I'm back to our fair city from a jaunt to Boulder, Colo., and its rarefied atmosphere. Colorado offered up its most interesting weather just for us. One afternoon we were treated to a dramatic thunderstorm with lightning blazing across the sky in multiple directions and ear-splitting blasts of thunder. All of our little kids — three 3 year-olds, one 6-year-old and one 9-year-old — sat at the window watching the extravaganza as if they were in a movie theater. They seemed to be mesmerized by it all, screeching with delight with each roar of thunder.
One lovely, warm day we took a short road trip to Estes Park, where our boisterous group livened up the architecturally grand and historic Stanley Hotel. This classic hotel was built in 1909 by F.O. Stanley of the Stanley Steamer automobile fame.
The 101-year-old hotel, which sits at the edge of the Rocky Mountain National Park, is not only well known for being the inspiration for Stephen King's novel, "The Shining," but is also considered one of the most haunted hotels in America. It is said that the ghost of F.O. Stanley is often seen roaming the bar and front lobby area, while Flora, his wife, still plays the piano in the music room. It is said that their maid, Mrs. Wilson, still "takes care" of guests who stay in room 217 — that is, if they dare!
After lunching in the large dining room (where our youngest travelers were on their best behavior) we drove into Rocky Mountain National Park.
Just a few short miles from the hotel there was an abrupt change in the weather, as the wind whipped into a gale and snow started flying. Deer and elk crossed our path into the meadows below the road we were traveling.
Unfortunately, we didn't see even one big-horned sheep, which I was hoping to encounter — my camera was all primed and ready in my hand just in case. We even waited by a sign that said, "Caution, Sheep Crossing" without success.
This was such a fun outing. When I was a child, my mom and dad took me and my two sisters to Estes and Rocky Mountain National Park, so it was a nostalgic re-visit. It was made even more interesting this time because I do have an Estes line in my genealogy. It was Joel Estes, a very distant cousin of mine, who first came to this area in the early 1800s. He and I share the same portal ancestor, who arrived in Virginia in the 1600s.
While I was animal and ghost hunting in the Rockies, Hathaway-Sycamores' "Shot-at-a-Million" Golf Classic raised $175,000 for children in need.
There is nothing like the challenge of getting a possible hole-in-one and winning a cool million dollars to gather a crowd of eager golfers.
The annual event was held at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Angeles National Golf Course in Sunland. The money raised will help fund educational and therapeutic-treatment programs for the challenged youngsters served by Hathaway-Sycamores.
The fundraiser, which was co-chaired by La Cañada residents and Hathaway-Sycamores board members Dave Battaglia and Brad Freer, attracted some 100 golfers chasing that little white ball across the fairway, over the water hazards and sand traps.
Even though 10 golfers qualified to take a swing at a hole-in-one and instantly become a millionaire, nobody achieved this rare shot.
After the day of golf, the players met up with spouses and friends gathered at the clubhouse for a "19th Hole After-Party" that was attended by 200 Hathaway-Sycamores' supporters. They shared chatter about their golf games, bid on silent-auction items and raffle items.
The most envied raffle prize was a 2010 BMW Mini-Cooper that was won by La Cañada resident and Hathaway-Sycamores board member Scott Monroe. What perfect timing — his daughter turned 16 the day after the raffle. Hmm, I wonder if that adorable Mini will be her car after she passes her driving test.
Bill Martone, Hathaway-Sycamores' president and chief executive, thanked everyone in attendance and applauded their generous support of the group and its efforts to help "children, adolescents and young adults, most of whom have suffered unimaginable trauma — rebuild their lives and become productive citizens."
Freer was presented with the "Travelling Trophy," a prize awarded to the golfer or team that raises the most money. His pledges and sponsorships brought in close to $60,000, which put him at the top of the proceeds list.
Shaquenta Dorothy McDonald, a former Hathaway-Sycamores resident, shared the story of her life with guests at the party. McDonald, now 20, was in the foster-care system from the age of 14, and a longtime victim of abuse. In her senior year of high school, McDonald moved from foster care into Hathaway-Sycamores' Transitional Independent Living Program, through which she was provided housing as well as a job. Today, McDonald is employed at Hathaway-Sycamores and is working toward a degree that will enable her to serve as one of the agency's therapeutic behavioral specialists.