Blessings; too numerous to count   1 comment

A recent photo of Estes Park, Co., along the Big Thompson River, (Nov. 2015) photo credit; Joyce E. Johnson

A recent photo of Estes Park, Co., along the Big Thompson River, (Nov. 2015) photo credit; Joyce E. Johnson

I don’t count the years,

but, the memories I do.

I won’t dwell on times of sadness

that come with pain and tears,

but on the happy,

too numerous to count

that bring me joy and gladness,

for those that crippled me with fear

are all but gone; now in the past,

and for this day, I hope

that for the blessings which are many

I savor all, forgetting none

and though my life, not yet passed

anticipates the new, I’ll remember any,

and be thankful for them all

however great or few.


Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

As we near the Thanksgiving Day holiday in the U.S. (Nov. 26) I think upon the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, and know there are many who are afraid, live in fear of things that have happened, or things that still could, like more attacks where they live. Or maybe there are fears of another kind that grips one, and holds their mind hostage to those fears, so they cannot enjoy their lives now, or find things to be thankful for. I am so thankful to have the assurance that God has all under control, and holds all my tomorrows in the palm of His hand. It is that one thing I count as my greatest blessing in this country. Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate it this year.  



Lord, may I reflect   2 comments

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Lord, may I reflect

a heart of love, full of grace,

and my words a balm

to comfort a hurting soul,

like a refuge and safe place.


There are times when we are at a loss for words to say, or to help someone when they are overcome with grief and sadness. As the world has watched, and Paris has witnessed the death and destruction from this last weekend’s events we can only stand in quiet, mourning with them in their loss.

We can pray for those surviving these attacks, those who witnessed the carnage and death of friends or family that they will be comforted in their grief, that they will receive the needed support and help as they struggle to make sense of such chaos and confusion. I think to myself, What more can I say or do, but pray for those affected, in Paris or wherever it happens, here or abroad. God can give us a word for one when it is needed; a word or message of hope, encouragement, comfort if we reflect His image of love, trust and kindness in us. But, ultimately above all it is our prayers that count most, because prayer is what changes everything. It can change a heart, a life, a people, a nation, a world and its outcome.


Joyce E. Johnson (2015)   



Veterans Day   3 comments


Three Vietnam War veterans we met a few years ago at a Vietnam war memorial service in Fort Collins, Co.


The traveling Vietnam War memorial wall with over 53,000 names listed of all the soldiers who died in that war between 1965-1975


Sometimes we forget,

take for granted what you did;

your service and time

while defending our freedoms

to keep us safe and secure.


Thank you to all our veterans

Have a blessed Veterans Day


Joyce E. Johnson © 2015

Hiking trails   2 comments





My husband and daughter with our dogs under the huge ‘Keyhole’ arched rock. The west side of Loveland can be seen from this point.


A resting point at the top of the ‘Keyhole’ on Devil’s Backbone trail west of Loveland. The bench felt good after the hike up the steep slope.

The above photos were taken while hiking a trail called Devil’s Backbone, named for the unusual shape and ridges along the rock ledge as it looks like a large backbone. Why it’s called the devil’s backbone, I don’t know, but lies at the top of the trail near the large rock opening called the ‘Keyhole.’  When standing under the arched rock one has a good view of the west side of Loveland. The trail is just one of many that run parallel along the front range in Loveland and Fort Collins for several miles popular with hikers and bicyclists anytime during the warmer months. We took this hike in September. It is a total of 3 mi. up and back from the starting point to the top of the ‘Keyhole’.

Unlike the sport of mountain climbing with people climbing the ‘fourteeners’ (mountains over 14,000 + ft. elevation) here in Colorado hikers are not allowed to climb these huge rock formations and boulders because of the preservation of the natural areas designated just for walking, hiking and bicycling.

Since having my second total knee replacement earlier in the summer I kept up, but with a slower pace than my husband, our daughter and our dogs on the path, over rocks and boulders, up the steep trail to the ‘keyhole,’ using my walking stick. After gaining more strength and balance from weeks of therapy I was able to slowly get back to hiking and walking the trails I’ve enjoyed in our region along the front range.


Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

Succumbing to nature’s twist of fate   5 comments


I took this photo up on our mountain property in the northwest part of Colorado where we have about four acres. We have a lot of trees and boulders and the scenery is beautiful, but in the last several years the pine beetle has destroyed much of the area’s trees in our mountains west of here, and elsewhere throughout the Colorado Rockies. The pine beetle eats through the bark into the interior of the tree until much of the tree has rotted so bad from the infestation it will crack and split open, fall over and roots dry up never to produce again. The beetles will move from tree to tree in close proximity and spread across an entire section. In large sections where the disease has spread the trees have to be cut down and the wood removed or burned to prevent it from spreading to healthy trees. Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park has a lot of dense tree sections where they have done this. Even the healthiest and most beautiful trees in the forests can become victims to this disease. More information on this can be found here.

We found this tree split and fallen over from the spread of the disease before it could be cut down with the chain saw used to thin out the trees when they get too thick, or die off. The pine beetles chewed right through it until it could no longer stand on its own. Looking at the wood closely we could see the tiny burrowing holes in it made by the pine beetle. There was nothing of the tree that remained but broken splintered chunks of wood, so was gathered up and added to our campfire burn slash pile.




The lot next to ours had a huge old tree that we determined could be over 100 yrs. old. The above photo is one taken of this tree after it became stricken with the disease stripping it of its bark and burrowing into its roots till it dried up and shriveled to what looked like mere skeletal remains . It saddened us to see such a beautiful old giant suffer such a death.


Joyce E. Johnson (2015)


A quiet retreat   7 comments


This photo was taken of the Cache la Poudre River near the Bighorn cabins where we stayed. Photo credit: Joyce E. Johnson


The cabin we stayed in beside the river. Photo credit: Joyce E. Johnson



I took this photo from the top of the Elkhorn Creek trail we hiked. The Mummy Range can be seen from where we stood at about 8,000 – 9,000 ft. elevation. Photo credit: Joyce E. Johnson

The beginning point of the Elkhorn Creeks trail where we started our climb up the mountain.

The beginning point of the Elkhorn Creek trail where we started our climb up the mountain. Photo credit: Joyce E. Johnson









That's me while on the Elkhorn Creek trail. My husband took this photo.

That’s me while on the Elkhorn Creek trail. My husband took this photo.

For two days one recent weekend we enjoyed fresh air, rest and solitude in the mountains of northwestern Colorado, fifty miles from where we live in the city (Loveland). We booked a wonderful, quiet little cabin at the Bighorn Cabins in Bellvue. It is close to a little village like community town called Rustic, along the winding, climbing county highway 14, at an altitude of 7-10,000 ft.

We had two days to explore and hike on the trails nearby and the weather was perfect with the warm sunshine to our backs, and the cooler autumn breezes blowing through the canyon and down along the Cache la Poudre River towards late afternoon and evening. The trees had already peaked in their autumn colors, and the golden Aspens were beginning to dry up with leaves falling, piling up along the road, river or trail paths.

Northwestern Colorado is a favorite vacation spot even during the autumn months after the summer tourism season ends because of the autumn colors seen in the changing trees. There are hunters who come up to hunt elk, deer or moose, and the fishermen trying their luck at catching that one good trout or bass before the cold season sets in for the winter. And of course, one cannot forget the bears who roam about getting their fill during the fall feeding frenzy before hibernation. Although we did not spot a bear while on our hikes we kept our eyes open and alert to any wildlife that shared the open space with us. The deer and elk are plentiful in these parts and beautiful to watch. The bears? Well, we know they’re somewhere, maybe not far, so we’ll keep our distance, and allow them plenty of space.

For more information on the Bighorn Cabins and rental rates, or for reservations, you can find it here. For information on the Cache La Poudre River you can find it here. It is a wonderful vacation place to visit.


Joyce E. Johnson (2015)


Autumn’s crowning gold



This photo was taken while on a walking trail at River’s Edge, Loveland, Colorado. The interesting thing about this photo is that when it was taken it was already growing dark, just past sunset. My husband took this photo and used the flash so we thought it interesting it could get this much light, so there was maybe more distortion than if taken in brighter light.    Photo credit: TW Johnson



  I watch the changing

of the trees dressed in golden

coats of leaves, and wish

it not a season passing,

but unending, reigning crown.


Joyce E. Johnson © 2015


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