Friday, December 10, 2010

Aspirations to be an Elf

Well, Thanksgiving swept me sideways and it took me a while to find my sea legs again. It was my first year of hosting all the Neumanns, (and my first year as a Neumann) and I've got to say, I was not prepared for the sheer quantity of pie that entered my world. I welcomed it though, oh yes I did. It was a wonderful holiday- calorific and fun filled. In hindsight however, it appears that it distracted me from things that I would normally have begun gearing up for weeks ago. Namely; Christmas! (if I could make it flash gold and red and sing as well, I would do it. Green was the best I could do....). I had big plans this year too, so there was catching up to do. With my sparkly new printing press winking at me from across the room, I plunged into some 'trial and error' crafting that has resulted in an unexpected aversion to turpentine, an almost sliced-off finger (gore!) and a stack of Christmas cards that would rival your most glitter filled-fantasy. Are they perfect? Not on your nelly. Do I think they are a tiny bit charming? I'll let you decide.....

To know me, is to know my dog, so it seemed only right that Rudy be my muse for my first homemade christmas cards on his first-ever Christmas. We did name him Rudolph (for about 2 minutes) after all! The tree is up, the house smells like cookies and next up, hand-printed gift wrap….Somewhere along the way (Mister Neumann, I hope you are paying attention) I have my fingers crossed for mulled wine. 'Tis the season to be merry, after all :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lost Property

I have been stuck deep in the swamp of updating my illustration website. The documents folder of my computer is treacherous terrain indeed, so I had to put on my serious slippers for this one, lest I lose my footing among all the drawings of my meandering past. This process is always the gateway to re-discovery of old drawings, lost drawings and drawings I have no recollection of (thank you, hopeless memory of mine). I felt so sad for these forgotten pictures that I thought I'd welcome them into 2010, give them a stage and say 'guys! hi!- I didn't really forget you!' (except that I did, so don't tell them). I dedicated a little slice of my website to them…..a 'lost property' page, to try and give them a home. I feel better for it......

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's all about the (four legged) boy.

Like milk and cookies, Autumn and craft projects go hand in hand. The personalised laptray that I painted for Forrest was looking a little lonesome, so with Rudy as my most obliging muse, I got to work. Now the hubby and I have his & hers laptrays, so don't be telling me that romance is dead :)

In Rudy-news, we took our enormous baby to the local doggy salon the other day for his first independent grooming adventure. Testament to his winning nature, as the lady crouched down to say hi, Rudy reached out to shake her hand. Tears streamed down my face from laughing so hard, but I was proud as could be of his good manners (of course that's also his trick to get his dinner, so he could have been after treats....). Rudy returned home with a brand new bandana (guess he mustve charmed somebody) and smelling like a bar of soap. This may be the fluffiest, most fragrant week of Rudy's life. Extra cuddles, if I may.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Flying Hotdog

Forrest is deep into his flight training, sailing back and forth across the skies in the flying hotdog (Chinook) which- against all expectations- I have grown to love. The Chinook is the helicopter that carries everything, namely soldiers, aid, food and other helicopters (I kid you not). It is a stud muffin. A workhorse. The Daddy of the copters.

These pilots-in-training eat, sleep and breathe helicopters, and their enthusiasm is contagious- which is lucky, because the subject is otherwise a little dry. Engines? Rotor systems? Instruments? Torque? Thrust? Weather patterns? Brain pain indeed.

I approach the whole thing from my own angle. Visual. I drew a little picture to put in Forrest's study folder for the purpose of making him smile amid the stress of academics. Some eagle eyed class member caught sight of it, and consequently I'm being asked to draw the class 'plaque'. A picture of the pilots-in-training and their aircraft that is presented to their instructors upon graduation. Pens and paper standing at attention? Affirmative Captain (officer /lieutenant.....). What did I just get myself into?!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

You say tomayto, I say tomahto!

Capturing the taste of summer in pickled and oven-dried tomatoes. Preparing for the winter months when those trusty red orbs lack a little of their Summer luster. Rudy is co-ordinated for the colour theme of the day. My pretty little boy is so patient with my style choices for him :)

Drawing is taking a momentary back-seat while I've been researching block-printing techniques. I grabbed caution with two hands, looked it in it's nervous face and tossed it into the wind. I then ordered the printing press that I've been arguing with myself about lately. I'm ready to add a little somethin'-somethin' to my usual style of work. With two books that I illustrated for Philo Trust being published in time for Christmas, some new ideas for my very own Children's book have been whirling about in my head. It's time to put the coffee on and kick the brain into gear. I've been slipping a bit. Distracted by 100 different things. But season, new page, new work. Come on.

By the way, the oven-dried tomatoes were a winning idea that I lifted from one of my favourite foodie blogs; Tea and Cookies. Always, always a good read.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Summer folds up her Beach Towel.

I welcome Autumn with a smile. I've got love and hugs for this season, as I contemplate the cosy allure of woolly socks and hot chocolates. The resident horse has mastered a winning technique for high-jumping onto the bed- stealthy as a ninja- so that the dark mornings come into focus with doggy kisses as four paws sneak along my side of the bed. The boy knows who feeds him, apparently.

There are end-of-the-Summer bike trips to lakes and the beach, as we cling on to the sunshine with fondness. Matching neckerchiefs for Rudy and me is October Vogue, and a 1lb burger challenge at the weekend firmly closes the door on swimsuit season.

Friday, October 8, 2010

October arrived with pride and a paintbrush.

When you are as impatient a person as I am, waiting out the greencard application process can get a little fraying on the nerves. The eternity that it takes is a unique sort of torture- in the limitations that it places upon you, where you sit around twiddling your thumb -wishing you could work- while you try and find purpose in every day. There is at least an upside to this state of limbo, and rather than lamenting the limitations of my predicament, I am coaching myself to appreciate the time that has been gifted to me as a result of it.

Once we get past the mundane details of housewifeliness- the washing, the sandwich making, the cleaning, the shopping- I have hours stretched out before me for illustrative adventures, craft projects, baking and quality time with the fam-damily.

My treasure of a husband was recently promoted to 1st Lt. and the great honor was bestowed upon me to pin on his new rank and give him a punch (an Army tradition that I was more than happy to continue). Seeing Forrest work so hard every day, and meeting his friends who are some outstanding guys makes me proud to be part of this community, and proudest of my pancake making, football playing, copter-flying husband. To mark the occasion, I made him a....well....dinner tray, actually. Not the most elegant or romantic of gifts but hey, we Neumanns are all about practicality! Inspired by the four-legged-wonder-Rudy- and Forrest's other interests, the design is quite pleasing to me. After painting, I covered the whole thing in varnish, for luck (and protection).

So congrats, 1st Lieutenant time I won't punch you quite so hard!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Durango and the long road home......

When I think of Durango in future, it will almost certainly be set in my mind along side the colour turquoise. There will be a taste of honey on my tongue, and I'll no doubt have a hankering to throw on a cowboy hat and just slow down a little. My experience of Colorado so far has been most therapeutic. My only previous visit to this state has been the Denver airport, where I once drank a pumpkin frappuccino on Halloween and walked about 20 miles whilst trying to find an illusive departure gate. It's funny what you remember.

By this point in the trip our bodies were opting for the most leisurely activities, which wound up with us spending our final day at a lake in Animas Valley, reclined at the waters edge, sharing our picnic with a chipmunk.

Our journey back into town took us past 'Honeyville', which- amid the giant rainstorm we were caught in- sang to me like a choir of angels. I was inside that place before Forrest had even parked the bike.

To my delight there was a real beehive inside a glass case and a pipe through which bees could buzz in and out of the building, quite at their leisure. We emerged from the store an hour later weighed down with more honey than you could shake a stick at, and high as kites from all the flavours we'd sampled. Seriously though- amaretto honey? Cinnamon? Spiced apple? I challenge you to resist. My Nanna used always used to say my eyes were bigger than my belly, as I'd lie beached after some cookie raid or other. Old habits die hard. I am a piglet.

So I was becoming a little teary eyed and sentimental about this place. We were sleepy and almost ready to be home, but goodness knows I've fallen head over heels for Colorado. The cool air, every view being unique and beautiful, the lakes, the wildlfe, and my own heightened awareness and appreciation of all these things. On the flipside, I will not miss John Denver playing on repeat in my head and on the radio, as if it's the price that must be paid for being here. 'Colorado Rocky Mountains High'- goodbye and goodbye.

So it was time to pack our bags and get skidaddling. The GPS was again stating '659 miles until your next turn', and energy drinks were back in style. Somewhere in Oklahoma we snatched 4 hours of sleep, sleep-walked to the coffee machine, wondered if our brains were still knocking around inside our skulls somewhere, then hit the road for another 17 hours without later remembering a single mile of it.

But of course it isn't all yawns and wails of despair, because it was hard to suppress a smile every time I thought of what awaited us at home. Rudy, the world's biggest, bestest puppy did everything he could to restore our enthusiasm in being back here. The boy is a champ, I think I'm glad to be home :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Shiny, pretty things (and sandy rocky things) at the Mesa Verde.

These were some of the last days before the bike went back on the trailer. Being keen to remain wind-beaten and sunkissed for as long as possible, Forrest and I rode from Moab to the Mesa Verde with Forrest acting as an on-board radio to keep me awake. Him singing with tuneless abandon, and me doing the arm dances cost us a glance or three as we passed through lights and stop signs, but oh well.... wearing a helmet is such a useful disguise when embracing your inner-crazy.

We arrived at the Mesa Verde National Park at the exact moment a giant storm came to greet us. The weather had been our friend and foe with remarkable fickleness up until this point, so donning our jackets and putting our faith in sun god, we ventured forth, only to find ourselves at the top of the mountain an hour later, shedding layers and squinting against the bright sky. Lovely.

It was fascinating to learn about the lives of the Puebloans, and to see the cliff dwellings that still remain at the Mesa Verde. The museum boasts a fabulous array of jewelry, arrowheads, pottery, clothing and all sorts of other intricate handmade items that make today's destined-for-garbage products seem hugely disappointing. The skill and the artistry of those native dwellers is pretty amazing to be able to see, staring back at you from the inside of a glass case hundreds of years later. I am not much known for my love of history (to the despair of Dad- an ex history teacher; and my husband- a history nut. Or, just a nut.), but something about the lives of native Americans really piques my interest. Plus, they made the coolest shoes, so of course I'm paying attention!

Descending the mountain as the sun was setting, I almost inhaled my tongue when somebody exclaimed 'Look, a bear!'. Basically just a dark speck to the naked eye, Eb produced a telescope- Mary Poppins-like from his bag- and all of a sudden the bear could not have been more real as padded along the edge of the forest; muscular and majestic. This is the first bear I have ever laid eyes on, and back home in Alabama I get the feeling armadillos and boll weevils may have lost a little of their novelty. A bear. I couldn't believe it.

From this point onwards, every single corner we turned boasted a new and spectacular view, with shadows from the sunset falling across the mountains. With all the resolve we could muster, we finally tore ourselves away from the Mesa Verde, and found ourselves back in Cortez, at the Main Street Brewery which does the meanest brew I have ever tasted. 'Mean' as in awesome. Like 'bad' when it means good. Y'know....

We left some hours later with promises to return in December, navigating handshakes with the charming German owner and a whole box of souvenir beer (really, Forrest? necessary?!). Wheels turning once again, it's back to Durango as we lament the soon to be final days of our trip. First though, I've got a date with the chocolate shop, so let's get to it!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Desert days, I love you a lot.

Our adventures in Moab seemed to me the kind of thing you read about in books. Whizzing around the canyon roads on the back of the bike, snapping pictures and identifying rock types- it felt as though Christmas had come early. An unusually hot and sandy Christmas- I grant you- but a gift, nonetheless.

My Father-in-law is one of those people who is useful to have around. An endless font of knowledge, and with the kind of internal compass that makes me look entirely lost at sea, Eb pretty much had our itinerary listed in the most time-effective schedule you could ever hope to achieve. The happy result of this was that during two days we did all these things:

*Visited the Canyonlands. Drove down the most treacherous canyon trail that thanks Forrest's 'hilarious' pranks and one-inch-from-the-edge driving, is sure to haunt my nightmares. Love you too, dear husband.

*Filled our water bottles from a fresh spring in the rocks (water has never tasted so clean).

*Journeyed through the Arches National Park where we encountered nature in all it's rocky, lizardy loveliness. The arches appeared to be playing musical statues, remaining frozen in one gravity-defying arrangement after another. Riding underneath a cloud-strewn sky, we got battered for 5 cheerless minutes by a fleeting rainstorm, just to remind us that we weren't infact on the surface of Mars. Then it was 500 degrees again, and we all fried.

*Also: sipped some local brews; marveled at the native art and ceramics; fell in love with the 'kokopelli' characters; tirelessly ate breakfast waffles like a hungry, hungry horse; sampled my first (and definitely not my last) affogato (gelato and expresso in a cup); sunburned my right leg, arm and cheek, which didn't do alot for my general appeal, but made me laugh out loud in the shower.

Then almost without warning, it was time to leave. So we did. Back to Durango, via Cortez and the Mesa Verde National Park. Not a moment to spare, so bike helmets on, ensure my ears are still attached to my head, and GO! Ok then.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dessert in the Moab Desert. (sweet).

The sign welcoming us to Utah didn't arrive a moment too soon as far as I was concerned. The drive through Nevada was- to be frank- squashed and uncomfortable. All 5ft 10 of me doesn't relish sardine-like conditions. Nonetheless, there is nothing like folding up your limbs and arranging yourself in numerous inconceivable positions for 580 miles to make you appreciative of a ride on the (motor)bike after it all.

The afternoon found us arriving at the Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab, which revealed itself to be quite the scenic masterpiece. The accommodations were exquisite, but- alas- we were only passing through for dinner. Still though, as a long time vegetarian who is tentatively welcoming fish into my diet, I've got to say their rainbow trout justified my dining-bravery (I consider every unfamiliar fish consumed to be a brave act at this point...).

It turns out that this particular location has played host many of the old westerns film sets, and all sorts of other modern movies that you presume were filmed somewhere of course, but not necessarily the place you happen to stop for dinner on a scorching, sweaty, sleepy day in the middle of your honeymoon.There was a museum with all manner of movie props, posters, and proud photos of the lodge as the backdrop to Brad Pitt and Susan Sarandon and any number of many-muscled actors from the old cowboy films.

There was a winery and tipis and beautiful gardens and scenery for which no amount of superlatives can do adequate justice. I ate like I wasn't planning on moving for a week, when in fact half an hour later I was delicately coaxing my bloated carcass back onto the bike as we headed for that trusty lodging- the Holiday Inn. Holiday Inns, as I have discovered on this trip are by no means of a consistent standard across the country. The one in Moab however, was like heaven on a plate- which is admittedly a ridiculous description of well... anything other than food- but suffice to say, it is very, very nice. And with that, it's time to take a breath, throw on some evening wear (that'll be the only clean T-shirt and whatever shorts/ jeans can be found at this point...) and go out and celebrate our arrival in Moab. This, I have been looking forward to!

Monday, September 6, 2010

6225 ft above sea level. Lake Tahoe.

There seemed to be a pattern emerging concerning time, and the apparent shortness of it. Already I was perched on the back of the bike, waving to Napa in the wing mirrors as we headed east once more through the oven-like conditions of Sacramento. Onwards to Tahoe, where this time we intended to pay our dues and spend some time on those beloved, be-laked mountains.

Feeling more than a little travel-worn we arrived at Wright's Lake ready to shed our shoes, collapse on a warm rock and eat our picnic. We were becoming experts at the cheese, crackers and bottle of beer routine by now. Unfortunately as is usually the case, mosquitos had sensed the approach of my sweet-blooded self and had settled around me for a banquet. Attempting a hasty escape, I hopped towards the lake, fell off a log, sliced my leg open, laughed and cried and proceeded to swipe at every winged thing that dared appear in my line of vision for the remainder of the evening. Swiping- as it turns out- is not a fail-safe method of prevention. Next time I'm wearing a space suit.

Evenings were spent around the fire pit eating ice cream sandwiches and looking at the stars, while cuddling the family labrador and relaxing. Relaxing. (relaxing). I usually don't stop moving, so to find myself reclined on the porch deck, heavy limbed and heavy lidded- is testament to our play-hard ethic during this trip. Sleep was too easy, and mornings arrived in the blink of an eye. Family traditions die hard, with Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes to mark our final morning in Tahoe. With an afternoon to spare, I found myself getting all revved up on two small wheels- being taught by an admirably patient Forrest how to ride a Honda 100, an endearingly tiny motorcycle. Immediately I am in love. Apologies to my Mother, for this unwelcome statement...

But bikes on their kick-stands for now as it's time to head east again for a red-eye drive back through Nevada and onto Utah. This time, we had Forrest's parents and the motorbike in tow; ingredients for good times indeed. Many hours away, but worth every mile was our next stop: the Moab Desert. Rocks after rocks beyond rocks; more rocks.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Destination West: Napa Valley, (my adopted) home.

California is the state where mine and Forrest's story began almost four years ago. A lot has happened since that evening spent watching 'Eurotrip' (Oh God) at my sister's apartment, where Forrest spent the entire evening talking to his feet because he was too shy to look at me.

Now we are arriving in Sacramento- where a family birthday party is being held- and Forrest's parents are giving us bear hugs, referring to us both as their children and me feeling like I've come home. As far as the 'in laws' lottery goes- I hit the jackpot.

So after a night of sleeping like we meant it, we were up and at 'em and on our way to Napa Valley where Forrest grew up; my adopted home. Forrest was in constant motion, squirming and fidgeting as he declared more times than I could count about how he could not wait to be reunited with his motorbike. YES DEAR, I know. He'd been waxing lyrical about it for the past five days. By now I knew it better than my own name. The bike was waiting at his parents house and I thought he'd cry when he saw it.

I could stay in Napa forever, but if I'm only getting three days then I'd spend them doing exactly this:

*Meeting the baby goats- Nova and Austin- who have ears like Jar Jar Binks. Wonderful!

*Catching up with friends Nate and Tammy who treated us to the best meal I've eaten since forever, and who's gorgeous kids make me think: Definitely, someday.

*Becoming reacquainted with the motorcycle and submitting to a ridiculous T-shirt tan.

*Riding to the cheese factory in Petaluma. Buying cheese. Eating cheese. Eating more cheese. Cheese.

*Dropping in on Sonoma- my favourite town for coffee, fudge, beehive cakes towels, actually.

*Spending time with Forrest's parents. Plus Moni's legendary breakfasts. Yums.

Also: Salsalito, Lappert's ice cream, Route 1, California weather, Armstrong & Getty on the radio, Chip & Olly (our old turtles) and In 'n' Out Burger. YES Please.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Road to California!

Tonopah quickly became a fading memory as we lined California up in our sights. There was never a more impatient pair than we, as 'Lake Tahoe' showed up on the GPS, provoking a quick round of the happy dance and some California type sound track, probably the Chili Peppers. Phantom Planet. The Beach Boys.

The GPS looked confident, but we threw our eggs in a different basket with our choice of route towards the stateline. Sporting an attitude of nonchalance that usually spells disaster (but today with a stroke of luck)- we found ourselves approaching Tahoe along some gravelly mountain road that really wouldn't be advisable if you have ambitions for keeping a clean car. Since we'd already put dear Walt (yes, we named our truck) through the wringer twice and thrice, we figured a final coat of dust wouldn't be such an inconvenience.

We wound through the mountains with almost my entire torso balancing and swishing outside of the window. A sunny breeze is not something you will under rate if you've spent the past 3 months melting in a Southern Summer as we have. Lucky Boy Pass was like a discovered secret as we meandered through the mountains with the sun and shadows playing colorfully in the valleys. There were some questionable navigational decisions, mini river-crossings and cocking of eyebrows but California is like a magnet and eventually the Welcome sign appeared before us to rapturous applause from Forrest and myself. From there we could pretty much smell Lake Tahoe, with Forrest winding down all the windows shouting 'pine! pine! pine!' and me rubbing my hands together in anticipation of Papagayos, the most delicious little Mexican Grill in- quite probably- the whole world.

Of course we were flagged down at the visitors station to assure those serious looking fellows that no, we did not have a cargo of bananas or insects or tigers or foreign dirt ( though driving a truck that looks like it has been wrestling in a sand pit probably didn't help our case....). Eventually though, fueled up on burritos and tacos, we wasted no time in shooting through Tahoe and on to the Capital City. Our home from home, Sacra-tomato.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Quiet Miles (through Utah and Nevada)

There is something pleasantly calming about driving for hours and rarely passing another vehicle (I'm talking about you, Nevada). There is also something definitely disconcerting about the road sign which casually states 'no services for 100 miles'. Are you sure? Oh lord.

Utah seemed to boast a pleasing abundance of cars from an era when style prevailed over efficiency. I have love for the old look, but alas, no car smarts. So I blow it a kiss and we are on our way again, with me sighing 'one day....' and Forrest raising an eyebrow.

The last stretch of our journey westwards was a mess of mountains, desert and shrubbery. There were also salt flats and vacuum packed pasta and tiny kamikaze birds that kept zooming most terrifyingly towards our windscreen. There was not much else.

If like me you are a fan of the desert sunset, then you would enjoy this part of the trip. I mean really, I could almost have wept at the scenery (if I wasn't otherwise engaged with just trying to stay awake).

At about 8pm and ready for a year of sleep, we pulled into Tonopah, which really doesn't have much to recommend it, I'm afraid. Never matter, for our sights were set on California, just afew gravel tracks, pulsing highways, sleepy backroads and some number of miles away. First though, sleep. Secondly, waffles. Thirdly,looting some toiletries because hotel soap was never this good, and fourthly, finally, goodbye Nevada- California, here we come :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The First of the Big Rocks.

It turns out I married an encyclopedia; a human sponge. It's a weird thing, when you always secretly thought you were the clever one in a relationship, then suddenly you are being lectured about the history of your own country (by your 'foreign' husband) or how rock formations work, or what kind of lizard that is, not to mention the probable origin of the lunch you are eating, and the inner workings of the car you are driving. Well excuse me dear, while I look out the window at the pretty rocks...

Many indulgent hours were spent at Colorado National Monument as Forrest inhaled facts at all the information boards and I admired the views and snapped photos and just sort of stood around open-mouthed in absolute delight at our surroundings. At 'Cold Shivers Point' I was glad my Mum wasn't there to watch me hop across some stepping stone rocks and balance on a ledge suspended high above the canyon. We yodeled our way around various viewpoints (well, Forrest yodeled, I more accurately bleated), and felt very satisfied with our time in Colorado as we finally made our way out of the park and over to Utah.

With the promise of two days driving and a whole lot of desert between here and California we sped onwards feeling very Thelma and Louise-ish, fidgeting in anticipation since the best was yet to come. Still, let us not overlook the two states that we first had to journey across. Utah and Nevada, how sandy, how rocky, how surprisingly scenic you are.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rainbow after the storm in Grand Junction, CO.

The sun suddenly seemed a little low in the sky as Forrest and I dawdled in Ouray, trying to force upon each other the remains of the richest cafe mocha the world has ever produced. After heated debate, I ate the whipped cream, he drank the chocolatey soup. Testing out the new roles of marriage starts with sugary self-sacrifice. Hello, muffin top.

Eventually we consulted our watches. Then we shrieked.Then we set out at a considerable pace into a giant storm as we nervously contemplated a night of camping in Grand Junction, which we otherwise referred to as Junction City or Grand Thingy or The Campground at the Junction and every other combination and permutation imaginable; for I assure you- that name cannot be committed to memory.

We dodged cloudburst after cloudburst til we eventually got suckered into the torrent of rain that took us all the way to our KOA campground. Rather fortuitously, our campsite was located about 100 meters beyond the last raincloud of the day. We pulled into our spot which was framed neatly by a rainbow- and I challenge you to name a better welcome than that!

Doing as all weary campers must- we grudgingly erected our tent, explored the facilities,built a fire, got annoyed with each other by some trivial matter or other, then made up over a glass of wine and a cheese sandwich.

Soon it was bedtime, even sooner it was morning, then the requisite: 'Where's the bug repellent? Where are the clean t-shirts? Yes, you are having a shower, the coolbox needs ice, we're running out of milk, no I don't have the car keys, where did you put the camera? Our bleary-eyed confusion played out like a cartoon strip, until after quite a scramble we were on our way again. Westwards, via Colorado National Monument for our first (of many) big rock sightings. John Denver CD at the ready.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Million Dollar Highway, CO

Even the rain couldn't dampen a mood as delighted as mine when we set out along the Million Dollar Highway. Squeezing along the edge of a mountain road behind a delivery truck that is scraping (literally) along the mountain wall does make for a most entertaining passage of time. Curled into my seat next to my #1 crush and stocked up with snacks and a camera, I questioned what more I could possibly want from life. The answer was a stroll, so to the smell of burning brakes and with an appetite for icecream, we pulled into Silverton- a Victorian mining town located down in the belly of a mountain valley.

The first thing I saw was a most enchanting horse and carriage clopping down the road. The second thing I saw was my giant scoop of icecream rolling off it's cone and being caught by my other hand. sticky. Then I saw a train shop and purchased a souvenir for my patch collection. (When I look at that closely it occurs to me that I'm just a wide-eyed, clumsy, patch collecting tourist. aka. such a geek.)

At this point, the concept of time and distance gets lost in a haze of mountains and trees and photos and energy drinks, so I can simply state that 'somewhere up the road', our next stop was Ouray. If Silverton was pleasant (which it was), then Ouray I can only describe as being 'more pleasant'. Because it's kind of the same as Silverton, but...y'know, better. It looked somehow prouder of itself. And why not? It was lovely. The evening was drawing closer and with some hours of driving left before our intended camping location, we visited 'Mouses Chocolate shop' and proceeded to consume sugar and caffeine as if we were on holiday or something. Life is sweet (and caffeinated), and we were really running late, so onwards to Grand Junction, for, dare I say it? ....Camping! On our honeymoon. Yes.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Durango, Colorado. And....relax.

Forrest and I are at opposing ends of the scale when it comes to our preferred waking hours. I am an early bird and tried to swing momentum in my favour accordingly. I mean there was breakfast to think of. Mountains to admire. Cool air to swoosh about in. It's fair to say that Forrest grew accustomed to being pulled out of bed by his feet, and surrendered (eventually) to having clean clothes thrust towards him as I propelled him each day into wakefulness. I mean, we were in Colorado; I could hardly be contained beyond sunrise. My poor husband. Oh well.

Durango is a gorgeous old Western town, best known perhaps for it's steam train, but best loved by me for it's being home to the original Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Yes, I'm that girl. All of those irritating sayings about women and chocolate? That's because of people like me. I confess it.

But still, I can appreciate a bit of engineering genius and the steam train museum was moderately entertaining even for me of fishlike attention span. The model train set was a highlight. I mean there were teeny American diners and little mountains with tinier tunnels and there were buttons to press. Buttons are the way to my heart.

As one would expect, we were spoiled by the scenery; the mountain roads, the lakes, the wildlife. I was in marmit heaven, and don't get me started on the chipmunks (I wuv 'em!). But all in good time, for we were about to set out along the historic (apparently) Million Dollar Highway, at my personal request. Tomorrow tomorrow, I love you tomorrow.