Saturday, November 17, 2007

Go West, Young Man!

Last week, I had the opportunity to fly to Denver, CO for a business-related training session, and we decided to make a family vacation out of it. So eeeeaaaarrrrly on Thursday morning (11/9), we packed the kiddos in the van and drove down to Greensboro. Even though it was so early, Carlos & Jeremiah were so excited and wound up to be going on a trip. They were really quite funny to listen to. We flew from Greensboro to Memphis and then on to Denver, picked up a rental van and then drove a couple hours down to Colorado Springs to stay with my sister Michelle, and her family for a few days. We also got to see Sarah’s brother, Lee and spend the day with him too.

We had a great time staying with Michelle and got to do a little sight seeing. We went to Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole (actually at the foot of Pike’s Peak), Focus on the Family headquarters, and the Garden of the Gods. I think Michelle was trying for the Mom-of-the-year award at Santa's workshop. Kaitlyn wanted so much to go on one of those rides that goes up and around rather fast. Michelle, being the sucker wonderful mom that she is, agreed. I don't think I've ever seen a greener Michelle! It was funny to watch Carlos and Kaitlyn because they are so much alike that I don't think they quite know what to do with each other. But they did get along quite well. At Focus on the Family, they had a kid's area with some puppets that you could play with. I love using puppets and so was right at home using them. For some reason, the kids decided to attack the puppet I was using, Jeremiah especially. I had managed to get most of the kids to stop beating on the poor old "man" but Jeremiah just wouldn't stop. So finally, I took the puppets arm and swung it so that it tapped Jeremiah on his chest. Oh, the look on Jeremiah's face was priceless - a look that said "hey! why did you do that?!" Needless to say, he stopped beating the puppet.

We had beautiful weather during the entire trip and really enjoyed the visit. If you ever go to Colorado Springs and only have time for one sight seeing trip, I would definitely recommend the Garden of the Gods. Talk about an excellent showcase of God’s creation!! We all did a little bit of “rock climbing” (used in the loosest sense of the word) and took lots of pictures, some of which can be found on Sarah's blog. Oh, and we even got to see a BNSF freight train as we drove down I-25. Sarah humored me and took a couple of pictures as we drove by it, but they didn't turn out so well.

Then it was back up to Denver on Sunday evening so I could attend the training on Monday and Tuesday. I was pretty excited about this, not only to get a better understanding of the software program I was being trained on, but also because I got to ride the train into Denver both mornings! Woo-hoo! If ever they decide to build a light-rail system between Rocky Mount and Roanoke, I’d definitely use the train to go to work. No driving or dealing with traffic or finding a parking space – just 30 minutes of relaxation, reading, and watching the scenery. I could definitely get used to this mode of transportation.

Both days, my training ended significantly earlier than I thought it would and so we were all able to go to the Denver Aquarium and the Denver Zoo. The Aquarium was ok, although definitely overpriced. But the Denver Zoo was very fun, with lots of different animals and even a 3-week old baby giraffe. I think Carlos had a hard time coming to grips with something that was a baby, yet was also bigger than he was.

Driving back to the airport, I was really stressing out because our rental van was almost out of gas. (The line was actually just below the “Empty” mark.) When I had rented the van, I opted to purchase a tank of gas from Alamo instead of having to fill it up before returning. In order to get the most out of the deal, we needed to bring it back with as little fuel as possible – and let me tell you, we did exactly that!! One word of advice here though – if you ever need to rent a car, don’t get the fuel option. It’s much cheaper to have to fill it up yourself than to pay what they tell you is a price lower than outside gas stations charge. Although the price was pretty comparable to what gas stations would charge, where they get you is charging for a higher fuel capacity than the vehicle actually contains. For example, we rented a minivan that had a 20 gallon tank, but they charged for a 25 gallon tank, saying this was the average for this type of vehicle. Now, most vans I’ve researched have only a 20 gallon tank, so I’d like to know what minivan has tank that is larger than 25 gallons (since their estimate is an average). Anyway, just a side note.

Overall it was an excellent trip. The kids did really well on all flights. Carlos & Jeremiah loved to look out the window and watch the goings on while we were on the ground (wasn’t too exciting once we were airborne). But like all vacations, the best part was coming home.

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