Saturday, April 18, 2015

Daytrippin': Denver to Salida & Back Again

Daytrippin' to Salida
My sister came to town the week after Easter and she brought The Cousins with her. While planning our week of activities like the zoo, the museum and such--which should all be spread throughout a year, not a week, but what can you do? fight with your family some, that's what--someone mentioned the idea of going somewhere new. I seized this opportunity to share with my family an article in a recent Sunset Magazine in which Salida, Colorado, is mentioned as a worthwhile daytrip from Denver. I thought they'd blow off my idea {they usually do, I'm the baby of the family, after all}, but instead they were all gung ho. So yee haw. Up 285 we drove, into the mountains and through South Park. {Yes, the South Park.}
Daytrippin' to Salida
My Grandpa Erickson was an engineer for the Colorado Highway Dept., and he helped design and plan 285. So, basically, we own this road. I mean, pretty much.
Daytrippin' to Salida
Now, this is a 2.5 hour drive from Denver, and so you'll pass The Fort, the hogbacks, Tiny Town, the sledding hill, my grandparents old house, Pine, South Park, Jefferson, Fairplay, and a prison where inmates raise goats, until finally, eventually, you reach Salida. It's a pretty, and easy 2.5 hour drive. Just throw on a Tom Petty CD or something, buy some beef jerky, and you're good for the drive. Daytrippin' to Salida
You'll know you're in Salida, thanks to the giant "S" on Tenderfoot Mountain. {Just don't be fooled if your six-year-old tries to convince you it is really a giant 5.} This photo doesn't do Tenderfoot any justice. It was bigger than it looks, and I'll share more about that later...
Daytrippin' to Salida
On a Sunday in April, Salida was a quiet place. I've heard that it is quite booming during the hot season when everyone comes to inner tube down the Arkansas River or when Mumford & Sons visits for 2 day festivals. {Justin's brother and his wife are going in August! Jelly here. Todd and Rachel, I hope you're paying attention because I'm about to tell you where you'll be eating. Make reservations now.}
Daytrippin' to Salida
So, Sunset Magazine recommended The Fritz as a place to grab a bite. But we forgot to bring the magazine with us and couldn't remember what the name was. Thankfully, Justin's co-worker who has roots in Salida saved the day and confirmed: The Fritz indeed was a worthwhile stop. I'll say!
Daytrippin' to Salida

This was one of, if not the, best burgers I've ever had in my life. It was the speshal. Isn't that shpeshal? Grass fed beef, made to perfection, with something like "apple smoked cream cheese bacon mousse" as a topping. Also, truffle fries on the side. {You MUST with the truffle fries, you MUST!} And it was absolutely divine. My father ordered the same thing as me, and we agreed: even our burps throughout the rest of the day were like heaven. {We had beer! Also, Colorado makes one gassy #blamegreeley} The kids' mac and cheese was too good to be on the kids menu. Justin ordered some sort of sandwich with sweet potato fries and tried to act like he wasn't totally jealous of my burger {he helped me finish it}. Something is up with these photos but I'm too tired to fix it.
Daytrippin' to SalidaDaytrippin' to SalidaDaytrippin' to SalidaDaytrippin' to Salida
So, if you find yourself in Salida {ahem, Todd and Rachel}, The Fritz gets our enthusiastic thumbs up. Also, the server/bartender was super great with our kids. Not that they were at all misbehaving--they were really good actually--but we'd entered this joint nervous about dining with 5 kids who'd just spend 2.5 hours in the car, so, you know. Look, some of the balloons the street clown forced us to tip him for popped as soon as we walked in and it put us adults on edge, but the guy working there put us at ease and served us beer. Everything came full circle.
Daytrippin' to Salida
I'm telling you...
Daytrippin' to Salida
What else to do in Salida on a beautiful, albeit windy, Sunday afternoon? Take selfies and shop.
Daytrippin' to Salida
Bring your camera, this town is ripe with photo opportunities, even if my kids aren't there.
Daytrippin' to Salida
I got my first real six string. Bought it at the Five & Dime. Played it 'til my fingers bled...
Daytrippin' to Salida
Obligatory spousal selfie!
Daytrippin' to Salida
A few shops were closed on the Sunday afternoon {sadly, including the little French bakery Sunset had also recommended} but many shops were still open. Salida has great shops. Creative shops, artsy shops, consignment, thrift, and the typical Colorado mountain town shops. They even have an antique mall!
Daytrippin' to SalidaDaytrippin' to SalidaDaytrippin' to SalidaDaytrippin' to SalidaDaytrippin' to SalidaDaytrippin' to Salida
And vintage Pyrex in the windows!! I am sincerely considering selling our house and moving to Salida.
Daytrippin' to Salida
When you're done dragging the men with their dogs around from storefront to storefront to wait for you to finish browsing the shops, you can stop for a perk me up at the "Coffee". {That's all the sign says...and I can't remember what it was called.}
Daytrippin' to Salida
Pax is too little for The Coffee but he does get his butt carried around, so...
Daytrippin' to Salida
Photo-op! Too bad the youngest cousin was indisposed at the moment.
Daytrippin' to Salida
Eh. Throw him in there anyway! That's good.
Daytrippin' to Salida
We tried to convince the kids to get in the kayaks for this photo op, but they wouldn't. {losers}

Salida sits in Colorado's banana belt, the Arkansas River Valley, surrounded by three glorious mountain ranges. So, naturally, we wanted a room with a view. Justin texted his co-worker, who responded {thank God, because our cell phone coverage was quite shoddy up there} and told us to head up Tenderfoot, up the Spiral somethingorother that climbs up the--let's be real here, Coloradans--the foothill.

He even gave us directions to get to the road that took us up there. You know, for a photo op. Or rather, in my case, a flipping heart attack as our SUV climbed the narrow road up the...did I say foothill? What I really meant was treacherous mountain. I'm serious, this dashed my hopes of driving up Pikes Peak this summer. At least not sober.
Daytrippin' to Salida
I mean, it was gawahgeeous up thereh, honeh, but the sharp steep drop off the side of the insanely narrow {I might be exaggerating just a tad, I do have a touch of the anxiety} road was enough to make me cling on to my babies and scream at everyone to stay away from the edges. I wasn't always this way...and Justin made sure to remind me of that. {"In high school, before you had kids, you would have been all about this. Now you're plastering yourself to the side of the mountain in fear."} Something about heights anymore...between my anxiety and my anxiety. I felt very disoriented up there, like the world was tilty.
Daytrippin' to Salida
Truly, it was a beautiful view. Quite worth it. {Thanks, Scott!}
Daytrippin' to Salida
I somehow survived. I thought going down would be easier than going up. but instead...no.
Daytrippin' to Salida
Here is the obligatory good-daughter photo I took of my parents and their dog. I was yelling at them as I took the photo, worried their stupid dog would jump up on them and...goodbye world!
Daytrippin' to Salida
But it was truly beautiful. Worth every moment of sheer panic.
Daytrippin' to Salida
What a perfect day trip! Thank you Sunset Magazine, for helping me convince my family to listen to me {for once} and head somewhere new. {Next, I've really got to get to Telluride. What kind of native Coloradan hasn't even been to Telluride?} I'll go back to Salida for sure. We headed back to Denver that evening before bedtime, but our rebellious children...
Daytrippin' to Salida
They were spent.
Daytrippin' to Salida

Cheers,
Heather

P.S. More photos here. I know, this post was kind of light on the pictures, that's so unlike me, you probably feel robbed, so you might want to see another million more.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Old Ladies Behaving Badly

I often get ideas for new blogs; today I felt like I could write a series titled, Old Ladies Behaving Badly.

"Kids these days!" you hear it said all the time.

Sander was participating in another one of those paid studies, and this time he not only did the focus group but the people came to our home. I've done more paid studies than he {in fact, just last week I gave Spice Islands my two cents about their new product packaging}, but he always gets the ones where they interview you at home. {And those ones pay twice as much.} Also, we're hosting Easter this weekend and our toilets needed cleaning and here I was, with fancy focus group interviewers coming to our home to talk to us about smart home plumbing and I was fresh out of Clorox wipes.

I don't approach toilets without Clorox wipes. Period.

So I zipped over to Family Dollar because, even though I hate that store, it is the closest thing to us and no busy streets are involved in order to get there.

I popped in, snatched up the Clorox wipes, some Fabuloso and carpet sprinkle for good measure, and got in line.

I was only the second person in line, so you'd think I'd get out of that place quickly, right? Well the lady in front of me was about 65-70 years old and she was rocking the giant, leopard print purse, a perm, and a fresh mani pedi with lots of bling to boot. Yeah...you know the type. Stopping another employee to ask if this bottle of nail polish could be described as "wine colored". {It was brown, like poo! Who wants nails like that?!}

She was only buying three things, and so why it took her about 10 minutes to check out is beyond me. Actually, it isn't beyond me. I understand completely that she had to dig through her purse for exact change while ranting about how she hates big purses. She was the type who, once she had paid in exact change, slowly put her wallet back, zipped up the pocket, zipped up the entire purse, stopped to balance her checkbook, took a moment to freshen up, ate a steak dinner, and was finally on her way so that I could be rung up.

Except not, she doubled back in front of me, after leaving the register, cut me off like I wasn't there and pulled the three-pack Ferrererereo Rocher chocolates out of her bag, sat her purse back down and asked the clerk how much they were because she thought they were only 99 cents, were they actually two dollars?

I look to the display of Ferenenaereirdo Rocher chocolates that sits six inches to her left, right in front of my face, as it clearly and boldly said, $1.40, all while the cashier takes the bag, removes the receipt and scans for the price. A long twenty seconds later, "It was $1.40"

Why didn't I just pipe up and point to the price? I don't know. I was trying to be patient.

Finally, it's my turn to pay and leave. So I do just that, in a timely manner, zipping up my purse while walking back to my car. {It's this new thing called multitasking.}

I back my Volvo out and began to make an beeline for the exit of the parking lot, and who pulls out in front of me? That's right, Miss-It-Takes-Me-An-Hour-To-Buy-A-Pack-Of-Falalalalala-Rocher-Chocolates.

I drive behind her, as she is going -5mph {that's right, negative 5mph} toward the exit. She stops about a car length from the exit onto the street. And just sits there.

Practice your patience, Heather. I'm telling myself. She'll move in just a second...any second now...and I'm imagining smart plumbing people from out of town getting a look at my unclean toilet. And we're still working on potty training with Violet so it ain't pretty.

Old Lady Leopard Print rolls down her window, and out of it she tosses the wrappers to the Fartnado Rocher truffles. Gold foil now rolling around the parking lot like tumbleweed. Heaven forbid this lady have to clean her car, better to litter the local parking lot. Exactly, lady. This is a parking lot for an Ace Hardware, a liquor store, and a Family Dollar, not Downton Abbey. There is no maid who will come sweep up behind you.

I'm stunned. And also angry. Who just litters like that?!

I almost, ALMOST jumped out of my car and ran up to her window, thinking I'd pick up her trash and throw it right back into her car while launching into the lecture I give my kids when they throw trash on the floor, the few times they've dared done it. {Something along the lines of, "Am I raising little piggies or little girls???" "Um...[it always takes them a moment] little girls." "That's right! So I will not have my girls turning my home into a pig sty! Where does trash go?" "In the...trash can?" and so on.}

But I've lost my temper at too many strangers in my youth to know it's usually not worth it to run up to old ladies and rant at them about "piggy behavior" and "entitlement" and "do you know what it's like to clean toilets for a family of five and you just litter right in front of me like toilets and parking lots clean themselves?!"

Also, knowing me I would have probably forgot to put the car in park before leaping out of it.

Here's the thing though, she still wasn't moving. I imagined her gobbling up Ferrari Rocher chocolates, licking her manicured brown nails, smacking her lips, all while being perfectly fine with holding up whoever waited behind her. (Me!) It all made me angry. I briefly consider honking my horn at her to let her know--just like at the cash register at Family Dollar--that I was waiting behind her for, like, a million years.

Instead I punched the gas pedal {thankful for once that Justin had insisted on the V8 model when we were car shopping} and squealed around her still stagnant car toward the exit where a very kind motorist promptly waved me into traffic in front of her. I waved a thank you back, but not before noticing that I was being presented with a nicely manicured, 65-70 year old middle finger in my rear view mirror.

I am laughing now, believe you me.

At the stoplight, I saw Justin had texted me to ask if I could pick up up a burger from McDonalds for him. Fair enough, as we are low on food and time and he'd had a busy day, even though what I really wanted to do was get home and clean toilets. {Said no one ever.}

I rushed through the drive-thru and couldn't help but notice that the two teenage boys who took my money and gave me my order were super polite and friendly.

SO you know, what they say about kids these days isn't always the truth.

I'm mostly just amused, and since I've come to understand that some of my readers will read my rants as more ranty than I mean them to be, please know I'm mostly just shaking my head with a smile and also feeling guilty that I saw trash on the ground but didn't stop to pick it up. Grannies these days...

The interview with the smart plumbing surveyors went well, even if they didn't bother to compliment my sparkling toilet. Also, they purposely set off our Nest fire alarm while Paxton was napping and I didn't kick them out of my house for it. {You're welcome, smart plumbing people.}

What is smart plumbing anyway? Apparently our future holds things like apps for our sprinkler systems as well as shower heads that know if you haven't showered in three days. Tsk tsk tsk! #thereisanappforthat

Finally, and for the record:
1. Littering is disgusting.
2. I really do like all the old ladies I know.
3. I admit that lack of patience is one of my worst flaws.

Cheers,
Heather

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring 2015

CHICKS

Spring 2015
Spring 2015 finds us with room in the coop, and so last week I did something crazy. {Crazy for me.} I drove out to Elizabeth & Kiowa--just myself and the kids--and purchased five new baby chicks.
Spring 2015
It was a long drive home, and chicks need to be kept warm, so I cranked up the seat warmer for them. Our chickens live the life of luxury compared to other chickens, they don't even know it.
Spring 2015
This impertinent little thing hopped out of the box, I was quick to grab her before she fell between the seats, but I was driving and couldn't fuss with the box. So, naturally, I plopped her on the dash and took a quick photo. {I am a bad person.}{I promise I don't usually photograph chickens while driving.}{I mean, I have a perfect driving record.}
Spring 2015
She is a Blue Andalusian. She will be blue/gray and sleek as an adult, and she is the sweetest, friendliest chick I've encountered to date. I named her Grey Lady.
Spring 2015
This cutie is a White Australorp. The girls wanted to name her Big Betty II. So Big Betty II it is.
Spring 2015
{What happened to Big Betty the First? Long story I've yet to blog. Simply put, she met her early demise last October, after our dog--who is perfectly fine with the chickens 98% of the time--played too rough with her and scared the poor thing to death. It was pretty much the first and the last time we ever left home with the dog and chickens out together. We failed and had let our guard down. Needless to say, the dog and chickens are never allowed to play unattended together anymore. It was foolish of us to take the risk in the first place. Dogs will be dogs. Even good dogs can easily kill chickens. I cried, the kids cried, we almost disowned the dog, but we've made amends since.}

Aaaand this is Dorothy II. Sigh...Dorothy the First passed away for an unknown reason a couple months back, but I will say she never laid an egg, so we suspect some sort of defect. Dorothy II, like her predecessor, is a Barred Rock or Plymouth Rock, one of America's oldest chickens.
Spring 2015
This chick is quite unique! He/she is a White Frizzle Cochin {seriously, click the link, you want to see what these chickens grow up to look like}. I took a risk on this chick, because it's straight run--that means he/she could be a rooster or a hen--but you never see Frizzles and I wanted one. So fingers crossed it turns out to be a SHE. If not, we'll be posting an ad on Craigslist titled, 'Rooster free to good home'. I named it Henrietta. If it turns out to be a rooster, Henry. If it turns out to be a hen, Etta.
Spring 2015
Lastly, this is Amelia. She is going to grow up to be a gorgeous Silver Laced Wyandotte. She is also extremely skittish and FLIGHTY already, so we named her after Amelia Earhart.
Spring 2015
I'm not sure if I'll ever again be able to allow a springtime to come and go without buying some baby chicks. They're addictive little things.
Spring 2015

CHICKENS

Spring 2015
The big girl hens survived their first winter like pros, their laying didn't even slow down. We get 4-6 eggs a day right now. Unfortunately, they've also kept our lawn trimmed...a little too trimmed.
Spring 2015
So we barbecued them.
Spring 2015
Just teasing. No, we simply started Operation Lawn Rehab 2015, during which the chickens will spend their next few weeks locked up in their coop and pen while we wait for some grass seed to take. To be fair, our kids also took a toll on our lawn. An entire backyard and they chose the patch of dirt to play in every time. Above is Justin's spatchcocked barbecue chicken {storebought, not named}. Oh yes! We've already grilled THREE times this spring. It's glorious.

FAMILY & HOME

Justin turned 31 this month and we celebrated like people in their 30s would: we did next to nothing. I had planned to make corned beef and cabbage that evening {his favorite} but when he got home from work he decided to take us out for his birthday. So we went to India Oven.
Spring 2015
Showing up at 6 p.m. to an entirely empty Indian food hole-in-the-wall restaurant that was obviously previously an elaborately decorated Chinese food restaurant totally reminded me of something my family would have done. When my sister turned 20 or something, we went down to Mataam Fez on Colfax and ate Moroccan style Cornish game hens on the floor while a belly dancer sweated all over us--particularly my dad. I couldn't help but smile at the situation. We awkwardly hemmed and hawed over whether to do the buffet or menu, while two middle eastern men patiently waited in the corner...watching us...We finally decided on the buffet, and I'm really glad because I got to sample lots of cuisine that I'd usually decline. I'm one of those people who always orders the same thing, and at Indian food joints that is Chicken Tikka Masala. So I got to branch out while also eating my favorite. Also? Violet and Pax ate free, even though we loaded their plates up almost as much as ours, and I'm proud to say my kids love Indian food. {Also, they serve a hefty glass of wine at India Oven!} By the time we paid and made our way to the door, the restaurant had about 10 other tables filled. I'd go back.
Spring 2015
Props to Sander, too, for finally tackling that garage. We've been avoiding this for almost a YEAR now. That's right, since moving in, we only just now parked our car in the garage for the very first time. It still needs work, but we're getting there.
Spring 2015
To our credit, we have a very narrow, one-car 1950s sized garage. Plus, we have all this kid stuff to store. Like the bike trailer...
Spring 2015
The girls attended their final ballet class of the semester. Already?! I'm sad that we couldn't work the spring recital into the budget {it was another $300 after costumes and tickets! ballet is for rich people, it seems} but they do a Nutcracker thing in the winter so we have that to look forward to. Pax is going to miss flirting with those ballerinas the ballerinas' moms every week.
Spring 2015
We had the yard aerated. The kids now think it's covered in poop and can't understand why we paid for such a service.
Spring 2015
But after raking up twigs, hay, and misplaced mulch, then aerating and reseeding, Operation Lawn Rehab 2015 is underway.
Spring 2015
We might get the stink eye from the chickens as they are confined to their run most days, but I dream of a lush lawn this summer.
Spring 2015

Happy Spring!

Cheers,
Heather