Spring

Today is the spring equinox and as it turns out, my fourth anniversary with WordPress who’s software greeted me with a nice electronic congratulations 🙂 Can’t say I even remember signing up, but four years ago today was exactly nine days before Tricia went into surgery to try to save her spine from the tentacles of the cancer she was so bravely battling. Unfortunately although they called the surgery a success, she never walked again. I don’t even remember blogging the first year of my membership here. Every day consisted of pushing her wheel chair about a mile down to the coffee shop and back. The coffee shop had the only chair on the planet, as far as I know, that she could be comfortable sitting in. The sun would stream into the windows there and that warmth and comfort was about all there was to look forward to. By the next spring she was gone and I was starting life anew… Thinking back that first year alone in the campground was crazy! I’m sure I had plenty to blog about then, perhaps I should go back and read some of my entries 🙂 I remember every weekend through the spring and summer I spent hauling the remnants of our lives together off to an auction house in Denver.

Sangre de Cristo Spring

Sangre de Cristo range on the first day of spring

Today didn’t feel much like spring though, yesterday the windchill was -1 and today the real feel was 10 accompanied by a couple of inches of blowing and stinging snow. That didn’t stop me and Big Dog from making the trek down to the mountain, it was cold but with a couple of inches of fresh snow and some beautiful sunshine it was a splendid day 🙂 The alpenglow was some of the most pronounced that I’ve seen yet, but I shot that yesterday and felt like sleeping in a little today. By the time we got there the view to the west was obscured a bit from blowing snow and haze in the air from the spring snowstorm, but the view of the Sangre de Cristo range was stunning anyway. Although not award winners, the pictures from today are pretty and a good record of the first day of spring for 2018!

Snow on Pikes Peak

Fresh snow on the foothills of Pikes Peak

Was hoping to see some deer out early this morning but no luck with that. I wasn’t paying much attention on the return trail and missed the turnoff which produced a view of the Pikes Peak foothills and some blowing snow off to the east that I haven’t noticed before. Some wispy clouds in the morning sun added to the scene which kind of made the day 🙂 However, plans to get out on my mountain bike were definitely dampened by the wind and snow, maybe next week!

I hope that this spring brings hope and joy to everyone, especially my readers and that all your plans for the warmer weather come to fruition! I know many are struggling with all kinds of issues and it is my fervent prayer that with the onset of the warm sunshine peace and prosperity will seek out and find each and every one of you 🙂

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Happy Winter Solstice

Alone in the woods in the coldness and darkness of the Rocky Mountain winter Christmas and the New Year holidays become meaningless dates on an arbitrary calendar, nights to be endured not celebrated… The birth of Christ, celebrated all over the world by families almost certainly did not occur exactly on the 25th of December anyway. In those Spartan circumstances another date becomes meaningful, tangible and measurable. It is the solstice, the day when the sun halts it’s southward journey assuring us that the next day will be a little lighter, for some an encouraging concept even if only a few seconds at first.

Fortunately the great celestial moment is not quite as important to me this year. After a decade of sickness, death and hardship I am finally on the rebound with a new town, a new job and a new home. Amazing what modern insulation, a solid roof and a good furnace can do to ease the hardship of a Colorado winter!

Rest assured the birth of my Saviour has not been forgotten, in fact the miracle of a new start making me all the more appreciative of His great mercy and divine provision. Personally I subscribe to the belief that He was born on the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles, the clue given by the Apostle John as he describes His coming to tabernacle among us. 

Although I will not refrain from the joy of the traditional holiday season this year, I feel no guilt in also celebrating the wonder of His magnificent creation, marked today by the amazing annual astronomical event in the heavens 

So it is my sincere hope that my readers will also receive some comfort in knowing that the light of day is on the increase and the warmth of spring is not that far off!

Happy Solstice!

Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving, ​This day in November of the year 1621, when the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered at Plymouth to give thanks to the Almighty for their survival and a bountiful harvest.

This Thanksgiving I too give thanks for my survival, the culmination of a decade of hardship, loss, sickness and death. I Watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles for the first time in years, a long tradition abandoned after Tricia’s passing. To be honest I wasn’t sure I would ever want to celebrate the holiday again and I am stunned at the developments of this year. 

The year began with an injury severe enough to prevent me from my usual duties unloading trucks at Walmart, another winter of wretched survival and the terrible isolation of life in a 1971 camper trailer.

This Thanksgiving finds me in a new home in a new town with a new career, surrounded by friends and family and a turkey baking in the oven. I know none of this would be possible without a miracle crafted in Heaven by the Almighty Himself and there are no words to describe how grateful I am.

I am well aware however, that there are many still living in quiet desperation who will not be celebrating in comfort this year and it is my fervent prayer that the Lord will sustain them through the hard times as he did me.

 “I will give you beauty for ashes and turn your morning into dancing.”

Bald Mountain

The trail to Bald Mountain is only a few blocks from my house, a five or six mile round trip journey to the highest point in the local vicinity. I used to like to climb up there at least once a week to see all the birds and enjoy the tranquility up there. From there the traffic can no longer be heard at all and almost no one ever  goes up there.

Bald Mountain

Bald Mountain

It was about one year ago that Tricia lost the use of her legs and I had to care or be within a short distance in case there were problems, unless of course I could get someone to sit for her. But people are busy and a sick person hooked up to oxygen hoses is a scary prospect, so I pretty much just sat on my butt for a year. Getting  back into shape this month has been a challenge. Weak and stiff muscles and bones don’t want to respond to the challenge as quickly as they used to.

But I have been diligently hiking the lower trails and my strength is coming back. There is a saddle between two peaks that is the next step from the lower trails and is on a pretty steep incline. Successfully made that climb a few times recently, so yesterday when I got there I felt pretty good and decided to just go for it. Yesterday was the first time in over a year that I had been there, I did it. I made it to the top of Bald Mountain. And I think it was some kind of breakthrough.

I didn’t spend the entire time on the hike thinking about the past, only of the tranquility of the present and some of the future. I noticed that I was just enjoying the fact that I had no place to be, no one calling me on the cell phone, nothing to hurry back down the mountain to take care of. In fact, feeling no guilt at all, I just turned the stupid phone off. There was peace to be found on the mountainside yesterday and my nature therapy seems to have finally paid off. For some, a lot of talking is the proper therapy. For me, some quality alone time in the woods is the best therapy.

The view from the top is magnificent and teeming with wildlife, albeit mostly quite diminutive, especially during the day. The birds were singing loudly and happily and hawks soared high above. The sound of the breeze in the pines is very soothing and the solitude therapeutic. The Mosquito Mountain Range is visible off to the west and Pikes Peak looms overhead to the south. The Rampart Range and Devil’s Tower provide the panorama to the north. The exercise was great and I’m looking forward to many more treks to the top of Bald Mountain. It makes me want to say to the world, “I’m back!” 🙂

Thirty Days

Thirty days has passed since Tricia went home to Jesus and the knife edge of the pain has dulled a bit. Four weeks has been enough to organize my new place and develop some semblance of a new routine. My cats too seem to have settled in, found their favorite window perches and have started to play again. Buddy took it hardest as he was her lap cat and the one who took it upon himself to try to make her feel better. But he too seems to have found a new normal and finds comfort in helping me watch TV in the evenings. There is still much to do though, now that I have all my belongings moved I see that there is still way too much and way more than I need. They say the fire danger is high already, I think I will look at it as if there were already a fire in the vicinity threatening this location. I want to be ready to just hook up and go.

The main thing I have noticed though is that with the passing of just thirty days I am able to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Towards the end of Tricia’s life there was total focus on her condition. There was so much going on all the time and the need so great that there just wasn’t time for anything else. Now I notice that I have time to rise above it all, to look at what came before and to think about what will come next. Life is still one day at a time, but I don’t need so much attention on the now that I can’t think ahead and behind.

I can also feel strength returning to my legs. Being able to just walk out the door and onto the trail each morning has been a good thing. I think today I will tackle the upper loop. Next week I should be ready to climb to the top of the ridge and maybe all the way to Bald Mountain. Last year about this time I had purchased a book on the Lost Creek Wilderness and was looking forward to doing some exploring. Last year it wasn’t meant to be, but I have found the book and maybe this will be the year.

Layers of Stress

`At first, upon Tricia’s death I was even more stressed out than I was before. But as time passes I can feel myself unwinding, as if it is one layer at a time. For so long I have been in a race against time, running one errand at a time and coming right home to see if everything is OK, followed by a sprint to another errand or appointment. Doctor’s appointments were literally an all day scramble to get ready and get there on time. A missed appointment could be a catastrophe, another week without medicine, pain pills or referrals to necessary treatments. Too long at any one errand and I could find a plugged air hose, a missed medication, or a relapse into AD.

So now I find myself still racing around, heart pounding, running and racing, skipping meals and forgoing my own needs. But each day is a little better, a little more relaxed, a little more like I used to be. Today I was on my way to Denver via Black Forest and I noticed I was speeding and my heart was pounding, and I thought to myself, why? There was no real possibility of anything going wrong, I just had to make a little drive and come back. And if I could just slow down, I could even make a nice day out of it. So I forced myself to think of the pleasant things that would come after my appointment. Lunch, I wanted to have lunch. I haven’t had time to stop for lunch anywhere in a year. So when I got back to the Springs I decided to get a salad at the salad buffet on Garden of the Gods Road. And I forced myself to not hurry.

View through the keyhole

View through the keyhole

Soon I was proceeding past Garden of the Gods and I thought, why not pull in? Why not drive through it instead of past it? But what about the time? Well what about it, I have plenty of it now. Once in the park it was so beautiful. Brilliant snow covering the peak and the early spring light bathing the red sandstone spires with beautiful afternoon glow. The weather was perfect as I was hurrying through, and I thought, why am I hurrying again? Why not stop and take a walk? I have been wanting to try the Spring Canyon trail for a long time, so I forced myself to pull in and park. It was so worth it to see new parts of the park that I had no idea even existed from racing past on the road. Fantastic views of the peak, rock features that I had never seen or even heard of. I was hoping to snap a couple of pictures so I would have something to do tonight and I ended up with eighty. I will be busy from these for a while!

Finally I let the boy kitties out the back door for some sun and exercise. For some reason they didn’t take off as usual and were just hanging around the door as if they wanted something. My chair in the backyard was in the sunshine and it looked so inviting, so I just decided once again to stop everything and just go watch them play. They were happy to see me out there once again after months of having to entertain themselves. Soon they were back to running back and forth, batting around various objects that have collected in the yard over the winter. I forgot how much I enjoyed my kitty time. As I sit there watching their fun my mind slows down and the important things manage to bubble to the top while the days unimportant problems sink to the bottom.

So as I continue this journey it is like stress is falling off in layers. Entire levels of worry melting away. New plans forming, messages I need to send to old friends, and most important of all… I am starting to feel closer to my God again. He has felt so distant for so long but as I rested in the yard with my critters it started to sink in that He was never distant, only obscured by so many layers of stress that have been piling on gradually without notice until they had become an unbearable burden. But time passes and with each day another layer falls off. I don’t know how long it will take, but I hope soon the burden will be lifted.

Comfort Zone

A perfect morning here in the mountains, cool and crisp under the amazing blue Colorado sky. I enjoyed smelling the pines while drinking my morning coffee and pondering my next project.

It occurred to me that we about three weeks out from the Leadville 100 Mile Run and even though I’m not running I still have the feeling of excitement and anticipation that I had when I was running. The last three weeks are crucial to race planning so I published an article of advice for activities that help round out the last three weeks of the year long preparation for the race.

So that about  covers the summer race reporting for my Examiner column except for the Pro Bicycle Series which I will be covering right in my home town. Looking ahead, I am going to be coming out of my comfort zone. Doing stories on events and places is one thing, an interview with  a real person is another. I’m going to jump into the deep end and am going to do an exclusive story on a woman who is recovering from brain surgery. Stay tuned to the Examiner as I follow her efforts to go from brain surgery to the Boston Marathon.