After driving all day, we arrived at Mike's and Amanda's at around dinner time on Thursday. Amanda made a wonderful dinner of Pasta with Vodka sauce and cranberry/blue cheese and walnut salad. We watched the original Ocean's Eleven after dinner, all of us pretty much falling asleep before the end.
Friday, Amanda made a glorious breakfast casserole with eggs, potatoes, sausage and croissants. Mike and Amanda planned an itinerary of places for us to see--Pike's Peak, Garden of the Gods, Estes Park (part of Rocky Mountain National Park), Boulder, Red Rocks, Celestial Seasonings Tea Plant, the Dushanbe Tea Room, downtown Denver, tubing down the river in their backyard, Colorado Springs, touring the Denver Seminary campus, shopping the flagship REI store, walking downtown Littleton and touring the Air Force Academy Visitor's Center. Can we finish it all? What to do first?
Much to Amanda's chagrin, we decide on Colorado Springs and a tour of Focus on the Family. We got there, convinced her to get out of the car and entered. We started with a movie exploring what Focus does, looked at the models of unborn children (why I'll share later), got a free coffee and visited Whit's End. The children's area was was very fun. And free. Mike and Amanda talked about coming back there.
Next, we drove through Garden of the Gods (where Mike proposed to Amanda) on our way to Pike's Peak. We figured that after scaling the mountain we'd come back and hike around the Garden. We drove through Manitou Springs, the gateway to Pike's Peak and saw a couple of lunch/dinner possibilities. Perhaps we'd be back. On to Pike's Peak, 14,000 feet up. Amanda had warned us about altitude sickness, so Steve and I had brought our Camelbacks and were sucking down water. We stopped about halfway up to get more water and to get rid of the water that we had previously drunk. I got out of the truck and whew, I felt a bit dizzy. I managed to keep it on the straight and narrow, but I had to think about where I put each step. I refilled my water at the snack bar and got back in the truck to continue the switchbacks up the hill. Not many guard rails and lots of long drops. I was frightened, but in Michael's capable hands we were fine both up and back. At the top, I felt more dizzy, but I kept drinking, held on to Steve's arm and headed to the bathroom again while Steve bought us some yummy spiced, cake donuts the recipe of which can only be made at 14,000 feet. Yum!!!! I had 1 and a half, but I wanted a dozen more. We walked around outside a bit, watched the COG train head back down the mountain and decided to do so ourselves. We didn't get very far. We pulled over to explore another view, Mike and Amanda posed way out on the mountain, Steve stayed a bit back and I found my own spot to hand out that would keep me on the mountain instead of dizzily falling off the mountain. We kept switchbacking down to where we saw marmots posing quite suggestively on the side of the road and where Bigfoot was sighted. We didn't see him. At the bottom we drove back into Manitou Springs, parked by a cool little Farmer's Market and decided on Adam's Mountain Cafe. They specialize in slow food. Slow is right! I think they went out and killed chicken that Steve, Mike and Amanda had in their Pad Thai. Good thing that we had good conversation to keep us going. One couple behind us ran out of things to say and started necking. When we finally got our food, it was yummy, but it took so long that we didn't get to hike the Garden of the Gods. We barely saw it in the dark.
Next day, I woke Marchetti-style as the food was being brought out--cinnamon rolls! Yum! Estes Park Day! By the sign, we saw a cute, fat-cheeked chipmunks that ate out of Amanda's hand. They had obviously been fed a lot; they were not afraid of humans. The alluvial fan called to us next. A dam had burst a\nd spread its detritus in a fan shape hundreds of feet wide--logs, rocks jumbled everywhere and the most beautiful waterfall in between. We snacked on treats brought because cinnamon rolls don't last very long and decided to follow a little road that Mike and Amanda found last year but couldn't use because it had been closed. New territory for all of us! Again, Mike's great driving got us through gravel and switchbacks and views of surprise waterfalls, later we talked to a park ranger who said that the road we'd taken had just opened up July 4, only 13 days before. He said that it was too soft before, and they couldn't trust the tourists in rent-a-cars to not get stuck. The road led us out to a choice. We could either circle back through areas we'd already seen or press on to lake views. Press on and see . . . moose! A mama and a baby, from afar. And elk! Right next to the road! We exited the park and found Grand Lake and their annual Buffalo Bar-be-que! We bought tickets and feasted on buffalo bbq, buffalo brisket, beans, potato salad and mountain pie of apple and spicy pepper apple. And for a 2nd dessert, homemade custard ice cream. Yum again! The only downside of this little adventure was the 2 hour drive back. Dang, spaces are big and wide in the West!
Sunday, we all slept in. Ahh, the joys of an evening service. Monkey bread and getting ready later, we decided on a Boulder, CO tea day for our day's trekking. First, we toured the Celestial Seasonings Tea factory--home of sleepytime bear! We started the tour by trying as many samples of tea as we wanted. I found a couple new favorites--acai mango sweetened ice tea and cold brewed tropical tea to be exact. Of course I bought some there because at the end of the tour there was the ubiquitous shopping opportunity! I even found some stuff at half off. My favorite part was the mint room--it is shut off from the rest of the factory by a steel rolling door. We walked in, and whew, that mint cleared our sinuses and brought water to our eyes. I could've stayed there all day--it really perked me up! We shopped Boulder downtown while we waited for our table at the Dushanbe Tea Room. It was a gift from the people of Dushanbe, Tajikistan to their sister city of Boulder, CO. Beautiful and yummy! Their spiced tea was awesome! We got to church on Marchetti time and heard a sermon that furthered knowledge about Creation that we'd learned at the Creation Museum. Cool! Then Steve and I shopped at Barnes and Noble (for knitting books for me and history books for Steve) and at Game Stop while Mike and Amanda had a Guatemala missions trip meeting. Another fun, exciting day in Colorado!
Our last day--the most exciting of all! Baby Marchetti! Yes, you read right. Mike and Amanda are expecting! We got to see the pictures. We call her or him Baby Kumquat Danger since he/she is the size of a kumquat and Mike wants to call him/her Danger. 14 weeks old and due for our world at the end of January! Yippee!! We traveled into Denver for a look-see after a banquet server job interview for Mike and a foot tour of downtown Littleton for Amanda and I. We found a spice store that takes its spice blend names from Colorado. I got Pike's Peak Beef rub as a souvenir. In Denver, we walked down Denver's walking mall, 16th Street. We ate at Ted's Montana Grill for dinner enjoying their specialty, bison. We caught the free bus back to our car, much to poor Michael's sick stomach's relief. The next morning we tearfully got up and ready, took a walk down to the tubing river and had to leave for our long drive to Kansas City. We loved being with Mike and Amanda and can't wait to fly out in February to see the newest Marchetti and see if we like Colorado in winter.