As we say above, this is mainly for friends and family. Michael's blog on the Middle East can be found here. Most of our other links can be found below on the right, but be sure to keep up as well with our family website, here. We also have discussion groups for genealogy, links to genealogical information on us, and our (semi-private) Flickr and YouTube accounts for those who are invited. You can also get a quick-navigation guide here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Last Day Before School in a Two-Camera Family

Today was the last day of summer vacation for Sarah: fourth grade starts tomorrow. It was a great, mild, low-humidity day so we went to Great Falls, on the Virginia side of the river this time. But first, we became a two-camera family.

I haven't abandoned the idea of writing more about the Colorado trip, and will at some point, perhaps even later tonight, but let me cover today first.

During the Colorado trip Sarah really began to be avid about taking pictures, so much so that she took a huge number going up Pike's Peak. The nice thing about digital, of course, is that you can take all you want, since you don't have film and don't have to print them, and I always carry large stocks of memory and rechargeable batteries, so you really don't run out of media. The only problem is fighting over the camera.

Well, we had a lot of award points saved up at Best Buy from the last computer purchase, a washer and dryer, etc., and combined with a sale I was able to buy Sarah another camera similar to the one I bought last October at about half its price. Actually the new one is a little more advanced, being a successor model and having more megapixels and some added features, but she didn't like the idea of me taking the new one and giving her the old one as a hand-me-down, even though it's only 10 months old; anyway the outcome is she gets the new one, though agrees to let us use the slightly higher resolution for key family events. I saw no reason to get her a "kid's" camera: she had a Barbie camera a couple of years ago which would take about 10 or 12 pictures. I prefer to give her the real thing now that she's really interested. I put a 4-gigabyte memory card in it which should take about 1200 pictures or a whole bunch of video. It will hold up to 16 gigs.

Hers is red; mine is blue; otherwise they're externally the same. I got her a red camera case matching my blue camera case, too. So we're a two camera family.

Not surprisingly, Sarah, who was absolutely prodigal taking pictures with my camera, is downright cautious about hers. "I'm turning it off; I want to save the power." "But Sarah; I have six extra recharged batteries with us: enough power to run all day, and we'll recharge them tonight." Nothing doing.

Anyway, above, Sarah taking my picture, and me taking hers, and below, photographing the falls. Actually she spent more of her time petting dogs, of which there were many, than enjoying the falls. Two miniature longhaired dachshunds in particular, but many others besides.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Horseback Ride

I'd hoped to use this weekend to try to flesh out the memories of the Colorado vacation before they fade, but didn't succeed, so I'll post some pics instead. At left, our horseback ride on Friday a week ago. I don't normally show Sarah's face on this blog, but in the shot at left, the helmet and the shadows keep it hard to recognize her, and I've reduced the resolution so it can't be blown up.

More about all this eventually.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sunday in Colorado

I'm continuing to post very brief summaries for now as I'm working on the videos of the trip in the evenings. I'll flesh out the memories later.

Today we went to brunch with Tam's Dad and Marge at the Garden of the Gods Club, a very elegant place.

After that we went to Seven Falls. Another place I visited on my first trip 51 years ago. Sarah petted some dogs before getting distracted by the large number of chipmunks scampering about. After much photography of chipmunks, she finally agreed to actually look at Seven Falls.

We showed her the Broadmoor on the way back to the hotel.

I'll flesh these out either before leaving or after we get home. Sorry to be so terse at this point.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Quick Summary of Days Three and Four

I want to post a few notes before I forget, and hope to be able to fully blog on this tomorrow. It's been a very busy week, attempting as we are to balance family duties to Tam's dad with showing Sarah a good time. So far, generally, a success of sorts.

On the other hand, blogging opportunities are limited. I've been also continuing to post to my work blog despite being on vacation, not because I was told to, but because I feel an obligation of sorts to my readership. And I don't want them wandering off because I'm not close at hand.

So here's the basic outline summary:

  1. Started with a horeseback ride; Sarah on "Rosebud," Tam on "Undertaker" (!), and me on "Wrangler." Horseback riding was easier the last time I did it, when I had no hernia, no hemorrhoids, and no extra 60 pounds or so.
  2. Lunch at a great Mexican place in Manitou Springs.
  3. The ever-tacky and marvelously American Garden of the Gods Trading Post.
  4. Sarah exploring Balanced Rock, Steamship Rock, and the neighborhood.
  5. A piano concert at my father-in-law's retirement home.
  6. Dinner: Italian.
  1. Tam began the day by a father-daughter meeting, while Sarah and I stayed at the hotel, me doing a laundry to get clean undies and shirts, and Sarah watching Saturday morning cartoon shows.
  2. Then a trip to Cripple Creek. Lunch. Then a stroll around town during a salute to the military day, petting a couple of boxers (one of which gave Sarah a big slurpy greeting), visiting a candy shop for fudge, then:
  3. A visit to the Mollie Kathleen Mine, a gold mine that worked from the 1890s to the 1960s in Cripple Creek and now gives tours 1000 feet below ground. Sarah insisted on it; I was pushing for the Cripple Creek-Victor train ride. Sarah, as usual, got it right. Extremely interesting and informative tour. Have most of it on video. (Also we've now been at the top of Pike's Peak, 14,000 plus feet above sea level, and 1000 feet below ground, within a couple of days. Not bad.)
  4. Visited Tam's Dad and Marge in Colorado Springs.
  5. Dinner at an Outback Steakhouse across from out hotel.
There are multiple stories behind all of these. I hope to get them down, but wanted to at least do an outline before I forget.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Up Pike's Peak

The main goal of day 2 was the cog train up Pike's Peak. Sarah loved the ascent and went berserk taking photos: over 300 before reaching the top. She was a bit wobbly in the thin oxygen on top, as were we all, so she didn't like the summit as much as the ascent. By the descent she was tired.

Because we had 374 images by the end of the day a normal Flickr or YouTube upload is impractical until I have time to edit out any duds. Stand by on that. We joined grandpa and Marge for dinner at their retirement compound, and then spent some time in Old Colorado City before returning to the hotel. Tomorrow: horseback riding.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Colorado Day One

A storm in the mountains . . .

The actual colors were more dramatic, but low light and the fact that I was getting wet made better composition impossible.

However, a rather nicer view of the mountains from earlier in the day is below it.

Okay, the story so far. Yesterday was the travel day, and given the joys of travel these days, the fact that I was exhausted (worked Monday in fact) and had sore feet, plus the usual exactions of the TSA and others, meant that we were pretty tired by the time we made it to Colorado Springs, via, of course, Houston. (Not quite as bad as last time, when the connection was Phoenix, which is not only far south of any DC-Colorado direct line, but also well West of Colorado.)

Anyway, it took a while to get the rental car, etc., then we got lost trying to find our hotel, but Tam had promised her Dad we'd drop in before we went to bed, so we then had to go find their place, which had a locked gate, and so on until we finally dragged back to the hotel, very late and very tired. And as fate sometimes has it, though physically exhausted, I couldn't get to sleep.

The blog thinks in eastern time, and I'm not going to mess with its internal structure by messing with it. I may try to backpost to the proper Mountain time so these posts don't show up at 2 am or some such, but if it doesn't work, just ignore the time stamp.

Anyway, today we began by arranging to meet Tam's Dad and partner Marge for lunch, then decided on the way there to introduce Sarah — who was last here at age 4 and a half, just half her present nine — by hitting her over the head by main force with the scenery, so we drove her through the Garden of the Gods. She took lots of pictures.

We spent lunch and the early afternoon with Bud and Marge, then came back to the hotel and crashed; after a rest, Tam and Sarah spent time in the pool and jacuzzi, and I got the day's photos and videos organized (though nothing will go up on YouTube tonight; maybe tomorrow). Then we made quick runs to a Border's (I lost my one book I brought for reading at the airport), and a grocery to stock up on stuff for the room, which has a refrigerator, microwave, wi-fi and a King bed for us and sofabed for Sarah: the combination that keeps us coming to Hampton Inns.

We at at a Carrabas' Italian restaurant, a chain, but one we'd heard of but not tried, and then returned to the hotel. After considerable effort and using Daddy's magic bag of miracle computer cables, I managed to wire Sarah's portable DVD player into the nice flat-screen TV in the room, so Sarah could watch just-released-on-DVD Race to Witch Mountain on the widescreen. Earlier the magic bag-o'-cables had produced enough USB extension cables to put a GPS on the window without having to move the laptop. (The reason was actually to find out the altitude of our hotel. Never mind. It made sense at the time.)

Tomorrow: the cog railway to the top of Pike's Peak. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Trip

I was going to call this "I guess we'd rather be in Colorado," playing on an old John Denver song, but Sarah wanted to call it "The Trip," and you can see who won. I'll use mine on my work blog. We'll be leaving tomorrow for Colorado Springs, to see Tam's Dad, and it will be the first time Sarah's been in Colorado since she was four and a half, half her present age, so much of it will be like showing her a new place. We already have a horseback ride in the Garden of the Gods scheduled, and hope to take the cog train up Pike's Peak.

While I've been to Colorado Springs a number of times since Tam and I got engaged, then married, then parents, I still fondly remember my first visit in 1958. I blogged about the whole 1958 trip adventure last year on the 50th anniversary of it; the post dealing with Colorado Springs is here.

I'll post more once we get there.