A Walk in the {State} Park

It seems that some of the others in the house have caught the adventure bug! Since the youngest of the family was off work today, we decided to take advantage of the situation and drive south to Castlewood Canyon, a state park located just outside of historic Franktown, Colorado. The beautiful 2,634 acre park has something to offer for everyone from easy paved scenic paths to difficult paths that climb over rocks and up cliffs.

Mom and the sisters were along for the adventure today, IMG_0344 - Copyand none of us had been to this particular park, so it was an adventure for everyone. We started out on the Canyon View Nature Trail, an easy paved path that wove around the top of the canyon. With a very desert like climate the area was dry, full of rocks and dry climate plants, and had one too many rattlesnake warnings for my liking. The views were phenomenal though! The youngest is usually terrified of heights and so we were a little weary of some of the places we were dragging her, but there we no spots that she didn’t want to walk out and look! Truly a beautiful sight!

After about a mile at the top of the canyon, we took the Inner Canyon trail. A moderate dirt trail, the path went quickly down a number of steps and right into the heart of the canyon. Once there it was like being in the middle of a completely new world! Inside you could seIMG_0348e just how deep the canyon truly was. Cherry Creek runs right through the middle of the Canyon. It was clear and cool, even in the middle of the summer, and there were a number of families playing in the water. We know for next time that a pair of water shoes will help to make the adventure that much more fun. Because of the creek and the amount of water running through the bottom of the canyon, the ecosystem at the bottom is completely different from that at the top. Flowers and trees grow abundantly and there is enough shade to cool the bottom off by an extra few degrees. You wouldn’t have thought that you were in the middle of a “desert” just a few minutes ago.

Just past the end of this trail is the ruins of the old dam that was responsible for much of the region’s formation. As my mom stated: “It seems that a lot of popular parks stared with a massive flood.” Cherry Creek has always run through the region, and in the 1800s, the residents decided to build a dam on it. The Castlewood Dam IMG_0354was finished around 1890. Many residents in the area stated that they had fears that the dam was not safe. They were proved correct on August 3, 1933 when after a heavy rain, the dam bust releasing a 50 foot tall wall of water that reached all the way to Denver (about 30 – 40 miles away). It was the second largest flood in the area to date. All that is left of the dismal history is one small section of the wall.

After checking out the historical site, we continued up Lake Gulch Trail. By this point everyone was hot and tired and it came to out attention that most of this trail was going to be back up to the top of the canyon. I would claim that the climb was totally worth it with the beautiful views of the valley that once was the dammed up lake and the beautiful Rocky Mountains starting to peek up over the horizon.

After making it to the top of the canyon we headed back to the car, but we didn’t leave the park without stopping by a couple of other popular sites in the area. We drove tIMG_0376o the west side of the park and were able to see both the canyon falls and the Homestead historical site. Both were beautiful features, but with tired legs and a limited about of time we were only able to take a couple of pictures before heading out. The historical site is definitely on my list of hikes to make the next time I am there. Home to the Lucas family in the late 1800s (Yes, they were present in the home on the wrong side of the dam when it burst! Luckily everyone survived!) there are still a few ruins of the homestead they built on the property at the time. We were able to see a few of the buildings,  but would have had to hike to see the others so we decided to save it for our next trip.

IMG_0370 I will definitely be going back sometime soon. We didn’t get to walk the entire east side of the canyon. Not as popular as the other areas, the East Canyon trail goes out to Bridge Canyon Overlook! Who wouldn’t want to see that view?! (My sisters. They wouldn’t, but I’m trying to be more adventurous so let’s lean over a couple of railings!) Then of course there are miles of trails on the west side that we didn’t even get to touch! With beautiful waterfalls, the homestead, and even a cave at the top of the canyon wall the west side of the canyon is a full day on its own. I can’t wait! If you are ever in the area (Colorado Springs or Denver) this is definitely worth the day trip and the $7 parking pass. Now on to my next adventure – whatever that will be!

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Fun Run Friday- Weeks 1 & 2

Double post today, well because the post this morning was meant to go out last night but I fell asleep before I got around to proofing and finishing it. So it went out this morning and since it’s Friday I have to post my Fun Run Friday pictures. So you are getting a double dose of me today.

The idea for Fun Run Friday came to me last week. I am desperately trying to stay in shape and since I am surrounded by so many beautiful parks and places to explore there is no point in going on the same monotonous suburban run every day. So I decided that every Friday I am going to choose a place and run there. The list seems to get longer every day, and I cannot wait to explore some of these beautiful place that might as well be right in my backyard.

Fun Run Friday Week 1: Cherry Creek State Park

Last Friday was my first day trying my new adventure, and I was a little hesitant about the whole thing so I decided to start small. About 15 minutes from where we live is Cherry Creek State Park. A beautiful preserve in the heart of Aurora, Colorado. Since entry to the IMG_2840park is $9, I parked at a small rec field across from where I work. Here I was able to catch a trail that ran right into the park. That’s one of the greatest things that the city of Denver and it’s suburbs provide for its residents, there are so many biking and running trails, somewhere between 800 miles that run from city to city and all the way into the heart of Denver. You don’t ever have to run down the side of the road to get somewhere.

Cherry Creek State Park is one of the gems in the heart of a bustling city.  Once you are in it seems like you are out on the prairies. Rolling hills for miles, beautiful flowers, and lots of wildlife. Once in I got off Cherry Creek Trail and took Railroad Bed Tail until it was time to turn around. This trail is a fantastic single person unpaved trail that rCherry Creek State Park with mountainsuns right alongside the main trail in the park. I have run this trail on many occasions and it has quickly become one of my favorites. The only issue I had with it was that one small section was so overgrown with thistle (massive, massive highly thorny plant) that I was forced to jump off and take the pavement for a little while. Definitely a place to check out if you are in the area. Next time I will be parking closer to the reservoir, so that I can get more water scenery for my next run here.

 

Fun Run Friday Week 2 – Red Rocks Amphitheater

IMG_2857This week I decided to drive a little bit further to go somewhere I had never been before. On the other side of the city of Denver, about 45 minutes from where I live, is the city of Morrison. It’s a really quaint and cute city with one giant outdoor concert hall. Some of the top bands have performed here over the years. When it’s not in use for concerts it’s a fitness junkie’s heaven. I was already in awe when I pulled up. The red rocks that gives the venue its name pop against the foothill of the Rocky Mountains. At this point I realized that it was a long uphill just to get to the bottom of the amphitheater which has you out of breath before yIMG_2850ou ever take a step inside. Once there you see that it is pretty packed for 9:30 on a Friday, all people working out: running up the steps, running through the rows, frog jumps, and anything else your mind could dream up. Another post I saw today was absolutely right: “Best free gym ever!” I took to running rows. Run across a row, jump up to the next, and run down that one. All the way to the top covered two miles and then another two miles back to the bottom. I had hoped to do more than four miles, but a dead GPS watch changed that plan. By far my favorite place to run so far. About half way up you start to see over the stage, and you can see for MILES! Absolutely breathtaking, words can’t describe what I saw. Hopefully my pictures will help!

Well that’s it for this week’s fun run! See you again next week – I’ll be going to either Wash Park or City Park right in the heart of downtown Denver.

Just a little thought

I don’t believe in coincidences. Never have. To me everything happens for a reason. So when crazy little things pop up at the perfect moment, I know that it’s the Lord’s will. While days have been really good lately having to wake up at 4:30am for the morning shift at work  makes for a long day. By the time my mom got home yesterday afternoon I was exhausted and feeling a little down. I went out though because, hey, who doesn’t enjoy a little shopping. I decided last minute that we should stop by TJ Maxx. It’s one of my favorite stores, but that’s a story for another time. While we were there and my mother was checking out, I picked up one of the cute little journals on display, flipped through it, and stopped on one of the pages to read what it said:

“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

-Psalm 100:5

Just what I needed to read at the time! The Lord surely is good and faithful! Good and faithful enough to know exactly what I needed to hear at that point in time. I am always amazed that He knows our hearts and provides for us accordingly. No matter how many times we turn away or choose sin over Him, he continues to love us. I love the little things He does for me, and I pray for His continued blessings and ever gracious love

On moving on

 

Almost two months ago I loaded up my car, stuWinnie the Pooh movingffing as many of my belongings into the backseat and trunk as you can possibly fit into a Volkswagen Jetta, and started the 1500 mile drive from my home in Columbus, GA to Denver, CO. I had prepared my roommate who was making the trip with me ahead of time: “I’m a crier. This first half an hour could get rough.” We grabbed our coffees and headed out-of-town. Nothing. I started driving and didn’t even think about looking back. Maybe it was knowing that I would be back in just over a month to pick up the rest of my stuff or that I was excited about the adventure that was ahead. Maybe it was all the struggles I had faced in the previous semester that I was ready to escape or that I was excited to see my family after living so far away. Most likely it was because I had my best friend and partner in crime in the passenger seat and I was terrified that my car was going to completely break down with the load it was having to carry across the country. Nothing happened. No tears. No heartbreak. No longing to turn around, pondering the “What ifs”, or regretting the decision I had made. We made it to Colorado with no major issues (Praise the Lord!) and I quickly settled into my summer home.

Three weeks ago I went back to pick up the last of my belongings and help my roommates clean up before we vacated. At that time it finally hit me: I was leaving. I stood alone in my apartment before heading to the airport to catch a flight back to Denver checking to make sure that I wasn’t leaving anything behind. The place wasn’t lavish, but we had made it home and there were so many memories that it held. Dance parties, many meals, love, heartbreak, healing, friendship. I had lived in Columbus for nearly a decade at that time. I had graduated high school and college there. I had fallen in love, broken hearts, grown up, and found myself in that small city. I was leaving behind my best friends, mentors, and people I loved. Locking the door and walking down those steps knowing that it was the last time that I would call Columbus my home was heartbreaking. It took everything I had to stay composed that drive to the airport.

In the weeks since I have learned that maybe moving on in life isn’t always so sweet and simple. I continue to miss my friends and my old home. I think I always will a little bit, but that it will get better with time. I find that the “What if” and other troubling questions come a little less often than they did when I first got back. I try to remember that I felt called to come here, and I must follow that calling no matter what the struggles may be. I have learned to stay busy and find solace in the little things (Dear cute little planner, you complete my day sometimes). I find company in my coworkers and love being at work where there are more people my age and I feel less alone. And of course going back to exploring Denver and its surroundings has reignited my desire for adventure. I’m currently mapping out all the other places that I have to go before it’s back to school at the end of August.

While things seem hard, I know that the future looks bright. I know that once I get to Boulder for school in the fall I will meet plenty of new people who, just like me, are trying to recreate themselves in a new city. I will find out where I’m supposed to be, things will  begin to fall into place, and the questions will all answer themselves. Plus I will have bought a plane ticket back to Georgia to escape the grueling Colorado winter and attend my best friend’s wedding! Until then I will continue to pray for guidance and comfort, take pride and trust in the decision I have made, and learn that moving on is a process you take one day at a time.

 

More to Come…

… once UPS gets here.

A broken computer is never fun. Having that computer break during the middle of finals week- even worse. So with no personal computer for the last two months I’ve been struggling a little recently. But my new one is out for delivery today! Whohoo! No longer having to steal the family laptop to work on my blog and upload pictures means that I’m not tethered to the house and specific posting hours. So in other words: lots of new updates coming soon!

Update: New computer is here!! Can’t wait to get things rolling!!