Wander down the garden path, look at the sights, and visit my bower for tales

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“There Goes the Neighborhood”, My Short Story Collection, Is Now Available

There Goes the Neighborhood, a collection of 13 of my fantasy short stories, is now available at Amazon as either an e-book or a paper back. Please have a look. I think you’ll enjoy the stories!

There Goes the Neighborhood cover art

You can visit my author’s web site at Jane W. Wolfinbarger, Storyteller, like me on Facebook at Jane W. Wolfinbarger and follow me on Twitter @jwwolfinbarger.

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Hiking Turtle Rock Trail

For a birthday treat, I hiked the Turtle Rock Trail with my camera and my oldest son. This is a 3 mile loop around Turtle Rock, an enormous granite outcropping in the Vedauwoo area of the Medicine Bow National Forest, just a few miles east of Laramie. Turtle Rock itself is very popular with rock climbers, but the trail is a simple hike.  Unfortunately, battery problems and a looming thunderstorm kept me from taking a many photos as I would have liked, but did get a few shots.

As we started down the trail, these rocks towered up ahead of us.

 

A short distance along was the first in a series of beaver ponds.

 

A closer look at the beaver pond. Unfortunately, you can see a lot of  rusty red beetle-killed evergreen trees in the background. The pine bark beetle has taken a huge toll on the forests here in the last few years. The pond itself was a wonder – full of huge tadpoles and waterbugs. Blue dragonflies hovered over it everywhere. Lee saw one of the resident beavers just as it ducked under the water. There were several more ponds like this one strung along the first part of the trail, ringed with scrub willows and water grasses.

 The area near the beaver ponds was lush and green with aspen groves and wildflowers. In fact, there were wildflowers everywhere and I could have taken a hundred photos just of those.

 

As we went around the base of Turtle Rock and away from the beaver ponds, there were fewer aspen and more of the huge granite boulders the area is known for.

 

A huge rocky outcropping, with more of the beetle-killed trees in the foreground.

 

 The sky was still blue here; this was before the thunderstorm started rolling in.

 

One of nature’s rock sculptures on the far side of the trail, where everything is dryer. You can see the grey-green color of the sagebrush in the foreground. There are not nearly so many aspen here – it is mostly fir and pine trees along with the sagebrush.

 

Moss, lichen and tree-covered boulder

 

A brave aspen growing between several boulders. You can see that the sky is starting to cloud up a little bit here.

 

This sheet of smooth granite was typical on the far side of Turtle Rock. As you can see, the thunderstorm was definitely lurking by now, and the rumbles had me moving more quickly than I liked. It definitely put a crimp in my photography.

 

As we came back around to the side where we started, this tiny stream was trickling along.

 

The scenery grew lush and green again. Shortly after this, we made it back to the parking lot. We managed to beat the thunderstorm – it started raining on the way home. What a wonderful way to spend my birthday afternoon.

-Jane (c) 2010

Hitting the Pause Button

I rarely blog about my day-to-day life or my family, but today seems to beg it of me. Aaron, my baby, graduates from high school this evening. This is it – the end of an era. It feels more that way than Lyra’s wedding did or the college graduations did.

This is a step that each of my children has taken in turn. For the first time in 23 years, I won’t have someone in school. No more last minute potlucks, cooking projects or letters from school that I may or may not want to open. No more school district bureaucracy. No more school photos or yearbooks. No more piles of school papers in the front room and no more questions about whether or not homework is done. No more rushes so that there won’t be tardies at school.

Tonight, to the strains of a high school band playing “Pomp and Circumstance”, this all ends. My children are all adults in more ways than they aren’t. 233 young men and women will file into the Auditorium Arena and be dismissed into the world. And I won’t have any more kids doing this, ever.

I am a firm believer in life being about the journey and not the destination, but this is one day that I kind of wish I could hit the pause button on. For one last day, I have a child in high school.

We have loved ones coming to watch and celebrate with us. We won’t have all of the ones who came to watch the older kids; the relatives who will come today are those who are still alive and healthy enough to travel. This is a sadness in and of itself, but we are grateful for those who can come. Our family will be together for one more time before they scatter to the four winds – is it any wonder that I wish I could hang onto this moment?

We won’t have Grandma Fran, who died last year and will be remembered with love, or Granny, who isn’t living in the same reality as the rest of us anymore. We won’t have Grandma or Grandpa either, because they can’t travel up here. We’ll have Auntie and Uncle, though, and Lyra’s new husband and his parents, so our family group loses and gains people.

So as I sit here and reflect on the changes since the first high school graduation ten years ago, the one eight years ago and the most recent one five years ago, and I think about the changes that become realities tonight,  I can’t help but let a tear or two leak out. Memories, lives, changes, and then there’s me holding on for dear life and marveling at it all. Marveling at the people my children have become and wishing I could hold it all forever – or at least savor it just a little bit longer.

Aaron, buddy, here’s to you and the world opening up in front of you. And don’t forget to stop by and give your parents a hug now and then. We’ll like that.

-Jane – May 28, 2010

More Photos from Steamboat Springs

On Monday, we biked the bike path by the Yampa River for the first time. I only took a few photos that day – most of them were at the Botanical Gardens, which you can access from the bike path.  Then, on Tuesday, we went to Fish Creek Falls, which is only a few miles outside of town. It was beautiful up there. The falls themselves were lovely. They are 283 feet high, and even though the water in Fish Creek was low as it always is in the autumn, they still made a very impressive sight and sound. I understand that they are quite a sight during the spring runoff. We hiked down to the bridge and the lower viewpoint, and then hiked back up the the upper overlook. Either way, they were beautiful.

We first encountered Fish Creek while biking along the bike path where the creek joins the Yampa RIver. It is sparklingly clear.

The  pond in the Botanical Gardens. Most of the photos from here were of autumn flowers. It was a beautiful spot.

A rocky outcropping on the path to Fish Creek Falls

 Fish Creek Falls, from the bridge at the bottom. I would love to see these in the spring, with a winter’s worth of melt water crashing down the cliff face.

More of the falls. I wish the camera could show the scale of things better. The size of the trees at the top, rather than the ones farther down, shows how tall they are, though.

This rock is right by the bridge below the Falls – you can see how the churning waters have worn away at the rock.

Pat on the bridge looking up at the falls.

The water in Fish Creek was so very clear

This tree on a trail on the far side of the falls has spread out its root and is holding on to the mountainside for dear life. This trail went another five miles up to Long Lake. Unfortunately, I didn’t think my feet were quite up to five miles there and then five miles back, especially as it was mid-afternoon already.

Autumn in the aspen grove. There were also plenty of evergreens – pine, spruce, fir and cedar, the mountain ash with its bright red berries, and some species of oak tree.

This was taken from an overlook on the way to the upper view of the Falls.

Looking down the hill at the turning trees

The falls from the upper overlook. You could still hear them roaring quite clearly.

More of the falls from above

Turning aspen on the crown of this hill, and the blue sky above

Some fellow hikers pointed out this little fellow, a green snake, running for cover up a small slope. He ducked under a root shortly after this.

Looking down at the trees again

The day was warm and sunny and perfect for the trip to Fish Creek Falls.

-She Wolf (c) 2008

Steamboat Springs I

We had a wonderful week in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The autumn weather was still warm, and although it was rainy the first two days, we didn’t let it slow us down. The aspen were just starting to turn golden when we arrived and were in full color by the end of the week.

Steamboat Springs is a resort/ski community in the north central Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The town got its name when early explorers found the hot springs there and noticed that they sounded like a steamboat chugging when they bubbled. That certainly makes sense, as the Yampa River that flows through the town is canoe sized, not steamboat sized!

The day we arrived, we settled into the unit we would stay in for the week, and then the second day we took a ski gondola to the top of the ski area and walked a nature trail on top of the mountain. (Yes, despite my absolute terror of heights, I rode the gondola to the top. It helped that it was enclosed all the way around. I even got up the courage to enjoy the view and take some photos through the slightly blurry glass.)

These photos are from the first two days. I gave my camera quite a workout the entire time and will end up with several posts.

 

These rocks give Rabbit Ears Pass its name. Rabbit Ears is the pass that takes you into Steamboat Springs from the east.

American author Mark Twain keeps watch on a corner in downtown Steamboat. Around the corner were benches with Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln on them.

Here is the gondola going up the mountain. If you look carefully, you can see the gondola cars in the bottom section, near the housing.  Sunday was its last trip of the summer/fall season, carrying hikers and mountian bikers to the summit. It won’t open up again until the ski season starts in a couple of months.

Here is one of the photos I took in the ride up the mountian, once I relaxed and started to enjoy the ride. I was careful not to move a lot, though, because I got nervous when the gondola car rocked.

A view from the ski area

A view through the aspen and evergreen trees  – you can see the mountains beyond them.

Another view out over the valley

The moutain ash were turning orange and looked very festive with their bright red clusters of berries.

Moutain ash, ferns that were a beautiful gold, and an old stump made a nice picture.

Pat looking out at the view

You can see a few patches of aspen beginning to turn on the slopes here.

This boulder appears to be imprisoned by the aspen…hmm… I may smell a story here.

Layer of trees, including some lovely golden ones…

Mossy rocks and golden leaves

A colorful meadow slope

A passage way – and perhaps another story

The plant with the interestingly shaped large leaves is the Thimbleberry plant.

The path was damp from the rain showers that kept coming and going.

Cloudy skies and spots of turning aspen on the mountain side

I know there were a lot of pictures in this post, but if you knew how many I took…I really worked to get the number down this far. I’ll post more later this week.

– She Wolf (c)2008

 

 

The Mountains Near Laramie

Today my oldest son Lee and I took the dogs for a swim  and ourselves for a ride in the mountains of the Medicine Bow National Forest, Happy Jack, and the Vedauwoo recreation area. It was a gorgeous September day and I had my camera in tow. Lee, who was driving, was feeling adventurous, so with the dogs in the shell in the back of the truck, we spent a wonderful afternoon. The roads were pretty good – as Lee noted, they should be, as they are mostly crushed granite. I pointed out that in some places they were whole pieces of granite. We both noticed later on that the problems are when the road is partially crushed granite – that’s very bumpy!

This area is just east of Laramie, about 15 minutes up the interstate highway and then a longer ride up and down dirt forest service roads. It it popular with hikers, picnickers, campers, rock climbers, and in the winter, cross country skiers. The terrain is spectacular, ranging from rolling grassy hills to huge rocky outcroppings to beaver ponds and cool green glades of aspen trees. Here are a few of the photos from the afternoon.

 

 

Sign at Vedauwoo

 

A close up of the sign. The granite is mostly pink, but grey on the outside where it is weathered.

 

The plains just go rolling on forever

 

A rocky crown to this mountain

 

Rocks by the road

 

One view of Crow Resevoir

 

Massive rocks on the mountains

 

There are countless rocky outcroppings like this one scattered all over the meadows here. Most of them have scrubby, stunted and twisted pine trees growing them, in the meager shelter they provide from the icy winter winds and snow.

The aspen are just starting to turn gold here and there.

 

I love the play of light in an aspen grove.

 

This rock looks like it is balancing.

 

What you can’t see in this is the sheer scale of the rocks. This overhang, known locally as potato chip because it looks like one from the other side, is a popular rapelling spot for rock climbers. If there were any there today, they would look like dots on the face of the rock.

 

This is just to the right of the previous picture. There actually are climbers here – but they are too small to see in this photo.

 

Now can you see the climbers? This gives an idea of the size of the rocks at Vedauwoo. It is a very popular rock climbing place; both of the older boys climbed here in high school.

 

Here’s a big hunk of granite.

 

This is just plain pretty.

I didn’t get any beaver pond photos; those will have to wait for another time. I hope you enjoyed these – I sure enjoyed taking them.

-She Wolf (c)2008

 

A Falcon on Campus

I was out for a lunch time walk when I heard some crows making a fuss. I looked up into the trees, and what should I see but a falcon, enjoying a fresh pigeon lunch. (Our campus has a generous supply of pigeons.) I watched it for a while, and then rushed back to my office for my camera. When I got back, the falcon was just finishing lunch – it dropped the leftovers on the sidewalk below. I snapped few photos as the falcon fluffed up for little post-lunch rest. The falcon appears to be a peregrine – it has the dark hood of feathers on its head and the ticked chest feathers, and is about the same size as the crows. Incidentally, the crows came back to the tree after the falcon was finished eating!

The leftover pigeon is being dropped.

 

You can see the dark “hood” of feathers.

 

Another view

 

Just hanging around

 

Here you can see the sizes of the falcon and the crow, who returned to his territory after the falcon was done eating!

-She Wolf (c) 2008