Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hey Chelsea, How 'bout One of These Tasty Treats

These delicious cup sized cakes are full of glutens and animal products.  They don't stop traffic but yet certainly could.  They could cause gluttony but at the beer man's budget.  I bet they would go good with a nice bottle of $9.99 wine from my rack--that was not complimentary.      

I'm just saying....

Friday, July 30, 2010

Swagger Wagon I Will Always Remember You With Fondness and Love

She sparkles like diamond dust in the shining sun but is black as ebony. She purrs like a kitty and glides like freshly sharpened skates on smooth ice. She's muscular yet feminine. She prefers the scent of lavender to musk. She hums country while still able to breathe rock and jazz. She could lift granite but prefers silk. Could fill with Kens but will fill with Barbies. She prefers TUMS to Smarties. She is my Anna Sewell novel--my Black Beauty.

MY new ride.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I Dare Not Complain About the Heat

While I am inside enjoying the pleasures of air conditioning, on these miserable hot Saint Louis summer days, my middle girl is doing this:

(in this clip she's the one getting a drink of water)
(in this clip, near the end, she's the girl with the flag in hand)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I am Br'er Rabbit On The Hunt For A New Ride

Being a parent comes with it moments, especially when you have a teen who lapses momentarily in sound judgement and thinks she is dumb like a fox.  Don't kids realize parents always find out and the consequence is always greater than the moment of thrill?  So while I have one child and her electronics on house arrest I found a very comical text yesterday she received, it goes like this: "hey jailbird! i've been doing some thinking about your predicament, and im going to mail you a copy of "escape from alcatraz" for inspiration"

Oh course I laughed; then went and hid all the nail files, shovels and rope. Then I uncovered my copy of Scholastic Grammar Lessons & Strategies to mail to the textor; who apparently missed the lessons on capitalization and punctuation way back in first grade.

Now to the thing that has me chewing on TUMS...buying a new vehicle.

While we were on vacation and the swagger wagon was huffing her way up Hwy 550 in Colorado (most gorgeous scenic drive ever!) towing the pop-up I told King Ralph I thought we should start putting our retirement plan into the works and purchase a truck.  Then while we were cranking up the pop-up I decided we need to invest in an expandable travel trailer to make our lives easier.  Never mind we are like magicians with that darn camper, in the snap of the fingers she is up and ready for just got old every three days cranking her up and down.  So today, again, we are out searching for the perfect quad cab truck.  Buying vehicles makes my stomach hurt.  I really thought when we started the search that I was feeling good about it, being that we have all our finances in order...nevertheless big ticket items make my stomach ache and my head hurt.

Here's to hoping the heat doesn't kill while walking the car lots before I overdose on TUMS and sign on the dotted line.    

Monday, July 26, 2010

I Feel Like Marian Paroo and Carol Peterson And It's Just Monday

It's Monday.

Which means a couple of things.

One, even though I'm still on summer break M and 190 others friends claim they are not. Which somehow seems unfair because I love staying up late watching old black and white movies and sleeping till 930am. Leaving the house at 630am seems sort of like a cruel punishment. Seems? No it is!  But someone else has other plans for me...that someone leads the band.  Yep, marching band is back in full swing.  Sure M's been spinning her flag and rifle like there is no tomorrow since the first part of June--today marks the beginning of full band.  This means up early, fighting the campus construction, parents and teenage drivers on the high school lot. For M it means up early, out in the heat and humidity all day, working towards the same goal as her 190 friends, coming home to be crabby by 7pm and in bed by 9pm dreaming of bandwiches and marching down Pasadena's Colorado Blvd.  

Second, as mysteriously as the Klopek's came and went so comes our new temporary neighbors...we'll call them "frat boys".  Although we are not sure how many boys fill the house we are certain by the cars parked in the driveway and on the street that there will be many.  King Ralph is walking around instructing the girls not to talk to the "frat boys" or even look there way. Protective father, oh-brother.  I have a feeling landlord has let it be known that those of us who bookend the ole' mysterious rental house are not all that fond of our revolving neighbors.  I have a feeling I may have more to share about the "frat boys"...time will tell.  I'm thinking it's gonna be an Animal House this go around.   

Now, since Mondays mean really only one thing around this female dominating house, The Bachlorette (cause there is nothing better than cheesy-trashy-head-shaking-love-seeking-mini-porn reality televison), I must part way.

Until later....            

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Funny Things Get Heard on the Way Through Parenthood

The girls like to keep us laughing and turning our hairs grey...of course we wouldn't have it any other way.

Here's a few weekend moments. 

-I love it when King Ralph is doing something so neandrathal like and M says
"you married that, I was born into it."  Either way you look at it we are stuck with it.

-I love it when I am in a deep parent/teenager conversation of lesson taught/learned and D walks in and immediately looks at me, interrupts by saying, "ooooo mom you need to color your hair."  Everyone of these grey hairs is like a badge I earned. Some nearly scream Olympic gold medal. 

-I love getting in Princess A's car to find her latest musical selection is the late Frank Sinatra. Listening to what comes out of her car speakers is like a Cracker Jack surprise--one day it is disgusting rap, the next great classic rock and then today....   

Just a few reasons I absolutely love being a mom, their mom.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How I Met My Daughter's Roommate

There is some reality TV shows that I just have to draw the line at watching--Toddlers & Tiaras is one of those. I blame it on Jon Benet Ramsey who's passing brought spotlight to the world of little people beauty pageantry. A world of pint sized babes with over lacquered hair, pancaked make-up, spray on tans, fake teeth called flippers and Little Miss Sunshine talent moves.

Last November Princess A's long time college roommate withdrew from school due to a serious medical condition. She went quite a long while living the private dorm room life. If you can't have the roommate you love and adore than sleeping single in a double room was the cat's meow.


"Miss America" moved in.

Well, not literally Miss America, more like Missouri Miss Teen International. Not one of those authentic titles either; it's one of those titles you purchase with an over priced pageant entry fee. "Miss America" was Princess A's roommate from hell. She would never take the trash out and when suggested would ask how to perform such a task. Making a bed...another task that offered challenge, requiring a lesson (but not given more than an eye roll of "really") . The saving grace was "Miss America" was hardly a permanent resident of the room. I often visited Princess A at college, with it being only a hundred miles away, and never once did I meet the illusive roommate. Not once.

Now I know why.

I was out last night and received a call I answered to a screeching voice that was near inaudible. It turns out "Miss America" made her debut on Toddlers & Tiaras. She is a pageant coach, has her own home run business complete with a pageant practice room. OMG! "Miss America" was responsible for several of these pint sized beauty babes trying to attain a "supreme title" in some small town here in Missouri. And double OMG that I actually sat to watch my first (and last) episode of this absolutely ridiculous reality show laced with mom's who appear to have missed out on what they probably see as their long desired opportunity to a sparkling crown, satin sash and a title of there own.

While King Ralph and I were meeting the roommate for the first time, Princess A's cell phone was ringing and buzzing with text coming in from sorority sisters. All the while I just sat there shaking my head saying seriously.

So while we never got to meet and greet the roommate at least know we know what she was up. She was busy enhancing the world with fabricated beauty.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Add Another Candle to the Cake

His age fluctuates depending, he says, on how the teenagers behave and their ability to drive him totally crazy.

Some days he is 51 and some days he claims to be 65.

Today we'll stick with celebrating you turning fifty-one.

I am of the belief that living in a house of female domination keeps you youthful.

Happy Birthday honey!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Please Daddy Not Dodge City

Since King Ralph has a vague resemblance to Chevy Chase he had this idea that we should retrace a few of the Clark Griswold's steps from his Lampoon Vacation. Mainly a visit to Dodge City.

Rewind with me.

A week before we left I had made my weekly call to my Grandma who told me she had been to Dodge City and had nothing positive to say about it; pretty much dogged any hope it had. I decided to hold this information to myself as I didn't want to spoil a vacation stop King Ralph had visions for. Especially after I convinced the family to take that detour to the Oz Museum to see scary mannequins impersonating characters from the Wizard of Oz...I figured I should keep my mouth shut. Only fair I have an imprinted horror vision of a poorly recreated western city imprinted on my mind since King Ralph is left with this Dorothy: Then as we sprawled out in our spacious Marriott room the girls began questioning Dodge City. Before we know it we were ending our trip on a near Clark Griswold location. Not Wallyworld but Worlds of Fun in Kansas City.

After a day of centrifugal force on the brain from high velocity roller coasters and constant spinning in circles from crazy amusement park rides--it was home to good ole'St. Louis.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In the Rapid Sunshine Before Demi Spilled Over

Click on the title for a peek into our white water trip on the Royal Gorge.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Destination That Never Happened

We left Mesa Verde with the car set in the direction of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. As we drove along the rain started to fall more and more. As we approached the GSDNP the mountains were draped in rain clouds so thick that the mountains were invisible. I had been checking the weather from my cell phone for a few days and what was to be great sunny days in the eighties was now offering days with thunderstorms and temperatures in the low seventies/high sixties [for the day time hours]. We quickly decided on a change of plans. We figured with two days rain five grown people in a pop-up camper would offer little long term harmony. We then came to the conclusion we had no choice but to forfeit our prepaid $28 in camp fees.

Where to go to now? We threw around some ideas. The idea of heading to Colorado Springs and taking in the Rocky Mountain National Park again was one idea. It was our favorite hiking when we last visited Colorado in 2007. Good thing we didn't as we heard on the radio the next morning the park had roads closed due to snow. Snow in July? That snow, cold front, from the Rockies was putting a rainy chill all around. In the end we ended up at a Marriott in Pueblo we Pricelined.

You would have enjoyed the sight of us in the parking lot. Since this hotel was in the downtown historic area of Pueblo we didn't have a large parking to maneuver the camper around in. Nor did we have a dark area behind the building to open the camper and retrieve pajamas and clean clothes. There we were in the front of the building with the camper opened 2 feet and the bed ends pulled just enough to access clothing. Princess A and a flashlight stuffed through the crack reacting to commands--clean underwear, black shorts, pajamas....

Then we entered what felt like a palace--the hotel room. We were missing a national park we so wanted to see, but we had to see a plus in this. We were missing BBQ and marshmallows roasted over a camp fire...but all this space and cable TV was like champagne and caviar. No one was fighting the rain to set up camp. Instead fighting about who was sleeping on the floor.

We headed to bed when Princess A had to remind us that our toothbrushes were sealed tight inside the camper. King Ralph asked if his black bag was in the room and we said yes. He smiled and said "I got my toothbrush." Well, girls we have floss and gum. If Jessica Simpson can get away with only brushing her teeth twice a week we could manage a toothpaste mouthwash, floss and peppermint gum for a day.

With one change we decided to make another change. And, we wer off to...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mesa Verde National Park

My good friend emailed me today and asked if we had a national park passport. Funny thing is we looked at the passport in the Mesa Verde Far View Visitor Center; I commented we should have bought one back in 2007 when we visited our first national park:Badlands. Oh well, live and learn. So after a short 40 mile drive from Durango to Mesa Verde we realized we were back in a desert region. We stopped to take our usual entrance sign snap shot and found grandparents who were also snapping a photo with there great-grand kids for a keepsake. We shared snapping each other's family souvenir photos. We set up camp. Toured some of the no ticket necessary cliff dwellings before returning to camp to grill steaks and roast marshmallows for S'mores.

We woke in the morning to M complaining she had a stomach ache. Please no, we had tickets for Long House and Cliff Palace. Before we knew it M was experiencing a case of the 24-hour flu. If there was an orifice something was expelling from it. King Ralph felt like this history adventure was more meaningful to me so he wanted me to go with Princess A & D for the tours. I wanted to do one tour, he the other. We made a sick bed in the "way back" of the swagger wagon for M and he stayed with her while the three of us toured Long House. When I got back he told me M had gotten sick again. By the time we got to Cliff Palace he still wanted me to go and him to stay with M. I couldn't change his mind. M hadn't gotten sick in a while and I was able to get her drinking Gatorade. When we got back from the tour I told King Ralph that he could see Cliff Palace from an overlook. He walked slowly with M, who was tearful at missing all this history (her favorite subject in school), for a quick look at Cliff Palace. Truly an amazing sight and perplexes the modern mind in question as to why anyone would want to live in the cliffs.
With M starting to perk back up I made the suggestion we get tickets to Balcony House for the next day 9am tour. That would allow M to experience a cliff dwelling up close and us get back to the camper to pull out on time. I originally didn't want to do Balcony House because of the height. I have this thing, fear, with going up in an area with no safety boundaries. But, for M, anything. When I stopped in the Far View Visitor Center to purchase tickets Princess A and D turned in the Junior Ranger booklet. It was a mission now to achieve Junior Ranger status every place we went. Sadly I told them at Arches we didn't have the time. I took M's oath for her by proxy and later after rehydrating with Gatorade and a wheat bread chaser, presented her with the official plastic ranger badge. To celebrate I believe they sang Colors of the Wind to there Disney CD of favorite tunes. I know, I know, wrong era of Indian but an Indian tribute song nonetheless. Besides King Ralph was starting to go crazy from them singing all those Disney tunes...for some reason a house of girls finds pleasure in aggrevating the only man in the house.

When M woke in the morning she was feeling pretty good. We closed up camp, had the camper sitting there waiting for us to return to hook up and tow away.

Balcony House had it's height for me--tall ladders. Sure my heart beat fast which made breath a bit harder, voices kept saying "are you okay mom" the end I am so glad I experienced the dwelling with M. I was okay all the way through. Of course King Ralph couldn't visit the dwelling without the girls snapping his photo as he crawled through the tight entry squares. I know M was glad she felt well enough to experience a cliff dwelling for herself and not have to say she saw Mesa Verde from the back seat of the swagger wagon.

Before we drove out of the park we stopped and took showers. At Mesa Verde the showers are free, an offer unheard of in a national park that offers showers. Oh ya, they have free Wifi in the laundry room and the camp store--at a national park?!

On our drive we passed another continental divide--The Great Divide. No one was in company at the sign to capture our family photo so King Ralph snapped a girls only picture. It was cold at 10,000 feet and the rain was beginning to fall. This marks continental divide number six for us.

Then it was off to the Great Sand Dunes National Park...or so we thought.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


It was time to move little camper in the woods. We were off to Silverton-Durango; looking forward to a hot running water shower. Since the Black Canyon of the Gunnison has to haul there water in from Montrose we didn't get the usual comfort stations where you could deposit your gray water as we have in other national parks. We used our gray water from doing dishes to put out campfires at night. Which means washing hair was out of the question. Two days of dusty hair was hidden under hats and a scrubbing was in order. As beautiful as the drive was it was also a bit stressful pulling the camper up the steep, sometimes no guard railed highway; with the swagger wagon towing ever slowly up the mountain. Only a panoramic camera would have served justice in snapping a photo of remembrance of the Switzerland of America. The vision of that drive is stored in my memory as a happy place to go when I need it. Unbelievable beauty of peace and tranquility.

When we got to Silverton, a cute little western gold mine town with a mountain top cool temperature, full of folk getting off the narrow gauge train-- we talked to a local who recommended The Bent Elbow to us for lunch. Yummy. Great home cooked meals of hearty helpings at pocket change prices. The bread pudding with whiskey sauce we shared for dessert was delectable! King Ralph took a taste and said "grandma likes her whiskey". You could almost cop a buzz off that bread pudding. Oh-my-gosh thinking about it makes me hungry for it. We were so preoccupied with the thought of showers we forgot to do the Old Hundred Gold Mine Tour we intended while passing through. Oh well.

We headed down to Durango to a campground that had no Woodall's listing, no Internet site for was the only campground with Fourth of July availability between Silverton and Durango. When I made the reservation with the old broad I told her I was rolling in there on a wing and prayer. Cottonwood Camper Park needs lots of prayers. WHAT A DUMP! I admit I am a campground snob. I want all the amenities of a hotel with the beauty of nature's surrounds. King Ralph seriously sat there and said "this place is a resort--a last resort". Once we managed to maneuver around the ruts in the dirt ground of our site that resembled four-wheeling tracks we set up our home on wheels and headed to the showers. Suitable shower house...that is my only compliment, because it was then that we realized that our site backed to a dog kennel. Dogs barking 24/7 with the fresh aroma of warm Colorado dog crap in the air. I immediately took the laptop to the bathroom (b/c that was only place you could get Internet reception in the dive) and got numbers of area campgrounds hoping for a cancellation and an open, available spot. Jesus loves me because I found one and the next morning we packed up in record time. Happiness was restored.

After checking in and setting up camp at the charming campground with the Silverton-Durango Narrow Gauge running through it, we decided to rent inner tubes and float the Animas River for the day. If D could handle a bounce into a Class V rapid we figured we were game for tubes in Class II rapids. Water was like an ice bath. Once we finished the float the barefoot-dreadlocks- facial-pierced-crazy-eyed-hippie at the rafting joint told us to take the trolley back to the location of our car. We wanted to wait while King Ralph took the trolley since the girls were in their bikini's but he convinced us that the trolley stop was just "right there". Right there was not "right there". The girls traipsed some near mile down a busy road with boys howling and whistling at them, me laughing so hard I was peeing my pants only to have the trolley conductor tell us "no bikinis on the trolley". Dam that hippie and King Ralph for doing that to us. The thing about family vacations is that it forever imprints moments of great laughter on us--and this was one of those.

Once we got cleaned up we headed into the historic area of Durango for the Fourth of July parade of promoting politicians (thank you Tiffany Lee for the vote for me chapstick), listened to the band playing for the street dance and ate at a fun Mexican restaurant with great salsa and strong margaritas. We bought candy treats from a chocolate shop for dessert before finding a curb to perch upon for the firework display. Great fireworks Durango! Some of the biggest fireworks I have ever seen and several that shot all the way to Mars before blasting an umbrella of colors that engulfed the sky.
(See the American flags in the hands of M & Princess A?...the say "Made in China". What the heck is our country come to when we can't even wave our flag produced in our own country when celebrating our independence?)

Thanks Silverton & Durango for your hospitality we had a great time.

Next stop Mesa Verde.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Arches National Park

So none of you were up to the "Just a Tease" challenge...afraid of a failed guess?

The answer: Arches National Park in Moab, Utah

King Ralph and I didn't tell the girls our plan--, just to hop in the car with hiking gear. With Arches only 171 miles from the Black Canyon it seemed crazy not to live on the side of spontinaity and go for a bit of unplanned adventure. I needed to hike more to keep my strained muscles warm and moving from the strenous canyon hike and Arches seemed like the place to do that. We packed a picnic lunch and off we went for the day.

Arches National Park is a place I have always wanted to visit. I was so glad we decided to go, not knowing if we would ever be out that way again. Boy was it hot there! Dry, desert heat. For a girl, a family, who lives with high humidity at 300 feet above sea level; we could feel our skin screaming for the morning dew that usually rest on ground and not the dry oppressive heat at an elevation of 5700 feet that had us all guzzling water. However that feeling of the heat disappeared when we looked at the spectacular beauty of the sandstone arch formations--Ancient Sand Dunes, Windows, Landscape, Double Arch....

Another national park add to our list. Another great and fun family vacation day!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

We woke on the morning of June 30th to take our last coin operated 7-minute shower (which you have no idea how long 7 minutes can be; a longggg time) before we headed up higher into the mountains to a semi primitive world. Sure we had electric, a definite bonus for using a heater at night...but no running water, flush toilets or showers. Who could complain when nature's surround was spectacular!

As we headed up the mountain we passed through the Gunnison and San Isabel National Forests and crested at the Monarch Pass Continental Divide-- 11,312 feet. Burrrr it was cold, majestic and a great potty stop. I believe at this point we have crossed five continental divides in our travels over the years.

We arrived at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park; our nation's newest park to the national park system. One of the national parks that I don't think gets the visitorship that it deserves. A canyon of huge proportion and beauty. (this photo was self timed and Princess A bolted across the road before it took)

When we checked out the visitor center the ranger offered D a chance to earn her Junior Ranger badge. The challenge came with not the usual plastic ranger badge but a glow in the dark patch. This Junior Ranger program was the "Night Explorer". Princess A and M upon hearing of D's invitation to earn the prestigious badge read that it was available to those "10 and up". BINGO! That meant a 20-year old and a 17-year old were geared up to be part of the "dark wars" too. We attended Ranger Randy's--a man of serious dry humor-- program and learned lots about the night sky and that we "are all made of star dust". Before we left the park for our next destination the girls met Irm, a volunteer ranger, who not only graded their Jr. Ranger booklet thoroughly; she did a fantastic swearing in ceremony. Here you have it three "Night Explorers" of the Black Canyons of the Gunnison National Park.

As hiking is always in some way a part of our national park vacations we decided to try a more difficult hike-- a canyon hike. Yes-sir-ree, one mile down with an incline of 1800 feet. I acquired the necessary permit, we all got the explanation speech of the hike and were informed that some say it is harder and more difficult than hiking one of the many fourteeners in Colorado. I figured we tackled Pike's Peak so we could do this. Ha! Well Ha! for me. The rule was if one in the group felt they needed to turn back it meant the whole group had to turn back. I don't know how many times I used the phrase "I'm sorry", but apparently enough times that King Ralph told me to stop apologizing. You do feel bad when everyone else feels capable and you don't. However my muscles were giving out, the boulder fields began to feel more unstable under my footing and the idea of having to pull myself up that 80-foot metal link chain was haunting my thought of body weakness. The ranger asked me when I stopped if I still having fun and felt pleasure in making it 58% of the way down. I said yes, I stopped before it felt like misery. It was without a doubt the hardest, steepest, most challenging hike up I will have ever attempted. I can say that at the point I stopped I saw a most majestic and spiritual view of the Gunnison River emerging through the canyon walls feeling the mark of God's wonderful earthly creation. What was really cool as I took a break after climbing back up the 80-foot chain a mule deer saw the girls farther up the incline but not King Ralph and I, he got to us froze in shock of a human in arms reach, stood for a good twenty seconds and then bolted down that incline with lightening speed.

So we all went 2.5 days without a real shower; just boiled water for sponge baths, campfires and roasted marshmallows, singing songs together like we were the Gorneky's, dancing on the astro turf rug like we were in Saturday Night Fever, waiting and watching for that 18-month old male black bear roaming the campground to appear (which was always a miss for us) other words we had a great time in the Black Canyon connecting as family we are.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Just to Tease

Because sadly we have been chased by rain --and clouds so low they hide the mountains-- from our intended destination, The Great Sand Dunes National Park, to the Marriott Pueblo...I leave you with a picture to tease.For the first person who can name where we are gets a drink, purchased by me.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Royal Gorge Rapids and Bishop's Castle

Daily chores do not elude even when on the road; so I sit this morning in a laundry room hogging five machines. I guess when it is barley six o'clock it is hardly hogging, most sensible folk are still sleeping. But we are on the move again today, so it is a chore that is a priority. Also a good time to have some peace and blog.

Now I am sure you are wondering about our adventures....

On our second day in Canon City we took to the white waters of the Arkansas River. We have rafted the river before but not the Royal Gorge- Class V rapids. We agreed as a family after several white water experiences that we were ready to tackle the fast moving waters. D admitted to us and our guide to being a little scared but was ready for the challenge. We rafted the calmer rapids early in the day, stopped for a great lunch that the guides prepared for us and then back in the water were we warmed up a bit in preparation for the big Class V rapids. We tackled the rapid named "sunshine" fine...then let me give it to you in the words the guide gave D in case she has to write a "what I did on my summer vacation" paper...we were teeing up ready to make the bird bomb on the sledgehammer.... Okay this is the part in the adventure were we had to A. put all the safety talk into play B. let my mother's heart calm and follow those safety directions C. control King Ralph from his innate being to always be in emergency response mode--you can take the cop away from the job but can't take the cop out of him. As the raft hit the rapid known as sledgehammer I looked to the right side of the raft directly opposite D on the left side and watched my baby bounce up and over the raft. The guide screams calmly directions and for King Ralph to sit down, as he was ready to jump in and save his little girl from the rushing waters. Safety lesson number one is don't jump in after someone, then the guide is saving two. We are all yelling at King Ralph to follow the paddle commands: forward paddle, stop, back paddle stop, right side paddle forward, stop. All the while I see my baby in that rapid head up assuming the white water position and her eyes open wide as a saucer. D said her first instinct was to swim till she saw large rocks then remembering the safety talk she flipped to her back, arms stretched out to paddle. In those 40 seconds that felt like forever our guide Brady directed D back to the raft where he and King Ralph grabbed the shoulder straps of her life vest and pulled her back in. Her eyes remained saucers for a few more minutes. We paddled to the bank so everyone could calm the nerves. When D was asked if she felt the shock of the cold water as she went over board she said she felt nothing, only thing on her mind was to stay clear of the rocks. Woooshhhh smart thinking. Later she said she was praying the whole time in the boat to God to keep her in the boat and safe. I replied to her that God answered her prayer, maybe not the in the keep in the boat part but the safe part. Safe is answered in different ways--in this case being pulled safely from the rapids was the answer God gave.

And, in the end, D says she would raft the gorge again.

So assume we had a blast. We did. Have a blast.

Then it was onto a bit of roadside America. I had found Bishop's Castle on before we left town, suggesting we visit and see this construction wonder for ourselves. After a drive through the San Isabel National Forest, which was absolutely beautiful, we came to a sea of cars lining the roadside and crazyville. Cra-zee-ville I tell you! Mr. Bishop's castle is two parts: one part construction marvel (no blue prints required just vision) and one part insane man. While I navigated the shady construction, at times questioning my safety...oh ya when you sign his guest book it is to stand as a waiver that you are basically agreeing if you fall through his rod iron welded balconies you won't sue (which I didn't sign since he was out of paper in his tablet and ink in his pen)...I decided I had to turn back. My fear of heights without safety boundaries came into play and I felt my heart beating. I had already had enough excitement for one day. The rest of the family ventured to the top scaling the shady construction job and rang the bell. As they scaled and explored the top portion of the castle I stood center castle on a wood plank floor listening to crazy man Mr. Bishop rant to visitors about our president and secretary of state. He used colorful language. Language that was unfit for young ears and offensive to grown ears. He has personally designed signs stating his political standings on paying taxes, the unlawful need for a driver's license, and my favorite was the signs that left the "r" and "d" off of Republican and Democrat and replaced with symbols. In the case of Republican the "r" was replaced with a swastaca. I may be a registered Republican but I ain't no Nazi! I promise you that, Mr. Bishop!! We strolled his gift shop which offered a sampling of mood rings and plastic Viking helmets...'cause every castle has a Viking (and every Viking ship has a princess).... Roadside America, gotta love'r.

And so ended June 29 and a wonderful stay in Canon City and the Royal View Campground.