Meet me in Estes Park!

We didn’t plan on waking up to snow on Memorial Day in Estes Park, but it was well worth it.

Estes Park, ~7,000” offers breathtaking 360 degree views.

Mom and I know how to have adventures. We love to camp and I’m always trying to get her to come to Colorado. I had never been to Estes Park and the Sisters on the Fly were putting on an event on Memorial Day weekend. So we decided to meet in the middle—between Durango in Southwest Colorado and Leavenworth in Northeast Kansas.

We stayed at Estes Park Campground East Portal. An easy drive from town and if you have ever been, the views in and around Estes Park are spectacular.

There were 12 of us sisters. For four of us, it was our first event and we had a “Sister on the Try.” Which means if you are a member, you can bring a friend to see if she wants to join.

Shortly after arriving to camp and getting setup and settling in, we met up to decide what activities we wanted to participate in.

Eggs, bacon, avocado and strawberries on our favorite plates given to us by my mom’s friend Pam.

Saturday morning I got up and made mom eggs and bacon for breakfast. We kayaked on Lake Estes, went out to dinner at the fabulous Jim & Bird (early settlers in the area) and took wonderful afternoon naps everyday.

Kayaking on Lake Estes. There was a fly fishing class and we discovered the “Mica Flats,” a famous spot for Kayakers to get high-centered.

Although on Day 2 the wind gusts took out our canopy: broke and bent in 3 places, it didn’t stop us from having fun. Hanging out with mom means adventures and non-stop laughing.

We had tacos, checked out the art market, and drove around Estes—which reminded me of different parts of Europe I’ve visited.

Saturday at 5pm I logged on to reserved timed entrance tickets to get into Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). PRO TIP: make sure you are logged in and have your credit card ready because the slots fill up fast. We missed the 8am and 10am times in a matter of minutes and by the time I secured our 12pm reservation, there were just a few left.

We stayed up late that night around the campfire telling and listening to stories with other sisters.

Prior to our trip we both got pedicures and discovered we have the same taste in nail polish.

Sunday morning we didn’t feel like setting up the kitchen without a canopy and it was cold so we went out for breakfast. Then we headed for the RMNP. The line getting in was long and once we were in it reminded us of Yellowstone, bumper to bumper parade through the park. We didn’t see much wildlife because it was raining. The higher we went, the more space we had between vehicles. By the time we reached the highest point, 12,831 feet, it was snowing and the park rangers were turning people away.

We took literally a minute to take this photo at the highest point at RMNP, 12,831” it was 30 degrees and a complete whiteout.

We hopped out for a quick photo at the peak, but it was a complete whiteout.

The tundra above treeline was spectacular.

Another afternoon nap and then we headed off for a cello recital at the YMCA camp down the road from us. It was cold our final night so we snuggled in early and watch as much of we could of “My Fair Lady” on mom’s iPad before falling asleep.

We spied a 5-point elk in a field as we were leaving camp.

We woke up to snow on Monday. But that didn’t deter us from packing up, hooking up Flo, and leaving camp in less than an hour.

On our way out, we stopped to check our hitch and spotted a 5-point elk then 7 more large bulls right in camp! We watched as they hopped the fence then made our way down the mountain, spotting another 11 mile deer before leaving town. A great send off to a wonderful weekend.

We’ll be back! And I’m looking forward to another Sister’s on the Fly event.

Thanks mom!

Wandering Westward and Upward

The sun was setting when we got to camp. So I was very grateful for the year on the road and knowing how to set up, even in the dark. Overlooking the lake and on the mountain above the marina, we could hear people partying all around the Flaming Gorge near Dutch John, Utah. You could make assumptions about the age groups by the music they were playing and the number of woohoos per minute.

Flo is still comfy. I know this by how long I wanted to sleep in. She caught a lot of eyes too. Between people driving by slowly, stopping to take pictures and ask we questions, she loves the attention. And I am always so proud to say she’s original 1947.

We received an email a few weeks ago from Cedar Springs Campground telling us that the campground will be without water during our stay. Consciously thinking of water and how it will be used, we showed up with 4 gallons for a 2-night stay. One gallon for the shower bag (we use it to rinse dishes and wash our hair), 2.5 gallons for drinking and .5 for general cleaning and spillage (I’m a clutz). Fear of running out, I was collecting water as it rained. It was a downpour for 30 minutes. And in typical Southwest fashion, the ground was dry shortly that afternoon.

Between the hammock and Flo, I was able to log 6 hours of nap time while Ray fished.

Following the creative brief in a photography class Ray is taking inspired him to recreate an image by Ansel Adams. It wasn’t so much a comparative exercise with regards to the final image, but an exercise in noticing, seeing and reflection before taking the photo.

Driving up along the Tetons to Yellowstone was beautiful. Though we didn’t see a bear, we did see a lot of bison and a moose. While Ray and I stayed in Colter Bay, my mom, sister and her family stayed at Flagg Ranch. Our site was quiet and tree-filled while theirs was an open canopy, both beautiful. It was so great to see them. Heidi growing up fast and Gunner anxious to see a bear.

Ray made his first knife and gave it to mom then took her fishing. We walked hand-in-hand at the Grand Prismatic Spring.

Being with my mom is like no other feeling in the world. It’s Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs all mixed into one. She’s so fun to be around. While she’s no longer practicing massage therapy, she’s still a healer, an incredible story teller, and she’s so easy going that you feel good just being around her.

Coming home, I landed a place to camp at the confluence of the Greys, salts and Snake rivers. But the wind was too much to fish. We spent the following morning practicing our casting on a baseball field with Jim Welch in Afton, Wyoming as part of the Library’s weeklong program on Flyfishing.

It was a long, steep and windy drive to the Iron Mine campground in the Ashley National Forest in Utah. Beautiful, but as soon as we found our site, we realized it was too late to turn back. The sun met the top of the mountain and we were in a deep canyon. Dusty, poor bathrooms, and surrounded by loud people who didn’t know how to properly hang hammocks in trees (if only I could hand out citations) we left at the first break of dawn.

We debated between trying to find another site close to home for our last night or just going home. Given the dust levels on Flo and Wilma, it was time to get come and have a spa day for our final day.

Wilma and Flo at Colter Bay. We didn’t spend much time here, although it was a nice campground. There was too much exploring to do.

Sand, Wind, Rain and Momma Time

When I wiped my brow, I felt loose sand trickle over my eye and onto my cheek. I clenched my eyes and mouth shut. I could feel grains of sand crunch between my teeth. It was extremely windy at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. We tried to beat the heat by staying in the car and driving down the 4WD road but putting us later in the day meant higher winds in the dune field that afternoon/evening.

After passing the “Point of No Return” where only high-clearance 4WDs are allowed, we took a break and had a picnic and short hike to the stream that helps carry the sand to the dunes.

Crossing the stream barefoot was cold but it didn’t take long for the warm sand to soak up all the moisture. We walked until the sand-studded wind irritated our skin. Walking back through the creek was refreshing.

We returned later that evening to see how the light had changed and discovered even higher winds. The stream colder still and there were other crossing into the dunes—likely to enjoy the night sky. How they survived the wind storm, I don’t know.

Sunset at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Monday was all about high wind and rain. We were traveling to Salida, Colorado from the southwest and my mom was joining from the east. We were soaked all day and night. But we set up camp and tucked in early in an effort to stay warm.

Here fishy, fishy! Ray helped mom get rigged up before they headed out for the Headwaters of the Arkansas River.

We woke up earlier than it could warm up in the vintage 1973 Argosy my mom affectionately calls “Sweet Tater.” Parked at the headwaters of the Arkansas river, we encountered a large caddis hatch and Ray caught a few fish. He was especially excited to catch one on a dry fly right at camp.

Mom and Ray spent two days flyfishing while I read and meditated on my health and well being. It’s been a rough road that I don’t like to talk about as I’m working on changing my story. I’m working on writing my next chapter that I hope to be sharing over the coming months and I continue my rise from chronic pain to thriving.

In addition to learning some new healing techniques to support my journey, I am feeling a flood of information forming from my collected skills and wisdom. I’m writing a lot and it’s showing up both in my professional and personal life: Work I’m doing for Kadabra, supporting the instructors by training tech hosts for the Legacies III conference.

For those who don’t follow me on social media, I shared this video last month after taking Julie Gieseke’s Tiny Memoir class. I highly recommend!

Please stay tuned throughout the summer. We have a few camping trips planned. Our goal is to spend as much time in nature, with each other, and making our way to a thriving state again.

Visiting the Headwaters

The headwaters of the Arkansas River are in Salida, Colorado. We were here in 2017 as part of our big trip across the country and it was my most favorite stops—perhaps because the temperature was just right and we were right on the river. Or it was our last stop before coming back to civilization. We were right on the river this time too but down river about 10 miles at the Rincon campground.

Flo, a 1947 Tourette teardrop trailer isn’t a one-of-a-kind, but I’ve never seen another one. But this one…how often do you see something like this coming down the road? I had to act fast to capture this one.

Downtown Salida hasn’t lost much of its charm since the pandemic. Less people but many of the businesses are still open and the people are beautiful Colorado people. We came into town just long enough to get some ice, Ray’s fishing license, and some ice cream.

Back at camp, Ray tests the waters right next to our spot. I took all these photos from my hammock. No, he’s not trying to shoot a fish, he’s lining up the guides on his rod before he rigs up his line. Here he is after a long day of fishing.

While the Fall Equinox is starting to show the change in colors in Southwest Colorado, where we were in Central Colorado were mainly evergreens and red rock.

I love the sound of the river but not the traffic. I would recommend hanging out here during the day but then finding someplace quiet to sleep. Right next to the highway in a valley makes a Moped sound like a Harley.

Between naps, I pulled out my Joan of Art watercolors. I’m thinking about how much our work as visual practitioners has changed during the pandemic. Beyond just going digital or finding ways to use analog tools in a digital world, I’m considering what the long-term effects are of the value we bring if we don’t start demonstrating and describing it to our clients. I’ll be offering a free session as Saturn stations direct on September 29. A nice reprieve from all of the exhausting the chaos we have been experiencing. I want to shine a little hope in the direction we are about to go.

We are suckers for tacos. Okay, I am. Ray likes burritos. We stopped at Ofelia’s in Del Norte because Ray’s niece Ophelia is named after her great, great grandma. We’ve always wondered what they served there and they did NOT disappoint!

Next stop on our trip with Flo: the Great Sand Dunes National Park near Alamosa, Colorado in October.

Getting high in Colorado can mean different things.

Writing from 8,200 feet/2,500 meters is what I’m talking about.

August 21-23 we found a beautiful but hazy spot to spend my birthday weekend.

Ray asked what I wanted for my birthday. I said I want to be nestled in the woods where it’s cool. We set off for the mountains on Friday morning and had four campgrounds in mind. Why? Because all of the campgrounds in our area—which also happen to be on the San Juan Skyway—were reserved except the first-come, first serve spots. We were about to embark on an adventure. First stop: Matterhorn just south of Telluride, full. Then we came across Sunshine campground, which was new to us and was a beautiful place, full. But they had a sign that said we might be able to stay at Lizard Head Pass—where we have stayed before—or Woods Lake. The sign said the turnoff to Woods Lake was 14 miles ahead. What the sign didn’t say was the actual campground was another 8 miles on an unpaved road with switchbacks after the turn off the highway. The gas station we passed along the way was $2.79 a gallon. In hindsight, we should have stopped. Once we turned onto Full Creek Road, we lost cell service and we didn’t know how far away the campground was and if there were even any campsites available.

Does Flo look level to you?
I swear it felt like we were sleeping with our feet above our heads.

After two loops around the campground, we finally got our site. We jacked Flo to what seemed to be level. Note to self: bring a level next time.

Nestled in the Aspen, I got settled in my hammock right after we arrived. The high-mountain air has a haze because of the fires in Grand Junction. But other than that, the weather is beautiful—under 80F/26C degrees, just how I like it.

What’s this? Frisbee golf target?
There was only one so likely not. Does the hitching post in the background serve as a clue?

We moseyed over to the campground where they allowed horses. It was a beautiful site. It appears to be set up as a hunt camp too. A couple of dogs followed us for a bit. Not that it’s really of importance except that the next morning the dogs decided to visit our camp and everyone else’s. After the lady in the campsite across from us made a ruckus, I went and got them and took them back to their site since I knew where they belonged.

My birthday was just as I had hoped for. We started the day with a hike around the west side of the lake where we enjoyed walking through the woods and admired the Aspen, Spruce and Balsam Fir.

Then it was back to camp for a little R&R in our hammocks. I got Ray set up in his and hopefully got him hooked.

We found a nice shady spot in the Aspen. The key is finding big enough trees far enough apart with enough space between.

Then after dinner, we took another hike on the east side of the lake and found the outlet. The lake featured Colorado Cutthroat Trout.

After an early morning rise, we made our way to Gawkie’s for our weekly breakfast ritual. Then napped the afternoon away. That time between nap and bedtime was spent researching more campsites in Colorado through the fall. We hope to be writing again next month from the road.

Knowing what you are capable of…

Each trip with Flo has been unique, but I don’t think anything compares to these circumstances: traveling alone, across two states, during COVID, to care for my mother. Before COVID, I knew exactly what I was capable of. Because of the level of ambiguity we live in, lately I have found myself questioning my abilities.

I love audiobooks. Listening to this while on the road is bringing me back to center and realizing again what is truly important that we are often robbed of during ambiguous times: Imagination.

As an adult, I have worked very consciously to live with faith in myself, not in fear. This trip really knocked me off my game. I heard the term Pre-TSD today while listening to the audiobook, “From What Is to What If” by Rob Hopkins. The term he described aligned with how going into this felt to me. Now that I’m just a few hours away from home and lying in Flo watching movies, my decompression is well underway. And I wish I had to do it all over again. I would have done it with less fear and more grace.

From the Archives: A sign from Steve Williams’ forge. He’s very wise. I have this image favorited on my phone and reflect on it frequently.

Part of taking care of my mom is getting up before dawn to water her gardens. She’s a master gardener and has plants and new trees throughout the property. It’s cooler in the morning and I love seeing what she has planted and her vision of an environment she enjoys being in. She finds peace there. And watering her gardens for her gave me peace too. I wish I would have taken photos. They really are beautiful. But watering itself takes about 2 hours and I have the heat to contend with and the help of two little ones too.

Kansas sunrises and sunsets are beautiful. In Colorado, we occasionally get impressive sunsets where I live. The sun usually sets over the mountain before the clouds form and collect color.
A get well card sculpture for Granny. Heidi, Gunner and I spend 3 hours folding paper flowers and designing this 3D Card that measured about 20 x 30 inches.

My mom is quite a trooper. Her natural ability as a healer has served her well. She was motivated to get back to work on projects she loves. In the meantime, between exercising and all the other things that go into her care, we spent time with my 9-year old niece and 7-year old nephew. You may have seen our live Facebook videos. We had a great time mixing Neuland inks and writing like Architects.

Granny’s kitchen table is where we have the most fun. When we aren’t cooking with her, we are mixing colors and lettering together. We went live on Facebook 4 times! You can follow along. Grab your sketchbook and click the links below.

Facebook Live videos:

Mixing Neuland Inks with Heidi (9 years old)
Together we created signature colors: Heidi Hair (purple), Dish Soap Green, and Coral inspired by Legos.
Part 1 ::
Part 2 ::

Writing Like an Architect with Gunner (7 years old)
Gunner is a Minecraft Lego fan. He has also expressed an interest in becoming an Architect. So we lettered together.
Part 1 ::
Part 2 ::

Project #1 was getting Heidi’s book published. The process started weeks ago when she wrote the book and presented it via Google slides to her family. They all agreed that she should publish the book. I had Heidi fill out this worksheet so we could talk about it when I got there.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is soyouwanttowriteabook_worksheet1_2020june.jpg
If you have a young one you are helping to write a story or book, feel free to use this worksheet as a starting point.

Heidi says the book was intended for kindergardeners and was inspired by her brother, Gunner. He runs really fast. It’s short, funny, and has great a moral to the story. She wants people to buy it and listen/read it with their kids and grandkids. It will provoke lively discussion and there are some ways to interact with the book too.

After reading her work, we created a board outlining all the major tasks using a Neuland TopChart and Estatics. We determined we would create a self-published limited edition print version AND both an audiobook and eBook. The audiobook and eBook are bundled and available on GumRoad for $5 here. It’s a great way to support her creative efforts and the production costs for Heidi’s next book. Thanks for checking it out!

From Kanban board, print and audio production, to the soft launch, Heidi and I walked through all the steps of self-publishing a book so she can do it again and again!

Each night, my dad liked to watch Gunsmoke. So on my way home, I decided to drive through Dodge City, Kansas and check out the sculptures. While I know that the show wasn’t filmed there, it was fun to make a quick pit stop and take in some history.

Me and Matt Dillon practicing social distancing. This is my favorite mask made by my friend Tina. The sculpture measures 6’ 7”—the same height as Matt.

So overall, the trip was a success. I got to spend time with my mom and the kids. And Flo was right there when it was time to go. Despite the 3 hours of rain we drove through, she was dry when we stopped in Alamosa, Colorado for the night.

With every adventure I have in Flo, I learn more about myself and those around me. You become acutely aware of your thoughts, surroundings and people when traveling. Now that I know what I am capable of, the next adventure back to my hometown will be easier—I hope.

Early morning and final hour before hitting the road. We marbled some paper and said our goodbyes.

And now it’s time to plan the next adventure with Flo. There is just something magical when lying in her, surrounded by the beautiful Birch, a good book or sketchbook, and my thoughts.

From Corner to Corner

From Southwest Colorado to Northeast Kansas, one experiences the first few lines from the song, America the Beautiful.

O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain!

With the mountains behind while traveling east, Colorado seamlessly turns into Kansas at the border.

The first night in Flo was in WaKeeney, Kansas—hot but luckily Kansas offered a breeze, albeit 90F/32C. Laying in her even as the sun was down felt like lying in an oven—basting as the sweat rolls down the body with no physical effort.

For those who know me well, I don’t do heat. I rarely leave the house if it’s over 80F/26C—my melting temperature. You may think I’m kidding, but I’ve skipped important conferences, camping trips, and invitations to travel due to this strong preference. Before leaving for Kansas, I haven’t left the house in the middle of the day for over a month.

When the rising sun peered through the open window and warmed up the inside of Flo, I swiftly made my way back onto the road.

And it wasn’t long before the amber waves of grain turned corn and lush green rolling hills of where I grew up. Even the clouds—similar to the New Mexico clouds that visit Colorado—welcomed me back to my hometown.

Driving the backroads from I-70 through Perry, McLouth, And Oskaloosa, I drive by high school friends’ houses and wondered where they were and what they were up to today. Many of the roads now paved, were once gravel. I flew through the scene of where I wrecked my first car. And I shut off the GPS once things were familiar. I have traveled the road leading to my parents house thousands of times, but it has been over a decade since I’ve been back during the summer. The amount of green reminded me of the south—lush and overgrown.

My life in Colorado is simple: no pets, no kids, no lawn, one plant. The retired life my mother lives is simple too—made interesting by grandkids, gardening and her wild imagination for travel and memories of life on the road. We can talk endlessly about where we have been and where we want to go next.

Her surgery is today. She’s under now as I write this. With the new COVID rules complicating all protocols, we await her arrival back home.

Navigating This Year’s Homecoming

Homecoming’s are momentous occasions with much excitement and anticipation. Also, travel can be highly stressful during a Pandemic.

Like most little kids, in the 3rd grade I would draw pictures of mountains with trees, flowers and birds. Sporting my rainbow Mork suspenders (from the 1978 hit TV show Mork and Mindy) and blue Nike tennis shoes, I drew a little Jeep way in the background climbing a snow-capped mountain in the clouds. Little did I know that I was manifesting my future of living in the mountains of Colorado and driving a Jeep (sans suspenders).

As a visual practitioner, I continue to draw out my future in a map-like fashion and help others do the same. Over the past few weeks I have been doing the work. It’s emotional, taxing and quite unknown. My plan A to Z seems to be working albeit a bit shaky at times. I rest in knowing that’s the reality for many/all of us. Although I wish it weren’t the case.

It’s a 900-mile trip (one way) and will take me two days to get there pulling Flo. I have a campsite reserved with a few backups depending on how far I get and what I encounter.

Prepping for this trip back to my hometown of Leavenworth, Kansas to take care of my mom is complicated by the pandemic. Had our leadership been more vigilant about containing the virus, my trip would be much safer by now. Instead I’m reading the COVID reports and I’m going to a place where there are 5x the number of cases. Unfortunately this little first aid kit won’t help much. I’m taking all the necessary precautions with masks, hand sanitizer, wipes, etc. to minimise my exposure. And packing a lot of food, water and pulling Flo so I don’t have to rent a hotel.

I have a weird infatuation with First Aid kits. I’m always checking to see what’s in them and making sure they are stocked. This time I found a cold compress and wish I had a bed made of ice. Flo will be an oven after being in the hot sun all day.

So as I drive away from the crisp mountain air and through the plains of Western Kansas, the little girl inside me squirms with anticipation—Artemis in me reassures her safety.

Just past the summit on Wolf Creek Pass in the Rio Grande National Forest.

And as always, being on the road with Flo is an adventure.

Just me and Flo…for a bit anyway…

For the first 3 hours of the trip, it was just me and Flo. I didn’t know if I could hook her up and drive her over two mountain passes by myself, but I did!

And there we are at Molas Lake getting ready to drive into our campsite. Ah, the freedom of hooking her up and driving her into the mountains. It was pure bliss!

Until we got to campsite #4. I knew as soon as I drove in, I was going in at the wrong angle. It took me over 20 minutes of trying to park her in just the right spot. I finally gave up, drove out and turned it around going in the right direction and backed right in. Phew!

I then took off to pick up Ray to attend a work function for his new job. Then we were back at camp just after dark.

First light. When you wake up to this you know you are living the life. See the black dots in the sky? I think those are geese!

Ray got a view of the picnic table, sorry Ray! One of my favorite parts of sleeping in Flo is waking up to the first light when I crack open the door. Until then, she is pretty much lightproof.

We called this our “inventory trip.” We wanted to see if we brought everything and what we needed to bring next time. Nope. No firewood, no pans. So it was off to Silverton to have breakfast and get a few things at the store. We didn’t buy a pan because everything I was planning to make after this meal would be in foil and the pie iron. But we did purchase some stakes for the pop up tent and we are so glad we did! It got windy!

Ray is a master at driving stakes in the ground. We were later camped on top of a hill and the wind was coming right off the lake. While it was over 90F in town, we were bundled up in 50F.

And after having to move camp TWICE, with 360 degree views, we got the best spot on the lake!

See those impending clouds of doom? While Ray usually says they are “going away clouds,” he agreed, these were here to stay! And they nearly drove us out.

IMG_2127 2.JPG
But not before Ray got a nap and I got to test out my new Neuland TwinOne® markers.

I was inspired by my colleague, Joleyne Mayers-Jaekel who went camping the week prior with an easel and flipchart paper and wrote out her menu with Art markers on paper. I had the challenge of working both sides of the marker (it’s a twin nib) and “Wacky Western” a lettering style from my new book, “Lettering Journey.” I took photos of the final piece, but later had to crumple it up to help build the fire.

Just before leaving this gorgeous place, we witnessed blue sky again and Ray captured this pano.

And it doesn’t take much anymore to pack up camp and be on our way. What seemed to be monumental before just takes under an hour to break camp and get everything sorted to get back on the road.

IMG_2138.JPGFarewall Molas Lake! We will be back!

Back on the Road

She’s baaaaaaccckkkk!
After nearly two years since we left Flo in Kansas and landed back in Durango, Flo has made her way back to Colorado. I know my mom has had fun with her—hanging with her Sisters on the Fly and traveling to music festivals throughout the Midwest.

We have a tradition in our family. When you turn 6, you get to take a trip with granny to visit me. Heidi visited me in DC back in 2016. This year, Gunner took a roadtrip to Durango. The highlight of his trip: staying in hotels with a pool along the way (per his request).

Within hours of Flo arriving in Durango, we had her registered and tagged as an official resident of La Plata County. And this past weekend we took her back out on the road. A 400 mile round-trip adventure to Palisade, Colorado for the Lavender Festival. We pulled into camp after dark with no prep, but the muscle memory kicked in right away and we were unhooked and ready to sleep at the James M. Robb River State Park in no time. The campground itself was quiet. The nearby highway and 3am train, not so much. But the first night was cool and I fell asleep and woke up with a smile on my face.

Pulling out of our riverside campsite after two days in beautiful Palisade, Colorado.

The Lavender Festival was wonderful. I highly recommend it and we plan to go again. I learned so much! After attending the workshop, “Using herbs, hydrosols and essential oils” with Dr. Cindy Jones of Colorado Aromatics, I was full of questions to ask the owners of the lavender farms we visited. Dave and Freda of Two Bears Farm and More were wonderful hosts during our visit to their lavender farm and art gallery. Dave and Ray chatted about mutual friends and acquaintances as I learned how some lavender like Imperial Grand smells sweet and flowery while others have a more camphor or medicine scent. Palisade experienced a lot of snowfall and rain this year so the fields were plush with purple and green.

In the afternoon, we escaped the heat by attending a Reflexology workshop with Susan Smith. She shared two kinds of hydrosol that we used to prep our hands and feet to give one another treatments and two kinds of CBD salves: lavender and mint for us to use as we learned how to use our fingers to massage one another’s feet. She was so generous and kind. Between Ray’s moaning and me falling asleep in my chair, I would say it was a good investment of time and effort.

Just before heading out of town, Ray and I took advantage of an early morning harvest—the best time to pick—at Sprigs and Sprouts. We took three generous bundles of Lavendula Grosso back to Durango to share with friends. I split my bundle into thirds: hung two of the bundles to dry to use in oils, tea, tinctures, etc. And made these lavender wands with the remaining flowers and some silk ribbon I hand-dyed from a previous project.

As we were picking lavender among the bees, our guide Brian asked where we were headed next and recommended that we take a different way home over Grand Mesa. We are so glad we did! After two days in the hot sun, it was a welcome relief to drive through the mountains that still had a lot of snow on the ground. We gathered as much information as we could so we would have a nice, cool place to stay when we return next season.

Flo enjoyed a great view of the valley from the top of Grand Mesa.

It took longer than expected to get home, but it was well worth the drive and it gave me time to research and dream of our next adventure together.

Flo did great going over Lizard Head Pass, through two rainstorms and construction.

We did take in a little water from her inside door seam, but not much. And we have a tail light to fix. All in all, a great first trip in Colorado. Now that the summer sun is beating down harder than ever, I will be in search of higher altitudes and cooler temps. I’m hoping to get a few more weekends in the mountains with Flo this month. If not, I may just have to sleep in her, parked in the garage.