Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween or Harvest

Hello Fellow Bloggers and Friends!

You're welcome for a break from my usually lengthy posts over the past week. Ha!  Honestly, it wasn't intentional, we have just been busy and away and busy.

But here I am to wish you a happy Halloween or Harvest -- depending on your beliefs about this day.  I, personally, don't really like Halloween, but I love our church's annual Harvest Festival, so I kind of celebrate that.  My mom-in-law usually sends treats for our family each year at this time, too, so we also celebrate that.  (Thank you for the cookies!)

So tonight is our annual Harvest Festival where the costumes are mostly less scary (except some who arrive from around the neighborhood who did not expect to be celebrating Halloween at a church event), where the game-booths are plentiful, where loads of treats can be acquired right in a row outside the building from trunks in our parking lot.

This year, C is making the free hot dogs and adding in chili, nacho cheese sauce and ... I think there's a third topping, but I don't remember.  Onions?  Anyway... J and H are doing a trunk together.  I'll try to get some photos for you, but it's a whole princess castle theme.  It's J's trunk (and idea), but H decided he'd help her and persuaded her to let him by telling her that he can cover for her while she trunk or treats or plays games at the booths sometimes during the evening.  I'm taking pictures at the photo booth again this year, with my lovely assistant, my sister, D.  Her oldest two are hosting a Masquerade-themed trunk.

It should be a great time.

Meanwhile, I wanted to share some photos with you from our trip to Colorado Springs over the weekend.  We had a fantastic time and though we weren't ready for it to end on Sunday, it was still a good relaxing, refreshing time in a beautiful part of the country.  We'll definitely go back since we missed out on so many things we wanted to see in our short visit.

I'll caption these with more information about our visit for you...

First things first after arriving at the hotel ... time to swim.  But Colorado was sooooo cold when we got there that J felt it was necessary to wear socks walking from our room to the pool -- even though we were indoors the entire walk.

For our first vacation day dinner, we decided to try a place called Crave Real Burgers and we were not disappointed.  C ordered this one with six types of meat on it and said it was the best burger he's ever eaten.  Mine was just one kind of meat (the burger) and some jalapeno poppers on top and it was still ridiculously good (but I won't admit to them being better than my husband's burgers ... because to me, his are always the best).
Saturday, we headed over to the Focus on the Family Visitor's Center and bookstore.
There were a crazy amount of fun things to see and do at their visitor's center.  What we thought might be a 20-minute visit was more like a couple hours.

The favorite was their three-story slide, which is best described by memorable quotes from our kids.  Upon exiting the slide after her first ride down, J said, "Now that is a slide!"  After Z's first time, he said, "I'm never going to think of slides in the same way ever again!"

This is just the foyer (sort of, I guess) of the Visitor's Center that looked really cool.
After a trip to the local thrift shop (Arc) and a quick dash searching for impromptu (cheap) costumes, we headed over to the Boo at the Zoo at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
Oh yeah, we did the the Sky Ride at the zoo first.  CMZ is the only mountain zoo (apparently) and the whole zoo zigzags up the side of the mountain.  It's crazy!  But our kids were all pretty willing to give the sky ride a try and though everyone agreed it was high and a little scary, it was also a lot of fun.  J was crying before we boarded as she started having second thoughts but by the end, she was begging for us to do it again.  Star Wars characters met us at the top of the mountain and the kids had a great time posing with them for pictures (sadly, most did not come out due to a giant smudge on my lens that I didn't realize was there).  Obviously, this photo is the view heading down the mountain.  That's S, H and Z riding in front of the rest of us.

I've already mentioned how CMZ is well-known for their reticulated giraffes.  They have more than any zoo (though I've got to wonder if that includes zoos in parts of Africa or not) and the experience there with the giraffes is amazing!

This is a small cluster of giraffes.  Obviously, it was late and cold, so the giraffes had been moved indoors.  My pictures would have been better outside, but the experience was awesome either way.

Yes, we actually got to pet (and for $2 each, feed - so we skipped this) the giraffes.  Experience of a lifetime!  Amazing.

It was dark by the time we exited the giraffe containment, so we did some trick-or-treating around the zoo where several companies had come to advertise -- er, provide treats -- to the zoo guests.  While wandering around doing that, we were invited in to see an Animal show (yes, I'll be marking it down in our homeschool records).

There were probably 7 or 8 animals they talked about in this short animal show.
The most exciting part of the animal show was when J was invited up on stage to help out.  She was picked out of maybe 40 or 50 kids in the audience, so it was pretty thrilling to see one of our family up there!  Here's a little video of it.

On Sunday, we packed up and left the hotel.  Then we headed over to the world-famous Garden of the Gods to see what all the hype was about.
This was a shirt in the gift shop (that I did not buy).  It was very cute.
Here is a view of what I believe is Pike's Peak with the Garden of the Gods in front.  This was taken from the balcony at the GotG Visitor's Center.

Then we left the Visitor's Center and went hiking around the "garden."

For some perspective, check out the rock climbers on the right side there.

Balancing Rock near the exit.  As beautiful as this place was and how much fun we had, I will say that having been to Moab, Utah and the Arches National Park, this place was a little less interesting that that place.  But it was still worth our visit.

Trying my hand at a side-by-side combo-picture the way my sister does them.  She's way better at it though.  S and Z really were looking up at the plaque in the rocks, but it was too small to read, so I thought I'd substitute the picture of the plaque itself, which was more easily readable.
Nearby the Garden of the Gods, we decided to make one last stop before driving home.  We visited Manitou Springs.  It's a little historical, touristy-ish town with a lot of earthy, artsy people who actually live there and keep their shops open for visitors.  If you like ice cream and homemade candies, about every third shop sells these things.  Yum.

There was an "old timey" arcade near where we parked and it had a bunch of video games I remember from my childhood!  The kids thought they were so cool.

Outside the arcade.

A gorgeous little stairway where I took a picture of our kids and hope to use in some Christmas cards or something this year.  Love.

We saw a lot of Magpies on this trip, but ultimately, the only bird in nature I was able to capture were some finches.  Still, they were cute.

We ate lunch at a place recommended by one of the candy counter people called The Loop.  C and I shared this giant cauldron of meats in sauce.  I didn't love the cactus though (but I did try it!).  My favorite part of our whole meal was the chips and salsa.  So good.  But our Molcajete dish, pictured above, was very good, too.

After lunch (and ice cream at one of the shops -- we're only human!), we went down to a beautiful little park in town so the kids could burn some energy before the six-hour car ride ahead.  It was a great way to end our time in Colorado.  This particular park (didn't catch the name) had a wide variety of play structures that I'd never seen anywhere else.  The kids seemed to really enjoy this spinning ring a lot.

From the park, looking back towards the main street through town.
Oh yeah, did I mention there was a beautiful little creek running through the park?  Yes.


  1. Looks like a great trip! I'm also a fan of Molcajete, but I only order it if I can share with someone. :)

  2. Great photos! Sounds like you had a very good time, and I'm glad. What is J doing in the video? I can't tell what sort of animal they're working with there.

  3. Brenda, yes! This was huge. We shared and still didn't finish every bit of it.

    Jessica, thank you. J was holding a stick with a rubber tip on it and the keepers were getting the tortoise to touch it's nose to the rubber. Weird trick, but J got to be involved, so who cares?!

  4. its, not it's ... I was tired :)

  5. This really looks like a great trip! Thank you for the photos.
    Mammals, meals, mountians and mini people ;) and more.

    Glad that you are home safely.

    Love, Mom