Monday, November 15, 2010

introducing gracie's newest goddess-mama!

i'm sure you've guessed it already: auntie valerie!

valerie has been the most amazing, generous, incredible, amazing, wonderful, amazing friend ever ever ever. seriously. this girl is MADE of love and hugs and sweetness. she has been an extremely important friend for me over the years and continues to take up more and more room in my heart every day that passes. she is amazing. have i told you how amazing she is?

i first met valerie when i had JUST moved to the netherlands, back in 2006 (can it be that long ago?!). i found a unitarian universalist congregation in holland -- there was only one in the whole country, and at that time they only met one time a month -- and she and i happened to be there on the very same day. and, to make it even MORE spectacular and serendipitous, she had actually been to my former UU congregation back in boulder on more than one occasion -- she even attended on a sunday when i had a solo in the choir! can you believe it?! what a crazysmall world!

so of course i attached myself to her immediately -- for better or worse, i was in love with the woman who was in love with the UU church of boulder.

valerie was the first friend i made in the netherlands who just called me to talk one day. like, just dialed me up one day on her cell phone and was all "hey, wanna keep me company while i commute home?" i don't know if she'll ever know how much that meant to me, just to gab on the phone with a girlfriend. it was definitely memorable -- i'm still talking about it four years later!

valerie always opened her home to us, whether we came out by ourselves to amsterdam or brought out friends who were visiting from the usa. she even let nick and teresa cootie-up her apartment when they were spending a couple of days in amsterdam before flying home from a visit to us at christmas. teresa and nick got TERRIBLY sick with the flu and needed a place to crash before their flight home -- valerie, without hesitation, opened her home to them and then quickly ran away to her boyfriend's house so she wouldn't get the crud. and like, valerie hardly knew them! but she did it anyway. she's just that great.

and, one more story, just to prove my point: adam and valerie had been planning a surprise baby shower for me, but a few days before the party was to begin, valerie got the terrible news that her opa had died. the funeral was going to be back in the usa, and she needed to be there. but instead of packing up at her place in amsterdam, and trying to catch up on work that she would miss while she was gone, she got in her little red car, drove across the entire country, and delivered my sheet cake for the party with the most disappointed-sounding "surpriiiiise...." that you'd ever hear. then we went shopping for an outfit for her opa's funeral, she got back in her car, and promptly broke down before she even got out of town. this girl! she's so amazing! who DOES that for their friends?!

so i don't know why we didn't think of inviting valerie to be a part of the god squad from the get-go... i think maybe at that point i hadn't really realized how incredible she was, as we'd only been friends for a couple of years. and we'd only see each other maybe once a month, if that. but she has proven time and again how loyal she is to us, how dedicated she is to be a part of gracie's life, and how much she loves all three of us.

when we learned this past summer that valerie was going to be in colorado to see her dad at around the same time that we were going to be in colorado too, we formally invited her to be a part of this god squad. to be fair, valerie had kind of already bestowed upon herself the honor, by writing letters in dutch to gracie, sending gifts from sinterklaas, mailing her birthday presents, always asking about her in every phone call and email, and just generally staying REALLY involved in gracie's life (and ours too). in fact, she's been more involved than some of gracie's own relatives. now THAT says a lot!

so we were really excited to see our dear friend, and to celebrate her BIRTHDAY with her, no less! valerie found a water park in engelwood that she wanted to take gracie to, so we drove up there from colorado springs to meet her, and we all magically showed up in the parking lot at the exact same moment! we spent the day splashing and swimming and digging in the sandbox, going down waterslides, getting soaked by giant buckets of water, and just goofing off and playing all day long. she is amazing. have i said that already? cuz she is. it seemed like no time had passed at all since i last saw her, and yet it had been more than a YEAR. that's when you know you have found a good friend -- when you can just pick up where you left off. she's amazing.

after an afternoon of splashing and playing and having FUN, we all went out to dinner in castle rock, CO. valerie chose a place that served both italian and mexican food, and we all cozied up in a booth, drinking wine and coffee, and enjoying our pasta (or, in valerie's case, her chimichangas or whatever it was she picked out -- mexican food is hard to come by in holland, so she really wanted something smothered in green chili, naturally). we told gracie about her god squad and explained to her how it came to be and who is in it. we told gracie why she has a god squad, and why that is important to feel a connection to god/goddess/the universe/the divine. we told gracie about some funny/sweet stories about her and auntie valerie. we asked valerie what her intentions were, and how she saw her role in the god squad. then we all toasted each other to make it official. it all seemed very appropriate that we would celebrate auntie valerie's induction to the god squad in a restaurant, after spending a whole day playing in the water. holland is wet. valerie loves to cook (and to eat!). so water and food seemed like perfect elements to have in our day. how absolutely appropriate!

(oh, and then we went to a bar to teach gracie how to shoot pool. as long as it was pouring outside and unsafe to drive, we figured we had better do something fun while we waited for a break in the weather!)

valerie was generous enough to give gracie a necklace with a little vial of purple fairy dust in it to honor their connection. and knowing valerie as i do, it was the perfect gift. i am still finding purple glitter around my home, all these months later... either i am a terrible housekeeper, or the fairies keep visiting my daughter to tell her how much auntie valerie loves her.

welcome, valerie! i am sorry that we didn't invite you sooner, but we are so grateful that you are a part of gracie's circle now! (and, to your credit, you kind of always acted like you were in the god squad anyway, so it's absolutely appropriate that you are now "formally" a part of it!) thanks for all you have done for our daughter! WE LOVE YOU!!!!

my halloween with spiderman

neither adam nor i are completely sure exactly when or how gracie got on this whole spiderman kick, but here it is. in fact, gracie will no longer answer to her name. "actually, i'm not gracie," she explains to me. "i'm pie-doo-man." or, more often than not, "i'm spiderman-manray-batman-diego, mom." aha. sorry i mistook you for someone else. my bad.

no matter how she got on this fixation with spiderman, the fact is that all day everyday, she IS spiderman. even people at our church are beginning to call her "spiderman." maybe they don't know her name? or maybe they don't want to be reprimanded by a 2-year-old on exactly how she should be addressed? but when she wakes up in the morning, often the very first thing she says is "i wanna put on my spiderman suit and my spiderman song and my spiderman cape."

so of course, when we asked gracie what she wanted to be for halloween, her emphatic reply was "i'm not gracie. i'm pie-doo-man!" so that's what she went as. (in fact, that's what her jack-o-lantern went as this year too.) her former teacher, miss lucy, gave gracie her son's old spiderman costume, complete with built-in muscles and mask. and this is what we now wear ALL. THE. TIME. i have to sneak it in the wash when she's not looking or is asleep, like how most parents have to wrestle a stuffed animal or favorite blanket out of their child's sticky fingers. for us, it's the spiderman costume.

right around the time that gracie got her spiderman costume, adam found a 2-sizes-too-small superman costume which he HAD to get. so, going along with the theme, i decided to go as wonderwoman. (and, btw, finding a wonderwoman costume -- or, indeed, ANY women's costume -- that ISN'T skanky/slutty/offensive is disturbingly difficult to do. check out this HILARIOUS video to see exactly what i had to deal with this year. it's funny cuz it's sadly true.)

not that we needed to get our money's worth out of gracie's costume since it was free, after all -- but we did make sure we spent as much time at halloween events as we could so that she had lots of opportunities to dress up like spiderman. (little did we know that she'd be wearing her costume first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and struggling with her to take it off because she actually needs to take a bath/go to school/put on something CLEAN.) so we went to lots of different things: a kids concert with halloween music, spooky storytime at the library, and of course trick-or-treating with all of her friends.

gracie did much better this year at trick-or-treating than last year. last year, she was most excited about ringing the doorbell. then when someone would answer the door, she'd get all shy and scared and hide behind our legs, until we took a piece of candy for her and said thank you, and then move along. this year she rang the doorbell, said "trick-or-treat" in her sweetest voice ever, took only one piece of candy willingly and without help, and then politely said "thank you" as she skipped down the sidewalk chatting with her little girlfriends about what they got. too cute!

after a couple of hours of trick-or-treating, we finally made it home just in time to offer candy to trick-or-treaters of our own. (sadly, our neighborhood is LAME when it comes to t-or-t. many of the residents of our neighborhood are not only grandparents, but many are great-grandparents. and no one goes trick-or-treating at great-grandma's house. so the majority of homes in this neighborhood are dark on halloween because 1. no one is coming by anyway, and 2. it's too hard to get up and down off the couch to hand out the candy. sad, but true. our adorable neighbor across the street -- who is 92 years old and lives alone and weeds-whacks and puts out the trash bins and fills the birdbath all by herself -- basically told us this is the case. but we predict that will change as more young families like ours move into the neighborhood in the coming years...) anyway, we got home around 7:45, switched on the porch light, and within a minute we had someone ring our doorbell! huzzah! we had hoped gracie would be able to hand out some candy before bed, and we were just really lucky that someone rang our bell so early!

well, we had already dumped out her stash of goodies on the floor to inspect the candy that might be unsafe to eat. and gracie is so excited to eat her yummy treats that she picks out a piece for herself (a sucker, naturally), and then really wants daddy and mama to enjoy the candy party too and starts just handing us pieces of her OWN candy. what a doll! then the doorbell rings, and i jump up and say, "hey, spiderman!" -- because of course i can't call her gracie -- "there are trick-or-treaters at our door! let's go give them some candy!" and being the sweet child that she is, she starts happily picking up her own candy up off the floor to bring it to the door to give it away to the trick-or-treaters. and being the doofus i am, i was like "oh no, honey -- that's YOUR candy. we have DIFFERENT candy for the trick-or-treaters." argh! i'm so stupid! i should have totally let her give her candy away! that would have been so sweet of her! candy as communal property! what was i thinking?!

anyway, it was wonderful. as is everything that we do with her. it's all just wonderful. full of wonder.

(and, within a couple of days, she forgot all about her candy, so adam and i ate it all! nom nom nom!)

happy halloween!

Friday, October 08, 2010

auntie shelby's god squad adventure

as most of you know, adam and i have assembled a team of spiritual advisors/mentors for our daughter, in the hope that she will someday become a spiritually-minded person herself. who are we to choose a religion for our daughter? she should have the right to choose for herself which path will bring her closest to god, and so in that vein we have invited a handful of people to share spiritual activities and reflections with gracie.

one of the people we are blessed to have in gracie's god squad is her auntie shelby, who lives in denver. so when we were back home in colorado over the summer, gracie and i spent a couple of days with shelby so that shelby could pass on some of her wisdom and reflections to her little goddess-daughter. (and also so that i could see shelby, who is one of my best friends ever!)

one of the activities that shelby enjoys doing year after year is going to the renaissance festival and collecting things for her altar back home. gracie and i happened to be coming to town during the last weekend of the colorado renaissance festival, so we took the opportunity to drive up to larkspur to see shelby and wander through the renfest (which i also hadn't been to in almost 10 years i think!).

we didn't see very much of the faire since they didn't really have sidewalks in medieval times and my little umbroller was difficult to push up the rocky mountainside, but what we did see was definitely worth it. we had a feast fit for a king under the shade of a ponderosa pine: turkey drumsticks the size of your arm, roasted corn on the cob, french fries dripping in grease and testosterone, and ice cold beers. we saw the king and queen, along with their court, parade through the park and process to the podium for a jousting tournament. gracie and i watched a brother/sister act tell bad jokes, juggle, and do some acrobatics. gracie got to ride on a pony, feed the animals, and get a ride on a magical butterfly being pushed by a "wench."

after we had enough of the faire, we made our way over to our campground for the night: the jellystone campground just north of larkspur. NOT QUIET. wow. like, the loudest night of sleep (if you could call it "sleep") that i'd ever had! but shelby loves to camp, and she found a great deal on renting a yurt, and it seemed like another good goddess-mama activity to share with gracie. so, we toughed it out. usually, when i say "tough it out" i mean sleeping on the cold, hard ground and having to dig a ditch for your bathroom, hiking your gear in to your site and keeping things in bear-safe containers. but not this place! by toughing it out i mean somehow convincing your mind that the roaring traffic on i-25 and the constant train engines barrelling down the tracks literally FEET away from your thin canvas walls is some sort of white noise to lull you asleep. neither of us really wanted to do anything that night because we just couldn't get comfortable with all the noise noise noise (i feel like the grinch saying it, but the dude does have a point). plus, it was threatening to rain. so what did we do? we tapped into their wireless internet and watched a movie on netflix.

gracie was in HEAVEN! trains rumbling past every 5 minutes, sleeping on an air mattress in a yurt, watching a MOVIE on mama's laptop, holding a flashlight, peeing outside... omg, she loved every minute of it! so for that reason, shelby and i toughed it out. and i'm glad we did, too: it was the first time in MONTHS -- maybe over a year -- when gracie actually snuggled up to me ALL NIGHT LONG. she is NOT a snuggle bug, this girl of mine. so it was really a special treat for me to spoon with her and cuddle through the long, loud night.

the next day we had a relatively unexpected happy-ning: teresa (another one of gracie's goddess-mamas) was passing through denver on her way home from a camping trip in grand junction with her mom. her flight was in the early afternoon, so we agreed to meet for brunch at shelby's house before she went to the airport. so shelby, gracie, and i all went to the natural food store and picked up organic mango juice, a fancy-ass quiche, some gorgeous bread, delectable cheese, and... hmmm.... i forget it all. but you get the point. we ate together in shelby's dining room, then went out back to appreciate her amazing and inspiring garden, complete with pergola and koi pond! (i wish i had a green thumb like shelby. all i can grow are radishes and weeds.)
thank you, auntie shelby, for sharing your love of the ren fest and camping and brunch with my daughter! and thank you, teresa, for making a serendipitous trip to colorado so we could see you and so you could teach some yoga to gracie -- another PERFECT god-squad activity!

Monday, September 27, 2010

what i did over the summer (colorado springs)

as if our road trip out to colorado wasn't fun enough, we also got the added bonus of spending 2 solid weeks in the company of bob, rae, and adam's brother matt in colorado springs.

there used to be a day when we briggles would converge at bob and rae's and enjoy endless hours of basically doing nothing: reading (magazines, books, newspapers, cereal boxes, etc); napping (on the couch, in a chair, on the floor with the cat, etc); playing cards (only shanghai -- it's pretty much the only game we play, and we're okay with that cuz it pretty much rocks); and drinking (microbrews and wine, though occasionally a stinger or some scotch).

but now that we have a 2-year-old who demands constant entertainment and excitement, our lives have taken a different turn on vacation in colorado. gone are the days of wondering "what day is it again? what time is it? do we still need to eat dinner, or will these chips and salsa count?"

within a day or two of us arriving, we all got out our calendars and coordinated our schedules to make sure that we could do it all. (such an anti-briggle mindset!) we had soooo much to accomplish and experience while we were home, and inevitably something was going to get left out. but we were fortunate that we did get to most everything -- only missing the zoo and a trip to america the beautiful park, which, considering how much we had planned on doing, is pretty darn good.

we had several lovely moments of just playing at the house with oma and opa, and a wonderful playdate with gracie's betrothed, james. james is the grandson of rae's best friend, and is only a few months older than she is. each grandmother has pictures of both james and gracie in their offices (they work right next door to each other too), and the grandmas have basically decided that james and gracie are going to grow up and get married, so now that that's out of the way we can work on everything else: which college to choose, how much money to save for therapy and braces, which religion to raise them in, etc. you know, the less important stuff than who you will spend the rest of your life with :-)

and the weather! omg! we left on the first day of an obnoxious heat wave that hit texas -- at one point in our north texas town it was 114 degrees f (46 celsius!). but in colorado? the highest it ever got for those two weeks was 87 f (30 c)!!! NICE! and at the hottest part of the day, a nice big rainstorm would roll through and cool everything off by like 15 degrees. plus, bob and rae live about 1500 feet above the rest of the city, so it's even cooler up there than down below. i was so chilled, in fact, that i actually had to go to the store to buy warm clothes. it was amazing!

we had another playdate with some girlfriends who invited us to the pool at the elks lodge in colorado springs. since gracie is basically a fish when she's in the water, it was a very nice treat for us to bring her swimming. thankfully the rain held off until about an hour after we got home -- just in time for a much-earned nap!

of course, being that gracie comes from a hockey family, and being that colorado springs is the home of usa hockey, we absolutely had to bring her skating. this was actually entirely her idea! she remembered from back at christmas, when we brought her ice skating at the world arena -- and a few days into our trip, she asked us when she was going to go ice skating again! we had completely forgotten that we wanted to bring her skating, so we were of course so glad that she reminded us! within a day or two, we made our way over to sertich ice arena, renting skates and a helmet for gracie, and teaching her crossovers and turns. she's so good at it! next step: find out where in the great state of texas we can find some ice time in order to encourage this interest of hers...

we of course did very touristy things, being that colorado springs is, after all, a very cool place for tourists to come and play. we took the cog train up to the top of pikes peak and appreciated the views from the top of the "fourteener" (elevation: 14,100 feet = 4300 meters). the

hour-long trip up the side of the mountain brought us through forests, rock outcroppings, canyons, alpine tundra, and eventually up to the snack bar at the top of the mountain, where we all enjoyed the famous high-altitude donuts. it's very odd to be eating donuts and shopping for coffee mugs at the top of one of america's most famous mountains. but it is america, after all, so maybe i shouldn't be so shocked by it all...

we spent a whole afternoon at the north pole -- something gracie is still talking about all these months later. it was essentially all of us grown-ups totally in heaven watching little gracie take turn after turn after turn on all the rides: the boats, motorcycles, slides, cars, roller coasters, carousels, ferris wheels, rocket ships... we got to meet santa claus, too, but by that time gracie was pretty much wiped out from all the excitement, and she's never really been one to take to overly-excited or snuggly strangers (a good thing), so she pretty much clung to mom and dad until we left santa's house. then, as soon as we left, she was like "i wanna go see santa!" sigh. there were also, of course, toy shops for boys and girls -- we skipped the girl one since it was inevitably going to be princess crap and boring dollies. but the BOY one was awesome! trucks, dinosaurs, and airplanes EVERYWHERE! (there were plenty of toy guns too, which we explained to her were NOT cool, and were dangerous, and we don't play with guns. she's been reminding us of that on a pretty regular basis: "guns aren't cool, mom. but TRUCKS are cool! we can play with TRUCKS!" (glad to be teaching my daughter this important lesson since we live in texas and i'm pretty sure someday she'll be playing at a friend's house where there are guns on the property. i pray often that she will know how to stay safe in such a situation. guns are NOT toys, they are NOT cool, and they are dangerous. i think she's starting to get it.)

we briggles don't have a ton of traditions, but something that we DO do just about every year is take a trip out to the flying W ranch -- a real, working ranch in the foothills of colorado springs, with the most amazing singing cowboys your ears will ever be blessed to hear. every summer (and sometimes the occasional christmas) we head up to the flying W and wander the grounds, which are set up like an old-west village, complete with tipi, chapel, trading post, and blacksmith (where you can watch a horse get new shoes just about every night). afterwards, we are called to supper by the clanging of a big ol' bell, and gather to hear a ranchhand tell bad jokes while each section is dismissed to get their grub: homemade biscuits, applesauce, baked potatoes, beans, barbecue, and spice cake. nom nom nom! after everyone's eaten and gotten seconds, the cowboys come onstage (the same cowboys who worked the ranch by day and also just served us dinner) and sing old country-and-western songs: gene autry, hank williams, roy rogers, sons of the pioneers... gooooood stuff.
add to that a trip to the renaissance festival and camping in a yurt with auntie shelby, a birthday party at a splash park with auntie valerie, formal family photos at a park in colorado springs, and a few trips to usa hockey to visit all of oma's friends and colleagues... we were busy busy busy!

originally we thought we'd only make the drive once a year, just in the summertime, to see everyone back home in the mountains -- but thinking about all the time that will pass between now and then -- A WHOLE YEAR! -- that seems WAY too long. plus, the drive is so darn pretty, and the city has so much to offer, and bob and rae are just so amazing and generous and fun. so, plan on hearing a report sometime after the winter holidays about our christmas adventures back in CO!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

what i did over the summer (road trip!)

i know, i know... i promised more updates on my summer vacation like MONTHS ago, and still haven't filled you all in. my bad! you know what i've realized, though? now that we have netflix, i'm totally busy watching things online instead of using my computer at night to update my blog. so, blame it all on netflix. it's totally their fault.

so, back to our summer vacation: the other awesome thing we did, besides going to san antonio, was our trip to colorado. we hadn't been back "home" since last summer, when we breezed through during our big move from holland -- we had spent just a couple of days there before driving to teresa and nick's wedding in omaha, then onward to our little north texas town to buy a house and settle in. so this was really our first vacation there in a couple of years, and we were really looking forward to it!

it was also our first road trip in about a year -- other than the trip to san antonio, we've pretty much stayed still this past year. and i LOVE a good road trip, so i was crazy excited. i got out the maps, googled sites to see, cross-referenced everything on AAA, and made the appropriate reservations at hotels.

we left at the end of july, and took 2 days to drive the 12 hours back to colorado springs. there used to be a time in our lives when we'd just go go go and not have any fun until we got there. but now that we have a 2-year-old, just about EVERYTHING is fun, so we decided to honor our new lives and take our sweet time getting there.

our first scheduled stop was in childress, TX -- we had a couple of choices of what to see, but we chose the old steam engine at the edge of downtown. it was actually a functioning steam engine sometime in the early 20th century, but has obviously been retired and now stands across from the firehouse and near the train tracks. when we arrived, there was a freight train passing by (the same freight train we kept passing along the highway for most of our trip), so we stood and waved as the engineer blew the horn and styck his arm out the window and waved back at us. that in and of itself was VERY cool, but then to add to the treat we actually got to climb up on top of the old steam engine and play with all the buttons and knobs and levers inside. we were dumbfounded at just how dangerous that job must have been a hundred or more years ago: there must have been terrible burns, awful asthma, and broken bones. just playing in the parked engine seemed dangerous enough, but to have it barreling down the american countryside with a load full of coal and fire and steam and freight? yikes!

a little while later we headed back to the car and continued the rest of the way to amarillo, which was where we planned to spend the night. but before checking in to our hotel, we stopped by the palo duro canyon ("texas' best kept secret") for a hike and some more adventure. gracie was so excited to see the canyon, she kept saying "let's go to the candy-yon" or "the candy-land" -- she couldn't quite say it the right way, and plus we made it sound so exciting, it must certainly be made of candy, and it sounds like it has the word "candy" in it, so surely we must want to go there!

we bought our parks pass and headed to a trail that was supposed to be very family-friendly 1.5 mile loop. but we only made it about a quarter mile in before we found a creek and decided to stay and splash a while. adam taught gracie how to skip rocks and find caddisfly larvae underneath the stones, and gracie taught me how to make mud pies out of the red clay along the banks. we stayed and played for probably over an hour, and could have stayed the rest of the day had it not been so hot. poor adam's flip flops broke (both of them!) on the way back to the car, and he got blisters on the bottoms of his feet and eaten alive by horseflies as he ran as fast as he could, barefoot on the baking red earth, carrying our enormous daughter the whole way. i thought it was hilarious -- adam's still mad at me for laughing at him (even though it really WAS funny!).

as we left the canyon, i asked gracie if she was ready to go to the hotel, and we got the most emphatic "YES!" that we've ever heard spoken by a 2-year-old. she still remembers the fun hotel we stayed at in san antonio, and the pool, and the elevators, and the big beds; and alllll day long we had been telling her about our trip to amarillo (which she forgot the name of and kept calling "jalapeno" instead), so by the time we left the canyon she was VERY ready to get there. and when we got to the hotel (the very same chain that we stayed at in san antonio only a few weeks earlier), gracie kept asking to see oma and opa at the pool (since oma and opa had stayed with us at our san antonio hotel too). we had to explain to her that oma and opa were at their house, and not at the hotel, but that we were going to see them tomorrow. though she was disappointed, she quickly got over it once she discovered the soda machine and the swimming pool.

the next morning we got back on the road to finish up the second half of our journey. our first stop this day was at the capulin volcano national monument -- according to gracie, the most exciting stop of our whole road trip! ever since the big weird-sounding volcano exploded in iceland earlier this year, gracie has been really interested in all things lava. so she got really fired up when i told her we were going to see an extinct volcano on the way to oma and opa's house -- pretty much everything in that sentence sounds awesome to her!

northern new mexico is BEAUTIFUL. really, absolutely, stunningly breathtaking. so we were ALL very excited to get out of the car and enjoy the scenery.

gracie got out of her carseat and rode on my lap up to the top of the volcano -- a short, 2-mile paved road to the top of the crater. once to the top, we all got out of the car along with our little picnic and sunscreen and hiked the rim of the crater. gracie did great: it was a 1-mile loop, and she practically hiked the entire thing by herself! she loved finding the signs along the way, telling her about the vegetation and vistas. then she'd pretend the sign was a drum and play us a tune or two before continuing on our way.

even after two weeks in colorado, all three of us were really looking forward to our stop at capulin on the drive back home. the views were amazing and the trails were well maintained. if i lived in the town of capulin, i would hike that trail every freaking day. it was soooo beautiful. (and in fact, we did visit this park one more time on our way home, but that time we hiked to the bottom of the crater to see the lava rocks instead of along the rim -- an interesting detour, but not nearly as pretty as hiking the rim of the volcano because we couldn't see the incredible scenery from the bottom, obviously.)

our final stop of the trip was a trolley ride in trinidad, CO: a surprisingly beautiful little town in the southern foothills of the rockies. we had no idea it was such a lovely city, and someday i'd love to spend a weekend in one of their cute little b&b's. fortunately, we were able to discover the charm of the city despite the mind-numbingly boring, way-drawn-out, and VERY hot trolley ride we endured for over an hour. yikes! so here's the problem: the man giving the tour on the trolley (which, thankfully was FREE) really loves to talk about the architecture of trinidad. and though the architecture is really something beautiful and historic, it is nearly impossible to see when you're riding in a trolley car. oh, and only half the windows open, and only a little ways. so it was a sauna in there! we'd park in front of old houses and he'd tell us all about how many italians it took to build that particular building, over so many years, and all the fancy woodwork inside, and how the swimming pool in the basement is wider than the street we're parked on, etc etc etc. (adam and i still joke about that: if there's a whole pile of dishes to be done, for example, one of us will say something like "i bet it will take 7 italians 14 hours to finish all those dishes." just like the man on the trolley! everything in that city was measured by the number of italians and how long it took them to build something. hilarious!) i even saw a silver-haired lady look at her watch more than once during the tour -- so that really tells you something! ha! and at the very end of the tour, we passed by an abandoned hotel and the driver said something like "this is where kit carson and billy the kid used to live back in 18-something-or-another". or something like that. i would have LOVED to have heard that story! let's hear about the history of trinidad, not the architecture which i can't even see from my seat! argh!

but, as i said, it was free. so i can't complain TOO much.

a few weeks later, we were in manitou springs, on our way back from a trip to the top of pikes peak. gracie saw a big green (or was it red?) bus, that in a way looked similar to the trolley that we rode on in trinidad -- and she said, "that looks like fun, but it's really not." ha! does that give you an idea of what we all thought of the tour? as you can see by the picture, both adam and gracie were NOT enjoying themselves. but on the plus side, we now know what NOT to do on our next roadtrip home, and we loved the pretty streets of trinidad so maybe we might stop there at least for an ice cream cone and a stroll through their downtown...