Rocky Mountain High

Labor Day Weekend in Denver.  Friday we did a three mile run without stopping, maybe we are getting acclimated???  We make dinner for Matt & Claire prior to Matt bicycling to the first of three Phish concerts this weekend.  He has attended all of their local concerts for 15 years.  Saturday we stayed home, finishing our last blog, doing crosswords and preparing to host nephew Jonathan Steen, wife Jolene and their four boys, twins Jolin & Elden, Jonathan and Claude Earl Steen IV or Tad.  We grill eight T-bone steaks and mushrooms with corn on the cob and salad.  This was a great night with a family that we love dearly.  IMG_2292 2Sunday morning we go to The Denver Science Museum with Matt and Mae Louise.  This is a great museum with a lot of interactive activities for kids of all ages.  Matt and Claire are members and they know the museum well.  IMG_2299IMG_2214

Getting ready to go into space.

On Monday, Labor day, we go to the Denver zoo with Matt and Mae again, They also seem to know the zoo quite well and Mae has her favorite animals to visit.  We each got a turn on the merry-go-round with Mae.IMG_2310IMG_2242

All tired from a day at the zoo.

Labor Day evening we again prepare dinner on our deck so that Matt and Claire can spend some time with cousins Joel and Lacey Steen.  IMG_2272After Labor Day we have only two more weeks in Denver and they have flown by.  We have spent our days mostly indoors after early morning runs as the mid day sun here is intense and temperatures have been in the 90’s.  The weekend after Labor Day we rent a car and drive to Vail to meet our “perfect stranger” friend Melissa Conlon.  We had a great time with Melissa having lunch and exploring Vail.  We did not have time to hike up the mountain but we did take in Octoberfest enjoying some very good German Beer.  IMG_2293IMG_2324IMG_2327IMG_2297We then drove to Alma Colorado where Sandy’s second cousin Helen lives with her husband Gene Morse.  We have visited them here a few years ago and were looking forward to Gene’s homemade Margaritas.  He did not disappoint.  We spent two nights with them, doing a 7.5 mile walk from their house going by a beautiful reservoir and ending at an abandoned silver mine just over 11,000 feet elevation.

Leaving home on our morning walk.
The view from Helen & Gene’s home, two 14ers, over 14,000 feet.
We walked from home, about two miles from the far side of the reservoir
Crazy Jeep people going into the mountains to drive the steep rocky trails.

IMG_2332IMG_2327The fall colors are just starting and Colorado is beautiful.  After our walk we drove 15 minutes to Breckenridge and enjoyed a very busy active Octoberfest scene there.  IMG_2364

Jim & Gene with a fräulein at Octoberfest.
Helen & Sandy with a very tall lumberjack.

We returned home to Denver Sunday morning to spend three days with daughter Emily who had flown in From Portland Oregon to participate in part of a weeklong Steen family reunion.  We had dinner Sunday night with her cousins Joel and Lacey.  IMG_2368Monday morning we had breakfast with Emily, brother Claude, his wife Donna and son Jonathon.  IMG_2375That evening we prepared another dinner at home for Matt, Claire & Emily.  Emily was a great help with these meals.  IMG_2372Tuesday September 11 was Mae’s third birthday and we spent the evening partying with her before going to Joel and Lacey’s home so that Emily could see brother David and his wife Lynn before she flew home Wednesday morning.

Mae and Emily playing on her big birthday gift.


Its not easy being the center of attention.
Auntie Em bonding with Camden.

On Thursday we drove to Estes Park with David, Lynn, Joel and Lacey for an exhilarating 7 mile hike in Rocky Mountain National Park.  It was a perfectly clear day with comfortable weather and spectacular views and fall colors.  IMG_2418

We started the hike at the most distant lake.
It wasn’t just a walk in the park, somewhat rough and steep at times.
Joel giving his parents and wife palpitations.

IMG_2424.jpgFriday evening we had dinner with all of the Steen’s who were in Denver with the exception of Matt & his family but we also included a second cousin from our maternal side Ben Gomez and his two boys.

Dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory.
Whole bunch of Steen’s.

Saturday morning Sandy found out that one of her “Sole Sisters” who lives in Washington State just happened to be in town and we made hurried arrangements to meet her for coffee.

Unexpected “Sole Sister” reunion with Dana sitting next to her father.  Her friend Katia is next to Jim.

On Saturday afternoon we all met again at Jon & Jolene’s place in Elizabeth Colorado, about one hour from Denver.  Sunday morning we had one last breakfast together as Matt & Claire had been unable to make any of the others.

Breakfast at Syrup in Denver.

Sunday evening was our last night in Denver and we took care of Mae and Camden while Matt and Claire went out to dinner to celebrate their first wedding anniversary.

Last night with Mae Louise.

What a great four weeks with family.  We arrived on Matt’s 40th birthday, celebrated Mae’s 3rd birthday, watched Camden double in age, celebrated their anniversary and spent some quality time with a lot of other relatives and friends.  We now return to Boston for three days and then on to Italy for three months.

Who’s that behind the Foster Grants?


Some definitions from above.  “Perfect Strangers” is a book that Sandy read after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings telling about how Bostonians helped out all of the stranded runners by taking them into their homes, loaning them phones to call worried loved ones or just giving them directions.  After that date we have made it a point to try and make friends with Marathon runners and invite them to our pre and post marathon parties.  We have done this twice and have become very close with Kelly Leonard from Newport Beach, CA and Melissa Conlon from Ft. Collins, CO.  Our two “perfect strangers” have met each other and become friends independently.  They have both been in a prior blog titled On to London.

“Sole Sisters” refers to a group of Sandy’s female running friends ranging in age from 30’s to 70’s who not only run and party together, but they have also traveled the world together.  They first met in 2010 when Sandy was training for the Athens Marathon.  They have become very close and maintained the friendship over the years even though Dana has moved to Washington state, Susan moved to India and Sandy is all over the world.


8 responses to “Rocky Mountain High”

  1. […] in the past as they both ran the Boston Marathon in 2018 and we visited Melissa Conlon while in Colorado in August/September of 2018.  They are perfect strangers because we met both on the front stoop of […]

  2. Kathleen Von Pohle Avatar
    Kathleen Von Pohle

    Family!! Haven’t seen some of the brothers/familes for decades. Love the mountain hikes. Beautiful country. Didn’t realize so many 14ers.

    1. There are actually 55 14ers in Colorado.

  3. Claude E Steen, III Avatar
    Claude E Steen, III

    A wonderful time was had by all as we Steen’s got together. Jim and Sandy being there was the perfect excuse for the rest of us “piling on” and spending quality time together. Thanks to the two of you for sharing your fun with as many friends and family as possible. You prove the truth of the saying, “The more the merrier!” Thanks so much for including all of us!

    1. It was our pleasure and we enjoyed it more than anything else

  4. Delightful. What wonderful family times and celebrations…especially Mae turning 3 and being with Camden at such an early age. Hiking looks great. I hiked with my brother Mark at Squam Lake this past weekend and Tom and I attended a tented wedding for 280 people at a friend’s home looking over the mountains in central NH. So nice to be in the mountains. Loved the first photo and the expression on your faces. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Just so you know, the first photo is not of us but is our nephew and wife, Joel & Lacey.

  5. Love all the family photos!

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