Friday, October 29, 2010

Three Lakes

On the Wednesday of our week in Colorado (our traditional date night!), we took off on a hike through Rocky Mountain National Park. I've done very little hiking but I was comforted by the fact that hiking is really just walking - up and down hills, through trees and over rocks. Ha! The first lake we came to was Bear Lake, which I've already shown you. The second lake was Nymph Lake, above, which is usually covered with lily pads in the summer.

The third lake was our fateful stop, Dream Lake.

And our last stop was Emerald Lake, at the base of Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain. The wind made it quite chilly here but we still took time to sit and absorb the magnificent scenery...and watch chipmunks scurry amidst the rocks.

Thus ended my first real hike. I went up single and came down engaged! If every hike ended like that, I'd be more willing to go! Ha! No, no. I really enjoyed it and I look forward to doing it again!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wedding Thoughts

A short break from Colorado pics....

My best friend, AL, got married this past weekend and it was such a wonderful day. I was happy to be there and to see her and her husband so thrilled. Though they've been together for a very long time, making it "official" still brought a tear to my eye. The wedding was sophisticated and tasteful without being overdone.

So, of course, this made me think of my upcoming wedding. And for those of you interested, it'll be in May. Mr. Higgins and I agree on many things, including keeping it very small. We both have very small families so it should an easy goal to accomplish.

My downfall will be this... I have a tendency to want to please everyone, especially those close to me, so I must be mindful of what I want.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bear Lake

When we awoke in Estes Park for the first time, we had no idea what awaited us later in the day. We decided to take it easy that day (after two days in the car!) so we headed to Rocky Mountain National Park to get our entrance pass for the week. Once there, we had to go exploring! We drove up to Bear Lake and the closer we got, the more snow we saw!

The trees around the lake were frosted with wet snow that was already melting. We hiked around the lake - and puddles - to get pictures.

Huge clumps of melting snow fell on us as we hiked around. It was a bit cold - ha! - but I'm so glad we did it!

Someone ahead of us made a mini snowman!

We really lucked out with the weather. The storm that brought the snow blew threw and didn't cause many problems. By the time we were set to hike, it was sunny and in the seventies! The following week after we left, winter really began in Estes Park with snow accumulating in RMNP. Eek!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Estes Park

Our final destination of the trip was Estes Park, at the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. My first real scene of the town was the river, Fall River, that runs through it.

I knew the river ran through the property of our hotel, but I had no idea it would be so picturesque!

We spent a lot of time walking by the river, sitting by the river, and listening to its calming waters.

One of my favorite things about Colorado was the chipmunks! I hadn't seen these since I lived in Michigan! They're so adorable! I took quite a few videos of these little guys, much to Mr. Higgins' amusement. Ha!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Independence Pass

Back to trip pictures! After our stay in Manitou Springs, we headed north, intentionally taking the most scenic route we could find to Glenwood Springs. That route included a drive across the Continental Divide at Independence Pass.

The drive was magnificent. As we gained altitude, snow started appearing and we even had a few flurries! The snow made the mountains appear utterly majestic.

For the first time this season, we walked in snow to a lookout point at Independence Pass.

The drive up and down the mountain was tricky with quite a few switchbacks, like the one shown above. But I grew to enjoy these drives. So much more exciting than straight highway

Friday, October 22, 2010


Another slight interruption in the trip pics...

Twenty-nine years ago today (around noon), my mother gave birth to a big (8lbs 10oz) baby girl. Yep, that was me. It was a difficult pregnancy and the only one my mom would ever have.

Now, I'm facing the last year of my 20s. Unbelievable! We just had our ten year high school reunion (not that I went). Time is flying by.

Recently, when talking with my dad on his birthday, he said (something to the effect) that "you never think of yourself as old. You're always the same young kid in your mind. You still think you can do anything....but your body says otherwise."

I still feel like I'm the young Doniamarie, the idealistic tomboy who slowly fell more in love with books than her bicycle. The Doniamarie who would spend hours swimming (never sun-bathing - ew!), roller-skating, and dancing. I hope that never changes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pikes Peak

Our first big adventure in Colorado was taking the cog rail up to Pikes Peak. It took over an hour to reach the summit and it was a fascinating ride through forest, by lakes, and across alpine tundra. Above, our cog car (?) parked at the summit.

It was a clear day until we got to the summit. At 14,000 feet it was cloudy, windy, and snowy. Boy, was it cold - in the 20s! We were a bit disheartened by the clouds which obscured the view. We headed inside to warm up and, hopefully, wait out the clouds.

Finally, a few minutes before we had to leave the summit, the clouds parted for a brief time. The views were spectacular!

I especially liked the lakes amidst the gorgeous!

The cog rail was a lot of fun but I don't think it's something I need to do with every visit to Colorado. The weather is such a huge factor! But it was cool being so high up! The elevation of my home town is 600 feet. And I was up to 14,000 feet last week! Awesome!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


This is the spot in Rocky Mountain National Park where Mr. Higgins proposed to me last Wednesday. I can't remember his exact words but he asked the actual question twice - and I said 'yes' twice!

He caught me completely off guard. We stopped - after over an hour of hiking - to rest and have a snack at Dream Lake. The weather was perfect: snow that had fallen a few days prior was melting and the sun was stunningly bright. We both had layers of clothes on to shed throughout the day as the temperatures warmed. My nose was red from the cold and it was running; I was starving; it was my first real hike in a major national park and I was exhilarated and overwhelmed. Mr. Higgins wanted me in a picture and after a few shots, he came up and the next thing I knew, he was down on one knee!

I wanted to wait until a Wednesday to announce the engagement as it's a monumental week for Mr. Higgins and me. Our 40th Wednesday together and also our 9-month anniversary! Now, we've been engaged for a week!

Back to trip pictures tomorrow....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Garden of the Gods

Growing up, my family never really visited national parks; my dad always preferred a beach. So, for this vacation, I was truly excited to see all that I had been missing out on, namely mountains.

Our first stop in Colorado was Manitou Springs, in order to see Pikes Peak. Our hotel, however, was practically at the entrance of Garden of the Gods.... So, we went to see these magnificent rocks before our journey up Pikes Peak - which is seen in the picture above .

Garden of the Gods was, indeed, magnificent on this bright, clear morning.

Later, when we were on top of Pikes Peak, these spires of rock were visible from 14,000 feet! Amazing! The red stone really makes them stand out.

This is the Garden's most famous rock: Balanced Rock.

Manitou Springs was a charming town just west of Colorado Springs. I would definitely stay there again, mainly to spend more time in the Garden. We zipped through, seeing the highlights. It would be awesome to hike there!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Road Trip!

As you can see, my plan to (possibly) blog while on vacation failed. That just means, however, that I have tons of blog fodder now, upon my return to the real world.

Mr. Higgins and I left the Big City and headed northwest through north central Texas and then the Texas Panhandle. I'd never been to that area of Texas so it was definitely an adventure! The landscape changed so much! I was fascinated by it all!

In New Mexico, we passed a volcano! Capulin Volcano National Monument was definitely not something I expected to see!

Wind turbines in the Panhandle of Texas were also a surprise, though I'd heard of these popping up in recent years.

We made it to our first stop in Colorado in one day.... So, more exciting pics tomorrow!

Friday, October 8, 2010

All Packed!

Outside of a few odds-n-ends, I'm mostly packed for Colorado. I did such a great job last night, that I packed up all my hair stuff....which meant it had to be un-packed this morning. Ha!

We leave early tomorrow morning and I can't wait! Though I really hadn't noticed until recently, I think the city and all it entails has really stretched me thin of late. I'm so sick of traffic, of traffic lights, stupid drivers, constant noise and commotion, and work, of course. I need a break.

Come to think of it, I've had no real break since the cruise with Mr. Higgins in April. That was six months ago!!! Crazy!

I'll try to post from Colorado, but I can't guarantee anything. I have no idea how good our internet will be and when I'll have time to post - between driving, hiking, and eating. Ha!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Yarn Stores

I'm taking some knitting on the Colorado trip since the autumn weather has really made me want to pick up the needles. The goal is to get a few Christmas present finished - with time to spare! In the past, I've been knitting up to the last minute!

Hopefully, there will be time to visit a few yarn shops as well. I imagine Colorado has an active knitting scene. There are tons of yarn stores in Denver and Colorado Springs! But in the smaller towns, where we're staying, there are only a few. So, we'll see. It'll all depend on timing.

But I definitely have the knitting bug. Yay, autumn coolness!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Advisers, Puritans, and Witches

I finally finished reading Katherine Howe's The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane yesterday.

Being the ancient, semi-classicist historian snob that I am, I've never been intrigued by the Salem witch trials. (Rome had witches two thousand years before Salem, after all.) But Howe makes them interesting with a fresh look at the so-called witches that were executed. I could definitely sympathize with the protagonist, Connie, a modern graduate student attempting to find fresh fodder for a dissertation. The primary antagonist, her adviser, is less believable and a bit over the top. My middle-class bias also scoffs at the Harvard setting. Ah, well, some are still romanced by such a locale.

Howe is an effective writer and this is an intriguing story. The so-called witches are painted correctly - God-fearing medicine-women. Graduate school is also described correctly. It is difficult, however, to believe Connie's family connections and past. No one finds a dissertation in the decrepit house they inherit. And, if they do, it's not on a topic so romantic as witchcraft. But that's what we, as readers, yearn for, right? Romance - in any form.

I, like Connie, had to laugh at the Puritan names....Deliverance, Mercy, Constance, Prudence, Charity.... I found a few of these in my own family's past while doing research many years ago. Perhaps I had relatives in Salem!, no likely. That's just to romantic a hypothesis for real life.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Window Hopping

The weather has been gorgeous lately with highs in the 70s. Last night, while I did chores and started packing for CO, I opened up the windows to let in some cool, fresh air. Doug and Syb had a blast window-hopping.

You can't tell in the picture above, but Doug is attentively watching some of the stray cats on the back porch. Syb was hogging the windowsill....

I love this picture! Syb watching one of the strays (who I call Lucretius) on the porch. It's almost as good as TV, watching the cats watch other cats!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Colorado Prep

A week from now I'll be in Colorado!

Mr. Higgins and I are going on a road trip to Colorado. Our final destination is Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. I've been dying to take a road trip so I'm super excited!

Since my dad has forever been in search of the perfect beach - and since he hates cold weather - I've never vacationed near mountains. The sole exception was our family Christmas in Tahoe a few years ago. And a few hours of driving around the Great Smoky Mountains hardly counts, so this is going to be a great trip for me!

This week is all about prepping for the trip. So much to do!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Abuse Scandals

Despite the many voices saying otherwise, I've always thought that celibacy had very little to do with abuse amidst Church clergy. After all, depriving oneself of sex does not automatically make one a sexual predator. Being a gay priest does not automatically make you a sexual predator.

I found an article yesterday that talks about the Protestant clergy's sexual abuse trend. The author makes some very good points. Among them, that the Catholic Church is a much more profitable target as it's a monolithic
(that is to say, rich) organization instead of a small independent (er...poor) congregation.

Some may call me naive, but I believe in the celibacy of the clergy. Nuns and monks take a similar vow and are not routinely accused of sexual crimes. Perhaps, as the article states, it's the power of the position that comes into play within the clergy. Nuns and monks do not, after all, have the same hierarchical structure as the clergy.

Either way, sexual abuse is a problem in every Christian sect.