Saturday, July 30, 2016

Manitou Take Two

We enjoy Manitou Springs so we decided to go back for another visit on the Fourth of July.  There's lots to do down there so we thought we'd hit up a few places we missed last time.

We started the day at Uncle Sam's Pancake House which, as you can see, was a perfect fit for the holiday:

Then we went to see the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. They're sort of a mini Mesa Verde. But I liked them whereas I don't love Mesa Verde.  I'm just contrary like that.  And if I'm honest, I can cross both of them off my list and don't need to go back. ;)

This is the Century Plant - it only blossoms once in a blue moon and we happened upon it at just the right time.  I want to know who figured out how long it was in between blossoms?

I was surprised how cool it was inside the dwellings! Those rocks kept the heat out fairly well. I bet they kept it warm inside for them in the winter too.

The view sure was pretty from there!

Then we went to the Miramont Castle Museum which is a pretty eclectic building and has had all sorts of uses over the years.

It also houses a fire museum inside. Dave really liked the helmet!

I liked it less...

And he was very ponderous as we went through the museum...

They had a little garden outside that we wandered through...  It was ok. It has a lot of potential but I'm sure they don't have the budget or manpower to really make it as pretty as it could be.

And this is the real reason we went back to Manitou - so that Dave could get some MATE (pronounced mah-tay)!  Mate is a drink that everyone loves in Argentina and he yearns for it every now and then. Unfortunately this wasn't the same type of mate he was used to so he was a little bit disappointed.

This is one of the many springs you can find in Manitou - but can you find Dave?

We really like Manitou so I'm sure we'll be back again! And there's still plenty that we haven't explored down there. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Turkey Time!

Last night we cooked up 20 pounds of ground turkey! We did a group purchase of ground turkey from Zaycon and I told Nick that I would cook his meat up for him so he could freeze it. One of these days I'm confident that we'll learn to NOT start these projects so late! We didn't start until sometime after 8pm and didn't finish until 11 or so.

We browned half of it - this is 5 pounds spread out to cool before we bagged it up to freeze:

And we made the other half into taco meat:

The biggest problem is what to do with all that grease! Seriously. How do you get rid of that? We decided to let it cool completely and then put it in a double freezer ziplock bag, freeze until trash day and then throw it away. Hope that works.

As always, my favorite part is seeing the results at the end! Lots of small portions of turkey ready to freeze and use for dinner:

We realized that we should have done the taco meat first because the meat with sauce takes a lot longer to cool down before you can bag it up. The regular browned turkey cooled really fast. We got about 10 cups of the browned turkey from 5 lbs of meat and 9 cups of taco meat from 5 lbs of meat. 

And the house smells like tacos this morning! Time to open up the windows...

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Shiny Rocks

I was looking for ideas for a "spring break Staycation" post for work so we invited the Hanlins to spend the night and go adventuring with us at the beginning of March. On Friday night we had an impromptu party when Nick stopped by and then Justin joined us. That was fun! We had dinner then played games. Mia went to bed and I stayed downstairs with her so she wouldn't be scared. The boys were all 100% fine with that because Dave let them stay up way late. Like midnight late or something crazy like that. They loved it. 

And since they were all up so late I let them sleep in so they wouldn't be grumpy! We had German pancakes for breakfast and check out the size of them! We all decided we've never seen them grow quite to big.

Our first stop of the day was a visit to the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum. They give you a scavenger hunt when you arrive which was a good way to start but it wasn't too long before the kids lost interest in the scavenger hunt because they were just excited to see all the cool gems and minerals there.

 This was Mia's favorite - a crown made of local gems!


All of the items in this case were carved from minerals!

They have a cool exhibit downstairs called Blaster's Uranium Mine where you can learn about mining...

...and see fluorescent minerals. Those were very cool!

We even got to see a fossilized dinosaur bone.

This marble is the Colorado state stone:

And this was just a cool green rock. (Probably should have written down what it was...)

When we got back to the car I asked the kids if they thought they'd have fun when I first told them where we were going - they all said NO! Well, did they have fun?  YES! They all loved it! And we were all amazed at the gorgeous things and colors this earth creates!!

Next we planned to go have a picnic and hike around at Golden Gate Canyon State Park. About that. It was early March and even though it was ridiculously nice down in Littleton (thus the shorts) it was still snowy and cold up the hill. If you look in the background behind the kids you can see the picnic table...

So, we had our picnic in the car. (About a week later I went to put something int he back seat of my car and thought "why are there potato chip crumbs back here!?"  Oh yeah! Picnic...)

Just a little snow...

I never did write up that post for work because my plan didn't work out quite as I had hoped. However, we did have a super fun time with the Hanlin kiddos! And really that was the point. 

Where will our next adventure be? Hmmm...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cripple Creek - BUST

For our first mountain day this year we went to Cripple Creek. Now, I know that they have casinos up there so I researched it first to make sure there would be other stuff to do and enjoy. There appeared to be enough to fill a day up so we decided to go. When I was a kid I loved going to these old mining towns (Cripple Creek, Central City, etc.) and I wanted to see how things fare there. It was a major disappointment. In Central City there are a lot of casinos. In Cripple Creek - everything has been turned into a casino! It's so sad! They've been required to keep the old buildings so there are still beautiful old buildings to look at BUT they are now marred with casino signs every few feet.

The buildings are gorgeous but... see all those signs? To give you a little perspective every single building you see in this picture holds a casino. This is only half of the main street and of course there's the other side of the street too. That side has a few shops and there are a couple bars sprinkled in for good measure. There are HUGE parking garages for the casinos too but they've been given a brick facade to hide some of the ugliness.

In case you don't understand, I love old buildings in mountain towns! They make me giddy. Which gives Dave a reason to laugh at me.

Dave took this picture (below) because I also get super excited about old houses, especially if they have gingerbread trim and all sorts of fancy details, and this one behind me (waaaay in the back) also happens to be teal and aqua which is even more fun.

Anyway, the other "things to do" were greatly exaggerated online but we did enjoy a ride on the Cripple Creek Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad.

I also love old trains and really did enjoy this ride. Here's where it gets good...

You see the old buildings? Remnants of days gone by. Gets me all fired up. It was really an interesting ride through mining country - I think the guide said there were 500+ mines just in Cripple Creek!

And it's beautiful country. This is called Echo Valley. The conductor blew the whistle to demonstrate - said you can hear it 10 miles away - that was fun to hear. And look at all the mountains in the back. This is from an elevation of 9494 feet. Gorgeous!

There's one other curiosity in Cripple Creek worth mentioning - donkeys. They meander through town now and then and just hang out. Another remnant of the old mining days.

Silly donkey.

This was a sad farewell to Cripple Creek as we'll never be back here. Absolutely not worth the trip. I'll have to find my old western towns somewhere else. That said, it was still nice to get out for the day and  take a nice little break.

Friday, July 17, 2015


While in the produce section one day Dave and I decided we would be adventurous and try a Kiwano Melon.  They're those orange spiky melons in the rare and unusual fruit section.  The cashier asked if we'd ever had them and said they're green inside.  And they're "different."  Well, we know how to live it up so we bravely paid $3.99 for one Kiwano and went home with our treasure.  Here's what we found.

Here's the crazy outside:

They ARE green inside!!  And not AT ALL what we expected. I'm not sure what we were expecting but this was not it.

So, you cut it into pieces and then you sort of push it against your teeth and suck. You don't chew the seeds you just swallow. Seriously interesting experience. 

It took me several tries to really figure out how to eat these correctly. Don't chew the seeds just slurp and swallow. Dave was a good coach. 

And, they actually taste pretty good. The cashier at Sprouts was exactly right when she described them as "different" - that really is the most appropriate word.  They're not amazing good but they aren't bad at all.  They're different! We won't buy them often because they're $3.99 for one little melon about 6" long. Plus they aren't just always available like, say, kiwis are.

Oh and the most fun thing about Kiwano Melons is this:

They turn your tongue green!

Kiwanos are related to cucumbers (thus the seeds) and they come from Africa. I think everyone needs to try one just for the experience. And, in my party planning brain, I can't help but think these would be awesome for a Halloween party - alien brains or something!  heehee!