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 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.

Lunch at Bistro at Aspen Grove

It was like Christmas in February there was so much joy in the air. I had a pretty good idea it was going to be a special day when I picked up my group in the morning.  We hadn’t even had coffee or tea yet, and the mood was great! J was sitting in the front seat and at one point she leaned over to me and said, ” I hope we don’t laugh ourselves out before we meet the rest of our group”. After J mentioned that, we tried being serious for a while. During this time an ambulance came screeching up behind us with sirens blaring, passing us by pretty quickly. When I mentioned that they really seemed to be in a hurry, E had it all figured out, she said “​I bet they are going out for their coffee break.”​ That was it for the seriousness.

 We had am early lunch reservation so we drove through a coffee shop for tea and coffees, and headed to the Carson Nature Center, where we met Jennifer and her gang. ​The weather ​was wonderful. We  walked out to where the flood marker is alongside the Platte River​. It is 18 feet tall, which is how high the water was at that point in the ​19​65 flood. ​The marker​said that the flood waters went at least a half mile on either side of the banks, with 40 foot waves coming down the Platte and Plum Creek. We  spent a fair amount of time imagining what it must have been like.
As we were walking we saw our usual dogs and fishermen, and had to scratch a few ears, and hear a fish tale or two. One fisherman had just spotted a large red tail hawk, but we were never able to track him down. This Tuesday group likes their hawks. We have spent a lot of time watching those hawks surf the thermals. Jennifer told us the story of picking up V this morning, driving past him and his wife ​without seeing ​them, and then hearing a really loud whistle. ​That was our ​V getting Jennifers attention.  So ​he whistled for us on our walk, and ​i​t was loud​!​
​After our walk, lunch at Bistro Grove. ​Their dining room is all nice wood, ​with ​​painted ​murals on the walls. One half of our table was looking at a street scene in Paris. D and J especially got a kick out of that. ​D had spotted a cat painted under one of the tables.  We also had  a view of a  painting of a waterfall, which was very peaceful​. ​That feeling carried over to the lunch. T even said ​”​it’s really quiet here for as busy as it is.​” ​The food was really good, service friendly and prompt, and they got us out in time to make it to our ​Active Minds ​talk​ on ​N​ASA​,​which was about ​space exploration ​is, has been and where it is going. ​He touched on both the successes and the failures, and left us feeling a bit uncertain about what will happen going forward.
After the talk we headed across the parking lot to a Hallmark Store. The group picked out a set of valentine days cards, and we sat in a ​sunny place to fill them out.  I wish you all could have seen the concentration of everybody’s face. We helped ​them ​write a few things, but by and large, folks did most of the work themselves. There was even some tears as we discussed what to write. I was helping someone with their card and asked if they wanted me to put in some xxxx and oooo’s, and S very proudly pulled his card out, and  ​showed me the back of the envelope where he had put SWAK.

​We hadn’t ​heard that phrase in many years, so of course it opened up a conversation about passing notes in school, and going steady. V brought up dating two girls at one time and someone mentioned that he was “​a player​” ​. I think he liked that. As we were getting ready to leave I said ​”​come on Player​”​to V, and he beamed and said​ “​yep, that’s me.​”​
There was so much laughter and happiness today. So many little moments. V grabbing D’s hand to help her step off a curb, S holding the door at Tattered Cover and having a nice word for everyone who went in, D tearing up as we worked on her card, T going up to our lunch server and telling her how much he appreciated it, and J’s laugh. She laughed often today, and with gusto. The occasional snowball​ thrown around​, and oh the dogs. It was a nice way to spend a day.
This is such a great group, and we really are privileged to be able to spend time with all of them. I hope you all have a Happy Valentines.

Lunch on Tennyson Street and music – great day

Today was full of energy, laughter, color, and music!
 
We started our day at the office this chilly morning with fruit, pumpkin bread, and beverages…just the ladies (Brian joined us around noon), doing what a room full of grown women do.  Tell stories and giggle…a lot. Starting our day in the Out and About Colorado space is very cozy and relaxing. No pressure, no outside distraction, it’s pretty great !
 
​E had a couple of hysterical lines this morning. Mary showed everyone the ​delicious looking ​gluten free cupcakes and said they looked so good that E would​ have to share ​them with everyone. E, who usually denies being gluten free, announced, “Nope! I’m the only one here who is gluten free!” Also, as we were leaving, Mary (who was staying back at the office) told us that a lady would be a the sing a long who is thinking about joining our group, “so everyone needs to behave. Especially you, E” and her quick reply was, “then what fun will it be?”
 
J stretched out on of our couches, we enjoyed seeing her relax​ed​ and enjoying our space. We sat there in conversation for a while, A told us stories about her family and their connection to New Mexico, quite interesting. ​D was laughing hard as she retold stories of joining the “Monday Men”‘s group once, she remembered some pretty specific stories, it was a crack up. And she told ​me ​about outings she was on recently, which ​I had ​missed, in particular ​the ​visit to the Catholic Cathedral and the 911 Call Center.
 
From downtown Littleton we made our way down Sant​a​Fe through the Arts ​D​istrict.  If you haven​’​t been that direction for a while there are tons of big colorful murals painted​ on ​the walls of many of the buildings.  A noticed them ​first ​which  got everyone else looking for them.  That is, of course, ​a ​great​ thing​!  However, we were all looking back and forth across the street​, and ​looking so quickly trying to see what everyone was pointing out​, ​that I just had to make a loop and drive down the street ​again!  
 
The sing a long at the library was fantastic!  I think we were concerned that it might be too ​corny, but ​not even close.  All the gals really enjoyed them​s​elves. We were accompanied by a guitarist and keyboardist​, ​singing songs from the Beatles, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Willie Nelson, John Denver, and Johnny Cash.  Songs like Blowing in the Wind, Amazing Grace, Kumbyah, and Proud Mary.  You should have seen D doing her best Tina Turner singing “Rolling, Rolling, Rolling on the ​R​river”…it was so great to watch.  When asked if we would be returning next month…it was a resounding yes​, ​and thumbs up from J​.
 
​Brian joined us for lunch at the “Cozy Cottage”,​on Tennyson, ​a hit for us. A loved the décor and the food (devoured those scrambled eggs) and said a few times how “cute” it is. D was so talkative, Brian said she’s been like that all week. And she accepted a dare from Brian at lunch and took a spoonful of hot sauce. She was so happy today.
J got one of her favorites – pancakes. And the waitress had to bring us extra syrup! After lunch we had time for a drive in the neighborhood. A and E seemed to remember ​the old ​Elitch’s ​and where it ​used to be (there are still remnants), A commented on the “cute and small” houses, but E was bothered by all the construction and the changes (aren’t most of us?)
Looking forward to next Friday!

Lunch at Spanky’s Grill, a walk at Lowry Sports Center and we learned a thing or two about football!

What a beautiful day we had. 66 degrees on January 18th? Yes please. We had a smaller group today which  gave the day a sense of intimacy. I picked up T first,  and we  stopped on the way to J’s to buy   coffees for the group. We were quite happy with those coffees, sitting in the sun talking baseball, and weather, and whatever else, waiting to meet Jennifer and her carpool.

Once we were all together, we all climbed into one van and explored J’s area.  I took them to a home I lived in as a child,  near  6th and Dayton. Needless to say the area has changed since 1960. We made our way to  the Lowry Sports fields, and walked up the dam. Once we were on top we had spectacular views of the mountains. It’s a good thing J was there,  as we were trying to figure out the names of the peaks, and he was able to straighten us out.  We thought we could even see Wyoming from there, and  T suggested we drive  up that way to see if we were right.
Usually with bigger groups we will break up into smaller groups as we walk, but today we stayed close together. I think the smaller setting  must have helped because both T and J were more verbal and conversational today. And, as usual, D was in a great mood. I’ve forgotten how much I learn from D when we are out on walks. And not only was he sharp, he was quick to laugh and smile. It was nice.
In the afternoon,  we  took the three guys out to lunch at Spanky’s (near DU, great spot for us). J talked about his time at National Parks. He told an amazing story about camping with his daughters (if I’m remembering  correctly) when a herd of bison came upon them (yikes!) and later, wolves.  His stories were terrific, and everyone was entertained. He mentioned what she thought was a national park in New Mexico, but with D’s assistance – and a little help from Google – they decided it was a national monument they were thinking of, at Los Alamos. D told them how he once upon a time seriously considered taking  a job there. And T talked about his travels in Botswana when he was a young man, All  very interesting!
After lunch they got in another walk, on the Highline Canal  beside  Mamie Eisenhower Park. Jennifer  pointed out a baseball field but was corrected by J – nope, that’s a softball field, and he and D taught her why – the baseball field would have had grass in it!  We love these conversations, these interactions, these spontaneous dialogues. Sometimes they can be the most meaningful moments of the day.  D  used words Jennifer had never heard – he  referred to people from  South Dakota  as  “SoDakens” and used the expression “Mile-or-more” when they passed a very brightly colored car. She told me the guys taught her a thing of two today!
After lunch and the walk beside the park, a one hour talk about football, it’s history and it’s future. All the guys seemed to enjoy that hour, and it was a really good day for all!

Stock Show Parade

Well, few changes occurred today! Our plan was to  take a walk in Congress Park then ​visit the Ballpark ​Museum.  The 1st change we made was deciding to go to Confluence Park instead, and poke around REI if we needed to warm up.  On our way downtown, Brian saw signage  referencing the Stock Show Parade.  So that was change number two!
 
It was a wonderful day downtown.  Confluence was beautiful and surprisingly quiet ​ – ​almost peaceful, a few people relaxing in chairs in the sun with coffee, a few walkers and bikers, and a fisherman in the water under the overpass. During our “pit stop” in REI , D and I were joking about Big Foot…he does an​ ​excellent impression, growl and all !! We walked and took it all in for a bit, T and B did some rock climbing,

​we ​figured out the parade route, then headed to the Union Station area to try to stake out a piece of sidewalk along the parade route.  Well, we couldn’t find a spot right up front (all the kids had those) but we did pretty well, plus ​our spot ​was in the sun.  While we were waiting I listened to S have a wonderful conversation with a little boy about ​his ​glasses.  S comlipmented him on them and the young boy said they were new and just started jabbering on about being able to see!  
 
The parade was great.  First came the Texas Longhorn Steers, followed the Denver Mounted Police, stage coaches, the Westernaires, lots of cowboys, tractors, more horses and more cowboys.  We all got a real kick out of it.  J didn’t take his eyes off the parade and had a grin on his face the whole time.  
 
We walked down Blake ​ Street​, again winging it, looking for a burger and found a pretty darn good one at place called Hayters Bar and Grill.  T had the trout sandwich and seemed to be in heaven!!  We watched some folks play giant Jenga and the TV’s were playing music videos that sparked a conversation about MTV.  Phil Collins came up and J smiled again saying “he is one of my favorites”.
 
Another 15 minute sunny walk back to the car and our day was basically done,.  It went by so quickly and so smoothly.  We all got a kick out of the spontaneity of the day and sense of “freedom”.  The ​Ballpark ​Museum will be there for us next week.

Staunton State Park on New Years Day – great way to start our new year!

 

I was invited to join the guys for donuts this morning, and I was very happy to do so…to see them and also get off my computer!

The donut shop was closed for the holiday, but right next door was the  bagel shop so that worked out fine. After our relaxed morning together, they brought me back to the office and Brian took the guys all the way up to Staunton State Park. Lucky them! It was much warmer up there, and they got in a real decent trailwalk. Lunch was at the end of the day, back down in Lakewood on their way home.
All good today – a great way to start our new year.