a tribute to outlander

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Memorial Wall at Culloden Moor

I’d love the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon if it was pure fiction. Her storytelling takes hold of me and won’t let go until I’ve finished each book, which I’ve now done a few times. The fact that the series is based on real events and many real characters, and the lengths to which she has gone to make it as historically accurate as possible—except perhaps for the whole time travel thing—makes me love it even more. This really hit home when we visited Scotland in 2013.

If you’re an Outlander fan or a history buff, get yourself to the Highlands someday. The story of the final battle of the Jacobite rebellion on April 16, 1746, comes to life at the Culloden Moor Visitor Center. There’s an interesting and educational museum inside, but the battlefield itself touched me the most. You can walk a loop around it and find markers for each clan. Reg flags mark the front line for the government, blue flags for the Highlanders.

Spend some time in Edinburgh, Nairn and Inverness as well. There are tours tailored to Outlander fans; ours was not, but fortunately these stops were included. We stayed at the Newton Hotel in Nairn, which was built in the 17th century. Stay there if you can. It was once frequented by Charlie Chaplin and his family, and stands in 21 acres of mature parkland and gardens. It was there that we learned that if you give us enough alcohol, we’ll eat haggis. Let us never speak of that again.

If you haven’t read the books, start now. Then catch up on the Starz series. Books first, though. Thanks for reading Tales From the Empty Nest!

 

 

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travel tuesday: weekend in steamboat springs

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Sunrise at Stagecoach Reservoir State Park

Sunrise at Stagecoach State Park

Our first official outing with our new truck camper was at Stagecoach State Park, about half an hour outside of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. We’ve camped there a couple of times over the years, but this campsite was the best yet. We completely lucked into it, too. It was the very last site available, and just so happened to be right on the lake. Score!

The reason for the trip was to watch our daughter and her fiancé (yes!) play in the doubles volleyball tournament in early July. Scott’s dad was staying with us at the time, so he joined us for the weekend. Anna and Dalton and their friends came over to swim and have a cookout the night before, which was really fun. I miss cooking for a group of kids; they are all young adults at this point, but they’ll always be my kids.

I woke up to watch the sunrise over the lake, then took a long hike to stretch my legs and enjoy the views. There’s a group day-use area nearby with a small amphitheater, picnic tables and horseshoe pits. Bathrooms are a short walk away. There is a beach area with sand volleyball and a marina close by, too.

Our campsite was in the Junction City Loop. The views were spectacular, and it was fun to watch the boats, jet skis, kayaks and ducks go by. We had enough cell service (AT&T) in one spot of the site to sometimes send and receive texts. We had electricity and potable water nearby, but not close enough to reach with the hose. Two hearty thumbs up Stagecoach State Park and this campsite.

Thanks for reading Tales From the Empty Nest!

New Year’s Greetings from the Nest

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On the Pauite Trail

Riding the Paiute Trail

Happy 2017! Facebook has been quite diligent in reminding me weekly that the Tales From the Empty Nest page is woefully inactive, so I thought I’d start the year off with a blog post in hopes that I’m a little more consistent over the next 12 months. No promises, but I’m hoping to spend more time writing this year.

2016 was a good year for me. (Any year in which I’m alive and kicking on December 31 counts as a good year.) I have so many blessings for which I’m always grateful: family, health, friends, faith and jobs that allow us to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. Last year, as opposed to big chunks of 2014 and 2015, that roof only had wheels when we went camping.

Looking back and looking ahead, I see lots positives. Here are some of my favorite parts of 2016:

Our first wine tasting at the storeScott and I celebrated 30 years of love and marriage in August, surrounded by friends and family. We also celebrated our first full year as owners of New Castle Liquors in September. The business continues to grow and prosper, and it’s more fun with a year under our belts.

Our kids are happy and healthy, and that’s the best feeling in the world. Anna is teaching second grade in a high-needs charter school in Aurora and working on her master’s. Andy found his dream job and is restoring classic Mustangs at a shop in Castle Rock. I love that they’re both in Colorado. They’re close enough to each other to get together fairly often and to us to make visits easy on us all. Unless there’s ski traffic or snow, but that’s part of living in this spectacular part of the country.

I was able to visit family in Missouri several times. While the reason was tough to deal with — we cleaned out Mom’s house to put it on the market and moved her from assisted living in Kansas City to a nursing home in St. Louis — spending time with my family was wonderful. I especially enjoyed meeting my two great nephews, Kevin and EJ.

Thanks to a dedicated team of employees, Scott and I were able to travel quite a bit. We enjoyed weekend getaways to Denver, Colorado Springs, Ridgway, Palisade and Grand Lake, plus camping and riding trips to Rabbit Valley, Taylor Park and Marysvale, Utah.

0106fbdffdb94b45b3740d1e3ea8ac43424a254ba6In Marysvale, we explored the Paiute ATV Trail Network for the first time and fell in love with the area. We were adopted by a really nice group of firefighters and policemen and their wives from Las Vegas. They’ve been camping there for years and invited us to join them on their rides. We had so much fun, we all booked campsites together for next fall. The Paiute is the largest ATV trail network in the country, with more than 2,000 miles of RZR-friendly trails.

Volunteering in our community is another of my favorite parts of the year. After selling the house and hitting the road in 2014, then traveling and getting settled in a new house, new town and new business in 2015, my volunteering had been pretty hit and miss. The River Center provides vital services to New Castle, and I’ve enjoyed getting involved and making new friends.

Looking ahead, I think 2017 will bring us much love and happiness. We have a big trip planned to celebrate that 30th anniversary from last fall. I won’t give away too many details, but there’s a beach and a lot of fruity umbrella drinks involved.

I foresee good fortune as well. I bought some Powerball and Mega Millions tickets on New Year’s Eve. Haven’t checked the numbers yet. I’m just assuming that I won and enjoying dreaming about all of the good and the fun things I’ll do with my winnings. I sealed the luck deal this afternoon with a bowl of spicy black-eyed-pea soup.

Sending good thoughts to all of you from the empty nest. Thanks for reading!

 

Missing Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day

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A little reminiscing in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. I thought you might like a visual tour. Pour yourself a pint and enjoy the views. If you get the chance to visit Ireland, take it. Thanks for following Tales From the Empty Nest. Sláinte! Continue reading

travel tuesday: take the long way home

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We’re not kidding around when we say we’re taking the long way home. After weekend visits with our daughter in Denver and son in Colorado Springs, we took the scenic route back to our home in New Castle. This included some of my favorite scenery in the state. Continue reading

travel tuesday: newseum in Washington, D.C.

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The Newseum in Washington, D.C., is a must-see for anyone who loves the news and wants to learn why and how it’s made. Exhibit highlights include the largest unaltered display of the Berlin Wall outside of Germany, a touching tribute to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Boomer List and Pulitzer Prize photographs.