Loving Estes Park

Estes Park is a very cool little mountain town kept alive by its proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Estes was a regular fishing destination for my dad and Mom would take us into Estes while Dad was on the river. We’d shop in the souvenir stores and buy taffy at a stop specializing in it. I liked chocolate and butter pecan.

As a young woman, I spent countless weekends up there with my husband because he grew up there. I learned where he cut hayfields nearby. I learned about the shop where he made “artisan” gold-plated aspen leaves for jewelry. I  learned the route of the laundry truck he drove . I learned the bars the locals like and the restaurants the locals avoid. Once, we went dancing at the Stanley. I liked that.

All the images for this collection were chosen carefully. These places have survived floods, economic downturns, and crushing winters when the tourists don’t come to visit. I knew these places as a child and they still are going strong.

My mom bought the first ring I ever had at the corner store.

My first ride up a mountain was in Estes on the Tramway.

The Park Theater was the landmark for our family to meet if we were ever separated.  We never were, but we had a plan.

I still love going to Estes Park.



Mesa Verde: Something New

We visited Mesa Verde about five years ago and I’d forgotten how steep the highway (The Trail of the Ancients) was as we drove up to the top. We’d taken the “scenic” route from home and we’d been driving a long time. It was nearing sunset in August so it was late and we were tired. Still, the drive up to the mesa outshone all my desires to get to the lodge.

I remember two other things clearly. It was nice to view the ruins without worrying about a child falling off a cliff and the light was amazing.

We took a tour with a “temporary” park ranger who began each sentence with “We here at Mesa Verde National Park.” I felt sad because he was so worried about his “spiel” that he kept missing all the wildlife and beauty around him. I kept feeling sad he couldn’t be a “permanent” park ranger. It was a lot like class with a substitute teacher. The ruins, however, were magical and mystical.

 It was the light. “Here at Mesa Verde National Park, it’s the light.” That would have said it all for me. The light was magnificent.

The open spaces at dawn and twilight were unlike what I’d seen before. The sky was always a different color than I anticipated. The skies were darker or lighter or a color I couldn’t expect. Almost like Georgia O’Keeffe skies, but different.

Climbing the ruins, the light was gorgeous. The ledges were bright.  Sometimes blindingly so.   The Anasazi lived in all light and dark all the time.  I kept wondering what that would be like.


I hope I’ve done the light justice. I hope the cards remind you of the light when you were there or they inspire you to head to Mesa Verde. It’s a beautiful and mystical place.

Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park

This week’s featured cards shows  Oxbox Bend in Grand Teton National Park.

The Tetons are my bliss station. They frame each year for me. The space, the solitude, and the beauty fill me up with some surety of goodness.

When Mom’s Alzheimer’s led me to draw my way out of my own maze of reactions, I started by drawing the Tetons. I drew what I loved.

I drew the cabins at Jenny Lake Lodge where we stay, our cabin, spots along the park highway like Oxbow Bend, and the mountains. I even drew our two favorite tables for dinner.


These drawings became the basis for my first two collections of notecards and became my first sale just about a year ago. They are the bulk of a new order for cards this year.

I am so grateful for the miracle of accidents and generous help from friends that made all this possible. I am also counting the days until I return to the Tetons and Jenny Lake Lodge.

Jackson Lake Lodge

Jackson Lake Lodge is one of those quintessential National Park places. The deck on the back side of the lodge looks straight west at The Tetons. Sometimes there are moose in the willow flats below the deck. Sometimes not. Sometimes afternoon thunderstorms roll in and the lightning does acrobatics above the outlines of the mountains. We can spend a lot of time on this deck.

The back of the lodge is a mosaic of huge windows.  Inside the building, the mountains are framed by those windows and the lodge is known for them.

We love walking up to the lodge. The building blends into the trees and the Tetons behind the lodge are invisible. All our trips to the Tetons begin when we walk up this path.

We’ve always stayed in the cottages. Once a bull moose ate the bushes on our cottage porch and then peed all over it. Noisy.

Jackson Lake Lodge is a wonderful place.


My Story: The First Card

I started drawing in 2013 when Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and one of our granddaughters was facing an operation to remove half of her brain after years of debilitating seizures. I coached teachers for a university and a new director sapped the joy I’d always found in the job. I was staying alive in the water.

In the very early mornings, I started doing drawings on leftover pamphlet paper from my teaching days. I wanted the paper to last so I used two inch squares. I drew with a ballpoint pen. I didn’t know what I was doing.

The drawings began as nothing more than lines and shapes. They evolved into images from the places I love.

In the spring of 2016 my mom died, our granddaughter had a much smaller surgery and she and her life improved instantly, and I retired from education after 44 years. I kept drawing though.  My work began to have an intentional style.

A chance conversation led to notecards which led to buying equipment and learning many new skills and creating a company.  It was a wonderful journey.

My first attempt at a real notecard was a very simple image from Puerto Vallarta. We met local friends for drinks at Casa Karma one evening the previous spring. We all moved to the deck when the sun set and I drew the scene the next morning.  Margaritas and good friends and a perfect sunset seemed important to remember.

I used the drawing for my first card. It was a wonderful night.


Dreaming of Wyoming Spaces

The windows are open and birds are making noises outside. The sun is out and the wind is bending the junipers in front of the kitchen window. It feels like spring.

I start dreaming of the Tetons in the spring. We return each year in July and drive the same route. When I struggle to sleep, I begin thinking about the drive we’ll take to get to the mountains in a few months. There are so many images along the way that I love.

We leave Denver and breakfast on German sausage and eggs at Johnson’s Corner not too far from Loveland. It’s a great truck stop and  I think the waitresses worked there when I was a little girl.

It’s still pretty early when we see windmills churning away north of I80. They break the empty Wyoming sky with linear technology. It is beautiful.  Especially in a dark morning storm. We are 40 minutes from Rawlins and then we leave the highway and enter real western spaces.

I daydream my way through miles of arroyos, an occasional antelope, dried pools left over from spring storms, and then I rejoice when Split Rock is in sight.

Split Rock is pink when we see it headed to the Tetons.  The color is different when we return home.  Light does wonderful things in empty spaces.  Georgia O’Keeffe knew this.

Before we hit Lander there is a spot in the road where the road goes on forever and yellowed grass bends in the wind.  It reminds me of my friend Barbara who loves this same spot and reminds me that it doesn’t take purple mountain majesties or dazzling green forests to find beauty. Empty spaces are beautiful.

The last wide open vista on our journey is after we’ve been through Dubois.  Dubois is a gorgeous little town and the last stop for gas before we head to the mountains and into the Tetons. We are an hour away now.

A half an hour later, the last of the big Wyoming vistas appears. The road curves and you can see Togwotee Pass and the first of the northwest mountains. The landscape is green and wet for the first time. The grass is green. The trees are green. The light has moved and the faces of these first mountains are dark against the sky and you can’t even see them if a storm is brewing.

There is nothing but forests and mountains from this point on–the kind you see on postcards. There is a moment when I first see the Tetons. I always cry. These mountains heal my soul. I cry when I daydream about them too.

The Wyoming Spaces Collection is all about my daydreams this spring. I just drew them this time.