lunch at BlackBird in Kittridge, one of our favorite spots

Beautiful day, weather + otherwise.
Our morning started at LaMars. I didn’t join the group until they were almost done, and I was amused when I walked in, to see this long table of men all focused on L who was at the head of the table telling a story. It looked liked like he was the CEO of something or other, and he had everyone’s attention!
We then headed to the hills. We drove in our two vans to Lookout Mountain Visitors Center. It’s closed on Mondays, but there were still many groups there enjoying the outdoor spaces. The drive up there was beautiful, and I was happy to hear our new friend K commenting all along – “look at that stand of pines” (I’d never heard the word “stand” in that way), or “the sky is so blue”, or “this is so beautiful”. All upbeat and appreciative with  his observations.
This entire group likes being outdoors and that was so evident today. I witnessed M, who can be a slowpoke in restaurants, hike along with ease and enthusiasm and energy, bending down to pick up sticks and pine cones along the way. Same with T, boy he loves those pine cones. He’d examine them closely then say, “I need to let this go, my daughter  says I collect too many”, it was so sweet. He understood that pinecones  need to be left in the forest, but he sure liked holding them, inspecting them, and – no surprise – throwing them at Brian.
I laughed so hard when he once had one behind his back, waiting for the perfect opportunity. Brian was unsuspecting and to T’s right, T kept looking forward and threw  to his right and got him! These antics went on all throughout our walk,  with G grabbing snowballs too of course.
Periodically the path would become muddy and for the most part we could walk around it. I asked K if that bothered him, as he was wearing more dress-style shoes. “No. I can rinse them off. It doesn’t matter to me.” I really like that attitude!!
R was having a ball. He literally smiled the entire day. He jokes about us being a group of “geriatric delinquents”, especially when the pine cones are flying!
Brian noted on his navigation system that we walked just over a mile, with the equivalent of climbing 5 flights of stairs. In the higher altitudes that is darn good for this group. And absolutely every single person said later how good it felt.
We had lunch at BlackBird in Kittridge. This spot is so perfect for us, as we sit right against the outside wall with floor to ceiling windows, looking out at the “stand” of pines, the running Bear Creek, and the aspens. In honor  of the name of the restaurant there is a small artificial blackbird perched above one of the tables. When we noticed it L said, “Yeah, you think it’s fake, but wait until it poops on your head.”  At lunch R told us about his travels in Europe with his professional musician father, and his tutor Alice. I’d never heard about her. I’m always amazed at how well R remembers names.
About then T was pouring ketchup all over his lunch, “I couldn’t live without it.” and told us about his father’s work on their farm. R related stories about his wife’s growing up on a farm. We talked about fishing, which always makes M light up. K told us he used to fish in Lake Eerie.
I wish I got this on film, it’s one of my favorite mental  images of the day. I was arm in arm with T a lot of our walk, as we meandered from person to person, breaking into little groups, gathering together as one..you know how it goes.. and as we got near the parking lot, back towards the car, I separated and walked ahead. When I looked back, he and M  had grabbed arms! What the heck!? The two of them were walking arm in arm, it was so darn funny, and such a nice sight.

Great Harvest Bakery and the Parker Heritage Center

Our carpools met at Great Harvest Bakery  this morning. Try as I did, I had to give in and have some of those cinnamon rolls, yum! I bought a loaf of bread to take home, and gluten free chocolate muffins for some of us too. Everyone devoured their goodies. T asked me for a refill on his coffee. I asked, “if I give you more will it make you act all weird?” D was quick to answer for him, “he already is!” These guys have so much fun teasing each other.
Everyone was cheerful this morning,  but D got me laughing early on, telling me funny stories about her weekend.  She was having a ball today.
Our tour today was at the newly renovated Heritage Center at Parker. In this group, something always  appeals to someone on our tours. We learned that Parker was originally named Pine Grove and that it was at the site of the “20 Mile Station”, meaning it was 20 more miles until every traveler’s  goal, Denver. There was a relief map depicting exactly where each home was, the train stop, the railroad tracks, the Model A cars, and the cart and wagons. All in miniature, the horses, the cows, and the telephone poles. Our guide explained that one man in town owned the generator and controlled the town’s electricity, so when he wanted to go to sleep at night, he turned off his generator and  it was lights out for everyone! Our guide told us about a flood at “Hilltop” which washed away the train tracks. She mentioned how Hilltop was spelled both as two words and as one, which, she said, “bugs me”, and I said, “J really notices those things too”, so the two of them commiserated. Hilltop? Hill Top? And why were the Parker brothers named John and Jonathan?… J does notice the small things, and has such a curious mind.  In the 15 minute film we watched about the town’s history, she giggled at the line “and you can’t have a bank without robbers”, and how during WWII the townspeople were saving stamps, which she said she remembers. She picks up those details and is so fully engaged.
A liked hearing about an original log cabin  which is now in a nearby development.  V and T were looking at the farm tools, E got stuck gazing at a beautiful sketch of a black horse, and D seemed very familiar with many of the stories the guide was telling us, about life in those early days.  We heard about Indian attacks and the floods and how the town sold  milk to the people of Denver, and how the homesteaders often arrived on foot, following their stagecoaches containing their only belongings.
The gallery of the Visitors Center had paintings by local artists, almost all of which were animals, which was perfect for our group. We talked about each piece, and the guide said her favorite was “this one, because I love purple”.  “Me too!!”, said D.
​Lunch was at Casa Vallarta. E wanted to know what “Vallarta” meant, and the waiter told us it was the family’s name. As we were approaching the restaurant I had J and E on the lookout for it, and told them they had to yell “Ole!” when they found it. Of course they did. Sure made  me happy.
We ended our day with what we thought would be a 20 minute walk at a park in Highlands Ranch, but a few people said they’d prefer we make it a pit stop, so there went our walk, but that’s fine of course. We like to get some physical activity in our day, so if we count our hour at the museum we’ve got it, but otherwise,  not so much. This time of year it’s challenging as you know. But we sure had fun,  and I really enjoyed being with this wonderful group of people today.