Friday, August 07, 2009

The Mile High City

Last October, right after Bill got home from his third deployment to Iraq, we were given orders. The Marines wanted us to move away from everything and everyone we loved. They wanted us to move. To Georgia. UGH! Well, I already talked about that in a previous post. Long story short, no Georgia, but we were moving. To Colorado. Ok, not perfect but a heckuva lot better.

Bill and I celebrated thirteen years of marriage by dropping our kids off at my mom’s one last time and headed down to Donovan’s for some overpriced steak. Any time we’d fly somewhere we noticed Donovan’s listed in the top ten steak houses and had never gone to the restaurant in our own back yard. We’re leaving the area for a while, now’s as good a time as any! Now I’m all about fancy, but I felt out of place there. They have a dress code (which was obviously not enforced by the looks of some of the diners). A valet is the first thing you see as they whisk your car away and give you good wishes of a wonderful meal. Our water didn’t show up in glasses. A bottle with the restaurant’s name on the label was placed on our table and our wait staff poured it into wine glasses for us. The wine list was longer than the menu, which was only two pages indicating that it was so fancy, you didn’t need options. Some of the wines were $500 a bottle. Oh yes, that’s correct. I didn’t know what to choose and figured they’d be snickering at me back in the kitchen for ordering something so “common folk”. So I didn’t. I ordered a margarita. I figured I’d be safe. Oh, but then she gave me a choice of tequila. I don’t know tequila. We let them choose. We’re so beer budget in this $500 wine place. Bill and I ordered our very expensive meals and determined that they were worth the price. Lots of business deals happen here. Lots of celebrations and hoity toity things. It wouldn’t be our regular spot, but I’m glad we got a chance to check them out. We headed to our hotel with ocean views for one more night before heading to the hills, so to speak.

The next day: Moving day. We got off to a later start than we wanted. We didn’t even leave my mom’s until around 11. We had our packed to the gills car (do cars have gills? Packed to the headliners?) on a tow dolly, hooked up to the SUV which had Bill and I and two kids and two cats and lots of “stuff”. I tried to be the nice kitty mommy and drug my cats. I’ve given my cat a pill before so I figured I could do it again. What I’d forgotten is that I had a kitten at the time. Now I have a huge 20 pound monster who has no issues biting the momma that feeds him if it means he can avoid having something shoved down his throat. I tried butter, half and half, force, bribery, presents, a reverse neutering job. Nothing worked. I tried on the other cat. No dice. Now they were not only mad and freaked out, but foamy and drooly to boot. Yep, cats foam at the mouth when they get something gross on their tongue. It’s very Turner and Hooch-ish. The kids thought it was the funniest thing they’d seen all year. Yeah. Funny. So, we just grabbed them, shoved them in the carriers and let them loose in the back of the SUV. We spent way too much on one of those grid contraptions used to keep dogs in the back and put that up to keep my crazy felines from running circles around the car. They had a nice little apartment set up for them. I don’t know why they didn’t appreciate it. They complained all the way up to the 138 (2 hours for non-locals). I kept telling them they would have been a lot happier had they taken their medicine.

My non-furry kids did AWESOME. We drove for eleven hours and I was so proud of them. I was worried about traveling for so long. The last time we did a long road trip was when Trey was two and complained for 6 straight hours. And no, I’m not exaggerating. “All done! All done! Get down, get down momma!” Aaarrrggg! He fell asleep right as we hit L.A. Of course, just two hours short of home and he finally shuts up. So anyway, we made it all the way to Beaver, UT with little protesting. Most of the trip was through the stinkin’ hot deserts. Only 115. It could have been worse—really.

We stayed at a Best Western only because they allow pets and there is no way I wasn’t going to bring my first babies. The hotel was…eh…not the best place we’ve stayed, but Beaver is out in the middle of Utah, aka, nowhere. The good thing about hotel beds is that they are on platforms so when your cats freak out, they can’t hide under the bed and just get out of your reach when it’s time to go the next day. What? Wait a minute. Oh yeah, this was the ONLY place I’ve ever stayed that did NOT have platform beds and the cats hid out under the beds the whole time. We weren’t there to play so we ate and slept and then needed to leave. Now comes the gross part and I’m ashamed to even be writing this although I wasn’t responsible for it. Bill and I had to work together to get the cats out. Push and pull sort of thing. We got them out and seconds after they were pulled out from under the bed…two little beetles crawled out from under the bed. EWWWW!!!! Oh yes, you can guess what they were and you’d probably be right. Dis-gus-ting. Don’t ever stop in Beaver, Utah. Blech.

We headed out to Eagle, CO for our next stay. Again, staying at a Best Western. A little apprehensive considering the morning we’d had. Because it was our second night, we got a free upgrade. This hotel totally made up for the previous one. Our beds were awesome. There was an indoor pool for the kids to spend some energy and it was in a beautiful area. Ok, BW, you’ve redeemed yourselves…mostly. We went to dinner downtown at this little place called The Dusty Boot. Why you’d want to eat anywhere where dirt and footwear are concerned, I don’t know, but they did have good food!

Finally on Thursday we hopped in the car for the last leg of the trip. We were out of the desert part of western Colorado and entered the mountainous green area. We could see rivers and trees for miles. There were walking paths along the river. Then we headed into Vail where extremely expensive tourist areas are. We saw groups of ski lifts and chalets. And then it began to rain. Hard. And then hail. In July. It was 40 degrees outside. Two days ago we had the air on at all times and now we had to turn the heat on! I was amazed that anyone would want to live where your heater needed to be on at the peak of summer. It was beautiful. Cold, but beautiful. We continued our drive over the pass and saw old mines, railroad tracks, tourist stops and the county line of Jefferson, one county over from Denver. We’d made it! The rain came back as we hit the city. The traffic started to slow. We were already slow due to the extra 10,000 pounds we were hauling. I was taking pictures of road signs and the skyline for scrapbooking purposes. And then the traffic came to a screeching halt. And so did we. Right after we bumped into the lady in front of us. D’oh! The lady immediately gets out of her car, throws her hands up and basically asks what our problem is. Bill apologizes, explains we’ve got this huge car we’re lugging around and asks if she’s ok. She says she’s fine but she’s mad because this is the third accident she’s been in. Bill then gets on the phone to call the cops and our insurance. We’re all fine. The kids and the cats are fine. We were maybe going 5 mph when it happened. Then the lady starts to plot. She’s rubbing her head and asks if we have water because “she thinks she needs to throw up”. The police come and do their thing. They ask if we need medical care. No. Then they go over to her. Then the ambulance shows up. I see them put her in a neck brace after talking to her for a while. They put a pressure cuff on her arm and get out a stethoscope. After a few more minutes, the gurney comes out.

PAUSE: In 2005, I was in a major collision. My car was totaled. The only reason we needed to go to the hospital was to get the glass out of Leah’s head and face that splashed on her from the impact. We barely bumped this lady. What is she doing??!

The EMT kept coming over to us to make sure we were ok. After a half hour or more, the neck brace came off, the gurney went away and the EMT’s were smiling and rolling their eyes towards us as if to make an unofficial statement that this lady was a little loose in the head. They wished us luck and went on their way. Crazy lady drove off. Mr. Police officer apologized that he had to write us a ticket and thanked Bill for his service to our country. What a welcome to Denver. I really hope this crazy accident lady doesn’t do anything stupid. I’d hate to have to waste our time in court over a fender bender.

After that wonderful experience we got all checked in to our extend stay hotel and tried to find some way to make it home for the next month? Two months? Dare I say…three months? Two queen beds, a cooktop with two electric (yuck) burners and a microwave. No oven. Oh, a single basin sink. And a bathroom. Free wifi. Woohoo! Crazy cable lineup. Boo. Not perfect, but workable. We call our realtor and let her know we’re in town and set up an appointment to meet the next day.

After dinner, I sit down to scroll through pictures I’ve taken along the way and realize something. As I was taking shots of the city for my hobby, I managed to get two pictures of crazy lady’s car as I was trying to get a good shot of the highway signs. The damage to her bumper that we thought we caused, was already there! I have proof that we did not break her car. Ha! I’m so smart, and I didn’t even know it.

Part 2 coming soon.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Calm Before the Storm

**This post was written about three weeks ago. I'll get up to speed eventually. I hope**
Forest Home. Our second trip to this retreat in the San Bernardino mountains. So, we’re in the middle of moving, why not plan a family vacation in the midst of it? Makes perfect sense to me. Even though we’d only been here one other time, it was like returning to a spot you’d been hundreds of times before. Everything was familiar. We paid a little extra and upgraded our room this year. Gooood decision. We actually have storage which may not seem like a very big deal for a week long family vacation, but when you’re already living out of suitcases and will be for at least another month, being able to unpack is heavenly. Oh, and then there’s the thing where we don’t have to share a very small bathroom with another family. Yeah, that was actually the deal maker for me. It’s one thing to have to share one bathroom with three other members of your family, but throw in some other group and everything that goes along with it? Awkward!

Our cabin (on the right side)

The view from our front porch
So we brought along our own child care person which the camp will normally provide for you free of charge because every night the parents get a chance to get away from their kids and the kids get a chance to get away from their parents. I thought it would be more fun for my kids to hang out in the evenings with someone they already know. As I dropped our sitter off at her cabin, I told her counselor to be sure to take good care of her. I’d hate to drag her all the way up the mountain and just leave her there to fend for herself, which it felt like I was doing. Apparently, I look enough like her (she’s a strawberry blonde with blue eyes, I’m a chestnut brunette with brown eyes) and old enough (I’m 17 years older) that they thought I was her mom. !!! I’m sort of insulted. Now I know that teenagers are horrible at the age game and I guess I could technically be her mom if I was a high school pregnancy case, but do I really look old enough to have a teenager??!

Ok, back on track. Part of the Forest Home tradition is to have Family Lake Day on the Wednesday of the week you attend camp. It was the perfect day after three days of 90ish clear weather. Finally, we’d had a break and it got down to about 80 with a bit of cloud cover. We got to the lake and set up our spot. We watched some of the relay races and I took pictures of our team as they flew through the obstacles of the race. We only had two more groups to go before lunch which was highly anticipated to the group of us hungry campers. And then it started to sprinkle. And then a bit more. And then the wind started to blow. And then it started to whip and the sprinkles turned into raindrops. Excuse me, but I thought this was July in Southern California. See, we don’t do that here. It got so bad that the food service people could not do their job and had to pack it up and take our picnic back to the main camp and we had to shut down family lake day! It was funny in a can-you-believe-this sort of way. We loaded the SUV back up and took the short trek back to camp while the servers and other kitchen staff set up the same lunch a second time. And the sun came out. My explanation? Leeches. There must’ve been leeches in the water and that’s why God made it rain at a church function at the lake.

After lunch, Bill and I took the kids to the pool since they were jipped out of their chance at the trampoline in the lake and “the blob”. The pool had been temporarily closed due to thunder so we waited until we got the all clear sign. And it started to rain. We sat in lounge chairs in the warm mountain air and were rained on. We listened to the blue jays squawk and the chipmunks chatter behind us until my little fish were able to show off their new talents they learned in swim lessons last week.

Yes, I am still up in the mountains as I write, but there is no internet, cable, or cell available so I sit on my laptop and type out memories in between games of Mahjong and Solitaire while my family naps in the cabin before the next activity. We arrived Sunday evening and have been going at a crazy pace since we’ve arrived. My kids have climbed rock walls, flown down zip lines (twice), gone trout fishing, swimming twice, done arts and crafts, miniature golf for the last three evenings and walked more steps than they’ve probably walked at home in a month. It’s been a great start to this crazy new chapter of life we’re just beginning to write. I hope they look back at this as a wonderful part of their young childhood.
Leah waiting on the platform of the zip line
There she goes! Trey is just ahead of her.
Trey starts up the rock wall
Leah OWNING the rock wall.
Our little family on the second to last day of camp. You can't tell, but there were thunderstorms going on all around us at this time. We were smart and stood under the tallest tree.
Bill and I and our friends who spent the week with us.

This is what happens when you try and take a picture of all the kids.