One Mile Plus

Denver, Colorado has a reputation as the mile-high city. And it’s true. The elevation of the city is one mile above sea level.

Note to purists: Elevation varies block by block. Official marker is located on one of the State Capital steps. So I’m sure you could find neighborhood both higher and lower than exactly one mile.

When I visited the capital building — my companions were two male teens. (Yes, it made for an interesting vacation.) Near the end of the self-tour, we were at the base of steps going up to an observation deck at the base of the dome. This is a time to swallow any hesitation and take the opportunity.

I’m not sure of the name of the building in front of us in this photo.    My sights were on the mountains – snow capped in early June.


Visible Power

Waves roll, crest, and gather again. Over and over. For miles and miles.

Spurred by currents deep within and wind from the top, the ocean appears to breath. Or is it a great, invisible beast attempting to swim to shore?

In contrast to the welcoming shore of sand in my previous post — when the Pacific meets the Baja in this area, it does not whisper a greeting. Here it pounds on the door with one fist on a fine day and throws its shoulder into the door during a storm.

         Can you see beauty in the power? Wonder at the vast expanse?                         How far due West to the next spot of land?


Sand, Meet Sea

Beach. What comes to mind with that single word?

Do you think sand and sunshine and tropical trees? Or the gravel shore of an inland lake?

On my previous post, I showed you some of the highest peaks in Baja California.

Later that same day, we drove out to a sandy beach. I think of it as a “welcome mat” for the Pacific Ocean. Surf. Sandy tidal flat. Dry sand. Busy shore birds.

With a better photographer, it would be picture post-card perfect.


High in the Baja

In elevation. Get your mind away from the chemical sort of high many of my age dabbled with.

Baja California. What comes to mind? Desert? Seacoast? Lack of roads? A step back in time?

During a visit in 2006, little dabs of all of the above were revealed. But one of the most memorable days involved mountains.

One of the peaks in this photo is likely the highest point in the Baja. It was taken from the base of the observatory on the second highest peak in the Baja.

We drove up from sea level through several climates to reach the visitor area controlled by the University. From here, they did the driving and escorting. I did not experience any problems — well, just one — but the woman with me, very accustomed to sea level, was short of breath.

My problem? Our guide escorted us inside to see the telescope, opened the roof a slice, and permitted photographs. (This was film, I took one or two.) Then he led us up further, opened a door, and allowed us on to the catwalk which circles the building. Heights of this sort are not my friend. I drew a couple of breaths, pulled a little courage out of the air, and managed to go far enough for my companion (the lady short of breath) to step outside. I think I stood with my back against the building. The view was fantastic. (Not enough faith in my balance to take any photos from that perch.)

Tips if you ever visit the Baja. Check out the mountains. Visit the observatory if you have the opportunity.


Sheltered Waters

The entire trip popped up on my work calendar with little time to think.

Yes, it was a training school, and all of sudden powers above my pay grade decided it had to be within that calendar year. Okay, no problem. Wait — it’s already November. In a flurry of phone calls over the next several days the date changed once and the location three times. And then the question that was easy to answer — Would I be willing to fly out on Saturday (cheaper fares than Sunday) and have an extra 24 hours in Los Angeles?

Plans made. Suitcase packed. Final instructions given to son who would be trusted to stay alone — with the car.

My “bonus” day consisted of an excursion to Long Beach. This photo is from the deck of the Queen Mary. A good time even on a blustery December Sunday.


From the Shore to…

The volcanic crater.

The road slanted up, up, up from the near beach hotel. As we climbed, the vegetation changed. We were changing climate zones.

The top, or in this case, the crater’s rim, was barren and beautiful and the same time. Rocks. A few hardy, low plants.

I found a friendly rock for a seat and contemplated the power and majesty of creation.

Have you found a “thinking spot” on your travels?

Location of this view is Maui in the Hawaiian Islands.


A Dash of Water

Sea water. The Pacific Ocean. The coast of Maui to be more precise.

Today’s photo is more recent and the camera of slightly better quality.

Power. Persistence.

I’ve always been a bit intrigued by waves against rocks. It’s easy for my imagination to view water and rock as opposing sides in a long term battle. Will the rock continue to guard the tide pool? Will the water carve an entrance and change the shape of the beach?

Respect the waves. Pay attention to the tides. (It could be wetting getting back if you forget.) Release your inner mountain goat and climb from rock to rock to find the perfect perch to observe the heartbeat of the ocean.



Can you prove it? How do I know you’re not telling stories?

When in conversation with an author, the second of those questions might be a good idea. Fiction authors, by definition, are capable of making things up. You know, creating characters and events out of thin air.

Or is that an exaggeration?

Recently, on one of these stay-at-home order days. (Yes it even had a slight effect on us retired people.) I pulled out a box of pre-digital camera photos from the closet. As I sorted, I was reminded of some of the places I’ve been. I found several themes for my travels. Today we’re going to start with looking at some of the mountains, beaches, and waterfronts.

The year was 1976 and vacation meant going NORTH — to visit relatives in Alaska. The scenery was gorgeous. The camera, not so much. This was taken on a stop along the road between Anchorage and Copper Center.

We visited in late May. The daylight lasted over twenty hours per day and it was (as the relatives said) mosquito-slapping season.


The Little Things

Big.  Bold.  Beautiful.

That is one way to be noticed.

Petite.  Delicate.  Fragrant.

These can be charming, especially in the floral world.

The first house I lived in had a lilac bush beside the steps to the front porch. Under and almost hidden were some floral gems. They also happen to be May’s designated flower.

Four and a half decades later, and too many residences to consider, I moved into a condo and needed to fill a flower garden. A large oak tree made the area shady, limiting the plants which would thrive. I soon decided what I wanted and talked about it at work. A few months later, at the height of a St. Louis summer, a co-worker offered me some plants when a home renovation project was destroying their current home. I accepted, planted, and prayed.

The lily-of-the-valley thrived in their new location — after a few years of getting established.

This year the experiment continues — the first full year without the shade of that large oak tree.