Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cool Colorado - 2

Our second day in Colorado we drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park with a stop at the top as well as Estes Park. What a beautiful day in a breath-takingly beautiful state!

This road eventually became a dirt road and we were surrounded by God's gorgeous creation.

Big Thompson River. My Dad loved fishing this river! I thought about him all day and the family trips we took here. More on that later!

We took this drive a couple of years ago and saw wild turkey (Carey was even interviewed for the evening news on that occasion as the turkeys totally stopped traffic as a news team was driving ahead of us), mountain sheep and a double rainbow. On this day we saw this funny creature laying in the middle of the dirt road, seemingly nibbling on dirt/rocks. ??? Carey jumped out of the SUV to check him out further. It was a marmot. He finally got up and waddled off the road.

We saw several out-croppings of these beautiful mushrooms. Never have seen red/orange ones before! We assumed they were not edible.

I was very taken by the spires on the mountain tops.

Wild flowers abound.

Nancy and I at the Visitor's Center - at the end of the road, elevation nearly 12K feet. BURRRR it was chilly! It began to rain and temp dropped to 20s. You can't tell from this photo but we saw a very large herd of elk in the distance near the patches of snow and rocks.

As we left the mountain top, we actually climbed in elevation a bit and yes the white stuff was snow/sleet.

When we got to Estes Park I wanted to find the salt water taffy shop that I remember from our family vacation trips as a young girl. There are other taffy shops in town, but I knew they weren't the one, because I remembered which side of the street it was on. So Rich kept driving. There it is - on the right just as I remembered! The Taffy Shop, est. 1935!

Yup, they still have the white boxes with green printing and the taffy pullers in the front window!

It's smaller than I remembered. Aren't memories like that??

Same black/white tile floor and counter. The lady that waited on me on this day had worked there from the beginning. Probably sold us taffy in 1948! The lady that started the store still owns it. Oh, and by the way they are the only store in town that still makes THEIR OWN salt water taffy. Isn't it nice to know that SOMEWHERE some things never change!

Our last stop was at the Stanley Hotel. We talked about tea on the veranda, but weather wasn't conducive to that so we just strolled around inside. This grand building, known for its architecture and magnificent setting, was built by F.O. Stanley - of Stanley Steamer fame. It took two years to build and it opened in 1909 and has a very interesting history. Mr. Stanley built a road from Lyons, CO to Estes Park over which he used his Stanley Steamer to transport visitors to Estes Park. This was the first time in history that an automobile was used instead of a train to transport visitors to a resort. He made many other notable contributions to the area.

The four of us alongside the Stanley Steamer. It was built in 1903. Weighs 1000 pounds and cost $800.

A view of the elegant interior.

Driving back to Ft. Collins along the Big Thompson. My family stayed here for the several years we vacationed here 1948-1950s. A massive flood wiped out the area in 1979 (I believe). I tried to imagine where we stayed. It was a little log cabin resort called the Cha-Nel-Bo, named for the husband Charles, wife Nell, son Bob. We had a fish fry and had garlic bread - the first time we ever tasted it. I remember Mom going nuts for it! Dad fished in the river close to our cabin. The river looks very high and was really rushing on this day.

A walk down memory lane - old photo so not terribly clear, but it is of Dad and we three girls - ages 2-4-6. Cheryl is next to Dad, then Kathy, and I'm on the right wearing saddle shoes on my feet and a headscarf on my head. Year was 1948! Mom remembers we drove a new Chrylser off Dad's car lot but my photo caption is 1948 Snazzy Chevie. Kathy had just turned two and her "seat" was a box on the front seat between Mom and Dad. YIKES! Mom's memories (at age 94!) are very funny and very clear!

Dad thought it was beautiful then, just think of all the trees and vegetation now! Breathtaking beauty abounds!

I love this photo - Dad standing in his waders, holding his rod and reel - with his arm around Mom. It may have been at Bear Lake because I remember him fishing there, too. The picture of happiness.

Colorado is such a lovely state. I have such warm, happy memories of visits there as a young girl and now since we've met Carey and Nancy, Rich and I have such lovely memories of visits with very dear friends! Whether it be fun games of Contract Gin, eating out, eating in (Nancy's a MARVELOUS cook!), seeing their kids and other mutual friends, shopping, sightseeing, enjoying the weather (on this trip it was 115 in Newton - while we enjoyed cool Colorado evenings sitting outside on the patio!! I even wore s lightweight jacket! AHHH!), you name it, their hospitality and friendship keep us returning.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cool Colorado - 1

In early August we headed to Ft. Collins, CO for a lovely visit with our friends Carey and Nancy. It was "hot" there, in high 80s. H.O.T. at home, way over 100! What a great time to be gone!

Our first stop was for breakfast at Lucile's. This seems to have become a tradition - and a yummy one at that!

This small, very charming, homey little cafe serves marvelous Creole food.

While waiting for our name to be called, I meandered around their gardens. These hollyhocks reminded me of my childhood. We had a LOT of hollyhocks in our Iowan backyard and my sisters and I would make "dolls" out of them. You just pluck off this bloom and then stick a toothpick in a round bud and poke it through the small end of the open flower. That makes a cute little flower doll with a very pretty gala-ball-like skirt.

Love the Lamb's Ear. It's so soft, fuzzy, and kid-friendly. I grew it in a pot our first year in KS but haven't since. Perhaps next year!

My favorite thing on the menu is Eggs Ponchatrain. It is a delicious trout topped with a poached egg (poached hard for me!). I get it with the grits. When I eat it I think of my Dad because he SO very MUCH loved fishing for trout in the Big Thompson River that runs through Estes Park and Ft Collins. Dad (and mom) would make "mush", which I have discovered is actually grits that they would cook until very thick and bubbly. Then they'd pour into pans to set. We sliced it very thinly and fried it on a griddle and ate it with maple syrup. Oh, how I loved it! Also served with the dish is the enormous, buttery biscuit you see. It's actually more like cake with a crunch top! Delicious!!

Our next stop (and usually follows Lucile's) is a stop at The Cupboard, a MOST MARVELOUS kitchen store in Ft. Collins. It is Carey and Nancy's store. It's a good thing we don't live there because I would have a difficult time staying out of this store!

This gorgeous fall display greeted us at the front door. Almost makes you want to make a pumpkin pie!

They carry a lovely line of Polish pottery. Since I'm a lover of all things blue, I just stand and gaze at all the lovely design and patterns. It's quite pricy, so I've indulged in just two pieces for my kitchen. They make me very happy!

I love Fiesta ware! My mom had these dishes when I was a small girl. I don't remember all the colors she had, but today she still has the cute dark blue salt and pepper shakers, a nest of three mixing bowls in yellow, blue and green, and a covered dish in green. Don't the bright colors just make you SMILE??!?!?!

This is what I bought. I went there looking for a glazed ceramic garlic keeper. This cute little white dish with the red silicon top is a garlic roaster and storer. I haven't used it as a roaster yet, but my garlic is staying fresher! The night we arrived Nancy showed me her new measuring cups and so I bought a set. They are very versatile, for both liquid and dry measurement, the small one cup, two cup and large 4 cup. They are flexible and so you can squeeze to pour. Our granddaughter, Isabel, helped me in the kitchen yesterday and she could handle the small one very well. Thanks for the tip Nancy!

We visited the Colorado State University Horticultural Gardens on the way home. We've walked through these before but they are so beautiful, they called for a second visit.

We all loved the contrast between the flower petals and the spiky grasses.

Loved these bright marigolds! We planted a border of them in our front garden before we went to California in April. When we came home they had been totally stripped by our resident rabbits. Those little "buggers"!

If I remember right, these are foxgloves. Can you find the bee?

Loved the coleus. Did you know it is in the mint family? That's what Webster's says, when I checked for spelling.

This bronze coleus was absolutely stunning! Loved the color variations!

A great first day in "The Fort", as Carey and Nancy call it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Brett!

Today is Brett's 37th birthday. Our third son is a loving husband, great dad, a loved brother, a valued pastor, a trusted friend, and our neighbor who "looks in on us". This man, who has a HEARTY laugh (like his Dad), loves books, teaching God's word and caring for his family and "flock".

We are proud to call him Son!

"We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding ... that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light."

Colossians 1:9-12

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


We have received a couple of fun emails from our 14-year old granddaughter, Jordyn. The first was to say how much fun she's had this summer making decorative cakes.

Doesn't everyone love a sweet watermelon???

With the Christmas paper-wrapped cake board, I'd call this "Christmas in July".

Jordyn made a pattern from her own flip flops, so I'd say this is about a size 8 cake! :) Then she made a cake in a 9x13 pan and cut out the flip flops from her pattern. The red straps are fruit roll and the green circle is a piece of gummi candy.

I would say she's quite the Baker Girl! She's had a lot fun baking and her family LOVES it! Lucky them! Hey, SHE should have made her Papa's birthday cake!!

The second email was to say she did a photo shoot of her two little sisters, Katelyn and Allison. She planned their outfits and fixed their hair, went outside and took photos. These are what she sent us!

I can almost hear their giggles!



Two little cuties!

Bubble fun!

Looks like Jordyn has her Dad's "photographer's eye"! Good job, Sweetie!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rich's Birthday Day Trip - 2

After leaving Ft. Hays, we were SOOO hungry for lunch but none of us knew of any place to eat in Hays, except for Freddy's Steakburgers and Frozen Custard. We wanted something a little more SPECIAL than that. We went to the first place listed in the AAA book, Gella's Diner and Lb. Microbrewing, off Main Street. We took it to be a good sign when a large group of people exited.

It was established in 2005 and banners hang proclaiming awards for their beer-making in 2007, 2008, 2009. (I'm sure this will be a hoppin' place when the college students return to Ft. Hays!) We're not beer drinkers, but love good food. What a GREAT place to eat! Ellen and I had salmon burgers, she with asparagus and I with sweet potato fries. The guys enjoyed schnitzelwich, and for dessert we had a very decadently delicious French toast brulee which the four of us shared. I think I was too hungry to take any photos. Just take our word for it, it will be worth a two-hour drive just to go there to eat again!

Our next stop was the St. Fidelis Catholic Church, or the "The Cathedral of the Plains", in Victoria, KS. In 2008, it was named one of the "8 Wonders of Kansas", and it truly is.

The story of this church is too long to go into here but I'll try to summarize it.

The first settlers to the area were gentlemen farmers from England who settled in 1873 with the intention of duplicating their aristrocratic lives in spite of harsh weather and rough ground. They named their village Victoria after their queen and laid out the streets according to the plan of a London architect.

In 1875 they were joined by a group of poor immigrants from southern Russia known as Volga-Germans, who were fleeing from service in the Czar's army and dangers to their Catholic faith. They created a village of sod huts adjacent to Victoria and named it Herzog after their town in Southern Russia.

The British soon found pioneer life too extreme in contrast to what they were accustomed to in England and since they and the land could not adapt most returned home in a few years. The only thing that remained as a memorial to their efforts was the town name. The town was left in the care of the Volga-Germans who stayed to work the land and make it home. They kept the town's name Victoria.

Nothing was more important to these Germans than their faith and so they erected a cross in the center of town where they would go to pray. But life was incomplete without a church or a permanent pastor. Over time they built three churches, the first two of which they outgrew and then at the turn of the century (1908) they began construction of the current building. It was completed in 1911 and seats 1,100.

The stained glass windows are incredible!

The altar and pulpit were cut and hand polished in Italy. The paint colors are the original rich mauve, rose and gold tones.

This cross measures 5'x7' and is made of woven wheat.

There are 18 granite pillars which were brought to the site from Vermont. When they arrived, they were unloaded by the railroad 3/4 mile from the construction site. It took 8 horses to pull the 10-15 ton pillars and 40 men, each lifting from 40-70 pounds three times before they were ready to carry the rock into the church. The cost of the 18 pillars totaled $4,000!

The exterior is constructed of native limestone, quarried seven miles south of Victoria. Large layers of rock, about eight inches thick, were cleared of top soil and then perforated by hand augers with holes eight to ten inches apart. Wedges were inserted in these holes and tapped with a hammer until the rock sprang apart along the line of perforation. You can see the wedge lines in the long rock. The stone was then loaded on wagons and hauled to the building site. Each stone weighed 50-100 pounds. It is estimated that the people hauled and dressed more than 125,000 cubic feet of rock! Each parishioner was required to haul six wagon loads of stone from the quarries, and fathers and grown sons of some families are recorded as hauling as many as 70-80 loads of stone. Amazing!!! No modern technologies - block and tackle was used - no automatic lifts or power tools!!

This congregation is led by the Capuchin Franciscan Friars.

Willian Jennings Bryan, during his 1912 presidential campaign tour of the U.S., visited Victoria and was so impressed with the church that he named it the "Cathedral of the Plains". It truly is an amazing building with a rich history.

Carey and Nancy - thanks for recommending that we visit this place. Totally enjoyed it!

We watched the clouds build up all day. When we left Victoria it was 104 degrees, but in a few miles huge raindrops began to fall, as did the temp. It got down to 79 degrees! That did a lot to help the "heat psyche"! By the time we stopped for gas in McPherson, the rain stopped and the temp was back up to 94 by the time we reached home.

It was a great day! Thanks Ellen and LeeRoy for joining us!