a sunday in pueblo

The day before my birthday, Danny and I drove about an hour south to Pueblo and spent the day.  We picked up sandwiches at Which Wich on the way, and upon arriving in Pueblo, found a bench and ate them along the river walk.  This is something I’m discovering about myself, but I love being along water, especially rivers, which may be part of why I loved the Boise green belt so much, as well as the San Antonio Riverwalk and why I’m considering staying along the Thames while we’re in London.  That being said, eating along a peaceful stretch of the river was lovely.

Anyways, from there we went to the zoo, which we loved.  I’ve been telling people that we went to the Pueblo Zoo and they’re usually like, “Ew why not the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo?” or “The Denver Zoo is the best.”  Here’s the thing.  If we’re talking about “the best zoo,” let’s talk about San Diego or Omaha.  If we’re talking about the zoo I currently love the most and went to, on average, once every three weeks last year, let’s talk about the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.  But for a moment, can we just talk about a really nice, historic zoo and not have to compare it to others?  Okay, thanks.

The Pueblo Zoo was built during the Great Depression by the Works Progress Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Public Works Administration, and almost all of the current buildings are original.  There are also signs all over that talk about the history of the zoo and how the different organizations that came out of the New Deal (thanks, FDR!) built the zoo.  It was fascinating, and really added to my enjoyment of the zoo (I started out as a history major in college, if that helps you understand me).  The zoo was green and wooded and felt like a beautiful park…with 420 wild animals in it!  We had a great time, and if I ever see another deal (we used a Groupon), we’ll go back again.


 ^^ If you don’t recall from Boise, Danny loooooves the statue pics. ^^


^^ You can’t see her in this picture, but this guy was going crazy for one of the lady peacocks.  She was very unimpressed with all of his showing off, however. ^^


^^ It was my birthday weekend, so it only seemed appropriate to pretend like I was being born all over again.  Or something like that. ^^

DSC08520^^ We caught this zoo keeper taking these pretty birds into their indoor inclosure due to the “chilly” weather (it was at least 80 degrees…) and ended up getting an impromptu bird talk which was fun!  ^^


^^ Oh you know, just riding on a dolphin’s back. ^^


^^ I loved getting so up close to this guy!  So fun! ^^

^^ I couldn’t let Danny have all the fun with the statues… ^^

We stayed at the zoo until they kicked us out (at closing time, not because we were being disruptive), and then we headed to the river walk.  Yes, it’s small (as far as river walks g0), but I loved it.  It’s peaceful, it’s pretty, and it’s really well done.  Major kudos to Pueblo for making their downtown area a place that people want to visit and hang out in.


In the evening, we watched “Girl Rising,” and while it wasn’t in Pueblo (it was at home on our couch), it is definitely worth mentioning.  “Girl Rising” is an excellent movie that both Danny and I very much enjoyed and now highly recommend.  Find it at your library, buy it, search for it on Netflix (or whatever the cool people use to watch movies these days).  I think you’ll be glad you did.


a skunk in the trunk

This post has been rolling around in my head for 30 hours now, so it’s about time I put fingers to keys and get it all written down before leaving town again.  (30 hours because that is how long I spent in Sofi’s car in the past three days, and by leaving town again I mean, don’t worry I’m not going back to Chihuahua (yet) – we are going to Greeley this weekend because FAMILY and also FRIENDS.)

First things first, the good news is, I made it.  Alive and in one piece and still in good spirits.  The bad news: I have contracted some sort of illness.  The type that makes my throat hurt and my nose sniffle and requires me to eat nothing but smoothies and juice.  Good thing I broke my juicer on Christmas and still haven’t bought that blender I’ve been wanting since we got married.

Now onto the real story…

Before we even left her apartment complex, Sofi told me that there’s a skunk that lives under her car, along with a rabbit.  I joked that this situation could result in some interesting offspring (which is true), but the more important thing here is that apparently skunks smell like marijuana.  And your car smelling like marijuana is definitely cause for worry when you are going to/from Mexico.

Our trip started with lots of fog, the “Peanut Butter” song on repeat, a lovely sunrise, and only one pit stop to use the bathroom – and that was just the first hour.  Oh, and I smelled the skunk for the first time.  We stopped at Burger King in Las Vegas, New Mexico for breakfast, however, the play place turned out to be much more interesting than the food.  At one point, Sofi went to get gas while I stayed with the kids at Burger King, and Ian tried to convince me to come into the tunnels of the play place.  I told him I was too big, and it seems that even at age 4 he knew that was a lie.  As I went in farther, I kept saying, “I’m too big!  I’m too big for this!” when what I was really saying inside was, “It’s too dirty!  Please don’t make me touch one more inch of this germ pit.”  And then I looked outside and couldn’t see Sofi’s car at the gas station anymore and wondered if she had left me in the tunnels of Burger King with her children…obviously she didn’t, but that was a real fear of mine.

Once we were back on the road after ‘breakfast,’ we made our first wrong turn.  This was when I first started wondering if the GPS was on our side or not.

And in case you’re wondering what driving through New Mexico is like, I’ll show you:


Yes.  The ultimate in scenic drives.

Every so often, we would smell a skunk, and see something alongside the road, and put two and two together since I thought there was no way the skunk smell could travel hundreds of miles from Sofi’s apartment complex.

Around 2:30pm we were going to change drivers (after taking another wrong turn and going in the wrong direction for an hour) and took a bathroom break at a gas station in Tularosa, New Mexico.  The bathrooms were just awful and I decided to ‘hold it’ for a while longer until Sofi asked if I wanted to eat lunch at the gas station.  I wasn’t so sure about that, but agreed, and bought a package of dried apricots and wondered if I brought enough Clif bars.  Ian did tell me some knock knock jokes, which lifted my mood, and I even wrote down one of the jokes as soon as we got back in the car so I could share it with y’all…

Ian: “Knock knock.”

Me: “Who’s there?”

Ian: “Lollipop!”

Me: “Lollipop who?”

Ian: “Eyeball!”

Only a couple of jokes, 22 apricots, and 99 miles later, we made it the border.  One more stop for a restroom since I simply couldn’t ‘hold it’ anymore, and I called Danny for a final good-bye.  I also asked if he would be opposed to me staying in the Hampton Inn across the street until Monday at which point Sofi could pick me up and we could drive back to Colorado together.  Meaning I wouldn’t even enter Mexico.  What can I say?  13ish hours in the car with two children under 5, combined with waking up at 4am, and all the incredibly scary stories Sofi had told me about Mexico about being abducted/shot made me feel very, very desperate.  And very, very interested in the Hampton Inn and lying in bed for 36 hours straight.

Instead I pulled out my teddy bear, Bearemy, let him pose with Jimena for a picture, and then held him in my lap the rest of the way to Chihuahua.

DSC08323^^ Jimena and Bearemy.  Plus Ian doing his best to not be in the picture at all. ^^

Crossing the border into Mexico might have been one of the easiest things I’ve ever done.  “Where are you going?” the fellow asked (in Spanish, mind you, but there is no way I can remember how that went.)  Sofi told him Chihuahua and we were on our way.


Right after our tires touched Mexican soil, and I could see the metaphorical light at the end of the tunnel, a sign said, “Chihuahua 362.”  I could only assume this meant 362 miles, so I looked at Sofi and said, “Did you see that sign?  We are SIX hours away I think.”  Prior to seeing that sign, I was under the impression we had three left.  I cannot even tell you how grateful I was when Sofi told me we were now talking kilometers and not miles.

One of the first things I noticed on the road was the large amount of tires.  Chunks of tires, strips of tires, bits and pieces of tires.  Apparently people use their tires until they literally cannot run anymore, and then they just blow up, leaving tire shrapnel everywhere.  As far as how people continue on their journey after a tire explosion is unknown, but I didn’t see any cars on the side of the road, so…I don’t know?  Cars can run with three tires instead of four in Mexico?

Also, until we got on the toll road, it felt like we were on a dirt road, even though we weren’t.  It seems that in Mexico you have to pay to drive on a road that feels semi-safe/paved, albeit very narrow and created for anorexic cars.  Keep in mind that there will still be tire pieces on the road though, no matter if it’s a toll road or a free road.

I tried not to look at the road as much as possible (Sofi was driving, don’t worry) in an attempt to keep my stress levels as low as possible, and saw this:


If I remember correctly, Sofi called it the Chapel of the Sand Dunes, although a Google search I did today yielded no applicable results.  However, there are indeed sand dunes nearby.  The Samalayuca Dune Fields, to be exact.

Three hours turned into four, and we made it to Chihuahua (city) with only two showings of “The Jungle Book” and one bathroom stop.  After meeting Simon, Sofi’s husband, and her in-laws, I went straight to bed.  I forgot my pajamas at home so I figured the dress I wore all day could double as a nightgown, and called it a (very long) day.

I woke up at 6am confused as I smelled something I could not put my finger on and was in a room darker than my bedroom at home gets even in the middle of the night (praise you, black out curtains).  Turns out I was smelling menudo, or as Sofi explained to me, cow guts soup.  She had warned me this might be served, at which point I convinced her that cereal is really my favorite breakfast food ever.  Turns out Sofi’s mother-in-law is very accommodating to my vegan ways, and made me some bean burritos, which were made of possibly the best beans ever.

After breakfast I went outside to see if the jeans and sweatshirt I had packed would be suitable for the weather but got a little distracted…


That Volkswagen beetle was made in Germany in the 1970’s, and still runs great.  So great, in fact, that it’s Sofi’s in-laws’ only car!  Oh, and the weather was beautiful too.

We went to Chihuahua’s biggest and only mall for a showing of The Lego Movie.  In Spanish, of course.  I have no idea what the movie is about, but I did find myself feeling sad when the buildings or vehicles or various other objects made of Legos would get smashed, because can you even imagine how long it took to make all those buildings and vehicles and so on and so forth?  At least four lifetimes.

Afterwards we went to Sofi’s grandma’s house and met so many people I figured they must be all of her living relatives, but when you have 98 cousins, as I found out Sofi does – and that’s just on your mom’s side of the family – seeing 15 people together at once is what you might call a small gathering.  Sofi’s great-grandmother has 98 great-grandchildren and 4 great-great-grandchildren, and she’s only 89 years old.  I can barely wrap my head around that, let alone think about remembering all their names and birthdays, which she does.

We wrapped up the afternoon with a trip to downtown Chihuahua.  The cathedral looked like it had been uprooted from some old European city and set down in the middle of Mexico just because, but no.  It was built there by the Spanish in 1725 and seems to be in excellent condition for being close to 300 years old.  (Correction: building began in 1725, but it wasn’t completed until 1826.)




We also walked through the streets of downtown and toured the Government Palace.





From 4:30 – 7:30pm I sat at the kitchen table and it may have been my favorite part of our trip.  There is no doubt that the kitchen is the hub of the home and I loved being at the center of the action, all while eating tasty food at the same time.  While I hung around the table, Sofi’s father-in-law invited Danny and I to come visit anytime and stay with him and his wife for free and see the sites of Chihuahua and the surrounding area.  I encountered Aunt Martha, who speaks excellent English and told me about her world travels and experiences teaching college students.  I watched food be made from real, whole, fresh ingredients and then eaten slowly and with great enjoyment.

I went to bed early and read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer, which happened to be around 8:50pm, but hey, lots of time in the car and a new country can do that to you.  I woke up earlier than I wanted to but felt rested nonetheless (that happens when you go to bed before nine), had some bean burritos for breakfast, and we got on the road.  We made it to the border in closer to three hours than four, but spent all the time we saved driving waiting for someone to look at our passports, check for drugs, and let us through.  Thankfully the skunk smell was not very strong at that time.

DSC08356^^ Two of the three fences separating the U.S. from Mexico.^^

The rest of our drive home was quick and uneventful, as we left the children with Simon and his parents in Chihuahua for a couple of weeks.  The most interesting things I saw on the way home was one sign that said “Orozco Bombing Range” and about five miles later another that said, “Valley of Fires Recreation Area.”  I think it’s fair to say that residents of (or visitors to) New Mexico like to live on the wild side.

I did, however, continue to smell the skunk at the most unusual of times, which prompted me to suggest to Sofi that perhaps there is a secret passageway into her trunk, and the skunk from her apartment complex traveled with us to Chihuahua and back…which after spending 30 hours in the car seems like a very real possibility.

the library, also known as your local adoption agency

Yesterday as I got to work, I noticed a kennel sitting by the front door of the library.  I approached it with a couple of co-workers and, unsurprisingly, there was a puppy inside!  We searched for a note of some kind, but nothing accompanied the German Shepherd mix aside from a baby blanket on the floor of his kennel.

I’m vegan.  Which is another way of saying, I am really into animals.  However, I knew that the puppy would be fine and could handle an hour or two in the kennel.  I started emptying the book drop and preparing the library for opening while my co-workers contacted their spouses and asked if they could adopt the dog.  Others concocted a makeshift leash out of yarn and tried to coax the dog to go for a walk.  Once we opened an hour later, essentially every single patron that came in asked about the dog.  Soon we started a list of potential adoptive families, as well as names for the pup: the frontrunner was, fittingly, Dewey.

Overall, everyone was upset that a young puppy would be abandoned outside the library.  But no one was as upset as one lady…“It’s SICK!  Just SICK!  What kind of SICK person would leave a dog like this?!  It’s so SICK!  So SICK!  Oh what a SICK person!”

It went on like this for at least five minutes.  And then, even though we had found a good home for the dog (and had three others on the waiting list), she took him (against the soon-to-be-owner’s wishes) to the vet for a quick check-up.

Meanwhile, the second-in-line-future-owners had gone to Petsmart to buy dog food.  They came back with the food, saw that the dog was gone, and became irate.  We explained that the dog had been taken to vet, so then the second-in-line-future-owners thought it would be a good idea to call the vet’s office and yell: “THAT LADY STOLE OUR DOG!!!”

(Which is not true at all.)

All that being said, it was a crazy day.  And I only worked a half-day on Saturday, because Danny and I were off to Denver for a belated first anniversary getaway.

We started out the trip with a bang, also known as a trip to Buffalo Bill Cody’s grave.  It was much less cool than I remember it being (I was somewhere around 10 the last time I visited, so that could be why), but it did include a nice view of Denver, albeit quite obstructed by the massive cell phone towers located just feet away.  I think it’s exactly as Buffalo Bill would have hoped.


Other highlights of the trip include a trip to Goodwill because Danny forgot shorts for our visit to the hotel gym.  While there we picked up a framed print of a zebra, a framed print of a lion, two books, and a DVD.  No shorts.

We also went to the Sherpa House for dinner.  It was here that I figured out that Golden (where the restaurant and our hotel are located) is kind of like a mix of Boulder and Manitou Springs: a progressive college town with plenty of hippies.  The food was good, especially the momo (reminiscent of Chinese dumplings) and kheer (rice pudding).  The atmosphere fit my description of the town.


After dinner we found ourselves at Target, again looking for athletic shorts for Danny.  We found some in the kids’ section and felt ready to carry on with our trip.

Our trip also included the best hotel breakfast I have encountered in America…fresh pineapple, blueberries, and raspberries, potatoes, and made-to-order oatmeal were my top picks.  Another highlight from the hotel was the sign on our bathroom mirror…


We also went to World Market and ended up buying all manner of excellently priced gems including two mesh strainers for $4 and a Kate Middleton calendar for $1.40.  Don’t worry; I bought one for Becca too.  We also acquired something I’ve been eyeing for months, and it’s awesome enough for me to take down one of our Christmas trees…


If our hotel breakfast was good, our lunch at Native Foods was indescribable.  Native Foods is a 100% plant-based (vegan) restaurant with eighteen locations across the U.S.  I’m not sure how I’ve been vegan for nineteen months and only went to Native Foods for the first time today, but it’s true.  I had a Portobello mushroom sausage burger with a side of sweet potato fries, and Danny had a chicken wrap.  We wrapped things up by sharing a peanut butter parfait.  And let me tell you, that peanut butter parfait was the best thing to happen thus far in 2014.  I’m telling you, it was GOOD.

Before I get caught up in the glory that was our peanut butter parfait, can we recognize Taylor Swift’s new hairstyle?  Maybe she’s had it for a while, but I just saw it for the first time at the Grammys tonight.  It is fabulous.  And then, after I typed those last couple sentences, she started throwing her head around and I gasped, because, HER HAIR!  She did it over and over, and when she finished it looked as good as ever.  Unreal.  If you can make my hair do that, please let me know.

Speaking of the Grammys, I need to say one more thing.  When “Brave” by Sara Bareilles didn’t win for best solo pop performance, I was devastated.  As much as I like “Royals,” (hello, Kate!) “Brave” saved my job.  Feeding the ducks (one of my duties at work) is a traumatic thing for me, and each time I have to do so, I sing “Brave” (well, actually I just sing “I wanna see you be brave!” over and over, but still) and inspire myself to do what I must do.  Thank you, Sara, and know that you have won the Grammy of my heart.

multiple interventions may be needed

Today our roof is being redone.  We thought it had been completed late last week while we were both at work, but as my head pounds along with the beat of the hammer, I realize that we were wrong.  Without a shadow of a doubt, today is the day of the new roof.

In an attempt to distract myself from said awfulness, I’ve done various things today.  Like read my friend Dog’s blog.  In her most recent post, she said this, “I once had an Anthropology class…” and I thought, “Oh my goodness she misspelled that!!  She will be so embarrassed when she realizes it!!!”  And then.  And then I looked at it again, and realized that she spelled it the correct way; Anthropologie the store is just doing its own thing and helping people like me misspell things for the rest of their lives.

So I decided to Google “Anthropology” just to make sure, and “www.anthropologie.com” came up as my first option, so instead I just went there.  To see if they had any good sales going on or new products or something along those lines.

Before I knew it, I found myself going through all manner of rationalizations: “I know that New Year’s Eve won’t roll around for another 290ish days, but that New Year’s banner…it is so awesome…and only $39.95…and oh! Those measuring spoons!  Made out of wood! SO cute.  Oh look!  Moccasins!  Mysteridge has moccasins!  Scarves!  Slippers!  That shirt I wanted to buy when we went to the mall with Dog a couple of weeks ago!  It’s still available!”

And then the internet stopped loading the page, which is what you might call a Saving Grace since things were really getting out of control.

In other news, while trying to not think about the roof, I finished “Kate: The Future Queen” by Katie Nicholl today, and I have to say, it is quite good.  If you appreciate all things Kate, this is an excellent read.  On a related note, I have been told that Kate and William are looking for a nanny to accompany them to New Zealand and Australia this spring.  If you get hired for this position, will you please tell me?  I would really like to be your friend.

Speaking of books, are you aware that there is a book called “What Does the Fox Say?”  It’s a picture book, and the illustrations are fabulous.  And yes, it is made by the same people who made that stellar YouTube hit.  I got it from the library and really like it.

Once I finished my books and blog reading, and in a kind attempt to distract me from the roof clatter, Danny came home for lunch.  As we ate our leftover Tokyo Joe’s, he said, out of the blue, “I’m going to walk across Colorado.”  My hearty laugh that followed must have been an indication that clarification was needed.  “It’s with a team from my work,” he continued, “so I only have to walk 95 miles.”

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that 95 miles is a long ways.  Especially when you’re doing it by foot.  He mentioned that playing football and soccer count as well.  Well then.  If you see a group of four people walking and playing football/soccer across Colorado, I know them.

If it wasn’t already clear from the title of this post, multiple interventions may be in our near future.  I need an intervention in my head over heels love affair with Anthropologie, and Danny needs someone to talk him out of this walking-across-Colorado extravaganza.  

One more thing.  Over our cereal this morning, Danny told me that the more milk we drink, the more good karma we’ll have.

I think it’s clear that I am never ever going to live this Good Karma flax milk debacle down and we need someone to put this ridiculousness to an end.

Intervention #3.

alaska: day 5

The third port our cruise ship visited was Skagway.  I loved this cute little Alaskan town with its old storefronts and colorful history.  A crazy fact about Skagway: less than a thousand people call it home, yet over a million people visit it each year.  That’s a lot of tourists for a tiny lil’ town!



We spent a good portion of our time walking to a cemetery and waterfall at the edge of town.  I must confess: I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the trek, as many of the waterfalls we hike to in Colorado are less than spectacular, but this one was actually really great and so worth the time it took to get there.




^^ Reid’s Falls ^^



^^ The gravesite of Soapy Smith, an infamous character in Skagway’s history ^^


On our way back, we were exhausted from all of our walking, but even that couldn’t stop Danny and my mom from checking out this box full of free items along the side of the road we came across…


One thing that we all noticed right away after coming into Skagway was all the graffiti on the rock alongside our dock.  We couldn’t figure out why it was okay to deface the area in such a way, so I did some research once we got home.  Apparently, it is a tradition that dates back to the early 1900’s when railroad employees would recognize locomotive engineers by painting their names on the side of the rocky cliff.  Nowadays, though, the graffiti names and honors the captains of ships that have sailed into Skagway, especially on their maiden voyage to the port.



And just for perspective, here’s a shot of me in front of (a small portion of) the ship:


Once back onboard, we went to afternoon tea (offered every afternoon at 3:30pm on Princess ships!) and watched the ship sail out of Skagway.  As you might have guessed, many of the details of how we spent our time have unfortunately faded, especially for those things that we didn’t take pictures of.  However, I can tell you that we spent a lot of time eating, hanging out on our balcony, and participating in activities like trivia and dancing.

Highlights of the day: walking through town to get to the cemetery and waterfall, the rushing waters of Reid’s Falls, wandering through downtown Skagway, and scones with plenty of jam and cream on top at afternoon tea.

Read more about our trip here (day 1), here (day 2), here (day 3), and here (day 4).

balboa park

While D and I were in San Diego visiting his parents last month, we had the opportunity to have some girl and guy time.  On Father’s Day, Danny and Keith went to see “Man of Steel” while Susie and I went to Balboa Park.  Now, I have been to San Diego many times, probably more than the average Coloradoan.  However, I had never been to Balboa Park, and was super excited when Susie suggested that we spend the afternoon there together.  We began by walking through the international cottages and getting a taste of countries all over the world.  We moved on through the park, wandering through gardens and archways and beautiful buildings.  I loved taking in all of the different people, exotic smells, and incredible creation (both of the man-made and God-made kind).  It was truly a highlight of our trip for me, and I’m so thankful for the time that Susie and I got to spend together chatting and laughing and having fun.  Maybe someday we’ll get to go back and take Danny and Keith with us too…






Read more about our trip to San Diego here, here, and here.

beach lovin’

Y’all.  Let’s be real here.  The beach is awesome.  No doubt about it.


While we were in San Diego, we got to go to the beach twice.


We spent one afternoon walking the beaches of Coronado Island.


We also enjoyed a beautiful morning at La Jolla, riding the waves and burying each other in the sand.


We rested and talked and basked in the Californian sun that is not quite as brutal as what beats down on us here in Colorado, and watched wave after wave creep into the shore.


The power and vastness of the ocean reminds me of my size: small.


It reminds me of Isaiah 51:15 and 16 –

“For I am the LORD you God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar – the LORD Almighty is His name.

I have put my words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of my hand –

I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth…”


It is good to be reminded of my size and meditate on the magnitude of the Lord.  He who controls the sea and created the heavens and the earth sees me and knows me…amazing.


Reflecting on our moments by the ocean finds me grateful and humbled.  Which is very good, I think.

See more of our trip to San Diego here and here.