Friday, April 28, 2017

Lots to See, Do, and Celebrate

The Flatiron Mountains from the beautiful drive between Golden and Boulder

      It's been another busy week, driving back and forth between Golden, Boulder, and the Denver International Airport.  We've made more than one 'wild goose chase' trying to take in some open houses.  Home prices were somewhat shocking, considering they were nearly double what we encountered in Phoenix.  And, while we did find one model patio home in Broomfield had a good deal of appeal, we were informed that there is a waiting list with a clear indication nothing would be ready for at least a year.  So we're more than discouraged at this point.

Downtown Denver -- State Capitol Dome

      Sunday, April 23rd, we decided to grab breakfast out at the nearby Denny's and drive into the city to attend the 12:30 p.m. mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.  We allowed ourselves plenty of time because we had read that parking was limited and the neighborhood was not the best.  The website left some confusion around parking with an indication we could park at 'Hall' weekends only.  So, while the basilica was difficult to spot due to being almost completely encapsulated in scaffolding, the parking lots across the street indicated 'no free parking any time,' so we drove around the corner and parked along the street.  
Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception exterior is being renovated

      It was a beautiful day.  The trees were beginning to turn from buds to leaves, and the State Capitol Building's dome, among some other interesting structures, was visible along our walk.  With the exception of a homeless man sleeping in an alleyway, we did not find the surrounding area at all uncomfortable.  We crossed the street, walked beneath the scaffolding entered into a French gothic work of phenomenal beauty.  The 75 stained glass windows are considered not only to be the most in any church in the United States, but of the finest quality.  Our cell phone cameras did not really do justice to the interior, and the scaffolding undoubtedly affected the amount of light getting in through the stained glass.

      To see the Basilica without scaffolding or to learn more about its history and architecture, the website is

Sanctuary Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Denver
Plenty of Confessionals but where are the sinners?
Awesome sounding pipe organ

Valerie & Yasmine in Golden
      Sunday evening Valerie met a friend, Yasmine Chapman, formerly from Kansas City, who has recently returned to Denver, which she considers home.  They enjoyed a wonderful visit and nice happy hour specials at the Table Mountain Hotel Restaurant and Cantina in old downtown Golden.
Table Mountain Downtown Golden
      Monday, April 24th, Valerie made a late night run to the airport to pick up her daughter who had spent several days working at her original Modern Point Acupuncture practice in the Twin Cities.  Valerie spent the night at her daughter's in Boulder returning on Tuesday to Golden for some much needed rest.

     Later on Tuesday, the temperature dropped, the clouds came in, and by evening we received a light dusting of snow.  By noon the snow had melted, and George worked from the rig while Valerie ran several errands.  We are practicing the mastery of traffic roundabouts, which seem to be abundant in the area.  Several of them would be absolutely impossible in the RV, but the Subaru manages to get us through.

      Thursday we celebrated George's birthday.  Our intent was to see the movie Gifted, but we managed, with the help of GPS, to arrive at the wrong movie theater and had planned to meet Valerie's daughter for lunch, so there were not many other options but to watch the other 1 p.m. show,  Boss Baby, which the grandkids probably would have enjoyed, but the birthday boy chose to sleep through. 

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
Cut out rock entrance into Red Rocks Park in Morrison, CO
Amphitheater at Red Rocks Park (Downtown Denver visible upper left)
Scenic Red Rocks Park
Beautiful sunset at Red Rocks Park

      After the movie, we met up with Lindsay at Mimi's Cafe, where George enjoyed some of his favorite foods -- french onion soup, a patty melt, and they provided a complimentary piece of cake. After lunch, Lindsay and Valerie took the Shelties out to nearby Forsberg Iron Spring Park to run off some energy.  Lindsay drove us out to another nearby attraction, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater in nearby Morrison, for some spectacular views!

      Of course, George's birthday could not be complete without ice cream, so we stopped on the way home at the local Dairy Queen.  Happy birthday, George!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Back to Sticks and Bricks ... Our Evolving Exit Strategy

Always a gorgeous view to the west!
      We enjoyed a wonderful Easter on Sunday with Valerie's daughter and her friend in nearby Boulder.  She prepared non-traditional steaks and salmon on the grill, and she almost tricked George into eating a bite of sweet potato.  We will be seeing more of Lindsay, a practitioner of Oriental medicine, who can hopefully help with some of our aches, pains, and ailments.  If you're in the Boulder or Twin Cities area and in need of treatment, she is the person to see!

Valerie's Easter dinner

      While we would normally stay at the Elks Lodge in Boulder, they advised they did not yet have water available for several days, and possibly indefinitely.  Due to our early April arrival, we would be staying somewhat longer term in need of sewer, so that prompted us to reserve a few weeks at the Dakota Ridge RV Park in Golden, about 20 miles away.  The drive between Golden and Boulder is quite scenic, so we are taking in the beauty that Colorado has to offer along the way.

      A couple of months ago, we shared with family and some business associates that, after some serious soul-searching, we were planning to end our full time RV adventure after roughly ten years of exploring this magnificent country.  We have met the most fascinating people, seen the most awesome sights, and the wonderful memories and photos will remain with us for the remainder of our lives -- mostly good, but certainly many challenging times.  

The Flatiron Mountains 
      Although we had not really planned on an exit strategy going into our full-timing decision, recent experiences weighed into our need to reconsider a return to the 'sticks and bricks' life.  More than one of our friends have experienced health-related issues which have necessitated long-term stays in unfriendly environments, which we are fairly certain we would not endure as cheerfully.  Additionally, the coach is aging and requiring more upgrades, while the dogs are aging and requiring more frequent veterinary care, and we are feeling the need for better continuity with our own growing lists of doctors and specialists.  

      Originally, we discussed a two-year transition, but recent health events have convinced us that now is probably a good time for us.  We have seen most of what we originally set out to see, and we intend to continue to travel -- but most likely in something smaller after a return home to get our ducks back in order.

Our site is on the right at Dakota Ridge RV Park in Golden, CO
      But now there are so many things to consider.  First and foremost is where will we locate?  Without much thought, we looked at a few homes in the West Valley outside Phoenix.  We often have enjoyed mild sunny winters in the Desert Southwest, and property is reasonably priced with lots of senior communities and amenities, which would be fabulous.  One house fit our needs perfectly and, had we not slept on the matter, we would probably have made an acceptable offer the following day.  

      Our initial thought was to place an emphasis on climate, access to health care and air travel.  But after considering Phoenix, we decided that family was a most important consideration, especially since we would hope to avoid another move, possibly ten or twenty years advanced in ages.  And did we really want to entertain the possibility of burdening our kids with traveling thousands of miles to deal with helping to move us or deal with our property?  Could we survive harsh summer heat or cold winters?  What else should we consider?

      It keeps coming back to family.  Minneapolis offers lots of family but, without hesitation, it's a big NO -- high taxes, brutal winters, the state bird (aka mosquitoes).  Oklahoma City -- a little family, moderate climate, but direct flights out somewhat limited, recent earthquakes are a bit scary, and frankly, it seems somewhat isolated and even bordering on boring.  Maybe Michigan? -- No, far too cold and too far away from the rest of the family.  Greater Denver/Boulder, we are presently investigating.  It does offer some active senior communities, along with socials and activities with which we've been accustomed while at resorts during our travels.  We absolutely love the scenery, their extensive light rail, train and bus system, but again the cost of living seems a bit prohibitive.  And, we would add that the weather is delightful, (except that today it's cold and blustery, and will probably be snowing on the motor home before the night is over).

      That leaves Kansas City, which is by no means ideal, but probably makes the most sense.  We have lots of family in the area, it's centrally located, and we can get into the car, along with our two dogs, and within a day's drive visit kin folks in several directions, or just minutes to visit young grandchildren.  Property is somewhat reasonably priced, and Valerie is quite familiar with the area.  We will have the occasional blizzard, ice storm, or a tornado to dodge, and the humidity with which to suffer throughout the summer months -- although they say it's good for the skin.

      The good news is that we don't have to be in a hurry.  We will live in the RV and prepare it for sale, until we make that all important decision, so that we only have to think about moving once for now.  It will be like starting over, since we unloaded most of our material possessions all those years ago, and the remaining ones we had stored a couple of years later.  Valerie is confident that, if and when we settle on the right place, we can get by with a bed and a couple of bar stools until we gradually add to the needed furnishings as our budget and time permits.

Forsberg Iron Spring Park in Golden
      As much as we look forward to the next stage of our lives, the decision is definitely bittersweet.  We have been so blessed with good health, great friends, great experiences, and great family!  

      So, we've been busy with business, checking out the local opportunities, and exercising the dogs.  We'll conclude with wishing everyone safe travels and a fabulous weekend.  And do feel free to share your ideas and/or thoughts with us!

The dogs' favorite running place!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Discovering Denver

Clouds filtering the sun on Highway 6

Beautiful sunset in Golden, Colorado on Thursday

      Thursday, April 13, was a day for catching up on laundry now that the drain from the washer was repaired.  We also had personal and Driving School business to catch up.  It was also time to plan some exploring.  We had been advised that the wind could suddenly kick up without warning and did indeed need to pull in the awning.  Some clouds came in and we closed up the coach.  Otherwise, the weather was perfect, along with a beautiful sunset.

Valerie's happy place

      Valerie had been longing to eat at a favorite restaurant, The Black-eyed Pea, so we decided that since we needed to get out for some shopping, to stop in the Lakewood location for dinner.  They have a great senior menu with lots of variety at reasonable prices.  Unfortunately, they closed most of the restaurants with the exception of a very few in Colorado and Texas years ago.

      Friday, April 14, we caught Denver's RTD light rail W train at the nearby Jefferson County Government Center.  The day pass was $9 or $4.50 for seniors, and parking at this particular location was covered and free.  We rode approximately 45 minutes, past both the Rockies and Broncos' stadiums, to the Union Station stop and walked another 5 minutes or so along a tunnel with numerous bus stops, and up to the actual refurbished 100 year old terminal.

Inside the Union Station Terminal in Denver

Crawford Hotel at Union Station, Denver

Exterior of Union Station - in orange neon letters it says 'Travel by Train'

   There was a hotel, The Crawford Hotel Denver, and a number of shops.  We arrived around lunch time, so we stopped at Acme Delicatessen for a quick bite.  George wanted to ride the A train out to the airport, just to see more of the city, so we hopped aboard one of the trains that departs roughly every 15 minutes for another approximately 45 minute ride.

A glimpse of the Denver skyline from the window of the A Train

      We spent some time around the airport, built in 1995 and covering more area than any other in the United States, and enjoying some art and sights we missed when we've been scurrying through security to catch a flight.  A lot of controversy surrounds some of the dark imagery depicted in the many murals, with some even believing the airport's shape forms a swastika as seen from the air.

Approaching DIA on the A train

The really long escalator at Denver Airport

      Lots of pictures were taken along the train routes, the train station, and at the airport, and we'll just put some of the better ones here.  We would have done more exploring, but fearful that the trains may begin to fill up late afternoon, we decided we needed to get home to the dogs.  They are always happy to see us.

Not the most welcoming art -- may be a matter of opinion?

      Saturday, April 15, was a slow day.  We made plans for more exploring and a visit with Valerie's daughter in Boulder on Sunday.  We fought our way through an extremely busy Costco store in Littleton for some things we needed, and George picked up a few pair of reading glasses at the Dollar Tree.

Warning murals along the tunnel to the busses and trains

      Valerie spent some time getting the two Shelties groomed and their teeth brushed, and we relaxed to social media and television.

Many pretty sights along the return trip

Jefferson County Government Center W Train Station

      We wish all our friends and family a safe, happy and blessed Easter!

Spring at Dakota Ridge RV Park

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Acclimating to Altitude and Attitudes

Morning walk around Dakota Ridge RV Park

      Without the use of our kitchen sink, we started the day with breakfast out, followed by a trip to the post office, and the pharmacy.  We were also looking for a car wash, and happened upon Octopus Car Wash, which appeared to be doing a good business, so the Subaru got a much needed bath.

Octopus Car Wash
      Locals seem friendlier than many places we have visited, and the weather couldn't possibly be better -- sunshine, gentle breeze, low humidity -- and later a gorgeous full moon rising above the mountains!  

Luke with Golden Mobile RV to the rescue while wet bays are being aired out from yesterday's leak

      While we were en route to breakfast, George received a call from the RV technician with whom he had left a message yesterday, who advised he did not work on drain pipe but only fresh water pipes and suggested we call Golden Mobile RV & Diesel Service.  The good news was that they would be out to hopefully help us this afternoon.

Beautiful Boulder
      Now that we have a mailing address for a few weeks, George was able to order rack cards to restock our supply.  He also responded to calls and email messages while Valerie walked the dogs and moved the car out of the way for the technician.  

The tulips are in bloom!

      During her morning walk, Valerie's body indicated that it was struggling for more oxygen in the thinner air.  We're all drinking more water, and Valerie has noticed a few fleeting headaches which she attributed to the altitude in the Mile High City.

      Luke pulled up to repair the water drain which leads from the kitchen sink and Splendide washer/dryer combo just as Valerie was leaving to drive up to Boulder to see her daughter.  Apparently the pipe was an easy fix with a little glue, (time will tell after it dries), while Valerie struggled with the Kenwood car radio, which kept needing to be reset.

      George stayed behind for a planned radio interview with Alan Warren for the RV Show USA,, while Valerie enjoyed a visit with her daughter, Lindsay, at the West End Tavern in Boulder.  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Double Trouble!

I-25 Northbound with gorgeous mountain views

      Tuesday, April 11, 2017, we awoke to a chilly 42 degrees in Trinidad, Colorado, after listening to fierce winds late into the night.  At one point we discussed getting up and pulling down the roof-mounted DirecTV satellite and pulling in the one slide-out we had extended to get around the bed.  We apparently were too tired and too cold, so we fell asleep and hoped for the best.  The Walmart parking lot was otherwise fairly quiet.

Wooden barns are sadly being replaced by metal buildings

      Since this store had no restaurant, we turned on the generator and brewed coffee, walked the dogs, and prepared to start the last leg of our trip to the Denver area, roughly 245 miles.  George checked the slide topper and satellite, then washed the windshield so Valerie wouldn't complain that she couldn't get good photos through the bug carcasses which had collected during the previous day's drive.

Is someone building a miniature Stone Henge replica?

      Valerie did her final walk-around inspection after George prepared the RV and the car for the road.  As she re-entered the rig, the low air alarm sounded and continued, indicating we were not good to go.  George checked the cables to the car to see if there was a potential problem with leakage at the connections, and we sat, idling the engine and recalling that we had encountered this problem once before during cold conditions.   Finally, after 15-20 minutes, the gauges began to rise and the alarm silenced.  George suspects one of the compressor valves may be sticking.  We will definitely need to get that checked out.

Artificial mule atop this one

      The trip north on I-25 was fairly easy.  Today we had an audio book to pass the time.  We didn't encounter much traffic until we reached Pueblo. We stopped at the Pinion Rest Area for lunch just beyond there.  George got a quick nap and the dogs got another walk.

Fields full of lined-up cars south of Colorado Springs

      We passed through Colorado Springs and traffic continued to build.  The campground options for a three week stay near Boulder became limited due to 14-day restrictions, lack of full hook-ups, and one option uncertain when they would turn on their water, so we opted to spend the extra money and stay at Dakota Ridge RV Resort in Golden.  We got checked in and escorted to our pull-through site.

Pinion Rest Area provided a welcome break!

      George got the sun shades up with Valerie's help, and Valerie started a load of laundry in the Splendide, turned on the television and began washing a few dishes in the kitchen sink.  Just as her phone was ringing, there was a knock on the door by our neighbor letting us know that water was leaking out of the side of our coach.  Valerie apparently didn't hear the water over the water, because it was also leaking onto the kitchen floor.

View from our window at Dakota Ridge RV Park in Golden, Colorado

      Interestingly, Valerie had expressed concerns over a good amount of what appeared to be water below the rig before we left Albuquerque on Sunday, and George had noticed a smell, but we dismissed it as just condensation, although it had not rained and there was little humidity in the air.

Not a good sign!

      Now we have lots of dirty, wet towels, and the storage bay below will need to be aired out during daylight hours tomorrow.  George discovered the culprit to be a broken drain pipe which empties water from the kitchen sink and the washer/dryer combo, and left a message for a call back with a local service tech.  Hopefully we'll get an early fix, or the wet laundry will need to be attended to first thing in the morning, and Valerie dumped the remaining dish water down the toilet and gets out of washing any more dishes in the meantime.  Paper and plastic and this needed fixed yesterday!

Water everywhere!  What a mess!