Friday, November 25, 2011

Days 141 - 143 and 150 - 158: Lee & Patti's, Our Home Away from Home

After Mesa Verde and before heading to the Wilson's we spent a few days at Lee & Patti's (Angie's Grandmother and Mom) place in Pueblo West, CO.

Their place has really become our home away from home. We started the trip here back in late June so it's fitting that we see them on our way back to Austin. We've literally made a circle, a really zig zaggety circle...

Angie and her Mom spending some quality time together in the kitchen.
A real kitchen is probably what Angie misses most about living in a van.

LeTigre got a much needed bath and some other maintenance, including an oil change and a new power steering hose since she'd sprung a leak on the way into town.
She's running great!

Lee treated us to dinner at her favorite local Asian restaurant, the "Tea Palace".
Food was great, my fortune, not so much...

Ahhhh, nothing like a rousing game of Scrabble.
This is a competitive sport around here.

After a few restful days with Lee and Patti, we stayed with Jim, Gemma, Jack, and Alice in Longmont for several days (full circle again, see previous entry) before picking up Angie's brother, Vince, at the Denver airport.
On the way out of town we went to check out some 100 million year old dinosaur tracks west of the city.

The tracks were discovered during a road building project.  The tracks were pretty popular so the road was closed to car traffic and turned into a hike and bike trail.

"Dinosaur Ridge"
The tracks are regularly colored in with charcoal to make them easier to see.

Once we were back at Lee & Patti's, Vince and I took a couple of day trips to see some nearby sights.

"Bishop's Castle" is one of our favorites.  It's a short drive into the nearby "Wet Mountains".
Jim Bishop started building it in 1969 and has been working on it, alone, ever since.

There're a lot of signs around the property that give some clues to Bishop's political persuasions, or non-political persuasions, but this one pretty much sums it up.

Here's his website if you want to know more or just google "Bishops Castle".

Some aspects of the castle are truly beautiful...

...and others just terrifying.
The spires seem to sway a bit when you're at the top.  Oh, and that's a fire breathing dragon's head in the center!

Vince and I survived Bishop's Castle (again!) so the next day we all ('cept for Lee and Kipper) drove up to Colorado Springs to see Garden of the Gods.  Angie and I have been twice before but we never get tired of the red rock formations.

Just west of Colorado Springs is the town of Manitou Springs and the Pikes Peak Cog Railway that takes visitors to the top of Pike's Peak.  Lee took Angie and me to the Peak in her car on a previous visit but the road was closed this time around so we rode the train up.

Yep, you read that right.

Money well spent! (Thanks Lee)
The train ride is about 3 hours round trip with a half hour or so at the summit.

30 minutes was plenty of time, trust me.

We had a beautiful clear day and could see clear into Kansas!

A small herd of big horn sheep grazing near the summit.
I have no idea what they find to eat up there!

Another day trip Vince and I did together was up to the town of Alma.
This is the "Al-Mart store" in downtown Alma.

We did a really cool (cold actually, at 11,000 feet) hike that featured some creepy but awesome mining ruins...

...and some 1,000 year old Bristlecone Pines.
A previous hiker added some trail directions on this particular bristlecone:

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you've always imagined."
"The Beginning is always today."
"Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
"Of all the paths you take in life make sure a few of them are dirt."

Vince and I made it back to civilization and were rewarded with this onThanksgiving morning!

Kipper spent the morning gutting his favorite stuffed chew-toy (Thanks Deb).

Angie and Patti hard at work preparing Thanksgiving supper (Kipper assists).

Then we feasted and it was delicious!

Angie and I have a lot to be thankful for every Thanksgiving but this year is especially poignant due to all the hospitality and amazing generosity that's been extended to us, during the planning and since embarking on our adventure.  We extend a huge THANK YOU to our family, friends (old and new), and absolute strangers that have been so wonderful to us.
Y'all have our gratitude!

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