Basking in the Glow of a Golden Celebration

Fading summer flowers,
and long past their days of glorious blooming,
signaled that the last days of summer had truly arrived.

Are these flowers a metaphor for the weekend?
I wondered as I hurried out of the house and headed off for a weekend
 with my high school girlfriends.

Long in the planning, the weekend celebration of our
70th birthdays
had finally arrived.
I had dubbed this celebration:
Our Senior Trip.

At age seventy, some may think my girlfriends and I had reached an age beyond the blooming days of youth where there is not much to celebrate.
In our hearts we are still young girls,
we have somehow reached the entry year to our eighth decade.

We came together 
to bask 
in the glory of reaching a milestone that none of knew could be so rewarding.

  1. lie exposed to warmth and light, typically from the sun, for relaxation and pleasure
    revel in and make the most of (something pleasing).*

The Trip to the Celebration

A few of us decided to make the trip from the Colorado Front Range of the Rockies
to the Western Slope of Colorado
via the train.
The train left Denver at 8:05 a.m. for a five hour and forty-eight minute trip
through the Colorado Mountains.
I had not taken this particular train route since my sophomore year in college.
That was fifty years ago.
The entire trip promised to be a nostalgic one for me.

Jim got up early and drove me to Denver where I met up with the other six girls traveling by train.  
We were all very excited.

This railroader's daughter loves a train ride.

As the train wove its way up and over the mountains, a metaphor to describe the weekend began to take shape in my mind:

All is golden.

My History with the Group

I had the good fortune to join the Girls of '63 when I first attended Pueblo East High School during my freshman year in high school.  Pueblo East was a brand new high school in 1959 when my father, an agent for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, was transferred from Colorado Springs to Pueblo. I was a very frightened fifteen year old, naive and quite young looking for my age, when I was uprooted from my junior high and transplanted to the high school setting in November of '59.  I had lived in the same house all of my life before that move.  I had known my classmates since kindergarten.

When I walked through those doors of East High, I had no idea that I would make some the most important friendships of my life in the three years I proudly wore gold and white and cheered for the Eagles.  Immediately, the girls from my class began to make me feel welcome by inviting me to school events, or seeking me out to sit with the girls at lunch.  Soon I was attending sleepovers where we laughed all night and told each other stories about our lives.

One of the girls from this group introduced me to my husband.  Her sixteenth birthday(click to read this story.) was our first date.  Now, all these years later, she would be my roommate for our 70th birthday celebration.  

Twenty-two of us gathered to celebrate our 70th birthdays together in the beautiful Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  Yes, much has changed over the years, but in so many ways, nothing has changed.  Those friendships deeply rooted in our youth have flourished over the years as some have gathered quarterly for over twenty-five years.  We missed those who could not attend dearly and thought of them often.

It was my good fortune to join the lunch group about six years ago when I finally connected with some of the stalwarts of the group and learned of the next gathering.  I learned the truth of this quote below the first time I attended one of the lunches.  

This quote also came to mind so often during the weekend:
Your heart and my heart are very old friends.
~ Hafiz

The Celebration

We came together to celebrate attaining the age of seventy.  
We came together to celebrate friendship, 
our histories, 
our loyalty to each other, 
and each individual person.  

We came together to remember those we have lost.

 We shared stories of our lives while we have been living life.

We laughed.
We cried.

We came together to affirm our love for each other.  
We came together to express our support for each other as we move towards the future.

We are our own unique group of Golden Girls.

Here are some photos from our glorious birthday party:

We arrived at the beautiful old railroad station in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  Our first task was to determine just how we would cross the river to our lodge on the other side.
We navigated the long pedestrian bridge and made it to our destination.
No taxi for us!

We all stayed at the Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge. We had free access to the hot springs pool and a free fabulous breakfast at the hot springs every morning.  Our rooms were wonderful.  We even were able to have a large ballroom for our birthday dinner on Saturday night.  Our fabulous planner, a Glenwood Springs resident with great connections, JG (In the flowered top) made all arrangements for us.  She did an outstanding job.  She is a party planner extraordinaire.  I also think she is  the original Energizer Bunny.  Where does this girl get her energy?

Our Party Planner

The first night, we donned our Girls of '63 shirts for group photos that were taken by a professional photographer.  The poor woman charged with taking our photos must have felt like she was herding cats.  She had excellent "classroom management skills."  Many photos were taken.We had groups that included all those whom had attended kindergarten through graduation together.  I think about nine or ten of the girls were in this group.  That alone is an amazing thing.  About five or six of us joined the Class of '63 during high school.  I alone, did not graduate with the group because my father was transferred to Leadville, Colorado just before my senior year.  

After photos, we walked through town to go to a vaudeville show which was excellent and exceeded all expectations for entertainment for the evening.  As we walked through town we garnered quite a few reactions.  "Hey, were you all born in '63?"  I said I'd take someone believing we all were 63.  A passenger in a passing car built our egos with a whistle.  (Hey, it's been a long time since we've had a guy whistle at us.)

Saturday night we had our big birthday dinner.  So many did so much work to get everything ready, but JG outdid herself.  A florist by trade, she made our table centerpieces and dressed the tables in our school colors of gold and white.  Yearbooks and memory books were on each table.  We had individual table place markers with a picture from our high school yearbook.  SP made each of us a rose bookmark.  JG made the fabulous birthday cake.  

A history of our group was read by PS.  As is our tradition, we raised our margaritas as a toast to those we have lost too soon.  We wept as a list of all of the fallen Eagles from our class was read.  Too many are gone too soon.  A few of the girls went to great effort to set up a tree with photos of all of our fallen Eagles.

The weekend was all about friendship.
I have the best girlfriends.
I am so blessed.
My Girlfriends
Pure Gold
Some of my readers have remarked that they are amazed that this group has met on a consistent basis.  Truly, it is a remarkable feat in this day and age to have a group stay so connected for all these years. We owe PS for the gift of this group.  She is our organizer.  She keeps us together by setting the dates for our meetings in advance.  Those who can come to events, do so.  Those who can't come try to attend the next one.

The hostess for each gathering usually has a co-hostess who serves as a backup hostess just in case of emergency.  The hostess provides the main dish.  PS makes sure we have desserts, salads, and sides assigned to all attending. She even maintains a group photo album that includes a group photo from every gathering since the very first one.  PS had the vision of a 70th birthday party, and we actually made it a reality!  Thank you, PS!
PS reading the history of our group
The setting for the celebration could not have been better.  We had access to the healing waters of the Glenwood Springs Hot Springs for three glorious days.  The warm natural springs provided just the right place for bonding again with each other.  One day, I'm sure we spent at least three hours in the afternoon just standing in a large circle in the water, or sitting on sides with our feet soaking in the warm water, talking.  Yes, there was a lot of talking, talking, talking, and much laughter.  We cried a bit.  We marveled at the stories of our lives.  We were astounded that we actually had these hours together for such deep, reflective, sharing.  
The setting
DC & KM friends for 65 years

I felt younger and healthier after a weekend of soaking in the healing waters for hours on end.  Was this place the fountain of youth?  I remember looking up at the beautiful Colorado blue sky, feeling the warmth of the sun on my shoulders, and gazing into the beautiful lined faces and sparkling eyes of my lifelong friends and thinking that life just doesn't get much better than this.

Too soon, it was time to go home. 

Throughout the weekend, we shared hugs, 
held hands, 
promised to be there to end.
DDI commented that next great challenge as a group would be loss of hearing.
Yes, we had a hard time hearing at times.
That is the reality of celebrating 70!

We had soaked up rays of sun and healing waters.
We relaxed and experienced great pleasure.

We reveled in, and
 made the most of
celebrating our 70th birthdays.

We basked in the warmth of our golden friendships.


Our Getaway - Part One

Summer is rolling on by with great speed it seems.  One often hears, "It's the 4th of July which means the summer is half over."  Towards the end of June, a decision had been made by my husband that was supported by me to go ahead and have major back surgery on July 18.  I had resisted making this decision  because I felt that we had not really had a very fun filled summer.  I have been ill for most of the early part of summer, and Jim has been struggling with back pain, so no matter how much I wanted a carefree summer, it just looked as if this year was not going to be the year where that was going to happen.  I especially wanted a carefree summer after spending last summer trying to sell a house and find a new home in which to live.

 Looking back on the past year, I see stress added to stress in our lives.  We sold a house and bought a new one.  We moved from one town to another.  Jim had surgery on his parathyroid.  I have had health problems and been hospitalized.  There have been family stresses and great concerns.  No one could deny that we needed a vacation from life, but a long vacation just was not going to happen this year.  So, we went on a short getaway.  That was a good thing and probably the best thing to do also.  Sometimes long vacations can be stressful.  Short ones can be just right.

We started our mini-vacation on Saturday the 29th of June.  We drove the six or so hours to Grand Junction, Colorado to visit my mom.  It had been nearly a year since we had been over to see her.  That is way too long of a time to go between visits when one's mother is 97 years old.

Mother and me
July 2013
Yep, this woman that is standing next to me is my 97 year old mother. Have you seen those commercials that ask, "Who is the oldest person you know?"  My answer is: my mother.  Amazingly, she still is able to care for herself, is very healthy, and has the same personality, humor, and awareness of the world around her she has always had.  Last year, she again only saw her doctor once for her yearly exam.  I'm not so sure I got her genes!  

When she saw the above photo on facebook, she said she wished I would have let her get her makeup on before I had the photo taken so her age spots wouldn't show.  And, yes, in case you are wondering, she is on facebook.  

It is hard to have her live so far away from all of us.  It is especially hard for my siblings and me as we get older to make that drive over the mountains of Colorado during the winter.  Thankfully, she has a good support system in place where she is.  Truly, I believe that aging in place the best kind of scenario for folks as they grow older.  I am grateful that so far, my mother has been able to have this experience.  

On the morning of July 3rd, my husband I left my mother's to drive to our vacation getaway spot in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  Glenwood is a favorite destination spot for the two of us, and we frequently extend a visit to my mother's by spend a night or two in Glenwood.  Probably the most famous attraction in Glenwood is the huge hot springs pool there.  With the aches and pains that Jim was feeling in his back, it was an easy sell to convince him that we needed to spend a few days soaking in the hot springs.  

I knew the 4th of July weekend would mean that we would not have an easy time finding a room for the holiday weekend since we had not booked months in advance.  Also, we had our dog with us, so that meant a room was even harder to find.  We tried all our favorite places, but they were either booked, or they would not allow pets.  We then found a reasonably priced room for the 3rd and 4th and booked it before we left on our trip.  When we got to the place, as sometimes happens, we just could not see ourselves staying there and being comfortable and happy.  So, we started driving around to see if we could get into another place.  We decided if we couldn't, we would drive the four or five hours it would take us to get home.  That is how much we did not like the place!  

One of our favorite place recommended another place up the road from them.  It was the Starlight Inn.  (Click on the link to see the place.  I recommend it if you are ever in Glenwood.) They called ahead for us and told us a room was available.  We took it.  Actually, we really liked this place and will stay here again.  Our room was small, but it was clean, comfortable, and worked well for us.  Boston was happy.  We were happy.  The host was so friendly and accommodating.  We could walk to breakfast every morning to a great German restaurant.  We could walk to the pool.  We could walk downtown.  And, there was a great little neighborhood behind the Inn that worked well for walking the dog.  

I love Glenwood.  I love the historical old buildings and all the history of this place.  I've never stayed at the Hotel Colorado, but supposedly it is haunted.  My son and his family spent New Year's Eve there one year and watched the fireworks from an upper window while the kids speculated on whether or not they would see the ghosts.
Entrance to Hotel Colorado
As I walked down to take these photos, I excused myself because I was standing in the path of a woman walking by.  She said, "Oh it is so nice to see someone with a camera.  I have only seen phones snapping photos during my trip."

The State of Colorado flag flies over
Hotel Colorado

As I said, I love Glenwood.  I love it in the summer and the winter.  We once spent New Year's Eve here and watched the fireworks on the mountain while we sat in the hot springs with snow flakes falling on your faces.  It was great fun.  This year, we had hoped to watch the fireworks from the pool on the 4th of July.  Unfortunately, that was not to be.  Fireworks were banned due to fire danger.  This was a wise and prudent decision.  

There are actually two pools on this site.  The one pool is smaller and much warmer.  One can sprawl on the steps and soak away aches and pains in this warm, healing mineral water.  I find I can no longer tolerate walking in this smaller, warmer pool.  It is just too warm for me.  Jim loves it though.  I sit on the steps soaking and watching the people while he walks in the water.  We generally go to the pool in the evening when it is cooler outside because the hot water and sun combination no longer works for us.

When we tire of the small pool, and wish to cool off, we walk over to the larger, deeper pool and walk or float in the water. The water in this pool is also warm and comfortable even in the winter, but cooler than the other pool.   I was feeling a bit playful while we were there and surprised Jim's by hopping up onto his back so he could carry me through the water.  It is amazing how we can do such things in the water.  It would be a disaster for both of us if I jumped on his back on dry land!  He said I didn't weigh anything.  He is such a nice guy.  

As Jim and I spent time in the larger pool, I recalled that the first time I swam in this pool was during our senior trip when I was a senior in high school fifty years ago this year.  I reminisced about the trip as we walked up to where the section was where people were swimming and diving off the diving board.  I remembered that I had a new swim cap that had flowers on it.  Do you remember those?  They were so uncomfortable!  Back in those days, we were not allowed to swim in the pool in Glenwood without wearing a cap.  Two piece bathing suits were not allowed either.  

Internet photo
While we were on our senior trip many years ago, we ate lunch at the Hotel Denver which can be seen in the photo below located behind the old Denver and Rio Grande Depot.  The Denver and Rio Grande Depot itself also holds many memories for me.  I have traveled through by this depot by train at different times throughout my younger years.  My father, former Superintendent for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad for the Western Slope, purchased the antique oak desk that was used by the station master of this depot when the railroad sold the building.  The desk is now in my mother's home.  It is a magnificent piece of furniture of historical significance.  Unfortunately, I have never photographed it.  I will have to do so on my next trip home.

Denver & Rio Grande Depot
Hotel Denver
Glenwood Springs, Colorado

We spent two nights in Glenwood.  Both evenings we spent several hours in the hot springs.  We slept very well on those nights.  Glenwood Springs again rewarded us with a relaxing and memorable getaway.