Needles and a Pen » Knitting, Sewing, and Nursing School

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  • Welcome to my blog!

    Hi! I'm Traci. I'm a nursing student and CNA who loves quilting, knitting, cross stitch, Project Life scrapbooking, and the great outdoors. In my pre-scrubs life, I owned Real Photography, and you can still see my old wedding and portrait photography site here .

    I great big puffy heart *love* comments, so please let me know you visited! I try to always reply!

Pulpit Rock Park Hike

Ellie and I went on a mother-daughter hike today, something we are used to doing but that will come to an end now that Will is off for the summer and Ellie will be off to kindergarten in the fall.  It’s crazy to think that the ‘just the two of us’ time that has filled so many of our days since she was born is over.  (I think it’s really only just hitting me as I type that!)  For such a momentous day, at least we had a momentous adventure!

pulpit rock park hiking review

Pulpit Rock Park is a wonderfully accessible trail head conveniently a block away from the Trader Joes I am forever making up excuses to be nearby so I can pick up a few things.  I didn’t do much research about the hike ahead of time, just noticed that no one seemed willing to say how long it was (which I understood once we were there).   I had walked the first half a mile of the trail at a senior portrait photoshoot several years ago, so I remembered the well groomed trail and thought it would be a simple matter of following it to the top.  Once actually hiking, though, I realized that the park has many different trails and forks and that following a single obvious path to the top might not happen.  I asked several people on the way and once at the top about THE trail, and all said versions of “well, I follow this trail, but it disappears on you so you just have to keep going up and eventually you get to the top.”  On the way down I thought for sure I had found The Way, but it disappeared on us and we ended up picking our way back to the trail we’d used on the way up.  This afternoon I found this post that suggests that there is an obvious route if you go up the northeast face of the rock, (the other hikers we saw were all hiking toward the north side of the formation) so I might have to investigate that some day.

Pros:  This trail is wonderfully accessible from the northern part of Colorado Springs, you have a great number of lunch options for afterward in the University Village shopping area across the street, and you can combine the hike with your Costco/Trader Joe errands.  😉  Pulpit Rock was very cool up close and the area surrounding it was pretty.  We saw lots of birds and more flowers than I expected given that most aren’t blooming yet.

Cons:  Because this is right next to I-25, you’ll never get away from the freeway noise.  There is no map on site and the trails are not marked, so making your way with the various forks and disappearing trails could be stressful with young children.  I found this map online, but it doesn’t seem particularly accurate to our experience–we followed that .05 trail down from the rock, but it didn’t connect in an obvious way to the others.  (To be fair, we’ve had a lot of rain in the last few weeks so it’s possible that the trail had eroded away).  I also assumed that the most obvious trail simply had to meet up with the car-tracks style path we’d followed on the way up, so on the way down we went east on the path.  Instead of meeting up, though, it ended in a housing development.  We crossed through the meadow and crossed the stream to head back on the best groomed walkway (which, unless you live in the subdivision it ends at, you would never actually walk on if go from the parking lot to the summit).  The route Ellie and I took looked something like this:

pulpit rock map

Distance/Difficulty:  Following the map, this could be a 2 mile hike.  It could also be longer if you get lost.  😛  The beginning of the hike is gentle, with a steep push at the end to get to the top.  Given the difficulty of finding and following the trails, I would give this a moderate difficulty rating (keeping a Family Hike grading scale in mind).

From I-25 going south, take the Nevada Ave exit and take a left to go south on N Nevada Ave.  At the first light take a left (confusingly onto N Nevada Ave) and go north past the Harley-Davidson dealership and Luisa Graff Jewelers.  The trailhead parking lot is next to a power station.  If you get to Woodmen Rd you’ve gone too far north.

Trail Teaching:

  • Changing plantlife along the hike.  There are also many birds to identify, particularly once you make it to the top.
  • I didn’t look up the geology of Pulpit Rock before we left (I wanted to beat the late morning clouds), but this site has extensive information about the formation.




There was plenty of evidence of our recent rain!


If you don’t take the first right fork and instead stay on the most northern trail, shortly after you cross this bridge there is a small fork to the right (south)–you’ll want to take this as after this the only way to get closer to Pulpit Rock is to cross the creek and possibly lose your wagon, provisions, and one child to the current.


 Looking back at the northernmost East-West path:



Your mission:







 Finding our own way after our trail disappeared I kept thinking of that scene in Tenth Kingdom where the daughter says “I didn’t know it was a race” and the dad says “I didn’t know that was a trail.”


Bird nests at the top:









Looking back along the ridgetop:




When your mom is usually a “stay on the trail” stickler and then this hike is all “well, I guess if we cut through here we should meet up with that trail over there” your smile gets pretty big:


Almost at the car!


Further Reading: The hike is popular among locals, so there are many summaries online including this one and the summary that suggested that there is an obvious route on the NE face of the rock formation.

Fran Cooper - Beautiful pictures. Thanks for the laughs thrown in there, too!!

Kelly Henry - And I’m bluebell the troll, Terrified throughout the 9 kingdoms!

Summer Goals

This summer is a major respite from the otherwise insanity of trying to work and earn my nursing degree.  It will be brief, though, and this fall and spring semesters will likely drop me into the most serious time-juggling challenge of my life.  So I’m trying to do as many of the crafty things on my dream list as I can this summer, and that includes making garments from these 7 patterns:

modern patterns

I have made many skirts for myself, and a handful of dresses for Ellie, but this summer I really wanted to tackle making shirts and dresses for myself.  I’m 1/7th of the way to my goal with the completion of my Linden, and I think The Date Night Dress will be next.  I’m having some second thoughts about the flutter sleeve and the very low cut under the arm, so I hope I’ll be happy with the finished product!  I’m planning on using this lightweight chambray from Fancy Tiger:

the date night dress pattern

Currently on the studio floor is this quilt top.

moda central park quilt

In the interest of finishing abandoned projects, I sewed these strips together and added a border to it, thinking that would be the finished quilt top.  I’m unsure of it like this, though, and will probably add some solid shape appliques to the top of it.  I’m debating between flowers and animal shapes.  I’ll have to see what looks best!


This is why I am a camping brat.


I posted recently that I’m a bit of a campsite snob.  Great campsites are what make my world turn.  I was sorting through pictures for some of these campsite reviews and stumbled upon the reason I am so very ruined for 99% of campsites.  The weekend we turned 30, my sister-in-law and I went backpacking with our husbands on the side of Mt Rainier in the Spray Park area.  I feel like once you’ve camped like this, it’s hard to go back…






mt rainier backpacking

erica - Ugh. These are unbearably gorgeous. PNW would be the only spot in the states that would ever entice me to move and spots like this are the reason why!

Star Trek Pajamas

I made these Star Trek for the pajamas a summer (or two?) ago.  Women’s pajama pants in a different Star Trek print were supposed to immediately follow that project, but, you know…life.

star trek pajamas

They miraculously pushed past their neglected status today and were finished…

star trek pajama pants

Modeling pajamas comes naturally to me.  😛


Fran Cooper - “Modeling pajamas comes naturally to me”. Bwah hah ha!

Mueller State Park Campground Review

Mueller State Park campground is Nic’s favorite place to tent camp in Colorado.  It’s nearby, clean, and has great facilities.  By camping in the tent only campsite loops you get the best of both worlds–all the facilities of a larger RV friendly campground with none of the noise and visual clutter of RVs!  As a park it doesn’t have much to offer in the way of great hikes or activities (compared to somewhere like the Sand Dunes), but if you just want a great weekend camping, this is a wonderful spot.  It’s also not hard to find nearby activities to keep you busy if you want to leave the park.

mueller state park campground review and tips

Pros:  The tent-only sites are great, and a very short walk from the parking area.  The facilities are awesome–although there is a vault toilet at the end of the loop, it’s just a short walk down to real toilets.  I have a decent fear of a poop monster lunging up and eating me while I sit on a vault toilet, so having a rustic tent-only campsite that is a five minute walk from a real flushing toilet is the dream.  You’re completely sheltered from the RV area and won’t hear a single generator.

Cons:  You have to pay for both the campsite and Mueller State Park access, so you’re hit with two fees.

Campsite recommendations:  We like to stay at Prospector’s Ridge, since it is a slightly shorter walk from the car to the campsites (and we lug a lot of stuff when we tent camp) and it’s a perfectly reasonable walk to flushing toilets.  We stay at Site 57, which is a nice large campsite with lots of aspens off the back of it for the kids to play in.  You’re separated by trees from site 59, but see a lot of site 55 (and some of 56).  The downside to staying near the beginning of the loop is that you’ll hear a lot of foot traffic going back and forth to the bathroom, but the upside is that shorter walk in with your stuff.  The other tent only loop, Turkey Meadows, offers more sweeping views, but a longer walk in to the site and it’s not convenient to the flush toilets/shower area.  We think the campsites would be beautiful in the fall–lots of opportunities to spot fall foliage.

Facilities:   Vault toilets and a water spigot at the tent only loop trailheads (when the water works) and a new large ‘shower house’ with showers, flush toilets, sinks, and washing machines/dryers.  It has a large playground next to it that is a big hit with the kids when we wash dishes or get ready in the morning.

Nearby activities:






The nearby Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument with its petrified forest:


The nearby Hornbek Homestead (link to an article about the Hornbeks and the free to the public museum).  We lucked out and managed to tag onto the last 5 minutes of the last tour of the day :


Beccy - So I just checked your blog after a long time and am so excited about all your posts since we just moved here this winter and I want to do a whole lot more hiking/camping/exploring with my brood and have had no idea where ro start. Yay!!!! Thank you. I think we have only done lne of these so far.

The Crags Trail – Divide, Colorado

The Crags Trail is a fantastic hike for while you’re camping at nearby Mueller Park.  It follows the Four Mile Creek valley to the Crag formations on the ‘back side’ of Pikes Peak.

the crags trail hike review

Pros:  This is a great hike with lots of variability in the scenery.  It’s a nice length for elementary school aged children and the Crag formations at the top are a good pay-off for your efforts.

Cons:  The distance from Colorado Springs is the only thing that keeps us from enjoying this hike more often.

Distance/Difficulty:  4 miles, approximately 800 ft elevation gain.  The majority of the hike is flat-ish, with the major push to the top at the end.  This is a moderate difficulty hike for little legs, though Ellie made it to the top without being carried at 3.  (She was carried on the way home…and she promptly fell Floppy Level Asleep in Nic’s arms.)

Directions:  From Colorado Springs Trails:  “Take US-24 west and turn left at traffic light in Divide. Drive south on US-67 for about 4 miles. Turn left to CR-62 right after you pass the entrance to Mueller State park on the right. Drive 3 miles on the dirt road and you will see the new trailhead parking lot on the right side. Crags campground located 1/4 of a mile further down the road is no longer used as the official trailhead.”

Trail Teaching:

  • The first part of the trail is part of a route to the summit of Pikes Peak.  Pikes Peak Granite is molten rock created approximately 1 billion years ago by volcanoes.  The magma cooled into the Precambrian Pikes Peak Granite igneous intrusion known as the Pikes Peak Batholith.  The magma was buried about 2 miles underground, so it took thousands of years to cool.  The Crags are parts of this formation that have been exposed as the sedimentary rock above the Pikes Peak Batholith have eroded away.  The formations were created by vertical fractures in the granite caused by stresses like the initial uplift of the Front Range (called the Laramide Orogeny).  (This type of mountain building is responsible for the initially horizontal layers of rock being tilted upward and exposed in vertical layers.)  Fractures allow water to seep in, freeze and expand, widen the fracture, and eventually break the granite apart in vertical slabs.






Four mile creek hidden under ice and snow:



Further reading:  Colorado Springs Trails and Every Trail have a good summary and Colorado Photo Hikes has a great number of photos.