May 23, 2007: DRIVE FROM NM TO DENVER, CO Wow. Well, spent about 6 hours on the road from Albuquerque to Denver today. Northern New Mexico is really expansive...flat, prarie land! But pretty.

Quite a bit of reservation land, too. Stopped on one for some cheap(er) about 10 cents. Adds up, though, on a trip like this where fuel is my lifeline and sure darn expensive! Started out as a sunny trek, but saw rainclouds a'comin'...then went right into it when I crossed the border into Colorado. Love these storms out here. You can see them approaching for miles.

Rained in Pueblo (elevation 4662 ft), and when I hit Colorado Springs (el. 6008 ft) - the rain turned to SNOW! It's amazing what a difference in weather patterns a few 100 feet of altitude can make.

Passed by the small town of Monument (about 50 miles south of Denver) where my sister and her hubbie first lived out here. It's actually right by the US Airforce Academy and the underground nuclear missle shelter and US and Candian aerospace command center - North American Aerospace Defense Command - more fondly (?) known as NORAD. Both Greg and Shannon taught in a local charter school here and had a tough time. They were two crunchy, educated hippies from the Northeast in the heart of military redland. Their "approach" to math and science education was a little different (ex. Shannon was chastized for wanting to introduce Darwin's Theory of Evolution to her kids). But I digress...

I stayed in Denver (MORRISON, actually) with my Aunt Barb (my Mom's sister) for the night. Winni and I had a nice morning walk with her and her doggies, Quincy and Tioga.

Though it was warm where we were, we could see snow-covered trees in the hills behind her house on Wild Plum Circle.

We could also see the natural ampitheater - Red Rocks (conduit of one of my favorite albums "Dave Matthews Band Live at Red Rocks") - from their neighborhood. Can you see the red rocks in background above my head in photo below? That's them!

We walked by some deer and were pleasantly surprised when we returned to find two Elk (!!) resting under some evergreens in Aunt B's backyard!

Winni tried to scale the rock wall to get to them. She was intrigued by these very big dogs.

Aunt Barb and I talked about Mom's trips out west with me as a little one. Mom (nature child, teacher, artist) and family grew up in Rochester, NY - Mom chose to stay on the East Coast, but Aunt Barb (nature child, teacher, artist) came out here for college and met my Uncle Steve (geologist) at Univ. of Colorado in Boulder and they got married just after graduation in the 60's (even had a tie-dyed cake). Their wedding was outdoors in Estes Park (near Rocky Mounatin National Park). They then lived and raised their kids in Steamboat Springs until cousins Karl and Mandie reached adolescence and they moved to Reno, NV. A few years ago, they moved back to Denver area and now have a cabin up in Craig (near Steamboat) where they come to get away, ski, hike, soak in hot springs, and have family gatherings. Lucky us! :)

May 24, 2007: STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO After visiting with Aunt B, I drove west up into the Rockies to my sister and brother-in-law's! Whew. What a drive!

Shannon and Greg actually live in OAK CREEK, about 20 miles Southwest of Steamboat. I'm resting here for a while - at least that's my plan. Locals talk about the Steamboat Curse - once you've lived here, even if you move'll be back. I can see why. It's STUNNING! Especially at this time of year - aspens budding, pine trees green as ever, blue sky and snow capped mountains - amazing! Mom loved it out here (here and the west in general) - and either drove or flew here as often as she could. She travelled quite a bit, in fact (is indeed where I got my wanderlust). I remember having my 5th (?) birthday up in Steamboat Springs and celebrating with two local kids named Cedar and Cactus. Perfect.