Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wake Me Up When September Ends

Do I make that same lame (Green Day) joke every year? If not, I feel like I should.

The school year. It's here and I'm glad, but September is also a nightmare in terms of schedules. The kids' schedules. My schedule. Eamonn's schedule. The schools--two different ones this year now that middle school is in the mix. Sports.

A month ago, my September schedule was amazingly clear. Now, it's nearly black with pencil marks, erasings, and more pencil marks. (I still keep a pencil/paper calendar if you can believe it)

Where the heck did all of these meetings, sports practices and volunteer thingys come from?

Last weekend we decided to get out of town for the Labor Day holiday. We headed southeast to a mining area called Cripple Creek. We camped at 10,000 feet (my sister said, "What is it with you guys and camping at high altitudes in the fall?") at the world's highest KOA. It was very fun. We visited the Florissant Fossil beds and saw the gold mines and just had a relaxing time in general.

Some pictures:

We stumbled upon a llama farm. This llama was very interested in Finn!

Cool old dead tree as we started a hike at the fossil beds.

I discovered I love, love, love the pondersosa pines in this area. In our valley, the trees tend to be lodgepole pines (and aspens), which, incidentally, have been partially eradicated by the pine bark beetle. Bummer. But these ponderosa pines were so beautiful and green. I'd never seen pine cones in this green stage before.

One of the things offered by our country's national parks system is the chance for kids to earn a junior ranger badge. It's pretty cool and the boys have done it at each of the national parks we've visited. Here we are out on the Ponderosa Loop at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Stunning scenery and great temps--in the high 60s or low 70s and a light breeze. Coat on. Coat off. Coat on. Coat off. Colorado is fickle like that.

One of the assignments to become a Junior Ranger was to see if you could find an animal track. Any guesses as to what animal left this track?

Indian Paintbrush

Taking the oath and earning their badges.

The Hornbeck Homestead. First homestead in the area was started by a single woman (who outlived three husbands) and her children!

Leaving the fossil beds park.

A chilly morning. Trying to get the fire started.

This area of Colorado was known for its gold mines, which produced more gold than the California and Alaksa gold rushes combined. This tire is from one of the big earth movers.

Views of the very beautiful Lost Creek Wilderness Area.

I couldn't stop staring at it.

Car picnic in the Lost Creek Wilderness Area

Top of Guanella Pass. This pass has been closed for the past two years for construction and paving. It's still not finished, but we could take it as a direct route to Georgetown, finally.

Top of Guanella.

The reason we wanted to get to Georgetown: Our annual trip to the soda fountain. Malts and shakes all around. If the pass had still been closed, it would have taken about two additional hours to get there!

Came out of the soda fountain and...

...ran into my friend, Paige, who I met through an online travel forum many moons ago. We have met once in person, also many moons ago. Now we both live in Colorado, but several hours apart. A huge coincidence!

So now we're home after a great weekend away and the week is in a full-blown frenzy. Next week I'll actually get to work a 5-day day week. I've forgotten what that's like.


Lauren said...

Hmm, I've been wondering about the junior ranger badges for our Big Trip. I feared Fergus would think they seemed "little kiddish" but it seems Declan is ok with it? How do they work? (if you have time to share...)

Leeann said...

How fun that you ran into a friend! Love that.

You look great, natalie! Super happy. The boys and Eamonn look great too.


jean said...

Is this the same person you met for breakfast when we were in IL? My September calendar is pretty decent, but October is looking pretty ugly... Will hopefully email you soon with some exciting news about our London trip!

1dreamr said...

Looks like a fun trip. Love the pic of the boys taking their oath and honestly can't believe how big they're getting. Declan has that middle school look about him!

And YOU! You.look.fantastic!!! :-)