Aurora, CO, Day Two in Cherry Creek State Park, Buffalo Loop, #22
Two months 24 days in our bus.
On Wednesday we drove to Denver, CO. It was an uneventful drive across the state of Colorado. We pulled into a rest area and found that Colorado doesn’t put in parking spaces for trucks and RVs. You have to pull in by the side of the road but this one was full so we pulled forward into a picnic loop. Later we stopped for fuel at a Flying J. Next to us I saw a woman trucker fueling her truck. She let me take her photo. I admire woman truckers. Rudi and Margot do not like fuel stops with trucks on all sides. They get on my seat and wait with sad expressions. They are wearing their travel halters and are tied to the seat belt by the floor where you fasten the clip.
We settled in at Denver Meadows Mobile Home and RV Park in Aurora, the south part of Denver. This choice for a campground was a mistake. I didn’t do a good job of research or I would have seen that it has a bad rating. Actually, it is fine but there is noise from the freeway and it is in a bad section of town (near I-225 and Colfax where the old army hospital was located) and it is not maintained. It is, in point of fact, kind of a dump and an expensive one: $35. a day. I think the owner knows it because before looking at it, I was going to pay for the week (weekly rate) and she encouraged us to pay just for three days because payment is non-refundable. I was grateful to her for this.
Denver is familiar to me. My sister, Sally Barlow-Perez, used to live here and so did my mother, Doris Barlow. But this Aurora area is not familiar to me. It is a huge area so I’ve had to get re-oriented.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 2. I REUNITE WITH GRETCHEN, AN 8th GRADE CLASSMATE
Our first days in Denver were extremely social and busy. On Thursday morning, our first full day here, I went out to explore on my own. Every other week I need to find a Vietnamese nail salon to get “fills” for my “gel” nails. At home I had a regular appointment with Gina, but it has been difficult since I’ve been gone. Now, I’ve hit on a technique.
I look for a nearby breakfast place on the Internet. I-Hop is good. Then I go out on a weekday morning and get to I-Hop about 9:00 AM. I treat myself to breakfast with a good book and I ask the waitress about nearby shopping strip malls and the location of a nail place. Whether the waitress is helpful or not, I-Hop is always in an area where I am bound to find nail salons if I cruise the nearby boulevards. I generally arrive at such a place just as they are opening about ten o’clock. They take walk-ins and I’m the first. No waiting and prompt service.
This time I found I-Hop on E. Mississippi Ave. in Aurora and Kacey Nails a few blocks away also on Mississippi. They did a great job so I got the works: fills, pedicure, and wax for legs and eyebrows. I’m a new woman.
In the afternoon Dennis and I went out to put gas in the Honda and find a place where he could get his hair cut. It was getting Hollywood long. With my newfound knowledge of the area we went south on I-225 to exit 8 and explored the Aurora Town Center Mall. We found Metro Hair next to Jamba Juice. I sat outside in a patio with a yogurt smoothie and read while Dennis got an excellent haircut.
That evening I finally got to meet Gretchen Carman-Palmer of Denver, CO. Gretchen located me last year through Classmates.com and we began an email correspondence. I am a member of the graduating class of 1957 at Torrance High School and Gretchen wanted to know if I planned to attend the fiftieth reunion. Gretchen graduated in the same year from Santa Monica High School and has helped to plan their reunion. She wanted to arrange a small reunion during that same timeframe for the members of our Riviera 1953 eighth grade graduating class. I agreed that it was a good idea and offered to start a virtual reunion by adding a segment to my Cute Small Dogs website. Our classmate, Dyanne Demaree Radke joined us in this endeavor. We each have a page with photos and biography and memories and you can see each contributing classmate at: http://www.CuteSmallDogs.com/Pages/Riviera/RivieraKids.html
Gretchen lives nearby and wanted to see our bus so she came to our campsite at Denver Meadows. At last she and I met — as grandmas in our mid-sixties. We haven’t seen each other since our elementary school graduation in June of 1953 — fifty-four years ago. My goodness, we haven’t changed a bit…. Well, OK, but the eyes might be the same — only older and wiser.
Gretchen went on to study music and singing and had a career in opera in San Francisco and Denver before she married and got sidelined as a wife and mother. Today she is an Associate Broker for Remax Avenues Lowry in Denver. She is still dramatic, charming and entertaining. She took responsibility as a tour guide and suggested she drive us up the hill to a famous restaurant that she thought we should see. Off we went in her car and she drove us west on I-70 to Golden for dinner at the historic El Rancho that boasts a panoramic view of the Continental Divide.
We were enchanted and loved this old place with the wood interior and antler decorations. My favorite dinner is trout and she recommended the trout so that is what we all ordered. We spent a happy dinner catching up on our (extensive) life histories and recalling what we could of our eighth grade memories. Gretchen is a force to be reckoned with and we had a very entertaining evening. Soon she will hit the Los Angeles south bay for her reunions and I think the place will not be the same after her arrival.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 3. SPARTAN CHASSIS WORK IN FREDERICK.
To bed at midnight and up at 5:30 Friday morning. We had to break down the bus and get ready to drive 35 miles north to Frederick where Dennis had Spartan chassis work scheduled for 7:00 AM at TransWest. (More axle oil leaks.) We didn’t know if it would take an hour or all day so the question was whether I should follow in the car. I didn’t want to so we decided to risk being stranded for the day and I rode in the bus. Good thing I did. Co-Pilot did not agree with my MapQuest directions and we followed Co-Pilot in a merry carousel around the outskirts of Denver — first east, then north, then west. We were put on a toll road and because of the tag axle we had to pay $8.00 for less than sixteen miles and the privilege of driving all around the block. It took a full hour to arrive at our destination.
We pulled into line to wait for a bay and I hurried to cook breakfast. Although the slides are in it is very possible to put together eggs and toast, coffee and juice and I finished before we had to drive our bus into a work bay. I spent the time working on my computer, reading and even napping on our bed. On the way back I fired Co-Pilot and took us through Denver on I-70. We saved twenty minutes and got back about noon.
A VISIT WITH MY FRIEND, SOPHIA & HER DAUGHTER, LISA, & FAMILY
In the afternoon I got to visit my girlfriend, Sophia Fielding. Sophia is a teacher who lives in Berkeley, CA and she happens to be visiting here in Denver at the same time that we blew into town. She is here to play grandma, visiting her daughter, Lisa Killian, and family. Lisa invited us to lunch and we drove south and west to Littleton where they showed us around her big beautiful two-story house. Going from 375 sq. ft to 3750 sq. ft is quite a shock. Her kitchen area is about the size of our bus!
Gosh, it was wonderful to see a familiar and beloved face. Sophia and I have been in the same women’s group since the mid-eighties. Together we’ve explored some of the many spiritual paths towards self-awareness and enlightenment. We speak the same language.
Right now we are very enthusiastic about Deeksha (transmission of divine energy) and the teachings of Abraham-Hicks (You create with every thought; you choose your creations.) Sophia brought me a CD introduction to the teachings of Abraham. Thank you, Sophia! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deeksha http://diksha.com/ http://www.abraham-hicks.com/
Our visit was great fun with the opportunity to visit with Lisa and meet her children.
A VISIT WITH GRETCHEN, DENVER ATTORNEY
It was already a very busy day but Friday wasn’t finished. My sister’s dear friend, Gretchen Cooper, came to see our bus and then we all went out to dinner. Gretchen and Sally went to the University of Colorado together and have been friends ever since. Gretchen showed tremendous interest in the bus and Dennis had a good time escorting her around inside and outside as he explained all the intricacies of life on a bus. Then Gretchen led us back to the nearby Town Center and we had a lovely dinner at Mimi’s Café. This is my kind of a place, an upscale Marie Callender type of restaurant.
Gretchen is an attorney and is now flirting with retirement, having cut back to only 20 work hours. She has discovered golf and now she is a fanatic who plays four times a week. I think soon it will be seven. I can see this is going to be her great obsession for the remainder of her days. It sure works for her. She’s in great shape and looks fabulous.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 4. WE WALK DOGS ON THE SOUTH PLATTE RIVER GREENWAY.
On Saturday I caved in and rested. I caught up on email and my website. Sally sent me lots of ideas for things to see and do and the dogs had been neglected so in the afternoon we drove them to Confluence Park in Denver. We walked a ways along a cement path by the South Platte River Greenway in Denver’s lower downtown. (Confluence refers to the meeting of Cherry Creek with South Platte.) Unfortunately there were too many speeding bikes to be able to enjoy the walk. Despite signs to yield to pedestrians we had to keep the dogs on a short leash and constantly look behind our shoulder to avoid collision or dog death. So although it was pretty and very unique, it wasn’t a fun walk. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confluence_Park
SUNDAY, AUGUST 5. WE MOVE TO CHERRY CREEK STATE PARK.
The better campground, located at Cherry Creek State Park was full for the weekend, so we planned to switch campgrounds and go to Cherry Creek on Sunday afternoon. In the course of her visits Sophia has discovered a favorite breakfast spot where she goes on Sunday mornings. She invited us to join her at Devil’s Food on S. Gaylord St. in Denver at 9:30 AM on Sunday. When I looked at the map I saw that it was 23 miles to Devil’s Food and we would be driving right by Cherry Creek Lake on the way. We had to be out of Denver Meadows by noon, so we decided to quickly collapse the bus and get it ready to move over to the Cherry Creek area. I drove the Honda and we brought the bus to a nearby Wal*Mart lot where we parked and left it for a few hours. Devil’s Food was only six miles beyond that location.
Gaylord is a pretty district with restaurants and shops, old houses and big old trees. Our breakfast with Sophia was delightful and delicious. Sophia was due to pick up the grandkids in an hour and that gave her just enough time to follow us back to Wal*Mart to see our bus. She couldn’t see it with the slides out but she got the general idea. She was amazed by the height of the bus. After she left we drove the bus and Honda to Cherry Creek State Park. By then there were campsite openings.
Cherry Creek State Park is a vast improvement over our former digs. In fact it is the prettiest campground we’ve been in so far. The campsites are brand new and have been planned for big rigs like ours. All the sites have 50 amps. The sites are level and there is lots of space between each campsite. The sites are arranged in loops so there is little traffic and we can all look towards empty meadows inside the loops.
The day was hot but there was a breeze off the lake and we had some shade under our awning. For the first time in 82 days, we pulled out our new Coleman camp chairs and actually sat outside in our campsite. It felt like a celebration. There is a place to build a campfire and we talked about BBQing dinner outside. (Although we still haven’t bought a BBQ.) Then it happened: rain. Couldn’t believe it. Clouds, wind and then suddenly thunder and lightening. A downpour. We brought in chairs and dogs and came out of the rain. Dinner? Reheated Chinese left over from our first night in Denver last Wednesday. That’s OK. We’re getting used to these storms. We feel cozy inside our moving home.
MONDAY, AUGUST 6. LAST DAY AT CHERRY CREEK STATE PARK
We moved to Cherry Creek State Park on Sunday and on Monday 8/6 we got to rest and hang out and enjoy our new location. This park is brand new and still under construction. I thought it was beautiful and by far the best RV Park we’ve stayed in so far. It was quiet and private and very pretty. We didn’t get to sit outside too much because once again we had thunderstorms but I still enjoyed our location very much. The rain stopped in the early morning so we took advantage and went with the dogs for a nice long walk over to the Cherry Creek Lake. Our one hour walk was very pretty and very enjoyable both for us and our dogs. I enjoyed the cool breeze and the comfortable temperature.
The lake is artificial but it really adds to the area. They’ve brought in sand and created a beach and people use the lake for water skiing. In the early morning no one was on the beach but the ducks and geese. It was a lovely nature site for them. There are also man-made bayous and creeks adjacent to the lake with ducks and geese. We saw hares and I’m sure there is other wildlife enjoying this park too.