After two sleep-deprived days in a row, we didn’t get up until 8:30, at which point Robert hastily showered, and we grabbed more fruit from the lobby, met up with Lara and Wei, and went to Rudy’s for breakfast “tacos” (burritos) for $1.90 each—mine had chopped beef, refried beans, egg, and cheese, and then Robert and I shared a brisket, refried beans, egg, and cheese. Marcus ate leftover pancake from yesterday in the hotel room before we left (our room nicely has a fridge and microwave) and then two apples in the car and two pieces of Rudy’s bacon dipped in the sweet BBQ sauce. After breakfast, Lara and Wei went back to the hotel to relax a little, and we went on to Balanced Rock in the Garden of the Gods for some climbing/scrambling/pictures. I mostly sat in the shade of a rock nursing the last of my Rudy’s tea.
At 10:30 we went to Rock Ledge Ranch historic site, which ended up being the hidden gem of our trip—a really interesting site, and by far the least commercialized or overly touristy of anything we saw. To make matters even more exciting, there were some fire fighters doing training exercises at the front gate, so we got to watch them practice extending their hose and aiming the water at various trees and other objects. The site itself was great—Marcus went up in my wrap during the house tours, which were interesting enough for him if I kept pointing out things around the rooms (the giant stove, the dumb-waiter, the bell system—all big hits). In between the houses, he mostly had fun walking, playing croquet, and looking at the animals. There was a 1907 house, an 1860s boarding house from the period when Colorado was viewed as a TB rest cure site, a more rustic 1860s cabin, and a Native American site, plus a barn and a blacksmith’s shop. The site abounded in helpful, eager teenage docents, who all had their script and knew their stuff. They were adorable. The blacksmith had been doing this for the past four summers, and was apparently geeky enough that he not only had mastered enough of the skills to show off for visitors but even to attempt to answer Robert’s difficult questions. Marcus sat entranced watching him for a good twenty minutes. The chickens, peacocks, sheep, and horses were of course also high on our list. At the Native American site, thunder started rumbling and dark clouds started rolling in, so Marcus stayed up on my back as we hustled for the parking lot, a few fat drops just falling as we got to the van.
With a quick stop at an exellent Dutch bakery, we met up with Lara and Wei at a Chik Fil A (a delicacy to us, since it doesn’t exist in either San Fran or Boston). Marcus slept through lunch, waking after Lara and Wei left to go horseback riding to eat some nuggets and play a little in the two-level play area. Robert was sad he had to miss the father-son Chik Fil A camping night—chicken included, after all! To complete our lunch, we ran over to Sonic during their happy hour for slushes, and then went back to the hotel for a swim and showers and getting ready for the first wedding event of the week.
At 5:30 we drove down to Pueblo to Asma’s parents’ house; Ali greeted us on the steps, and was very charming. Marcus was really on his best behavior and spent most of the evening trying to play with “the boys”—Asma’s sister Aliya’s son Emre (just a year older than Marcus) and her cousin Nadia’s two sons (a few years older than Emre). Farrah, Asma’s niece, and “the boys” mostly were too busy for Marcus, though, who would say, “I play tag too. Or I have finger puppets!” while adorably waving a hand full of finger puppets at the polite but disinterested older kids. The kids mostly scampered around in the yard, which was currently partially set up for Saturday night’s event, while I stayed in the living room for the ceremonies. When Marcus did come inside, he sat in the sling watching the prayer service (the milad, a service of blessing for Asma and Tahir), hissing at me in a whisper to ask why the nine-month-old nephew of the groom was crying.
After the prayers and a message from an iman, there was a dinner buffet, and we got to chat a little with Asma and some of her friends in the living room while we ate. Then there was the mayoon—Nadia, Aliya, three other female friends, and I all carried in trays of candles stuck in turmeric paste and flowers, presenting them to Asma, dabbing the turmeric on her hand, dancing in a circle around her, and throwing flower petals on her. Marcus was super sleepy, mellow and almost completely out in the sling when Nadia said it was time to do this, though, so I just participated with him in the sling. He woke up for the flower-throwing, and actually got really into it. Then we all blessed the couple, wished bad spirits away by waving dollar bills around them, and the married people got to feed them sweets to encourage only sweet/good things in their lives. By the time the ceremonial part was over, and there was just some general dancing, Marcus was once more completely asleep. We chatted a little with Asma’s father, who kept insisting he wasn’t a host, but merely a guest—and an unimportant one at that, he said—at these events—and then took our leave around 11:00, along with the other families with kids, even though the dancing was still going strong.
On Friday we gave into Robert’s pathological need for diversification and went to Uncle Sam’s Pancake House, right by our hotel, instead of back to Rudy’s, for breakfast with Lara and Wei. Robert had an omelet that had hash browns and sausage inside, with sausage gravy poured over the top, while I had a plate-sized cinnamon roll and Marcus ate some cinnamon roll, some of Robert’s side order of pancakes (plus an apple and a half in the car). From breakfast we went straight to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, which, yes, is a small site—I can’t see how you’d spend more than an hour there—and, yes, is heavily commercialized (the gift shop alone is three or four stories and a true maze, which you must navigate all of in order to reach the bathrooms—as a side note, Marcus being potty-learned this trip means that we have ended up checking out the bathrooms everywhere we go, which is a true departure from the norm for us). Still, it was a good place to see—we like cliff dwellings, and though this is no Walnut Canyon, it was neat to walk through the different rooms.
We dropped Lara and Wei off at the hotel to swim and relax, and we headed on to the Ghost Town Museum, a small place, good for another hour or a bit more for kids, and this time with a coupon for $1 off admission. There were player pianos, vintage wagons, animatronic figures, and some “gold” panning, and most of it was inside out of the broiling sun, so it was a good midday activity.
We met Lara and Wei again for lunch at the L&L Drive In for Hawaiian BBQ—Marcus had a whole plate of garlic shrimp, and Robert and I shared a beef rib, teriyaki beef, and huli huli chicken combo plate, complete with two scoop rice and macaroni salad. I was in heaven, feeling like I was back in Hawaii. Seriously, who knew that Colorado gets all the different fast food places from around the country? Thank you, Maha and Yvette (Asma’s friends) for tipping us off to this! Dessert was a frozen custard from Good Times, in the same shopping center. Robert thought it wasn’t as good as Rita’s, but I beg to disagree; I think this texture—soft but still scoopable—was far superior to the squirtable soft-serve of Rita’s. After this, we hustled back to the hotel to change and get ready to go.
We carpooled down to Pueblo, Wei driving, Marcus napping in the car, and went to the tea for Asma at the local country club and then the dinner and reception. I got my hand henna-painted with a peacock (the picture below shows it just after finishing, before the henna flaked off), and I got to join in a dance rehearsal for the bridal dance crew—our coordinated wow-the-groom dance for the following night. It was a nice evening—we got to talk with Ali a lot and Asma some more too. Lara and Wei drove us home, and we were back in the hotel by 10:30.
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Created: 7/29/11. Last Modified: 7/29/11.