Family, Parenting, Travel

An Amazing Family Time at Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park

To be 100% truthful, hiking is not my idea of a vacation nor is it my first thought on ‘where can I celebrate my birthday.’

The idea to spend my birthday vacation was a combination of visiting my kids in Denver and the news articles I’d read about the 100th birthday of the U.S. National Parks. Sounded like a good idea.

On the two-hour car ride from Denver through Boulder and up to Rocky Mountain National Park, we shared stories of other wilderness adventures, like the king snake in our tent at Refugio State Park, falling over unseen logs, being chased by Canadian geese and the family of deer we once spotted.

The story I didn’t think would come up, but did, was a result of this photo:

UFO Cloud Over Boulder, CO
UFO Cloud Over Boulder, CO. http://www.alvaradofrazier.com

This cloud shaped UFO, although much larger, closely resembled the ‘real’ UFO I saw when I was nine years old. My younger brother and some other kids saw an object hovering above our apartment complex. Not only was it us who saw the object but about twenty other people who were in their front yards, looking up into the sky. A grainy photo of the object made the newspapers, so at least my mom didn’t think I was crazy.

This story fascinated my kids. They’re fans of X-Files so it doesn’t take any convincing about my UFO story to have them believe that I saw what I saw.

Along the way up the mountain, we stopped to take in the gorgeous vista of pines, lakes, and mountains.

Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park

The kids scrambled up some rocks and waved to me to come up and see the chipmunks drinking water in the crevices of some boulders. I made my way up, rested a bit, heard birds singing, looked up and caught the silhouette of this mountain chickadee on a branch.

Bird on a branch
Chickadee On a Branch http://www.alvaradofrazier.com

Our hike on the Alpine Tundra up to the Mushroom Mountains, at approximately 11,500 feet was a little difficult.

The Mushroom Rocks at RMNP
The Mushroom Rocks at RMNP

The hike is short, maybe a mile, but the winds can be 150 miles per hour. On the day we hiked up there it was a temperate 55 degrees with winds at a manageable 50 miles per hour. You have to wear a hooded jacket. The altitude can be tough on people. The air feels so thin you can hardly take a full breath, but my daughter and I trudged step by step and arm in arm behind (way behind) my son who pretty much race walked up the steep trail. On the way down, we heard the whistle of the yellow-bellied marmot.

Marmot sunning on rocks
Marmot on the Rocks, RMNP

We went on to the highest point, the Alpine Visitor’s Center, at 11,725 feet. Way below the deck of the visitors center a group of elk grazed. We couldn’t get a decent photo on our cell phones at that height but at least we were able to see these beautiful animals, the males with massive antlers, through binoculars.

Elk Herd Rocky Mtn. National Park-creative commons photo
Elk Herd Rocky Mtn. National Park-creative commons photo

I felt a little bit of melancholy when I realized that this trip wasn’t about me ‘taking care’ of the family by planning the trip, reminding them to bring this or that, or watching them constantly. Instead, they were the ones who did the planning, encouraged me to keep climbing, and took my hand from time to time.

This is what happens on the long road of parenting. We move from one place and perspective to another. As long as it’s together it makes the trip so much more special.

Inspiration, poetry, Travel

The Inspiration of a Beautiful Garden

 

 Portal into a Garden-Denver Botanical Gardens photo by MAlvaradoFrazier
Portal into a Garden-Denver Botanical Gardens photo by MAlvaradoFrazier

On any trip I take I try to find a garden, whether a tiny patch of flowers in someone’s front yard or a botanical garden where I can get lost, inside my head and on the trail.

So I took the road less traveled between scratching shrubs, dirt, and rock, where spiny pine needles carpeted the earth. My eyes focused on delicate petals flying miraculous colors, every shade of purple, orange, red and yellow.

The scent of oak, a whiff of lavender, the sight of quaking grass reminds me that beauty exists among the everyday trials of life, a day of media news, or the sameness we sometimes feel.

I’ve been to this particular garden about seven times. There is always a new flower, a blooming tree or bush to entice me so I carry a journal, pen and my cell phone for photos.

This time, my thoughts spilled haikus, which is a good thing since I just read that Denver Botanical Gardens is having a haiku contest.

 

Japanese Smoke Tree-photo by MAlvaradoFrazier
Japanese Smoke Tree-Photo by MAlvaradoFrazier

A plume of smoke rose

lion-headed above the forest

welcoming summer

Chapungu Sculpture, "So Proud of My Children" by Nicholas Kadzungura
Chapungu Sculpture, “So Proud of My Children” by Nicholas Kadzungura

 

A tilt of face to

children reading together

a devoted mother

 

The stone sculpture is from Zimbabwe.

Pedestal of flowers-Denver Botanical Gardens photo by MAlvaradoFrazier
Pedestal of flowers-Denver Botanical Gardens photo by MAlvaradoFrazier

 

Forever entwined

Wrapped in a fragrance of love

Standing firm as one

Quote by Tao te Ching
Quote by Tao te Ching

 

This last one is not a haiku. I love the wisdom and peace of this quote.

Have a fun 4th of July. Enjoy.

 

Family, Travel

My Town at Christmas

Oxnard_XmasTreeLane

My hometown is at sea level. We don’t get snow. Ever. Okay, I heard we had some back in 1962, but someone might have mistaken it for bits of hail.

For us, Oxnardians, the winter season arrives when Christmas Tree Lane in the Historic District opens, where palm trees lit in sparking white lights tower alongside huge sycamore’s, and Craftsman style houses sit next to Spanish Revivals.

Our annual writer’s group party took place at the home of our friend, Florencia, who co-founded the group ten years ago. Interestingly, she also founded the first dance team for her high school back in 1989. Must be why we like to party at our writing retreats.

The Hostess Home
The Hostess Home

The archway to her home had mistletoe conspicuously hung, not that my date noticed, until we left, when it hung so low it hit his head and ricocheted off my cheek.

After the scrumptious posole, tamales, bolillos and chocolate champurrado, all twenty some of us, plus kids, headed out the door and walked the few blocks of Christmas Tree Lane.

Charlie Brown Christmas -Oxnard, alvaradofrazier.com

Lucky for the crowd, the sidewalks in the historic district are wide enough to allow for strollers, dawdling toddlers, and hand holding couples. But not all at the same time.

Christmas Tree Lane, Oxnard Historic District
Christmas Tree Lane, Oxnard Historic District

And the town’s historic plaza:

Oxnard Pagoda dressed for Christmas
Oxnard Pagoda dressed for Christmas

Now, we’re off to enjoy some ‘real’ winter weather and snow in Denver, Colorado.

I’d like to share with you a travel prayer, sent to me by my mistletoe ducking boy friend:

May the Lord accompany you, that no evil befall you,

no accident overtake you and no calamity come near you,

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Have a beautiful Christmas.

Disappointment, Encouragement, Faith, Family, Family time, Healing, Kids growning up, Parenting, Travel

My Five Reasons to Celebrate

 

Fraser, CO taken by Thomas Northcut, Gettyimages
Fraser, CO taken by Thomas Northcut, Gettyimages

Spring has sprung and flung the blanket of gloom from my shoulders. I’m excited!

 

If you’ve followed my posts, you know that I’ve been in the valley with some serious family problems, relationship issues, and missing my two YA kids who live in Colorado. I was in sad poetry mode.

The great news is that my brother came out of the hospital, on his own two feet, after three weeks. He needs almost around the clock care, but that’s okay, the family is there for him and he gets a little better every day.

I just returned from visiting my YA’s and they are getting along like a grouchy married couple, much to my son’s chagrin. I had to do some counseling with the both kids.

The recurring snow, distance from family, jobs and college is getting to them-they are banking on a vibrant spring to ease their frustration.

My relationship issue is now a moot point-it ended. I’m doing my best to let this go.

We all go through tough times. It’s a given in life.

Through this past episode I tried to remember to be grateful. After listening to meditation music on Pandora, to help me sleep, I’d list five things I was grateful for that day.

During my first rough week,  a good cup of coffee was the best thing on the grateful list.

On the third week I had a very pleasant surprise. 

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award
Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

 

My Young Adult novel made it to the second round of the Amazon contest. Out of 10,000 entries, two thousand were selected for second round.

Yes, I did the silly big grin for a few minutes while my mind said, “WHOOP-WHOOP!”

On April 14, 2014, the Third Round announces the top 500 entries selected for the Quarterfinals.

There is much to look forward to in April, besides the third round of Amazon’s contest. I’ll travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow and then on to Taos and Santa Fe, N.M.

Spring is blossoming, health is restored, there will be new beginnings, maybe opportunities for my novel, and exhilarating places to visit.

I’m excited !