The mountains from the balcony, in their sunrise glow, made me hungry to be out there among them. Long's Peak, Colorado's northernmost 14-er, is visible to the right.
I packed a backpack with cardstock, acrylic paints, brushes, sunscreen, and a coat just in case I got cold (I didn't), and by 7:30 am, I was on the road to the park, waves of happy exhilaration and anticipation washing over me.
I was driving through the Big Thompson Canyon, where the signs say, "Bighorn sheep, next 10 miles," and I was hoping I would get to see some. Sure enough, I rounded a bend, and there were four stalwart ones right on the side of the road. (By the time I parked and got the camera out, they were trotting off into the distance, so in the photo they look like four white specks to the left of the more distant car.) It made me happy just to see the way these bighorn sheep walked. They were so muscular and yet so graceful.
I got up to Rocky Mountain National Park and took the shuttle to Bear Lake. Day after Labor Day = best time to go! The massive crowds of people were thinned to almost nothing, so Bear Lake didn't have the agonizing "Get Me Away From All These People" feeling that it did in July when I went.
The lovely view at Bear Lake:
I hiked to Bierstadt Lake, which also had a lovely view, and I sat on a rock and pulled out my painting stuff and painted it. It made me happy to apply color to paper, even though I knew it was turning out amateurish and...well, just funny-looking. This was literally the first time in my life I had ever sat outside to paint a landscape. But it was something I had wanted to do ever since I came here in July. I had been longing to come out here and paint this--even though I knew I wouldn't really be able to.
The painting in front of the original:
Then I hiked on a little further and came to the steep part with the switchbacks, where the inspiration had first struck me to come out here and paint, and I sat down exactly where I had said to myself I wanted to sit, and I painted another painting. But I got tired and hungry and by the time I was painting the aspen trees, I was a bit bored and just abandoned it before all the details were done. Oh well...even if I had done my most careful work, I would not have been able to do it justice. The point was, it was fun and it made me happy to do it.
On the way home, driving out of the parking lot, I passed two elk on the side of the road. I also saw lots of chipmunks, a huge wild turkey, and two deer, making my wildlife count entirely satisfying.
After all that, I had a wonderful evening with some friends, the most delicious chocolate cake I have ever tasted, and a sweet time of sharing and prayer.
There was even a spectacular sunset to put a fitting bookend on the day (but I didn't get a photo of it).
Thank you, Jesus, for bringing such beautiful moments into my life. Thank you for this beautiful day!