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Rocky Mountain Father’s Day

Rocky Mountain Father’s Day

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For the first time in a long time, Father’s Day fell at the end of VBS week instead of the beginning!  That means that instead of setting up for VBS and celebrating quickly in the evening, we were able to leave after church and enjoy a beautiful drive through Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Travelling Trail Ridge Road was a fun way to celebrate the amazing man that is the father of my children, and his wonderful father as well.  It was especially beautiful up in the mountains because of all the rain we have had this spring, bringing beautiful wildflowers out in full force.  Take a peek…

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On the way out of the park, we even got to see a black bear tromping across a meadow, the crowning wildlife sighting of a day that also featured tons of elk, many with big antlers, and quite a sizable gathering of moose.  Mooses…  Meece…??

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There is no one else I can picture sharing this parenting joy with me so well, and I am eternally grateful that God chose Than to be the one I get to celebrate on Father’s Day.

 

Another Train Adventure

Another Train Adventure

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Since it has been at least two days since I posted a train photo, I decided it was time for some more!!  Yes, I know there were train pictures at the start of summer from the Cumbres and Toltec, and train pictures for the start of autumn from Day Out with Thomas, but there was train activity in between too!  On the last Saturday of summer vacation, Nathan and I got to travel with Grandpa Train and his railroad club to see a foundry and historic depot in Strasburg, CO.

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Although we didn’t ride on a full-sized train, we did get to ride a mini train through the field of a man who works at the foundry.  He repairs engines all day, and then comes home and plays with engines as a hobby too!!

I think my favorite part was watching the workers in the foundry.  They cast and machine all kinds of parts, using some tools that are over 100 years old.  They custom build parts to repair historic locomotives and keep mini trains like the one at our zoo running.  We watched them heat and pour bronze into a mold while we were there.

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Another cool part of the trip was getting a glimpse into my grandpa’s history.  He enjoyed telling the story of the time he was stranded by a snowstorm in this very depot, spending the night sleeping in front of this pot-bellied stove as a teenager.

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Nathan had the distinction of being by far the youngest member of our group, and he was a good participant.  He enjoyed riding the train, eating a hearty lunch out in the field, and investigating the variety of historic buildings and objects at the depot/museum.

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Hooray for cross-generational adventures!!  May there continue to be many more to come!

North Pole, Then and Now

North Pole, Then and Now

Several weeks ago we enjoyed a fun outing to the North Pole.  We were able to get together with some family we hadn’t seen in a long time, enjoy cousin time, and even finish our day with playtime and dinner at Uncle Matt and Aunt Kimi’s.  Here’s a little peek…

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And now, for those of you with a historical bent, here are some vintage photos showing not me, but my MOM at the North Pole!!  Wow!

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Riding the Rails

Riding the Rails

Hot on the heels of the end of school, we headed out of town with Than’s parents for a very special getaway.  Since our train-loving boy is growing up fast, it was more than time to give him a good ride on a real steam train.

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Based on the recommendation of my train-loving grandfather, we drove south to Chama, New Mexico, for our ride on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad.

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We stayed at the Gandy Dance Inn Bed and Breakfast, just a block or two from the train depot, and could hear the train whistles loud and clear (to our great delight, of course.)  We also enjoyed splashing in the hot tub, eating delicious homemade breakfasts, getting to know the innkeeper, and seeing all the interesting collectibles and antiques.

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Our first full day in Chama was taken up by the main reason for our visit, the train ride.  We checked out the rail yards fully, boarded the train a little before 10:00, spent all morning travelling, ate lunch in Osier, 19 miles from the nearest paved road, and then traveled back to reach Chama again by 5:00.

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The trip was a wonderful experience.  Nathan was enthralled, loving to look out the window at every turn to get a glimpse of the engine.

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He also worked very hard to listen to the commentary provided by the friendly docents, picking up many facts about our trip and finding the answers needed to fill out his booklet and become a Junior Engineer.

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He proudly wore his Junior Engineer badge on the train ride back to Chama, and then kept it on for the rest of the vacation.  He practiced being the docent for the second half of the journey, repeating many of the things he learned as we traveled past various landmarks on the way back.

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Katya spent most of the time being Daddy’s companion, writing and drawing in her summer journal, and hanging out on the platforms at the end of the train cars.  We all spent some time in the open car, but she liked the ends of the cars better because she could see out!

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Both kids enjoyed the chance to go up in the engine at the end of our lunch break–so hot and noisy up there!

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Sooty but satisfied, we returned to our B&B for a much needed shower, then out for dinner and a walk through the quiet town of Chama.

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Our next day was filled with spontaneous adventures as Than played activities director, driving us around to all sorts of little-known nearby attractions.  We took a short hike to a nearby reservoir, threw tons of rocks into the water, collected interesting mineral samples, hiked up to the train trestle we traveled on the day before, saw a beautiful bird, visited 100+-year-old graves in the Chama cemetery, and generally experienced the northern New Mexico countryside.

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Although the train trip was the definite highlight, our final day was almost as good.  After checking out of the B&B, we “chased the train” all morning, driving along all sorts of interesting roads to see how many times we could park by the track and watch the train steam past.  It was a very simple but very exciting adventure, watching the beautiful historic train thunder past through gorgeous mountain scenery, accompanied by the excited waving of my kids.  The docent and several passengers on the train even started to recognize us and wave extra-hard every time we caught up with them.

 

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Finally loosing the train when it headed away from the road a little before lunch time, we traveled to the other end of the line, checked out the rail yards at Antonito, had some of the best Mexican food I have eaten in a long time, and then made the trek home.  I am so grateful for the rich blessings of time with family and precious memory-making experiences with my children.

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Breckenridge

Breckenridge

Where were we over one month ago?  Guess…

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Nope, despite the rainy days and the boat photo, it wasn’t Seattle.  We were enjoying the Baylor family trip to Breckenridge!  Despite some bicycle hiccups and chilly mornings, we managed to have a fun time enjoying fall in the mountains.  

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Time with grandparents and cousins is definitely the best part of the trip.  Games, hot tub, lots of coloring, bike riding on the driveway, and shared meals are all becoming traditions we look forward to.

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Our favorite new adventure this time was visiting the free history museum in Frisco.  There were several houses to explore, stamps on a passport to collect, artifacts to view, interesting signs to read, videos to watch, and even hats to try on!

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We are grateful for a beautiful place to build memories as a family.

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Suzuki Institute

Suzuki Institute

With VBS just finished, we bid farewell to our Idaho guests and headed up to the mountains!  Our annual trek to Beaver Creek for the Colorado Suzuki Institute was an event we all looked forward to.

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Nathan and I went to class together for a few hours each morning and a few hours each afternoon.  He received excellent instruction, and I learned a lot from observing his top-notch teachers.

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One of his favorite classes was penny whistle.  He also enjoyed lessons with his master teacher Mrs. Mbi, and improved a lot by the final recital on Saturday night.

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Afternoon concerts are another part of the week we enjoyed–some excellent music from both kids and adults.

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It wasn’t all music, though.  Ice skating was free throughout the week, and Katya in particular had a GREAT time–she and Daddy skated together for over an hour!  Nathan and I tried it too, although we didn’t last quite as long. 

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Swimming was part of every day–one day the kids were in the pool 3 different times!  They both are much braver in the water, and Nathan finally mastered his fear of going under.  He bobbed in and out over and over, and is even learning to jump in without panicking.  Katya clung to her swimming noodle and bobbed around with less and less adult help.  It was fun to be with them.

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Our condo was a great home base, complete with a balcony perfect for launching airplanes.  (Yes, we went down and picked them up every time.)

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We also enjoyed a day with chair lift passes.  Katya went up and down the mountain 7 times, and Than got to play Frisbee golf with his dad on the top.

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Beautiful flowers everywhere, quiet evening walks with my husband while the kids slept, playing games with Than’s parents, delicious meals, and good time with all different configurations of family members–so much to be grateful for!

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Breckenridge

Breckenridge

It has been a few weeks now, but here are some favorite photos from our family weekend getaway to Breckenridge.

It was our second annual Baylor family mini reunion–we all live within 1 hour of each other, but it can be surprisingly hard to find time together!!

The weather was beautiful and our rented house was spacious enough for everyone to enjoy comfortably.

We did some window shopping, managed to get all 11 people on the bike trail at the same time, splashed in the hot tub, enjoyed the park, shared some delicious meals, played games, and even got to watch a fireworks show in nearby Frisco.

I think my favorite part was watching the cousins play together–Nathan was so sad when it was time for Eli, Abi, and Micah to go home!

Fall is Really Here!

Fall is Really Here!

Yesterday there was something in my front yard that looked like this…

Last night we pulled in the green tomatoes, clipped all the blossoms, and re-potted the herbs into the windowsill, because today, we woke up to this…

I love living in Colorado with dramatic seasons!!  (Especially knowing it will probably be 70 degrees again next week…)

Labor Day Train

Labor Day Train

This year, we celebrated Labor Day at 10,000 feet!  We picked up Grandpa Train in the morning and drove to the little mountain town of Leadville.

After enjoying lunch in the historic Delaware Hotel, we boarded the Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad for a 2 1/2 hour ride in the mountains.

The kids enjoyed walking back and forth from engine to caboose several times during the ride, and it was also fun to stick our heads out the back of the car and watch the track click-clack by.  The weather was delightful and the mountains just beginning to turn colors for fall.  Katya even got a free bag of popcorn at the end of the ride (it helps to be cute and little sometimes…)

We headed back to Denver, avoiding the heavy holiday traffic on I-70 but running into a little bit of slow-downs when driving through tiny towns that only had one stoplight!  We stopped at Grandpa’s house to pick up Grandma Sweetie and enjoyed dinner at Old Chicago.

On the way home, we were surprised by a big fireworks show so we stopped in the church parking lot to watch.  It was an unexpected treat to be sure!  (So was the dead battery when we tried to re-start the car after the fireworks, but Than got that fixed up pretty quickly thanks to a nearby outlet on the light pole and the battery charger I had accidentally left in the car!)  We dropped off Grandpa and Grandma and then took our tired children home for sleep before another busy week.  A good memory for all!

The Artist

The Artist

I thought this fun story from Beaver Creek deserved its own post.  One day Than and Katya were wandering through an art gallery, admiring the paintings.

The lady who worked there realized our daughter’s name was Katya and was very interested in that, since she had immigrated from Eastern Europe and that is a common name there.  After conversing for a while, she gave Katya the gift of some art postcards.  Katya drew her a picture to say thank-you and delivered it the next day.  The lady hung Katya’s picture on the wall in between two pieces of art worth about $10,000!

She even labeled it with Katya’s name.  The picture stayed on the wall all day and into the next, much to our surprise and Katya’s pleasure.  Perhaps we will see her work hanging there again someday…