Keys on the Green for lunch, in Evergreen, and a walk at the lake

Good day, this group gets along very well.
I made some notes about things people said, and I see a theme here. I noted their observations  which meant to me they were “actively engaged” rather then “passively participating”.   It might be quiet in the car for a while, for example, but then someone says something and I realize we’re all paying attention.
When we were on Highway 74 and approaching Evergreen,  J said, “these trees are so beautiful”, and “that sign says Taco Bell. Is that where you’re taking us to lunch!?”, or V pointed out a baseball diamond which I hadn’t noticed,  or when we were  looking at the honey bee hives and G told  us a story about his wife coming across a hive one time… those comments mean a lot to me.
I enjoyed the conversations I overheard too. J in the backseat of my van saying to A, “so where did you grow up”, and A giving her a detailed and interesting story about his childhood. Or S telling the group, while we were at the gardens in the morning, “I can’t hear well out of this ear”, then  G walked over and pretended to shout into it, making S laugh. Or –  this was cute – I handed J a water bottle and said, “I know you’re good about drinking water, but here’s some more”. J:” Yes, water is all I drink.” And rV, sitting a ways away from her, throws in: “yay, right, only water!” That made J laugh, and she instantly said, “you caught me,  I’ve got a stash of something else in my pocket.”
Lunch was at Keys on the Green in Evergreen. J said she’d like to return sometime and bring her husband. It’s a nice atmosphere, with decent food. The highlight for G  was probably our waiter, a young man who is an enthusiastic Oriole’s fan and noticed G’s hat.
We chatted about golf, since our restaurant was sitting on a golf course.  We talked about motorcycles too, V told us he and his brother  used to own one. We talked about tattoos and French fries and twins and elk and lots more!
My line of the day award goes to G, and though he had a bunch of one line zingers, this simple thing he said is what touched me most. We stopped at a gas station on the way down the hill to use the men’s room. S was still in it, G had come out, J and I were waiting in the car. Ga came up to the car and said to me, “I’m going to wait  for S”
It just meant a lot to me, that G was being so thoughtful, and even that he remembered his buddy’s name.
One of my happiest memories of today was in the car when G and S both sang along to the radio, with dramatic flair at “captian kaaangaroo”, who Jerry and I both remember watching on T.V.!

Arrowhead Country Club

Fun day with our guys!
We had really great weather for our  morning walk at Clement Lake. First off snacks and drinks at Einstein Bagels in Littleton, then our walk at the adjacent lake. L did a partial walk, then he and I plopped ourselves down at a bench and enjoyed watching the fish jumping  and the hawk soaring. Such a nice morning.  It was just pleasant, sitting there relaxed in the sunshine.
Bruce walked with K and V and R, at an easy pace, and they covered 3/4 of a mile.
V and I left after this, and  had some time to ourselves for another little walk at the park in his neighborhood, and I dragged him on an errand with me, where of course he proved to be helpful!

Bruce took the three other men to lunch at Arrowhead Country Club, which is nestled right into the gigantic Red Rocks.

The restaurant was very quiet today  and the scenery fantastic, which  works well for us so we can converse and hear each other, and when things are quiet, look out the windows at the views.
  Bruce told me later he thought he’d remember their conversations, but you know how that goes – we are immersed in the moment and by 5:00 it’s gone! But he does recall talking with R about Bandimere. And with the other guys about their hometowns.
And he took the group on a scenic drive afterwards, throughout the Country Club neighborhood and Chatfield State Park. (aren’t we lucky to have these beautiful places practically in our backyards?)
Bruce  said “K really came alive as we were driving to lunch”-he was appreciating that Roxborough area, and after lunch noticing how the “houses have those rocks right above them! I like this area, but I wouldn’t want to live here.”
Easy going day.  It went along quite well and we were able to have lots of time outdoors.

Nixons Coffee by the Platte River, and lunch in Evergreen, beautiful day

Hello everyone – Terrific day!
Our day began at such a beautiful place I didn’t want to leave! The outdoor coffee café at Hudson Gardens, alongside the Platte River. Brian brought an amazing morning collection of drinks and foods for us to snack on, we had a big table, partially shaded, very comfortable.
In the afternoon we took a  tour of a historic home in Evergreen (Humphrey House)  and had  lunch in a private room at an Italian restaurant. Yay! ALL GOOD. Our waitress pulled me aside as we were leaving and pretty much begged me to bring everyone back again soon. She was laughing and enjoying our silliness, and said it was such a great group of people.  Yes it is.

A visit to the Colorado Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at Red Rocks, perfect for today

We had a ball at Silo Park in Greenwood Village this morning. This was a large group, we met at the covered picnic tables with the multitude of snacks we had prepared – cold drinks, hot coffee, cheese, nuts, fruit, cookies etc. We were able to take quite a decent walk together after that, the temps didn’t get too hot this morning!

We then broke into smaller groups for the remainder of the day. My group and I started heading up to Morrison, to see what was happening, and take in some of the Colorado Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We drove up to the top, under the arch, and took in the view from the grand plaza. Through the haze we could see part of downtown, and could even make out the white tents of DIA out in the plains. We studied  a rock that G said looked like a lion roaring, and it did.  We watched folks running the stairs, T being the only one who thought it looked any sort of fun at all.

Then we walked down to the Red Rocks Hall of Fame. A couple of things that stick out, are T coming to get me to show me a poster of Lyle Lovett. He pointed at it and said “I love that guy”, and then he wheeled and pointed at a pic of Stevie Ray Vaughn, and said, “him too”. We did find out that  isn’t a Lovett fan, but at one point J and G were looking at the Springsteen display, and that was the one we could all agree on. We talked of seeing him live, or wishing we saw him live, and G telling us stories about seeing him in small places on the East Coast.

They was  a video going with clips from shows, and I think J would have been happy watching those clips for a few hours. They also have a lot of dinosaurs stuff on display, and as we were examining a T-Rex jawbone, we tried imagining Dino’s out running around. I brought up The Morrison Museum, which is a great little dinosaur museum, T remembered being there, and J and G were both interested. We will have to do that one soon.

We loaded up and left the area to get lunch down in town. We had a choice of Mexican on a rooftop patio, sandwich’s along Bear Creek, or the Red Rocks Grill with all the mounted animals on the wall. Yep, the stuffed animals won out, and we sat between a mountain lion named Bobby, and a reindeer who’s name slips my mind.  After lunch we loaded up, got a cup of ice cream for the drive, and headed down the hill.

The afternoon with the three guys was terrific. All three are quite close in their abilities.  We had a great talk about sports at lunch, and all 3 guys were engaged and participating. Nice to see.

Great way to start a day, at Tomari’s Coffee in Morrison

We had a fantastic day.

The two carpools met at a little coffee shop called Tomari’s which is located near Tiny Town along 285. They make a g​ood​cup of coffee there, and we shared a variety muffins, cinnamon rolls, and a slab of fudge (all homemade) to start our day. We sat outside under a massive umbrella, watching the kids and their parents get ready for a day at Tiny Town and ​a ​ride on the Tiny Town train.  Somehow our conversation landed on tornadoes and many of us had one experience or another with them. There is whimsical mural  painted in the patio area ​of Tomari’s ​and amateur artwork on display inside​, ​that caught the eye of several of us.  The staff quickly became aware of our unique group and treated all of us with such kindness​ and ​re​s​pect, and had a little fun with us too. They set up the tables and chairs for us outdoors, and  their service was exceptional.    Just a perfect way to start the day.
From there we made our way up Turkey Creek Canyon toward Marshdale. At the intersection of Turkey Creek and Highway 73 there is a ranch that raises bison, elk, and yaks. I knew about the bison and the elk but I didn’t know they had brought yaks onto the ranch. The first stop was to look at the elk who came running to the fence clearly looking for food.  We spotted a dispenser that looks like a gumball machine and asked if anybody had any quarters. Well Brian had quarters and got a handful of elk snack for all of us. I was hoping we would see some of the bison that are on the ranch but instead we found a small group of yaks one of which had a very new baby. The yak are inside two layers of fencing  so we weren’t going to be feeding tho​se guys. It was very peaceful to stand there and watch and listen to them munch away on the spring grasses. The ranch is in the middle of a big beautiful meadow surrounded by mountains​,​blue sky and wildflowers.  
Next up was Evergreen Lake. We spent 30 to 40 minutes the​re, ​walking along the boardwalk, talking with families, watching the paddle boats​,​canoes and stand-up paddle boarders in the lake and again taking in the beautiful scenery around us. T said it best “this  just doesn’t get any better.” We were all pretty amazed and impressed by a young couple on separate paddle boards. The dad actually had  an infant on the paddle boat with him. Occasionally the baby would cry and they would stop and kneel down on their paddle boards and Mom would reach over and adjust something in the seat then move on with their enjoyment of the lake.  Pretty cool actually.
Lunch was at the ​L​ariat Lodge ​with ​great views, great food, great service, and  just a really great day!

Walk on the Platte River Trail, acres of Iris and lunch in the mountains. Great day!

Hello everyone!

The river, hundreds of Iris, and the mountains…I don’t think we could have packed more into the day.  It’s a good thing we didn’t try because everyone arrived home about 45 minutes late as it was!

We had a really beautiful day out​door s​starting with our customary fruit, nuts, and lemonade​, and today we were ​alongside the Platte River at River Run Park in Englewood.  River Run is a man​ ​made  playground in the river for body surfers and tubers.  We visited there several time last year​. It​is a great place to watch people  playing and cooling off in the summer sun.  However, the Platte is very low right now, so no one was surfing but we sure enjoyed  our short walk along a curvy path watching the ducks, a fisherman and the swallows.  E was fascinated by the hundreds of​ swallows’ ​mudnest​s ​on the bridge and many hundreds of ​the birds ​diving for insects ​and ​then​ feeding them to their hungry offspring.  

We took a short drive to the Iris4U Gardens off of Federal near the old Loretto Heights campus. None of us had been there

​ before, ​and when we rolled up along side the gardens we could believe the color.  The gardens were started by a man 25 years ago.  He had the idea that if he went to a similar garden to by Iris on the Western Slop why wouldn’t people buy them from him in Denver. ​Now ​he has a successful business and is creating new varieties of Iris every year. 
We leisurely walked among the 400 varieties moving from shady spot to shady spot, relaxing in the slight breeze, and taking it all in.  C watched the fluttering of the awning and commented that it was somehow soothing. I sat next to J and at least twice I watched her close her eyes and breath deeply.  Soothing, relaxing, colorful, unbelievable, beautiful, were all words used ​by the ladies, ​over and over.  We had two wonderful conversations with the owner of the gardens, a very kind and gentle spirit who obviously has as passion. 
From there we loaded up and headed to mountains for lunch. Driving up 285, th​r​ou​gh ​Indian Hill,​ ​and over to Kittridge for lunch at the BlackBird Tavern ​which is ​right next to Bear Creek.  We enjoyed a wonderful lunch, watching the water, and more ducks, but the highlight was a man and his dog playing in the river. This dog didn’t want anything to do with fetching​a ​stick from the water, he literally rolled rocks out of the river and dropped them at his owner​’​s feet then patiently waited for him to throw them back in the rive​! ​None of us had ever seen anything like it. 
​Happy to report that they all ​feel safe and connected​ on our outings, ​which gives me great joy.
Have a good holiday week everyone!  
See you next week!
Brian and I were 100% happy with how today turned out. When I originally made the plans, the forecast was for 40% of precipitation and 61 degrees, but boy did that turn!
We were lucky at the last minute to be able to reserve a private tour of the Highlands Ranch Mansion.  Otherwise we  kept basically to our original  plan, including a late lunch at “Toast” in downtown Littleton, and a coffee stop in the morning at LaMars.   We think the guys all had a really good day.
Welcome to D, as we enjoy getting  to know him better. He was especially kind to V today at lunch, I was seated at their end of the table when V got frustrated because he wanted something but couldn’t bring up the word. He and S and I were patiently listening and waiting, trying to help, but couldn’t get it right. D said to V, “it’s ok,  I struggle like that too. We understand.”
(turns out a side order of fries did the trick!)
S and D had some good conversations at lunch, – we went from Tina (as in Turner) to Leena  –  the name S had given to his sailboat, to dancing (who dances, who doesn’t, who shouldn’t!), basketball, music (J said he saw Niel Young live once and called him “crochety” Ha!), and go carts!
Everyone easily  chatted through our morning coffee break too – there were a lot of interactions between everyone.
One of my favorite moments of the day was when we were getting up to leave LaMars. All the guys had  chipped in to help clean the table, we were sort of circled up, gathering our coats and things. T complimented D on his red Cardinals cap, D said, “yes, well you know he’s coming..” and I said “who’s coming?” D told me a player’s name, which meant nothing to me, I shrugged and said, “I don’t know who that is,” and J started teasing me! It was so darn funny! And Brian said, “she deserved it.”
I really like  when people in our groups feel comfortable enough to joke around with each other – me included! – yay!
The Highlands Ranch Mansion  is absolutely amazing, 21,000 square feet of this former stone cottage turned castle turned mansion turned event center, surrounded by acres and acres of well manicured lawns and open pasture. Fortunately for us our docent was experienced in dementia care – that is always a bonus for us, because they know we aren’t here to learn every tiny detail, as much as we are about enjoying companionship, time together doing something different, reminiscing, studying a bit of architecture, a bit of local history, admiring the beauty, and enjoying our adventure.  She was really great about  going with that, keeping us engaged and laughing along with us.
Thank you to Deb, and all the staff, for our tour, and thank you to our families for once again entrusting us with the care of your loved one. We so appreciate our time with them.

Parrots! and lunch at the historic B&B Café in Castle Rock

Well we welcomed a new friend and experienced a brand new place today! Both were great!
Our day started with  donuts and drinks. Lamar’s ​Donut Shop ​was very quiet and we had the place to ourselves.  D noticed​ on the T.V. there, ​the headlines  regarding the 50th anniversary of MLK’s death. That led to a fantastic conversation amongst us about teaching our children, as they were growing up, about tolerance and acceptance for people of color. S was clearly follow​ing ​the conversation because he stated  “it’s just wrong!” and he put his hand in front of his face and said ” just because of this you have to stay over there”  We understood he was talking about segregation. From there the conversation went to being kind, paying it forward, and being helpful. All of us agreed, there need​s​ to be more of that in our world today. 
​Both carpools then ​took the scenic route out to Elizabeth and saw some very pretty ranches out there in horse country on our way out to
​The Gabriel Foundation, which is a rescue for parrots, macaw’s, a few doves, cockatoos, etc. At any given time they have as many as 500 birds, 2/3’s of which are available for adoption.  Although we all couldn’t hear exactly what was being said by our guide because of all the whistling, squeaking, screeching,  and squawking, which at​ times ​was ​a  bit overwhelming for some of us, we did learn quite a bit about behavior, lifespans, and a bit about the foundation itself.  E was particularly taken with all of the birds; ​she stayed very near our guide as she showed us individual birds​,​and talked about their circumstances. Brian and I ​had ​to keep an eye her to be sure ​she ​didn’t fill out adoption papers and take a couple of these beauties home with her ! 
Dtoo was very interested in watching the birds behavior and trying to get them engage with him. ​ In fact he entertained us by imitating one of the birds in flight, which I was able to (sort of) get a picture of. ​V and T both took me up on the offer of earplugs and from there on they both enjoy​ed​the visit.  V was  so taken with the colors​ – ​and when one bird squawked, he yodeled.  Every time I was startled by a particularly loud squawk, T laughed and laughed !  D thoroughly enjoyed the tour as well, particularly the bonded pairs, which the rescue never separates. I could go on and on about every one​’​s interactions with the birds, but I could never paint the picture​ just right​…​​you had to be there. 
On the way to lunch in Castle Rock we drove through rolling wooded hills of Elizabeth and Fran​k​town and D spotted deer among the horses.  We all thought  it felt good to be in the country for a while…then we saw that big view of Pikes Peak and wow! ​!​Very peaceful after the excitement of the parrots.  
Lunch was at the B &​B Cafe, a great little historic spot in downtown Castle Rock with 2 bullets holes in the ceiling from a shootout 74 years ago!  The conversation was lively and full of friendship as we got to know our new friend D and his very dry and funny sense of humor!  

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 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.