Four Awesome Small Businesses Breckenridge, Colorado

While there are countless businesses and restaurants throughout Summit County, in Breckenridge, Colorado,  four awesome small businesses caught our eye.

Main Street in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Our family so enjoyed the time we spent this past week in Breckenridge, Colorado. Such a quaint town, filled with amazing restaurants and stores. Any foodie would be happy to check out all the options for meals here!

As we meandered down Main Street, it was fun to see some really great small shops, not just thriving, but seemingly doing really well.

'I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non successful ones is pure perseverance.' Steve Jobs

I love to support “Mom and Pop” businesses and these four reminded me of this type of shopping.

All four businesses have great opportunities for purchases via the web, so if they sound interesting and unique to you, I hope you will reach out to them!

(1) The Glass Art Company 

Owner Jesse Denny

970-232-0720

theglassartco@gmail.com

411 Main Street Breckenridge, CO 80424

One thing that was unique about this small business was the many items  offered by the owner, Jesse Denny. A cool number of glass containers including wine glasses, mason jars, and decanters, Denny also will personalize a full bottle of wine with a wedding invitation or other special memento.  All items can be shipped within days to any location in the U.S. Pup, Betty, the welcome committee for this glass art enterprise made for an extra special visit!

Betty welcomes guests as they arrive at The Glass Art Company in Breckenridge, CO.
Small business isn't for the faint of heart. It's for the brave, the patient, and the persistent. It's for the overcomer. Unknown

(2) The Continental Divide Winery

Only opened around Christmas 2016, this has become a cool and comfortable place to hang out with Leanne and John Bellncula while tasting Colorado wines, California wines, or some other varieties.

Cheers!

Behind every small business, there's a story worth knowing. All the corner shops in our towns, cities, the restaurants, cleaners, gyms, hair salons, hardware stores--these didn't come out of nowhere. Paul Ryan

(3) Cabin Fever: Mountain Lifestyle

Gina Shirley

122 South Main Street

Breckenridge, Co 80424

970-547-8121

This was one of my favorite shops in all of Breckenridge! They have such a great variety of wildlife art, home decor and accessories. Leah and Scott were able to find the perfect gift for Scott’s Mom since she helped them out with their pups while they spent time with us.

Here are a few things we picked up from Cabin Fever to use in our little piece of heaven in Blue Ridge, GA.

(4) Fresh Soap Company

Heather Hansen, soap artist

heather@freshsoapcompany.com

411 South Main Street

Breckenridge, Co 80424

970-423-7194

Operated by sisters, Kim and Heather, this is a quaint business that has been located at 411 South Main Street for the past five years. If you are looking for a unique gift for a friend or family member, perhaps someone who is recovering from surgery or going through some other difficult season of life. They have a wide variety of comforting items to add to a personalized container ready to be shipped anywhere in the U.S.

I still remember when our children were small, and we would stop in at Stancil’s Pharmacy in our Brookstone neighborhood. Our friend, a pharmacist, David Stancil owned this small business for many years. It was always a treat to stop in and visit with David! He treated our children as his special friends, and always had a lollipop to give to them.

  As we travel around and in our own communities, let’s consider supporting smaller businesses!

Bridge Across My Sorrows A Difficult, But Important Read

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Bridge Across My Sorrows is a book I picked up during the summer. I suppose I will always be drawn to books about true people and how each one faced their own unique challenges in their life. Maybe it is because I have my own personal obstacles I have had to face, and this motivates me to read story after story of how an individual conquered their life’s trials.

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Christine and her sibs. (1950)
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Sunshine kids take a nap.

The 315 page paperback book I just finished is no exception. Another true account, Bridge Across My Sorrows, by Christina Noble with Robert Coram, like me, will surely send you realizing the potential there is within a beating heart. Noble rises above unimaginable and despicable poverty from a life of being a street child in Dublin, Ireland, to go on to make a shining difference in the lives of street children in Vietnam.

We see a human spirit of shining dignity courage and resilience--it is not a surprise when she ultimately turns her life into a magnificent act of love and generosity. Mia Farrow's remarks about this Noble's story

Seriously, her life between birth and well into her adulthood is so heartbreakingly painful, that I had to put the book down and breathe for a moment.

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These were two of Christina’s first sights upon arriving in Vietnam.

So why would I want you and others to read such a story right here in the midst of a hot summer’s end, as school buses are rolling again? I would say the main reason to read it is to be inspired by Nobles indomitable courage in the face of violence, neglect, and abuse. Christina Noble has risen above and beyond all of that.

WE CAN, TOO, no matter our life circumstances. This book has been made into a 2014 movie, entitled NOBLE: A Fearless Life A Reckless Love,  which stars Deidre O’Kane, Sarah Greene, and Gloria Cramer Curtis as Christina at different seasons in her life journey. If you have Amazon Prime, you can view this movie for free.

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Christina with two of her sunshine children. (1993)

What true stories—from either a movie,play, or in book form have impacted the choices you have made in your life journey? Think about it!

Peace Like A River Attendeth My Way

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The Toccoa River in North Georgia, so peaceful!

Last month, I wrote about the famous hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul”. The first line starts like this:

“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll.”

This past week, Donny and I took the most peaceful adventure, a tandem kayak, with Blue Ridge Mountain Kayaking. We kayaked for 3 hours down the beautiful Toccoa River in North Georgia, and this song, the tune, the lyrics kept coming to my mind.  I was reminded of a word my Daddy used all the time: equanimity, calm amidst a storm. I considered how important it is to have faith, in good times and in bad times.

Hope is like a yeast, you know, rising under warmth. Leif Enger, author of the novel, Peace Like A River

As we paddled leisurely, my cell phone, in the dry bag, rang with the news that Donny’s Dad’s condition is changing again. Dad Page has been struggling quite a bit since March 14, 2015. He continues to be under the care of Hospice, and Wendy, his R.N. wanted us to know he seemed to be declining, again.

Life is hard, sometimes, no doubt.

These outfitters, located in Morganton, Georgia, were awesome and we highly recommend them.  They offer fishing trips and many other adventures, in addition to kayaking. This is close enough to Atlanta, Georgia to make a day trip out of it. And with the summer season heating up, the ice cold waters of the Toccoa feel oh, so good, although we were thankful we didn’t flip our tandem kayak!

Contact them at 706-258-2411. You won’t be disappointed.

Here are a few more pictures from our adventure.

Wherever you find yourself this Summer 2016, be safe, have fun,  keep the faith, and stay cool!

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My husband, Donny. We’ve been married 34 years on 10/2/82.
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This large group of geese wanted to float with us.
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We saw quite a few fishermen in the Toccoa River.

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When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

Chorus

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

Repeat Chorus

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul

Repeat Chorus

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Peace Like A River

Climb Every Mountain The Great Smoky Mountains

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“Climb Every Mountain,

Ford Every Stream,

Follow Every Rainbow,

‘Till You Find Your Dream.”

(from the musical, The Sound of Music)

Do you have dreams for the future?

In any given moment, we are guided by one of two maps: a vision map, which is a deliberate map for our future, or a default map, which is made up of our past. Choices made from our default map---our repetitive, automatic programming---DO NOT nourish our flames, nor do they move us closer to our dreams. AND even though they might feel right to us, they do simply because they are familiar. The right questions wake you up! from page 23, The Right Questions: 10 Essential Questions To Guide You To An Extraordinary Life, Debbie Ford

Have you begun to let some of those dreams slip away? Nearly one year ago, my hiking buddy, Kathy invited me to join her and three friends for a hiking adventure. I immediately said yes, not knowing that this past week, our eight-hour hike up, viewing the sunset from a 7,000 foot vista, and trekking back down in six hours would inspire me so.  After my recent climb up to the Summit of Mt. Le Conte in the Great Smoky Mountains, my dreams have been rekindled. Laughing, singing Rod Stewart, songs from musicals, Carole King, and JT, telling long stories, and “unplugging for a time” all served to rejuvenate and inspire the five of us!

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thanks for this, Melissa Chambers! Let’s Do This!

Especially in light of the horrific current events in Orlando, Florida, it is easy to feel discouraged, defeated, and hopeless, too. If your dreams are trying to die on you, watch this for inspiration!

It has been said that “getting old is not for sissies”, and as I draw nearer to the end of my fifth decade, I am finding this to be true. Life, at any stage, takes great courage. Climbing a huge mountain has helped to decrease my fears and rebuild my courage for the days ahead.

I was able to celebrate my friend, Cyndi’s 60th birthday this past Saturday and a friend I saw there shared that she found it hard to do things for herself during this season of her life, with grown married children and grandchildren now here. I told her about the 3 nights I snuck away to climb Mt. Le Conte with friends, and how doing that ( I am hoping) will make me a stronger and more loving woman, Mother, and Mom-In-Law, as well as a Grandma to our (future) grandchildren. <smile>

So what are the dreams you have had in your past that might be trying to slip away because of time and circumstances? What’s on your list, what “mountains” would you like to climb to gain serenity and hope for the future? Our adventure happened to be extremely physically challenging, but your dreams and my dreams can be whatever they are, unique to each one of us: keeping a journal, visiting a historical nearby community you’ve been thinking of,  increasing your fitness, snagging 15-30 minutes each day for some solitude, some alone time, and more. Take a few moments to sit quietly, perhaps with pen and paper at hand, and jot down a few of your dreams.

Dreams CAN come true, like the rigorous hike that five women, including a social worker, three nurses, and a teacher, all in our fifties took on June 7-8, 2016.  Though there are no showers or electricity at the top, the Mt. Le Conte staff took great care of us feeding us delicious, family style meals. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I will use mostly pictures to share our experience with you. Click here to see a cool, short video about the LLAMA Train that takes place on Trillium Gap Trail 2-3 times each week!

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We hiked up this trail. The first 2.7 miles is part of the AT!
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We hiked down this trail. We were able to see the llamas several times!

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Getting started at Newfound Gap. The first 2.7 miles of Boulevard Trail is part of the AT!
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My hiking buddy, Kathy.
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Connecting with Nature.
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A panoramic view of the vistas and Kathy.
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A favorite spot: Myrtle Point
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A fellow hiker taking in the sunset.
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A panoramic view of our sunset on June 7, 2016, Cliff Top.
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Pure Joy pouring from my new friend, Linda.
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Lisa staying warm at sunset, Cliff Top.
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Our cabin. The bucket was for the hot water to wash our faces with!
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Recorded on my Apple Watch after the hike down.
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Tho we saw no bears, there were lots of sightings in the days just following our visit.
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At 6,593 feet, Mt. Le Conte is the 3rd highest peak in the Smokies.
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The llama train travels 3 days each week, delivering supplies to the Lodge.
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Almost to the end of Trillium Gap Trail.
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Grotto Falls, about 1.5 miles up from Trillium Gap Trailhead.

IMG_3684Let’s Keep Our Dreams Alive!

St. Louis With Family

Commercial airplane

Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow. Anita Desai

Donny and I took a short trip to St. Louis, Missouri this past weekend to visit our son and his bride of nearly two years. Though the flight was short, the turbulence was worse than usual, causing the attendants to suspend beverage service for awhile. In addition, the landing was one of the most tumultuous we’ve experienced. Still, as we exited the plane, as always, I thanked the attendants, and I looked straight into the Captain’s eyes, saying, “Thank you for the safe travel.” Some of them are surprised by my statement, but all seem to appreciate it. You may want to try this the next time you step off an airplane! I never want to take traveling mercies for granted, another lesson my Mama taught me.

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Dinner at Central West End
The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see. G.K. Chesterson

Arriving at 3:00 p.m. on a Friday gave us a nice long visit with our children, Walker, a Ph.D Philosophy student at SLU (Saint Louis University) and Jessica, a nurse at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Jess is also working on a Masters in Nursing Education. Jessica’s birthday was the Wednesday before our arrival, so we got to celebrate with her! Both carved out time from work and studying to play with us for the weekend! We love the old architecture and homes scattered through this Midwestern U.S. city. We visited them Easter 2015 and you can read about that visit by clicking here.

Did you know? In 1904, St. Louis hosted the 1904 World’s Fair and the 1904 Summer Olympics, becoming the first non-European city to host the Olympics.

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happy Mama

The best part of our entire weekend away was just being together. Whether we were sharing a meal, getting a haircut, loving on Louis the cat, planting flower pots, playing cards, hanging out talking, or heading to church.

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favorite post-church lunch spot
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A cold beer is included with your cut!
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LOUIS!
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“Being a good Dad starts with presence, not presents.” anonymous
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our gift: wind chimes from Pier One Imports
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Saturday brunch/lunch farm-to-table…a “must-try”
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With 100% chance of rain, we were happy with a short break in the weather!
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These tall pink hibiscus will bloom soon!
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time out for worship at Memorial
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reflection for congregation at Memorial
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It is always so fun to hang out in St. Louis!
I sustain myself with the love of family. Maya Angelou

After a special time with our family, it was good to return to our home, even with all the congestion and traffic. “There’s no place like home.”

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Thanks, Walker and Jess for your awesome hospitality! We look forward to our next trip when Leah and Scott can join us!

On a side note, our baby birds flew away and into their own journey while we were in Missouri. Click here to read about some of our bird adventures at our home this Spring.

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Mommy or Big Baby, I’m not sure!?!
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The wreath where the nest was built.

Gift From The Sea

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two unknown little people on SSI illustrating freedom on the beach

IMG_0404Do you love the beach as much as I do? There is just something about it. The continual ebb and flow of the surf will forever remind me of the running moments of our everyday life, constantly moving, with its inevitable ups and downs.

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Our son-in-law, Scott, with Dory and Gracie, Monday, 7/18/16.

There are many gifts from the sea: rest, sunshine, freedom,

recreation, reflection, togetherness, nature, just to name a few.

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The vast empty beach on Cumberland Island, Georgia.

One of my favorite books is Gift From The Sea, by, Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Did you know? Anne Morrow Lindbergh died at the age of 94, in 2001, after a life filled with flying over seas, walking along beaches, and living on islands. Just three years after her marriage to Charles Lindbergh, a famous aviator, their first-born was kidnapped and tragically killed on March 1, 1932. Up to this time, the couple lived in the U.S., but they moved to Europe after this horrific event for privacy. Later, the Lindbergh life was filled with five married children and twelve grandchildren.

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But what I really have loved about this remarkable woman and author, is this book that she penned in 1955.  Lindbergh shares so much wisdom about women and even more, about mothering. I have read and reread this book dozens of times, mostly always with my feet on some sandy beach as I make notations about what I am reading. Here are some photos from pages of my copy where I have made notation after notation.

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Just inside the cover, I noted the beaches I was sitting on.

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In her book, Lindbergh chooses a variety of shells and compares them with different seasons in a woman’s life journey. If you are planning a beach trip in the next few months, I hope you will consider picking up a copy of this book and taking it along in your beach bag down to the surf. I would love to hear what you think about Lindbergh’s wise and beautiful book. Lindbergh was forever surprised that a book written to work out her own problems as a woman, spoke to so many other women, and it still does, today.

Our Fernbank Elementary School girlfriend group of eight tries to travel to the beach whenever we can whether it be Seaside, Florida, Hilton Head, South Carolina, or St. Simon’s Island, where Mary and her sister, Beth have their parents’ villa. While there, we’ve lately tried to go on an adventure. In 2015, we traveled a short distance to both Jekyll Island and Sapelo Island. This year, though only three of us could make it, we decided to head to Cumberland Island, the southernmost of the Golden Isles. This island is located on the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the U.S. state of Georgia and is part of Camden County, Georgia. The island is 17.5 miles long, with an area of 36,415 acres, including 16,850 acres of marsh, mudflats, and tidal creeks. There is no bridge to the island; most visitors reach the island by the Cumberland Ferry from St. Marys. (from Wikipedia)

After a yummy, casual brunch at the Cedar Oak Cafe, Mary, Jan, and I ferried over from the quaint, coastal town of St. Marys and spent a few hours on the island, seeing the ruins, many wild horses, and picnicking on the empty beach. Not knowing for sure how far away we were from the ferry pick-up, we had quite an adventure half speed walking and half jogging, making it right as they were closing the gate and starting the ferry’s engine! Here are just a few pictures of our time on Cumberland Island:

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Cumberland Island Adventure
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Just off the ferry, Mary and Jan take the oak lined path on Cumberland Island
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Wild horses among the countless oaks, and…
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…in the surf on Cumberland Island
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Mary and Jan map out our Cumberland Island adventure in front of the Dungeness Ruins

Time with girlfriends, regardless of our age, is so vital, and Lindbergh talks about this in her book, too. Beach trips like this offer an opportunity to air our problems, make discoveries about ourselves, laugh, play, and compare our life experiences. This is one of the best gifts from the sea!

“The waves echo behind me. Patience, faith, openness, is what the sea has to teach. Simplicity…Solitude…Intermittency…but there are other beaches to explore.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001)

Our nephew, Titus Ray and his parents recently visited Cannon Beach, including Haystack Rock, on the Northern Coast of Oregon. Haystack Rock towers 235 feet over the beach.

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Cannon Beach, Oregon, USA
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Cannon Beach, Oregon, USA
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Titus, age 2, in front of Haystack Rock, on Cannon Beach.
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My favorite beach book and me, 6/30/15 in Corsica, France

Blended Tears Live Love Laugh

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Luma, one of our classroom interpreters comforts a crying student on our final day in Rio.

Yesterday, our team flew safely into Atlanta, Georgia at 6:00 a.m. EST, just as Delta had promised. By 7:30, most of us had reached our homes, hugged our loved ones tightly, and relaxed in a hot shower or luxurious bath. Me… I was tearful, and I couldn’t seem to stop the tears.

...a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:4

While my family was finishing up a relaxing weekend in North Georgia, I came home to a quiet home, but that is not what I was tearful about…My tears were for many reasons…tears of Elation for reaching our homeland after serving in an unimaginable, impoverished community, tears of Gratitude as I walked into the radiant building that is my church home, Piedmont Church, tears of Joy as I hugged tightly many of the friends who had been thinking of us this past week, tears of Anguish as I later visited Donny’s Dad, who has been under the care of Hospice for the past week, tears of Grief as I considered the truth that 11/11/15 marks the third anniversary of my Daddy’s passing at this same place- Wellstar Tranquility Hospice, off of Kennesaw Avenue in Marietta, and blended tears of Hopefulness and Despair as I thought of each boy and girl I had touched in the past week.IMG_7164

Tears come from the heart , not from the brain. Leonardo daVinci

Now, I am quite sure that my tears were also related to fatigue from an all-night flight, but WOW! They sure were flowing yesterday!

And then, THIS picture here below was posted by my friend, Stephanie, in celebration of their 4th child while I was away. Part of the caption especially moved me …

“The world stopped for a moment as your daddy held out his hands to meet you and I waited to hear your first cry. ‘As for me, I will always have hope. I will praise You more and more.’  Psalm 71:14”

Good thing I didn’t try to wear any eye make-up yesterday.12189675_10207824332148795_2391057791809491018_n

When I was looking through the mail Donny had set aside for me, I noticed I had received yet another book.  In case you didn’t already know this about me, I LOVE books, and I usually start one each week. Anne Lamott, being one of my favorite authors, wrote a book in 2013 which I had not had a chance to read and it arrived in my hands at just the right time for all of these tears!  Just think with me for a moment about these words from Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair printed right in the flap:

“What do we do when life lurches out of balance? How can we reconnect to one another and to what’s sustaining? In this book, Lamott explores how we find meaning and peace in these loud and frantic times; where we start again after personal and public devastation; how we recapture wholeness after loss; and how we locate our true identities in this frazzled age. We begin by collecting the ripped shreds of our emotional and spiritual fabric and sewing them back together, one stitch at a time. It’s in these stitches that the quilt of life begins, and embedded in them are strength, warmth, humor, and humanity.”

As I move forward into this week of transitioning from living in a developing community like Rio de Janeiro for a week, to now back to living here in America, where I so easily forget how very blessed I am, I pray that my blended tears will continue. Some may say I wear my heart on my sleeve, but I believe that my blended tears are confirmation to me that there is still plenty for me to do while I am here on this earth. How about you?

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This once again reminds me of my friend, Cathy, who has chosen a life of helping others, using the loss of her collegiate son, Matthew Benjamin Dyas on October 1, 2011, to make a difference in the world while there is still time.

The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say 'O God, forgive me.' or 'Help me. Billy Graham

 Cathy, along with Matt’s father, David elected to donate $500.00 towards art supplies for my recent Rio Journey, because their Matt loved foreign mission trips, going on many trips, himself, before he left us too soon at the age of twenty.

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Cathy encouraging a group of friends to make 1,000 lunches for MUST ministries summer lunch program at the 2015 Matt Dyas Golf Tournament.
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Young boy wears his “Still Doing It” t-shirt to honor Matt Dyas.

Read more here. Cathy is forever challenging others and herself to make a difference however you can, and I so appreciate this challenge that she gives to me.

Make A Difference, Like Matt Did!

JUST DO IT!

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Happy Birthday Rocky Mountain National Park

Happy, Happy 100th Birthday to Rocky Mountain National Park!
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“Tessa” and Evelyn were great guides on our first six mile hike.
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Jane Ellen picks us out some fresh corn at the Estes Farmer’s Market.
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Cindy and Ev find us some tomatoes and fresh green beans at the Estes Farmer’s Market.

As I shared in a recent post, Five Lessons From A Horse, Donny and I had the opportunity to spend four nights in the breathtaking Rocky Mountain area with friends we have shared life with for over four decades…Life doesn’t get much better than that!

It was in the Winter of 1997, when my family and I were driving in a rental car from Denver, Co., to Snowmass for a week of skiing and a conference for Donny. As we admired the snow-capped Rockies, Leah said:

“Look, the Rocky Mountains are all around us, just like God.” 

Leah Page Andrews, age nine

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Jan and JE at the Estes Farmer’s Market

Our friends Ev and Steve have resided in this delightful mountain village for all of their 3+ decades of marriage, raising their two children, Rob and Brooke in this quaint town of Estes Park, CO. One of our first stops was to the weekly Estes Farmer’s Market to stock up on fruits and veggies for our meals we would prepare together during our visit.

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Estes Park will be joining The Rocky Mountain National Park on September 4-5, 2015 in celebrating a 100th Birthday. Click here to read about the Five Top Reasons to Visit Estes Park for the Rocky Mountain National Park Centennial Celebration. The Estes Valley Community will be welcoming visitors of all ages, providing festivals, cultural attractions, world-class musical performances, downtown gardens, playgrounds, river walks, bike trails, and parks.  The Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited national parks, attracting more than 3 million visitors each year!

In years to come when I am asleep beneath these pines, thousands of families will find rest and hope in this park. Enos Mills (1870-1922) an American naturalist and homesteader, the main figure behind the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park

Most of you will easily recall President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression of the 1930s when millions of Americans were unemployed. This New Deal promised to create programs to put people to work. One such program was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). In Rocky Mountain National Park, young male recruits at six camps built roads, trails, and buildings; put out wildfires; planted trees; and managed predators. As we rode horses on August 1, 2015, it was easy to observe the well-built construction of many of these original trails. It was during the 1930s, when labor was readily available, that the National Park Service built Trail Ridge Road. Visitors came to Rocky Mountain National Park in their cars. Unlike other western national parks like Yellowstone, Glacier, and Grand Canyon, a railroad never served Rocky.  It was always an auto park. Because of this, road building was a high priority. Although the Fall River Road traversed the Continental Divide through the park, the road was outdated and difficult to navigate. The new, professionally-designed Trail Ridge Road, at a height of 11,796 feet, undulates between forests and meadows and takes drivers to spectacular heights.

Aside from these spectacular views and the amazing opportunities for snow skiing and snow shoeing, the wildlife, the aspen trees, and the wildflowers also draw multitudes to the Rockies.

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Wearing our “KARL’S KURE” t-shirts, the girls and I stop by Mills Lake to give a thumbs up for Karl, Lisa, and Amelia back in Georgia! RIP KARL WERGINZ and God Bless your precious family!
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Jan peeks around a massive rock on our girls’ 6 mile hike.
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Tessa LOVES her exercise in the Rocky Mountains!

The ptarmigan is miraculously camouflaged perfectly in summer, with “mottled rock” color, and in winter, when it takes on the color of snow.

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rock ptarmigan

Another interesting creature that frequents the Rockies that Evelyn told us about is the bighorn sheep. One of the most important features of the bighorn sheep is the unique structure of its hooves. Rather than being hard like those of a horse or cow, the sheep have rubber-like hooves that allow excellent mobility on steep rock faces.

Bighorn Sheep Climbing on the Rocks. Montana Wildlife.

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On our way to Jewel and Mills Lake on the Glacier Gorge Trailhead…one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen!

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The guys prepare for some fly-fishing at Jewel Lake.
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Jan munches on a sandwich on our huge picnic rock at Jewel Lake.
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Great place to hang my ENO hammock in the woods by our picnic rock overlooking Jewel Lake.
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David gets ready to wet the line in Jewel Lake.
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Cindy takes a break in The Rockies with her horse, Whisper.
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Sid fishes in Jewel Lake and catches a trout to grill for our dinner.

We visited The Stanley Hotel on my birthday after we rode horses through The Rockies.

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The front porch of The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO.

The Stanley in itself is an experience and famous for scenes in a Stephen King movie entitled The Shining in 1977.

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THANKS to Ev and Steve for another amazing visit to The Rockies!
People are made of stories, not atoms. Jarod Kintz, author of This Book is NOT FOR SALE

If you’ve never had the chance to visit the majestic and awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains, I hope you will add this to your bucket list and plan a visit soon. Thanks for stopping by and joining us on our 2015 trip to Estes Park, Colorado!

Click here to listen to John Denver sing his famous Rocky Mountain High song.

Fantastic Festive FRANCE

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On the train from Villefranche to Nice, France.

Arriving in the Port of Villefranche-sur-mer, France at 7 a.m. on Monday, June 29, 2015, Jess and Leah had been researching and made a plan for our day in the magical French Riviera. After taking a short tender boat ride to the land, we set off to find the train station. Taking a six-minute train ride to Nice, France, we started our walking adventure—which in the end tallied up over 15,000 steps on my pedometer!

Many have been asking me what my favorite spot was and when my friend, Mary, from both Fernbank Elementary & Druid Hills High asked me that same question, I told her about this place in the French Riviera. I squealed with delight when she shared with me that she and her family of four had stayed in Villefranche-sur-Mer for a full week back in June 2010 in a VRBO apartment they had rented which looked over the Mediterranean. I knew her family had visited Paris, France on that special trip celebrating their younger son’s high school graduation, their older son’s college graduation, and her husband’s milestone birthday, but I did not realize that they also stayed here in this most magical place for a full week! Now, I want to go back and stay there for a bit, not just for a day!

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A view from a table on this quaint and stunning island in the French Riviera: Villefranche-sur-mer, France
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Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
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Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

As the fifth largest city in France, we all agreed that Nice was even busier and more urban than we expected. Still, with the sparkling Mediterranean tides only steps away at any point, Nice strikes an engaging balance between historic grace, port-town excitement, and high culture. Part of Leah and Jessica’s plan was for us to walk up the stairs at Castle Hill. This was recommended both online in reviews they had read and by friends who had traveled to Nice. While this was quite a hike, I am so glad we made the effort because the pay-off was an incredible viewing of the harbor and the beach as you can see in our selfie-stick group picture here. Free elevators are also available if needed. After our walk, we enjoyed a French lunch at one of the many sidewalk cafes.

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Our view from the top of Castle Hill!
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Strolling through Nice, France
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Donny is happy, happy, happy in Nice, France!
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My Nicoise Salad in Nice, France. YUM!
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In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport.”

Julia Child

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After walking all over Nice, we headed back to Villefranche. Once there, we split up, going our separate ways and I found a small ocean front cafe, named “Beluga,” to try to connect on WiFi so I could check on Donny’s Dad, back at home. Thankfully, our sis, Mary Ann and her husband Jim were available to check on him, and even took one of their grandsons for a visit while we were away. Sitting on an outdoor sofa, I was able to text message with Mary Ann while I sipped on a fresh watermelon mojito, overlooking the dazzling bluish-green Mediterranean Sea.

Back on the ship, the six of us enjoyed a delicious sushi dinner at the Asian cuisine restaurant on board, Silk Harvest.

Our ship departed Villefranche-sur-Mer Port at 7:00 p.m. sharp headed to our next stop in the stunning French Riviera, Ajaccio, Corsica, France 135 nautical miles away.

Again, the six of us went on our own self-guided tour as we strolled around the markets and streets of this seaside town. Ajaccio is a commune on the island of Corsica in France. It is the capital and largest city of the region of Corsica and the location of the government for Corse-du-Sud. Ajaccio is a magical Mediterranean town that has intrigued voyagers for centuries.

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Entrance to the National Museum of the Bonaparte Residence

The big question is: “Why did Napoleon ever leave?” It is a question often asked by people visiting Ajaccio, the birthplace of Bonaparte, and after taking in its beauty, our group of six asked the same question. In Ajaccio, you will find the impressive Ajaccio Cathedral, which dates back to 1582 and is where Napoleon was baptized in 1771. We all enjoyed going through the National Museum of the Bonaparte Residence, although we were disappointed that there was no English interpretation throughout the museum. After the museum stop, we headed to the beach to cool off. What a beautiful place to sit and relax for a bit before heading back to the ship.IMG_4225

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“The Beach” in the French Riviera!
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A view from where we were sitting on the beach on the island of Corsica, France

All in all, our visit to France was fantastic, festive, and truly unforgettable!

Our ship set sail at 6:00 p.m. making its way to our final of three countries: Spain.

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A view of our ship for the tender boat which took us to the port of Villefranche-sur-Mer
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Back on the ship again enjoying the Lawn area with Jessica and Walker
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Donny takes in the sunset from the ship….spectacular!

Thanks for coming along on our June 29-30, 2015 French Riveria adventure!

My next post will be all about our last country to visit:

Splendid Serendipitous Spain.

You can read about our adventures in Italy here

Invigorating Intriguing ITALY

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On the Ponte Vecchio Bridge over the Arno River, Florence, Italy, June 28, 2015

Before our travels began, I headed to the public library to check out the Fodor’s Guide for Italy, France, and Spain. Instead of taking those along with us, I made us each a travel packet specific to the places we were going. Then, I checked out a children’s book for each country. These came in very handy for maps, culture, foods, and more. They made for easy, light reading along the way and because of their size, they were easy to pack.

Our Celebrity cruise ship docked in Florence on Sunday, June 28, 2015, six hours ahead of our clocks back in Atlanta, Georgia. We agreed that with only 12 hours in the Livorno Port, the Tuscan Region of Italy, having a scheduled guide to direct our day was an excellent idea. Thanks to Donny for thinking ahead and setting this up for the six of us!

From Livorno to the city of Florence was about a 50 minute drive and the scenery was beautiful and filled with hills and fertile valleys. I especially enjoyed the huge fields of sunflowers that popped up unexpectedly now and then. Our driver soon delivered us to our spectacular guide, Agnes, who would show us the sights of Florence, explaining everything in great detail as we walked. Later, as I checked my pedometer clipped to my waist, it would register 9,720 steps!

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Here, our guide, Agnes, chats with Scott. She was so knowledgeable and fun to be around. Agnes was a super guide!

Did you know? Michelangelo was first discovered as a gifted artist at the age of 14. He went on to create the masterful David starting in the year of 1449 at the age of 26 and presenting the completed magnum opus at age 29. He unveiled the statue of David in the year 1452 to a thrilled city of Florence. Here below is an example of the exact type of stone which Michelangelo worked with during that time.

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Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

David was always in there in the marble. I just took away everything that was not David.”

Michelangelo (6 March 1475-18 February 1564) an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer of the High Renaissance who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art (Wikipedia)

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The San Lorenzo to the Accademia in Florence, Italy is where David is housed.

Michelangelo clearly created this remarkable work to represent the young man in the well-known Bible Story about David and Goliath. While I have not read Gladwell’s book, David & Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, my Tennessee friend, Susan, has read it and highly recommends it.

You see, Goliath, the Philistine giant, was equal to the heavyweight champion of the world and he had everything going for him. He had every advantage possible. He had great ability and he was trained, equipped, experienced, battle tested and battle hardened, and he was completely fearless. He was totally confident but it could also be said that he was overconfident.
David had no armor, no experience, no equipment, he was not battle tested, nor was he trained. But one thing he had that Goliath also had was confidence but the huge difference was his confidence was in His God and not in his own strength. David looked Goliath square in the eye because He knew that God was with Him in this battle and if God is for you, who can fight against you (see Romans 8:31)? The obvious answer is no one.

Observe his strong fingers wrapped around the stone in the statue of David’s hand. Notice his look of fierce determination. This is a man who was relying on his God, with all of his might. In our day and time, Michelangelo’s work continues to be  an extraordinary illustration of how humans today can choose to live out their lives, trusting in God, no matter how big the battle may seem.

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This angel on the side of the enormous Duomo is believed to watch over and protect the city of Florence.
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Arno River in Florence, Italy standing on the Ponte Vecchio bridge

The historic center of Florence, Italy, is flat and compact—you can walk from one end to the other in half an hour. In the middle of everything is the Duomo, also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore with its huge dome towering over the city’s terra-cotta rooftops. The first stone for the Duomo was placed on September 8, 1296, and took more than 140 years to complete. The main three colors of marble are: white symbolizing faith, green symbolizing hope, and reddish pink symbolizing charity/love.

Jessica and Leah take pictures of the Arno River from Ponte Vecchio.
Jessica and Leah take pictures of the Arno River from Ponte Vecchio.

During Spring Break 2001, our family of four toured Italy, Rome, Florence, and Venice and made it to the top of the Duomo.

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Walker and Leah in Florence again after fourteen years!

Though not for the faint of heart or the claustrophobic—all six of us were planning to climb the 463 steps in the Duomo on this trip. Our hopes to make the climb were dashed when Agnes, our guide shared with us that it is closed on Sundays due to all day worship services. Emanating out from the Duomo are Renaissance-era neighborhoods identified by their central churches and piazzas.

The Duomo to the Ponte Vecchio is the greatest landmark in the most impressive square-Piazza della Signoria. Lunch was pizza, of course, followed by gelato! Soon we were crossing the Arno River on the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge filled with shops, art galleries, and restaurants. What a festive and invigorating place to be!

Spinach pizza
Spinach  and sausage pizza
One of Walker's favorite parts of Italy: Gelato!
One of Walker’s favorite parts of Italy: Gelato!

Legend has it that if you and your loved one attach a padlock to any surface of the famous bridge and then throw away the key into the Arno River below, your love will last forever. Millions of couples have come to the Ponte Vecchio for expressly this reason, to lock in their love and throw away the key for eternity. Whether the couple actually believes that these legends work or not, they will find themselves believers for at least that moment at the Ponte Vecchio. Aside from the beauty of the architecture and the wealth of history that the bridge has seen for centuries, the Ponte Vecchio crosses over the Arno River, a site of one of the most romantic places in Florence. Lovers will definitely be caught up in the romance of the Ponte Vecchio, especially if they also get to experience the breathtaking sunset over the Arno River in the process. The practice of locking padlocks to the Ponte Vecchio was probably started by a locksmith who held shop at the foot of the bridge, in an effort to raise his revenue. The Ponte Vecchio has always been a bridge for merchants from the very beginning, with tables lining the bridge instead of the chic shops that many tourists enjoy today.

These days, however, it is not advisable for tourists to come flocking to the famous bridge and become part of the famous legend. At some point, the overabundance of padlocks gave the bridge a gaudy appearance and the government had to resort to removing these excessive padlocks, and for a time continued to keep on removing them, as they kept multiplying at will.Today, there is a hefty penalty to all who are caught locking or attaching anything to the Ponte Vecchio. These days, lovers simply come to the famous bridge and simply touch the remaining padlocks that have not been removed. Luck has kept them there, locked to the bridge, perhaps some luck will rub off on the hopeful couple as well, and keep their love alive for eternity. (Wikipedia)

Following our tour around Florence, Agnes sent us on our way back towards our ship, stopping in Pisa, Italy on the way.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa (Italian: Torre pendente di Pisa) or simply the Tower of Pisa (Torre di Pisa) is the campanile, or freestanding bell tower, of the cathedral of the Italian city of Pisa, known worldwide for its unintended tilt to one side. It is situated behind the Cathedral and is the third oldest structure in Pisa’s Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo) after the Cathedral and the Baptistry. The tower’s tilt began during construction, caused by an inadequate foundation on ground too soft on one side to properly support the structure’s weight. The tilt increased in the decades before the structure was completed, and gradually increased until the structure was stabilized (and the tilt partially corrected) by efforts in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. (Wikipedia)

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Back on the ship, after dinner, Scott helped me capture the moon over the Mediterranean Sea. : )

Thanks for joining me on our June 28, 2015 adventure through the  beautiful Tuscan region of Italy!

My next post will be all about Festive Fantastic France.