Category Archives: outdoors

Fish hatchery


I wish that homeschoolers would show up to stuff. I went to the trouble of making a field trip at the Leadville fish hatchery, invited 300 people from 2 groups and no one came. I know it’s a 2 hour drive, but we took our time, stopped at Officer’s gulch to see the leaves and stopped in historic Leadville for a snack and to walk around.

We had a picnic at the hatchery and looked at the huge trout in the outdoor pond.

A chipmunk eating and running around.

The fish runs.

The hatchery is the second oldest in the country (Federal fish hatchery.) The building was built in 1889.

Our tour guide started us in this room. So, right now they are raising only Greenback cutthroat trout (a native species to Colorado that in endangered.) They hand squeeze the eggs from females (they are under anesthesia) to mix with milt (male fish sperm.) The male fish sperm only last 23 seconds – so they don’t add it until they are super ready. It also explains why these fish aren’t reproducing well in the wild, imagine a whole host of factors – getting the right riffle to lay eggs in, the right oxygen mix and water temperature and then finding a male who can come fertilize the eggs within that short time span. It works much better in the hatchery.

The next room was more a history of fish hatcheries, fish trains, the old wooden pipes they used (and used until recently when PVC was laid in the middle of the wooden pipe to transport water.) They used to hand fertilize back then too, and make fish food from grating liver and wild game.

They had fish hatching tables back then too, but they were a bit more complicated and you had to do the math.

A water level marker.

Then we got to go back into the part of the hatchery were the fish were growing from fry to adults. Unless you have a tour guide you can’t go see this part. Baby fry.

A fish run full of 5 ” trout.

The bins of fry are on one side, the Moms and Dads are on the other, separated in the runs.

They crossed a Greenback and a Rainbow trout and got some albino trout.

This multi-filtration system is filtering out iron and nitrogen as well as mixing the water to form more oxygen.

Scanning one of the fish. All of these fish are chipped and you can trace the fry to a certain Mom or Dad. The chips will be used when they are released to check on them at a later date – hopefully finding fish without a chip means that they bred in the wild.

The hatchery also raises boreal toads to send to Laramie, WY. These toads are endangered too.

After the tour we got to see one section of the old water pipes made from wood (the metal rings are to hold the wood in place when the water pressure builds up.) The 1890 pipes were replaced in the 40’s with new wood and though it now contains PVC inside the wood is still good.

Our last thing to do was to go feed the fish in the pond, they were hungry!

We stopped a few times on the way home to take pictures.


Weekend – festival, ukulele, church, Fall drive


Saturday was a disjointed day. Grace went with the youth group to the Summerset festival and spent all day there. The rest of us went to lunch together, then Hannah and I headed out to the Aurora history museum for a free ukulele lesson while James walked and Bethany wrote. When we got back home we didn’t have long to wait until Grace was ready to be picked up. We did a pizza night and made our own pizzas and watched back to back Father Brown’s.

Sunday Grace went to her friend’s church, Hannah went to her class and I went to church. We started a new series called ‘Hello my name is’ talking about who we are in Christ as opposed to who we say we are on a daily basis. This came out better as a poem (of course.)

My Name

My name is despair,

I am hurt

but in Christ I am healed.

I am weak

But my name is strength.

I feel worthless

But Jesus calls me priceless.

My name is lost




and forsaken

but He gives me a new name,

saves me,

befriends me,

gives me rest,

refreshes me

and cherishes me

I am heartbroken,

But God mends me from the inside out.







The girls wanted to stay home instead of going on a Fall drive, so James and I headed to Old Colorado City to fuel up on French onion soup at La Baguette before continuing on our drive from 24 to 285.

It was sunny, then cloudy, then sunny again. As we were driving we could see the storm on the other side passing by. We were far enough back that we never encountered it.

The aspen as changing color and we found lots of nice picture spots.

I made vegetable soup for dinner and after some TV we all went to bed early.

The week – fish hatchery tour, Hyperspace arcade, talk like a pirate day, park day, cell cookies, trying to burn wood using Archimedes heat ray parabola, Creativity club, youth group, Hudson co-op, NIA, ukulele lesson, school.

Dinners – teriyaki chicken with snap peas and pad thai noodles, spaghetti and meatballs, tamale pie, lemon basil chicken with summer squash, pesto stuffed pork chops with asparagus, chili with green chile cornbread.

Tamale pie

cooking spray
2 pounds ground beef
2 cups diced poblano peppers
1 teaspoon salt
1 (16 ounce) jar salsa
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground dried chipotle pepper
(If you want it to be even better ditch the boxed cornbread and make mine from scratch – recipe below.)
2 (8.5 ounce) boxes dry corn muffin mix (such as Jiffy®)
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk, divided
4 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
8 ounces frozen corn, thawed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Spray a 9×13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
Cook and stir ground beef in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until meat starts to brown and release juices, about 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and stir in poblano peppers, salt, salsa, oregano, and chipotle powder; cook and stir until seasoned beef is crumbly and no longer pink, about 10 minutes.
Mix one package of corn muffin mix in a large bowl with 1 egg and 1/3 cup of milk. Whisk to combine. In a separate large bowl, mix the second package of corn muffin mix with 1 egg, 1/3 cup of milk and half the Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.
Spread the prepared corn muffin mixture without cheese into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle corn over the muffin mix, followed by remaining half of the cheeses, then the beef mixture.
Spoon the corn muffin mix with cheese on top of the beef and carefully spread over the top with a fork, leaving about half an inch from the edges of the pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown.

Johnny cake cornbread (you can use this in place of the boxed stuff – obviously don’t bake it as directed, use it as the above recipe calls for.)

1/2 C sugar
1/2 C oil
1 egg
1 C Sour milk (add a few drops of vinegar to the milk to sour it, or don’t; it really doesn’t matter)
1 t soda
1/2 t salt
1 C + 2 T flour
1 C yellow cornmeal
1 t baking powder

Cream sugar, oil and egg. Dissolve soda in milk. Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mix with milk. Stir until just mixed. Pour into an 8X8 pan (I use an iron skillet) and bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes on until it tests done (knife in the middle comes out clean.)

Pesto Stuffed Pork Chops

3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chilled basil pesto
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
4 bone-in pork loin chops, 1 1/4-inch thick
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Mix feta cheese, basil pesto, and pine nuts in a bowl. Use the tip of a sharp boning or paring knife to cut a 3-inch slit in the side of each pork chop, 2 inches deep and 1/4-inch away from the bone, to make a pocket for stuffing. Stuff pork chops with pesto filling and secure with toothpicks.
Mix black pepper, oregano, garlic, red pepper flakes, and thyme in a small bowl; rub both sides of each chop with the spice mix. Place chops into a shallow baking dish.
Bake in the preheated oven until chops are browned and stuffing is hot, about 40 minutes. An instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the center of the stuffing should read 145 degrees F. Brush chops with balsamic vinegar and bake until vinegar forms a glaze, another 5 minutes.


Weekend – Park hill tour, NBTS 15th anniversary party, 25th church anniversary


Friday we got home about 2pm, started laundry, then Grace and I went to see her friend who was in the hospital. Hospitals suck, so Grace wanted to go and hang out – I think she wanted the adults to leave the room (but we didn’t.) James made spaghetti for dinner, we watched some TV and went to bed.

Saturday James and I went to the library for a walking tour. The girls did not want to go walking, so they stayed home and hung out with friends. When we got to the library I had three different librarians (from three different Denver libraries) recognize me and they asked where the girls were. Yes, we go to a lot of library events. Our walking tour started at the Pauline Robinson library, she was Denver’s first black librarian, brought books from black authors into the library and was responsible for integrating Lakeside (amusement park.) Walking in this area you can see that it is starting to come back.

There was a strip mall fire that pretty much brought down the neighborhood that was already in decline (a food desert area.) So, when funds starting coming in from the city to add buildings and services, the community was asked what do you want? There is a new rec center, a boys and girls club, a new elementary school and a mental/physical health building that offers garden space (and farmers market), hydroponics (plants and fish), mental and physical health facilities, a pre-school and an alternative school for troubled kids.

I walked with a coordinator of the facility and told her that our HS group wanted to: tour the facility and host a Preschool Valentine party. I’m excited for both of those things. We continued up the street, walking in the road for the most part since this area was designed during the 40’s-50’s when Hollywood curbs were in and pedestrians were out.

This intersection in Park Hill was across from a park (which had a gazebo ordered from a Sears catalog, paid for and put together by local Girl scouts.)

The area had no access to grocery stores, markets, clothing stores, you name it. So a market district was introduced, some people thought this would be the end of Park Hill (1920’s), but obviously it was not. There is a book store co-op that was started by local Moms back in the 70’s at the end of the block that is still going strong. Here and there on the street and in alleys are guerilla art and gardens. Bringing a little plant life and a little quirkiness to the area.

There were also lots of ‘Little Libraries’ in the area, some were registered, some were not!

Hickenlooper lives around here, we saw his house, but I didn’t take a picture. We passed some old churches and one church that now houses two different congregations.

We finally made it to the Park Hill library and sat down for a bit, drank water and had snacks and listened to the story of the library. There were 9 Carnegie libraries in Denver (Byers, Decker, Park Hill, Woodbury, Smiley – still standing) and (Denver central – now the McNichols building, Warren- now lofts, Dickinson -now houses an architecture firm and Elyria – now a private residence.) Park Hill doesn’t look like a traditional Carnegie library, but it’s there under that awful stucco.

We passed by some of the Boulevards put in by Mayor Speer during the city beautiful movement. Some of the money that was used was questionable, but hey, we see wide lanes, lots of trees and green spaces, so now we don’t care. We continued our walk through the neighborhood and noticed missing streets. Our next fact was a math one, the streets were laid out in an oblong rectangle twice as wide as it is long. Some streets are numbered but have names (Montview), some streets are 23rd on one side and 24th on the other and some just disappear completely. Also the golf course at City park was once a field full of cows, there was a lot of dairy making going on in the area when it started. We got back to the Pauline Robinson library and thanked our guides and headed back home. We weren’t home long before it was time to go to the park for our HS groups NBTS party and 15th anniversary party.

We had food and more food, cakes and doughnuts, games, coloring, tattoos, a photo booth and glow sticks.

We met two new families and had fun catching up with everyone.

Trying to get all the kids in the picture was hard….

I had to save the table art in photos.

Sunday we went to church and Hannah got to try out the new middle school room she’s in, she liked it. We went back for a lunch at the church celebrating 25 years, 15 of those in this building and the previous years in an elementary school in the area. This church started out as Highlands Ranch Christian church, then a bit later became Mountainview Community Christian church. It was the first church in Highlands Ranch that was a new church, not a plant from another part of Denver or an arm of a church located elsewhere, just the first (non-catholic) church to build in the area. We’ve had some ups and downs as a church, a major pastor shift happened some years ago and some of the church split over that, but some of us stayed and continue to get fed (sometimes literally fed) and volunteer here.

We pretty much lazed away the rest of the day, making only one outing after dinner….

The week – school, worship dance, St. John’s music at noon, Kindness Krewe, park day, NIA, youth group, CRUSH fest, HS skate, TNO, youth fest outing, ukulele class….feels like I’m missing something….

Dinners – crockpot chicken enchilada casserole, Asian lettuce wraps, pan fried tilapia with tomatoes and feta, sesame beef with fried rice, chicken creole pasta.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

16 Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves 
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced pickled ginger
1 dash Asian chile pepper sauce, or to taste (optional)
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil

Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not tear them. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir beef and cooking oil in the hot skillet until browned and crumbly, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and discard grease; transfer beef to a bowl. Cook and stir onion in the same skillet used for beef until slightly tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir hoisin sauce, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, and chile pepper sauce into onions. Add water chestnuts, green onions, sesame oil, and cooked beef; cook and stir until the onions just begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.
Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter and pile meat mixture in the center.

Sesame Beef

1 pound round steak
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons white sugar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Mix soy sauce, sugar, oil, garlic, and onions in a large bowl. Set aside.
Cut steak into strips and add to bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least 30 minutes.
Cook in wok or frying pan until brown, about 5 minutes. Add sesame seeds and cook for additional 2 minutes.




Saturday Bethany came home, took the girls to Chipotle for lunch, then they all walked to Target. James and I went to Castlewood canyon to hike to the dam. We started at the observation deck, then went to the Lake gulch trailhead.

It was pretty smoky from the Montana fires, not that you can tell in the pictures.

We crossed the creek and saw the dam – or what’s left of it. The dam was built in 1890 and lasted until 1933 when it broke and flooded Denver (Denver’s second worst flood.)

We went down to the creek bottom trail to get a better look.

We had to go up on the way back (since it was downhill all the way), but it wasn’t too bad. We went to Saltgrass for lunch and had some Royal crown and coke slushies that were very good. Back at home we rested and watched Ace in the Hole. I forget where I read about this movie, probably one of the books I’m reading, but it was a good movie about media, ethics and how human interest stories are made.

Image result for ace in the hole movie

Cat logic.

After dinner we took the girls to LM’s for Swinging Saturday. There was a nice sunset on the way.

We had 3 pumpkin chai ice creams and 1 oreo.

FB live video of the music and dancing here. 

Sunday we went to church (Daniel in the Lion’s den), had lunch at home and then took James to the chutes. He tubed for a bit, then spent the next 2 hours jumping in with us. The water was at 121 CFS and 57 degrees, but it was 92 out, so it felt great. Hannah was posing.

After we got home and cleaned up we Facetimed with Joel and had BBQ ribs for dinner. Joel played some music for us on his guitar and violin, talked about an upcoming PT test, drills and showed us his room (he redecorated.) One cool thing he did was he covered a whole wall in Army sheet music. After we hung up with him we watched a Blake and Father Brown, the girls had a friend come over and she stayed late (since she didn’t have school on Monday.)

The week – school, picnic, hike, Louise Penny at LT (just me), NIA, Penn and Teller, Blue man group, Park Hill walking tour, Homeschool group’s 15th anniversary party, church and our church’s 25th anniversary picnic.

Dinners this week – grill night, garlic lime chicken, pulled pork BBQ, Vegas, Vegas, breakfast for dinner, 15th anniversary party cookout, 25th church anniversary picnic.

Spicy Garlic Lime Chicken

3/4 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons lime juice

In a small bowl, mix together salt, black pepper, cayenne, paprika, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, onion powder, thyme and parsley. Sprinkle spice mixture generously on both sides of chicken breasts.
Heat butter and olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute chicken until golden brown, about 6 minutes on each side. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons garlic powder and lime juice. Cook 5 minutes more, stirring frequently to coat evenly with sauce.

Day in the life {Thursday}


Daniel 3 – 28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”

Grace got a head start on school today because she wanted to try her hand at making macarons. She did an English test worked on polygons and symmetry for Geometry, started on her Agri-Science slide show on farming (where she found some cool facts like – 1830 About 250-300 labor-hours required to produce 100 bushels 5 acres of wheat with walking plow, brush harrow, hand broadcast of seed, sickle, and flail, 1834 McCormick reaper patented; John Lane manufactures plows faced with steel saw blades, 1884-90 Horse-drawn combine used in Pacific coast wheat areas, 1888 The first long haul shipment of a refrigerated freight car was made from California to New York, 1890-95 Cream separators come into wide use.) Physical Science was reading and gathering information for a lab involving paper airplanes. Hannah had a story to read, some Science to read and I don’t think she did math. Our read aloud biography was supposed to happen on Tuesday, but I forgot, so we did it today.

Right now we’re reading the bio of Helen Keller.

After lunch Grace started on her macarons while Hannah and I went to Chatfield to swim – we had the beach to ourselves.

We came back, cleaned up and went to the library for the Doodle-bot program. It was kind of hard to make the bots draw, the marker had to be in just the right place, it was a lot easier to make a bot that rolled around the table and bumped into other bots.

We had breakfast for dinner (instead of fish), dropped Grace at youth group and started watching Passengers.

Day in the life {Wednesday} – hikes {Mueller SP and Secret spot}


James and I went to Starbucks for morning coffee, that was nice. When I got home I did a few things, got swimsuits and towels and lunch packed in the car while Grace did her water sample tests left over from yesterday. Hannah read her English and Science in the car on my phone, Grace said she would do her stuff when we got home. I picked up a State park pass from the library (that is so cool that they do that), so we went to Mueller SP to eat lunch and do a short hike.

We looked around the visitor center too and admired the views.

Our real hike was at a secret spot, not that long and it leads to a swimming hole.

There were a few people there jumping and diving, but Hannah and I just swam around.

Grace took pics of her LPS (and us) and put her feet in. The water was probably 56, but not too bad since it was sunny, at any rate it cools you off after the hike up and down to the spot.

When we left the cove we drove through a tremendous hail storm. I stopped on the side of the road to adjust the defrost since the temperature dropped rather quickly and I was waiting for it to lighten up. We started driving again when I realized that it wasn’t going to stop and if I wasn’t at least slowly moving forward the hail was going to pile up to slightly impassable on the road in a few minutes. We were driving through 4 inches at one point and I bet more fell when we were out of the hail band. We stopped in at a doughnut/ice cream shop and had some shakes and this huge doughnut, then we headed home.

We drove through another mini-hail storm and heavy rain near CR, which slowed traffic a bit. Back at home Grace read The Pit and the Pendulum and got a document started for her science investigation tomorrow.

Dinner tonight made my whole house smell like Sherpa House (Indian food.) So good.

Fun Friday Hike {Lower Bear Creek}


I went to NIA this morning and it was so nice. When I got home, Grace was working on English and Hannah was curled up on the couch. Seems that she threw up (but I’m not sure if it was an upset stomach or just congestion stuff she swallowed.) She worked on some science and then we headed to Old Colorado City for lunch at La Baguette. I had butternut squash ravioli, Hannah had cheese tortellini, Grace had pasta with red sauce and I had the best cup of French onion soup – ever. I don’t know what kind of cheese they used or what kind of onion, just that it was the best. For dessert we got an almond croissant that was stuffed with crushed almonds and almond paste, so good.

We were going to hike 7 bridges, but we got a late start, there was traffic coming down that way, so we ended up at Lower Bear creek. It was nice.

Back at home we finished up school, then James and I went to the Final Friday in Englewood. Phil was making drinks and serving brown sugar wings from Taste Bud Bullies and they were good.

Since that was just a snack, we ended up eating some more food at Acres Restaurant. It’s small but has a rustic feel and the food all sounded great. We had tater tots and shrimp and grits.

They have monthly chef parties where they have themes, but we’ll be going back to try some of their entrees and more of their shared plates. Friendly and helpful waitstaff and great chefs at that place.