Welcome! Grab a cup of tea, and enjoy browsing some of the photos and stories. As the 'teawife,' it is my duty to watch and listen and be a supportive friend, and a loving mum and wife. I should post more often, but sticking my nose into everyone's business keeps me busy! Kathy the teawife

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tranquility in the Foothills

On a neighborhood forum, someone mentioned the opening of an amazing park on the westside of Loveland, Colorado. I’m a relative newcomer to the area, and I don’t know much about the history of the Mehaffey park land, which was purchased from the Mehaffey family by the city in 1997. 
From what I gleaned in reading online, the park had some starts and stutters in the transformation from empty open fields to a tranquil escape of winding and circular trails nestled in the foothills. 
Some of the delays in construction included the 2010-11 economic downturn and the September 2013 Big Thompson River flood, which diverted city money to repairing existing parks and recreational facilities. However, finally, this August, the city’s vision for this park was completed.
One morning this week, I finally made my way to Mehaffey Park, and I was truly impressed. I can see that I’ll be spending many more days strolling around the grounds. 
Mehaffey Park also includes: extensive picnic shelters, a dog park, an adventure play area, sports courts, pond, rolling green fields, prairie landscaping, and more, spread over 69 acres. 
This time, I only had my iPhone with me to snap some shots. I’ll take my heavy-duty SLR Canon on future occasions to capture the changing of the seasons, including snow topped mountain peaks in the distance.
I have no doubt that this new Loveland park will become one of the most popular in the area. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Trek to Bierstadt Lake

Last week, the McAllister trio of Niall, Branduff and I went up to Estes Park for a couple of days. We decided to have a saunter in Rocky Mountain National Park, and we picked a walk to Bierstadt Lake.
While it had been my policy that hubby Niall tested every walk for ease and accessibility ahead of time, that hasn't been possible since he's been spending so much time working overseas. Therefore, Branduff and I have been the family pioneers, pushing our way around lakes and trails in the RMNP.
Unfortunately, we should have had Niall test the Bierstadt Lake walk first . . .
The elevation at the trailhead/parking lot, where we left our vehicle, was 8840 feet. Okay, so I assumed the trail would be fairly level and gently lead out to the lake, the way that Lily and Sprague Lakes are situated. Oh no . . . it turned out that we had to climb more than 600 steep feet over nearly 1 1/2 miles to get to the lake at the top of the cliff!
Fortunately, I had brought my bottle of water, even if Branduff left his water in the car, and Niall only drinks beer!! He was hoping that "Bier" stadt lake would mean that some hoppy brew would be waiting for him on top of the mountain.

Once we finally made it to the top, I was already spent out. There had been some amazing views all the way up, and I won't soon forget the beauty or the aerobic climb!!
We had to decide whether it would be easier to descend the same steep trail or continue to head up a gentler slope to Bear Lake. We opted for the Bear Lake route, which would mean another 400 feet of elevation and additional 2 miles. Yes, we actually hiked up 1000 feet that day. I've never done that before; not sure I'd do it again.
The scenery along the way continued to impress us, and we were rewarded with some gorgeous golden aspens as the trail to began to descend as we neared Bear Lake. We were able to hop on a shuttle bus from Bear Lake back to the trailhead of Bierstadt to collect our vehicle. Three very hungry climbing hikers immediately headed to the local barbecue joint for refueling. What a memorable day!!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Humming and Buzzing

 Summer in the Estes Park, Colorado, can be marked by the arrival and departure of the exquisite hummingbird.  
In the height of the summer, hummingbirds can be heard trilling and whistling on the drive up Hwy. 34 from the lowlands of Loveland to the mountains of Estes Park. 
As the temperature drops 10 to 12 degrees on the trip up the mountain, it's enjoyable to roll down the car windows in order to hear the buzzing of these bright and wondrous creatures.
At our condo in Estes Park, we keep fresh feeders going for these always-hungry visitors. They are rarely shy, and they are happy to pose for photos, with sweet nectar their only pay.
These photos were taken from our balcony, near Marys Lake in Estes Park. Enjoy! 
Hummingbirds fly to the cool mountains to mate and nest. The acrobatics of male hummingbirds is amazing to watch, especially when they perform vertical dives from dizzying heights as a way to impress the females. 
These little birds' summer time in the mountains is fleeting. Many have already left the mountains for the lowlands of Loveland and Fort Collins. And soon, their long flight southwards will begin, and summer will sweep away as the leaves color and fall from the trees. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Weather contrasts

Yesterday, July 15th, saw a cold front blow through the middle of the country, including pushing down from Wyoming to Colorado.

We had gone to the mall around noon and decided to watch a movie, knowing that afternoon storms were predicted. When we got out of the MetroLux, the threatening black skies were rolling in from the north, and we got in the Pathfinder and high-tailed it home, watching the black clouds chase us the whole way. Once the vehicle was tucked away in the garage, the winds picked up to at least 60 mph, and the old hundred-year-old cottonwood in our back yard was bending like a young sapling. Scary. Ten minutes later, the skies opened up and torrential rain and pebble-sized hail came down for about 20 minutes. Crazy!

New day, and it was cloudy and stormy-looking during the afternoon. Before sunset, the rain and winds whipped up again, but so far, no hail. However, we did get this magnificent large rainbow emanating from Lake Buckingham and arcing into the skies. Gorgeous.

The cooler weather from this system that blew in will last a few days. Then we have the joy of shooting up to 100 early next week. Boo.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Pineapple Express

My hubby, who currently works in Moscow (and 'commutes' home to Colorado a few times a year), asked for a few photos of this morning's snow. You would think he'd have enough of his own snow in Russia, but in the Moscow city center, not a lot of the snow sticks around. It's always cold, gray and damp in the winter, but he hasn't seen a big white snow event . . . yet! There are lots of weeks left in the winter! 

Today's snow in Loveland was of the more unfriendly variety. Usually, we have powdery stuff that's easy to plow and move. This time, we had chinook winds blow through a couple of days ago and the warm winds melted the previous snow, causing the ground to warm and water to be left on the pavements and roads.

As we went back down into the 20s and teens last night, all that moisture froze, and then wet snow layered on top of it. Not great for drivers heading to work or school. This Pineapple Express came from the Pacific and was laden with moisture. As it crosses over the Rockies, it's expected to drop 2 to 4 feet of snow in the mountains (great for skiers; and also 'good' for avalanche potential! Yikes). We won't be getting that much -- 5 to 6 inches this morning and maybe a bit more this evening.

I usually head out to shovel first thing in the morning, but after I saw the ice at the bottom of the snow and felt the heaviness of the snow, I came back inside, brewed a cup of tea, put my feet up, and sent a text to my trusty landscaper to come with his snow plow!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Lovely Loveland in the snow

This morning, I awoke to lots of chirping birds and a white hazy sky, which meant the snow had arrived. The birds were sheltering and nibbling on food from the hanging feeders on our balcony. 

We are expecting snow all day. The house finches, juncos, flickers and chickadees were making themselves right at home under our covered balcony. 

This is my first time to be in our Loveland home through January, so I've been interested in what the weather would bring. I think the snow totals vary quite a bit from year to year. 

Today, it's been lovely to watch the snow as it comes down throughout the day. So many of the snow events seem to happen overnight, and I miss all the action! More photos are located on my Teawife Facebook site.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Back in the U.S.A.

Three months have passed since my transatlantic move from the south of England to the foothills of Colorado. Furniture was packed up on one end and shipped to the other, with most items arriving unscathed. Whether I can claim that my mind and body weathered the journey as well is still unknown! 

Currently, I'm here in Colorado, with my dog Sophie, experiencing the wonders of Colorado and wishing I could share it all with my family, who are strewn in all corners of the world. My 18-year-old son left for Lancaster University in England to study biochemistry, and my husband is working and 'commuting' from Moscow. I realize our family life is not the norm, but these are the consequences of choosing an expat life. Our son straddles both the UK and US worlds and seamlessly moves from one to the other. I'm just very very grateful for Skype, which keeps me connected with both son and husband! Looking forward to having them both in Colorado at Christmas. 

I have had some other visitors while living in Colorado, including a family of raccoons scrounging around the bird feeders on the balcony AND a bear! I encountered the bear in our driveway as Sophie and I returned from a walk. Bear had come up our flagstone steps from the lake. Perhaps it was interested in our peach tree, which was heavily laden with ripe fruit. Sophie growled at bear, my heart stopped, bear looked at us, and then turned tail and ran back down the steps. Whew! Bear eventually swam the length of the lake to get away; I didn't know my dog was so frightening! 

Fortunately, I enjoyed a long summer with my son before left for school. While he was here, northern Colorado experienced one of the worst floods of its history. The damage to local infrastructure was horrendous. 

You can see some of the photos, which I posted on my Teawife Facebook page, taken from our neighborhood during the flood.

I'm slowly starting to settle into my life in Colorado, and I'm trying to document my experiences through photos and words. This is the first autumn I've spent in Colorado, and I've been enjoying all the changes that come, from golden and russet leaves to early snows that temporarily blanket the landscape in white.

For example, last week, we had a cold system blow through, and our area had the first hard freeze of the season. Having freezing weather in the Front Range of Colorado is not unusual, of course. Because we have freezing temps every morning once it's winter, the weathermen only warns us of a hard freeze once. A meteorologist the other day explained that once we have one hard killing frost, everything is dead, and there is no reason for the weather service to continue to issue warnings! This is not Texas, where I grew up. 

The extreme temperatures of Colorado, along with its plentiful days of sunlight, are unique to a mountainous region. While living in England, it was common in the autumn to have 24-hour temperature ranges of 44 to 54 degrees. In Colorado, the autumn averages 34 to 64, but the spread can be even wider, with a hard freeze in the morning and bright sunshine in the afternoon. My friend the sun greets me almost every morning in Colorado; in England, the weather

The frost also affected tree leaves in such a strange way. In England, the leaves color and gradually drop to the ground (unless there is a big gale). In Colorado, we had beautifully colored gold, rust, red and yellow leaves on trees until the hard frost when they promptly fell off! Some leaves are still 'sticking' around, but the image of the leaves suddenly dropping to the ground reminded me of the Whomping Willow tree of Harry Potter fame. During autumn, it would violently 'poof', and all the leaves would fall off. 

A couple of days later, Loveland had its first snow of the season. This is what fall is like in Colorado! You can see more frost and October snow photos on my Teawife Facebook page.