Getting Settled

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The Devil’s Playground, en route to Pikes Peak.

This weekend my shoes walked on land 14,000 feet into the air and my feet sank into sand dunes that stretched the length of mountains. Living in Colorado has been such a treat so far. I’m learning my way around, I have settled in quite nicely at my new job, and I’ve explored a lot of really neat places.

I live fairly close to Down Town Colorado Springs. It is there I was shown SuperNova, a bar with walls lined by old games like PacMan and Pinball, a breakfast place that has mounds of hashbrowns for pretty cheap (hollaaaa), a bar a few coworkers nicknamed the “Dirty Bird”, and Rasta Pasta, the pasta place with the chillest atmosphere and dankest curry dipping sauce.
Although I live close to downtown, I’m adventuring West more and more towards Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs. Old Colorado City has colorful houses, farmers markets, and fun shops. It also happens to be where the Community Acupuncture Place is that I’ve been going to once and while. If anything, acupuncture allows time for a wonderful nap.
Manitou was a little witches town when it first became. It has kept it’s quirk and feel good vibes present throughout the years. It was there I saw coffin races during Halloween, danced in a park, and swung on oversized swings. Manitou is full of cute shops and fun eateries, including Matte Factor, a somewhat religious (cult) shop that dresses close to the Amish and provides a lot of great tea and sandwiches. Don’t worry, a cult free life is the life for me. A couple of my friends live in Manitou, and it becomes more and more enticing to move there with every trip I make. Someone recently showed me the Manitou Brewery, and even if you are not a fan of beer, the food there is sure to make your hungry belly happy, happy, happy.

My new job at Weikel Elementary has been a learning experience. There is a lot of collaboration, team building, building meetings, staff development, and planning. There is a lot to do, and I’m learning how to do it all.
Last year was a great first year teaching gig. I learned a TON from my coworkers and mentors back in Michigan and I carry all of that with me. This year has a whole new set of challenges. I am please to say that this week was the first week I drove to work and had to drive home in order to get my Post Pass so I could get onto post. Weikel is on Fort Carson Military base, and I have an ID to get on everyday, but my wallet was forgotten at home and I had to make the trip all the way back Down Town so I could go to work. Thankfully, I get to work early enough that this set back did not make me late for the kiddos.
My classes are made up of students who have an IEP and student who do not. This brings a lot of challenges my way when it comes to differentiating lessons and leading a large or group activity. I’ve had to learn better ways of planning, and I’ve had to plan more activities in order to fill every little brain to the utmost possibility. This is when I thank the Paraprofessionals in my room. I’ve been blessed with two individuals who loves to help out and who have the kid’s best interest in mind. I’m still young, and one of the awkward situations I predicted while going through school to become a teacher was that I would be the person directing these other people. Telling these other people what to do and how to do it still gives me the sweats sometimes, but I’ve slowly come into my leadership role within the classroom and I hope to continue the positive learning environment that has been created so far.

Outside of school, I have eaten my way through Colorado Spring. Damn, ya’ll, there are some good eats out in these parts. Besides the food, there are some pretty wonderful sights as well.
I was warned that Autumn here will not be like those in Michigan. There wouldn’t be as much color, fall is a lost season, or that I’ll miss the leaves changing. Some of that holds true, but honestly? These Aspen trees have pleasantly surprised me. The other weekend I went to Mueller State Park and my eyes were gifted with the most gorgeous yellow hues.

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Aspens as far as the eyes can see.

The golden Aspens freckled the Evergreens and made for some delightful looking land.

This weekend, my friend from Michigan came to visit. It gave me a chance to show someone around and it made it obvious to me how many cool things I have actually done since I’ve been out here. There are several parks I’ve been to. There are several trails I’ve climbed, mountains I’ve driven through, and cool camp sites I’ve stayed in.
For example, we drove 14,000 feet up a mountain onto Pikes Peak, which I can see on my drive into work. We stopped along the way to climb around on some big rocks and take in the views.

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14,000 feet up on Pikes Peak, post donut.

Once we got to the top, the gift shop provided us with nice warm donuts and warm (they ran out of ice) soda as well. Not all 14ers have donuts on the top, but I’m sure happy this one did.
The next day we made our way three hours south to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Now, I know some of you Michigan Folk are going to picture the Sleeping Bear dunes and think, “oh, I’ve been to sand dunes before.” But no, no you have not. Not like these. These sand dunes back up to a mountains and they do not pale in comparison to the Rocky Peaks behind them. They are massive. I’m talking, over one sand dune just to find ten more, kind of huge. People board down them, run down them, crawl up them. I saw a man in his Sunday Best, black slacks, sweater vest with a button up underneath, and a cap running down the dunes. Now, where was he coming from? Did he plan on being there? If so, why so fancy?

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Who Knows How High, Rocky Mountain National Park

The week prior to this week I found myself, in my jeep, kayaks strapped to the top, and a new friend by my side. We headed towards Rocky Mountain National Park and let me tell you, it was SO worth the drive. Blistering winds, cold snowy gusts hit our faces as we drove throughout the park.We found a nice little camp spot, set up our hammocks, and made some campfire mac and cheese. We woke up to drive some more and explore the land around us. There was so much land around us. There is constantly so much land around me here and I absolutely love it.

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Lake Grandby

We did not get a chance to kayak, but we did end up finding some water so we sat and admired the tiny waves for a little while before making our way back to Colorado Springs.

There’s this ability to feel extremely small but wonderfully powerful all at once here. To feel so minuscule yet have this rush of “I’m on top of the world” flowing through your body. I’ve been driven to tears by landscape, shoe shaking from heights, and found myself at a loss of words for my surroundings.

It’s been one heck of a ride here so far. I cannot wait for it to continue.

Oh, and, I’m always accepting visitors!

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