Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Swallow Trail, South Valley Park

The weather was absolutely beautiful this weekend, so my husband and I decided to take a hike in South Valley Park, located in Littleton, Colorado I blogged about the Coyote Song Trail we last took in the park on this link, but today we decided to take another trail called the Swallow Trail.

This trail is a relatively easy, meandering 1.2-mile trail that is for hikers only.

As you can see in the photo above, when I look back I can see the fringes of my community, located in the Ken Caryl Valley up on the ridge. I am fortunate enough to live only a mile away from this beautiful park!

On one side of the Swallow Trail, you will see large red sandstone cliffs.

Placards along the trail describe the importance of these sheltering cliffs over the millennium, for both animals...

....and humans. There is evidence that "hunter-gatherer' people inhabited South Valley Park 7,500 years before the pyramids of Egypt were built! (Double click on any photo to enlarge it for easier viewing)

Native Americans used the cliffs as protective areas against which to build their homes and to use the natural resources they found here.

On the other side of Swallow Trail, you will see the valley--now a verdant green color after late spring snow and afternoon rainstorms.

South Valley Park is a geologist's dream as it displays Lyons, Fountain, and Dakota formations.

Park placards that describe the varied rock formations and how they were formed millions of years ago. (Double click photo to enlarge)

In the distance, you can also see one of the headquarters for Lockheed Martin. I will blog more about their headquarters in a future blog post. In 1995 there was a growing movement to prevent this corporation from developing this area further. Jefferson Open Space had the opportunity to purchase a large portion of the land in 1997, and in 2002 created South Valley Park for natural preservation and the enjoyment of park goers. There are many restrictions in the park to help preserve the nesting areas of birds, as well as seasonal closures of some areas to allow Elk and Mule Deer to migrate.

South Valley Park is also a photographer's dream! The red rock formations are large, varied, and visually interesting.

A balancing act!

A cottonwood tree growing alongside a large boulder.

A "candy kiss" is resting on top of this rock formation?

Fountain Rocks towering over the trail.

In the distance, you can see what would have happened if the parkland had not been preserved, as large houses were being constructed near fountain rocks on the outlying fringes of the park.

I was fascinated to see spring flowers of all kinds blooming in the park this weekend.

I can identify the cacti and ubiquitous yellow dandelion wildflowers among these photos,  but I will have to purchase a good Colorado wildflower book to begin to identify the rest.

At both ends of Swallow Trail, there is a parking lot with park trail information...

...as well as its history and information on what to do if you come across a wild animal that lives in the area.

Going back we took the more rigorous 1.5-mile Coyote Song Trail, which climbs higher in the park.

The views from the trail are also magnificent!

South Valley Park is a wonderful oasis to enjoy for hikers, mountain bikers, and residents and visitors of the greater Denver area to enjoy! I feel so happy to be able to show you its beauty!

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

I Am Heartbroken

I'm very sad to announce that my beautiful, sweet, loving cat, Bo, passed away suddenly on Friday. He had been showing his age lately, as he was fifteen years old, but his sudden passing was a shock and heartbreak to us.

Thankfully, he did not suffer. He did not greet us when our morning alarm went off, as he faithfully did every day, and my husband and I immediately knew something was wrong and went to look for him.  We found him lying on his side, unresponsive and quivering a little, near his litter box.  We took him to the vet as soon as they opened and the doctor said there was nothing we could do to save him, that he probably had a massive stroke.  He told us cats of his size and age often have cardiovascular problems and that it was best that he now be put down so that he did not suffer. My husband and I were with Bo to the end. Our hearts were broken to lose such a good, faithful friend and loving companion.

We adopted Bo when he was six years old, nine years ago. His first owner had to give him up because her future husband was very allergic to cats. The moment Bo came into our lives he brought us joy! His favorite activities were eating, sleeping and purring.  He was always very affectionate and loved to sit on our laps. He greeted us every morning and every time we would come home he would be by the door.  He asked for nothing but food and love and gave us so much in return.

I'm glad Bo lived long enough to move to Colorado with us! We bought a large carrier for him so he could stand and turn around in it, and we were able to fit a small litter box and food and water in it, so Bo was comfortable in our car for the cross country trip.  We elevated the carrier in the back of our Subaru so Bo could look out, and he enjoyed watching the scenery go by.  When we arrived he quickly adjusted to our new home and loved sitting by the backdoor window, watching the rabbits and birds in our backyard.

Bo even learned to "play" with our grandchildren! He was just that kind of sweet, tolerant cat

My last photo of Bo, taken a week ago.

My husband and I joked that we were happy that we bought a new couch for Bo, as he loved to sit on a soft throw that we had tossed over the middle of it. We loved him so much that we allowed him that spot, as he really did deserve it.

I'm sure anyone who reads this, who has been privileged enough to have the unconditional love of a pet, will understand the sorrow and loss we feel right now.  I love you Bo, and I always will.  I will never forget you, and you will always live on in my heart!

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Center For American Values, Pueblo, Colorado

"The solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice on the altar of freedom" ~ Abraham Lincoln.

I took a photo, of this dramatic photo, at "The Center of American Values," located on the Riverwalk in Pueblo, Colorado.  On this Memorial Day, May 27th, we honor the military men and women who so bravely sacrificed their lives to protect our freedom. May we also remember those who have been gravely injured in battle, whose lives will never be the same, and the brave men and women who continue to serve our country in our armed forces.

"The Center for American Values organizational mission is based on the need for a national initiative to identify, document, and disseminate information about individuals, groups, and organizations whose character attributes relate directly to the values this great country was founded on."

Pueblo, Colorado is the location for The Center of American Values as it is known as the "Home of Heroes." Pueblo has the unique distinction of being the home of four Congressional Medal of Honors recipients. The center's visionary and co-founder is Pueblo's own Medal of Honor recipient, Drew Dix. The center's mission stems from Dix's personal desire for all generations to understand and never lose sight of scarifies made by civilians and veterans alike to elevate America as the greatest country in the world. I visited Pueblo, Colorado with my daughter last summer, when she was on a business trip, and I was very moved by my visit to the Center and felt you would like to learn about it for this Memorial Day weekend

The Center is located on the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo, Colorado. The Riverwalk is a beautiful 32-acre urban waterfront park, with amenities such as boat rides, food, special events, and shopping. I'll show you more about my visit to the Pueblo, Colorado, Riverwalk in a future blog post.

The Center allows its space to be used for organizations in need of meeting facilities specific to promoting character and leadership development curriculum, educational seminars, executive study groups, conferences, special events, ceremonial activities, and public tours.

The Center of American Values contains an extraordinary collection of photographic portraits and documentation of over 140 Congressional Medal of Honor recipients.  The Medal of Honor is the United States of America's highest military honor, awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty, and was awarded for the first time during the Civil War. Fewer than 3,500 have been awarded since then. The medal is awarded by the President of the United States in the name of Congress to US military personnel only. There are three versions of the medal, one for the Navy, one for the Army, and one for the Air Force. Personnel of the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard receive the Navy version.

Double click to read this explanation about the "Portraits of Valor" exhibition by photographer Nick Del Calzo, to which he devoted six years of taking portraits of living Medal of Honor recipients.

Many have received the medal award posthumously over the years, as they were killed as the result of their heroic actions. Since the beginning of World War II, only 863 Medals of Honor have been awarded. Over half, that number died in their moment of heroism. Only 332 soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen from Pearl Harbor to the Global War on Terrorism have survived to actually wear the medal. Today only 80 of them are still alive

The portraits all hang on the walls of The Center For American Values.  Each and every man was photographed with a backdrop that was meaningful to him, and each portrait was accompanied by an inspirational quote or statement chosen by the recipient.  I found the exhibit to be one of the most emotionally moving exhibits that I have ever seen. Many of the photos and quotes brought tears to my eyes. I can't imagine the things these men saw and did to earn this medal, but it has obviously impacted their entire lives.

As you can see there were places to sit and view the portraits that hung all around the room, or you could walk up to each and every one.

The valor of each man was etched into his face... 

The diversity of the men reminded me that our country is made up of many ethnicities, which has become part of our country's great strength

Young and old, it was stirring to see each and every portrait. You can double click on each photo collage to enlarge it.

The Center also had some interactive exhibits about the Medal of Honor

This interesting fact revealed that only one woman has been awarded the honor up to this date, and that was during the Civil War.  Double click on the photo to read more.

"Everyone welcomes recognition ... but the ones who truly deserve it most are those Americans who gave their lives for this country." ~ Medal of Honor recipient Salvatore A. Giunta.

May we stop a few moments this weekend and remember and honor all those who have served, and are now serving, in our armed forces, especially those who have so gallantly given up their lives. May we also hope and pray that peace will one day reign around the world for future generations.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spring Skies and Catch Up News

I saw this magnificent rainbow in the sky early last evening while I was out running errands. I don't think I've ever seen a rainbow with such intense colors before!

 Spring storms bring very dramatic cloud formations to the area, and our open skies give us a big view of them.

All the moisture has been a Godsend to this section of Colorado, as it has reduced the fire risk from lightning strikes. 

Of course, spring weather can also bring terrible tornadoes, and Colorado is not exempt from that danger. I hope to never experience a tornado, and my thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the horrific, massive tornado that passed through Moore, Oklahoma. The devastation there is hard to fathom, and my heart breaks for those that lost loved ones. 

BlogHer has a special page devoted to communications and news about the Oklahoma tornado, and different ways to donate money to help the victims on this link.  One of the easiest ways to give is to donate $10.00 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by texting REDCROSS to 90999. 

Meanwhile, spring also means the elk are beginning to wander back to our area...

...and so are the bears! I hope never to run into one of them!

Catching up........I have been fortunate to win two wonderful blog giveaways recently...

Teresa L. Perin of the blog "Edenhills," has written her first novel, "Consent," and I won an autographed copy! The blurb from the book's website says it all:

"In medieval England daughters meant dowries-land and money leaving the family. Richard is determined to have a male heir to keep the castle Havenhoerte in their family and forces his daughter, Emma, to marry at the age of consent, just twelve years old. This is the beginning of two families entanglement. Kidnappings, knights, battles, weddings, and witchcraft spanning three generations follow. Sometimes the most dangerous enemy comes from within your own family. Can love and chivalry overcome evil?"

Thank you, Teresa -- I was certainly spellbound as I read your novel, and I found the ending such a surprise!  Please visit Teresa's blog where she writes about her fascinating life on a 75-acre farm in Iowa. Her animals, especially her goats, have such fun personalities!

I also won another wonderful give away by Riet of the blog Riet's Photoblog in honor of her new blog called "My Life, Quilting and Stitching Again." Riet lives in the Netherlands -- a country I've always dreamed about visiting, and she shares her beautiful photos and her very talented creations on her blogs.

Riet sent this very pretty French demitasse coffee set to me, along with two doilies, a heart ornament she made and the most remarkable handmade card!

The card design on the left is stitching, and the hand stamped windmill image is multi-layered to give it depth. Isn't it gorgeous?  Thank you so much, Riet! I will think of you every time my husband and I drink our espresso from these pretty cups, and I will treasure your card!

It has been busy times here this week--my husband and I have been getting our lawn and garden in order and we celebrated the first wedding anniversary of our daughter and son-in-law! I made a chocolate heart shaped bundt cake for the two love birds, and my husband and I babysat so they could go out and celebrate.

Rocking my baby granddaughter to sleep.

I am now watching my granddaughter during the day, Monday through Friday, as my daughter returned to work two weeks ago.  I am getting into tip-top shape as my granddaughter and I take a stroller walk around the neighborhood every afternoon. It's a busy time in my life again, and I'm loving every minute of it!

If I am tardy in visiting your blogs or responding to your comments, it is because my computer time is very limited right now, but as we settle into a routine I hope that improves. I hope that Spring has brought beautiful skies your way and that any dangerous weather will stay away!

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