The silver heart necklace was shining in the Wyoming late afternoon sun on my September 18th birthday in 1987. Mike and I were driving across the country from New York to California – everyone wanted to do it, but we actually were.
We had spent the past week engaging in a variety of adventures with family and friends.
We left New York and after a few hours needed to take a break in Pennsylvania. It had been a busy time the night before, saying goodbye to our respective New York friends. We were leaving. We were making a life together and taking a big leap – all the way across the country.
We arrived late in south Detroit, took the monorail around the city and into Windsor, Canada, then stayed with my cousin. We all went to dinner and talked far into the night about life, dreams and our futures.
Our next stop was Madison, Wisconsin. We stayed in the city and listened to a singer in the hotel lounge. I was impressed with how clean the city was and I know I loved the cheese .
Driving west we planned to camp in South Dakota and visit Mount Rushmore and that Devil’s Tower from the movie “Close Encounter of the Third Kind”. We must have left later than we should have because we arrived at the camp ground in the Badlands late at night.
There were no street lights. We found what we thought could be a spot on the side of the road and started to set up a tent.
Soon we heard the howls of coyotes and could even see the glowing eyes in the dark. Felt much safer once safely inside our secure fabric tent. When we woke up the next morning it seemed like we had arrived on the planet Mars. The Badlands of South Dakota are desolate, bare and mysterious.
Mount Rushmore was fun to visit and we traveled west toward Yellowstone National Park. We opted to stay in a modest motel in Montana and enjoyed driving into the park early in the morning to see Old Faithful Geyser and wild elk on the road.
Next was a visit to the Grand Tetons and a horseback riding climb into mountains. I used to ride horses quite a bit but I believe that this was our first (and last) time ever riding together. The views in the mountains were amazing.
We arrived into Jackson Hole, Wyoming on my birthday. I had the best spinach and feta cheese omelette and Mike bought me a silver heart necklace. I wore it for a long time.
After Jackson Hole, we went to visit relatives in Denver. We did laundry and had a fun drive in the Model T car then continued on to Aspen where I had spent the previous ski season waitressing, skiing and making new friends. I gathered the rest of my belongings I had left with coworkers then we got back on the road to California.
We headed south following our Rand McNally map book of the USA. I convinced Mike we should see the Grand Canyon so that was the next stop. We did not stay long, just long enough to take a few photos
Next stop was Nevada. We did not see Las Vegas on this trip but did manage to find a diner that had slot machines we could try.
We arrived in California late one September evening. The smog was heavy. The heat was unbearable, 108 degrees and then … we experienced a huge earthquake on October 1, 1987 with its epicenter in Whittier, Ca.
The next morning we drove my red Ford Mustang down to San Diego. The highway had red and yellow flowers blooming on the median. The apartments with pools and tennis courts were affordable and the beaches with the 3 mile long boardwalk beckoned us. We moved into a small one bedroom place with a dark orange rug and my U-haul box filled with photo albums and some clothes.
That was all we needed to get started on our life together.
Summer music festival in Telluride Colorado. Music, hiking nearby trails, gondola to the top and where to eat.
.As we glided up the mountain on the free gondola ride I posed for the perfect sun kissed selfie only to be reprimanded that I was missing the cute baby black bear directly beneath us. Telluride is a place of extraordinary beauty and adventures so staying alert to it all can be demanding.
Since the death of my husband, I have been healing by planning trips. It gives me something to look forward to. Starting my blog with my solo trip to Thailand helped me keep in touch with family and friends who wee worried about me back home. The one year anniversary of my husband’s sudden death was coming up and I wanted to be far away. I found it healing to travel to the other side of the world and bathe elephants in the mud on my wedding anniversary with the elephants!
Another time, I spent a week practicing yoga, taking a writing class and learning to surf in Costa Rica. I did not have a friend to travel with, but met a very nice group of people for the one week retreat. Costa Rica: Runaway to yoga, surfing and writing.
My summer plan was to have an adventure in Colorado with 2 good friends – who like to hike and go to music festivals. In preparation I took a few long walks and listened to some new music
The 7 hour drive from Denver to Telluride can be done by going south on Highway 50 past the Blue Mesa Reservoir or by taking interstate 70 along the Colorado River through the mountains. We traveled both routes.
Taking the south road to Telluride I was surprised how hot it was. We had planned to stop for a hike but it was 99 degrees and the air quality was not ideal due to forest fires in the mountains.
Once we arrived in Telluride, the temperature was a delightful 75 degrees and the sky was robin egg blue. We settled into our VRBO rental then boarded the free gondola up the mountain to Mountain Village where a concert was being held at an altitude of 9,545 feet.
After dancing to CarolynWonderland, we took the gondola back down into town and discovered the best little taco place called Taco Del Gnar. For $10 you get 2 tacos, tater tots with queso on top and beans. Yummy!
Saturday we ate breakfast then headed out to enjoy a morning hike on Bear Creek Falls trail. This wide and well traveled trail begins in town and gradually inclines along a river and waterfalls. I was immediately impressed with the amount of wildflowers along the trail as well as the stunning aspen trees and light along the trail.
While my friends hiked a bit faster than me, I enjoyed stopping, to catch my breath, and take photos in every direction.
The RIDE festival started Saturday at 12:00 noon so we dressed and headed over to the Town Park for hours of live performances from artists including Ben Harper and The John Butler Trio. Telluride is well equipped for summer festivals and they had the cleanest porta potties I’ve ever seen, including sinks and a recycling center for festival trash.
The music was uplifting, the setting was spectacular and the sunset into evening brought a slight chill to the air as the favorite bands played on.
Day 2 was a brilliant repeat of day one. Hiking the ridge trail from the midway stop on the gondola to Mountain Village, eating delicious Chicago style pizza and salad at Brown Dog Pizza, shopping in town, a bike ride along the river trail beside our lodging, more music at the festival and a late night concert in the New Sheridan Hotel.
Summer festivals in Telluride occur almost every week and offer so much, even for those of us over the town’s average age of 35.
After a few rainy days it is so nice to wake up to the sun shining on summer again. The air is fresh and delightful this morning and my life is getting back to normal after a fun month of travel, adventures and challenges.
As a teacher, the first week of summer is always an adjustment. Do I organize my bills? Plant more flowers? Catch up with housework? Feed the kids? Shop? Have lunch with friends? I usually wander in circles until something fun develops. If a few items are completed on my “to do” list, then I can play.
A weekend in Philadelphia was my first adventure this summer. I went to a graduation party and then spent a day exploring the city. I will write a post for spending a day walking around “The City of Brotherly Love”.
Next came a challenge as I once again faced Mike’s 4th of July birthday without him. It’s hard to not recollect all the fond memories of our 30 years of shared holidays and this day was no exception. I did my best to participate in a BBQ and conversation, but at one point I vanished into a back bedroom for a nap. We need to know when we have had enough.
This summer my big trip was 8 nights in Colorado with 2 of my dearest friends that I have known forever. Hiking and biking in the Rocky Mountains, eating out, listening to music at the “RIDE Festival” in Telluride and visiting relatives made this trip one that will not soon be forgotten. Look for my “Healing with Hiking in Telluride” blog post.
Reality settled in after that trip when I had to meet with lawyers and gather more paperwork over the wrongful death lawsuit filed on my behalf. Having to recall the tragic events of the night my husband was killed is unimaginably painful and upsetting but it is something that I feel strongly needs to be brought to justice so I will do what I can to make that happen.
Finally, I can wrap up this month with a wonderful visit from my brother and sister and their families. My home is located near a beach and I am so thrilled when family comes to visit, especially in the summer. Kayaks, paddle boards, motorboats and sailboats were sometimes expertly maneuvered. At one point we had 14 of us on the swim area float playing a variety of games as directed from the youngest amongst us.
After a long lonely winter, it was fun to shop at COSTCO and get food for the masses. Over the weekend 15 people slumbered here with borrowed blow up mattresses, sleeping bags and pillows. This is why I wanted to live here – to be able to share my home and love with friends and family.
Now that everyone is gone, except my sons, maybe I’ll start working on those bills or housework? Maybe I’ll workout and start focusing on making some healthy choices? Most likely I will cross off 3 things on my to do list, then go find something fun to do. What are you doing today? Lunch anyone?