2012 McManus Christmas

Dear Family & Friends,

It has been an exciting year… very busy… and very fun…

January & February: 

20120217 - Christmas 2012 - 0046We volunteered for the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, adaptive ski program for the ski season.  This organization provides outdoor experiences for people with all forms of disabilities.

Mike’s best childhood friend brought part of his family out to visit and ski with us.  It was great to spend time with them… and it was the first time that Mike & Curtis got to ski together.

Mike continued to guide tours, either Historic Walking Tours of Breckenridge or Snowshoeing tours for the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance and I managed the office for them.

In February we lost our brother in law Jerry Tittle and made a quick trip home for 4x6-02the services.  It was great to see all our family, but wished it had been under better circumstances.  “A heart of gold stopped beating, two shining eyes at rest, God broke our hearts to prove He only takes the best.”

When we returned from Arkansas we made an attempt for Ken’s Cabin in the back-country, however the attempt was aborted when a freak winter storm blew in.  We made it home safely… after a very long ordeal.

March & April:

Nothing exciting happened…  just work and playing in the little snow we had.

May & June:

20120504 - Christmas 2012 - 0273This was a happy month… Family arrived in Breckenridge to celebrate Chelsie’s graduation from Colorado Mountain College with her Associates Degree.  It was a great day for Chelsie, parents & grandparents to be able to see the end of one long road and the beginning of another as she continues her studies in Early Childhood Education.

Mike and I made a long trip to Moab, Utah, where we have wanted to go for a number of years.  Mike received his certification in Wilderness First Responder and while he was doing his classes and studying, I got to enjoy Moab, with numerous days spent at Arches National Park.   When he wasn’t in class, we spent our time on the Colorado River.

June started out crazy busy with Chelsie volunteering for BOEC and the Brain Injury Alliance’s Adventure Camp, where they take people with traumatic brain injuries outdoors for various activities.  Rafting down the Colorado River, Cycling, & the Ropes Course, are a few of the many activities they provide these campers during a week long stay at BOEC’s Griffith Lodge.  Chelsie volunteered for several weeks this year, Mike and I were on the river with them as well as visiting during the other activities.  Click Here to watch the video from Chelsie’s first week at the Adventure camp where she was a buddy to others with brain injuries.

Mike also guided several families and groups this summer in the back-country and up to mountain tops.  New friends were made and our hope is that they visit us again in the future.

My sister, Wendy, arrived at the end of June and we made this whirl wind tour of Mod 20120705 - Christmas 2012 - 0087everything I could think of close by to entertain her.  Started out at Tabor’s Matchless Mine & Baby Doe’s Cabin in Leadville and ended with her first summit moment on the top of Mt. Sherman at an elevation of 14,036ft.

July & August:

July was a bittersweet month… with loss of jobs it became challenging finding new ones, however it gave us some time off to enjoy this state that we love so much.  We were able to take the pup on several adventures… camping trips, climbs up mountain peaks and memorable jeep trips with spectacular scenery and epic photo opportunities.  They say “Everything happens for a reason”…  and I truly believe that.  This loss of our jobs was a happy and healthy change for us, with new jobs finding their way into our lives in the near future… it had a positive impact on our lives.

August was filled with Mike taking more friends out on adventures… trips to Mohawk Lakes & Continental Falls, McCullough Gulch, and on the Colorado River.  But the best part of August was that my dad and his lady came to visit us at the end of the month.  During their visit we drove them up Mt. Evans, Pikes Peak, and went to the Garden of the Gods, which neither Mike nor I had ever gone before.  It was a short visit, but we enjoyed every moment of it!

September & October:

I think these months were are very busiest and most photographed…  In September we took 2 extended camping/jeep trips, spending 5 and 6 nights out at a time.

20120906_2590Our first adventure was our jeep trip to Marble, Crested Butte, and in to Aspen.  The trip for me was an epic one… shooting approximately 6,000 images, mostly of the Crystal Mill, which is one of the most photographed locations in Colorado.  However, you must have a high clearance 4-wheel drive vehicle to access this place.  We were able to camp 3 nights at a cozy little spot right next to the mill.  At the end of this adventure we camped at Maroon Bells National Park where we had another epic experience as I was able to capture a moose family at the Maroon Bells.  There are a lot of photos of the Bells, however I have never seen a shot any wildlife.  Like I have said numerous times before, there is a lot of luck in photography!  You gotta be at the right place at the right time!

Day adventures included hikes up Mt. Baldy, Peak 9 (for my first Mountain Goat experience), Ten Mile Creek, Peaks Trail, and Blue Lakes.  Our second extended jeep trip took us to the top of Mt. Lincoln and the Bristlecone Scenic Area at Alma then to Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve.

I have fallen in love Bristlecone Pines and am now on a quest to find more of them 20120920_1928to photograph.  Jim Salestrom, an Emmy Award Winning Songwriter who has recorded and performed with John Denver, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Pardon, visited Breckenridge and played a benefit concert for the community dinners at our church, Father Dyer United Methodist.  We met him at our church and heard him sing his song Bristlecone Pine that depicts the life of these twisted, old, remarkable trees.  My plan is to create a video of these trees set to Jim’s song… I hope I can do justice to these trees and Jim’s song.

121016_0470October ended with a bang, when our friends from Mississippi came to visit and then we made a trip to Arkansas where we spent time with family, and going through a lot of “stuff” in storage there.  We still have a lot of “stuff” there but our hope is to be able to move it all to Breck in the near future.

November & December:

After our return from Arkansas we started our new jobs and waited for the snow.  Our early winter ski season was nonexistent and all of us here in Breckenridge were hoping and praying for the snow to arrive.  It finally arrived just in time for a beautiful White Christmas.

We hope all of you have a beautiful Christmas, whether it be white or not, and we hope that you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year to come.

20121126 - Christmas 2012 - 0278

God Bless and the best of everything to you all…

Gail, Mike & Phurba McManus