Leaving Montana meant traversing several more mountain ranges as we worked our way back to the East. One of the more spectacular vistas we saw was coming into Livingston, MT where Hwy 89 heads south into Yellowstone NP. (no pictures it was partly cloudy and just after sunset) I cannot imagine a more grand entrance to the park and we had hoped to make the trip into the park. Our initial plans for the trek back to Iowa included Yellowstone and then Mount Rushmore but with the parks being closed from the govt. shutdown and an unseasonable 48″ of snow being dumped in South Dakota we revised our route. Yellowstone remains on our ‘to be visited’ list.
We spent a very frosty night in Livingston parked out beside an Albertson grocery store. It was not a comfortable night and Matt did not sleep well. We ultimately got up quite early, hit a breakfast spot at 5:30 and got back on the road. This allowed us to make many more miles that day and we made it all the way to Cheyenne, WY. As we were pulling into Cheyenne we began to see billboards advertising the Sierra Trading Post factory outlet store. RHonda needed some clothes and we have always had good luck shopping online with them, so we went a little out of our way and gave her an opportunity to do some power shopping. I gave her an hour so we could get back and set up camp before dark. She almost made it (1.5 hrs) but unfortunately, it was nearly dark before we got out of there and that made finding the Famcamp at Warren AFB a bit challenging. We went back and forth in the dark and even got in the right area once but did not drive far enough. Eventually, we found it and got parked. Since it was another night of just stopping over, we didn’t level up, or extend the slideout, we read briefly and went to bed.
The following day we went on south to Ft Collins and stopped in to see my Uncle Bill. It was great to be able to spend time with him and his landlord, Susan, who is very talented working metals. She does the most fabulous, unique jewelry! Bill is working in a new medium for him. Kristina inspired him with her art pieces and he has started some wood burning pieces. Last I heard, he was preparing for an art show! So cool!
A few miles south of Ft Collins, we experienced a tire blowout! I had heard a variety of horror stories of about this scenario but it was no big deal at all. We lost the left rear tire on the truck and I had no trouble getting slowed down and off on the shoulder of I-25. The major bummer with this part of I-25 is the three lanes wide with solid traffic whizzing by at 75mph. We decided to call Roadside Service and eventually even asked for support from the State Patrol to get people to slow down and move over. The tire had picked up some road debris somewhere and was toast. The most annoying part was having to disconnect the trailer so the spare tire could be put on. In short order, we were back on the road headed to a Discount Tire store a mere seven miles away in nearby Loveland, CO. “No problem” they say, quick change is possible. We unhook again in the parking lot and some guy comes and parks in front of us so we can’t get back in to hook up! Only a short delay but it is comical by now! We are still trusting the Lord for grace and mercy as well as patience. He is providing in big quantities!
Sigh! We thought we would make Golden (Denver suburb) by early afternoon, set up camp, briefly meet Luke Brown at School of Mines and get downtown for a medical appointment we had scored at the last minute and back to Golden for an early 18th Birthday celebration dinner with Luke, Scott and Tanya. Hmm, the plan had to change! Plan B must come into play.
We needed to get off the Interstate, as it is high and exposed on that Front Range corridor. We could see the forecasted storm front coming over the mountains, rain was starting, high winds were forecast and darkness was falling. This picture was getting all too familiar. We knew we could hit E-470 and get to Buckley quickly. It was still 2 hours to Golden in traffic and the storm. We exited quickly and were off to the west missing much of the wind and arriving just as the rain was beginning. We were able to unhook (we are getting good at this now!!), and level quickly, leaving most of the ‘camp making’ details til after the rain and wind blew out. It was an amazing electrical storm to watch and nicer from the campground than the Interstate! There was a comfort also in being there. This is a sort of ‘home’ to us. We started here May 13th. A lot has changed in us and our lives since then! To God be ALL the Glory!
The next day found us driving over to Boulder for the rescheduled medical appointment and then on to Golden for The Colorado School of Mines. We met up with the shortened version of the Brown family for a bit of catching up and a little shopping-Tanya’s ‘travel sport’. We were privileged to participate in the “Luke Tour” of his dorm, meet his roomie and the campus. He shared stories of college life and ROTC as well. The day was capped off with a lovely dinner together celebrating Luke. He turned 18 on the 17th! Thanks, Luke, for sharing with us! We are proud of the man you are becoming!
RHonda squeezed in a last minute haircut with her favorite stylist the next morning before leaving Buckley for the Air Force Academy Campground. There were three things on the agenda there – spending time with our kiddos, our Grands and hitting the storage unit for some needed winter clothes.
Our girl, Wendi, and her fiancé, Thaddeus, met us for coffee and ice cream when we first got into town. They also joined us the next day for a fabulous trip down memory lane as we hiked our old “backyard”, Ute Valley Park. It was a typical Fall Colorado day-warm, very light wind and SUNNY! Ahhhh! Delicious! We delighted in talking about what life looks like as they plan a wedding and build life together. The lovely conversation continued over dinner in our favorite Thai restaurant, Na Rai http://www.narai-thai.com. If you are ever in Colorado Springs, we recommend it for sure!
Josh and Selenda spent a beautiful Sunday with us for a simple early lunch, some needed catch up time and lots of Grands’ time. Selenda’s job balances on government contracts like Matt’s did previously and it makes for interesting conversation and not always the most solid future. Josh educated us about their 160 gallon salt water aquarium he built. They have so lovingly and painstakingly developed it together. It is truly gorgeous and mesmerizing to watch! This is a Youtube video of it with more fish and less coral than it has now but beautiful as it is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tun6ZrkIDrM&feature=c4-overview&list=UUgwYXVMp36y_WTekn7Wn6Iw Josh is proud of being at home with the two boys and all that he can give to them! They are great parents! Matt and Selenda spent time helping the boys learn about how to slide on their swing set. It was fun to watch! He would get to the bottom, turn right around, grab the hands of his Mom and Grandpa, and go up the front and then, down again, repeatedly. He eventually he wore himself out and had to take time out for a nap. Then he showed us how he can drive his car now, ‘played cars’ with us, and we built roads in the sand box. He is enjoying nursery school and making new friends.
A quick trip to our storage unit and the mail forwarding facility wrapped up our short time in the Springs. The trip to the storage was quick and not very fruitful. When we restacked and closed the unit up last, the Black Forest fire was just getting started and we were trying to get out of town. Even though I always keep a numbered, itemized list of each box, the boxes were not stacked in the order they were supposed to be with winter clothes and shoes boxes up along the walkway. Oops! Guess that proves that we were tired, overwhelmed, and not thinking straight in June. Consequently, we are praying for a warm place to winter or a fabulous sale on winter clothes! I made a purchase in a lovely little boutique in Hamilton, MT that I have about worn out; never thinking it would be this big of a staple! So grateful I did and it goes with almost everything!