When my carpool and I arrived at our coffee stop this morning, and everyone was out of the cars walking in, I had this overwhelming feeling like…ahh…this is exactly why I do this. All morning as we drove along, our discussions were so meaningful and friendly. This group is well matched in their desire to share stories and listen to each other, and assist each other. In my car we talked about a recent support group session that two of them had been to, and a day program that a couple of them go to. They expressed their feelings and laughed and joked and related – related is the word I’m looking for – the back and forth between them as they talked about their lives was pretty powerful to observe today. I started our program years ago specifically to serve this demographic, people who are curious about life and want to stay engaged and active and have full lives and relationships, and are coping with the frustrations of some dementia that has forced a detour in their plans. It was a day full of that friendship and relating today.
After our coffee break  we were pulling away,  and I said my usual corny line, “do we have more or less everyone?” And A’s quick and funny answer was “with us, I’d say everyone is less then more!” Ha!
I mentioned here that I like how this group is curious about life and our surroundings. A couple of examples from V today. One was when we were in Thornton, approaching our 11:30 tour, he observed, “I used to go on Sunday rides when I was a kid and we’d come out this way, but there was nothing here in those days”, and later when we saw a small house standing strong amongst taller buildings, “I bet that used to have a whole farm around it.” We aren’t passively spending our day, I’d say it’s much more about being engaged with our environment, and with each other.
D was one of the first ones I picked up and I said to her, “Sorry, I have this package here. I thought I’d see a mailbox for it, but I haven’t seen one yet. I’ll move it out of your way.” And HOURS later, as I was bringing her home she said, “Look Mary, a mail truck!” Yay! So I  pulled over, jumped out of the car, got the package from the back of the van where it had been out of sight and out of my memory at least, and I handed it right over to the driver.  Thank you D.
S made a joke today which was perfectly appropriate but he apologized and said, “sometimes I can be a smart ass”. D said, “hey, it’s ok, we’ve got a car full of that!” She laughed a bunch today, it was obvious how comfortable she was. And I kept calling her “ballerina” as she gracefully got in and out of the car, and Brian even did some ballet moves for her!
Before our lunch at Olive Garden, we had a full one hour tour and visit with the dogs being trained for hearing impaired people. Hearing Dogs International is  now in their 35th year and are doing wonderful work. Not only do they place their well trained dogs in the homes of the hearing impaired, but when they have dogs who don’t pass the test they still place them in homes where they can be therapeutic. Please check out their website, such a great organization: https://www.hearingdog.org

Chatfield State Park today and the Red Rocks Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

D said a couple of times, “I gotta take my husband here”, when we were at the Red Rocks Rock n Roll Museum this afternoon. I was surprised, actually, how much time we spent there. It was something I thought we’d enjoy for a half hour or so, plus of course the amazing drive to get up there, but it ended up having lots we each were interested in.  A read about Glenn Miller, D and I liked John Denver’s section, we looked at pictures of Elvis and other entertainers, and we also went out to their patio to take in the views. I had to practically drag A away from that patio, he was soaking it all in.
I had A and J and D in my care throughout the morning, and it was a complete pleasure. We lingered over our “coffee break” and shared stories, then took  a 40 minute stroll at the lake in Chatfield State Park. J and A are getting to know each other better, and today we discovered many similarities in their life stories. Is it possible that they both were involved in developing a suburb!?
Additionally, A and his wife  have extensive experience in sailing, and J said her husband  frequently sailed when they lived in Texas, and A was familiar with the area! (if I understood correctly, “Conley”).
We counted the sailboats on the lake, watched a small plane circle overhead, appreciated how uncrowded it was in the park, found small flowers still blooming in the sun, a trail left behind by a snake (well, that’s what I thought but J was probably correct that it was a trail left by a boy dragging a stick. More poetic at least), we grabbed each other’s arms or a hand now and then, helping to step over a bump in the road, or down a step…
There were many healthy and beautiful trees along the shore of the lake, (J pointed out the contrast in colors of the leaves against today’s very blue sky) and also many fallen trees, which had white washed branches. I wanted to take some of them home, they were so cool looking. I decided against it because no one offered to help me carry large branches into my car!…but then I found a teeny one  and considered taking it instead…but, “J, is this a bone? Or is it from the tree?” J: “it’s a tree bone” Ha!
Off we went to lunch, to a good Mexican restaurant. Bruce met us there and added some enthusiasm and energy to our afternoon. A liked his food, though “prefers Tex-Mex” and we shared some hearty laughs over he and Bruce posing for a picture together holding a vase of flowers – extremely silly and really funny.
       
Roads were fine today, thankfully, so off we went. The three carpools each had their coffee and donut time, then we met at croquet (which is now indoors for the remainder of the season).  I think the guys all got in two rounds each.
B was right on today! In particular I appreciated it when I started to tell a story about something he and I had done together well over a year ago, and I was only partially the way through the story when he cut in and finished it!
After coffee, as I was driving my group to croquet, Wash Park looked so beautiful  with the big trees covered in snow, and the lake…so I told my guys we were going to detour through the park on our way,  and they started teasing me. The more they tease of course, the funnier it gets. I was pointing things out but M was saying, “I just want more donuts”, I saw something in the lake and asked, “what is that?’ and L said, “a thinga-ma-jigger”,  and I rolled down the windows to point out big branches which had broken off in the snow but all I got was, “roll up the windows!”. I turned to B next to me in the front and said, “I think we should ignore those guys in the back,” and he said, “yeah, they’re no good.” Ha!
Fun too, was when “Wake Up Little Suzie” came on the radio and these guys sang along! That surprised me! And it led to L telling us a story about a similar adventure when he rescued a young couple from embarrassment while he was on the police force.
So we drove the few more blocks to the church which hosts our indoor croquet. It was great to see the other guys arrive bit by bit, as James was just finishing the set up, and  we all got started.  D very well remembered that we played in the church last year, and mentioned a number of times  how when it ends, “we’ll roll up the carpets and put them back where they belong.” He, like many of them,  like chipping in to help whenever possible, grabbing the door or holding something for me, and this is a good example. I actually had to tell D towards the end, “15 more minutes! We still have 15 more minutes of play, then we can all help with cleaning up.” He played  well today, he had some great shots. And R made me laugh  at this puffy-chest sort of stance he made (I’ve never seen him do that!) when he made a good shot, it cracked everyone up who happened to see it. I tried to get him to do it again for a picture, but at least I got M shaking his hand.
Croquet is such a great activity for this bunch, there is an element of silliness but also competitiveness  to it that is just right. I am very grateful that James continues to offer it to us, particularly on the colder days.  T made a shot that got a round  of applause, then he asked his admirers, “what do I win!?” On one of D’s shots that wasn’t his best, he said to me, “well if at first I don’t succeed, I probably won’t the next time either.”
And this kind of blew me away. Goofy M, making us  laugh with his antics. One would think he wasn’t all that focused, but once when I hit the ball he, standing next to me says in all seriousness, “little too long.” and walked away. Hey!
I just remembered this funny moment when we first pulled up to the church this morning. L got out of the car first, then M and B had a bit of complicated maneuvers to get out and not step in a puddle. As they were pondering how they were  going to do that, Lou was kindly standing by, offering a hand if needed. L was trying to talk them  through it, then said, “I know. Try this.” and he broke into: “You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out…” and that did it! Perhaps the distraction? I don’t know, but M got right out of the car  with B behind him.
Lunch was in Morrison at Red Rocks Grill. The drive was scenic for sure. M: “this is a great place to live”. T and Brian sat at one end of the table, both appreciating the music playing all throughout our meal, must have been a Rolling Stones station? R told us about his great looking hat he was wearing today (from a U.S.A. track competition he was in, I believe he said) And I sat next to P at lunch  and got to know him better.  He told me more about the work he did in Washington D.C. and how much he liked a trip his daughter and son-in-law took him on (I assumed he was talking about Georgetown) when they went on a train ride. He also told me how much he liked visiting  Evergreen, as he’s getting to know Colorado better. By the way – we were all told that his son-in-law is “the best one anyone could ask for.”

our day in Georgetown

 
   Gosh, it is always good to get up in the hills a bit, and this was just the group of guys to do it with.
 

   We wanted to get on the road pretty quick, so ​we had an abbreviated coffee break. The ​mood around the table was quite jovial today. Everybody was in good spirits, especially when the coffee started kicking in. S brought up the fact that he had misplaced his usual hat,​ and ​B without missing a beat came back with “Well at least you didn’t lose your head”. That was the kind of silly stuff that was going on all day. There was a very easygoing vibe today. This is such a good combination of guys. I ​notice in our coed groups, and our ​ladies ​groups​, how people look out for each other. ​But I also really noticed it with this group today. I love it when somebody steps up to the plate. Today one of the guys was having problems finding some words, S  jumped right  in and said ” That happens to me all the time, and always at the worst times’. Instead of getting frustrated with not being able to ​find ​the words, we were able to laugh. I think it is so cool that our guys are that comfortable, and feel that safe with ​each other​. Humor and acceptance can go far.

 
 We aimed ​w​est and started working our way up the hill. By the time we got to Gennesee, the ​morning ​clouds had cleared​. ​I don’t think we had the radio on at all on the way up.
 
We came in to Georgetown along the lake, which got D to talking about the jeep races on the frozen lake. We decided to drive up to the parking lot at the top of the pass. Georgetown is about 8600 feet, and most of the color was at ​bout that level. As we drove up the pass we started noticing patches of snow. As we continued driving up, the patches turned into some coverage. We discussed the dam, the power plant, and most of all the scenery. The top of the pass is right at tree line. There were patches of dirt and tundra visible, but most of the ground had a few inches of snow. It was sunny and about 53 degrees, but when the breeze came off the snow we ​could feel it. We walked a trail for about a half hour. Probably best if I just let the pics speak for themselves. It was beautiful!

   

​Then to ​Georgetown for lunch. Last year we found a cafe that we had never been to before, we gave it a try and added it to our mix of restaurants. It is called the Blue Sky Cafe. Not much to look at, but friendly as can be, and the food is fresh and good.  Their dessert special was a fresh blackberry cobbler that they had just made that morning. We figure​d​ that would be a good way to end our day. We all got a spoon and went to work. As we were heading out, T said​”​excuse me​”​and ran back in to thank the staff there. He does that often, and I think it is great.
 
   We had a really nice day. Relaxed, and just going with the flow. It is nice to have those ​kind of days ​once in a while. All the guys were in exceptional moods today.