Saying that we’ve been looking forward to Asma’s wedding for a good ten years is no exaggeration at all. I told her that whoever she ended up marrying (n.b.: Tahir is a great choice!), and wherever and whenever the party would be, we would be there to celebrate with her. It was a great joy to build a summer vacation around her lovely Colorado wedding this summer, so I actually woke up excitedly when our alarm went off at 4:00 in the morning for our first flight of the day—a 6:00 Delta plane to Minneapolis, where we got to hang out in the Snoopy play area between flights and then change for a tiny plane to Colorado Springs.
With great flights, no delays, and smooth connections—even having checked a carseat and three bags to travel lighter on the planes themselves—we ended up with a Thrifty rental car “wild card” of a Dodge Grand Caravan, so new it didn’t even have real plates, with tons of space inside and a fuel economy mode that made Robert happy.
Our very first stop was La’au Tacos, a Hawaiian taco joint near Colorado College with Robert’s mother Judy (in town visiting from Steamboat Springs just to see us) and her friend Pat Murphy. Marcus napped in a sling through lunch, which was delicious.
He woke up in time for the Cheyenne mountain zoo, where he had a ride on the carousel with Daddy and Grandma and loved feeding the herd of about twenty giraffes; we walked uphill and down, and we saw almost everything, including the playground, the heritage chickens, and the very active elephants. There were a few sprinkles of rain while we walked around, but overall these were very welcome as the day was very hot.
At 4:00 we left zoo, said goodbye to Judy and Pat, and went to our hotel—America’s Best Value Inn Villa, in Manitou Springs, the western and hippee neighboring town. We checked in, admired the mellow dog in the lobby, and Robert and Marcus took a quick dip in the pool while I unpacked. We grabbed dinner at Rudy’s Texas BBQ, where I had a smoked potato with beef brisket and creamed corn on it, and where Robert loved that you pay by weight rather than by rib. I also loved their iced tea, a self-serve thing that you could use to adjust the proportions of sweet and unsweet tea. Who knew Colorado was both the Southwest and the South? Apparently you get the best of large swaths of the country’s food here! We ate dinner on the patio, listening to country music and watching lightning flash in the mountains, before heading over to Cave of the Winds for a flashlight tour at 7:00.
Marcus spent most of the tour in the sling, sleepy and quiet, but admiring all the “holes” (one of his favorite movies, “The Cave of the Yellow Dog,” involves a girl who enters a cave and discovers a dog. Sadly, the movie did not prove to be predictive of our experience that night.) and rocks around us. Though the literature had stressed how cool/cold it got in the cave, Marcus and I were overheating in my lightweight sweater, so I ditched it midway through the tour. The cave was touristy, but still a great experience, and we were happy we saw it by flashlight rather than electric light during the day.
After a long day, we were back at the hotel and all in bed and asleep by 9:00.
With the time difference, we woke up at 5:00 on Wednesday morning and played for awhile in the room. The included hotel “breakfast” was minimal—fruit and coffee, not much else—but better than nothing. Our room itself was quite large, actually (much bigger than at some fancier hotels), and nicely stocked with toiletries (including some real-brand hand cream, sunscreen, chapstick, and aloe face wipes, plus free water bottles). We met up with Judy, Bill, and their friends the Murphys at the Egg and I on N. Academy; I had sausage, biscuits, and gravy with a side of hard-boiled eggs, Robert had eggs benedict with crab, and Marcus had a whole-grain pancake, a sausage patty, lots of homefries, and even more ketchup. We briefly touched base with Lara and Wei, in from San Francisco and staying at our same hotel, and made plans for later, before Marcus instantly fell asleep for a morning nap in the car. He slept for a bit over an hour while we drove through the Garden of the Gods and then navigated construction and railroad crossings to get to America the Beautiful Park, the site where Katherine Lee Bates (go, Wellesley!) composed the lyrics to the famous song.
Once there, we played in the unusual playground for a little while and then moved over—since the day was quite hot—to the fabulous Penrose Fountain, complete with a current of about four-inch deep water to splash in at the bottom, and lifeguards as well. Taking a break, we got a watermelon lime slush from the Nourish truck, a one-day-old organic juice and smoothie truck with excellent drinks and very friendly service—I hope they do well!
Back to the playground, then back to the fountain again, we finally ended up back in the van getting dried off and heading over to meet Lara and Wei at the Adams Mountain Cafe in Manitou Springs for lunch. Manitou Springs is a super cute town—I wished we’d had a bit more time to explore it more. Lunch was nice—udon for Marcus and Robert, Senegalese veggies on brown rice for me. The place was crunchy yet upscale in feel, but the food was nicely prepared and a real value.
In the midst of an afternoon thunderstorm (apparently these happen every day), we carpooled in our van to the Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park. This was a great little museum with a nice interactive kids’ area; at first the museum presents itself as a small, child-focused place, but the friendly, funny, and super knowledgeable guide who came out to do a guided tour really knew how to talk to adult nerds. Everyone loved the place, although Marcus got a bit restless during the tour and played outside with a ball with me or Robert for a little while.
Next we drove on westward to the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, a wolf rescue shelter in the city of Divide. The wolves were gorgeous—rescued from fur farms or photo farms or zoos undergoing renovations that made the wolves’ lives too stressful—but the guide was overly preachy, difficult to listen to, and just not funny. We really liked watching the wolves devour their frozen dinners (we took the evening “feeding time” tour specially) but wished the tour overall was slightly shorter. Everyone—not just Marcus—got restless in between enclosures.
After the tour, we headed back to Rudy’s for dinner since Wi is a BBQ fan. This night I had my smoked potato with smoked turkey and cheese and another iced tea. Robert hated not diversifying across time, but we all had another excellent meal—their smoked turkey and chopped beef were simply the best BBQ items I’ve ever had, anywhere. Marcus slept in a sling through dinner.
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Created: 7/29/11. Last Modified: 7/29/11.