Sunday, April 29, 2007

Home at last...

We got back into town yesterday afternoon from our week-long trip to the great state of Colorado. What an awesome time! Considering all the things that should have gone horribly wrong, not one bad thing happened. You can see some of the photos here.
What did we do, you may ask? Well, after a typical whirlwind weekend (hanging out with friends, my parents were in town, I ran two races, helped at the Earth Day belly dance demo, had dance practice, and went to see Say Anything with Meghan), and spending Monday at work, cleaning, gardening, packing and then attending a Jr. League meeting, we took off to spend the night in my hometown, approximately halfway to CO.
We got up early Tuesday morning, kissed the puppy goodbye and drove to Estes Park. Here's where the shoulda-happened bad stuff was: the weather. All week, I watched the weather forecasts - all week, they said Colorado would see snow. It rained on the way to Elwood Monday night, with nasty thunder and lightening. It rained all through the second half of our Nebraska trip, with high winds and blinding road-spray from all the semis sharing the interstate with us. Finally we reached the Wyoming border and started seeing snow...and a phone call to Lowell's grandmother in Fort Collins confirmed my fears - Estes Park was supposed to get upwards of 10 inches! Fortunately we called our cabin rental company, who laughed at us. They hadn't see a centimeter of snow, much less several inches. We drove on, and low and snow. It was wonderful weather and it only got better! Phew! We spend Tuesday afternoon settling into our cabin, driving around Rocky Mountain National Park, and snapping photos of all the elk. In the evening, we had a wonderful dinner at Nicky's Steakhouse, the 4th restaurant we stopped at (and the first we didn't immediately reject upon entry). I had an incredible meal of brown-sugar glazed duck... Mmmm... :) We intended to check out the community hot tub at the cabin upon our return, but noticed the instructions directed us to have had made a reservation by 6, and being 8 pm, we assumed we were out of luck. But then the cabin rental owner called us back and let us into the hot tub, driving all the way home from out of town to do so. Turns out he was from Nebraska too! :)
Wednesday morning, we arose super early to jog around Lake Estes. Neither of us were too terribly affected by the altitude yet (that would happen the next day), and it was a beautiful sunny morning to jog, other than all the elk dung scattered on the trail...and the herd of elk we encountered blocking the trail. They seemed to be more interested in grazing that in us, so we just meandered around them and continued on our way. After a nice long shower, we grabbed some breakfast and drove back up into the park to see what it looked like without snow flurries and cloudy skies. Then we strolled around downtown Estes Park, buying fudge, admiring all the little trinket shoes and finding not one but two Nepalese stores that sold belly dance gear!
Finally we took off for Fort Collins to visit Lowell's family. We stayed with his grandmother and aunt Laura, stopping over to see his Aunt Janella's family, with now-walking baby Bailey and her parents Jordan and Tannii. Lowell knew of a drum store in town, so we had to check that out of course. I was desperate to find this belly dance shop that I'd spied last time we came to town...but it was no where to be found! We called around, Googled, and drove around for hours...nothing. That was disappointing, but it's not like I had a lot of money left after the Nepalese shopping anyway. :)
That evening, we got to do one of Lowell's favorite summertime activities: see a drive-in movie. Disturbia and Blades of Glory were playing at the local drive-in theater. I manage to stay conscious for the first flick, but as much as I like Will Ferrell and John Hess, I passed out for most of the second show.
Thursday morning, we slept in a little later, getting up around 9 to go running. We found a multi-purpose trail on the bike trail map and took off for what turned out to be a horrifyingly bad 5 mile run. About halfway through, I couldn't breathe. My legs wouldn't run anymore. I let Lowell go ahead of me and I just kept watching as his figure disappeared into the distance. I had to walk. I usually do whatever it takes to avoid walking, but it just wasn't' going to happen this time. I probably walked over a mile and a half of the last 2 1/2 miles of the trail. Very disappointing. Altitude sickness had set in. :(
We went shopping with Lowell's grandmother, sorted through old fabric she had stashed in the basement...and then Lowell decided that we should take off for Denver earlier so we could swim, sleep and get a good start on our last day of vacation. We found a hotel with a pool, ate a quick dinner with Grammy and Laura and set off for the South. The weather was once again a little hairy - there were tornado warnings all around Denver, but fortunately the storm was moving quickly to the Southeast and we followed it into town.
Our hotel in Denver was extremely nice - newly remodeled and half-empty, so we had the pool and hot tub to ourselves...
I decided not to run on Friday morning, so once Lowell got back from the gym, we took off for downtown Denver and the Denver Museum of Art. I hadn't been to this museum since I was 13, and wow, had it changed! They built a second building, so in addition to the 7 floors in the old building, there were 4 more to check out. We started on the new building, working our way down from the top floor. All of the walls are set up at non-90-degree angles, and it's really trippy - you get disoriented and start to walk funny. I can't tell you how many kids we saw fall over... The new building held all of the contemporary and modern art, as well as a temporary Asian exhibit. We skipped the Western American art, as neither of us is particularly interested, and started on the top floor of the old building - in the Asian exhibits - Mid-East, Southeast, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, etc. Some very interesting artifacts. After about 3 hours, though - once we were getting into the Central and Southern American sections, we had to call it quits...I can only handle so much in one day!One to a more contemporary setting - the Cherry Creek mall, where we admired all the stores that Omaha just doesn't have - Urban Outfitters, Crate & Barrel, Tiffany's... It would be nice to have access to these stores, but I'm glad we don't. I'd never have any money!That evening was the highlight of the trip - dinner at Mataam Fez, a Moroccan restaurant where the famous belly dancer Eva Cernick dances. I took a workshop with Eva last year in Iowa City and was thrilled to find her regular performing venue. The food was fabulous - I had cornish game hen with honey, almonds, and peaches, and each of the 5 courses was eaten with our hands. Lowell wasn't quite to impressed with the after-dinner rose-water splashing we received, but what's so bad about coming out smelling like roses??? Eva was wonderful, of course, although I wishes she would have danced longer...After dinner we moseyed up a few blocks and met up with my friend Dana and her husband Brad for a few drinks...All in all, an absolutely spectacular vacation - relaxing, fun, argument-free...everything I could have asked for in a week away from home.