Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Completely Overdue 411 on My Summer Vacation

I know, friends, I know…I’ve been so absent lately.

The reason why is because I’m working on being more present with my family, my friends, and at my work. And know what I’m finding? My life is very blessed. But how remiss would I be to neglect my blessings right here in the blogosphere? I mean y’all have been by my side when I’m boring, shallow, or wading in the pity pool. That’s special and comforting and very much appreciated. Also, I very much like it when I’m on my game and y’all stick around to disprove that you’re just here because misery likes company!

Ok, preamble aside….let’s dissect the vacay and disseminate every little detail, eh? Well, the ones that are not x-rated anyway! :wink:

Because I am SUCH a wordy wench, this vacation commemorative will be in installments. Behold, I present to you:


We left the Fort on Thursday, July 3rd. Stopped in Denver to meet BIL and pick up our niece 3M, who was accompanying LMNOB and Punkinhead for the spoil-fest quality time with their shared Nana and Papa, and my mom, aka Grammy. Arrived in Craig late Thursday night.

Friday, 7/4/08
Woke to one of Nana’s fabulous breakfasts! Celebrated Punkinhead’s b’day a bit belatedly. Daddy and I forgot the big present we’d got him at home, as we realized at the party. Charlie Brown and I were bummed because we spent a lot of time hunting the separates for the gift down, but hey, it was at home, to be opened later, right? Punkinhead got a double slip n’ slide and all the kids plus one giant kid known as Charlie Brown gleefully “drag raced” each other on it for hours. We grilled burgers, mmmmm. Homemade coconut cream ice cream was churned, and as darkness fell on the quiet town of Craig, we pulled the lawn chairs out on Nana and Papa’s drive and watched the fireworks as we ate the icy, creamy goodness.

Saturday, 7/5/08
The men went out while Nana and I took the girls and Punkinhead to the nail salon. I got a pedicure, the girls got manicures “with DESIGNS! Mama!” and Punkinhead got a pedicure as well – with a “boy” colored polish that was quite smurfy. The guys were horrified of course, but I assured them it is perfectly normal for little boys, who are surrounded by girls, to want to paint their nails. Besides, Punkinhead was so proud of them! We had the kids ride their bikes with Nana as we all went to a local elementary school to let the dogs run. We played baseball with Punkinhead, pushed the girls on the swings, climbed on the playground equipment that has been there and since would be declared “substandard” by the many more well-to-do school districts we are familiar with – but it was totally nostalgic, as I marveled at the very plain bars system and remembered hours of fun spinning, twirling, and dangling on a set JUST like it at my own elementary school in the 80’s. Life was simpler then, wasn’t it? That night, more yummy food, sitting in the backyard, and playing summer games of hide ‘n seek, paddle ball catch, and other lawn pastimes with the kids.

Grammy is absent from the story thus far, because she was on a quiet outdoor retreat with her sweetie becoming his wife with only two of their closest friends to witness. This is mom’s #3 and his #2, so they were not really interested in the bells and whistles of a traditional ceremony – instead they were rafting, camping, and celebrating this new turn in their life-path together. G is a good guy and he treats my mother with a respect, care, and support that her previous partners haven’t even come close to; she’s happy with him and I wish them all the best, because my mom deserves some happiness in her life after everything she’s been through. They did spend time with the kiddos and had a lot of fun with them, after we’d left and they’d gotten back.

Sunday 7/6/08
We did church at Nana and Papa’s church…and let’s just say…I very much appreciate our congregation after a trip to Craig. Not that I don’t already anyways, but it’s a different culture in Craig, and really I should just be praying for them instead of dogging this church. ‘Nuf said? I thought so. When we got home, we ate, packed up and left for Glenwood. It was a weird feeling, leaving the kids – despite knowing that they were going. to. be. JUST. fine! – and bittersweetly quiet. Charlie Brown and I vacillated slightly between reveling in the bliss of the quiet and being haunted by it. Slightly. Quiet bliss has an overpowering advantage on harried parents, or so I’m told.

So my mom had very sweetly insisted that we stay at the Colorado Hotel – because she wanted to pay for the room as an anniversary gift – and since it’s a historic landmark, :cough: it was FREE, and right near everything we wanted to do, we accepted her offer. We got in, unloaded our stuff, and decided to walk across the bridge into the downtown area. We ended up eating at here:

because, uh, beer? We had this sampler platter of the beers and they were yummy. I especially liked the Hanging Lake Honey Ale, the Grizzly Creek Raspberry Wheat, and the No Name Brown Nut Ale. Being tourists, albeit tourists of a local nature, we thought about their t-shirts, but the graphics were a little hokey. This is one business investment I recommend they look into, because, hello, marketing! I had a beer-cheese soup and salad, Charlie Brown had a burger and it was great! The only downside? We ended up being seated by two rather large families with a bunch of noisy, active kids who were terrific escape artists…just as we were beginning our trip SANS kids. It is Murphy’s Law for Parents Trying to Get Away, and has happened to us before in nice restaurants on date night.

We walked around more and just hung out with each other, returning to our room that night for some intimate time together. /details there lest this become confused with “THAT kind of” blog ;)

Monday 7/7/08
We woke, took advantage of our child free state with each other once again (hey, man, this was supposed to be a second honeymoon, so we made it one!), and made our way out of bed. We ambled down to town and located a coffee shop. I was horrified to see that they put POWDER in the white mocha I ordered, I mean WTH? – moreover, the taste was reminiscent of those crappy automated cappuccino maker drinks that I could have bought at 7-11. In sharing this with Charlie Brown he laughed and lovingly called me a coffee nazi. True enough…The yummy spinach feta croissant (and Charlie Brown’s disgust at my breakfast selection) almost made up for it, however. Almost. The comic relief provided by an area homeless man’s (I’m guessing here, given my past employment history) with what appeared to be schizophrenia and a propensity for pen/paper renditions of stained glass art constant eyeing of Charlie Brown, and my husband’s very evident discomfort actually did make up for the bad coffee, though.

We walked around very briefly downtown, scoping out eating options, and returned to the hotel. We’d decided to check out the bike rental shop in the hotel. They had tandem bikes and a shuttle service that drove riders to the top of the paved bike trail that runs the length of the Glenwood Canyon. As it is 13 miles one way, this was important to us. As bikers ride down the trail, there are 5 key tourist attractions, one of them being the Hanging Lake trailhead. So we decided to rent a tandem, take the shuttle, hike to Hanging Lake, and finish the trail.

The shop had us “try out” the tandem around the block and “get a feel for it.” That was fun, not. Charlie Brown got barky and inpatient with my awkwardness, an emotional display such that I responded with a fleeting prayer heavenward to not let this ruin our trip. We ironed it out, adjusting my seat and his, and got going enough that we felt like we could do it. Loaded up, and tried to enjoy the driver’s information about the area on the drive up; however the mother and her two teens behind us had gotten it all the day before and they proceeded to talk the whole damned time. The canyon is breathtaking, and the locals were taking full advantage of the beauty surrounding them, rafting the river, hang gliding above it, and biking alongside it.

At the top of the trail, we unloaded and down we went. It was an intimate adventure, pedaling in stride with each other, leaning in cooperation for turns, and sharing little sights with each other. At first, we had to verbalize these things to each other, but as time went on and we grew more accustomed to each other’s signs, we began to coast and pedal simultaneously. We marveled at the rapids of the river, the lush foliage we rode under, and other signs of beauty. We made it to the Hanging Lake Trailhead fairly quickly, locked the bikes up and began the trek.

I had hiked Hanging Lake eleven years prior, as a senior in high school on a National Honor Society trip. I vaguely remembered it being a steep-ish trail, but had forgotten just how steep it is! We made it up in good time, took a bunch of pictures* of the breathtaking lake

and walked around the lake to Sprouting Rock.

We sat in the rocks eating our cliff bars and sucking down our waters when a crazy number of chipmunks appeared. These suckers were brazen, too. Charlie Brown threw a few chunks of cliff bar out (oh, go boo hiss someone else!) to get them to back off, but that just made it worse. This one fatty chipmunk was just bullying the others and then almost snatched the bar out of Charlie Brown’s hand when he was resting!

We saw some clouds coming in and decided to head back down. We got a few sprinkles, but it felt quite refreshing. As we headed down, we were asked, “Is it very much farther?” by many a weary hiker – the traffic was just amazing that day! We assured some that it wasn’t that much more, but as we got further down the hill, we didn’t want to give people false hope, so we began saying, “It’s totally worth it!” Near the very end of our hike, we ran into an Asian dad with his two SMALL children who had been on the shuttle with us. Charlie Brown and I looked at each other, saying, “No way they’ll make it” with our eyes. But most entertaining of all, was the pregnant woman on the trail just below them. She had to have been at least 7 mos and she was wearing….FLIP FLOPS!!!! That time we giggled out loud and felt not one bit rude about it. Those giggles simply attested to the FACT that there was no way in hell for her to make it. None.

Finally we reached our bikes and headed back down the bike path. The rain coyly started and stopped along the way, but towards the end got serious and began to dump, just as we pulled into the bike rental shop. The timing could not have been better. We scurried to the hotel’s covered patio and mused about all the poor fools on the Hanging Lake trail – the waiter overheard us and said, “Yeah, people just don’t get Colorado’s afternoon thunder storms are for real.” Charlie Brown said, “Except for us – we’re natives.”

Photobucket Me and our trusty steed.

It had been a fun adventure, with only a few kinks in the ride – first, my shoelaces got caught in the chain a few times and caused near wrecks and frustrations – finally, I just tucked my laces in my shoes, duh….second, Charlie Brown’s legs started cramping up about 5 miles away from the hotel and we had to take a break for him to lay on the ground. Interestingly enough, it was on the pedestrian bridge overlooking I-70, which was a little unnerving. Otherwise, it was wonderful. /details here.

[insert imaginative conjectures here]

That night, we went out to Tequila’s, a local Mexican restaurant. Oh. My. GOODNESS!!! BEST Mexican food I’ve EVER had, and the margaritas were AMAZING. Very well worth it. Charlie Brown and I have talked about going back to Glenwood just to eat at Tequila’s, it was that good.

Afterward, we went to cross the bridge, back into the downtown (as Tequila’s is on the other side of town), for the umpteenth time, when Charlie Brown decides to call and check in the kids (for like the 4th time that day!). I feeling the buzz of the marg, got a little goofy with the camera:
Trying to get one of us both, and failing:
Self-portrait - I refuse to admit how many takes it took to get this
Who's the Mommy, Charlie Brown, because HOW many times have you called today?
Photobucket Fun times....

Finally, after all the telephonic hugs and kisses, bedtime stories, and tucking ins, were exchanged, we continued across the bridge,
where another seemingly homeless person made eyes at Charlie Brown which made him go all WTH?
and below the bridge, was a restroom of the public parks variety, ewwwwwwww…..but, there was no way we’d have made it to a business restroom, so we each turned into our respective gender’s restroom, and I was freaked the hell out by these nightmarish renderings on the bathroom stalls:

I mean, holy hell, Batman, like going to the bathroom in a grungy stall isn’t scary enough that they felt they just had to add these? And I was just a buzzing-on-ONE-Tequila’s-margarita grown woman – think of the kids who are having to attend therapy! Good grief!

After much walking, shopping and browsing, we returned to our room, where we did a lot of who knows what :wink:

....Stay tuned for the Camping/Breckenridge leg....

* Uhm, yeah....well, Charlie Brown uploaded some pics to a new vacay folder every day, and at our mountain leg, he puts on some new ones, right? Well we got the standard, "vacay001 already exists, replace file?" prompt and whaddyou know? We replaced all of our Craig pics and Hanging Lake pics, only to be able to salvage the ones we'd e-mailed. We tried recovering the pics from our memory card and they are not there. 'twas a moment of sheer brilliance.

© 2008 Ramblings of a Red-Headed Step-Child. All Rights Reserved

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