The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels


“Slowshoeing” Through a Winter-Wonderland

The sky unloaded a foot plus of snow in the Denver area last Thursday.  I worked that day and was lucky to get home that night.  Some weren’t lucky.  The hospital let me go.

Friday I borrowed my kind housemate’s snowshoes and headed for the hills to Golden Gate Canyon State Park.  About 15 miles from Golden, it’s a splendid park with views of the Continental Divide in places.  I wanted views.

Stopped at my friend Denise’s home to drop off something. Visited with Keto, the wonderdog, whom I adore. She has a winter coat that must be six inches thick. Hah!

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Look at that face!  I took a bunch away with me on my black shirt and pants. It’s worth her lovin’, though.

Parked at Panorama Point and took in this view, just a snippet of the view that stretches, well, panoramically. (Is that a word?)

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Had the whole place to myself.  Broke trail with the slowshoes…I mean snowshoes.  It’s an adjustment.  I haven’t snowshoed in a couple winters.  I didn’t really have a winter this year. (NM and CA!)

Waddling in them…I mean walking in them, is work!  There was 12″ of snow to get through.  Observations are more thorough at this slow pace. Hills are more steep!

In the busy Front Range area, it’s a rare treat to have an entire trail to yourself, freshly blanketed in snow, with no evidence of humans around (not counting the trail markers and depression in the ground that provides evidence of the trail being there.)  There were a couple spots absent of this depression.  Took some sleuthing in spots to find my way.

Some views from the waddle:

Something was up earlier than me. See the tracks?

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Imagine how this red berry caught my eye?

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Mt. Thoridin. It’s much bigger than it looks here. There’s rock climbing routes on it.

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IN FACT, I met Denise on this very trail some years back.  I was hiking up to Mt. Thoridin to investigate the rock.  A storm raced in.  With a good ol’ fashioned Rocky Mtn soaking imminent, she and her hubby trucked it out the trail at the same time I did.   We chatted a bit in the parking lot.  I mentioned a trip to the quilt shop up the road and her eyes sparked. 

With that common interest (and many others) we swapped numbers and to this day, I cherish her friendship. 

What a gem of a day I had slowshoeing in peace and quiet. 

PS:  If you’re looking for a new ride this beauty is parked at Gap Rd and Hwy 119.  The sign reads,  “Good Car  $800, Runs Good.” 

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An Unusual Christmas: MN, Kleenex, Down…

Finally made it to MN to see my family for the holidays.  Unfortunately, a knarly cold followed me from CA, rendering me a useless blob on the couch for 4 of the 6 days here.  A real disapointment, I missed out on some serious quality time with my three sisters, parents and other family spending most of the time either:

  • Blowing my nose (two boxes kleenex in one day, a record)
  • Eating chicken soup and drinking copious amounts of tea, OJ and water
  • Sleeping on the couch

Today is Sunday.  I woke up feeling somewhat human today.  My sis and I went out for breakfast at the cow-themed restaraunt (The Scandia Calf-e  –  REALLY!)  where I had my first job.  Bussed tables and washed dishes there.  Under different managment back then (we’re talking age 14/15ish), it sucked.  Badly.  I had the oomph to make chili for a family gathering that afternoon.   Felt great to be upright and productive.

Sisters convened, uncle stopped in later on the way home from the deep freeze…errr…Ely, MN.

Here, some family snapsots:

Rachel cutting out adorable kid clothes for her business, Sweet Pea and Company, found on

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Sister Ali and her dog, Tully, chillin:

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Maizey, my folks cat, who likes to be a neckwarmer.  (She also enjoys ear-licking and will “groom” your hair.)  Dig the Rudolph nose I sport?

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Bridger, Karen and Wes’s dog, looking adorable as usual.  (I don’t have a pic of Loki, their Husky.)

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How cold is it here?  Cold enough for the cat to curl up inside my down parka!  (A chick after my own heart.)

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Was glad for a day when I could enjoy my family’s company, laugh, knit, eat real food and feel like a person again, not a part of the couch’s upholstery.


CO to NV to CA-Cold Nights, Car Camping Kitty, Caves and Run-Down History

Getting from CO to CA was an adventure made much more fun by sharing it with a travel partner, my friend Kurt.  A spur of the moment decision, he and I caravaned to GREAT BASIN NATIONAL MONUMENT located on the UT/NV border off Hwy 50. 

Headed west from Denver, out I-70, the weather gods smiled and gave us wet but non-icy roads.  Refueled at the Charco-Burger in Glenwood Springs, a must-visit old-school burger drive in. 

Sunset, past Green River, UT:
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Camped in UT the first night.  It was icy cold, reminding me I desperately need a new, fluffy down, sub-zero sleeping bag.  I’m a cold camper-sleeper.

We (I, he was still sleeping) woke up to this glory:

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I get a kick out of pulling into a camping spot, in the dark, and waking up not knowing what the view will be.  This was stunning, the pic does not do the color justice.  We were near Moore, UT.  Fueled up on coffee, stamping the feet, down bags traded for down jackets.   Temp gauge in the truck showed temps in the high teens.  Brrrrrrr!

Annabelle was a champ. This was her FIRST car camping experience. She made me proud.  I had my fingers crossed, hoping she could handle it.  The cab of the truck became her “tent” complete with all the comforts of home, including a sleeping bag and blanket to nest into.  I peeked in on her that night, making sure she was warm enough, and concluded she may have been warmer than I.  Tunneled into the sleeping bag, she was a ball of firey warmth.  I was tempted to stuff her into MY sleeping bag!

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Carried on through rural UT, home of LARGE Dodge trucks, (more Dodge than Ford or Chevy, we noticed). 
People prospected for gold and tungsten in the area starting in the 1840’s.  Ruins along the shores of ancient Lake Bonneville (the giant lake, its shoreline located just 10 miles away from the park, of which Great Salt Lake is a remnant of) make prehistoric life evident.  Imagine a lake that huge? 
Ruins in the park place Native Americans in the area from about 1100-1300.  Members of the Freemont culture, they irrigated corn and beans.  Rock art is scattered through the park.  Shoshone and Paiute people, currently in the area, date back to abot 1300.  Hunters and gatherers, the pinion nut was a mainstay of their diet.  (I love cooking with pinyon nuts…so earthy…)
Wheeler Peak, a   13’er, dominates the skyline.  The was road closed for snow (but was it really snowy up there?  Didn’t look it.)   I made a mental note to return in the summer for a trip up it.  Glaciers nestled against it, the views from the top and its flanks look incredible (at least the ones I saw in a book.) 
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“Bah Ram Ewe!  Bah Ram Ewe!  A wool sweater I should be for you!”
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We had the park nearly to ourselves. Granted, it is the off-season. Even in the “on” season, it is an uncrowded park.  I can see why.  Not many just “pass through” that neck of the woods.  It is out of the way.  (But well worth the trip.)
Snuck in a quick hike beofre dark that first day, near the campsite.  Headed up a meadow, through HUGE aspen.  Views of Pyramid Peak and peeked through (not in this pic, though).
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The vegetation made no sense, varying from sage brush to manzanita to oak to aspen to pine to grassy meadows.  I wished for a park ranger’s company and made a mental note to buy a field guide for the area. 
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Kurt got a kick of the GINORMOUS aspens:
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Not a fan of outdoor graffitti, litter or anything that defaces Mother Nature, this trail had some historical graffitti, names and dates carved into the trees.  Done at a time when Smokey the Bear was not teaching outdoor ettiquette, I forgave the calling cards.  Becoming a game, we hunted for the oldest dates and pondered who was up here and why.
The oldest, Chloe and Emma, 1833:
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LH Larsen came in 1939:
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This person made the return trip to cancel their declaration of love. NO GOOD!
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HA!  I find this so funny…
Camped that night next to an old Tungsten mining shack (per the nice ranger man we asked). Kurt freaked me out with ghost stories. 
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Remains of a rusty bed spring and layers and layers of trash were all left.   Trash piles of rusted out cans covered the radius. Whoever used this shack must have ate canned goods, a lot, and had no care for where they threw them.  (Smokey the Bear was not around, remember?)  One can labeled DDT, a spam can and a couple beer cans were the only I could see remnants of labels on.)
GREAT BASIN NATIONAL MONUMENT also claims a large, underground cave system, comprised of limestone and marble. A rancher and miner, Absalom Lehmen discovered and explored the cave in 1885. Can you imagine spelunking that long ago with hemp ropes and candles?  On the tour, the ranger turned off the lights, briefly.  I wondered how the flutters in my belly compared to their experiences? 
The cave formed in two segments over a loooong time. (Punctuated below)
1)  Acidic surface water mixed with water at the water table, swirling around, opening up caverns.  Evidence of this can be seen in the domed ceilings.  This drained out. 
2)  Water percolated in from the outside surface, depositing bits of limestone into “decorations” such as stalagtites, stalagmites, columns, draperies, and soda straws.  Such fun names! 
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Soda Straws:
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My personal favorite, Mmmmmm…”Bacon” formations:
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A twisty, narrow corridor:
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An exposed portion fo the floor.  See the numerous layers?  Fascinating.
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Kurt and I snagged a primo camping spot far up a dirt road our last night.  Hooray for high-clearance!    Now I can finally get to those out-of-the-way spots the little Ford Focus just couldn’t get to.  At the top of a meadow, with a stunning view to the basin below, we had it to ourselves save some elk. 
It was a cold night, again. 
The view from our campsite at dusk:
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The time came to part ways. Kurt headed back to CO.  This cemented my part from home.  A little misty-eyed, I headed out “The Lonliest Hwy in America.”  No, really…Hwy 50 is signed as such, for good reason.
NV is actually one great big basin.  If you looked at a topographical map, you’d see the state looks a big accordian, parallel ranges of mountains with valleys and basins between.  Water sometimes does not make it to the sea but drains into marshes, shallow salt lakes, and mudflats re-entering the water cycle through evaporation. 
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It’s pretty, in a quiet sort of way. 
Towns being sparse (only a few with gas between UT and CA, I filled my tank at each. 
Passed places of historical interest.  Here, the Ward Charcoal Ovens: 
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Can you imagine the plumes of smoke that filled the sky?

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Built by Italian Masonrists, they were rather beautiful in form.  Sturdy!

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EUREKA was only a couple blocks long but had some intact buildings:

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Some not intact:

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This scared me.  These trucks should be illegal.  A triple! 

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Passed through AUSTIN, famous for its Pony Express station, I noted the historical buildings, all on a hilldide that looks like it’s about to slide away, numerous, in a sad state of disrepair:

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The rest of the trip’s photos are gone.  I lost a memory card!   The good news is there was not much on it save for the Tahoe area pics.   The drive from Carson City to Stockton went smoothly.  Was refreshing to the eyes to see some snow in the Sierras.  Would like to come back to the Tahoe area.  (Maybe with skis?)

So ends the trip from CO to CA.

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If You Give a Cat a Purple String-a Lesson in Simple Pleasures…

First, you take a simple house cat (AKA Annabelle, Belle, Old Girl, Little Missy, Fuzz Face, Lap Cozie)


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Then, you give here  a ratty, tattered old climbing shoe lace we call the PURPLE STRING which I dangle over her sprawling form.   She grabs it in her teeth, and becomes a blur of batting black fuzz:



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The content, simple house cat morphs into a feisty, active, frisky critter driven by primal urges:


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( My slow little camera wasn’t able to get a shot of the “start-on-the-left-side then get stuck-on-the-back while trying to flip-to-the-right-side” maneuver.)

The play lasts a short bit, gets shorter each year, we’ve had 6 of her 14 years together. 


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She resumes the sprawl-on-the-floor position which quickly turns into the more compact rest-the-head-on-the-floor position of pending sleep.

============ One lesson I get from this===============


I’ve bought this cat bright, crunchy-sounding foil balls (gaining an ocassional batt with one paw but that’s it.  A furry, cat nip stuffed mouse seemed successful for a short time, judging from finding it hidden in various places around the house.   Then it was left in one spot and neglected by her.  (She says “NO” to drugs, ignoring cat nip when I tried to be her pusher.) 

We’ve been through a few PURPLE STRINGS.   She loves them, I’ll find it in  a new place in the house each day.  Just a cheap, simple old shoe lace. 

I’m not big on new years resolutions, BUT, this destined to be an atypical year for me, with atypical challenges, I’ve got some ideas in my head I wish to develop.  The biggest being, SIMPLE PLEASURES ARE BEST. 

I’m easily amused/entertained.  I think my mom helped my sisters and I out in that dept. by providing lots of white butcher/computer paper,(remember the kind in perforated sheets with the hole-lined sides?) crayons, very little TV and locking the screen door on the house (us girls, on the outside, standing on the threshold of  a vast, outdoor playground.)  THANKS MOM! 

I plan to work on, this year, keeping the simple pleasures in mind, spending more time on mind and well-being.  I don’t need ‘things.’  This becomes more and more aparent. 

My PURPLE STRING might consist of the following:

  • Drawing, have been neglecting for years. Last drawing in my sketchbook was dated 2006.
  • Maintaining this BLOG, it’s work, but I love to write. Not sure how many actually read it, but it’s theraputic to share and unload.
  • I will learn how to bake bread this year.
  • Reading.  I do not curl up with a book enough to get really lost in another place.
  • Yoga. Work is beating up my body.  I need to stretch and breath.
  • Of course, knitting.  The size of the stash raises my heart rate. But…how pleasurable would that cabled hoodie, fair isle mittens or lacey red silk scarf I have the goods for be? Very. 

Knitting relaxes me.  Usually…unless Belle chews through the yarn, while being a lap cozie, while I’m knitting. That can raise the heart rate. 

Stay away from my PURPLE STRING  cat!


Drop me a line and let me know what they are.

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Last Sunday I returned home from work, bruised, battered, torn.  Shortly after, popping and banging noises erupted outdoors.  Annabelle, freaked, ran for the Cat Cave.  (Her little cubby next to the bath tub.)

IMG_3446  Annabelle’s safe spot, not towel storage.

Realizing it was not gunfire I headed outside.  A spectacular fireworks show was visible above the trees across the street.  Neighbors filed out onto the street.  Oohs…ah’s…aplenty.

Never did learn of the source. Grabbed my trusty camera and thought, “These will never turn out.”  Right I was.  What I did capture looks pretty cool, reminding me of the underwater sea critters I’ve been seeing on the Blue Planet series discs I’ve been watching from Netflix, transparent, delicate creatures with lines of neon-like lights in their bodies.  Fascinating, really.   What a spectacular ending to a crappy day.  What a treat!

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