Saturday, December 24, 2016

Right Now: December


I'm listening to: a CD that was gifted to me with Christmas music all done by Carole King.  My favorite is titled New Year's Day and the lyrics tie in very closely to what I've been pondering for the past month. "Everything is gonna turn out alright, it'll be OK in every way, making it better".   After listening to the sage advice of my loving family, and finally acknowledging and accepting that sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to stop participating in the problem, I resigned from my full time job.   

I'm loving:   that, while at times I've questioned where is the joy of the season, when I pause, I realize it really is all around me.   For I've enjoyed 
  • The Christmas lights that others display, even those who go way overboard.   
  •  The tasty treats that we seem to save for just this time of year (Hello:   Prime rib, why do you go on sale just at this time of year?  Never mind, we'll just gorge ourselves on it while we can). 
  • The laughter of  great neighbors as we gathered for an ugly sweater party and a glass (or two) of holiday cheer. 

  • The sounds of 100+ tubas belting out the classics on what was to be  the coldest day of the season

  • A candlelight Christmas eve service held early for those of us who prefer to hang close to home on the actual eve of Christmas.  
 You have to admit that life is indeed a feast for all the senses this time of year.   And I'm at peace with skipping some of the usual traditions that weight me down.  

I'm needing to:   get started on some domestic chores.   On Monday, hubby and I are headed out with Uma for a little bit of a road trip.    Hopefully, Mother Nature will  hold true to the forecast of mild weather so our departure out of town is uneventful.    Save the "eventful" weather for when we have no where to go and all day to get there.

I"m feeling:  hopeful.  I'm determined not to let a few rough spots at work get in the way of exploring and experiencing all that is good in this world.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year...filled with hope and new adventures!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Right Now: October-November


Photo credit to Hubby
I'm listening to:    the hum of the furnace keeping us warm this mid-November morning.   
After a really long "Indian summer", the weather took it's usual turn (granted, much later than usual) and we saw our first flurries on Thursday.    And while the long warm fall was a welcome treat, especially with the purchase of our new-to-us RV, I think I'm ready for the change in colder long as the furnace keeps running.   :) 

I'm loving:   that blasted RV.   
Yep, another borrowed photo from Hubby
 We spent this past weekend trying our hand at "boondocking" or dry-camping.    For non-RV folks, that's when you glamp (glamorous camping) in an area that lacks water-sewer-electrical hook ups.     We picked some national forest land just outside of Jefferson, Colorado.     Given it was well past the typical Colorado camping season, we were able to locate a perfect spot without much effort.   I must say that the best part (so far) is finding the peace and quiet that comes when you unplug and get away from the chaos of regular living.    With the unexpected election results that occurred earlier in the week,  being able to get away from it all was even more meaningful...if just for a few days.

The boondocking experience went really well, save one little miscalculation on our part.   Since I'm hear typing this entry, you know we didn't freeze to death, but we did run out of water sooner than we'd planned.   But, fear not, Hubby has already problem solved that and we are curiously exploring where to take Uma next...

I'm needing to: get back to walking
For more than 2 years, my dear friend and I have been regular walkers.   When school is not in session, we manage 4+ times a week, and even when in session we usually get together at least a couple times after school or on the weekends.   However, we both started new jobs that have indeed derailed us.    I feel sluggish and weary, so yes, I've made a date to get together with her both today and tomorrow and get this routine re-established!

I'm feeling:  ready
Ready to take on the Holidays (yeah, easy for me to say, as I've scored an invite for Thanksgiving, so no cooking for me this year).    But seriously, I'm ready for a little bit of baking, a little bit of crafting, and but of course, I'm ready for the long weekend that comes first with Thanksgiving and is soon followed by the 2 week winter break.

Speaking of Holidays, after many years of doing a November gratitude challenge, I decided to skip it.  I enjoyed doing it, and found that it kept me grounded and aware of what really matters...but I also decided that sharing my daily gratitude in a public forum really was not what I needed to be doing this year.       

As John F. Kennedy is quoted with saying: When expressing our gratitude,  the highest appreciation is not to utter the words  but to indeed live by them....

Until next time....

Monday, October 24, 2016

Taken by Taos

$10 for parking?   Yep, that would be today's moment of impulsive decision making.   Unlike yesterday, today I had done a bit of research and  had picked out a place for lunch, had the directions all set with Waze, even confirmed they were open with  no reported construction projects that  would leave our poor GPS confused.

Sounds like we  were  all set for a meal time win, right?   Yeah, not quite,  as we approached the restaurant (located in the heart of downtown Taos), I called out to Hubby "better turn in there" as I spotted a parking lot.   Oh sure, I had spotted  a very spacious, supervised parking lot, to the tune of $10...only to walk a few blocks and find pretty decent street parking right near the restaurant.  

Thankfully, Hubby gave me only a wee bit of grief, as the place we picked out was a delicious hole-in-the-wall type restaurant with tasty eats and very affordably priced.

I think he was also in a rather forgiving mood, as the road trip to Taos was filled with several unexpected surprises.

First was our visit to the New Mexico Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  Built by a father, using his own money and doing much of the work himself, he set off to find  a way to honor the sacrifice of his son and his 15 teammates who were killed in 1968 in Vietnam.  The memorial is now part of the New Mexico state park system and located just around the bend from our campground.   The memorial park contains not only a well crafted and thoughtfully designed memorial chapel but also a small yet very well done museum.
*photo courtesy of Hubby 

From here, we would  hit the road  referred to as the Enchanted Loop with the objective being to visit Taos, eat lunch and do a bit of sight seeing along the way.    

As we approached Eagle's Nest (the first town you hit on the Enchanted Loop from Angel Fire), I looked up in the sky and sure enough, there was a soaring eagle!   I didn't even try to take a picture, instead just taking in this majestic sight!   

I found today's ride more "enchanting"  than the portion we rode yesterday.   I enjoyed the wider views, the taller pine trees (compared to the Pinyon pines of yesterday) and the rock walls that lined the canyon before heading south into Taos.

After lunch, we walked around the town for a bit.   While I was disappointed in the "tired" look of Taos (I was expecting more), I was pleasantly surprised when a woman called out to me "Martha, is that you?!"   Yep, a former collegue of mine from the high school where I worked for 6 years was also spending Fall Break in this area.   Wow!   Two Raptor sightings in one day!  (the school where I worked, the mascot is the Raptor).

We decided to skip a visit to the Taos Pueblo.   Again, the day was slipping away, and we knew that without the sun guiding our return trip, the ride would get rather chilly...that and the $16/person seemed a bit steep when neither one of us are huge fans of the Native American arts.   

We did make one last pit stop before heading back to our glamping campground:   The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is one of the nation's highest bridges, rising some 650 feet above the Rio Grande River. I'd like to say it was impressive, but honestly, walking across the bridge, was a bit unsettling...the fact that there are phone booths with direct lines to suicide hotlines scattered across the path only add to my sense of feeling unsettled.

And now, here I sit, in the cozy comforts of Uma.    As for a glamping report, the bed sleeps fine, the furnace keeps us toasty warm at night, and overall, Goldilocks continues to find this type of exploring to be "just right".  :)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Exploring "The Town that Never was"

During our last big adventure, Hubby and I had agreed that on Sundays, we should either just chill out or use it as a day of travel, but without a doubt,we agreed to  avoid the more popular tourist locations.  You get the locals and the tourists, which even in the off season could amount to more people than we like to contend with that.

With that thought still lingering in the back of my mind, we agreed to skip a visit to Taos (the closest tourist attraction to our campground) and instead, decided to take off towards Los Alamos.    

The town of Los Alamos is perhaps best known for the role it played in the Manhattan Project,   In 1943, the government built a secret lab with a single purpose:  to develop the first atomic bomb.  As we were a nation at war, the location had to be top secret, thus earning Los Alamos the nickname of "the town that never was".

  I've read a few historical novels that explained the rationale behind selecting this location for the project, so I found the drive into Los Alamos pretty impressive.   I imagined how the wives of the scientists must have felt, headed out to be with their husbands, but wondering what in the world they were in for?!   We now know that the activities would change the course of history...but back then, what were their thoughts?

  Yeah, the monkey in the side care has a lot of time to just let her mind drift off....

As we approached the town, we realized that poor Waze did not know that the main drag, Central Avenue, was closed.    As I was approaching the "hangy" (hungry and angry) state, I got a bit flustered  in trying to locate a restaurant that was the end it all worked out.   Seems out here, Sunday is indeed a day of rest, as the top 2 restaurants mentioned on Trip Advisor were closed today.

  We enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Pyramid Cafe, where the specialty is Greek and North African cuisine (see above, our options were limited)

After lunch, we  headed over to check out the small but well done Bradbury Science Museum.   While visitors can't actually visit the National Laboratory, this museum serves as an excellent summary of the work being done both past and present at the National Lab.    .
 Fat Man and Little Boy:   actually replicas of the bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima...

We decided to pass on the walking tour of Los Alamos, where the National Park service has recently started to develop the Manhattan Project National Historic Park and will be restoring several of the properties and town buildings used during the Manhattan project.

Day light was wasting and we had a good 2 hr trip back in the side car...

Nope, Dad, we don't have the place quite to ourselves...but pretty darn close...

This is the view from the RV as I fixed dinner...
 ...while the kitchen is very small, I was able to successfully prepare my signature dish of beef-n-bok-choy.   So, I'm inclined to say in the words of Goldilocks, it's just right for us....

All in all, it was a great day of exploring our surroundings, riding in the side car, and was exactly what I had in mind when we decided to add the RV to our collection of toys!

Until next time...

Saturday, October 22, 2016

RV there yet? Chapter 1

It's interesting how things sometimes unfold....almost too easily we wonder what have we missed?

I'm not sure when Hubby and I first started the conversation of buying an R.V.   I know that for awhile we had both looked at how to get me out on the road with him for his adventures.  He's got a pretty good gig in terms of being able to work 'where ever there is WiFi" but traveling on his own gets a bit lonely.

 The side car is a fun way to see the country  but it's not necessarily the most practical way to travel for longer range adventures.      We could tow it with my car, but then what?   Hotels could work but not really ideal (cost, availability, meals while on the road).    And while I rather like the idea of camping,  the traditional tent  approach conflicts with my princess ways (indoor plumbing is a must!) and some legitimate health issues (my rheumatoid arthritis is stable but let's not push it by having me sleep on a cot).  ....well, it just seemed like we should look into getting an RV.

And so in typical Chang fashion, once we'd thought it through, we didn't take long to put the plan into action.   A few weeks ago we purchased this 2006 Jayco Escapade RV.   She's  a 25 feet long Class C RV with about 20k miles.   The price point fit out budget and it all just felt right!

Her name is Umarang, or Uma for short.   As Thing 1 explained "she's like a boomerang, she'll make sure the URAL makes it back home".

This morning we headed out on our first real adventure (we'd done a couple short test trips, first at a KOA near where we bought it, and 2nd was with Hubby and Thing 1 at the state park located not far from our house).

 Yep, I even took to the wheel, driving Uma from just outside of Colorado Springs to this spot...
 The NRA's Whittington Center...
 we didn't stop and fire off a few rounds, we just changed drivers....
 Another couple hours on the road, and we found ourselves here....
The Angel Fire RV resort...
Let the fun begin....
So in answer to the opening question:   RV there yet?  
Yes, I believe we are, and I'm feeling pretty confident that this first trip is just the beginning of a whole new set of adventures for the Chang Gang!*
*well, minus the Things, it's Fall Break from school, but not from their respective jobs as courtesy clerks at local grocery stores!

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Right Now: September

 Right Now...

I'm my hubby sharing tidbits about RV stuff that he's reading online and from a library book (yeah, imagine that, going old school to do some research).   .   

I mean look at that picture Hubby took a few weeks ago?    It was taken   on the western side of Hwy 183, headed towards Idaho Springs.   For you non-locals, that's less than 90 minutes from our house here in the burbs.    

And yet, where was I?   At home....not wanting to ride all day...I find myself staying home more and more, and missing out on the fun.   

RVing would offer  me that opportunity to tag along a little more, it expands our range of exploration for longer trips (HELLO, he works wherever these is WiFi, and I work on a school schedule with many regularly scheduled breaks).

So yes...I'm listening to my gut and it seems to be saying this feels right....stay tuned for more news as we move forward with our plans...

I'm Loving the Fall traditions that happen this time of year...from impromptu happy hours with a favorite neighbor...

to dinner with the ladies....
 , to watching the parade pass us by...

Fall is filled with times to savor...
and we managed to fit in quite a few fun events this past month.

I'm Needing to...get back to reading some good books.   With new t.v shows starting and House now on Netflix, I've found myself frittering away the evenings watching t.v.   This month I promise myself I'll read at least 3 books.   I know I"ll feel better making better use of my down time...

I"m feeling....content.   The Things are growing up and taking on new adventures of their it taking on a new job...
to exploring the crazy world of dating...complete with finding a creative way to ask your date to HOCO (Homecoming for us non-hash tag savy old farts)
it's all coming together rather nicely for our family.  

Until Next time....

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Right Now: August


  • Listening to:   my guilty conscience.      It never fails:   during the summer I find my happy place but once we head back to work (be it registration, work week or actual student contact time), I kiss summer and all its' gifts good bye.   Labor Day is usually when I catch myself and say Hold On!  We've still got great weather to enjoy and I remind myself that I can find that balance between work and home life.   
  • Loving:  that Stewie is seeing a bit more action these days.   Granted, I"ll never ride the scooter as much as my hubby rides his motorcycles,  but with not needing to haul Things with me to school and with school starting a bit later than my previous assignment, I've found myself saying "I"ll take the scooter".   It does put a smile on your face when you've riding, and it's really helped me make some friends at work.   Seems scooters are indeed a conversation starter.
  • Needing to:   get back to processing through the hundreds of pictures I took this past summer.   Which means this blog update will be rather short.   I'd finished up Ireland storytelling and digital scrapbooking and then,  yep, I went back to work.   Now, I'm dusting off the shutterfly account and am back at it.  Thank heavens for hubby's daily blogs while we were on the road, they offer great detail and reminders of what we did-and when. 
  • Feeling:   a sense of gratitude.  Oh sure, August mostly symbolizes "back to school", but it's also when my neighborhood has its' annual big gathering "Party In The Park".   We've been attending since Thing 1 was a baby in my arms and we've watched it go from a pot-luck informal gathering to a big extravaganza and now back to a more informal gathering of neighbors and pot-luck style.    It's such a treat to see the neighborhood grow:   both in the mature landscaping but in the maturity of the children whom my own Things have grown up with.   What a gift we have in being able to call this place home for 19 years and counting!