Bruce and Jennifer hosted a fun day for our group. They all met at a small park in the morning for a picnic including a pot of coffee, juice, water, fruits, pastries and nuts…but moved on quickly afterwards to a 10:30 tour of the Cathedral. The official name is Cathedral Basilica of Immaculate Conception. It was built in the early 1900s, the style is French Neogothic. SO much to see here, and I’m told our guide was so good, telling all kinds of stories of interest to us. Julia Greely is buried here, awaiting possible sainthood, Pope John Paul II has stayed here, Mother Teresa has visited, Mother Cabrini, Buffalo Bill Cody have visited and Molly Brown was instrumental in funding the creation of it! A was seated in Molly Brown’s own pew, in fact, as we sat listening to our guide.
We then headed to City Park where we hoped we would be able to take a long walk, but the heat was too oppressive. We got out for a stroll, however, watching the Cormorants and observing many statues in the park.
Then to lunch, quite near City Park, at Syrup. It was earlier then we usually go to lunch but we needed the break from the heat. The restaurant always has good food but was on the noisy side today when we arrived at their rush hour. But it’s a nice place for us, and a great location.
And then the temps cooled down and we went to Platte Park where we knew the large trees would shade us. They have a historic mansion at the park called The Fleming House. Bruce and J were standing next to it when Bruce pointed to a sign that made J laugh. “No stopping or standing”. Oops! And then we even had time for one more visit to the park, at Ruby Hill, but this time we didn’t get out of the car. This is a park with unique bicycle ramps and challenging trails, which we checked out. AND! Even one more stop this afternoon, the group came to our office for a quick dessert, stretch, bathroom break and cold drink before heading home. We served up lemonades and ice waters, and had chocolate chip cookies.
I was really tickled to hear their stories about the day. The tour seemed like a special one. A gave me some terrific details about the stained glass windows and the Julia Greeley story, and told us about bishops and candles and saints and other details about the Catholic religion. D said he enjoyed the tour too, and had compliments for the tourguide. I asked him about his trailer which is for sale then we all started singing bits and pieces of the song with the line, “Trailer for sale or rent”…nobody could get much more then that, at least not for a while…but it was hilarious as we all gave it a try. Even J sang, which is a rarity. I asked him to do it again!, and he plugged his ears, saying “you better do this if I’m going to sing”. T was laughing and laughing at this silliness. She was also laughing at Bruce’s teeshirt with a banana on it, and enjoyed his story about a banana stand from a scene in “Arrested Development”, which just made her laugh all the more.
Well the hot hot temps in the afternoon zapped our energy somewhat, and looking back maybe the Denver Botanic Gardens wasn’t the best choice for today, but we did well. The group walked through the gardens and on, to “The Hive”, which is an outdoor restaurant under huge trees. So we had shade and fortunately breezes too. We sat overlooking a water feature and ordered cheeseburgers for all, to keep things simple. Jennifer was teasing the guys about “hey, no more jeans, it’s time to wear shorts” but L said, “you don’t want to see my white legs”. “Excuse me?” asked J, then he rolled up one pant leg to show us that L had serious competition!
The subject of 4th of July came up. We asked if anyone recalled traditions from years past. J said they couldn’t have fireworks when they lived in the parklands, “but Zion? I wouldn’t have traded living there for doing fireworks.” P made everyone laugh with his precise answer. “Nope. No fireworks for us as kids. They were strictly prohibited“. HA! that wording sure made his message clear. Nice image he gave us after this when he then said, ‘but we played horseshoes. My dad was the best in town.”
The group slowly made their way out of the gardens after lunch. Jennifer pointed out bees in a particular flower area, which mezmorized J. He does not like the heat, but he forgot about that when he was watching the bees hard at work. They came across a buckeye tree, and P threw his arm up in the air, remembering his days in Ohio, yelling. “Go Buckeyes!” There was one of the exotic Cholula glass art pieces on display which certainly caught everyone’s attention, (as Jennifer said, “enough to pause”), but the hot air convinced them to keep on moving.
The morning was spent as we pretty much always do, over coffee and treats (today chocolate croissants). Jennifer’s group found a very comfortable patio at Spinilli’s, where a little girl was walking in and out of a nearby shop bringing her dog water and treats, so that was entertainment enough. Then they met up with L and Torrey at Wash Park for a walk, where they stayed close to the water channel. No one took Jennifer’s dare so she went in the water up to her ankles by herself!, but there were bunches of preschoolers also in the ankle high water with life jackets on and nets to catch whatever they could find. Adorable, and again – quite entertaining. The group was fortunate to then find an open picnic table under a Cottonwood tree and had waters and cookies before heading to the Botanic Gardens. T was a help to Torrey as they refilled our water jug. They walked over the Wash Park Rec Center to do that, I am pretty sure this was a first, the group guzzled every drop we had brought with us.
We had Plan A, Plan B and Plan C all ready – the forecast was so iffy in regards to rain, but we really lucked out.
We met first at Panera Breads for our morning goodies, then headed to “Iris 4 U” to check out the acres of colorful iris. If you have time this week, you might want to check it out before it’s too late. A very easy place to get to, no charge and a hidden gem. J’s comment “I love colors” is something I can relate to, and at these gardens we even appreciated the pretty grasses and learned a bit about them from the owner. He, Bob, is exceptionally kind to us, and remembered us from last year (By the way, JM did too. She asked Jennifer, “didn’t we come here last spring with Brian?” Right on! JM was happy she brought that memory up, so were we) Bob invited us all to stand right in the middle of the field of iris for a group photo. We told him we might accidentally crush a flower or two as we navigated our way into position, and he said he didn’t mind at all.
Steve imitated T for me, at the office later in the day, he said it was really cool when they first arrived at the gardens. There are a few rows of iris, then as the group walked forward it opened up to a large field, and T’s jaw dropped as he opened up his arms as if saying “Wow”. At one point T bent down to pick up a pedal, and he didn’t let go of it the rest of their time there, protecting it from being stepped on.
Steve also said, “T and G together are hilarious. They do such a funny Kung Foo fighting thing. Like brothers, goofing off”
There is a lookout post that requires climbing a few steps. T and Jennifer went up there. She invited P and he – Mr Quick One-liner Guy – said, “No. I like to be grounded”.
Steve enjoyed hearing P’s stories today about when he ushered for the Rockies. P speaks so highly of those days, he said, “it was relaxed and it was really great”. P also spoke a bunch about his days in marching band. The group had driven past a high school where the band was practicing. It brought up some really clear memories for P, and he told us about “22.214.171.124…marching in place and marching across the field” and about the bell of the trumpet, and how he played trumpet but also sometimes baritone.
G and JM enjoyed singing today, as usual. We get such a kick out of listening to them, and JM is to the point where she sees him and starts right in!
After the iris farm we took a drive up into Ken Caryl and into Deer Creek Canyon. The weather was still cooperating, so we were able to get out for a decent little walk in the park there, on Rattlesnake Gulch. Someone asked if there were any rattlesnakes and G very quickly said, “yes, there’s one right there”, making Jennifer jump! They were on a wide, open dirt path and walked a loop, each at their own pace, and doing well.
Lunch was at Chilis where JM had a funny line, when Jennifer asked her once they were seated, “are you chilly?” JM: “No, but that’s where we are!”
JM started it! She put her cute pink hat on sideways and called herself a rapper.
E asked, “I don’t understand. What are you wrapping?”
Bruce came back to the office tonight enthusiastic about today’s adventures! He said the day “went very fast, we were very busy”
Torrey and Bruce hosted the guys to morning snacks and drinks at Whole Foods, then to croquet at Wash Park. Torrey left the group after this, and Bruce took the group for a walk in the park, then to lunch in Morrison, (sitting by the river, on the patio of “The Cow”) then they made a spontaneous stop at Bandimere Race Track to walk around and reminisce. John Bandimere happened to there, and spent time chatting with us, telling us we were welcome to back for a visit anytime, fantastic!
G’s been singing more these days, he started off the morning with “American Woman”. He played croquet and got to know James who owns the croquet program. (“Jiminy Wicket”) They shared quite a lengthy conversation – James is British and they chatted about London and G’s time there. Croquet is always a good choice for us, some physical activity and lots of socializing!
Conversation the rest of the day continued regarding London, Europe, travel. When a stop at Bandimere was brought up over lunch, R lit up, since racing was such a big part of his life. Bruce asked him if he ever raced against a woman driver. R said, “I did, but I don’t remember who won”. He also talked about his father, “I wish you could have met him, he was fun to hang out with”, and how everyone in the group thinks of themselves more as sports fans and players then musicians.
The guys had a terrific day, we were outdoors a bunch, took some decent walks, socializing…good stuff!
We don’t recall exactly how this happened, we’re guessing A started it. When Jennifer had the group pose for a picture, they all held hands! We also got a beautiful picture of the park, and both of the “Devil’s Thumbs”. E couldn’t figure out “why there would be two devils!” See the two thumbs in this photo?
We spent about 40 minutes at Chataquqa Park today. Great views, as you can tell. We walked around the park and into their Visitors Center. Before we arrived in Boulder the two carpools had separate coffee breaks. Bruce and the ladies went to Observation Park and had a tailgating sort of start to their day, with goodies and juice and some fresh air. Then they met K and Jennifer in Golden. Jennifer said she and K had been discussing solar panels – she told him about the ones her family got back in the Carter era. He told her about when his were damaged by hail, then they talked about hail, then weather, and she said the theme kept to those topics as they met Bruce and the ladies and started driving together towards Boulder. They passed the windmill fields in Golden, then the brand new housing developments – one of which has solar panels on each home!
Then onto Chataqua Park for some exploring and walking, then to lunch at Walnut Street Café, where they are always so so good to us. E sent 1/2 of her sandwich back to the office for me at the end of the day and it was still super good! Bruce and Jennifer told me the conversations at lunch focused a lot on women – how they struggled to get an education in certain eras, how it wasn’t always assumed a woman might want to further her career, how things have changed.
A told the group about a recent trip to California, for a family wedding, and also of a distant memory she has of the day WWII ended. Angie said she was a very small girl, and her mother grabbed her and danced with her. She said they danced so much that the clock fell off the shelf.
And they got on the subject of names and rhymes. Couldn’t find a rhyme for the names E or A, but for J there was a bunch!
Then to our 1:30 tour of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which is very tourist-friendly. We started with a 10 minute orientation video, then the guide showed us around for 45 minutes. She was kind and patient with us, and quite scientific, but her passion for science was refreshing. She was good with our group, though some of her information went over our heads. I like the picture of K smiling on the tour, however. He soaks this stuff up.
So the thread of conversation K and Jennifer shared earlier in the day, continued…weather, climate change, hail storms, here we go again!
Cups of water back at the car, and then we hit the road. I’m told the rides home were pretty quiet, this was a full day and everyone seemed pretty darn relaxed!
Our morning stop was at Whole Foods for at least an attempt at a healthy start. We did pretty good, the peanuts were very popular, plus we had sliced apples and rolls and shared one large organic Rice Krispy!
This morning when Jennifer picked up T she was introduced to a childhood friend who was in town. T talked quite a bit about his buddy on the drive, telling Jennifer they got into trouble together, but not the kind “that would make my mom really mad”. Over coffee JM told everyone about a recent conversation with her daughter that many in our group could relate to. She said her daughter, who is college age, told her something along the lines of “I’ll always need you”, which JM said made her feel proud and made her feel like crying at the same time. We get that!
D pointed out the architecture in the Whole Foods which has never crossed my mind! But yes – the windows, the open ceilings, the natural light. It IS interesting. D told us about the start up of the Women’s NBA – something else many of us have not focused on, and then he turned and focused on a Whoopie Pie in a nearby pastry shelf! Ha!
Jennifer mentioned how she has an event coming up this weekend that she’s apprehensive about, and T so thoughtfully told her, “But you are wonderful. You’ll do great. There’s nothing to worry about”. Ahh. And P told us about how he and his wife will be downsizing soon. Steve got a kick out of this conversation between them, Steve said “you won’t have to mow anymore” and easy-going P said, “oh, I don’t mind mowing. Well. No. I guess I do. ” And then the same about shoveling snow! “I don’t mind. Well, I guess I do”.
While walking out of Whole Foods, E laughed when she spotted the sign for the restaurant called Snooze. “I bet I could wear my pjs in a place named Snooze!”
Then off to our next adventure, a visit to the gallery “Arts of Denver”. This is a small space and we only had about 20 minutes to look around, which was just right. JM kept going back to a painting of a little girl who was looking at a statue of a girl, with an impressionistic image of another female looking over them both.
E really liked the painting of two men in the mountains. E really liked this and asked the price. Jennifer said, “$2,000” and quick witted Eleanor said, “oh. I only have $1800”
In the car earlier this morning there was a James Taylor song on the radio that D and Steve discussed. What did the lyrics mean? Can they be interpreted differently by different people? And then D brought it up again in the gallery, talking about perspective.
Lunch today was at Poppies, they are so good to us. We had an 11:45 reservation, and walked right in on their busy Friday. The waiter was “fantastic”, Jennifer said, extra friendly to everyone. P got a kick out of the Bandito Burrito on the menu and ordered one for himself, then tried to sneak in a Spanish word wherever possible throughout lunch, lots of “Si senior” and “Adios”. He couldn’t finish his massive burrito, but he gave it a go!
E felt very much that she and her husband had been to Poppies over the years, that would certainly make sense. It’s sort of an institution in that part of town.
Wings over the Rockies was our last stop of the day. We had been warned that with spring break going on it could be packed with kids, and that they tend to leave by 2:30. So we arrived about 1:30 and found a large open area of the museum where everyone in our group could safely roam independently, as all the children were heading out the doors in the opposite end of the building. Jennifer enjoyed watching everybody walking over to whatever caught their eye, and T and JM paired up and talked about all they were seeing. E had a hard time here, she was reading the statistics about the horrors of war, and became emotional. We were there to support her, and got her refocused as quickly as possible.
Lots of variety today… Fine art and Whoopie Pies and 70s music and aviation history!
Today just flowed right along, and we had many laughs. G was in a terrific mood and full of energy from the moment he climbed in the car. We then picked up R and P and off we went to meet Bruce who had T and T with him. Bruce took the guys for these funny little donut things at McDonalds, and bought coffees for them. They sat and watched customers, and children playing. T is not only Mr. Navigator but also Mr Observant, we always notice that about him. Bruce was very surprised when T pointed out a park they drove past and said to Bruce, “you and I have walked there”, which was correct. T commented on things at McDs like, “that little boy’s green shirt”, or “that girl is stuck!”.
Not too sure we’ll partake in McDs donuts again, but it was a perfect, brief start to the day for these guys.
My carpool had some time in Barnes and Noble, and made our way to their Starbucks. On the way G picked up a stuffed animal (Beatrix Potterish) and then of course found a child to hand it to, he really had this boy laughing with the dancing bunny, it was sweet.
We had apple tarts and coffee, then off we all went for the days’ adventure.
We took a scenic drive in the Ken Caryl area, and listened to music in the car. I had been told that G was a big fan of our 60s satellite station, and man is that true. Whistling, singing, ..fantastic. All of them were enjoying the music.
We talked about Sears closing down, and P reminded me that it used to be called Sears Roebuck, which I’d forgotten. He and T had a hilarious moment when I said something about them being “Larry, Curly and Moe in my car.” Then I asked them if they could remember the name of the 4th Stooge. P said, “give me a minute. Or give me a few days.” And really after a few minutes he shouted “Shemp” and was tickled with himself. T was amazed! T asked him how he remembered that, and P said with his huge grin, “I brought it up from the depths!”
We wandered a bit indoors and out, at CU’s Extension School which is also called the Wildlife Experience. Beautiful building, lots of sculptures and art work on display. We attended a noon film about nature in our own backyards, deer, coyote, frogs, birds, raccoons…it was 3D and had some terrific scenery.
T liked the CU images in the center, and told me to be careful on the walkways, pointing out where “the salt is to get rid of the ice”.
We talked about last week’s storm, G told us how he watched out his kitchen window as the snow blew sideways, P told us stories about his career, his time ushering for the Rockies, about his father’s love of Lawrence Welk. R told us – and our waiter who was curious – about racing at Pike’s Peak and Bandimere and Indianapolis, T made a “snowball” out of toilet paper and threw it at G, and T kiddingly called him a “tough guy”.
We had lunch at Great Beginnings, they were exceptionally kind and welcoming to us, discounting our bill and bringing us a plate of cookies too. I have two favorite standout moments of the day, one is during lunch when Bruce got up to use the restroom. As he was walking away T said, “ok, now we can talk about him”. Ha!
And secondly, on my drive home, when it was getting quiet after our full day, listening to P sing along un-self-consciously with Anne Murray, “Can I have this dance for the rest of my life”.
Today was another amazing day as this group continues to blend so nicely. A is a great addition with her positive outlook and infectious energy. She and J get along beautifully; A being the southern belle and J being the consummate gentleman. E and F also quickly fall into their easy, entertaining banter. They are both playful and self deprecating. They both have such a quick wit. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the next one liner.
Our first stop was Lamar’s donuts. Bruce and Steve were both in attendance and we were even able to stop by for a visit with Mary. It is unusual to have as many attendees as we have caregivers and it was great fun. When we had an extra donut A graciously offered it to the whole group but when their were no takers she was thrilled and said “you all are too kind.”
It was a perfect day for a scenic drive in the foothills. All admired the beautiful homes near Red Rocks Golf Course Community, which led to conversations about three-car garages and how big does a home really need to be? As we passed The Fort, F reminisced about meeting her husband in Ohio and moving to an area near the The Fort, and said they enjoyed many meals at the restaurant. Our drive then took us through Red Rocks park where we saw the trails where Steve used to ride his BMX bike as a child. We learned that E visited the park often with her husband and that J had taken in quite a few shows. On our way out of the park we stopped at the Trading Post to use the bathroom. J and A decided that we had found “the most beautiful bathroom on earth!”
Our lunch and tour of Balistreri Winery was lovely. This is a boutique winery run by family with a deep Sicilian winemaking history. A happily connected with the owners about her shared Sicilian ancestry. We loved learning about some barrels that the winery received from Stranahan’s. The winery uses them to make Port with a hint of whiskey. When someone didn’t remember how many bottles there were to a barrel A chimed in “290, but who’s counting?” J had great questions today which led us to learn that CSU agriculture school provide some of the grapes for this wine. You’ll see a photo of the barrell with CSU written on it, which was what made Jerry curious. Fascinating! I think E’s favorite part of the day was watching them seal the bottles with a very unique wax formula. It was beautiful and artistic. E was amazed “the wax is still warm”.
It’s always great fun with this group F is still – as she says – smarter than a seatbelt, J is still a gentleman. E is still thinking about growing a little taller next week and A is always agreeing with the group. “We’re perfect, we’re always perfect!”
The ladies had separate time this morning, and the guys met at the office for our morning snacks. We recall some funny tidbits of conversation; somehow we got talking about the first man on the moon and the theory these days that it might have been a hoax!? We laughed about that, maybe someone arrived before America did, and hopefully they didn’t leave any litter behind. We talked about the idea that the moon is made of cheese – just silly stuff, and also other conspiracy theories which changed the tone of the conversation to a more serious one – MLK, Robert Kennedy, etc. Then P told us how he went in for his physical during the draft but was turned down. “Too skinny” ! D told us about being in the National Guard and working under his father’s leadership. That’s about when D grabbed an Oreo cookie from across the table, saying it’s “important to chew Oreos while drinking coffee”. Back to the silliness!
In the afternoon the 2 groups met in Platt Park for a walk, just about 20 minutes, exploring the park a bit but mainly the mansion on the premises. We couldn’t get inside, but were impressed with it. And then off to lunch. Panera Breads for salads and sandwiches. The sandwiches were huge! P took it as a challenge – determined to eat as much of his as possible, but the rest of us surrendered. And E took over when Steve surrendered as he tried to open all the potato chip bags. She grabbed them and got the job done!
Across the street is the beautiful Koelbel Library, where we attended the talk about the Tuskagee Airmen. As everyone was getting seated T acted as usher, making sure we were all together. C.J. laughed aloud when she heard this being said during the presentation: Eleanor Roosevelt was scheduled once to fly in a jet piloted by a black person. Apparently someone was concerned about how she’d feel about that but she said she was determined to go ahead. They called FDR and asked him what he thought. FDR replied, “no one can stop her”. CJ loved that!
Yay Friday group, see you next week!
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