Great Sand Dunes

In mid Summer of 2018, I embarked on a week long driving trek through southeast Colorado. One objective during that adventure was to spend time at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

I expected a rather large sand pile. I did not understand the enormity of the scope of the rather large sand pile until I stood in front of it .

Like other people I walked to the closet, smallest sand hill where people where sand surfing. I took photos of other people walking through the sand to even greater heights among the ever shifting dunes. I, however, stayed close to the Visitors Center as not to over extend my overweight out-of-shape body.

There is a sand dunes national park in Indiana. Interestingly, it is call the Indiana Dunes National Park. I have never been there. Actually, I have never wanted to go there. I don’t know why. Maybe it is too far to drive the three hours it would take to get there. Yet, I’ll drive over a thousand miles just to spend a few hours walking through the sand in Colorado. So, I’ll need to put the Indiana Dunes on the list of Indiana places to see. If for any other reason is that I’ve lived in Indiana my entire life and yet have never made an effort to visit the only National Park in Indiana.

The Great Sand Dunes at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Nikon D600 photo taken by Dave O on August 1, 2018.
The Great Sand Dunes at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Nikon D600 photo taken by Dave O on August 1, 2018.

Pikes Peak

With 8″ of snow on the driveway and air temperature of 14°F, I am reminded of my August 2018 journey to Colorado.

I drove the Honda (yes, the same Honda that is now stuck in the 8″ of snow in the driveway) to Colorado to explore the Great Sand Dunes National Park and the UFO Watchtower. I camped at the KOA in Alamosa, Colorado. I walked around Buena Vista and the Garden of the Gods and the Red Rock Canyon Open Space in Colorado Springs. Stood at the Three Corners of Colorado, Oklahoma and New Mexico in the Black Mesa Nature Preserve and stood at the Eight Mile Corner.

I was not able to drive, ride or walk up to the summit of Pikes Peak due to time restrictions as I only had a week’s worth of vacation time. But, I did manage to snap a bad photo of the mountain (shown below).

Bad Photo of Pikes Peak
Bad Photo of Pikes Peak taken by Dave O from somewhere in Colorado Springs on August 3, 2018

Why Can’t I Go?

Go West Young Man. A bill board advertising an Eiteljorg film series. Photo taken by Dave O with the Nikon W300, July 2018.

Go West Young Man. A bill board advertising an Eiteljorg film series. Photo taken by Dave O with the Nikon W300, July 2018. Should I go?

Maybe one could explain this complexity for me?

In my youth I had a driving wonder lust. I couldn’t wait to get out and explore. It started by exploring creeks and cemeteries and the local neighborhoods I could walk or bike to. When I could drive places were no longer far away. Indiana State Parks became a favorite destination. Sometimes those trips became overnighters but they were usually long day trips.

When I first married and the kids started appearing, the wonder lust didn’t fade. Family camping, “auto hiking” (a self coined term to describe ‘driving’ to strange and new places as my wife at that point in my life didn’t care to ‘hike’ in the traditional way) and backpacking were activities I faithfully and consistently engaged in.

As the first wife left and the second wife came home with two more kids, family camping took a prominent place in our family travels. Colorado, South Dakota, Kentucky, Florida were some of the states we went to. Pricey beach vacation were also thrown into the travel itinerary.

But, as the kids grew up and left to live their own lives and as the second wife left to live her own I find myself alone and unrestricted.

Yet, I can’t seem excite the wonder lust I had in my youth.

It’s become a topic of discussion (or maybe concern) with friends and family. They don’t understand why I talk about flying or driving to far away destinations for a long weekend or a week long vacation, see  my excitement at the thought of wondering about  and listen to my ideas and list of things-to-do and then witness the scheduled dates come and go and my lack of follow through.

They say “you have nothing holding you back.”

And I don’t.

Yet I don’t go.

My scheduled work vacation this year is July 30 – August 3. It’s a typical five day work week vacation but if you add the weekends before and aft then the vacation expands into nine days.

That is enough time to drive to Colorado and take a few photos, is it not? Enough time to do almost everything I planned to do, that I listed on my detailed itinerary I created months ago where I listed mileage and routes and campgrounds and National Parks and towns and mountains I wanted to visit and climb.

Yet, I’m on the verge of pulling the plug and canceling those vacation days and continue life by working through that week as normal.

Ugh.

I hope I still go.

As a post script, in June 2015, I did take a week’s vacation to Colorado. It was a great time of hiking and sight seeing and driving to strange and new places.

If you look close you can my little red 2000 Honda Civic EX. And next to the Civic is the 3 Corners at Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas. Photo taken by Dave O, June 2015.

If you look close you can my little red 2000 Honda Civic EX. And next to the Civic is the 3 Corners at Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas. Photo taken by Dave O, June 2015.

 

 

 

Return to Colorado

I work as a graphic designer, web programmer slash front end designer, photographer and general illustrative person for a small midwest manufacturer. I’ve been in this position since 1998 but been with the company since 1992.

Not very often are there ‘kudos’ for a good job. You might hear about a bad job. Kudos, good and bad, do come at times, thankfully. But since there are no quarterly or yearly evaluations I never know if I’m doing as expected or if I’m doing great or if I need to improve in some area or if they are planning to show me the door. And with the new ownership change, not knowing can play havoc inside my head.

However, two recent comments made by the some of the new owners kind of took me by surprise.

The first comment, made directly to me and about me and made by Owner #1, concerned my lack of use of ‘vacation time’. Just a comment, no “you did bad by not taking all of it” nor “you did good by not taking all of it and being at work”.

The second comment, spoken in an expressive tone loud enough for all to hear expressed Owner #5’s point of view as to “WHY anyone in their right mind WOULDN’T take ALL of their VACATION TIME”.

I thought there are several reasons why someone wouldn’t take all their vacation time. In this company, vacation time is earned, not given. Therefore, it’s pay. Some people, like me, can use the nice ‘bonus’ at the end of the year to pay bills, debt, kid’s tuition, etc. Other people, also like me, just don’t know where to go on vacation nor have the cash to go. Other people, like me, use vacation time to work around the house or wait for the cable guy between the hours of 8 – 4.

I’ve used 7 days of my 15 days of total 2015 ‘vacation’. Five days were taken to drive to Colorado and hike and explore. Two days were spent hiking around some state parks and going to a doctor’s appointment. I did have other vacation scheduled but those days were delayed and then rescinded due to work and other conflicts.

There are five new owners at the company. Maybe they want people to take vacation time for good employee morale or accounting or other reasons. Probably for accounting reasons since vacation time is not accrued from year to year. They cut a check for unused vacation time at the end of the year. So, if you don’t take two weeks of vacation then you get a ‘bonus’ (not really a bonus but you understand my drift) of two extra weeks of pay.

So they are encouraging people to take their vacation. At least that is what I’m hearing. I wouldn’t want the new owners, particular Owner #5, to think I’m somewhat deficient in person or spirit because I didn’t take all of my earned vacation time.

Took this photo in 2015 during my Colorado 2015 vacation.

Took this photo in 2015 during my Colorado 2015 vacation.

So, I’m now planning some vacation time for late July, 2016. And, I’m going to Leadville Colorado and going to run on the Mineral Belt National Historic Trail. It is an 11.6 mile paved fitness trail that winds through and around Leadville.

How cool. It is cool!

I should be in shape to run the total distance by late July. I have two mini marathons scheduled for May and June 2016. So, I should be trained up for 11.6 miles. However, the elevation may offer a challenge, as Leadville is at 10,152 feet in the Colorado Rockies and is the second highest incorporated municipality in the United States.

Most, if not all, of my running and training is in the low lands of the midwest. So it may be a challenge to run at that altitude but it’s a challenge that I’m now looking forward to!

I plan to stay at a campground in Leadville or close by. I also plan to complete the Whitney Lake hike during this trip. In June 2015, on my first attempt at Whitney Lake, I turned back about a half mile from the lake because of deep snow and not really being prepared physically, as I was overweight and out of shape at that time. That hike, and that trip to Colorado in general, gave me the motive and impetuous to get back in shape.

I drove through Leadville on my 2015 Colorado trip. For the 2016 trip, I plan to linger in Leadville, take in some of the local craft brew and color and hike around the San Isabel National Forest.

Leadville is kind of a mecca for running. It hosts an entire series of races, from a 10K to the famous Leadville 100 ultra trail marathon. Here’s a link to their web site.

At least I have something on the 2016 vacation schedule. Hopefully that will make some people happy. However, I’m sure the plans will change and morph along the way before July 2016. Until then, I have something to look forward to and train for.

(mostly a) Wordless Wednesday

This is a view of a lone tree from the Cross Creek Trail in the Holy Cross Wilderness in Colorado. I thought the lone tree framed in the center with foliage on the edges of the frame made for a good shot. The blue sky and the puffy white clouds didn’t hurt the photo  either. I love the rock formations on this trail. This photo was taken on June 18, 2015.crossCreekTree_001

A Small Success and a Twisted Scene

I thought I would blog on the events of yesterday. Not that yesterday held grand and glorious events but because there was a small success and a twisted scene.

The small success.

It’s has been seven (yes, count them … seven) days since I’ve had a beer.

So what, you may ask? Well, I don’t believe that I was becoming or had become an alcoholic. But I did drink a lot of beer. Furthermore, I held a strict personal policy of staying home to drink beer. So, when I opened a beer at home I stayed home. Never would I drink and drive. If I was out to dinner to family or friends my policy was to ride with someone or not drink at all if I was driving.

At first (meaning after Nikki left a year ago) I used the beer to soothe the depression. It’s amazing how the world and the future looked brighter after a beer or two or three or four or more. However, after a while, I realized that I was missing out on ‘stuff’ I could be doing in the evenings (outside of the house) because I rushed home after work to drink beer and wouldn’t leave afterwards.

So, I was really stuck at home. At first it was ok, especially when I was remodeling the kitchen or working on other house projects. But now it’s become kind of restrictive. Because I could be walking the fitness trails at the local parks or I could be going to the movies or just enjoying the evening with a drive to the countryside. But if I drink beer, I stay home.

So, I decided to give up the beer. Now, I have the freedom to do stuff in the evenings after work and not be chained up at home. Giving up the beer also impacts my new fitness effort as drinking beer and trying to lose weight and improve my fitness doesn’t really go well together.

The Twisted Scene.

I had dinner with my parents last night. We talked about my Colorado 2015 trip and other things. After dinner, I drove to the nearby Krogers to pick up some groceries.

June 29 just happened to be Nikki’s and my wedding anniversary. It was a hard day otherwise but the fact that I wasn’t married to Nikki any longer made it a wee bit harder. Anyways, I was at the closest Krogers to my house but it also happens to be next door to Nikki’s apartment complex. So, I texted her to see if she needed anything.

She replied and said no. She also invited me over to say hello.

Nikki and her new family and I have a great relationship. There’s no hostility and no ill will between us. I understood that Nikki wanted and needed to move in other directions. After all, she so much younger than I am and so full of energy and life that I could hardly keep up with her. Her new significant other is able to keep up! It’s a good match for them.

Anyways, I spent a few minutes at their apartment and told them about my Colorado trip and my new fitness plans. They wished me well. I only stayed a short time as they were sitting down to dinner.

I really wouldn’t say that the scene was twisted in the gross or perverted sense. But, understanding that June 29 would have been our 14th wedding anniversary sort of gives it a twisted element to it.

Anyways … I’m thankful they are happy and in love each other. Youth has it benefits.

I like to include a photo with each post but couldn’t really find one to associate to this post. So, here’s a photo from my recent Colorado 2015 trip showing a small portion of the Cross Creek trail in the Holy Cross Wilderness.

On the Cross Creek trail in the Holy Cross Wilderness.

On the Cross Creek trail in the Holy Cross Wilderness.