Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Birthday to the 2nd Mate and the 1st AB.
The 2nd Mate.
                                                                                                                  The 1st AB.

Today we are moving to somewhere. We know the general direction but not the exact destination. Adventure.

Yesterday, we went for a walk to look at the snow along the creek that runs all through Manitou Springs. Some of us did not know that snow glitters. We did enjoy looking at the snow, but the highlight of our walk looked like this.


Monday, October 26, 2009

A very long word about Manitou Springs.

The Campground in Pueblo having proven unsatisfactory, we talked the Admiral into moving along to Colorado Springs, Colorado. We actually ended up moving to Manitou Springs, Colorado, which is very close to Colorado Springs, but is entirely separate. With a town motto of "Keep it Weird!" you know you're in for an interesting visit. We arrived on Thursday, and went exploring downtown. The street is lined with delightful little shops including the Maitou Outpost and Gallery, where we were offered free samples of fudge. It is not often that a salesperson calls a group as large as ours back for free samples, so we were obliged to like the place and buy post cards. There is also a glassblower shop, fine dining establishments, arts and crafts places and much more. After we had perused the shops, we halted at the park. One thing that the younger crew members have missed out on whilst the Admiral has not been at home, is having the Admiral at a park. Though his true specialty is tire swings, he manipulated the strange flying disks that the park offered quite well. Then the crew decided to give him a taste of his own medicine. The Admiral has a long and glorious history of riding rides, but the crew pushing the flying saucer really almost did him in. And of course, in true Admiral fashion, the ride emptied his pockets. (Among the more famous "pocket emptying ride" stories is the time that the Admiral went on a "caged" ferris wheel. He rode the Ferris wheel four times, once with each of us girls. On the fourth ride, he finally figured out the perfect formula for rocking the cage. This resulted in the loss of some change among the crowd below.) After his cell phone, the car keys (we had a rental van) and his work truck keys had been dug out of the wood chips, we decided that it was time to move on. The Admiral challenged the 2nd AB to a (small) rock climbing contest, then discovered a strange spinning wheel thingy at the other end of the park and sent the boys for a ride. After that, it really was time to go home. Except that when we reached the van, we discovered that the Admiral did not have the keys. Or his cellphone. We walked back to the park, and were immediately waved down by a youth with the keys. Fortunately, cellphones can be helpful in the process of locating themselves. Particularly when they are buried underneath a hefty layer of fall leaves.

Manitou Springs, Day 2.

After contemplating a drive to the top of Pikes Peak, we looked at the thick layer of snow up there and immediately came to our senses. (Actually, 8 of the 19 miles were closed because of the snow, so driving to the top wasn't even an option.) We changed our path and headed for the Garden of the Gods. Words really cannot do the scenery justice, so I will not even attempt a description. That's why God invented cameras.

Note: This picture was the result of my figuring out the new button I found on my camera.


I will, however, give a description of our visit to this park. Ahhahem!

Lured from the van like bugs to a zapper light, we walked along the cement pathway. So transfixed were we that even the sign reading "Caution Falling Rock! Stay on the Sidewalk!" was not enough to dampen our adventurous spirits. We moved along, stunned by the wondrous pulchritude of the rock formations. Then, we came to a road. The Commodore believed that the visitor center was near. The 2nd AB just really wanted to walk on that road. The Admiral saw, but thought that the others knew where we were going. I was trying to figure out a button I had just found on my camera, so I was only following the others. Like fools we followed the road through the unknown land, naively believing that it would lead us to the Visitor Center, or at least to the van. After about a mile, the Commodore spotted a path that seemed to lead over what would be a mountain in Alabama, but here it is a mere rock. The 1st AB and I volunteered to scout the path. It moved in the right direction to take us to the van. Just as I was about to call down from my lofty height atop the rock, the path dead ended. For an instant only did the 1st AB and I despair. We had come so far, only to be let down. Despair never helped anyone though, and within a few seconds, we had come to appreciate the value of our climb. There are really excellent photo opportunities atop big rocks. We then descended to the others. Rather sensibly, we then turned around the way we had come. After a few hills, one of which might be mistaken for Kanchenjunga if it were moved to Alabama, we found the cement path again. Then the 2nd Mate happened to turn around. She gasped and wordless dismay and pointed to where the road forked behind us, to the road we hadn't taken, to the Visitor Center. Wearily, we made our way back to the van, where we had stashed semi-refreshing drink. Then, we drove to the Visitor Center.
Actually, not. The Visitor Center/Museum was quite interesting, and the younger crew members, in addition to the tasks they already carry, assumed the roles of Junior Rangers, and had their accomplishment announced over the loud speaker. HAHA.
Before they could become Junior Rangers, though they had to answer a question.

Ranger: What was your favorite thing that you learned today?
1st A.B.: Ummm. That Colorado is prettier.
R: Can you give me a comparison? What is it prettier than?
AB: Uhhhhhhh. I know! Alabama.

R: What was your favorite thing that you learned today?
2nd AB: About the Kissing Camels. 
R: Oh! Can you tell me where they are? (the rock is due north, and visible out the window)
2nd AB: East. (He'd read earlier that the rock was on the East Side of the park.)
2nd AB: Uh, West? North?
R: There you go!

R: What was your favorite thing that you learned today?
1st Mate: That Colorado rattlesnakes are small.
R: Hmm? Maybe compared to Alabama snakes...
1st Mate: Yeah. My dad had to kill a six foot rattle snake that got in our backyard.

Maybe we need to work on the conservation conversation! Granted, the ranger did appear more disturbed at the idea of six feet of venomous snake in the backyard than she did about its death.

Manitou Springs, Day 3.
We had noticed flyers around town announcing the race. We had spoken to a fellow in a shop who was going to be in it. We had looked it up online, and we had decided that we could not miss the 15th Annual Emma Crawford Coffin Race.
The story of Emma Crawford is not one for the faint of heart. For those who can stand to hear it chanted, click here.
Basically, it is this.
Emma Crawford came to Colorado in search of the "cure" for tuberculosis. Apparently this was quite common, and those who did were called "lungers." Emma climbed to the top of Red Mountain, and loved it so much that she wished to be buried there. She seemed to recover though, and was to be married to a young man called Hildebrand. A few weeks before her wedding however, she suffered a relapse and died. Twelve pall bearers carried her to the top of the mountain in  a coffin with a silver plate bearing her name (the plate is important.) and she was buried there. Twenty years later though, she was exumed for the purpose of building a railroad. She was moved to another place on the mountain, but apparently didn't like it there, because during a big rainstorm, Emma returned to Manitou Springs, along with the plate with her name, which was her only form of identification. Although Emma was once again buried, this time safely in the city cemetary, where she has remained ever since, a local business owner thought that it would be a shame to let Emma fade away into history. For this reason he instated the Emma Crawford Coffin race.

                                                        The Champions in Motion.
The race was hilarious, and was won by the Crystal Hillbillies for the seventh year in a row. The award for best entourage went to a team dressed as cannibals. They really deserved it too. For the parade, in addition to pushing their coffin, they carried a poor guy tied to a pine tree.

                                       Emma and Hildebrand in the front, Cannibals in the back.
That wraps upthe first three days.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We have once again moved house. This time, we have fled from the icy cold of Northern Wyoming, and taken to the sunny plains of Colorado. We are staying in Pueblo, which is on the edge of the dessert. At the campground we were originally staying at, all of the water had to be trucked in. This was also a KOA, but it fell far below the standard set in Douglas, WY, and so we decided to forgo the convenience of the KOA for a cheaper campground. With all that extra dough, we decided to have some fun. So today we drove two hours to Denver, and spent the day at the Denver Museum of Natural Science. Actually, we did not intend to spend the entire day there. We were a bit surprised when the guy came through, announcing that the museum was closing in twenty minutes. We had a good time, laughed long and hard at the "Life Begins With Lightening" videos and learned a little. Both AB's got to make Mongolian hats, but the 2nd AB was so heartbroken at the sight of a little girl who didn't get one that he handed his over. The 2nd Mate got to play a Morin Khuur or horse head fiddle. She rather enjoyed the experience, I think. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of this, because no photography was allowed in the exhibit. I might have chanced stealing a shot, but there were about five guards standing around us. I got some other pictures though.

The Commodore's favorite, a big carnivorous pig that used to roam Nebraska, back when Nebraska was a forest. You can't tell from the picture, but this thing was the size of a Buffalo.

A mammoth Skull. According to the Commodore, a Volkswagon bug could fit between the tusks.

North American Camels. We thought they look kind of like Pronghorn Antelope. The Museum says that they evolved into lhamas and Alpacas.

The Boys all really enjoyed the Dinosaurs.
The 2nd Mate really liked the mummies. Unfortunately, once again, there are no pictures. This is, once again, entirely my fault. I do not like mummies, therefore, I skipped the ancient Egypt exhibit, and I did not think to give her the camera.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


The Admiral has gone North alone. The weather was not inviting to travel, and moving Tallulah in ice and snow seemed unwise. Especially since the trip to Gillette was supposed to be an overnight one, and we are so comfortable here in Douglas. Besides that, the projected temperature was 0 for Gillette, and 16 for Douglas.  Hmmm. That's a hard one.
Nasty RV park with nasty signs all over, 16 fewer degrees, and an icy journey North or a posh KOA with every RVing convenience, and 16 more degrees. The only trouble is that the trip to Gillette has turned out NOT to be overnight, and we are pretty neatly stranded until Thursday. Oh well.

 We actually got quite a bit of snow here anyway. There was eight inches to a foot, with three to four foot mounds, thanks to the snowplow. The ABs and the dog seemed to be happiest about the weather.

 The cold weather that we have been enduring has resulted in a resurgence of knitting and crocheting projects. The entire family (minus the Admiral) learned to knit this year. During the Spring, we knitted extensively, creating hats, scarves (with pockets!) and a sweater.
The Summer heat of Alabama rather curbed the desire to knit, however.
Now a week of sub-freezing temperatures, the reluctance of the 2nd AB to wear socks,  and an unused ball of wool yarn have joined forces to fashion one very cute pair of socks, which the Viking boy will actually wear.

                                                     The 2nd AB shows off his socks.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Antelope Birthday.

The Admiral's birthday was today. Birthday's, of course, require special treatment.
We spent an hour in the gift shop here at the campground looking for a birthday card. We finally decide on two, which were then made over to suit the occasion. The 1st AB remade the envelope of his pick with cut out pictures, the 2nd AB included a poem.
For a birthday dinner, we actually  managed to pull a surprise on the Admiral. (The Admiral has a long history of surprising people, and  unveiling surprises before they are ready.) We procured two antelope shoulders, a mule deer shoulder and an antelope ham from a couple from Alabama who were hunting in Wyoming. Because the weather has been so cold, it was not necessary to stash the meat in the freezer. It was perfectly fine outside in the Ice Guzzler, which made it possible to hide this considerable amount of meat for two days.

The Admiral has wanted to try antelope for some time. It seems that the experience agreed with him.

The 1st AB likes antelope too.

Of course there was cake.But the Admiral had to battle the 2nd AB for the first slice. The 2nd AB got three in a row first

Thursday, October 8, 2009

From Douglas, WY

We pulled into the Douglas KOA on Tuesday solidly frozen and expecting to find ourselves in yet another unpleasant RV park. We'd read reviews that warned against going there with anything longer than 25 Ft. Our options, however, were extremely limited, because the only other open camp in Douglas, WY has no hook-ups and pets are not allowed.
On principle, we usually avoid KOAs. (Kampgrounds of America) The Commodore's father referred to them as "hotels without walls." This is niether an unfair nor inaccurate description. Also against KOAs is the fact that they are expensive. Besides the nightly rate, which covers two persons, they often charge as much as $3 a night for each extra person over the age of 7.With a nice "winter rate" and nowhere else to go however we were lured to this KOA.
In Gillette, WY, we stayed in a park where we had about ten feet between us and the next camper. The water hook-up was on the wrong side, and the park was plastered with threatening "If this doesn't stop..." and "You had better not be caught..." signs. Somehow, such negative signs can have a very negative overall effect.
In Sheridan, we intended to stay in a park that had really great reviews, was totally cool, and included four acres of land for exercising pets (and, simultaneously, boys)  on. Unfortunately, we missed the review that mentioned the owner's dislike of construction (and railroad) workers and we discovered upon arrival that he also dislikes children. So we stayed in the RV section of the Bramble Motel. It was tiny, 30 amp (we have a 50 amp RV) and we were sick, snowed in, and had no way of doing laundry. The owner was nice, the boys built their first really big snowman, and there was a flock of turkeys that came by everyday, but we were not sorry to leave.
Turns out, a hotel without walls was just what we needed. We've given up roughing it and become Kampers for a few days. The people who run the place are the first really nice Wyomingites we've come across. We played miniature golf. There is a  playground with covered wagon monkey bars. There's a laundry room. There is a dog run with carefully tended grass and no sandspurs or cacti to pull out of the dog's feet.

And did I mention that Douglas, WY is the home of the Jackalope?
And snow. Lots of snow.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I have recovered (mostly) from the triple blow of a head cold, mid-terms, and a stomach virus that has kept me from more pleasant tasks than studying Geography and coughing up my lungs. My sincere apologies.

We are now in Sheridan, WY. "The West at its best." If this is the best though, I'm certainly glad we got here before the place deteriorated any further.
Wyoming has not proven to be the spectacular and pleasant place that we expected. Not that I thought everywhere would measure up to Nebraska's standards, but I did not expect the disparity that we have found. Honestly, a person running a history museum should not say "We don't want any lost little boys. I had three of my own and I didn't even want them." As though we'd leave a crew member behind!
Also, with Winter here, the campground pickings are very slim. It seems that pets or children, but not both are permissible. As we are traveling with children and a pet, finding a place to park has become a little challenging. Particularly annoying are the parks who do not post these restrictions, thus requiring a post arrival change of destination.

But the really big news of the day is...
6 inches of snow.


Hmm. There was grass here yesterday.


We saw a sign here in town that showed the temperature as +40 F. It was the first time I have ever seen one that had to point out the +/-.
Despite the fact that the amount of snow on the ground would have closed Alabama down for a month, the Wyoming weather forecasters insist on calling it a "dusting of snow."
Talk about culture shock.