Thursday, July 20, 2017

Flying Saucer RV Park in Englewood, CO

There is a little place tucked along Bear Creek and the Platte River and squeezed in between Riverpoint shopping center and Hampden Ave in Englewood, CO called the Flying Saucer RV park. This seemingly innocuous RV park has been in existence since the 1950s (as a mobile home park) and converted to an RV park sometime in the late 80s.

Flying Saucer RV Park in Englewood, CO

We came to stay here in December 2016, as a semi-permanent landing pad. Our current RV is a 2012 5th Wheel Wildcat bunkhouse with an extra bathroom.

This is very similar to our layout, except the master bathroom is on the opposite side and the bed is angled. 
We've been in it for the last year, having spent last summer on a farm (more to come) and visiting family the rest of the time. Jessica turned 16 last September and got her driver's license . She works at Chick-fil-a and keeps her calendar filled with plenty of social events.

The cousins love hanging out!
Liam will be 15 in October. He relishes the fact that he's taller than me and frequently steps in to reach those out-of-reach objects! He is my right hand when it comes to fixing stuff around the RV. Like when we replaced the thermostat in the heater and switched out our hot water heater and did maintenance on the air conditioner. Whew!

Kyla turned 13 in December. She is most like me and LOVES good books. I often find her immersed in a page-turner and have a hard time pulling her out to do school and chores. Again. Just like me at that age.

We've spent many days this summer hanging out in hammocks and tubing down Clear Creek in Golden. One of our favorite things to do to beat the heat. Bear Valley Church has been our church home for the past few years. The kids attend every event they can and God's immersed us in an amazing community of believers. I even volunteer as a barista once a month at our most excellent coffee bar, making lattes and designer coffees.

Life continues to be an adventure full of laughter and tears. But in everything, God is faithful.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Where we are now

Due to job changes, our family decided to continue living in Denver, Colorado.  After a very brutal 2013 winter, we longed for more space and warmth.  After our rental property sold in summer 2014, we purchased a condo and put the RV up for sale.  With the intent of renting it out when we are ready to move.
Hello IKEA organizers!

We spent several days painting and replacing the appliances in the kitchen.  Plus, we had to replace some furniture.  I took the lessons on efficiency and wise use of space that we'd learned in the RV and applied to our new home.

We only purchased beds, a desk, a couch, and five heavy duty, wire commercial shelving units. Then stored all of our clothes and belongings in organizers tucked into closets.  The kids relish the indoor space, but miss the outdoor fun that waited right outside our RV front door.

Our condo is close to a favorite county park that enables us to swim in a lake, do some outdoor archery and some hiking, biking, and exploring.
My youngest has expanded her culinary skills. 

We joined an academic coop that is pushing the children and I to a whole new educational level.  Which can be painful sometimes.  On a whole, we are excited about our future and what God has planned for us.

My oldest, Jessica, attended a Civil War Ball with her best friend.
Her dad acted as escort!

Kyla has also taken up photography, like her father, and shown a prodigious talent!

Liam, my son, and Kyla also started a little paracord bracelet business.

Kyla's 11th birthday present. Sapphira likes to "help" with school work.  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Frozen water pipes and everything...

The magnitude and full impact of the flood created a domino affect that went on for weeks.

The sidewalks stayed frozen for days
Not only did we have to remove our skirting and relocate, but our water pipes froze one last time.  It was all our poor water filter housing could handle and it cracked in two pieces.

I ordered a replacement and that lasted all of a month before cracking again.  This time, I went to Home Depot determined to either rip the whole thing out or replace the housing with something cheaper.  I found it!  A household water filter that cost $20 with all the trimmings instead of $45 for just the bottom portion.

We also decided that when the weather went below 10 degrees, we would shut off the fresh water and empty the pipes so it wouldn't and bust something again.

Well, my mom came to visit and in my rush to get out the door, I couldn't figure which way to turn the bathroom sink off.   I hoped for the best and left.  When Bill and I got back that evening, water was gushing out from under our front door.  Literally pouring out by the gallons.  Evidently, I guessed wrong.

After shutting the water off (I couldn't figure out why someone hadn't spotted it and shut it off for us.  They had done so in the past over something very stupid...), we mopped up everything we could.  But the sub flooring was wet and mushy for days.  We were scared that there had been permanent damage.  Luckily, they dried out and became as solid as ever (though not as flat...).  Thankfully, we came out fine and survived that mishap.

Then, the water filter broke again, this time it cracked at the top where it's screwed into the lines.  I used the replacement I had and fixed it up good. 

Creek flooded right to our doorstep.
How I longed for growing green things and mild weather to replace the cold...

One last bit of impact we had from the extremely cold temperatures in February.  It got so cold that our fridge stopped working.  The coolant in the back couldn't function correctly. It took about a week of good weather before it started up again.

In the end though, spring came and brought new life and fresh hope!

Flooding at twenty degrees below zero...

The bottom layer of water oozed out of cracks in the ice. 
There had been a series of deep cold spells that caused the creek to freeze over quickly, but still had water flowing underneath.  A couple days before it flooded, Bill and I were coming back from our nightly walk.  In the silence, I heard the creek cracking and it reminded me of Laura Ingall's story about crossing the mighty Mississippi right before the ice cracked and became unsafe.  It sounded like deep settling.
The first challenge we faced this winter included Clear Creek freezing over and eventually flooding right before Christmas.

Then the next day, I watched water ooze up from the cracks and flow downstream.  Because the water froze so fast, it froze all the way up to the banks and began overflowing onto the sidewalk.  It had no other place to go except wide.  It crept down the creek in slow, lapping movements, looking for the low places.

Flood froze neighbors rig to ground
Several of us kept an eye on the creek, watching the water ebb and flow, creeping over the sidewalk.

Late that Friday night, I saw flashlights bobbing through the closed curtains.  I knew that it spelled trouble.  I called for Bill and he put his boots on and headed
outside.  Then, gradually myself and Jessica, our oldest, joined him.  The creek was overflowing the sidewalk and into different RV spots.

Look at the cord frozen in the water!
It was so cold, that the outside temperature hovered around ten degrees below zero. The water was even colder.  One of Bill's coworkers had seen our RV lifestyle and been inspired by it.  She sold her house and bought a beautiful travel trailer with nice skirting.  But she had no truck to pull it.  Unfortunately, her spot was the lowest along the creek and the water was a good three inches high and climbing.  Although it was late and most people sleeping, several men came out and helped her hitch up the trailer to a borrowed truck.  We helped yank the frozen stakes out of the rock-hard ground and remove the stiff skirting.  They pulled her rig forward ten feet to get it out of the water.  We made the painful decision to move our rig forward ten feet (skirting still attached) just in case. 

A couple news stations sent camera men to video everything.  When a man shoves a camera and bright light in your face around midnight and you are freezing down to your core,  you shouldn't feel obligated to be diplomatic in your responses.  I know I wasn't...

We woke up the next morning to find that the water had come to within a foot of our rig.  You can see the red-neck skirting in the picture on the right.

We made the decision to bug out of there that day because officials were talking about evacuating folks in case of a flood.   We came over to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds and set up shop.

That night, an ice dam broke in Idaho Spring and set hundreds of gallons of water gushing down the creek.  Thankfully, the water diverted away from the campgrounds and for a few weeks carved a new path until the ice melted enough to handle the flow.  The ice froze all the way up to a foot bridge and from bank to bank.

 We stayed at the Fairgrounds for two weeks, even celebrating Christmas there. 

Clear Creek flooded and froze winter 2013

Wintering at Clear Creek in 2013

 Going into the winter, we knew deep in our gut that it would be brutal.  We had planned (or hoped that it would happen) on being in Houston for the winter.  But, alas it was was not to be due to internal politics (that never happens...). 

 With much trepidation and faith that we would survive, Clear Creek RV Park became our semi-permanent abode until May 2014.

Right away, we knew it would different from any other winter we'd ever experienced.  The flooding that occurred in September (while the kids and I were in Indiana) only happened once in a century. 

Notwithstanding the very small space we now inhabited as an active family of five (~250 square feet), the outside temperatures fluctuated into the very cold rapidly.  We combated that by creating red-neck skirting using inch-thick styrofoam and white duct tape.  I regretted the ghetto look, but was grateful for the ten degree increase internally.  We first connected to an electric only spot and then were able to move to a full hook-up.  That meant removing and re taping the skirting.  Very tedious.

 Our spot backed right up to the creek.  It was a beautiful spot.   And not much foot traffic behind us due to the cold temperatures. 

We figured that we could handle November, December and probably January.  But getting through February would be our challenge.

The skirting and a heat lamp underneath helped keep the floor warm.  We properly winterized our water hose and kept two electric heaters running at all times. One in the front and one near our bedroom.  We maintained an ambient internal temperature of 65 degrees during the day and about 55 to 60 at night.  With layers of blankets and bundled up in warm pjs, our family did just fine. We frequented the rec center next door and tried to get the kids outside playing with the rv neighbor kids as often as possible.  We made several good friends!

Bill wearing his X Wing costume in the Golden parade!
The creek froze over by Thanksgiving and we settled into surviving (and hopefully thriving) through the winter.  We had the kids involved with Awanas and by December, Bill had started a pilot program creating training videos and other digital media related stuff for his work.  This was his big chance to create a position within the governmental department he worked for doing the stuff he was most passionate about.  We were very excited about this opportunity and about the places (hint, hint) that it could take us.

Little did we know about the extreme challenges that were ahead...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Family is a rich tapestry

During my side-of-the-road wait for our tow truck driver and my attempts to compose shaking hands and a pounding heart, my father calls to remind me to wish him a happy birthday...  He was at my sister's house enjoying his favorite meal: home-made mac-n-cheese, just like mom used to make, and Rocky Road ice cream.

Leaving DIA
He decided that he missed my kids terribly and wanted to fly them out to Indiana unaccompanied, for the summer.  This took a little bit of digesting, but I knew that God's timing is always perfect and that the kids would have an amazing summer.

So, on the Fourth of July, they flew alone, all by themselves, without any adults.  It was challenging at first to let them go.  But I trusted my family to be at the other end.

Arriving in Chicago with my Dad to greet them!

The kids got there just fine and my parents met them at the gate.

They've been gone a week and settled into a routine.  I receive phone calls and facetime calls almost every day.  My sister wrapped them into her schedule.  They do devotionals and chores in the morning.  Then school.  Then free time.

I realized that this summer is God's gift to all our family.  To my husband and I, because we haven't been alone like this for over thirteen years.  Our relationship has blossomed and rekindled romance to a whole new level...  Plus, his new job is taking a lot of creative energy and time.  And my camp hosting job requires more of me than I'm used to giving to people outside my family.  And I don't have to worry about them. 

My parents and siblings get to meet my children.  Get to know them in a way that is impossible when I'm around.  For the cousins, because it brings them closer together.  More like siblings.  And for my children, they are experiencing the rich tapestry that is family.  That is grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  It truly takes a village to raise children.  And for years to come, they will cherish the time they spend together.


BLOWOUT! On my way to life...

 I'd recently interviewed for a camp hosting position at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Golden, Colorado.  After a couple nail biting weeks of waiting, they hired me!  Located eight minutes from Bill's work, a walk away from the girls' best friends house and great shopping close by, this was an ideal location for the summer.  Granted, there is no running water or park amenities.  But the views are amazing...

Sweeping vistas of misty mornings over the mountains; Table Mesa and half of Denver laid out before our feet.  Out our front door is grass and sky and great wifi...

Anyway, moving on to the blow out.  Earlier that week, I'd taken our rig into Camping World for an oil change and 16-point inspection.  Everything looked good except for the tires.  Deeply cracked from weathering, they recommended we replace all of them for the tune of $1500.

Yeah.  Like that was happening on our budget right away.  We decided to hold off and try to squeeze out a few more miles since we weren't leaving Denver for the summer.

We were staying at Chatfield Reservoir and I headed out mid-morning for Bear Creek Lake Park, where we would stay until the Fairgrounds called.  About a mile onto the highway, I felt the rig start to shake.  Something wasn't right.  I looked over at a passing car, and the passenger waved at me and pointed at the RV.  I slowed to a crawl and pulled over immediately.  The driver's side outer rear tire had blown spectacularly.  It took off a portion of our wheel cover.  Shaking, I called my husband.  He dropped everything and came back.  I also called Good Sam Emergency Roadside service.  I thought our service had lapsed and was prepared to renew it so that we could get service.  To my amazement, we still had two weeks left.  They promised to call back and help me renew at a later time.  But called for tow service right away.  About two hours later, a truck pulled up behind me...

During my wait, I was praying for angels to surround the rig and for God to protect me from the passing motorist. Just to keep me safe and thanking him for a minor blow out instead of major damage to my home.

This monstrous truck pulls up, with crosses and "Jesus saves" all over it.  I just about cried with relief.

The driver angled the truck to protect my little rv and himself while he changed the tire.  Slowly and methodically, he pulled out all the necessary equipment to change the tire.

I stood on the side of the road in amazement, tears sneaking past my sunglasses, as I realized the significance of this moment.  How God angles Himself as a barricade to protect us from the highway of life.  Especially when we are broken down at the most inconvenient time. 

I learned where our spare tire was kept and how to retrieve it the next time.  It is brand new with the sticker still on it.  With the proper tools, he quickly removed the bad tire and put on the good one.

Whew!  I loaded the blown tire in the front passenger seat, getting sliced by the metal running through the rubber.  After he cleaned everything up and we were ready to drive off, he followed me all the way off the highway.

I thankfully parked the rig.  When we moved to the Fairgrounds, I drove very slow and took back roads.  Not taking any chances. Plus, we renewed our Good Sam membership. Thank God, we were safe and sound with nothing but a two hour wait on the side of a busy highway...