S: Denver, Colorado July 2011
FC: de Vries 545635 Pattullo Woodstock, ON N4S 7W3 | 2011 | DENVER, COLORADO
1: At 8 p.m. on Monday, June 27th, 2011, Esther and Marisa arrived in Hamilton at grandpa and grandma's house. There was lots of excitement and anticipation "in the air" not to mention hugs and kisses, tickles and giggles. | "We are finally going to Denver!" | Nathaniel and Nicola knew the emotions Esther and Marisa were experiencing; they also traveled to Denver when they turned ten years old. The purpose of these trips is for all four kids to meet and know their family in the States and, more particularly, their great-grandmother, Mrs. Caroline Ruth Veldhouse, who will turn 85 years old, D.V., on September 20, 2011. | Since their great-grandmother was not feeling well, Marisa took her trip earlier with Esther. Before leaving, mom wrote them each a personal and special letter to take along with them to read. It was soon time to say "good-bye".
2: The girls got up at 7:45. Esther slept on the couch downstairs but she was not comfortable; "couldn't get her head right". Dad called to say "good-bye" and so we had them call mom, as well, before leaving at 10 a.m. We had no hassles at the border. On the way to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, we played a game in the car finding things from A to Z. When we reached Buffalo, we saw buffalo statues along side of the road. At the airport, we parked the car in the parking lot and had a shuttle ride to the terminal. Esther wrote: "At the airport it was busy. People hurrying, kids crying, parents talking and the speaker guy speaking but half the time people weren't even listening". Staff handled our tickets and checked in our suitcases. "We had to take our shoes off; grandpa had to take his belt off too". We had a type of warm egg and bacon toasted sub sandwich and a fruit drink before getting on the plane. The stewardess allowed the girls to sit in the cockpit. Marisa wrote: "I got to sit in the pilot's seat. There were lots and lots of important buttons that are used to drive the airplane. It's cool. I liked it. I love planes. The only part I do not like is that my ears pop. The plane's name was Southwest."
3: After meeting the pilot, the girls turned around and saw all the passengers on the plane. Passengers were not assigned seats on this flight and so by the time we were ready to sit down, it was not possible for the four of us to sit together. We went to the back of the plane. Grandpa sat a few rows ahead of us, next to a black man. Esther wrote: "Marisa and grandma were sitting with a nice old man who had like a Hawaiian shirt on. Me, well, first I sat by the window with a super nice woman and man who asked me questions and were nice but then I had to sit with these two girls; they barely talked to me and the girl near the window gave a certain look to the next girl when she figured out that I had to sit with them. I offered them candy-this gummy life saver candy and they took it, of course". We left Buffalo at 2:40 p.m. The stewardess gave us peanuts and Sprite to drink. Esther asked, "How come they (the stewardesses) get to walk around?" Grandma told her that it is their job to give the passengers something to eat and drink, to answer any questions they may have and to keep them comfortable. Esther later went to the washroom; she thought it was "cool" but small. She also thought flushing the toilet "made a lot of noise". We arrived in Chicago Midway at 3:20 p.m
4: We had to change plans in Chicago and leave at 5:45 p.m. This gave us just over an hour to wait. Esther and grandma each had a four-berry smoothie and Marisa and grandpa had a strawberry-banana smoothie. The girls enjoyed walking on the moving walkway, as well as, munching on a large lollipop while watching all the people go by. Grandpa met and talked with a 'loner'-type of fellow, a 7th grader, named Dillon who was also going to Denver to visit his grandparents. | On the plane, grandpa sat with Dillon and another lady; Marisa, Esther and grandma sat across from them. Esther sat by the window half of the way from Chicago to Denver and Marisa, the other half. The stewardess served nuts and crackers. "It won't be long now and we will be landing!"
5: Esther wrote: "We went to the Southwest gate where uncle James picked us up. 'UNCLE JAMES IS THE COOLEST'----(he told me to write that down in my book when we got home). He is funny". | We went for a ride on the underground train, getting off at the last concourse stop to pick up our luggage. The girls enjoyed that ride and thought it went fast. | Denver | R | V
6: When we stepped in the door, there was great-grandma sitting in the big chair watching TV. She was very surprised and happy to see us but thought we were coming in a couple of days! Esther wrote: "Emily, Liz and Erica had gone for a walk, but Evan was home. I met great-grandma, she has to have a thing in her nose so she can breathe oxygen. It's like she is on a dog leash". We brought our things to the trailer located in the backyard and then came back to the house. Esther writes: "We told her like 1,000 times that we were sleeping in the trailer! Then we met Emily, Elizabeth and Erica-they are nice. Erica has seven earrings and dyed part of her hair pink, the day before we came". Aunt LuAnn went to a concert and so we did not see her until the next day. We were all very tired. The girls slept on the left side of the trailer and grandpa and grandma on the right side. It was about 11:00 p.m., our time, before the girls were in bed.
7: Marisa wrote: "I had a good sleep. In the morning, I was up early. I heard grandpa wake up at about 7:50 our time". It was rather cramped in the trailer but we all did our best to keep it neat and organized. We had waffles for breakfast and were ready to leave by 10:15 to visit Morrison and Dinosaur Ridge. We had a call from mom just as we were leaving, to give grandma the health insurance information that she forgot to give us earlier. | We met Erin at Dinosaur Ridge. She had worked there for a long time already; dinosaurs are her passion. Esther wrote: "Great-grandma came along with her oxygen tank but we forgot to bring her wheel chair and so Erica went back home to get it". Erin let us walk through the gift shop to buy a few things. Marisa bought a variety of rocks. Esther wrote: "I got a fish fossil, a cut stone and rock bookends". | "We went to the snack shack and I bought a leg-long Fun Dip in a straw. We went into the museum for free since Erin was their cousin and since we are family, we got a discount in the gift shop".
8: Erin took us on a tour seeing actual dinosaur tracks. She explained that one set of prints belonged to that of a baby dinosaur next to mothers'. She also showed us the "hole" left when robbers took one of the prints right out of the stone, creating a terrific loss for the public. As a result, this area is now off limits to the public, unless they are with a tour guide such as Erin. It was rather fascinating listening to her explain that this used to be part of a beach. You are able to see fossils but are no longer allowed to gather them up since they want to actively preserve the area now.
9: Here are two Hercules' holding up the world; we never knew they were so strong! Actually the area they are "lifting" is the three dimensional footprint of a dinosaur. Support poles have been placed there for preservation purposes. The tour was split into three different sections. We first saw the dinosaur tracks and then the dinosaur bones, followed with an explanation of the various layers of the rock. Marisa liked Erin's story that we should see these layers as pancakes which have been placed on top of each other (as shown in the picture below). The bottom pancakes or layers, of course, are squished more than those on top.
10: Erin explained the bone parts and where they would have been located on the dinosaur.
11: D | I | N | O | S | A | U | R | B | O | N | E | S
12: Posing with two of our dinosaur friends.
13: Before leaving Dinosaur Ridge, we quickly went back into the gift shop to buy postcards and stamps before going on to our next stop. You can tell from this picture that great-grandma is getting tired. She never complained and was just happy she could do things with us. We decided to go out for a pizza; was yummy! | Dear Nathaniel, Having fun. Love, E & M
14: Marisa wrote: "At the Morrison Museum, my cousins and I took pictures. We then saw amazing | chiseled bones from rocks. It was nice that great-grandma could come along with us in her wheelchair through this museum. | In case Marisa and I don't come out of here alive, please give Nicola our stuffed animals and ........ Love, Esther | animals like two snakes, three turtles... dinosaur bones and very cool sculptures". We saw how they
15: We really enjoyed eating some great-tasting ice cream at the "Blue Cow Eatery" in Morrison, especially when the temperature outside was rather warm. Marisa wrote: "It was delicious!" Esther and Marisa each had a vanilla cone dipped in butterscotch. While grandma took care of great-grandma, the girls went with grandpa to the stream for a bit; Marisa said her shoe got a little wet. She wrote: "We saw a British bulldog (I think) in the water". It had been a very busy day and since everyone was tired, decided to go home. Finally met LuAnn and after more introductions, the girls went outside to play. Marisa wrote: "We jumped on the trampoline and played a fun game called 'Don't Break The Ice' but we played the game the opposite way--'Break The Ice'. Later we went inside to play". The adults sat around watching TV, deciding what groceries to buy and what to do on what days. At around 9 p.m., our time, grandma asked the girls go to the trailer and to read their mom's letter. Esther wrote: "It was nice, mom!" They were to also write in their diary's even though they were tired; it is not good to get behind. It was not their favorite thing to do but as you can see, it is nice reading their comments as we progress through their holiday story. Grandpa took Evan for a ride in Evan's car to spend some time with him as well, since he wasn't with us today. | BLUE COW EATERY
16: It is Thursday, June 30th, 2011. We slept in until 8 a.m. or so. Esther wrote that she had an awesome sleep and Marisa wrote that she had a good sleep but laid in bed for a long time before hopping out. After a breakfast of cold cereal, we wrote postcards to various people and mailed them. | We had hot dogs for lunch and took two cars to go to SKATE CITY for roller skating because we could not all fit into one car. Great-grandma really enjoyed watching all the kids skate. She used to do a lot of that when she was young. It brought back lots of memories for her; of course it is more fun with colored lights and music! It was nice to see the girls hold hands while they skated. Marisa wrote: "We had to roller skate with four wheels. It was hard to skate. We played games such as Spider Walk".
17: After their workout, we went to McDonald's before going to Lorrie's grave site. Marisa wrote: "I saw Aunt Lorrie's grave stone. I sat down beside it and grandma took a picture". Before going home, we also drove through the trailer park where great-grandma used to live for ten years. Her trailer is still empty since she left it to live with Aunt LuAnn and it is beginning to look "run down". When she lived there, great-grandma often drove by the Fort Logan Cemetery (for Veterans) to get her groceries and do other errands. She told us that she would always wave and say "Hi Lorrie" as she went by. Her husband's tragic death, as well as Lorrie's, was emotionally very difficult for her. Her husband's grave remains in Deer Park, Wisconsin; it was too much of a hassle to move it. She has made previous arrangements to be buried here some day with Lorrie. | FORT LOGAN CEMETERY
18: We decided not to go to Lakeside Amusement Park since the weather was threatening rain and thunderstorms. Esther wrote: "We ate crab apples (they tasted good) and threw them at the cars. It was fun. We threw a crab apple at an ice cream truck and hit it". Grandma made a chicken and potato dinner. Afterwards, grandpa and aunt LuAnn planted sunflowers and great-grandma and grandma watched the girls play on the trampoline. Esther wrote: "Marisa tripped over Elizabeth and Marisa fell on top of me and bent my glasses!" Thankfully she was still able to wear them. We stayed in the trailer just right of the trampoline. The girls served us all a dish of ice cream; that was nice of them--except it was almost a meal! After spending a little time writing in their diaries again, the girls called home at 9 p.m., our time. Since no one answered the home phone, they called Dad on his cell phone. They were camping and would not be back until Sunday night. Esther wrote: " We went to bed in a thunderstorm--such lovely music to my ears!"
20: It is now Friday, July 1, 2011. The girls took a shower after breakfast. We all went to a Mexican Restaurant for lunch. Jared, Erica's boyfriend also came along. One of the waitresses did not know her English very well. The girls had chicken quesadillas with rice and beans. They liked it.
21: We then went to the Denver Zoo. The highlights were the monkeys, especially the baby, as well as the polar bears in the water. | It was a very warm day; and would you know, most of the attractions were outside!
22: Esther wrote: "At the zoo we saw zebras, lions, peacocks, apes, gorillas and monkeys. The monkeys were funny because they would show their teeth to us and try to hit us through the glass. The snakes and fish were all sorts of colors and sizes. It's amazing what God can make - so many different kinds of animals!" It was fun riding this cart to get from one point to another. The zoo covered a large area. | The girls had fun playing near the water in the kids' section of the zoo. Emily and Elizabeth got soaked and had to walk around the rest of the time like that since they did not bring another set of clothes with them. We then went home.
23: While the girls were playing on the trampoline, they heard the ice cream truck. They did not know where it went but wanted to find out, so went to the curve. Marisa writes about the bee episode: "Emily, Esther, and Elizabeth took a look back and saw that the bee was alive! Elizabeth screamed very loud. The neighbor peeked out over the fence and said, "'Screaming is a little disruptive, O.K.?" They were apparently trying to enjoy their dinner. They asked grandpa if he wanted to go for a walk. He said, "O.K. but get something on your feet." That was fine except grandma thought it would be nice for them to first watch a short Imax movie showing astronauts going through space training. They went to the park awhile before going to bed. | Esther went on to say, "Emily gave me her 'wheels' to keep! She gave me my dream present!" Emily told her that they were really too small for her. Esther was thrilled and practiced on them every chance she could get..... | The next day we went to the Red Rocks Amphitheater. Esther wrote: "We went to Red Rocks where famous singers go to perform; they do not need a microphone. An exercise fitness group was there doing exercises." Marisa wrote: "Red Rocks is fun!"
24: The fitness group did not just go up the stairs once; they did it two or three times. They also climbed up the stairs backwards on the sides of the main area. The one girl in the center of the bottom picture was accidentally kicked in the face by the person just below her, who ended up going faster than she did. They put ice packs on her forehead for awhile. We walked through the museum looking at all the pictures and memento's of all the various singers who had performed there in the open air under the stars, over the years. We then drove to the nearby town of Morrison, parked both cars by Blue Cow Eatery and went into some of the shops. Marisa bought a little bowl for Nicola and a wind chime for mom. For lunch, we made our own sandwiches at home out of various sliced meats, tomatoes, cheeses, lettuce, mustard, mayonnaise,......... Yum-yum.
25: Esther wrote: "After going to Red Rocks, we went to Madison's house to play." Uncle Verlyn, aunt Jodi and Nicki arrived from Omaha, Nebraska at 2 p.m. We ordered lots of pizza and everyone came together to eat it by the picnic tables at Bear Creek Lake park. Marisa wrote: "The pizza was good. We also went swimming in a lake. Lizzy and I were looking for 'cry-dads' (crayfish) but we did not find any".
27: Sun, Sand, Water, Family and Fun
28: K I D S P L A Y A D U L T S T A L K
29: After a real nice and relaxing time together with all the family, and even Pearl the dog, we then went home to get our sweaters and snacks and to be ready and organized for the fireworks display. Marisa had a quick shower first. We parked our cars in the Baptist Church parking lot up the mountain a bit and then sat on chairs and on the grass looking down over the whole city. It was a perfect view! Marisa sat with grandma most of the time in a nice 'comfy' chair. There was a nice breeze and we felt very comfortable wearing a light jacket. There was something very relaxing and almost soothing as we looked at all the twinkling city lights and stars while waiting for the fireworks to begin. There was a delay and so we waited for a long time for the fireworks to start but when they did, they lasted a little over a half hour or so. It was a very pretty show and, of course, it is always the best right at the end. Esther wrote: "It was late and so we went to bed".
30: Today is Sunday, July 3, 2011. Esther and grandma had a shower and then at 10 a.m. grandpa and grandma took great-grandma and Lizzy to church with Esther and Marisa. Great-grandma goes to the Bear Creek Presbyterian Church in Lakewood not far from her trailer. Emily went with her parents to meet with a renter at their other house. We were early to church and so were able to have a small coffee and a bite of cake there. The kids received candy. Dr. Coleman had a good sermon. The girls had Sunday School on the Passover and the adults had communion. Esther wrote: "Today we went to church. It was fun". Uncle Verlyn, aunt Jodi and Nicki stayed in a motel this weekend and by the time we were home from church, they had arrived at aunt LuAnn's house. Aunt Jodi and grandma made some grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch and also prepared some hamburger patties to barbecue later on. Aunt LuAnn and James had planned to go to a Red Rocks concert for a long time already and so went to that. The rest of us decided to do something as well, rather than just stay at the house. We decided on going to Heritage Square to walk around there awhile. It is a western-type village with lots of specialty shops and displays as well as an amusement park. It was a very warm day and so we had some smoothies as we walked around. We saw Beth from the Dog-Bounty Hunter Show. Grandpa asked her where the "Dog" was. She had said--"Somewhere around here". Esther bought a cow-girl hat, a sample of gold and a "Coffee-Yeah" sign. We did not go on any rides. It was too warm to stay too long.
31: After our little outing, we went home and uncle Verlyn barbecued the hamburgers we prepared earlier. We had all the trimmings to go with it, besides a potato salad and a fresh fruit salad. Esther wrote: " For supper we had barbecued hamburgers. I put a lot of mustard on it". Marisa wrote: "They were so good!" We cleaned up and then while Erica stayed with great-grandma, everyone else took a walk to the nearby park. Aunt LuAnn and uncle James were not going to be home till late. The girls had a picture taken with the other "kids" in the park. The fireworks were on again tonight and so everyone went again. Grandma stayed home with great-grandma. Marisa wrote: "We parked near the fireworks. The fireworks were pretty and so was the 'grand finale". Everyone said 'good-bye' to uncle Verlyn, aunt Jodi and Nicki since they were leaving early in the morning from their motel.
32: It is the fourth of July today!! | It is a holiday BUT it is so hot outside - over 100 degrees. | No one feels like doing anything-it' just too hot. | BESIDES everything will | probably be closed. | The girls put the water on under the trampoline. That | was a very good way to cool off. | The fan was on in the house. Esther wrote: "The next day was so hot, I was going to | BURST! So we stayed | home". It was actually very warm every | day but some days, like this one, were over the top. We | did not feel | like doing | anything! It was so hot that even the garage door opener didn't work... | We did not go to see the fireworks. We were too "drained" to go, besides | the late hour, just did not appeal to us. The girls already were | driving through all the traffic jams to get home, not to mention | at two displays anyway. | Grandpa took the girls for a walk when it was a bit cooler. | While the kids played, the adults watched | a movie. Aunt LuAnn made homemade | Mexican Chili. You take a tortilla, put a layer of fried beans on it and top | it with grated cheese and then roll it up and enjoy. You may put some chili sauce on top or/and | some sour cream | and even more grated cheese. The sauce is light orange | and has pieces of | pork in it. We were really glad we stayed put for the day and the night. | Taught the girls the "Five finger" prayer. We enjoyed our | 4th of | July | 2 | 0 | 1 | 1 | H O T | privacy and quiet times in the trailer.
33: Sleeping Beauties | We spent lots of time talking, laughing and giggling over numerous stories, jokes, events, and what ever else came to mind. Some times we giggled and didn't even know why!! We talked late at night and early in the morning. We gave out lots of hugs and kisses and the girls even crawled into bed with Grandpa and Grandma to talk and snuggle even more.
34: The Five Finger Prayer | 1. Your THUMB is nearest you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember. 2. The POINTER finger should remind us to pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. 3. The next finger is the TALLMAN. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the minister, leaders in business, industry and administration. These people lead our nation and guide public opinion and need God's guidance.
35: 4. The fourth finger is our RING finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger, as any piano teacher will testify. Pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain. They need our prayers day and night. 5. Our little PINKY is the smallest finger of all, which is where we should place ourselves, in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, "The least shall be the greatest among you". By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.
37: Great-grandma was able to come along. This is what her oxygen tank looks like when she needs oxygen for a long periods of time. It's nice having her along; she has a good sense of humor and we know she enjoys being with us so much. | This exhibit was very interesting. It shows the steps of figuring out what a mummy looked like in real life. Esther is next in line........ | Grandpa made pancakes for everyone. This day was another hot one but we all still went to the Denver Science and Nature Museum after grandma and aunt LuAnn returned from shopping a couple of hours at the Kohl's store. While they were gone, Esther and Marisa called home. Marisa wrote: "First we went into a tiny elevator that was very squishy and barely fit a wheel chair and seven people. Lizzy pressed # 3 and we were there in five seconds. On that floor there was a mummy in a coffin. The outside of the coffin was very beautiful." Esther thought the mummies were "cool".
39: Esther wrote: "We went to the discovery zone where we learned about tornado's and that a pencil can go right through a piece of wood". | MUSEUM ATTRACTIONS
40: Esther wrote: "We saw lots of animals in their habitat like buffalo, bear, deer, mountain goats, etc. (How they did this was KILL an animal, then put its habitat picture in the background). It really looks real." | We then went into the exercise section. Marisa went to an exhibit that shows how a person's bones look and move along with the action that person's does. If you spread out your arms, the skeleton does the same; it was a rather fun and interesting exercise. | Even great- grandma had fun trying on some ears. Now, how is that for size?
41: There were many interesting things to experiment with. Another fun and popular spot was the exhibit which shows you what you will look like in various stages of your life. These two pictures show Marisa just beginning the process and also what she will look like at age 45. It goes up to age 70. Well, what do you think?
42: Your body gives off infrared light | Wolf sculptures outside of the museum | This mirror makes you look funny! | There were even more things to do in the exercise room. Esther wrote: "We went to the exercise room. Now that was fun. There was a tube like thing with a screen in front; after you pedal, you would feel going up and down, till it was so tiresome. We also went to the Space Odyssey to see space things. At the gift shop I bought pirates' gold and 'Frosty'", Marisa bought a dinosaur shirt--reminds us of the dinosaur sculpture at Dinosaur Ridge. In the evening we all watched 'The Father's Bride'.
43: Grandpa took Marisa, Esther, Evan and Josh to the 16th Street Mall. Grandma stayed home with great-grandma, Emily and Elizabeth and did lots of laundry. They went to Johnny Rockets. Esther had a strawberry shake and Marisa a root beer float. Everyone returned at 2:00 p.m. Marisa bought a tiger bank and the two girls bought a hat for Nathaniel. Grandpa also took the two guys bowling; the girls watched. Aunt LuAnn and uncle James had to deal with a renter that may be moving into their other house.
44: It is now Thursday, July 7, 2011. Grandpa took Evan and the four girls to IHOP for breakfast and then to the Carmody Swimming Pool which opened at one p.m. Since it was still hot outside, the pool was the only place the girls really wanted to go. Grandma stayed home with great-grandma. The pool closed at five p.m. since there was bad weather outside. There was lots of lightning, rain and thunder. Severe warning signs were announced on the TV. Grandma worried about them because they didn't come home until six p.m. After supper, we relaxed watching TV since it rained for a long time, even after we all went to bed.
45: The next day we packed some clothes for Colorado Springs. Plan to leave when uncle James and aunt LuAnn come home from work. Grandma spent some time with Marisa teaching her cursive writing. We went through the capital letters. Erica wanted to take us to a Vietnamese Restaurant to have Pho soup. We left at one p.m. We all enjoyed it. Esther and Marisa had tried it before. Dad took them to a similar restaurant back home in Woodstock.
46: Grandpa drove great-grandma's car to Colorado Springs. She rode in her car as well as Esther, Marisa and grandma. The others rode in aunt LuAnn's car. The time went fast; the two girls sang a wide variety of songs all the way there. We settled in at the Days Inn. Of course, it wasn't long before the girls went swimming in the heated outdoor pool...right next to the motel. The day again had been very warm. We ordered Chinese food in and then the girls went swimming again. Great-grandma slept in our room. We did not hear her all night but she said she got up lots of times. The girls either slept on the floor or on a chair bed since we just had two queen beds.
47: We had a Continental Breakfast at the motel office before going to the Garden of the Gods. Could find lots of imaginative shapes-- such as "the man with a hat" on the picture below. We enjoyed going to the Trading Center as well. There was a wide variety of souvenirs to tempt us to buy.
48: We were all hungry for a Submarine Sandwich and so that is just what we did next before going on to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. Of course, great-grandma could not take a wheel chair up the stairs and so she happily agreed to sit near her "gold" colored Saturn car (which she bought to celebrate her "golden" years) and watch all the people go by. She had been to this site before her wheel chair days and so it was no problem to just relax in the shade now. Actually, quite a few sat down next to her with the same idea in mind. She really enjoyed talking with them; they were from all over the country. | Can you see great-grandma sitting by the entrance to the Cliff Dwellings in the second picture? This photo also gives a bird's eye view of "the lay of the land". Later, we also went through the souvenir shop where Marisa bought her moccasins.
50: The girls mentioned that the Indian Cave Dwelling was "like a playground". There were little holes here and there where you went in and out and climbed ladders from one room into another. Their houses were made out of sticks and broken pieces of brick. Their roof's were made of sticks. The girls learned how the Hopi Indians survived in the summer and in the winter months. For protection, they went far behind the hallways in the winter. They lived on flowers and nature and made clothes and shoes from animal skins. These authentic Anasazi dwellings were built more than 700 years ago. The gift shop offered free fudge samples. Esther purchased her mom's stone heart here.
54: Cave of the Winds
55: Grandpa took Evan and the four girls on the tour into the Cave of the Winds, which is an underground cave filled with beautiful crystals and stone columns. The rest of the group spent time in the souvenir shop or sitting in the entrance hall. They had already seen it in previous years. It was a long tour-close to two hours or so, but it was worth it. The camera battery went dead shortly after the tour started and so Grandpa purchased a large group picture of them which Esther and Marisa received. This drawing was taken in the cave. | The girls really enjoyed the tour. Esther wrote: "It was cool. Two stones used to be attached to each other but water came in and broke them. Staff called it 'Romeo and Juliet'. There were circle crystals; they said it was 'earth popcorn'.
56: There was one tour guide. His name was Robert; they thought he was approximately 35 years old. Evan was even taller than the guide! They had to do a lot of walking and went up and down about 237 steps. It was rather moist inside the cave and the temperature was cool; better than the hot outside. Robert turned the lights out on purpose, It was then pitch black inside and they were not even able to see their hands in front of their face! Elizabeth was scared of the dark. The guide explained that in the 1980's, there were no lights and so they had to use flashlights throughout the cave. Robert also told everyone that they were not to touch anything or else they would receive a $2500 fine and he would receive $500 if he caught anyone touching anything! Oil from your fingers eventually wreck the inside of the cave and they want to preserve it as long as possible. The group went halfway up Pike's Peak at one point. It is called "Cave Traffic" because of all the tours. They had to fit three groups into one tour. The girls had a picture taken of the bear sculpture just as we were going towards the parking lot. Notice Elizabeth's miner hat. We went back to the motel; the kids took a quick swim before it thundered and rained and forced them out. Grandpa and Evan went to buy hamburgers from Wendy's so we could eat at the motel and then relax.
57: We love the pool! | They played "Octopus" and also had fun finding tiles Grandpa threw into the water.
58: Today is Sunday, July 10, 2011. It is aunt LuAnn's birthday today and so we sang "Happy Birthday" to her while we were having another Continental Breakfast at the motel. Aunt LuAnn and uncle James bought a few snacks while we helped great-grandma finish packing. We were not able to go to church. Our intention was to drive up to Pike's Peak before going home to Denver but great-grandma's car boiled before we even reached the pay booth and so we had no choice but to go back down. We noticed various signs going up such as "Falling Rocks" and "Fire Danger=Extreme". There were also net fences to keep the falling rocks from going on the road. The line-up of cars going up Pike's Peak was long......Grandpa felt bad that he didn't check the levels of the car before we left home to make sure everything was in good condition.......... | We stopped at McDonald's for, not only Chicken McNuggets and hamburgers but fantastic Mango Orange and Pineapple Slurpies. | We stayed home for the rest of the evening. It has been a rather unusual time in Denver this year. It is either very hot or else very rainy which, of course, limits the activities we can do. The girls had fun putting curlers in their hair and Marisa even lost her tooth; Grandma put it in her pill box. | Happy birthday!
59: Grandpa stopped to check the car on the way to Pike's Peak after it started boiling. As you can see, the girls had more fun anyway. | On Monday, after an egg and toast breakfast, grandpa and grandma drove great-grandma's car and took the girls to 16th Street Mall to buy some more souvenirs and look around. Evan, Erica and Jared stayed home to watch the girls and great-grandma. It was nice to be able to go somewhere with just the four of us. We bought several items, also stopped for a bite to eat. Grandpa pointed out where they went bowling with Evan and his friend. People were playing pianos in the street. One of the pianos had purple eggplants painted on it with green, yellow and red peppers. Another had a field painted on it with lots of trees, a cow and bull. Still another piano had cats and dogs painted on it.
60: We arrived home about two p.m. and then grandpa took the girls swimming once again to the Carmody Swimming Pool. It is a nice twelve foot deep pool with chlorine water, three diving boards, a high dive in the middle and two smaller diving boards on the sides, with ropes in the middle to do laps. Esther and Evan were the only ones who were able to pick up something from the bottom and to touch the bottom, for fun. Esther was not scared to go on the highest diving board. She said, "A little kid did it, so I can!" Marisa did a belly flop on the high dive. Ouch! When Esther's ears popped, she had a headache. There was also an outdoor pool as deep as up to Esther's belly button. At the top there were hoses with water which filled buckets. When the buckets were full, they tipped over. Today, once again, the weather was rather stormy and so they could not be in the outdoor pool. Grandma washed all our clothes and packed. She also made chicken, mashed potatoes, corn and green beans for supper with fresh pineapple and watermelon for dessert. The girls went for a walk with Erica and Jared.
61: On Tuesday, we cleaned up the trailer, folded the blankets, did last minute touch ups and visited with great-grandma and the others. This is our last day here! Grandpa and grandma told the girls a couple of days earlier, that we only had a couple of more days left before we leave for home. They both wanted to stay a least three more days! But we know they also miss their family and so once the 'good-byes" are said, the excitement will turn in the other direction. Great-grandma was leaving very soon as well. Aunt LuAnn wanted a "break" and so Uncle Lee and Aunt Diane agreed to take her. They live in Orleans, Nebraska. Aunt Diane has over ten years experience working with the elderly and has always "gotten along" well with great-grandma. Update: That arrangement has worked out well...in fact, great-grandma wants to stay there! | Aunt LuAnn is going to drive us to the Comfort Inn near the airport since our plane has to leave so early in the morning. "She's here!" We all said our last good-byes and gave our last hugs and off we went. | At the last minute, Esther also thought of "Dusty". She said "good-bye" to him and also gave a final love pat and "good-bye" to Pearl, the dog. That was very heart-warming to see. What a kind heart and love for animals Esther has! | GOOD BYE! LOVE YOU!
62: While aunt LuAnn was driving us to the motel, we took notice of all the different ways in which the city of Denver decorates their sound barrier walls. It was interesting to see how the walls depicted tepees, mountains, buffalo's, leaves and trees. Aunt LuAnn dropped us off at the Comfort Inn Motel but did not stay. We thanked her for everything and for the time we could spend with her and her family, as well as, for taking care of great-grandma. We put our suitcases into our room. There were two queen beds and so we had plenty of room...just not plenty of time to be in them. We walked across the highway and had some dinner and then went to bed shortly after that. None of us slept, possibly too excited. It must be noted, however, that there was yet another rainstorm later that evening which may have played a part in keeping us awake as well.
63: Staff at the motel rang our phone alarm in the morning. We were up very early on Wednesday, July 13, 2011, caught the shuttle to the airport, checked in and then boarded our plane which left at 6:00 a.m. We were to arrive in Baltimore, Washington at 11:25 a.m., change planes in Baltimore at 2:05 p.m. and arrive in Buffalo, New York at 3:10 p.m. By the time we went through security, picked up our luggage, rode the shuttle to our car and drove to Hamilton, the day was already long and we were tired. Mom and Dad, Nathaniel and Nicola came within the half hour we arrived at grandpa and grandma's house. They brought along Jamaican patties and a salad to eat. Thank you!! We were so tired...we appreciated the fact that we didn't have to even think of what to make yet....... We all presented our souvenir gifts to everyone, shared some highlights and they shared theirs and then they left for home. We did not unpack; instead,went straight to bed. | We now have the opportunity to reflect back on all the memories. "Thank you Lord!"