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!

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