Camping- Colorado’s Mueller State Park

After promoting the spectacularly-fun and successful release of my fifth book, A Warlock’s Secrets, second in the Demon’s Witch Series,  which culminated on June 14, 2017, it was time for Mueller State Park, and a camping trip to reset my circadian timing, it was off just a skoosh!  Spending quality time with family, friends and pets (yep took our parrot, Taco, Chow dog, Mystic, and Sammie the box turtle) can recharge your mental and physical batteries. Besides you sleep better in the great outdoors.  It’s a proven scientific fact, you know.

Our absolutely excellent camp site was toward the back of Mueller State Park  up on a hill with lots of room to roam! The sunset was fantastic, setting the azure sky ablaze in orange, red and yellow fading to purple and blue fringing the few scattered high clouds. We didn’t get any sunset pictures because hubby and I were at the star-gazer program in Mueller park’s visitor center’s parking lot!  Dang it!  Knowledgeable individuals set up several telescopes for us to see the stars. Saturn and its moons were breath-taking. The speaker told  us to follow the arc to  Arcturus, the fourth brightest star in the night sky, and drive a spike to Spica.  It’s a star mnemonic to remember the stars locations.  LOL   And of course we located the popular Ursa Major and Ursa Minor better known as Big and Little Dipper and several other constellations.  Astronomy is one of several interests my hubby and I share.

The next morning, after letting Sammie out for a bit, we hiked the newly opened to dogs trail starting at Grouse Mountain Trailhead. We were pleased to discover nearly a month into the trial of dogs on the trail at Mueller, the path was pristine, no trash, and no uh…mmm… deposits left by canines. The sign-in sheets at the trailhead were overflowing with signatures of people from all over the country enjoying the beautiful scenery with their dogs.

After a fun day of hiking, we cooked hot dogs and brats, plus baked beans over the campfire. No the beans didn’t fall through the grates; we put them in a pan. LOL Then we sat back and listened to the chirping crickets, scurry of possible foxes or deer in the underbrush, and the far off yips of coyotes, as we roasted marshmallows for s’mores. In the star strewn sky, the Milky Way along with several of the constellations was clearly visible. We even spotted a few satellites zipping across the sky and one falling star.  Star bright, star light, first star we see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight. Made a wish. No wonder camping is good for you!

Sunday was Father’s Day, Mystic and Taco attempted to assist hubby in preparing breakfast of fried eggs, cinnamon rolls, hash browns and orange juice. Yup, he likes to cook while we’re camping, so I let him.  Then it was time to pack up and return to the cement jungle. Sigh.

Upon arriving home, we discovered a baby wren stuck in our backyard porch light. Hubby got out the ladder, dismantled the light fixture to release the little bird to its noisily awaiting flock and parents. So glad we got home when we did, poor little guy was scared to death.

Well, there you have it… our adventures of Father’s Day weekend.  I hope you all had a great Father’s Day.  Check back next week for more adventures! LOL Have a great week!

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Great Horned Owl Family Loves Lowe’s!

Have you seen a Great Horned Owl up close and personal?  Well here’s your chance. For the second year in a row, in the shadow of Pikes Peak, a pair of Great Horned Owls have taken up residence on a pallet of Ice Melt at the Lowe’s Garden Center  at University Village shopping center, Colorado Springs. Seems these owls who normally have a habit of stealing nesting sites from other birds, have decided to call Lowe’s home. There are also a family of Great Horned Owls in residence at the Lowe’s Garden Center on Constitution and Powers in Colorado Springs.

Two weekends ago, we went to visit the owls and see what all the commotion was about. Employees of Lowe’s spotted the owl eggs months ago and contacted the Colorado Parks and Wildlife.  The three owlets are now nearly as big as their parents and oh so cute! But DO NOT TOUCH THE OWLS.  Not only is this a warning, but it’s the law. The great horned owls are not endangered but along with all owls, they are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits the capture, killing or possession of them without a permit.

An employee told us that behind the Lowe’s are a wide open fields and access to a creek. Perfect hunting grounds for the owls.  The two feet tall mother owl watches the owlets by day and the father takes over parenting duties by night. When the owlets fly down to the floor, the employees cordon off the area until the birds return to the rafters. Safety for all since according to the Nature Conservancy reports a great horned owl can extend its talons. As with all wildlife, it is wise to keep a safe distance from owlets and their nests. Great horned owls are not afraid to attack if they perceive a threat to their family.

The owlets will remain with their parents for another two or three months, then fly off to find a place of their own.  Perhaps another Lowe’s will be in their future?

Not the first time great horned owls have called home improvement centers home.  In 2009, an owl family selected a Home Depot in Prescott Valley, AZ.  The pair of great horned owls nested in the outdoor canopy area atop a bag of soil. In 2014 great horned owls staked their claim in a Lowe’s in Omaha, NE., and in 2016, A great horned owl family nested in a Phoenix, AZ at an unspecified home improvement store. Guess word got out on the Great Horned Owl Network that home improvement centers make great nesting sites. LOL

Did you know there are psychological benefits of wildlife viewing? According to Where Is The Wildlife.  Nature produces an emotional response of awe, wonder and privilege that unlocks ecocentric and anthropomorphic connections to wild animals and a feeling that is ‘beyond words’.  There is time to stand and stare and contemplate.  Nature and wildlife are not only spatial events but also temporal ones.  In this liminal, embodied space of a wildlife encounter, socially constructed modern fast time dissipates and is replaced by stillness and nature’s time whereby participants are totally absorbed in the spectacle.  All thought and action is concentrated on the moment.  This provokes a deep sense of well-being that transcends the initial encounter leading to spiritual fulfilment and psychological health benefits. Yep, this is why our family goes camping!

So if you’re in the market for flowers, home improvement supplies, or an owl sighting that could lead to spiritual fulfilment and psychological health benefits, Lowe’s at University Village, Colorado Springs is the place for you!

Mom has tuffs on her head and Owlet doesn’t

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Cheyenne Mountain State Park Camping! Where’d You Go?

We had a relaxing and fun Memorial Day Weekend. Spent it camping in Cheyenne Mountain State Park.  We arrived on Friday afternoon, set up our fifth wheel, put out the camp chairs and went for a hike. Most trails in the park are an easy and fun hike.  Upon returning to the campsite we started a blazing campfire roasted hot dogs and brauts then later marshmallows for S’mores. A little guitar music as we enjoy the city lights.

The next day Mother Nature rained all over us, but we were not deterred.  Morning hike then chased inside where it was popcorn and movie night.  Yep, that’s why we camp in a fifth wheel trailer.  The rest of the weekend was sunny and warm, steaks over the campfire with baked potatoes. Then S’mores of course.  Perfect camping weather! Now the wonderful news!

I’m so excited, finally all my letters, forms in suggestion boxes, and answers to surveys for the Colorado State Parks & Wildlife system were answered!  Yippee! Colorado State Parks & Wildlife Department is doing a three month trial allowing dogs on certain trails in Cheyenne Mountain State Park and Mueller State Park. That little tidbit made our day as well as our dog’s!  In Cheyenne Mountain State Park as of June 1st dogs are allowed on these trails Acorn Alley, Bobcat Way and Raccoon Ridge.  The trails connect to park’s campground, where dogs are already allowed.

In Mueller State Park, as of June 1st dogs will be allowed on portions of Homestead Trail and Black Bear Trail leading out of the campground.

The trial period could be extended into the winter, if it’s deemed a success. Of course it will be a success! Even better, it could become a permanent policy. Music to our dog’s ears! We have been advocating for allowing dogs on Colorado State Park trails for years. Steamboat Lake already allows dogs on their trails and we love it!

The caveat is visitors with dogs MUST pick up after their dogs, bag stations have been installed, so there is no excuse.  It’s completely in our hands to see it’s a success! We got this.

There is nothing more exciting than hiking a trail with your canine companion.  So PLEASE, pick up after your pets. If you see someone who needs a little nudge to pick up after their dog, hand them a bag and say THANKS! Let’s make this a permanent policy.

***Next week – We take a look at the Great Horned Owl family that have taken up residence in the Lowes Home Improvement Center in University Village Shopping Center in Colorado Springs!  Don’t miss it!

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Has the Meaning and History of Memorial Day Gotten Lost?

Man in U.s. Marine Corps Uniform Saluting American FlagMemorial Day isn’t just the first three-day weekend of the camping season. Historically, Memorial Day is the U.S. federal holiday dedicated to the remembrance of those brave men and women who gave their lives while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

We celebrate Memorial Day yearly on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day and created after the American Civil War to remember the Confederate and Union soldiers who died in that war.

On May 5, 1868, three years after the Civil War ended, the head of the Grand Army of the Republic established Decoration Day to honor the war dead and decorate their graves with flowers. May 30th was the date chosen by Major General John A Logan, possibly because by then blooming flowers should be available all over the country.  Across the Potomac River from Washington D.C., Arlington National Cemetery was the site of the first large observance in 1868.

I find it interesting that according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs the crowd attending the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery was about the same size as those that attend today, about 5,000.

After World War I, Memorial Day expanded to honor the men and women who died in all American wars. Memorial Day, often still called Decoration Day, became a national holiday by an act of Congress in 1971 and moved to the last Monday in May.

On Memorial Day, small flags are placed on each grave in Arlington National Cemetery, a tradition that many national cemeteries around the county observe today. In fact, the flag custom has grown to include many families that decorate the graves of loved ones as well.

To make sure that we never forget America’s fallen heroes, U.S. Congress passed in December of 2000, and the president signed into law, “The National Moment of Remembrance Act”. On Memorial Day, at 3:00 p.m., all American’s are encouraged to pause for a minute of silence, wherever they are to honor and remember those fallen heroes that made the greatest sacrifice for our freedom.

No matter how bleak things look, I still believe we live in the greatest nation in the world. If you don’t feel the same, maybe you should reconsider your locale. I can say that because I live in the greatest nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Happy Memorial Day!

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