Pike’s Peak or Bust

We just went to Colorado Springs/Denver for a week.  Had a great time.  Helping to keep up on wi-fi security on the trip was Freedome…a VPN with a 2-week free trial…cause you don’t wanna connect directly to open wi-fi.

Colorado Springs

May Bug Museum – a great little bug museum with all kinds of specimens I’ve never seen

cog railway up to Pike’s Peak – rode a train all the way up to the top and found marmots, ice, and freezing winds…28 degrees in August

Cave of the Winds (warning: auto-playing video) – nice cave to tour through.  Paved and great for kids.  They have a terrifying ride where you can pay to swing out over a cliff…which we didn’t do for some reason.

Garden of the gods –  Giant jutting rock formations…conveniently placed right in Colorado Springs

Fargo’s – great Victorian-style pizza place with balcony, employees in old clothes, self-playing piano, balcony…all packed tightly with lots of people

Rocket Fizz (chain) – A neat soda/candy store with all the independent sodas and candies you can think of.  The clerk recommended the bug barf soda.  I chose something else.

Garbanzo (chain) – Mediterranean food…can’t go wrong!

Rosemount Museum – Late 1800s mansion in Pueblo built by a family that owned a bunch of banks.  Also, the locals pronounce their town as “Pieblo”….what?

Miramont Castle – A mansion built into the side of the mountain in Manitou Springs…a 42-room mansion built for a Catholic priest and his mom.  (Life is hard?)  Manitou Springs is already a tiny cramped tourist town to begin with, but we accidentally ended up in the middle of the Pikes Peak Marathon where super-runners go up and down the mountain)

Denver

102.3 Open Air – Colorado’s version of BBC 6 Music

Axum Ethiopian Restaurant – We got a bunch o’ stuff and enjoyed it.

Denver Aquarium – A nice aquarium with divers, touchable exhibits, a flash flood, etc.

Elitch Gardens – big amusement park…fun for kids and all

The Wizard’s Chest – Great geek store with board games, figurines, toys, and costumes.  It was like being inside Amazon.

Micro Center – Basically the equivalent of Fry’s  Also like being inside Amazon

Old Chicago Pizza (chain) – Big thick Chicago-style pizza.  Tasty and all!

Museum of Nature and Science – A museum so big that we unfortunately didn’t even have time to see it all.  We saw the new mythical creatures exhibit.  I can picture the pride-swallowing that had to happen to have exhibits of made-up creatures just to get peoples’ attention.  It was fun for kids anyway.  We also saw an entire exhibit on poison.  That was different.

Ikea – Vanessa finally got to visit an Ikea.  I recently got The Stanley Parable…a PC game…I think it might actually be an Ikea simulator…endless rooms in various configurations.  The kids were getting kinda bored, but did enjoy the Swedish desserts in the cafeteria at the end.

Casa Bonita – Can’t go to Denver without going to the famous Mexican restaurant with cliff divers.  The food is bad so we just got nachos…but hey…cliff divers in a restaurant.

 

 

Texas coastal trip

We recently went to visit Vanessa’s brother in the Galveston, TX area.  We spent a lot of time in the nice warm ocean water.  Always a joy.  Galveston is a long, thin island with beach house after beach house on stilts.  We went to Moody Gardens and saw a sloth, vampire bats, and some neat plants.  I also got to do the zip line…High up some stairs, they have an obstacle course where you can face your fear of heights while safely secured to a rope on tracks that follow you around.  We got to go to the NASA space center and see some huge rockets and some pretty cool exhibits.  Your face apparently turns red in zero gravity, from some videos we watched.  Vanessa’s brother has a DJI Phantom drone that he flew around for us.  He even had some goggles so that we could see what the drone saw.  Amazing stuff.  He also got Bluetooth-controlled paper airplanes with a propeller and rudder that you control from your cellphone…great idea.  We’ll have to experiment further to get them working.  As far as Texas in general, we saw a lot of cowboy churches, which I’d never heard of.  We ate at Braum’s because I heard it was good.  Can’t recommend it.  We also stopped at Dyers BBQ in Amarillo, which was pretty good.

staycation

We had a “staycation” last week.  We went camping high in the mountains near Santa Fe.  Camping up there was cooold, and we could have prepared better…but you don’t actually expect to sleep when camping.  We also toured a bit around Santa Fe.  There was a small labyrinth outside a cathedral there.  Of course, we had to stop by our favorite restaurant in Santa Fe, Tomasitas.  We noticed there was a new African style place called Jambo Cafe, but we neglected to try it…maybe next time.    We dropped by the Chuck Jones gallery.  Was he in New Mexico at some point?  Vanessa got to visit the Georgia O’Keefe museum that she’d wanted to see for a while.  On the way home from Santa Fe, we stopped by Tent Rock and Cochiti Lake.

We went to Cliff’s one day and had fun.  It’s a small amusement park here in Albuquerque.  It was fun aside from Sean having an “nausea incident” on the way home as a result of riding a looping ride 3 times before he left.  Loading up on greek food at the new Ahmo’s Deli probably didn’t help.

Later in the week, we went to my cousin’s wedding in Clovis and had a good time seeing cousins I hadn’t seen in quite a while.  We also played Love Letters.  It’s a cool little rule-based card game with only 16 cards.  Very simple to learn.

Nathan Crowe

Final vacation post:

Also on vacation, we visited the Maritime Museum in San Diego. It’s comprised of several ships and a couple of subs that you can tour in the harbor. They had the ship from Master and Commander and we stood in the spot where Russell Crowe stood in the movie. There was also a tiny boat called a chalupa.

We also visited the Birch Aquarium. Oddly, their largest tanks were smaller than those at the Albuquerque Aquarium, so I guess we have a pretty good one.

Later that day, we went to the beach and boogie boarded a bit. I was shivering from the cold, but Vanessa was fine. The temperature difference between inland and the beach there is pretty extreme.

Now I’m feelin’ Disneyfied

On our trip, we went to Disneyland. They still had many of the old rides with a few revisions. Captain Nemo’s subs are now Finding Nemo subs. Pirates of the Caribbean has several Johnny Depps. There were still some of the movie rides that were made about 10 years ago, such as Honey I Shrunk the Audience and even Star Tours. Sean had a good time even though the Haunted Mansion broke down before we could get a second ride and the Indiana Jones ride broke down around midnight just before we got off and left. At one point, late at night, they had the impressive projection on water vapor “Fantasmic” on the river. Sean was sleeping on my back and was too sleepy to wake up for it. I guess rides do break down there, but the appearance of the rides is pretty good for their age. Despite ride breakdowns, Disney must put a lot of money into the park. There are little details like moving turtles at the top of the train rollercoaster that you might never see. All of the employees in the parades must cost a bundle…not to mention how many fireworks they use.

Here’s mud in your eye

I think it’s been an awesome few days for Sean. Friday was his fifth birthday. He got a new Sonic game. (He called me up today to tell me he’d unlocked a new level and then again later to say he’d unlocked the other character.)

Then we went camping with some friends in the Jemez mountains near Cuba (New Mexico). It rained heavily the first couple of days. It’s apparently hard to sleep in the rain. It soaked a few tents, causing some early departures. It’s also very noisy. I think you shouldn’t count on sleeping when you go camping…although Sean slept just fine. We took a couple of folding cots that kept us off the ground. They just barely fit into the tent, but worked reasonably well.

I learned that you probably shouldn’t trust a car GPS when camping. Ours starts by asking what city your destination is in. (uh…none?) Also, it seemed to have no idea where some dirt roads were. On the way home, it wanted us to turn into a field behind a closed gate. That’s when I learned about its ability to route to a destination while avoiding a particular part of the route.

The second day’s weather was even worse, with cold and heavy hail. It was apparently free-range cattle country and we saw a huge bull roaming around.

On the third day, I got an ATV ride with a friend. With a good driver, it’s as good as a roller-coaster. He also let me borrow it and take Sean and his cousin riding around a bit. We saw what I think was a wolf in the distance. I learned that you should always wear eye protection while driving them, as I got mud in my eye on the way back to camp. I was driving down the road squinting and passers-by surely thought I was son of Popeye.

It was a beautiful area with a grassy valley, forest on either side, aspen, and an area of rocks to climb on. It was great hiking around out there with me boy. Ug ug ug ug ug.