Friday, September 28, 2007
Hunter and I were able to bail out of work a bit early on Wednesday, and we met up with the Carters at Hogle Zoo. Sarah also joined us with her three kids, and we began our fun adventure.
Last week I had talked to Treyton, and I told him about "the Ghost of the Bayou." After confirming with his mom that Aunt Rach was telling the truth, he decided the White Alligator was gonna be pretty awesome. He was eager to check it out, and to be honest so was I. Turns out, this white alligater is pretty strange-looking. This guy is not albino, but has a different genetic disorder that is quite rare. Apparently there are only 10 white alligators in the entire world! Anyway, even though the odd animal didn't move an inch the entire time we were there, it was still pretty amazing to see. Afterward, I could not resist the cute little white alligators in the gift shop so I had to get one for Treyton. This kid just loves animals, and he was SO EXCITED when I presented him with his gift. It made my day!
Here's the cute kids; they fit right in with the rest of the animals on display, don't they?!
While visiting the giraffes, Kasia and I stayed on the upper level to watch them eat while everyone else returned to the main level. After a few minutes, we also went back down to the main level. As we were climbing down the stairs, Kasia caught sight of her twin and exclaimed happily, "KENZIE!!" At almost the same time, Kenzie noticed Kasia approaching and called out "KASIA!!" It was pretty cute. I told Ruth & Brady about it, and they said the twins do this all the time. Apparently they can be in a store, and be separated for just a moment, and as soon as they see each other they call their sister's name as if they had been separated for days! What a bunch of goof troops. I think I'll keep them. :)
Anyway, I'll wrap up this story with some more fun zoo pics. Enjoy.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
So we took a bunch of photos (as always) and I really wanted to share them all. So I figured the best way to do this was to put it into a slideshow. :) If you look at the bottom left of the slideshow, you'll see controls that allow you to speed up/slow down or pause the slides. Also, I added a quick-link to my Flickr site in the sidebar, so you can always go there and browse our thousands of photos to your heart's content. And if you have tortoise-paced internet, well you'll just have to come visit and we can show them to you in person! Yay!
Monday, September 24, 2007
If you look closely at the first photo you can see the steam rising from the lake! What a peaceful, cozy morning...I can't imagine how cool it would be to live here. Except for the whole winter thing...that would be downright freezing. I'd have to hibernate, for sure.
Even though it was our last day of vacation, I couldn't help but be a bit excited because we were on our way to meet our new niece! It was killing me that Essie's little sweetheart still hadn't met her favorite aunt. So when the glorious moment finally arrived, I could hardly contain myself! There is something extra special about meeting my youngest sister's first child. It was unforgettable.
Isn't she gorgeous?
So we spent our last real day of vacation in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was still stormy, and we actually encountered snow! Check out the sights:
We were even able to take the trucks for a walk:
We found this gorgeous lake:
And here's some shots from the peak:
Thursday, September 20, 2007
So, up to this point we have stayed in a hotel every night. Not the most luxurious of accommodations, mind you, but we had a roof over our heads. Well, that was coming to an end, as we brought our camping gear and planned to rough it for the final two nights. As the day wore on, the sky clouded up and the temperature began to drop. I was getting nervous. Nonetheless, we continued on toward Rocky Mountain National Park where we would be pitching tent. As we drew closer, we passed this gorgeous lake and couldn't resist the chance to snap a few shots:
Hunter showed off his rock-skipping skills, and if you look closely you can see he got at least five skips:
The sun started setting and the view was breathtaking:
Is anyone else a bit nervous that I might freeze to death tonight?
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
What an incredible, breathtaking drive. Here are some more highlights:
Check out the cute town of Ouray:
As we travelled through the Rocky Mountains in central Colorado, we saw evidence of coal mines everywhere. It's unbelievable how many there are! We happened upon a coal train that had just been loaded up, in the process of leaving town. This baby was over a mile long! We stopped to watch the proceedings, and Hunter chatted with the brakeman for a brief minute. Before Hunter introduced me to the allure of the train industry, I never would have guessed...train employees are kinda like rock stars! Train fans are passionate fellows, evidenced by their frequent activities & events such as modelling, clubs, and train shows. And of course, what little boy doesn't love a good choo-choo? This shared admiration causes grown men and children alike to tremble with excitement when a train engineer waves back, and brings tears to their eyes when he toots the whistle just for them. In fact, simply being a passenger on the Durango & Silverton made me feel a bit like a celebrity. Every time we passed a road crossing, people were there waiting to take our picture. One guy even chased the train as far as he could, racing ahead to each crossing and then waiting for our arrival. Can you imagine experiencing that kind of popularity every day? I think I would actually look forward to going to work!
We continued onward, and our journey took us through the Eisenhower Tunnel. Actually, the Eisenhower Tunnel is the westbound lane, while the eastbound is the Johnson Tunnel. This was cool because I saw the Modern Marvels episode about the construction of these tunnels. I know, I know...I'm a nerd. Whatever, I still think it was super cool!
So, we arrived in Georgetown and decided to check out the train station. Yup, we're taking another train ride! But that's for another post. Here's a preview of coming attractions:
Monday, September 17, 2007
Our seats were in one of the open cars, because Hunter wanted to be sure we had the best view. He thinks of everything! It was pretty incredible. We were far enough back that we could get some good shots of the engine chugging along, blowing steam and shooting coal cinders into the air. We timed it perfectly because the leaves are changing and the view was absolutely spectacular. There was not a single non-picturesque moment on the entire journey.
The train took us from Durango to Silverton (hence the name) and back again. We left at 9:00 am and returned at 6:30 pm, so it was definitely an excursion. The ride was sold out, which is pretty typical, and the majority of the passengers were antiques; some with grandchildren in tow. Here is our train in Silverton:
Isn't that a remarkable, majestic sight? I would never have imagined I could learn to appreciate the rugged, mechanical beauty of such an oversized beast. Before Hunter and I dated, I thought trains were so archaic and rudimentary; a jumble of metal clanking and banging its way to extinction. Now that I recognize the historical & cultural significance of this powerful force, I am more appreciative of the intricate beauty in the mass of clanging, hissing metal. There is something beautifully haunting in the mournful whistle that echoes through the mountains. It is the somber, desolate cry of history being forgotten.
Oh, and one more thing. I forgot to mention that while we were at Mesa Verde, we made a friend. He tried to follow us home. Isn't this guy cute?
Okay, he's not so cute. In fact he's yucky and mangy and I'm scared of him. But, have you ever seen a coyote this up-close and personal? It's crazy! He should be running for his life! This is definitely atypical coyote behavior. So we had no choice but to obtain photographic evidence.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
As it turns out, our previous road trip was probably our last road trip on the bike...at least for quite a while. The more we ride the bike, the more we decide it may not be the way to go. It is so much fun, and I don't regret the trips we've taken. But you know, one big justification for the bike is that it would save us money and we have found this not to be the case. The maintenance costs for our V-Strom pretty much even the playing field when it comes to cost comparison with a good, economy car. After the previous road trip we had to replace the chain on the bike, which set us back about $275.00. And the tires will need replacing before much longer, which is another $300-ish. So along with the not-so-bargain price tag we also have to deal with limited cargo space (i.e. no RC toys or camping gear), super-sore derrieres, other stiff & achy body parts, stiflingly hot riding gear, trapped bugs in the stiflingly hot riding gear, and the fear of death around every corner. And the upside? Well, it's cool. You feel like a real adventurer. And you see more. And probably a few other things that I can't think of right now, but there's got to be more than that...
So anyway, I digress. The whole point I'm getting at here is that we jumped in the car and didn't know what to do with ourselves. We had music we could actually hear! A climate-controlled environment!! (Not that it stopped me from whining...) Cupholders and snacks!! My latest novel! And the best part of all? NAPS FOR RACHIE!!!!! Praises!!! Needless to say, we were in hog heaven. Or something like it, anyway.
We drove a lot...I don't remember much because I was either reading or sleeping...and at some point we arrived at Mesa Verde. Here are some sweet shots:
It is so amazing to consider the amount of work these communities required, and the stamina and fortitude they must have had. It sure made me conscious of my lack of these attributes, and reminded me how lucky I am to have such luxuries as restaurants and grocery stores. I look at the incredible structures that have survived for centuries, and feel so far removed from its inhabitants. We took a tour to the cliff palace and our tour guide pointed out the "chinking" in the mud between each brick. Chinking refers to the small rocks sometimes placed in the mud to strengthen it and stretch it further so they used less. Mud, that is. And when I looked at those tiny rocks placed strategically and aesthetically, I was struck by the personal touch of this thoughtful effort. What was going through the young woman's mind as she carefully pressed each pebble into the thick mud, waiting for her young husband to spread another layer before she added the next? Or was it an older man who was relegated to this task, his strength too long spent to be of much use elsewhere in the community? Maybe it was the heat, or the Santa Ana winds, but I found myself pondering the philosophical and existential wonders of these mysterious people.
After my need for pensive soul-searching resolved itself, we journeyed on to Durango. We are looking forward to a gorgeous train ride in the breathtaking mountains of Colorado. I am also anxiously awaiting news of Esther's impending bundle of joy. More to come!!