Thursday, August 23, 2012

When Serving Becomes Sacred

I love how when God gives you the opportunity to serve Him, he often uses that service as an avenue to challenge you and grow you.  Our family was blessed to do a community service project called Step Out and Serve for the second year in a row.  Just like last year, we were "sent out" to help a nice gentleman clean up his yard and get it ready for fall. After a summer of drought, his yard, like ours, needed a little work and, with some health problems, he just isn't able to do all the work himself.

Now I will admit I'm not the best at yard work.  Sure I can mow the yard and plant a garden, but I have a few fears that keep me out of tall grassy areas.  Knowing the task ahead of us, I had been praying all week that God would take away my fears and that he wouldn't have me "encounter" any of them face to face.  You know like last year when the kids showed off a garter snake!

My desire was to serve this family with my family's sweat equity, but to jsut do so in a safe and fearless way.  Well, God has a sense of humor and He also has a way of showing me that I can trust him even when I'm out of my comfort zone.  As soon as Miss M and Miss A and I start tackling tearing down the garden patch, a snake appears in the grass. I calmly asked a nice young man helping us to "remove this little pesky friend" and I moved on.  Of course, two more snakes are still in the weeds and, once I uncover them, I see a little mouse right in front of my shoe.  Guess you could say God got my attention.  I wasn't there for my comfort, but for sharing Christ's comfort and love with others.

The second and much more amazing lesson that God taught our family that day was that He desires to give everyone a hope and future. A young boy who lived down the street from where we were working came and asked if he could help us.  He told us he wants to be a Mower when he grows up.  Over the course of the day, we were able to ask him about his family, his school and his dreams.  We talked about how maybe he should think about being a landscape architect, a person who does the planning and design for gardens and lawns. We talked about going to college and how he'd need to work hard in school and keep up his grades. My husband showed him how to use the mower.  They walked back and forth mowing the lawn together.

No one had ever told our new friend about landscape architecture, and while there is no shame in mowing lawns for a living that day, I could see a little spark go off in his head. He saw that there might be something big in his future, that he could really be anything if he just works hard and stays in school. So in addition to sharing with him the love that God has for him and spending some time showing him some skills for life, we gave him a taste of some of the dreams that God might have for him in the future. Who knows what might happen.  P plans on staying in touch and connecting with our friend again.  He's going to work with the school to make sure that things are going well academically for this little boy.

I love how God uses an afternoon of cleaning up a yard to spread a little bit of love around. It was also a great way to model to our kids how God uses the messy and uncomfortable things in life to make an impact.  There is something sacred about seeing the mundane as holy,and I'd say that our messing in the dirt that day was a holy experience!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back To School 2012

School has started.  It was such a hot summer that it doesn't seem possible that we are starting back to school and the routine of Fall.  It certainly doesn't seem possible that Mr C is now a sophomore, Miss M a seventh grader and Miss A a second grader.  Maybe those "older moms" who always said that time flies weren't kidding!

I'm not going to be all sappy and post the "then and now" photos.  I think I did that last year so here's a sampling of Back To School 2012.  Just for prosperity the photos of Mr C were actually taken a few days before school when we went out to school to drop off some of his books and stuff for his locker. I had wanted to take the photos on the night of the Family Picnic and Service, but I was told in no uncertain terms that would not be allowed.

Miss M and Miss A both had Back to school night on of course the same night so I again missed out as I was manning a table at the Junior High for the PTO.  Thankfully, my darling husband knows the poses I like and he humored me and the girls by taking the photos.  Miss A did allow me to walk her into school on the first day, but I was quickly told to get on with my day.  Guess you can't be hanging out in the 2nd grade classroom too long, it's embarassing.

We are all excited for the challenges of a new school year and can't wait to see what God has stored for us. I'm praying that my children will be salt and light at school, that we'll have chances to shine His light in other's lives, and that none of us will be overcome with the world and its temptations.  It's a tough world out there and I pray every day that my kids will have a hedge of protection around them because I know for now He has perfectly placed them in the schools and classrooms they are in, to learn and grow to be the man and women that God has planned for them.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Scavenger Hunt: Final Places and Grand Prize

Our afternoon of traveling historic and memorable parts of Omaha could not have gone better.  The kids were getting into the competition of figuring out the clues.  We were experiencing trips down memory lane and tasting a bit of the history and culture of the city. It really was a family adventure that we won't forget anytime soon.

For our final leg of the journey, we had a few stops planned that would lead us to our final destination: dinner!  First up was a stop a memorial to the Street Car.  Grammy used to tell the kids stories of her days riding the Street Car to go shopping. She loved the street car and every visit we take to the Train Museum means we talk about Grammy as we sit on an actual Street Car.  How fun for the kids to see a memorial built to commemorate this special form of transportation.

Next up (though out of order) was Memorial Park, a beautiful open area in the middle of town, with a garden and a commemorative area dedicated by President Truman honoring fallen soldiers from WWII.  There is something about just pausing to thank and remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and those they left behind that just chokes me up.  Of course taking three crazy kids to this spot I not only am grateful to those men and women, I'm also reminded to constantly be telling them how precious our freedom and democracy really is, a real gift!

For the final two the clues were a little tricky for the kids and I told my husband either we are getting too old, or our kids just don't appreciate the finer things in life like we once did.  The Blackstone Hotel, which is now an office building is the site of the first ever Reuben Sandwich.  Yes, you can thank Omaha for making that yummy corned beef and sauerkraut delicacy.  Who knew such great things got their start here.  It did take almost ten minutes for one of our children to come up with the answer even if the Reuben is one of our favorite lunches on Sunday after church.

The last real clue was the funniest, cheekiest and filled with Omaha Folk Lore tales ever; but obviously my children were in the dark about it's existence.  Thankfully, my husband and I were able to enlighten them with tales of this Sunday Night Television masterpiece: Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.  Rumor has it that Marlin Perkins is buried in the Mutual of Omaha Dome (now the site of the first in Omaha Chic Fil A restaurant.)  If you recall Marlin's friend Jim Fowler was always traipsing off after the wild animals in the jungle while Marlin was back in the studio talking about the animals. You could say Jim risked his life for Marlin's glory.

No one got the final clue.  So, to avoid a tie between Mr C and Miss M we threw in the final question which was name a "border town" in Texas that is also the name of a favorite "watering hole" in Omaha.  We assumed that Mr C with all his Spanish expertise would come up with Laredo, but to no avail; Miss M got it. I credit the fact that she has a keen sense of direction and Cafe Laredo is only a block away from Mutual of Omaha, but she might just be a geographical wonder!

Thankfully, the grand prize was available to all the contestants no matter how well the did on the scavenger hunt: dinner out at our favorite Tex Mex restaurant in the city while enjoying a perfect night on the patio. The perfect close to a great summer of fun!

Scavenger Hunt: Discovering Downtown

Big cities can have amazing downtowns filled with history and overflowing with culture.  While Omaha is not an exception to the rule, we've been downtown enough that we decided to go with a little of the "unknown" history facts.  At least that was our plan.

Our first stop on this part of the adventure was to the birth place of Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States.  While the original house is no longer standing , they've made the grounds into a pretty garden with a few exhibits on the President.  Mr C, of course, was interested to see that Pres. Ford was a golfer; however he wasn't impressed with the golf clubs they had in the exhibit.  He thought that he had a few too many to fit the regulations of the PGA today.

Next up was where the "history" gets a little tricky.  My husband and I both thought that a big arch located on the edge of the "Mall" was part of the Trans-Mississippi Exposition of 1898 that included a number of exhibits and temporary buildings.  Come to find out the Arch was actually part of the First Bank of the United States.  We didn't really mind the mix up though, as the walk around the lake and the beautiful late summer weather made up for the blunder.  We had a great stroll outside.

At the next location, we skipped the Art Museum (weather was too nice to be inside) and we had a great time in the outside maze and park.  They really don't make Marble buildings like this anymore and it is nice once in awhile to just enjoy the beauty.  Mr C was thrilled that we didn't have to trek through the art, I think he was just nervous that once again our family would set off an alarm by getting too close to the paintings.  Just saying that might happen to us on a regular basis when we museum shop!

Miss A was thrilled that she knew the answer to the next clue; the first State Capitol for Nebraska was actually in Omaha and that building is now used as a high school!  Since it was Sunday, we didn't see any actual students which might have bummed Mr C as he'd heard this school actually allowed "girls!" amazing.

Our final downtown stop was at the World Headquarters of Con Agra.  On the edge of their campus, they have a Statue of Chef Boyardee.  The most hilarious part of this clue is that Miss A had actually mentioned that it was too bad that the statue wasn't on the scavenger hunt when we were nearby by earlier during the Mississippi Expo stop.  However, when we actually were going to the spot she didn't figure out the clue!

The scavenger hunt is almost over; but we have a few great stops ahead.....

Scavenger Hunt: Best Summer Bucket List Item Ever!

Our last blast of summer was to undertake a scavenger hunt in the big city!  It was part Summer Bucket List (photo scavenger hunt) and part history lesson; a perfect thing to do on the last night of summer vacation.  To be honest, Mr C had started school the Thursday before, but according to him he's always in school while the girls are always on vacation!

My husband and I came up with a set of 12 clues for places around the city.  We divided them into areas of town to make it easier on the driver and then we set off to "find" the places.  It was so fun. Best day ever. The kids got into the competition and each of them won a fair share of the clues.  Amazingly, those little public school girls knew a few things that the Sophomore College Prep boy didn't have a clue about!  Gotcha.

Now as my husband will attest not all of the stops were picture perfect.  We didn't go for the big glamorous places, but rather these were historic or interesting spots that you would want to visit, but only need a fifteen minutes or so to see in full. Perfect for an afternoon hunt!

Our first stop was an old Flour Mill in a historic part of town.  Thankfully, on Sunday afternoons in the fall, it was open as a farmer's market and we were able to explore and experience a little of the authentic feel.

Next stop was the Mormon Trail Cemetery and while we are not Mormon, they certainly played a big role in the movement Westward and that history is rather amazing. The visitors center was closed for a special event so we'll have to catch it another time.

Third on the list was the clue that no one got right; but the guesses were both comical and amazing. Who knew that Martin Luther King was born in Omaha?  Thankfully, we gave a few final hints and the crowd came up with Malcolm X.  I guess the fact that a few of these "notables" were born in the city, but quickly exited tripped a few of the kids up. Malcolm's birth site has a nice little library attached, but to be honest the police tape and dead body down the street made us a little nervous!  Not even kidding!  It is a sad commentary on poverty of this part of town.

Our visit to the North part of town complete, the next few stops were all downtown....stay tuned!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back to School Front Door Wreath

It's like an addiction. I'm trying to come up with a new front door frame for every new "season" or holiday.  I blame it all on Pinterest and the cute front door decorations on the houses in our town.  My husband, of course, says it is just that I'm the happiest when I have a project going. If that were the case between all my volunteer jobs, I should be in seventh heaven with all the "plates I'm juggling."

In all honesty, I just love to see something fun on my front door and I'm not willing to pay a boutique price to make that happen.  I'm the girl who has been known to walk the aisles at Von Maur or some arts and craft store and sneak a photo of something I want to duplicate.  Maybe that does make me an addict!

This adorable Ruler Wreath is something I found on Pinterest and then read about on a blog.  I loved how fun and easy it seemed, no sewing, no artistic talent needed.  My only complaint is that the directions were all in photos with very little explanation meaning I just had to guess what the steps actually were.  Which in this case meant I started the project with a wooden circle frame as the base and then finally figured out that the frame was an embroidery hoop.  Good thing Michael's does exchanges.  

After I got all the right supplies (hoop, tons of rulers from the Target back to school aisle and my trusty glue gun), I was ready to go.  Thankfully, Mr C and my husband were helping on an Eagle Scout project and I was able to convince them to use the fancy table saw to cut my rulers in half. Perfect.  The rest of the project involved gluing the rulers to the hoop and then watching it all dry!

My perfect type of project; just a little work for a lot of results.  I added a few "school" clip art pieces to the rulers to add to the theme and it was all ready to grace the front door for the start of the school year. If only the kids were as easy to get ready for the new school year. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to summer just yet so there were a few more surprises still up my sleeve!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Summer Zoo Trip and World's Best Burger Competition

Before summer got away from us, it was off to the Zoo for the day so we could check out the new Aquarium and see every animal our heart desired.  Mr C and few of his friends joined us for the day, but in truth we didn't see them much after our visit to the Jungle.  However, they did make a grand appearnce when it was time for lunch.  You can count of teenage boys to show up in time for the food.

We did really enjoy the aquarium and the new "touch tank" that allowed the girls to feel the eel and other aquatic life.  I stood a safe distance away and took photos.  I'm not what you would call an animal lover.
The best part of the trip to the Zoo was the Skyfari Ride.  In visits past, the girls have been too nervous to ride saying that they would never go up that high in the air.  Guess that a visit to Colorado and riding the chair lift made a big impact on them as they viewed the Skyfari ride as super easy .  Yeah!

Plus, it was  great way to catch a ride across the Zoo and see some animals from a safe distance!  It had been a long time since we'd gone to the Pachyderm Hill or visited the hoofed animals.  You could say it was a new experience for all of us.  Too bad Mr C and his friends missed out on the fun.

A few more hours of lions, tigers, polar bears and we were ready to meet up with the boys and head to lunch.  Amazingly, the minute we arrived at the burger joint the heavens opened up and we had a brief summer shower.  Seeing the rain was a miracles itself, but who could believe our perfect timing.

Now I will say that I'm not a burger aficionado and that my allegiance lies with a certain little burger joint I used to go with my grandparents, but this place wasn't too bad.  It claims to have the best burger and the local paper had recently rated it tops, but I'd say the atmosphere was a little too "burger dive" for me and a little more of a bar feel than I like.  The boys however were in seventh heaven.

According to Mr C's friend, the burger the boys had is considered " the entire farm" as it has all the animals represented; the cow (hamburger) the chicken (fried egg) and the pig (ham and bacon) and is thus the world's perfect food.  I'm more your "keep it simple" burger lover and just had the cow with a few of his vegetable friends on top (lettuce, pickle and tomato) which is just the way I love it!

Now that we accomplished another bucket item list and have stared a new list for our "best burger," we have a few more dives in town to hit this fall! I'm what you call a girl with a plan, and now I have three teenage boys who have bought into the plan  and a husband who really wants to join us too!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Birthday Celebration and Bucket List

Thankfully Miss A loves to celebrate her birthday since it seems like we celebrated her 8th Birthday a few dozen times in the last month.  Of course for her actual birthday, we couldn't just pretend we were over with the fun so we crossed yet another item off our Summer Bucket List.  Our family (minus dad who was back to work after a long vacation) went to a mini golf course and watched Mr C school us in all things golf.

In other words, we tried our best and Mr C used this outing as a way to practice his short game.  Miss A, however, is a good enough sport that she didn't let a little friendly competition get in the way of an afternoon of fun.  When Mom threw in a trip to Sonic for Happy Hour, she quickly forgot how much the girls were crushed by the real golfer in the family.  I keep telling Mr C that if I had time to play a few rounds of golf a week and have lessons with a PGA professional I too could be good at golf once again!  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!!

After our afternoon of fun, it was time for a little birthday party fun with just our family.  Thanks to Nana's fabulous baking skills, Miss A had homemade German chocolate cupcakes and her mother's favorite bakery provided the Chocolate Cake. Let's just say that we had a fridge full of chocolate goodness for a few days!  The kids have never been happier.

Of course, it's not really a birthday party without presents.  Even though Miss A had already "opened" most of her presents in the previous celebrations, there were a few gifts that she was thrilled not to miss out on including a new dress, a soft comfy pillow, and some other Barbie goodness. This girl has been spoiled.  Good thing she's so appreciative and so cute.

We are so thankful that Miss A joined our family eight years ago.  It's hard to imagine our life without this little spitfire.  Happy Birthday Sweetie.  Now let's wait another year before we celebrate again!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Platte River Road Arch: Final Day of Vacation

Our final stop of the vacation was at the Platte River Roadway Arch,  It is a spot that looks so intriguing from the road, but worries you that it might not live up to the hype.  I'm sure I speak for my family when I say that we are all pleasantly surprised at what a fun stop this was and how much we learned about the pioneers trek across that plains and so much more.  It really exceeded our expectations.

Outside, we got to visit a sod house, a Pawnee earth lodge, and a settler's home along with some amazing life size sculptures of bison and buffalo.  As I've often noted, it's a good thing we were not born back "then" as we surely would have died if our current ability to grow vegetables is any indication!  Not to mention the smell of the "earth" in either a lodge hut or sod house; we'd have really struggled with our allergies.

However, had we gotten lost along the trail as a Pioneer heading west, I think either Mr P or Mr C could have found us a way out; either that or they are just really good at mazes.  I must say I'm not too bad at mazes either, but I do get a little dizzy walking around and around.  Thankfully, the 2nd time, our family attempted the TrailBlaze Maze outside the arch I watched from the crows nest above and got to see who cheats and who helps their fellow sister!

Once inside the Arch, we experienced what life was like on the Prairie, to watch the building of the frontier right before our eyes, to walk along the Lincoln Highway and how that changed transportation to really feel what it must have been like on the Pony Express and how challenging life was for those who came before us.  Listening on the headphones to first person recollections and seeing scenes change before you life, it was almost as if you walking the trail with these pioneers.  I think each one of us was impressed with the images and sounds and so grateful that we got to experience this journey.

It really is like no other museum I've experienced.  It was impressive that you are in essence walking across/back over the interstate the entire time.  For as much as I might have joked about this place in the past, I can honestly say I was impressed.  There really was something there for everyone with some hands on sites outside and some visual effects inside made a great impact on the kids.

Of course, the fact that we got the kids pictures taken with a real life Explorer made the end of our trip even more special. What a great way to end our vacation.  As the kids would say a few more times that day: "Are We Home Yet?"  Almost.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Loveland Pass: Take Two

Before we could leave behind the beautiful mountains of Colorado, we decided to take one last hike up Loveland Pass and really experience the breathtaking views of the valley below and the peaks above.  Amazing is really the only word you can use to describe the beauty and majesty at every turn.  Since we were all prepared for the trek, we made it a little higher than before though not as high as Mr C would have liked.  However, after about 30 minutes, we did really need to start the journey down the mountain and back towards home.

Next year, we will come back with coats and walking sticks, pack a lunch, and plan to make a day of just exploring the area. How often do you get to experience the fresh mountain air, the beauty of the timber line, and views that last for miles?  We did not get enough.

As we were leaving, we did decide that one of the memorable portions of the Loveland Pass is right at the Loveland Ski Area.  You pass underneath a Ski Lift the goes right across the road.  Under the Lift is a long net to catch things that fall from the chair; protecting the cars from ski poles etc.  Of course, we thought the sight of a body (skier) in the net might be the scariest sight a driver could have on the Pass!

Thankfully, our journey towards home was a slow one.  We planned a few more stops along the way to ease the transition back to reality and help us come slowly down for our mountaintop experiences.  First stop was at Chic Fil A in Denver for an early lunch.  Who knew that is was also protest Chic Fil A Day; a perfect day for us to go support our "friends" who stood up to the politically correct and stood firm on marriage. No wonder we love to "Eat Mor Chikin"

A little later in the day, we stopped in Ogallala Nebraska, the cowboy capital of the plains, and saw Boot Hill.  Let's just say the kids were less than thrilled with this little excursion, but Miss M did find a tomb of someone born on her "birthday" so that made up for the inconvenience.  Their lasting impression however was a few blocks away from Boot Hill where we came across a garage sale. On the side of the house, there was a lady cutting someone's hair right in the middle of the street.  We'd never seen a garage sale/ hair salon before.  Just to make sure we weren't seeing things we even went by twice.

Finally, we came to our stopping place for the evening; Kearney Nebraska home of the Great Platte River Roadway Arch.  We stopped at a Holiday Inn with an indoor water park complete with two slides!  We live on the edge.  Giving in to peer pressure (the kids twisted my arm-really hard), I even went down the slide to my own amazement.  Let's just say that I don't normally go on water slides because without my glasses I'm nearly blind and there is nothing I dislike more than going in a dark slide without the ability to see!

Let's just say it was a one time wonder.  I left the slide with a bruised up arm; bleeding from rubbing the slide and being forced down under the water at such a high rate of speed.  Not my idea of fun, but the kids were thrilled that I'd taken one for the team. Literally, I had "skin" in the game.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Keystone Village: Our Little Home Away from Home

We loved our condo in Keystone. It was perfect for our family, just the right size, a quiet location with a gorgeous view of the mountains, and a pool that we had nearly to ourselves every night.  It was just what a vacation was suppose to be; relaxing, bonding and without the day to day stress of life.  Sure we fixed some easy meals, did a few loads of laundry and had to remind people to turn off the Olympics and go to bed, but those things actually made this stay more like home and easier to manage.

Our only wish was that we had found the little village shops near us before our next to last day of the trip.  Who knew?  However, that didn't stop us from exploring around and having fun.  Next trip, we'll know a little more about our surroundings and be ready for even more adventures.  Who knows, maybe I convince my little family to make a trip during ski season sometime and we can trek on the trails with snowshoes and skis.  I'm not holding my breath.


We loved our walk along the creek in Keystone. Jumping over sticks, creating our own path in the water and finding time to "Tebow."  Hey, Tim used to play for the Broncos!  Miss M and Miss A were a little disappointed that at no time in our trip did we run into any mountain lions, grizzly bears or wild animals.  Their mother, of course, was thrilled that they stayed far away; nature and animal lover that I am.

I tried to convince P that we could sneak a few wooden Adirondack chairs into our suitcase; but he shot my idea down and I had to just soak up as much time as possible on the front porch.  Cool Colorado mornings and breathtaking views from the porch, who would want to leave?

We did have one solution for not wanting to leave Keystone; we threw the kids in the city jail. Sadly, they used their brute strength to get out from behind the bars. 

We had a great trip to Colorado and one that we are considering repeating new year.  The memories we have from this trip will certainly be the tales of family lore in the future.  That's what its all about!

Panning Gold and Memories: Breckenridge

Our final day in the mountains was spent in Breckenridge, the "little ski village that blew up unto a huge resort" or at least that's what I would call it today.  Back in the days of my childhood, it really was a small little ski resort. A town that I could walk to from our home and knew the main street and the slopes at Peak 8 and Peak 9 like the back of my hand.

First stop of the day was to the Country Boy Mine where we panned for Gold and got to feel just a little bit of the Gold Rush.  My husband might just have survived being a "rusher" as within minutes he'd found a gold nugget in his pan; Miss M and Miss A were not as lucky even when the took lessons on Fill-Spill-Splash-Tail from their father.  He had the touch.  Mr C found a few nuggets too, after some time with Dad, he resorted to getting right in the middle of the stream in hopes of avoiding the already "claimed" areas. 

Had we been a real gold mining family, I think that the girls and I would have been busy doing the laundry and cooking while the boys were busy striking gold.  At least that would have been my plan.  Miss A said she could have done the gold mine chute slide, but I'm not sure that would have been an option.

After a few hours of mining, we were ready to explore the town. I  hardly recognized anything. Sure there were a few places I remembered like Skinny Winter Gifts where I used to blow through my allowance and birthday money on knick knacks; the Whale's Tail Restaurant that we used to frequent, and of course the Shirt Off My Back where I bought my yearly screen printed t-shirt. It was fun to take a little bit of a trip down memory lane, but I enjoyed making new memories with my family even more.

When we finished lunch, shopping, and strolling the city; it was time to head up the mountain to see my favorite slopes.  Everyone was willing to take the Gondola from town thinking it was so much safer than the chairlift in Copper.  They loved the enclosed feel, the doors and the fact that you climbed so much more gradually. At the base of the mountain I was shocked to see a Giant Hotel Complex which had previously been a a small little chalet.  Progress?, 

It as fun to show off some of my old stomping ground, but I was anxious to get back to our quiet little condo in Keystone!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Loveland Pass: Contintentail Divide First Attempt

Leaving Georgetown, we decided to try a different route back to Keystone.  The condo owner had told us how much quicker it was to take the Loveland Pass instead of going through the Eisenhower Tunnel and then around to Keystone.  Now for those of you who have never been on the "Pass," I'll admit that my one and only experience on this route was back when I was about Miss A's age and there was a snowstorm. According to my parents, I was a little shocked with just have far the drop off was from the road. 

I'll give my husband a lot of credit for being willing to drive our big Honda Odyssey over the Pass. He's not what you call an experienced high elevation driver.  Add to that the fact that most of the other vehicles on the road were Haz Mat carrying Semi's and it's a little unnerving.  He did great, but I think all of our kids were a little shocked at just how much we were climbing and how there was no real side rail protecting us from falling off the road.

At about the hallway point of our journey, we discovered an overlook that we could not pass by; the Continental Divide.  We parked the car and got out for a quick hike up the mountain. Quick mostly because three of us had on sandals or flip flops.  Climbing up the side of a steep mountain is not something you take lightly and we were ill prepared.  Of course, Mr C was convinced that we were being wimps until his youngest sister slipped a few times and almost fell off the mountain.  At least that's my story. 

I'll admit even though we'd been in the mountains for about six days by now, the altitude as we climbed really got to a few of us; something about shortness of breath and the deliurous thought that we could keep on going.  Thankfully, wisdom prevailed and we decided that we'd come back on our way back down the mountain in a few days and we'd be more prepared for the cool temps at the top and for the rough terrain.

One thing is certain; God's beauty at the Continental Divide is unparalleled.  It's stunning. Having the kids see the Timber Line and realize that trees don't exist at a certain height and that snow is still around in August was amazing.  Maybe I can understand why the gold rushers and the explorers of the west stopped in Colorado along the way and never left.  It's stunningly beautiful. 

Georgetown Train

There is a cute little mining town just past the Eisenhower Tunnel that I had visited a number of years ago and thought it would be a fun place to take a trip into yesteryear in Colorado.  Georgetown boasts the finest Narrow Gauge Loop Railroad of it's kind. Constructed in 1884, this is the same train line that miners took to get to the silver miners back in the late1800's from Silver Plume to Georgetown.

We rode along in an open rail car and got to experience what an engineering masterpiece this narrow three feet gauge line really is.  How amazing that the designers realized that due to the elevation the steam engine trains would need to "loop around" in order to make it up the mountain.  The spectacular views of the mountains and the valleys in this beautiful area were well worth our morning excursion. 

Once again, we were convinced that there was no way any of us could have survived living in Colorado during the Gold Rush/Silver Mining Era.  No wonder so many didn't make it past Omaha. I'm thinking our family was born at for such a time as now! 

The train stopped in Silver Plume (a town that is according to the conductor is only "open" on weekends) and then the train engine switched places and we went back down the mountain to Georgetown.  Traveling along the rail lines we realized why our ears popped and car protested the incline going up the tunnel.  What a climb!

After a great train ride, we took a little stroll around the town of Georgetown including a visit to a Scandinavian shop where I had purchased a bib that said "Lil Norwegian" for Miss M when she was a baby while I was on girls only weekend with some relatives.  What a perfect little excursion!