Thursday, August 15, 2019

Colorado: Part 4

We left Sherry’s to go back to the airport.  Our drive out was so pretty!  If only I could have figured out how to get it all captured in my camera…


We decided to go through Colorado Springs and drive through Garden of the Gods.  It is a spot that I always love.  The first thing we came to was Balancing Rock.  This is always a fun first stop. 


The 1-1/2 hours we had there was not long enough, especially when 45 minutes was spent in the trading post!  We hadn’t shopped anywhere in Colorado, so I guess here was as good as any for a souvenir.  I got a hoodie.  Madison bought a t-shirt.  Ellie bought a stuffed animal wolf with a Colorado hoodie.  Jeremy, uncharacteristically, bought nothing.  Madison and Ellie always bought sand to pan for rocks.  They found some “real” gems!


We also tried a short hike, which wasn’t as short as we wanted, and was a little more miserable than we wanted between the heat and tired girls. 

Then, we just drove by sightsaw (is that a word??) what we could.  We were pressed for time at that point to try to get to the airport.

Then we hit an accident.  Then, I had to check-in because I had a bag.  Then, the security checkpoint took 15 minutes at least.  Then, the bag scanner broke in our line.  Then, my bag was held back because I always carry food that sets off their machine.  (Note to self: remove food from bag next time.)  Then, the bag before mine to be checked had a pocketknife in it and the lady walked off to put it somewhere… and my bag just sat there… Then, we made it to the gate… barely.  Then, we sat on the plane because as luck would have it there were 13 passengers coming from San Francisco that needed to catch this flight.  So, we weren’t the last ones! 

We settled in, watched the TV on the seatback, which kept the kids pretty well occupied.  And as we flew over Indiana and into Ohio we were blessed with this sunset.  Madison said, “It’s as pretty above the clouds as from the ground.”


Jeremy also caught a glimpse of Progressive Field from the air to mirror the Indians game he was watching on board.  We climbed into our car and headed home.  We fell in bed at 12:30am.  Now to get on Eastern Time before school starts on Monday.

Colorado: Part 3

From Salida, we headed up the mountain to Sherry and Bruce’s home.  I had forgotten how far up they lived and also how many homes were really around them. 


Madison was still fighting her fever, so we pushed the girls through the shower and tucked them in bed before really spending any time talking.  The first two nights here were a little rough – a lot of getting up for me with uncomfortable, scared kids – but it was fine. 

We hung out at the cabin some.  Sherry had broken her hand about two weeks prior, so we tried to help out as much as possible.  Ellie helped mix up and make pancakes one morning.

Another day, the girls were busy baking cream cheese brownies and eating the caramel from the caramel rolls.


One day, Jeremy took them on short rides on the four wheeler. 


We watched the hummingbirds, played ladderball and horseshoes, ate well, read, watched a movie, talked, and played with the dominos… endlessly!


Jeremy had to go to Aspen for another job site, so he left on Saturday morning to take a winding road over Independence Pass… kinda a harrowing experience from the sounds of it.

Sherry, the girls, and I took the time to tour around Alpine and go to St. Elmo, an old mining town. If you look close you can see marmots in the pictures with the white building.


There, we got to feed the chipmunks.  They LOVE sunflower seeds.  Madison fed them off her shoe, her leg, and her hand.  Ellie stuck to her hand. I just fed them to keep them from crawling all over me.


The next day (Sunday), Jeremy and Bruce went out fly fishing.  Jeremy had a blast and caught a few fish.  Bruce did, too.  Apparently, this brown trout was big and a great catch!

While they fished, we girls went up Alpine Tunnel hike.  It is a fairly easy hike with the path following an old train track.  It was where I took most of the flower pictures.  We first stopped to see Ellie Bell mine.


We hiked for about 50 minutes – until we saw the Columbine flower – then we turned around and hit a little rain on the way to the car. 


It was so good to see my aunt and uncle again.  I think the last time they visited was in 2013.  I had seen them when I had gone to Oklahoma for Grandpa’s funeral.  But the girls didn’t know them at all.  Sherry said it was good to get to know your kids.  And I agree.  That’s what family is – getting to know one another.  Hopefully, they will make it out this way soon, and it will not be our last trip to Colorado.  We are so thankful for the time they gave us while we were there and the memories we made. 

Colorado: Part 2

After the Sand Dunes, we headed north to Salida.  Former MVSers were camping in that area with their kids, and it was on our way to my aunt and uncle’s house.  It was such a blessing how everything worked out to see people. 

We played in Riverside Park in Salida before meeting them at Amica’s for pizza and again after supper altogether. 


It was good to see one another and catch up.  While I knew nothing about what was happening with them, Claire is one of my loyal blog followers and knew all about our adventures since we last saw each other 11 years ago!  It is cool how when you reconnect with someone, you can just pick up right where you left off in your friendship.  Claire, Taylor, Nora, and Olive, it was good to see you!


The other thing we remembered about Colorado this trip were the wildflowers.  They were beautiful.  Many of these came from a later hike we took with my aunt Sherry, but I am posting them here.  Apparently on that hike, the meadow opened up to the beauty of the flowers.  (Madison was still not her best self, so we didn’t see them.)


A few neat looking toadstools.  Sherry later said the red mushroom will sting you if you pick it.  Glad I didn’t try.


And the state flower, Columbine

Colorado: Part 1

Jeremy came outside a couple weeks ago and just looked at me strangely/excitedly.  He said, “You want to go to Colorado?”  I obviously said yes.  And then the search and work began – taking the girls? contacting friends and family in Colorado, figuring out where to go with him for work and where not to go, finding cheap airfare, working around plans (4-H judging, school open house, his family coming in), etc. But we did it!  We left on Wednesday, August 7 in two groups.

Jeremy went out first to do the work at his Denver area sites.  On the flight out, our friend who flies as a pilot for United was in the cockpit.  Afterwards, Jeremy got to sit in the pilot’s seat next to him.  Pretty cool!

Gloria took us to the airport around 1pm.  We boarded our plane by 4.  And landed at 5:30 mountain time.  Jeremy picked us up, and we headed to see former MVSers, David and Emmy and their kids (Anna and Ezra).  They had us for a delicious meal.  The kids had a great time playing while we caught up for awhile.  Around 9, we had to say good-bye; it was 11pm back home, and we were all slowly wilting.  Here are the kids.  I have tried 5 times (at least) to post the one of the adults, but for some reason it won’t work. (Silent screaming…)


We checked in the hotel and were all asleep by 9:30pm.  The next morning we woke earlier than we needed to, ate breakfast, and started the longest travel day of the trip to southern Colorado, specifically, Trinidad.  The scenery was amazing.  It is what I like about Colorado – mountains contrasted with wide open expanses, mountain creeks rushing, and this year, wildflowers… more on those later!


In Trinidad, Jeremy left the girls and I to play in a pretty awesome community pool.  It felt good to stretch our legs and wear our bodies out a bit.  Madison and I did the slide multiple times: Ellie braved the climb to the top, but couldn’t quite convince herself to go down. 


By the time we tired out, Jeremy returned from his work, and we crawled back in the car for the second drive of the day. 

This time, we moved farther west into the San Luis Valley where Jeremy and I did our year of volunteer work with MVS.  We past Blanca Peak (4th highest mountain in Colorado), which we climbed.  (See post here.). 

Our destination was Calvillos, an amazing Mexican restaurant where we were meeting our leader from MVS and her husband (Alice and Andy).  We forgot to take the picture, but they looked like we remembered.  They were also as kind as we remembered.  It was so good to reconnect for a bit. 

We drove the 15 minutes to La Jara to show the girls our home we stayed in.  We were blessed by the sunset on the way there and back.


Finally, we hauled to tired bodies back to a hotel and fell into bed. The next morning we woke up a little later, had breakfast, and headed for the Great Sand Dunes National Park.  It is an amazing place. 


We hiked the dunes for awhile, which was a little easier to do than I remember because there had been rain the night before and the sand had a slight packing quality to it.


We practiced jumping off the dunes.

The vastness is what always startles me, I think.  It just seems to go on forever.


There was even water still flowing in Medano Creek because of the heavy snowfall this winter/spring.  We played and walked through that on our way out. 


We ate at Milagros Coffee House, a branch of the La Puente Homeless Shelter I worked at.  Madison had been a little off all morning, so after lunch I took her temperature – 101.5.  Ugh.  She ended up fighting this through Saturday.  I think it was caused by just being overtired. 

Madison’s 4-H

Madison joined 4-H for the first time this year.  Ellie joined Cloverbuds, a group that meets at the same time, but has less responsibility. 

Madison decided to do Cake Decorating as her project. We had no idea what to expect.  Our three books arrived, and we looked them over.  It seemed a bit intense – 2 learning experiences, 3 leadership opportunities, 5 cakes/cookies/cupcakes decorated, budgeting, an essay, a final judging cake, poster etc.  But we did it!  We were working on 1) level cake, 2) smooth frosting, 3) stars, 4) rosettes, 5) dots, and 6) making a good frosting.


Her five projects included a chocolate frosted cake, a cake for Easter, a cake for Camp Luz outdoor service, cookies for MCC cookie corner, and cupcakes to share with MCC Volunteers.  Here are some of her experiences:

Her final project was done on a Styrofoam cake mold.  As we started to decorate this, we realized that frosting doesn’t stick to Styrofoam as well as an actual cake.  So, it was a bit more challenging than we expected, but it turned out well.

She went to judging on Tuesday, August 6.  She had to register all by herself, which was a little scary for her, but she did it.  She also had to go into judging all by herself, answer questions, and present her poster and cake. 


She did a great job based on the judge’s comments.  She was awarded an Outstanding!  the highest level of achievement.  It was pretty cool.

I was very proud of her.  She didn’t really love this project like she thought she would.  I think she wanted to just be able to do whatever she wanted, but she felt confined by the learning process.  I am not sure if that was me pushing her to practice her star and dots and know the basic tips or just trying to follow the directions.  But she persevered through budgeting math (what did we already have, what did we buy, did we make a profit – the answer is no), multiple practice sessions, and more.  In the end, she was proud of her work. 

She said next year she will do another project, maybe scrapbooking…

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Ohio Mennonite Relief Sale

The first weekend of August always bring the Ohio Mennonite Relief Sale.  I think it is a fun time.  It is not the fair with rides and animals, but it is a time to stroll around, buy a few things, eat good food, and know all your money goes toward a good cause.  If you don’t know what Mennonite Central Committee is check it out here.  Basically, they are an organization that is in 62 countries currently being the hands and feet of Jesus.  They meet both physical and spiritual needs.  And they care about the places they are.  It is pretty cool.

So, Thursday morning, the girls and I joined about 40 other volunteers to roll egg rolls that were for sale at the Relief Sale.  It is a major fundraiser. I mean, we rolled roughly 5000 egg rolls that sell at a suggested donation of $1.50/roll.  That is $7500 if people give exactly what they suggest, but often people give a little more, rather than a little less.  It is amazing.  We had fun rolling.  Madison, Ellie, and I all rolled.  The goal is to make a tightly rolled egg roll without cracks that won’t fall apart in the fryer.  I think we did a pretty good job.

Friday, we saw some friends,

rode a train,

and we went ate egg rolls, BBQ chicken, fried fish sandwich, fresh squeezed lemonade, elderberry and black raspberry pies, and ice cream!  Whew!  We don’t mess around! 

We returned Saturday.  Jeremy volunteered to help with parking for 3 hours. 

The girls and I went to the children’s auction to learn to bid on stuff.  Madison bid on a hydroponics set – our budding scientist.  She got it for $20. 


Ellie bid on a nurse Barbie – a future job on her radar.  She got it (kinda accidentally) for $35.  You know how bidding goes.. you look away but nod your head and you just upped the bid.  Well, that happened.  No biggie. 

We also helped with hygiene kits (hand towel, comb, toothbrush, nail clipper, soap, and toothpaste in a cloth bag).  The kids’ goal was 400 hygiene kits; we did 18.  The goal was met by the time we had eaten a few more egg rolls and drank a smoothie. 


It is a good time if you are ever in the area the first weekend of August.