On the occasion of our 50th Wedding Anniversary, Mary Lou and I have just completed an exciting two weeks of travel out west. Our trip began with a family reunion at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado.
This platter was a gift from our oldest daughter, her husband and her son and daughter-in-law, who is expecting our first great-grandchild in October. It is positioned to reflect the snow-capped Rocky Mountains outside the window of our cabin:
All eight of our grandchildren and two of our children and spouses spent most of the first week in adjacent cabins at this beautiful retreat. Our oldest daughter and her husband had driven only as far as Colorado Springs when they received news of the sudden and unexpected death of his younger brother. Only about 2 hours away, they had to turn around and drive back to Arizona. Despite this sad news, we all spent long days filled with day camp for the kids, trail rides, sightseeing, plus lots of visiting together and and eating too much.
On the day of our arrival it rained all morning, with episodes of thunder and hail, and the mountaintops received a fresh coating of snow. By afternoon the weather turned deligtful, and we enjoyed mild sunny days and cool nights at 8500 feet elevation.
The view from our cabin the next morning:
For six days, we existed without TV, cell phones and the Internet (though weak Wi-Fi hotspots were available in a few places around the YMCA compound and within the Village of Estes Park).
The fireplace was a wonderful substitute for a boob tube:
All of us, especially the children, enjoyed watching the wildlife. Serious birding had low priority, but it always finds a place in our schedule, no matter where we are. Early each morning, after igniting some logs in the fireplace, before most of the others were out of bed, I was able to squeeze in a little birding, mostly from the wrap-around porch of our cabin. The morning air was filled with the songs of Green-tailed Towhees, Chipping Sparrows and Dark-eyed (Gray-headed) Juncos. Pygmy Nuthatches foraged in the pines. Mountain Bluebirds sang weakly from the treetops. Elk and Mule Deer often appeared just outside our door.
We felt we were celebrating a second reunion, with many bird species
that were so familiar in our former home in the mountains of New Mexico. (Click on photos for more views).
This Chipping Sparrow perched on the porch railing:
The juncos sported reddish brown “saddles,” and were quite tame:
Common Ravens croaked from rooftops and utility poles:
Black-billed Magpies, more brightly plumaged than their raven relatives, were on the alert for food scraps around the administration buildings:
Naturally, the children liked to watch the furry creatures, such as this young bull Elk that approached an adjacent cabin:
Mule Deer were abundant…
…as were Wyoming Ground Squirrels…
Early the first morning, I caught a glimpse of a Coyote as it stalked in the forest behind our cabin:
All five of our granddaughters posed in back of the “YMCA” statues: