Sunday, July 12, 2009

Newton, Iowa

July 12
Happy 50th Birthday Thom!!! We’re just waking up, and Sam can’t wait to give Dad presents. We’re going to celebrate his birthday this evening with our Amish friends, Marlene, Larry, Michael, and Kari once we arrive in Nappanee, Indiana.

We camped out last night in a Walmart parking lot in Newton, Iowa. Today we’ll continue east through Iowa, Illinois, and into Indiana. More later…..

July 11, 2009
We’re now driving east on I-80 through Nebraska, seeing miles and miles of corn as well as grazing land for cattle. After being in the Rocky Mountains for a month, the flatness here is such a contrast. We hope to reach Nappanee, Indiana by tomorrow afternoon where we’ll celebrate Thom’s 50th birthday. Yes, it’s hard to believe that my youthful-looking husband who thrives on extreme sports will be fifty years old!

Let me back up a bit. Ben was released from Denver Children’s Hospital this past Monday, July 6. He’s had a thorough recovery, and his left eye looks back to normal. Our whole family prays daily that this was his final episode, and that the surgery perfumed by Dr. Friedman will prevent his left eye from ever again becoming infected and swollen.

We headed back to the lovely campground at Golden, along the beautiful Clear Creek. Sam mastered riding the wave, an active part of the rapids. He did it on his boogie board, beside the adult kayakers! Robby and Will rode the rapids in our inflatable red kayak. Robby also enjoyed riding his bike over to the tennis courts, where he played frequently.

One day while picking up trash for a Boy Scout community project, Robby met a woman named Jean. She was working in a community garden, and Robby loves anything to do with botany. So she invited him to help the next morning in one of Golden’s rose gardens. Robby got up at 6:30am and helped her for two hours pulling weeds! She then invited all four boys to her house, while Thom and I had an evening to ourselves! We went to the community center for our first ballroom dance class. We learned the salsa and the swing, and met some wonderful people.

We drove up to the top of Look-Out Mountain. Buffalo Bill is buried up there, and we toured through his museum showing highlights of his Wild West Show. He toured all over the US, as well as most of Western Europe. He had great respect for America’s Native Indians and included them in his show.
We also took the boys on a tour of Coors Brewery in Golden. Adolph Coors started this in the late 1800’s. It’s huge! It was a great tour where we all learned about barley, germination, mashing, malting, wort, and the fermentation. The boys liked the bottling and packaging portion. Their school studies covered the Industrial Revolution, and it was neat to see mass production with quality control in action. Thom and I did a little beer sampling, while the boys drank soda.

The Galvin’s invited us over for our Goodbye dinner. Regina, who would love to have us settle in Colorado, took us on a walk showing at least 6 gorgeous homes for sale or rent. Most had breathtaking views looking west at the awesome Rocky Mountains. If I could choose, I would love to live here. Our family loves the great outdoors, including the world-class skiing.

Thom had an interview with NREL the day before we departed. It went well, and we hope they call back next week for a second interview. In the meantime, Thom had a phone interview for defense contracting in Pittsfield, MA. Thom’s also looking into openings in NY and MI. He’s had one solid job offer in Tampa, FL but we’re hoping to land closer to home in upstate NY. We’ll keep you posted.

We departed Colorado and headed north to Wyoming. Just south of Cheyenne, we spotted a ranch offering trail riding. They boys were excited, and so we stopped for 1-hour of horseback riding. The horses’ names were Twister, Hoss, Princess, Outlaw, Twenty-two, and Colby. Our guide was McKenzie and she enjoyed talking with our boys. We made a big wide circle around the buffalo, small train, and beautiful open grasslands where the birds thrived.

Afterwards, we toured the ranch where we saw goats, 9 camels, llamas, alpaca, ostriches, turkeys, peacocks, more horses, and cows. Ben thought the little 4-day old Philly (female horse) was the most beautiful horse he’s ever seen. We also saw a week-old llama named Squirt.
Now we can add Wyoming and Nebraska to our map, which puts us at 33 states visited over the past 13 months!

No comments: