying scenes from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. When I start looking, I become overwhelmed with the amount of people doing good. To me, this is what I envision the Kingdom of God on earth looking like. Millions of small pockets of people loving people, helping them where they are, sacrificing for the common good, putting others first.

My new mantra has become: "Look for pockets of good." If I choose to look for those, the disappointments fade. I become a little more gracious towards others. I feel my cynical heart melting and being replaced with compassion for those who act out in anger and fear. I learn from a man who knows all too well. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of those pockets of good. He actively loved those who hated him, he wanted reconciliation, he wanted to bridge the divide, not make a deeper chasm. He challenges my anger towards the mean-spirited, the violent, the hateful, the self-centered. He beautifully orates:

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

I recently read an amazing book by Brene Brown called, "Rising Strong." It said alot of things that were hard to hear. I'm still ruminating on this book. It's too raw and real to put into words right now. But the one part that stood out to me was when she said, "People, for the most part, are doing the best they can." *sigh* I don't often hold that point of view. I'm sad to admit, I don't often give others the benefit of the doubt. I'm learning, I'm failing, I'm getting back up again and trying. But if I am able to keep that idea alive in my mind, it plays nicely with: "look for pockets of good." 

When you really start actively looking for pockets of good and believing that people are doing the best they can, then you start seeing beauty everywhere, all around you. The amount of organizations and random people you see doing good become overwhelming and too numerous to keep up with. It doesn't matter the religious affiliation, the cause, the motive...people loving and helping other people is a beautiful sight - if you only look for it...you will see it.

Oct 11, 2017

Lake George

10/11/2017 — cori
This past weekend Chuck and I had the pleasure of flying out to Lake George, New York to celebrate my cousin's wedding. We'd never been to this part of the country before and were excited to explore. We flew into Albany, New York and drove an hour north to reach our destination, Lake George. On our way we stopped by this adorable little town called Saratoga Springs. We passed by a park entrance that was so alluring, we had to drive down the winding, tree-lined path to see what was set back in the woods. We were not disappointed. The place was called: Yaddo. I just love that name. Turns out that the mansion and the grounds were donated in the 1920's as an artists retreat. You can see how artists are inspired by this alluring place - and to think we found it on accident. 

Below is the fountain that the mansion faces. To the right of the pond are beautiful rose gardens.

In the rose garden is this intricate sundial.

The sundial alone was a piece of art. But I loved the poem carved into the sundial.

We eventually made it up to Bolton Landing, on the shores of Lake George where our hotel, The Sagamore, awaited us. This is a view of the front of the hotel. The grounds are immaculately kept.

And here is the back of the hotel. This is the side that faces Lake George. Just stunning.

The views are good and picturesque from everywhere.

Unfortunately, the fall colors of the Adirondack Mountains that this part of New York is famous for were in short supply. Because the summer-like weather stretched long into early fall, it didn't allow the colors to proliferate as early as they usually do. There were small pockets of color, as is shown in here next to the covered walkway we used each day to get from our lodge to main hotel.

We explored the surrounding towns the day of the wedding since it wasn't until later in the afternoon. We visited Fort William Henry in the village of Lake George (the southern most tip of the lake). This was a famous fort during the French and Indian War and made famous in the movie, "The Last of the Mohicans."

After exploring this small town, we drove to the top of Mount Prospect which was at an elevation of 2,030 feet. We were treated to 100 mile views. It was serene watching the clouds settle snuggly between the mountains.

Again, not much color. Everything seemed a bit muted and dull.  But you can imagine how these mountains look on fire when they are at their peak of brilliance.

Then it came to the moment we were all waiting for. Kelley and Luke's wedding. She chose this venue because of the special memories it has of her childhood taking vacations to Lake George every summer and staying at the Sagamore Resort.

Kelley's Aunt Grace officiated the wedding. She was pure joy and her message was expressed so beautifully. She spoke on Colossians 3:12. Her analogy of clothing yourselves with love, patience, humility and compassion will not soon be forgotten.

Kelley is a born actress. She and Luke both adored the spot light.

This is during the Father/Daughter dance. After Uncle Mike and Kelley had their private moment, all the rest of the dads and daughters were invited to go out to the dance floor to join them. My Uncle Mike is a the father of 3 daughters. This was their special dance.  

Finally, our turn with the bride and groom. It is always so exciting sharing each other's love.

The next day we took a boat tour of Lake George on The Morgan.

Here we are enjoying the mild weather. Unfortunately, it quickly took a turn for the worse and we all had to run downstairs and seek shelter inside the cabin when an unexpected storm blew in.

This is the view of the resort from the boat. The hotel and grounds are extensive.

Again, we got to see small pops of fall color during the boat ride. We also learned that the lake is spring fed, 32 miles long, only 3 miles wide at it's widest point and it runs north, dropping 226 feet and empties into Lake Champlain. The color of the water is a beautiful aqua blue that unfortunately is hard to tell in this photo.

The rain forced us to change our plans. Instead of hiking the rest of the day, we stayed around the resort to watch a cooking demo with one of the chefs. Here we learned the tips and tricks of making a delicious apple pie.

On our last night there, the clouds treated us to a spectacular show of color during sunset. Always a treat!

Sep 22, 2017

End of an Era

9/22/2017 — cori
This was the heart-wrenching moment my baby left me.

Wednesday marked the passing of an era. No one else in the world was aware of it but me. That's because it was immensely personal. My firstborn left for college -the one who taught me how to be a mom. That little boy is all grown up and off on his own - in a different state none-the-less - living independently. Knowing all along it would happen - that this is the way it's supposed to be - and it actually happening are two very different things. 

This is how full the car was. Not too bad considering all the stuff that was crammed in there. It was imperative (to him) that he bring his desktop computer and two monitors, new bike, desk chair, all his clothes, his bedding and pillows (2 plus the decorative throw pillows as well), his laptop, backpack, suitcase full of clothes and a travel bag. Chuck and Gavin made the two-day trip through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California together.

Move in day! This is what he's going to call home for the next year. I couldn't be prouder of him. He's so ready to do this. His dorm cluster is called Middle Earth. Every dorm in Middle Earth is named after a place or character in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Since we (everyone but Gavin) were previously clueless as to all that entailed, we promptly did a family movie binge to learn all that we needed to know. Gavin is staying in Mystic Mountain. I now know that's a good place. I'd be much more worried if he was staying in Mount Doom.

Through this process I've learned that there's enough room to hold both the happiness and sadness, the excitement and nervousness, the known and unknown in my heart all at once. I don't have to accept only one feeling, I can be okay with all of them at the same time. It's a beautiful representation of the paradox of life. Millions of parents over the eons have survived their children leaving home. I'm just the next one in line...that's all. It reminds me of a song I used to do with the boys when they were little, "We're going on a bear hunt":

We're going on a bear hunt.
We're going to catch a big one.
What a beautiful day!
We're not scared.


A forest! A big dark forest.

We can't go over it.
We can't go under it.
Oh no! We've got to go through it!

It went on and on. In each stanza you'd encounter some new scary obstacle. What I didn't know then was that this little diddy was preparing me for the day my little boy became an adult. I would indeed face many obstacles: fears, worries, immense sadness, and loneliness. And I wouldn't be able to go around any of these obstacles, I'd have to walk straight through them. But it's in walking through them that I become a better person. It's the struggles that make life better, believe it or not. To quote Winnie the Pooh:  "You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

Sep 18, 2017

Let's Go Explore

9/18/2017 — cori

I never take for granted that I can go spend time in these glorious mountains any time I want to. I have to pinch myself because it seems too good to be true.

With this being Gavin's last weekend at home before heading off to school, we wanted to make it special. We had planned a few fun things like going to see "Wonder Woman" and finishing the last in our 3 part series of D&D. But then we saw the weather was supposed to be beautiful and last minute decided to head up to the mountains to make the most of it.

It's very hard to talk 3 teenagers into getting up at 7am on a weekend! But in order to get an early start, beat the crowds, stay ahead of the afternoon storms, and get gorgeous views, you have to leave early. 

We didn't hike this trip. We were in search of fall color on Trail Ridge Road that runs through Rocky Mountain National Park and brings you to the tippity top of the mountain range. We stopped at every overlook to enjoy the views. It was magical.

I love the tire cover on this jeep we followed up the mountain road.

This is what 12,183 feet looks like.

One last family picture before "the big separation."

Ahhh...finally some fall color.

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