June 19, 2008

We got up at 3:30 am and went to pick up Joseph, Alex, and Savanna. They had no idea we were taking them on a trip. They thought we were going to Tulsa because Tony had to pick up something for work. We already had their suitcases in the truck. Just before we got to Tulsa we stopped at a McDonalds! To eat breakfast. While we were eating Tony said, “I don’t feel like working. I would rather go on a vacation.” I said where would you like to go? He said Colorado. We looked at the kids and asked them if they would like to go to Colorado. The just looked at us funny and said ARE YOU SERIOUS??? Tony said yeah, I don’t want to work for the next 10 days, let’s DO IT! The kids just kept saying ARE YOU SERIOUS!! Then we told them we had tickets to fly out in less than an hour and they finally believed us. Ha We got to the airport parking and took a shuttle over to the airport, and I think it finally set in with them that we really were going. We all got checked in and our boarding passes and through security with no problems. We found our gate and everyone went to the bathroom with one of us staying out to watch our carry-on bags. It was only a few minutes before they started to board and Tony said, OK everyone, get your bag and follow me to the plane. Everyone did as told except JOSEPH, he didn’t have a bag!! We looked around and it was sitting just outside the bathroom!! It is a wonder that we weren’t all called into security for that. He didn’t realize he had left it. I was thinking Oh Boy, this is going to be harder than I thought! Ha

We were on a packed plane all the way out here. We landed in Denver about noon and made our way to the car rental place. We had rented a luxury SUV for the space we were going to need and it said a Cadillac Escalade or equivalent and having rented quite a few cars we figured it would be a Suburban or a Jeep. The lady drove up in the Cadillac Escalade and took a look at our luggage and how many we had and said “Wait, I’ll be right back.” She came back with the Cadillac Escalade Extended Cab!! Yippee We Scored!!  Same price too, they must have been slow. It sure is a nice ride. We took the by-pass around Denver and came north to Loveland. We stopped at a Sonic and ate lunch and then went next door to the Wal-Mart. We bought a cooler and sodas, snacks, and grapes and nuts to feed the birds and chipmunks. We headed towards Estes Park going through the Big Thompson Canyon. Our first stop was at “The Best Store By a Dam Site”.   We had been there before with our kids when they were little. We just looked around for a bit and headed on up to Estes. When we arrived the weather was beautiful and a nice low 70°. We checked in at the Silver Moon Motel. We had stayed here about 20 years ago. It sits right at the end of all the shops, and right behind the Spruce House Christmas Shop where I had bought my first 4 pieces of the Dickens Village Christmas collection. The motel had been re-done and is very nice. The Fall River runs right through the front yard and makes several curves with that great water sound! After sitting and looking at that for a while and watching the kids play on a swing set / playground we walked down town stopping at several shops like the rock shop and a few t-shirt shops. They got Mountain cookies. Then Tony took the boys to a shop and let them buy knives to carry in their pockets that have all kinds of stuff on them like tweezers and screw drivers and openers. They both were happy about them. Savanna and I had gone to a toy store and when we walked into the shop where the boys were at the knife counter Joseph had blood and a band-aid on his finger!! This was before he even picked one out. Couldn’t buy a knife with blood on it so he got another one. Ha We decided to eat at Bob & Tony’s Pizza for dinner. They opened in 1952 and the walls are all brick inside. People from all over the world have signed their names on the walls and ceiling including us, our kids and now the grandkids. Right after leaving there we walked over to the ice cream shop. Joseph and Savanna both got a fresh made waffle cone ice cream. Savanna got bubble gum and I think Joseph got a mint one. Alex wasn’t hungry for pizza or ice cream. I think all the looking and curves on the road made him a little car sick, he didn’t say but I think that may have been it. He just said he wasn’t hungry. So we came back to the motel and the kids got in the pool and we got in the hot tub for a while. I hadn’t slept the night before and we had been hard at it for over 16 hours and all of us were beat. I went to sleep the same time Tony did!! (Or close to it)

June 20, 2008

Tony got up around 7:30 and it was cold here so he took the kids out for breakfast and then bought them all a sweatshirt. When they got back to the motel I was up and about ready. We sat out by the river for a few minutes so I could wake up and have a cigarette. The rooms are all non-smoking here and most every where now so I wanted my big glass of ice water and cigarette to get going. We drove to the Safeway store and went to the deli there and had some sandwiches made to have a picnic in Rocky Mountain National Park. We took the long slow way up and saw elk and deer and stopped at beautiful waterfalls. We saw fly fishermen and drove up and up and the temp went lower and lower. We pulled off several times to take pictures and it was a pretty chilly 64° where we were. We started seeing snow about half way up and Savanna took lots of pictures. We had bought each one a throw away camera to let them get shots of what they wanted. We were also taking pictures but wanted to see from their eyes too. We got them each a notebook to keep a journal too. We drove up to 12,400 ft. to the Alpine Store and Lookout on top of the mountain. The kids got to put their hands and feet in some snow there. We were above the tree line and still plenty of snow to see. The locals said that there isn’t usually this much snow left in the end of June but they had had a lot of snow this year and a mild spring. We didn’t stay long. We drove back down to Bear Lake and walked back there on a hiking path a little ways to a spot by the lake with a bench and some big rocks and had our picnic. A chipmunk came up and tried to get some crumbs but left pretty quickly. We had the kids sit on a bench for a few minutes as we were leaving so that Tony and I could grab a smoke. We got in the car and was going to drive around the parking lot to go back and pick them up. They saw us back out and thought we were going to leave them!! Ha We said we used to leave our kids all the time! Ha We made a couple of more stops trying to feed the chipmunks and birds but had no luck. There were signs everywhere too that said it was illegal to feed the animals. Alex and Savanna had taken plenty of pictures of all the elk and deer and vistas but Joseph hadn’t taken any. At this stop he jumped up and ran over to take a picture of a DUCK walking on the path! We all just laughed at him. We have had ducks in our back yard in Arkansas and he waits to take a picture with all the other wildlife around of a duck. We went back to the motel and the kids got in the pool and we sat in a swing by the river and read our books. But in just a few pages and swings our eyes were soooo sleepy we couldn’t read anymore and just sat and listened to the river! It was very relaxing. About 6:00 we decided to walk back downtown and eat at Penelope’s World Famous Hamburger Joint. It is 50 years old. We have been here many times and the shakes and burgers and fries are to die for. It’s a small place but good. Joseph had a cherry milkshake there. After we walked and shopped for a while the kids wanted to go to the fudge shop. Joseph got 3 pieces, one was Oreo and cream, a mint and some kind of chocolate fudge. Alex got Thin Mint, and Savanna didn’t want fudge but got a chunk of milk chocolate bar. Tony got a cookie. We got back to the motel and tonight the motel was having a marshmallow roast. Savanna was the only one that wanted any and she had a couple of Smores. The boys whittled on some sticks for a while. We came back to the room and read while the kids wrote in their journals. Then we all played a few hands of 4 Kings and at 10:00 called it a night. It’s been great fun so far and the kids are being great. Not sure what tomorrow is going to bring but I’m sure we will have a good time.  Oh yeah, I forgot, on the way out of the Park we also stopped by a fur and rug/gift store and Savanna bought a little “dream box” that has a picture carved into the top. It’s only about 2” diameter and 1” tall. They all started with $25.00 that Libby had put in their bags but Joseph had a little more on him when we left so he got another knife. Alex didn’t have the money to get one, and seemed a little upset or sad about that.  I took him to the side and told him that when we travel we leave all upset and mad, bad moods at home and pick them up when we get home. He did exactly that and I was VERY, VERY proud of him for doing that. (He didn’t show me one other time on the trip that he was mad or upset.) I also told Tony to get him the knife he wanted the next day. Alex has also been very helpful with everything, like asking if he could carry things or opening doors, keeping a close eye on Savanna. I couldn’t be more proud of him.

June 21, 2008

Tony and the kids got up early and went to a place called the Grub Stake for breakfast, Savanna had waffles, Alex had an omelet, and Joseph had an egg, bacon croissant. Tony had eggs, bacon, sausage, and pancakes. He said the kids ate most of his plate! Ha Tony then found me a better insulated water mug and came back to the motel. I was just getting up, and the kids wanted to go for a swim. Joseph didn’t go but whittled on some pine. We sat out by the river and all of a sudden a Kayaker went flying by! It was so quick I almost didn’t have time to see him or tell the others to turn around. He didn’t make a sound as he went by. I didn’t have a chance to grab a camera. We drove across town to a place called Fun City that has been there for years and years. We also took our kids here. The first thing the kids did was go cart ride. Tony and Savanna rode together and Alex was by himself. His cart really sucked and went so slow. Joseph didn’t want to go so he stayed with me and we took pictures. Then the all the kids went on bumper boats and were soaked when they got off! Ha People on the outside of the bumper boats could shoot water cannons at the boaters and one guy just kept shooting at Savanna and saying “Look I’m hitting that little girl”. He quit before I went over to kick him in the butt! Ha Good thing for him too! Next we decided to play 18 holes of Putt Putt Golf. It was a gorgeous day and the temp was perfect so the kids dried out quickly. Earlier in the day we had walked downtown to the library to e-mail Libby. Joseph had gotten a text message from them earlier that they had arrived in Rome and had hit the ground running! I was happy to hear they were there. We next took the kids to another section of Fun City where they had a bungee trampoline. The attendants would jump up and pull hard then let go and they flew way up, about 30 feet in the air!!! The attendant would move out of the way until they needed a little more push. This was one kid at a time. Savanna was first and she was so light, it didn’t take much to get her to go very high. She was doing back flips on the way up and down! She never made a sound though and said she loved it. Alex was next and he loved it too, but wasn’t able to back flip and you could tell his stomach was in his throat but he said he loved it too and that it was like a roller coaster only X10! Then Joseph’s turn and the attendant jumped up high a couple of times and the third time he jumped real high and landed flat on his back and then let go of Joseph!! I wish you could have seen the look on his face. He went real high and his head turned side to side looking around as if to say “What the HELL am I doing up here?” Ha-ha Just before doing the bungee thing they had climbed about 100 steps to come down a huge slide that 8 or more can come down at the same time. They had a good time with that one even with the altitude and the steps. I was sure glad they waited for lunch until after doing all these things. We went to the Estes Pub and Brewery for lunch right after. Savanna ordered chicken fingers and on the first bite lost a tooth! Tony and I ordered a cup of beer chili and I got a beer brat with kraut and German mustard. Joseph ordered a whole pizza and ate it!!! Alex ordered a cheeseburger. Tony had slider hamburgers. It was all good. We were full and left to get some swimmers ears medicine for Alex. We came back to the motel and the kids went swimming and Tony and I read. Joseph whittled some more and this time he whittled a knife shape. Savanna and I went to the Spruce Christmas House, it was a very special day for me to be able to take her there. I wanted to get her an ornament to remember this day at this place with me. We spent well over an hour looking at each ornament and she had picked out a kitty cat in a basket one, but later found the stack inside of a stack cats. I saw an ornament with six snowmen behind a picket fence, where you could have the names you wanted painted on them. I bought two of those and one with just two. On the one with just two I had Granny and PaPa put on it, the next one with six, I had Bill, Olivia, John, Brandy, Kay and Tony and 2008. Then on the third I had Joseph, Alex, Savanna, Sofia, Oliver, and Owen. When we got back to the motel and I told Tony I had found the perfect ornaments and pulled them out, Alex was standing there and his eyes got real big and he said NO WAY!!!! They had ornaments with our whole family’s names on them???!! We all laughed and told him we had it done. He said “Whew, that scared me when they knew about Owen already!” Ha We all had a good laugh. They went back swimming and we read some more. I think I was watching the river more than reading though. Tony and I got in the hot tub for a while and watched the kids play in the pool. After everyone got out of the pool we stopped at the marshmallow roast again and the kids had about 3 smores. Joseph had a huge cookie with chocolate in the center and we all ate on some salt water taffy. Everyone took showers and left to walk to town and eat dinner. We went back to the Grub Stake and just had appetizers instead of a meal. We walked back to the motel and everyone was too tired to play cards tonight and just went to bed. Alex mentioned that he may have left the bag with his tooth brush at the airport 3 days ago! Oh My, I’ll leave on that note for today.

June 22, 2008

We got up this morning and started our drive to Breckenridge. We took the back roads and took our time stopping a couple of times. We didn’t eat breakfast today and instead decided to stop in Central City or Black Hawk to eat lunch. We couldn’t find any place except inside the casinos. So we kept on going to Idaho Springs. We found a place called Tommy Knockers. The theme told the story about the little elves that used to steal the miners lunches until the miners started to leave them food and then the elves would show the miners where the gold or ore was. Tony and I had a tomato artichoke and cheese soup. We split a Philly steak sandwich and had fresh garlic French fries. It was very good. Alex ordered a spicy sausage sandwich, Savanna had a cheese Quesada. Joseph had a Philly steak sandwich also. We left there and drove on into Breckenridge but our room wouldn’t be ready until 3:00, so we walked downtown and shopped a little. The kids watched a mime that was juggling. Tony wanted and ice cream so we stopped in a little shop. The boys wanted to try a mocha latte. The waitress didn’t want to serve them caffeine, but I said it was ok. Alex said his was ok, and Joseph thought it was terrible! Ha We got back to the hotel and decided to find the pool. It’s cold and off and on rainy here today. We’re staying in a two bedroom condo here at the Village of Breckenridge. So we went to the store and got some milk and orange juice, rolls and stuff for breakfast for the 3 mornings we will be here. We stopped to eat at Bubba Gump’s for dinner. The restaurant is decorated with stuff from the movie and it’s a fun place to eat. We all had seafood for dinner, I had shrimp six ways, coconut, fried, scampi, cocktail, boiled, grilled. I couldn’t eat anything else with the dinner. We had all shared an appetizer of corn crab balls. Joseph had a dish that was called Boat Trash. It had fried shrimp, lobster, and mahi mahi. I also had a drink that was a pomegranate margarita, and Tony had a Delta Sunset one that had raspberry. Very good stuff. I have a sore heel so when we got back to the condo I stayed here and soaked my feet in the tub while Tony took the kids to the pool. When they got back we all played some cards and the kids went to bed. We are not sure what we’re doing tomorrow. Sofia’s birthday is tomorrow so we will call her.

June 23, 2008

The kids and Tony got up and had breakfast here at the condo. We got in the car and drove to Copper Mountain. That is the only area that had a ski lift running. All the other areas still have too much snow left to be open. So none of the alpine slides were open that we had hoped to take the kids down. Tony, Savanna, and Alex got on the lift chair first and Joseph and I got on the next one. Savanna, Joseph, and I had to take our shoes off as we had flip flops on and no spares if we dropped one! It was a beautiful ride up. It was so quiet and peaceful. I enjoyed the ride with Joseph, in hopes that he will one day come back here and ride up that chair lift when it’s winter and he can think of me. Then ski back down the hill and laugh about the fact that on the way up we saw trees on the sides where people had thrown mardi gras beads and BRAS in the tops of the trees as they went by! Ha When we got to the top of the mountain we went in the restaurant and had water and sodas and some snacks. Alex made a snowball and then got some in his shoe! Joseph picked up some sticks to whittle. He hasn’t been able to use his knife in a couple of days. On the way down Savanna and I rode together, and the view of the town below as you are coming down is fantastic. We then drove over to Vail, one of my favorite towns. I love the European look of it. We wandered around a little and then went to lunch at a German restaurant that Tony & I had been to before with Brandy & John a few years ago. Joseph, Alex, and I had both veal and pork brats with spazzle (fried German noodles) and red cabbage and kraut. It was very yummy. We went shopping after that and Alex and Tony found sweatshirts. Savanna bought a Web-Kins animal of some kind. We then stopped by an ice cream shop and Tony got a mango pineapple yogurt. It was delicious. We headed back to the condo to do some laundry. Thank goodness there is one on the same floor as our condo and I won’t have to sit in a Laundromat. It’s been cool and on and off rainy this afternoon so everyone just chilled and watched TV until the laundry was done. Tony even had a little nap. We left and went downtown to eat at Eric’s, a famous bar for their hot wings. They are the hottest we have ever had and  we go there every time we’re in town. It says right on the menu, no returns on the hot wings, they are hot hot so know before you order them. Lots of famous people eat there. The kids went to the arcade part of the restaurant to play some games and Joseph came back first. When he walked up to our table he went “WHEW, what’s that smell??” Ha He wanted to try one, so we “instructed” him on the proper way to eat a wing from Erick’s. The first thing is to not breathe in if it is closer than a foot from your mouth. Then after you grab a celery stick and take a big scoop of blue cheese on it to cool off your mouth. Ha-ha He ate one and liked it!! So we called Little Tony to tell him of our newest member to the Erick’s Hot Wing Club. It’s like a rite of passage to survive eating one. Little Tony was proud of him. I just ordered a salad for dinner to cool my mouth. It was a huge bowl, like what would serve a family of four Greek salad that was great. The rest got sandwiches or burgers. When we got done there, it was too late for the kids to go swimming and Savanna was sad about that but we just watched TV until their bedtime. They say it’s almost 90° in Denver, but we have had jackets on almost all day. Not sure what tomorrow will bring.

June 24, 2008

Tony and the kids got up and ate here again and when I got up we drove over by Mary’s Lake to Keystone. Tony stopped to pick up a couple of sticks for the boys to whittle on. Tony and the kids needed to use the bathroom so we stopped by the lake at one. When they came back the kids were all grossed out as this was an “outhouse” style restroom! Ha We drove on into Keystone. We didn’t recognize the place. It had built up so much. It was early and no shops were open so we just walked around a little and showed the kids where Little Tony and Kay and Brandy and John like to come to go night skiing. We drove back to Breckenridge and went to eat at a place called “Fatty’s”. Joseph, Tony and I had cream of wild mushroom soup and sandwiches. I had steak sandwich, Joseph had meatball, and Tony had chicken salad. Alex ordered lasagna and a salad and Savanna had buttered noodles. Then we went downtown and went shopping for a little while. Joseph found a sweatshirt that he liked and so did Savanna. After we got those we came back to the condo and Joseph and I went to the computer room and the rest went to the pool. After we got done with our e-mails we went to the pool too. There was an indoor pool that you could swim under the wall and get to an outdoor area of the pool. They had several hot tubs and it was warm enough to be outside in the sun. The air was pretty cool on the parts of your skin that wasn’t in the water but otherwise a really nice day. The kids played and played in the water. We got out and got in the hot tub for a while. Then we laid out in the sun and read our books. The kids dried off and went to the exercise room and we just couldn’t get over how much energy they had! Ha We came back to the room and crashed for a while and Alex fell asleep! When dinner time came we just walked across the street to a Mexican place called Mi Casa. We’ve eaten there before and it was good but tonight was different. So much so that Tony left no tip and wrote on the receipt “Because of Bad Service”. I’ve never seen him do that before. But I’m glad he did because it was terrible. The food wasn’t that bad just the service. We walked around some and came back to get our clothes ready for tomorrow. We have to have the clothes we will wear on the rafting trip that will get wet and then the dry clothes to change into for the train and dinner ride. It looks like the weather is going to be good. I’m a little concerned with all the snow melt that the rafting is going to be rougher than we planned on. The rivers here are running fast, but we are going to be about three hours south of here so maybe it will be better. It was a pretty quiet day today with no big events to go to, but tomorrow will sure be an active one. I can tell the kids miss their way of doing things like the computer games and such but they are being good. It’s been a great trip with them so far. We’ve laughed a lot at Joseph, he has a great sense of humor, and NO sense of direction, just like his Mom!! Ha We said we were going to have to buy a leash for him.

June 25, 2008

When we left Breckenridge this morning we only had about 100 miles to go to get to the rafting place. The road was steep and curvy up to Hoosier Pass on Highway 9. We stopped and got out to take a picture of the kids at the continental divide sign. We have several pictures of our kids standing at a continental divide sign in different places. From there it was all downhill and we saw the terrain change from lush pines and aspens to scrub and cactus desert. We saw several antelope and lots of buffalo, big ranches and prairie land. We got to Canon City about 11:00 am and drove right to the Royal Gorge Bridge area. This area has all changed since we brought our kids. They have kind of blocked car and truck passage except for special permission and you have to pay. We figured we could just park and walk out on the bridge but now it cost $23.00 per adult and $19.00 for kids!! We wanted them to see it so we asked and they said if we stayed under an hour we could get $7.00 per adult back and $5.00 per child. I couldn’t get close to the bridge the last time I was here but this time I walked out on it to the Arkansas flag and Tony took a picture of me. My legs were weak but I was doing ok until a golf cart went by and you could feel the bridge shake. I looked down and could see the Arkansas River and the rail tracks we would be on later. The kids had no problem skipping across. Savanna took a picture of the Arizona flag for Aunt Peggy. I went back to firm ground and Tony stayed with them. I felt good about actually getting on the bridge this time. We saw the incline / elevator you can take to the bottom but didn’t have time to do that before our raft trip. Across the bridge you can see a contraption that is set up to bungee / slingshot people out over the gorge and back! Can you imagine? It made me sick to look at it from the opposite side of the gorge. There is also a tram that crosses it and Alex got some pictures of that. We got Oliver a shirt from the gift shop there and drove a few miles to a bar/grill and the kids played teather ball and volleyball while we waited on our burgers. The rafting place was right next door and we were a little early. We got checked in and got our gear. I told the kids I hope I don’t have to wear a wet suit, and if I did NO ONE WAS TO HAVE A CAMERA!!! Ha We rented a full wet suit for Savanna as the Arkansas is pure snow melt! The rest of us rented wet jackets and wet socks. We had to wear helmets because “today” the water is ripping! The bag with our dry clothes was going on a bus to where we got off the river so we could change for the train trip. It was funny when we were helping Savanna put on her wet suit. It goes on over your clothes and is skin tight. She got her legs in it but couldn’t get the thing pulled up on her body. Tony and I each pulled up on the shoulder straps and lifted her plumb off the ground! Ha We got some safety instructions and then got on the bus to ride to the put in place. There was a guide named Trent that was for our family, no one else would be in our boat. He was a skinny young guy and I was wondering how he was going to get us down that river, he looked like Gilligan. He asked us which two wanted to paddle! We looked at the river and then at him and I got this deer in the headlight look! Ha The river was at an all time high and running so fast. Faster than Tony and I had ever been on which was a level 4. They go to a 5 on this river but it looked like a 10! All of a sudden I had this OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I GOT US INTO feeling. From home I had planned on a level 2 with the kids in mind or at least a low 3. We told the guy that all we wanted to do was ride and get out alive! Ha NO paddling for us. He said he could do all the paddling and steering himself and we let him even though he didn’t look any bigger than Joseph. Tony sat on the outside on the right side and I was on the outside on the left. The three kids were in between us. There is a 3” metal bar behind us to hold onto, but only with one hand, like riding a bull. I’m sure my handprint is still two inches deep in that bar! Ha I held onto Alex with the other hand and said “If I go you’re going with me!” We went through rapids that were so big and deep that at time the whole front of the raft where we were was under water!!!! One of the rapids was named the Kamikaze! Savanna had the best time of all and fears nothing. She was yelling YIPPPEEE and I hope the boat turns over! I kept thinking Libby would kill me if she knew where her kids were right now. We rode down 12 miles of pure rapids with no calm areas. I have to say it was truly invigorating. We saw a TV crew filming as we went by and the guide said they were getting some bad press about still running the river with it being that high and that 5 people had died this year so far!! When we got off a van was waiting to take us to meet the train and a TV crew had followed us and wanted to interview us. Maybe he could see our faces looked like we had just seen a horror movie?! We declined to give an interview. He drove off as he wasn’t supposed to be on private property. We were soaked from head to toe and they had brought our bag with dry clothes to put on. The guide stayed with us until the train came as we were the only ones to take the train from the rafting trip. They had this big tent set up in a field by the railroad tracks for us to change in and we hadn’t thought about bringing a towel with us. We did the best we could and got dressed and he gave us all a bottle of water. The train pulled up and stopped and we got on out there in the field, with no step to help get up or anything, but I was sure glad to see it as my heart hadn’t stopped pounding yet. Ha We were led to an observation car that already had people on it and they brought us appetizers of potato skins and sodas. Then a panni sandwich. The views were astounding as we went under the Royal Gorge Bridge. We only had our waterproof camera so I can only hope the pictures come out ok. The gorge walls were indescribable. When we got off the train a van was waiting to take us back to our car and to see pictures they had taken of us on the river. We bought a cd so I can make copies to send out. I told the guide this activity was WAY out of my comfort box, but he did do a fantastic job. I think the kids loved it. We came to our hotel in Canon City and checked in and went straight to the pool. It was an indoor pool and we had it all to ourselves. The kids and I raced from one end to the other and I beat them all! I think my adrenaline was still kicked in! Ha-ha Alex came in second place and I told him that I had been there whistling Dixie for a while! Ha Really he touched right after me. We swam for quite a while and then came to the room and crashed. I told Tony I needed a whole bottle of Rum and his bottle of Jack Daniels too! Ha I went downstairs to take two bags of wet clothes to dry but the laundry room closed at 9:00 and it was 8:50 so we’ll do that in the morning. We’re headed to Pikes Peak tomorrow and on the 10:00 news tonight heard about a teen that drove off the top of the mountain there to commit suicide over a girlfriend. They had got his body out but didn’t know how they were going to get the car as it was 1000 ft. down the side. It took one of those big military helicopters to get to him. Tony said it scared him the last time he drove up there so if we go we will take the cog incline train. All I can say about today is Oh My God! But what a great day.

June 26, 2008

When we got up this morning we headed north to Manitou Springs. We drove through the Garden of The Gods Park and took pictures of the kids “holding” up the balancing rock. I had brought along the pictures I had taken of our kids doing the same. They climbed all over the rocks there. It really is a beautiful and unusual park. After we left there we went to lunch at the Dutch Kitchen. It’s been open since 1959. Tony and I had a cup of corn chowder and I had a club type sandwich, instead of bacon they had a thin layer of finely chopped slaw and then grilled the whole thing with potato salad on the side. They are known for their homemade pies, when we got there they had all of them listed on a big chalk board and they had it all too. Tony had rhubarb, Joseph said he loved cherries but had never had a piece of cherry pie! I couldn’t believe that he is 13 and never tried a cherry pie, so that’s what he got and he loved it. Alex saw Buttermilk pie on the menu and didn’t know whether to order it or not and the waiter said, “Well if you don’t then I’ll eat it! Ha Alex LOVED the pie and the waiter said that always happens that way and he never gets any. The guy said his grandfather had eaten it in a restaurant more than 50 years ago and loved it and had asked for the recipe and got it. Alex ate every crumb and I told him I had a recipe that Granny Gunter gave me years ago, but I had never made it. Alex said Granny you’re going to HAVE to make this! Ha I said I would get the recipe out and he could help me make one and try and come up with the same taste that he had today. (Since we got home, we did find the recipe and make the pie and everyone ate it all up!) I ordered a Mountain Berry and it was good but I don’t usually eat dessert so I took a few bites and gave the rest to Tony. After that we were going to take the kids up Pikes Peak, but the kids didn’t seem all that interested and it was going to cost quite a bit to go up on the cog railway. We decided not to go and went to the base of Pikes Peak to THE NORTH POLE!! We had also gone there with our kids. It is a small amusement park with rides that are mostly for little kids but Savanna was happy about it. They have a Post Office and I sent Sofia a post card from there telling her I saw Santa and told him she was a good girl. I also bought a baby’s first Christmas ornament for baby Owen. Alex got motion sickness on the tilt a whirl ride, but recovered pretty quickly. We came back to our hotel and the kids went to the pool. We sat outside and read and laid in the sun for a while. I was going to send an e-mail and went to the business center and some lady was on the only computer looking at her dog on the screen! She was touching the screen and saying OHHH I miss you! They had a web-camera on the dog at home and she was sitting there all sad watching that dumb dog! I couldn’t believe it. But Tony told me one of our current customers is putting in a web-camera to be able to watch their 40 cats that are going to live inside!!!!!!!!! Can you even imagine that?? Guess you can tell I’m not a huge animal lover. For dinner we drove to a place called the Stagecoach Inn. It was the spot of the original 1881 stage coach stop. They had “Rocky Mountain Oysters” on the menu for appetizers and the boys had to order them just to say that they had eaten them! Ha I didn’t want any and the guys all said they were good so Savanna said she liked oysters and wanted one. She ate one and said they were really good but didn’t taste like the oysters that her Dad makes! Ha The boys just snickered but never told her what she really had. When we got back to the hotel the pool was open until 11:00 so we told the kids they could stay until 10:30 and we went back to our room. They came in about 10:00 and said a lot of old people had come in. We have had good luck at each place and the kids have mostly had the pool to themselves. My right arm, back and legs are so sore today from holding on in that raft yesterday that I could hardly move! Tomorrow we start our trek back towards reality and head to a hotel by the airport and turn our car in to the rental agent. It’s only an hour and a half away and we have until 7:00 pm to turn the car in so I’m not sure what we will do the rest of the day.

June 27, 2008

When we got up this morning Tony wanted to go up to the top of Pikes Peak after all and so did I. It was another one of those things on the checklist of things I wasn’t able to do before because of my fear of heights. The kids all said they wanted to go too. The only time we could go would be the noon train and still be able to get to Denver on a Friday afternoon with traffic and get gas, check into the hotel, unload the car completely and get the car turned in by 7:00. The noon train got back down the mountain at 3:00 so we left the hotel and drove up to the train station and I said if they have 5 tickets left we will know it was meant to be, if not then we will do something else. I got to the ticket gate 40 minutes before the train was to start boarding and they had 5 tickets! They were the last 5 tickets too! We knew we needed to hurry and get back to town and get the kids something to eat before we went and we decided to go back to the Dutch Kitchen and get everyone a piece of pie. Alex wanted another piece of Buttermilk pie. But that place is open every day but Friday. Just across the street was a place called Patsy’s that has been open there since 1903!! We had a piece of taffy that they make there and Tony and Savanna had a milk shake. There was a water spring there also that was called the Navajo Spring that we all got a drink from. Supposedly the water comes from Pikes Peak snow melt then runs down into the Ute river fault and down into the limestone where pressure makes it work back up another layer of rock that gives it carbonation! Then it comes back up to the spring. The water we drank today was over 1,000 years old and untouched by modern chemicals or other pollutants. The Indians used these springs for medicine and there are 6 or 7 springs here in Manitou Springs. Anyway, we had foot long hot dogs or corn dogs and homemade French fries then got back to the train station to go up the world’s highest cog train route. This is one of those things I never thought I would ever be able to do, but after walking out on the Royal Gorge Bridge I figured I could do this too. The rails going up are at a 25 to 26° grade. It was a gorgeous ride up and when we got to the top it was 45° and 80° down in Manitou. We took pictures and walked around a little. We were at over 14,000 ft. and all of a sudden I felt dizzy and so did Joseph. We sat down while Tony got us some water, he also got us some fresh made cake doughnuts that were still warm! The views are amazing from up there. They said we could see to Kansas but I’m not sure about that. We did see Colorado Springs and the view seems to go on forever from up there. When we got back on the train we had Joseph take a picture of Tony and I taking a bite out of that warm doughnut together. He kept trying to get the camera to work and we were down to about one bite left! Ha We headed straight for Denver and the traffic on I-25 was bumper to bumper all the way. It was hot down here too. We came to the hotel first and checked in and sent the kids off to the pool. Tony left to take the car back and called just as he got there to tell me I had the 2nd set of keys and he would head back and pick them up. By the time he did all this and filled up the car and catch a shuttle back to the hotel it was just after 7:00pm. We just walked across the street to a Ruby Tuesdays and ate dinner. Nothing special but it was something to eat anyway. When we got back we repacked everyone’s suitcases so that we can check them and not mess with carrying so much. I should have listened to Tony on the way out and it would have been easier then too. We have a 6:00 am wake up and breakfast is free downstairs then we will catch the shuttle at 7:20. It was a pretty exciting day.

June 28, 2008

We got up and ate and left for the airport and made it on time. We had printed out our boarding passes this time so we were able to all sit together on the way home. It was pretty uneventful on the way back. We ate lunch on our layover and got back to Tulsa about 1:30, got our car and headed out. As we got closer to home the kids were more and more anxious to see the cat and play on the computer. Brandy and John were waiting for us at Libby’s house when we got home. Whew, we made it!! Only a few cuts and bruises after all the places we had been I thought that was pretty good. I felt relieved to have delivered them home safe and sound. The kids were wonderful, at times being just kids but always respectful and well behaved. We are so proud of them and how they are turning out. What a great adventure to share with them. Hopefully they will remember it and want to go back someday.