Me Monday: Anniversary, Pokemon and the Kiddo

I have to say, this past weekend was one of the best I have had in awhile. See, it was my anniversary; hubby and I have been married for 22 years. Which, when you look back on our years, it’s kind of amazing he has stuck with me. Between the illnesses, the stress of working three jobs and me just being a complete pain, he has truly honored the wedding vows; in sickness and in health, for worse or for better. Don’t get me wrong, he’s been a handful too! He has one of those faces, when he is listening to you, he looks like he’s about to explode: but he is the best father and grandfather and would move mountains for anyone in the family or friends.
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My son also came to visit!!! Whooo!!! There is something about a mother’s bond with her son(s), that’s truly amazing. He and I have been through a lot too and I am pleased to say, he turned out awesome! He has a great career (sometimes, I think he takes too much on himself), he is respectful, wears his heart on his sleeve and has really never given me a bad day! (OK, there was that one…two times)
Friday night we all (B, A and I) went out downtown and did some Pokemon Hunting. I know, it’s so last year (at least that’s what my niece tells me), but it gets me out of the house and A is one who will make me get out and walk. We have to battle and take over the gyms. Catch the little fellows and he is trying to teach me what he knows in just three days. I have battled and taken over more gyms this weekend and I know I can battle without him, but it’s the time spent with him that makes my heart full! B and Max went with us Friday night too and poor little Max hasn’t had one of the long walks in quite a few months, so after walking eight blocks he was one pooped pup! I was right there with him. EXhausted!
Saturday, we took A up to the Grand Mesa and out to Lands End. It was a balmy 45° and the wind was blowing around 10-15 mph; so, it was COLD! But the view from Lands End over the Grand Valley was awesome; while most of the Aspens have turned and lost their colors, the Scrub Oaks were beautiful! The lower part of the Mesa was filled with brilliant oranges and reds on both the Aspens and Scrub Oaks which made for a great time! I did see some wildlife this time and I did get a photo of them. Blue Jays and of course there were chipmunks too! A few couples were already up there and feeding them, so they were in hog heaven!
We stopped at a small shop called the AppleShed, in Cedaredge: they produce their own hard ciders and I have been told, the Carmel Apple is fantastic. Must be so, since they no longer had any in stock! So, the boys got to do a tasting and we walked out with some fantastic hard ciders. I don’t drink, but I did get some apple juice and man oh man, that is some smooth apple juice!! YUMMO!
Sunday was a day for just A and I and Pokies! We were out for four hours catching, battling and spinning (if you have no idea what Pokemon Go is, here is the link to check it out). Another two miles walked, out in the sunshine, and just taking in the cool fall air. Lunch was with family at Olive Garden. I love that place, but think their prices are just a smidge high!
And then…Game 5 of the World Series. No, I didn’t watch it. But B, A and Momma did! I listened and I have to say. GO ASTROS!
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My perfect weekend is going for a walk with my family in the park. I don’t think there’s anything better.
Anne Wojcicki

DK
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Where in the World Wednesday: Cedaredge, CO

If you haven’t figured it out by now (as it’s taken me like 20 years to figure it all out), the western slope of Colorado, also known as the Grand Valley, is chock full of agriculture and recreation opportunities.
Olathe, CO: 
 Just an hour drive from Grand Junction on Hwy 50
 Named after Olathe, KS, the town is just outside the Grand Valley, still on the western slope.
 Home to the Olathe Sweet Sweet Corn
    Each August there is a HUGE festival honoring the veggie. The Olathe Sweet Corn Festival. Let me tell you, this corn is worth the wait, the drive and for some of us, the pain  of the eat (many conditions such as Crohn’s, Colitis, Gastroparesis shouldn’t partake in this wonderful veggie). I have yet to go to this festival, from what I hear, it’s a big fun time!
 Home to the Olathe BMX
Palisade, CO:
  A short hop of 20 minutes from Grand Junction, gets you to the home of The Peach Capitol of Colorado and many vineyards and wineries
  Apples, cherries and pears are also in grand supply!
    Another August festival started in the late 1880’s; is the Palisade Peach Festival
       Lots of vendors, wines, peaches, rides for kiddos and food is spread out over three days.
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The junction where the Gunnison and the Colorado Rivers meet
  great for rafting, fishing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding
crops of apples, peaches, cherries and honey are in great supply
Home to the Colorado National Monument and the Book Cliffs
Country Jam is four days of live country music, held just outside of Grand Junction in Mack
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Fruita, CO:
Just 21 minutes from Grand Junction on Hwy 50
Originally a farming community, it has since become known for its outdoor recreation
   mountain biking, hiking and rafting
Late September brings the three day Fruita Fall Festival
  As with all festivals, it includes: vendors, food and a carnival.
  It also includes; a parade, a talent show, a golf tournament, cooking contests, and even a night street dance
Cedaredge is one of the entrances to the Grand Mesa on CO – 65
a small agricultural town producing, of course, apples, peaches, and beef from cattle.
Home of the Little Britches Rodeo and Parade (the Western Slope chapter)
Don’t miss the Pioneer Town museum and village. Travel back in time to the early 20th century and visit the saloon, the marshall’s office, a bank, jail and much more! You can even hold your wedding there or see a summer concert there.
Out of the Grand Valley and just an hour down Hwy 50 is a great time in Cedaredge where we spent last weekend and their Apple Fest. I have been to the Canon City Apple Blossom festival, Old Colorado City’s Territory Days, Palisade Peach Festival and the Fruita Fall Festival and I have to say, the only thing that comes close to the Apple Fest is Territory Days and Apple Blossom.  The Apple Fest is a four day fest filled with such things as a chili cook off (my aunt says this is a huge event! They always run out of chili and all donations go to the fire department), pancake breakfasts, 5K run, music, arts and tons more! There were so many people, vendors, food and apples, it was impossible to see everything. We HAD to get some apples, one just doesn’t go to a fruit festival and not get the fruit. We started with an apple fritter…YUMMO! at the same booth were apples: I had heard someone in the crowd say, “we need to go to Red Mountain Ranch for our apples.” I looked at the sign on the tent and that’s exactly where we were. The people working the tent were (according to my intel/aunt) were 2-3 generations apple growers. They were very pleasant, friendly and the tent was very clean! I had a taste of the Honey Crisp and it was aMAZING, so we purchased just three.
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I don’t like big crowds and this was one of those, but we were able to look around at the vendor booths and saw so many creative people showing off their arts! Even got to see what happens when something gets stuck in a power line. Crowds at the festival are about 15,000,  I have to say, I think there were 15,000 just on the day we were there (although the pictures don’t really reflect that). There were cars parked in every parkable place for miles! I was very impressed with the whole experience and the best thing about it was, it’s FREE; unlike the Palisade Peach Festival or the Olathe Corn Festival!!
Thank you for traveling the Western Slope with me this past summer, we have a long list of ideas for next summer. Let’s see where winter takes us.
It is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the Spring, who reaps a harvest in the Autumn. B. C. Forbes
DK

Colorado Scenic Byway: Grand Mesa

Part 1: Driving the Loop
I first experienced the Grand Mesa Loop a few years ago when mom and I had gone on a drive to check out the fall leaves. The colors on the Mesa are simply amazing, so I wanted to go back to see what the summer had in store for us. We wanted to make it up there before the snow flies and the road closes, this is Colorado though and there is still some snow on the tops of the mountains. B and I jumped in the ride with Max and headed east.  This trip through the Grand Mesa National Forest will be, what is called “the loop.” Starting in Grand Junction we head east on I70 to State Highway 65, over the mesa and through Cedaredge and Delta,  then to US Highway 50 west, back to Grand Junction. Of course, you can take the loop either way.
Fall on the Mesa
October 2014
Let’s start with what the Grand Mesa is:
It is a National Forest
It is 11,000 ft above sea level, which makes it the largest mesa in the world!
It is home to Powder Horn Ski Resort
It has over 300 lakes, many trails for hiking, fishing, climbing, hunting and more
It also have cabins, lodging and camping areas
Cooler packed, sunscreen and bug spray applied, dog in harness and away we go! Once you get off of I70, you will be able to turn off your AC as the temperature cools as you climb. One of the most wonderful things about Colorado is the greatest summer sport out there, seems no matter where you go, you will be able to watch teams of men and women baking in the sun on the hot asphalt while waving the magical sign, STOP/SLOW. Welcome to road construction season. Our first wait at the STOP sign was about 20 minutes long, while the sport may contain many hard moves or daring feats, this one happened to be boring.  There was, however,  a nice stream I could have gotten out of the ride to see and take pictures of, but I chose to stay in the car and work on my window suntan. Once the pilot vehicle drops off its parade of following traffic we get the go ahead to take our turn following him. I have to say, if I HAD to choose a job in road construction, that would be the one I choose, being a pilot vehicle.
The road wasn’t crowded at all, but the campgrounds and trail heads looked like they had quite a few people in them. It was a nice cool, drizzly drive up the north side of the Mesa. There are many pull offs along the way to grab pictures of the awesome views! If only we knew what the mountain ranges are in the picture, something we are working on. We found lots of flowers, a few chipmunks, a hawk with dinner mid air and the Forest Service out looking for some kind of wild life (truck and trailer), but no Moose, Cattle or Snow Mobiles.
We didn’t get to go down to the Land’s End Observatory, but it is for sure on the next trip.  The road to the observatory is about 12 miles of dirt. Along the way, you will see the historic Raber Cow Camp, which is an example of camps used when the ranchers moved cattle up the mesa in the summer. The observatory is the original visitor center built in 1936-1937 and the access road was primarily built by 200 WW1 veterans between 1933-1934. Once you reach the observatory, you will be able to see Utah’s La Sal Mountains, the edge of the Grand Mesa, beautiful wildflowers and over the Gunnison Canyon. The views of the sunset from here are said to be exquisite, so pack your blanket and camera and head up there for some amazing photos, that’s what I plan on doing. Want more fun? Just past the observatory is a nail biting hairpin – turn road which makes a 6,000 foot decent into the valley below. Pretty sure you shouldn’t drive and take photos while on the way down, unless you have a copilot.
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Heading down the other side of the mesa, you will find more lakes and trails, lots of wildflowers and the visitor center. Something to remember, whether a day trip, a drive through the loop or camping, there are no waste bins so you must pack out your trash and such. That’s a friendly reminder from Max. The visitor center was small, but growing and this Saturday (July 29th, 2017) there is a moose walk, should you find yourself in the area! I finally found the pocket guides I had been looking for. I only purchased five, but it was like I had found the Holy Grail! I will be back for more, unless I find them on another trip.
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You will pass Island Lake, can’t miss it, it’s HUGE! While we were there, just catching some sun and pictures of wildflowers, we also spotted a lot of fish jumping. Seems the lake is stocked with trout, and also has a fish known as a splake. Splake? Looking it up now. One of the pocket guides I didn’t get…fish.
Splake:  a hybrid of two fish species; a male brook trout and a female lake trout. And you didn’t think you would learn anything.
Continuing down the mesa, you will notice the temperature rise. It was a difference of 20* from the top of the mesa to the entrance to Cedaredge, that’s when the AC came back on. A nice drive through Cedaredge also known as the Gateway to the Grand Mesa and is a Historic Pioneer Town. Guess what’s on the to do list now? We jumped on State Highway 50 and headed west towards home. It was a beautiful drive, however, going back to tackle the outdoor recreation will be a process of more than six months and with the snow coming, it may take longer. Don’t worry though, we will share the experiences along the way.
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
T. S. Eliot

DK