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!

 

months 10-11: back where we belong

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Are you “back back?” That’s the question we’re getting a lot these days when we run into friends in Glenwood Springs, and the answer is yes. Our life as vagabonds has come to an end, at least for now. We are settling into a house sans wheels in New Castle, Colorado, nine miles west of Glenwood.

Our original plan was to travel for a year, but we ended up cutting it a little shorter for several reasons. First, we noticed that houses in our price range were starting to sell very quickly. Our house was on the market less than 24 hours before we made an offer! Second, we wanted to be back for our daughter’s college graduation in June. And third, we were homesick. Continue reading

top 5 travel recommendations from 2014

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Colonial Williamsburg Capitol travel blog

The Capitol building in Colonial Williamsburg.

Looking back on 2014, some of it is a little fuzzy. Change was definitely the word of the year. To recap, we put our house on the market in the spring, sold it in June and then had 40 days to cut our possessions in half, pack and move what we kept into storage. Scott and I headed out in the RV in early July with no plans other than to see a lot of the country and visit with friends and family. Road trip! Continue reading

colorado cheeseburgers i love

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Horsefly Brewery

A 50/50 burger, fries a Bug Eyed Blonde at Horsefly Brewing Co. in Montrose.

Happy National Cheeseburger Day! In honor of this national holiday (it is a holiday, right?), here are my five favorite Colorado cheeseburgers, in no particular order. Continue reading

month one: the good, the bad and the ugly

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Taylor Park Reservoir

Our longest stay was at Taylor Park Reservoir in Colorado.

The first month of our year-long road trip has come and gone, and boy, oh boy, it was a busy one. Our schedule was dictated by some events that were already on the calendar, including getting to watch our daughter compete in a volleyball tournament in Steamboat Springs, a vacation with family and friends, visits to both kids, business meetings and doctors’ appointments. In short, we packed a lot into our first few weeks on the road. Continue reading

campground review: White Star Campground at Twin Lakes, Colorado

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Whitestar Campground at Twin Lakes

White Star Campground at Twin Lakes

Why camp here? Tucked away in the San Isabel National Forest on the banks of the Twin Lakes Reservoir, the scenery alone makes it a destination in and of itself. Throw in the largest glacial lakes in Colorado, excellent fishing and proximity to Leadville, Buena Vista and Aspen via Independence Pass, and the better question is “why not camp here?” There are trails for hiking, biking and OHVs, boat tours to the historic Interlaken Resort, kayak and canoe rentals and the well-stocked Twin Lakes General Store. The Dayton Room at the Twin Lakes Inn is a real treat; call ahead for dinner reservations during July and August. Continue reading

i am NEVER going camping again!

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Camping at Taylor

Roughing it at Taylor Park Reservoir

Oh, the irony. Sixteen years ago this month, we embarked upon our first family camping trip. Much like the Griswolds, we were ready enjoy the open road with the kids. Our destination? Taylor Park Reservoir, a dirt-bike-riding mecca that friends and family members have been enjoying since the 60s. The same spot where I’m sitting right now, writing in our camper.

This took place in 1998, so the kids were 4 and almost 6. The perfect ages to get them started on the joys of camping in the mountains, right? That was the plan. We lived just north of Kansas City at that time, in Smithville, Missouri. Escaping the heat sounded pretty good. Continue reading