I'm here in Denver for a brief time.  I arrived nearly two weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon.  Sunday, I found myself revisiting the Rocky Mountain National Park.  The last time I was near here was 1½ years ago when I was working Boulder.

The chief difference this time was this time, the road to the top of the park was still closed from the snow and basically, I was bound to the lower edges around Bear lake

Here's a couple of Bear Lake photos of the two seasons.  The one on the left was taken in early fall in October of 2010 and the one on the right is from early March of 2012.

As usual, there were elk sighting everywhere and you had to be careful not to hit the car in front of you when they stopped (I am guilty too) for a photo of the herd.

This last Saturday, I worked until 2 P.M. but took a quick ride down to Colorado Springs to make a walk through of the Garden of the Gods.  It was nice and warm and found myself taking advantage of a pretty day to get some well needed exercise, walking for a while on designated paths then getting out in the brush to photograph a few sites.  I was ever mindful of the possibility of disturbing a rattlesnake getting in some sun as well.

With the new warm weather, trees were beginning to bloom and with that were bees as well.  Rock climbers took advantage of the spring day to test their skills and enjoy the sun.

The unusual rock formations were incredible and found myself loading up my SD card in the Nikon with multiple shots of the same thing, each of them beautiful in their own right.

Sunday, I felt that I needed to take advantage of my last full day here for a while, so i headed back to Colorado Springs very early in the morning.   I had in mind that I would like to take the cog train up Pikes Peak but the next ticket I could get on the train wouldn't be until 1:30 P.M.  Not wanting to hang around the cog platform for 4 hours, I went out looking for other things.

I found Helen Hunt Falls in North Cheyenne CaƱon Park.  The hike to the top is a little less than a mile but is somewhat steep.  It's not a paved trail but it does have log and dirt steps accompanied by log railings.  It isn't an extreme walk but it will get your attention if you are not accustomed to altitude.

Coming down from the hike, I felt it might be more interesting driving up Pikes Peak instead of riding a train.  Over 50 years ago, my parents and I came out to the peak and Dad drove up but I hardly remember much of it.  

Reaching the top, you could see what seemed like forever.  Temperatures were in the low 30s and the wind blew at a nice clip sending shivers down my spine even with a down jacket.

If you look carefully, there on the left side,  I believe you can make out the state capitol in Baton Rouge.  Can you see it?

 I might be wrong.

As the afternoon was beginning to wain, I made my way down the mountainside being careful not to overheat my brakes.  Halfway down, there was a ranger checkpoint stopping each vehicle to check the temperature of their brakes.  The two SUVs in front of me were ordered to pull over and let the brakes cool.  When I approached the ranger, she took a reading of my front brakes, looked up and said, "Good job!", and waved me on through.  I'm such a Boy Scout.
For those who have asked, the recent fire in southwest Denver metro-plex has not be any danger to me or the city but Tuesday afternoon there was a serious smoke plume and the odor filled the air even in our office Thursday.  

It's confined to the hills but is a serious fire that has claimed the lives of at least two people.

As pretty as Colorado is, I'm ready to get home to the family.  I miss them all. 


I can't remember how we got into the conversation but

Gina, my office administrator and I were discussing kindness, personal giving and generosity in God's eyes and how it is returned to us, when a guy walked past our door.  He nodded and smiled to us then stopped, turned around and headed back to our door.

He walked in and Gina asked, "Hello, may we help you?"

"I'm not sure," he shyly replied, "but I hope so.  I'm a volunteer for the Milwaukie Meals On Wheels and wonder if you can help in some way?  We provide food and assistance for the elderly who can't provide for themselves."

Gina and I looked at each other knowing we were experiencing a "God moment" and immediately hauled out our wallets.

It's days like this that reminds you that He is listening to every conversation and the quality and substance of these circumstances are open invitations for Him to place another person in your life.

I realize he didn't necessarily identify himself as a Christian person or imply religion at all but it didn't matter.  All we had to do was respond to God in our lives and know that we responded to the scripture (Matthew 25:44), "Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or in prison and not help you?' "

Gifts like these are small, like grains of sand but the mightiest ancient buildings were not made of just a few parts but millions of tiny grains of sand in the mortar that hold the bricks together.


Ms Darlene visits Oregon

Flying home is such a drag, especially when you're flying from the west coast to home and negotiating time zones.   It means to get home a decent hour, you pretty much have to be at the airport in Portland late morning and even with that, the possibility of landing in Baton Rouge or New Orleans can go way into the hours.  At least once, I've landed at midnight.

My company views flying a spouse to meet you as a gain because you don't lose the Friday going home and the Monday returning.  So with that in mind, Ms Darlene flew out for a long weekend in the northwest.

Originally, we'd planned on making a run up to Seattle but she said she'd prefer to see snow and mountains.  Ah ha! Mt. Hood would be just the ticket.

She flew out on a Thursday and so I took Friday off as a vacation day and blasted our way up to Mt Hood after visiting places like Multnomah and Wahkeena Falls .  Snow became very real by the time we reached Sandy, Oregon and she wasn't disappointed.   Many hotels higher on the mountain were booked solid so we booked a room at one of the lodges, just below the big ski area.  The scenery was gorgeous, especially for a couple of Louisiana residents, and spotted several deer near the lodge.

Saturday and Sunday was spent in and around the Timberline Lodge where we rode the ski lift up and gawked at the beauty like a pair of flatland goobers.

Ms Darlene has now deemed Portland/Mt Hood as her favorite place in the world and is now a Sneaux Bunny.  Bear in mind that she said the same thing about Maui, Los Angeles,  Honolulu and Carmel.  This too may pass.

Anyway, it was great and I loved her coming up for a long weekend and look forward to her joining me in another location.

After Portland, it's on to Denver for a brief two week assignment.


I don't know how I should feel about this.  Sometimes angry and past irate, maybe the word is just "disgusted".

It pretty much started last Friday, traveling from Portland to Baton Rouge when I experienced several delays and reschedulings of comedic proportions after arriving in Houston.  Originally, my flight was supposed to connect in Houston and deliver me in Baton Rouge at 8:32 pm.  I, along with others, marveled at how United Airways would cancel or rearrange flight schedules several times in an hour.  One group of passengers on another flight became so angry they began yelling at the gate attendant causing her to call security.  This in turn began to stress out a lot of other folks but we took a stoic position,  thinking the circus had now gone past anger and had evolved into laughter when our own flight began the same series of events.  Somewhere between a couple of gate changes and a half dozen new estimated departures, I eventually landed in Baton Rouge at midnight.

For my return back to Portland, I arrived at the Baton Rouge airport well before sunrise Monday morning and was presented with a flight cancellation.  It seems United didn't want to fly due to bad weather.  OK, I can accept that but they auto rescheduled me for the same flight Tuesday.  Nope, that won't do, so I went to talk to an agent.

Agent Marvin, with fingernails long enough to be considered lethal, pecked away at the keyboard and told me the earliest flight I could connect with and arrive in Portland would be at 5:15 pm to Houston and catching a 9:10 flight that would plop me down at the bewitching hour of 11:55.  Nice, really nice.  I begrudgingly accepted it and called my wife to come get me so I wouldn't have to lounge around in the airport for eleven hours.  I have to mention here, that I did check other airline flight schedules as well as speaking directly with our company travel office who confirmed I was stuck with my choice if I wanted to get there.

5:15 pm arrived and UAL greeted me with a flight cancellation but was given another flight out at 6:15.  My United Airways app began flashing me with periodic departure updates, now at 7:55, then 6:09, 6:36, 7:01, 7:23.  Our plane landed at 7:20 but due to lightening flashes in the area, the ground crew wouldn't/couldn't unload the plane or passengers so it sat 100 yards from the jetway before pulling into the gate at 8:00 pm.

I asked one of the crew at the gate if there would be any chance at all to catch the 9:10 connecting flight in Houston.  Without even blinking, he answered, "Nope!"  So here I go re-booking again for Tuesday morning...5:15 am.  I called my wife to come get me, went downstairs to collect my bag and went home.

Tuesday morning, arriving at BTR, I'm greeted with yet, another flight cancellation.  Fog, I think.  Same story but this time Marvin puts me on a 11:44 am flight to connect in Houston.  I'm still not going to get to Portland until 8:32 but that's life.

An added bonus to my morning was that the TSA found an unusual interest in my carry-on bag.  She delved deeply into it pulling out cameras, lenses, extra cell phones, a small tripod and a week's worth of socks and underwear.  Fifteen minutes later and 3 additional passes through the X-ray she hands me back my bag and a tub full of articles she couldn't make fit and suggested I repack it.

Arrrggghhhh..........disgusted and I'm not even in Portland yet.