Pooh, my parents kitten, wanted to make sure she didn't get left behind. Pooh has been staying with us while my folks have been out of town. Pooh is such a curious kitty and always into everything. Since she is often getting into things she shouldn't we have nicknamed her Naughty Kitty. Even though she might be Naughty Kitty she is very sweet.
Wednesday morning started very early. The night before we had driven to Tulsa so we could catch an early flight to Denver. We got up at 4 so we could be at the airport by 5. By 7:30 we were on the ground in Denver. Gina's brother Duane picked us up at the airport and spent the day taking us down memory lane. We moved from this area 28 years ago and things have really changed. We had asked him to take us to places where we had lived and worked.
Our first stop was Erie. My family moved to Erie when I was 10 years old. When I was in High School my Dad moved his business to Erie. I took over the business when he moved. I operated it until 1981 when we moved to Arkansas. The building still looks much the same.
From Erie we drove to Longmont. I attended school at the Longmont SDA Elementary School from first though eighth grade. We never lived in Longmont, but did our shopping there. My favorite place was the Public Library. During the time I was in school I read just about every book in the kids section of the library. I still remember being dissapointed that I was only allowed to check out three books at a time. We took the time to drive by my old school and take a photo.
I recently learned that the J.C. Penney store that we shopped at in Longmont was the very first J.C. Penney store. The name of The Golden Rule Store in Longmont, Colorado was changed to J. C. Penney Company when it was sold in 1912 to J. C. Penney. J.C.Penney was the Sam Walton of his day. By 1928 he had 1,000 stores and by 1941 he had stores in all 48 states. Sam Walton got his start in a Penneys store in Des Moines, Iowa. I can still remember shopping at the J.C. Penneys in Longmont.
From Longmont we traveled up Hwy 287 to Loveland. We stopped by Campion Academy where Gina and I went to High School. The campus looks pretty much the same. Our visit brought back lots of memories. I remembered that beautiful blonde that walked the halls and didn't know that I even existed. We both worked at Harris Pine Mills. I would go back to the area where she worked during break time. She thought that I liked her friend. I was so painfully shy that I never had a date during High School. I finally got up the nerve to ask her to to march with me during graduation. We started dating during the summer. This is a picture of the girl that captured my heart.
Here we are 36 years later once again walking the halls of Campion Academy. We found our class picture on the wall and took our picture by it.
From Campion we drove into Loveland and walked the downtown streets. After we were married we lived in Loveland for six years. The downtown area still looked about the same, but the old buildings have been well maintained and the shopping is now antique stores and art gallerys. Sculptures now line the streets. From Loveland we drove up the Big Thompson Canyon to Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. On July 31, 1976, while we were living in Loveland, a violent rainstorm sent a rampaging wall of water through Big Thompson Canyon. The massive flood killed 144 people. Gina and I along with my family had been picnicking along the banks of the Big Thompson River that afternoon. When it started to rain we packed up and drove home through heavy rain. We didn't know there had been a flood until the next morning. The drive up the canyon brought all those memories flooding back.
We spent the afternoon and evening in Rocky Mountain National Park. The Park is one of my favorite places anywhere. During the six years that we spent in Loveland, we spent a lot of time in the Park. It was just a one hour drive from home. The scenery was spectacular and the weather was beautiful. The time we spent there brought back so many wonderful memories.
Although the scenery was spectacular, the highlight of our visit was the elk. There were large numbers of elk in the park. During all the times we visited the park when we lived in the area, we had never seen elk like this.
They are such magnificent animals. It is great to get to hear them bugle. We were able to hear them bugle many times. The most interesting thing that happened was when Gina was out of the car photographing a magnificent seven point bull. She had just turned around to head back toward the car when Duane and I saw him charging her. We yelled at her and she found out that she can really run fast even at 9,000 feet elevation. She ran around another car and even tried to get in but it was locked. Later when we came back by the area, the bull was still there with his harem. We were photographing him again from inside the car, when he took one look at Gina and charged again. This time I was taking video and captured the scene.
We stayed in Rocky mountain National park until it was too dark to see. We hated for the day to end. Although it was a very long day, It was such a wonderful trip down memory lane. It really gave me a Rocky Mountain High.
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I was born in 1956 in Madison, Tennessee, while my parents were attending Madison College. I grew up along the Front Range in Colorado, attending schools in Longmont, Brighton, Boulder and Loveland, Colorado. Two years after graduating from Campion Academy, I married my sweetheart, Regina. We lived in Loveland, Colorado for six years before moving to Mena in western Arkansas.
I love the people of Mena and the friendly easy going way of life here. I have owned and operated my own business since moving to Mena. I enjoy the natural beauty of western Arkansas and being out of doors.
My newspaper column in The Mena Star, An Arkie’s Faith, premiered on January 7, 2016. In March 2017, I published my first book, titled An Arkie's Faith, using articles from the column.