Friday, November 9, 2007

Colorado Springs

Jay and I spent 6 days in Colorado Springs. Jay had to attend some meetings on Sunday and a leadership conference on Monday and we decided I should go with him this trip. We left on Saturday afternoon out of the Santa Maria airport and had about a 2 hour layover at LAX before landing in Colorado Springs around 8:15. Kendall was staying with the neighbors so we dropped her off before we left, said our goodbyes and started on our way. The travel went smoothly - all flights on time, luggage arrived in reasonable condition, all in all a great travel day. We checked in at Peterson Air Force Base and got settled in. I had never stayed in base lodging before and I must say I was very impressed! We had a nice room complete with a mini fridge, microwave, 2 sets of dishes, TV, VCR, DVD player, desk, free Internet access and a reasonably comfortable bed. After we checked in, we went to the Fox & Hound Pub & Grille for some appetizers. We weren't hungry enough to get a full meal and liked the look of the place from the outside so we stopped in. We ended up having a blast. They had retro videos playing on huge screens and the staff was extremely attentive. It was a great way to end our first day.

Sunday Jay only had to work a half day so I waited for him to get back before going out. I just hung out in the room in the morning and checked my email and watched The Today Show and sipped coffee with eggnog (don't you just love eggnog in coffee?) Or is that just me....Jay got back around 11:30 and we went and had lunch at Jason's Deli. Jay ate there often when he was at Space 300 and couldn't wait to take me there. I was picturing this little walk up deli but this place was huge! They must have 50+ different types of sandwiches, a full salad bar and an ice cream bar. I had a ham & swiss on rye and Jay had something with bacon on a croissant and tons of cheese. After lunch we walked next door to Archiver's, which is a scrapbooker's dream. I picked up a calendar and we walked around the store for a while and I decided I was definitely coming back on Monday while Jay was working. Next Jay showed me around town a little bit and we went to the mall and did some Christmas shopping for the girls. We ended up just getting some stocking stuffers, but it was a good start. We had dinner that night at The Rock Bottom Brewery. Another great restaurant! The staff was nice and attentive and they had probably a dozen different beers on the menu. I wasn't real hungry after having such a big lunch so I just had a side salad and a side of baked beans (yum!) and Jay had some steak medallions with mushrooms and a wine sauce. I had a bite and it was amazing!

Monday was Jay's conference so I dropped him off and took the car for the rest of the day. We had a great rental car! It was a Hyundai Azera and I used to drive a Hyundai and it was nothing like this car. It had leather heated seats, a sunroof, a 6 CD changer along with XM radio (I'm now hooked, thank you very much), dual climate control so that that passenger and driver don't have to agree on the temperature, a sun shade for the rear windshield that contracts when you put the car in reverse (how cool is that?) and it handled beautifully.

After I dropped Jay off I went back to the room and showered and had more coffee with eggnog and then went back to Archiver's for a 12 month calendar class. The class was scheduled from 11-2 and we were supposed to complete all 12 months. Well, we only got to June by 2:00 and the instructor told us the class was over and she would prepare the supplies we needed and we could come back at any time to complete our calendars and use their stamps, ink, etc. Well, coming back anytime wasn't really going to work for me, seeing as how I live in California and all so I ended up having to buy a pack of stamps, 2 pens, 3 ink pads, calendar stickers, and glue and had to go back again to use a couple of their punches that I don't have at home. So, my $22 calendar class ended up costing me around $60. That's one expensive calendar, but I did enjoy the class and I learned a lot so in the end it was worth it. I got a lot of great ideas and it was a fun way to spend my afternoon. After the class I went to the mall and grabbed a quick bite and did a little bit of shopping until Jay called & said he was ready for me to pick him up. I drove to the base and picked him up and he took me to see the Air Force Academy Chapel. I had never seen anything like it. I can only imagine what it looks like in the daylight with the sun shining through the stained glass. There are actually 4 chapels - a Protestant, Catholic, Jewish & Buddhist. It's really a sight to behold, the photos don't do it justice.

Oh deer!
After leaving the Academy we went back to the room so he could change and we went to Old Chicago's for dinner & to watch Monday night football. I actually felt like I was in Chicago, the pizza was amazing!!!! We had a stuffed Chicago 7 pizza and it was so huge I could only eat one piece. Well, a side salad, a slice of cheese bread, 2 pepperoni pinwheels and 1 slice of pizza. So, we were on vacation, ok? We had a great time and the game was intense!

Tuesday Jay was off so we got up and he took me to black forest to look at some neighborhoods. It's right at the base of the mountains and absolutely gorgeous. We looked at homes that we can't afford and then drove to a new community where they are building homes that we can afford. It's amazing what you can get for your money in the Springs. A 3800 square foot home on a golf course in a brand new community is less than $350,000. We did some dreaming and then went and had lunch at Panera Bread and then went to visit the Focus on the Family Campus and take a guided tour. I had no idea that they had so many ministries and so much to offer there. They have a huge downstairs play land for the kids with a 3 story slide, theatre, library, cafe, jungle gym, costumes, you name it. We got there close to closing time so we took the tour and then walked around for about 20 minutes and then headed to the bookstore, which stayed open 30 minutes after the visitor's center closed.

Unfortunately, throughout the day I started feeling bad and things went from bad to worse. We were staying at the Academy for the last part of the trip and by the time we got back to the Academy, I could barely walk. I had a fever complete with aches & chills and we stopped and got some Tylenol Cold at the BX and I took it immediately. I was hoping it would kick in and I would start feeling better but things only got worse. I had to spend the rest of the night in bed grabbing extra covers when I was shivering and throwing them off when I would start to sweat. I felt bad for Jay, here we were with a couple of days alone and I was in bed sick. He went ahead and went out to get something to eat while I stayed in and watched The Biggest Loser and felt sorry for myself. The good news is that I sweat it all out and by morning I was feeling much, much better. That, and I hardly ate at all that day. That's about the only good thing about getting sick on vacation!

Wednesday we got up and went to The Egg & I for breakfast. We'd seen a couple of them while driving through town and our curiosity got the better of us. We had a nice, relaxing breakfast and then headed out to The Garden of the Gods. It was amazing. They have over a dozen red rock formations and they are breathtaking. The sky was a magnificent blue in the background and the weather was perfect. We watched a short film and learned that the land is actually city owned rather than a National Park and it's all non-profit. They only way they make money is the $2 admission for the film, donations and sales in the gift shop. We saw some climbers tackling one of the formations and did quite a bit of walking. Check out if you are interested in learning more.

After we left the Garden of the Gods we headed over to the Citadel mall for some more Christmas shopping. We found a few more stocking stuffers for the girls and a great gift for Grandma Ketchum that we hope she'll love! After the mall we went downtown to the Phantom Canyon Brewery for dinner. The place has great atmosphere and is set downtown amongst a bunch of restaurants and mysterious alleys. I had fish and chips and Jay had wild mushroom enchiladas. After dinner, Jay tested my adventurous side and took me to a cigar bar down a deep dark alley. There was no signage, just a purple light. I assumed we'd have to know some secret code word to get in and he opened the door and I stood back in hesitation. When he opened the door there it was, a quaint, dimly lit cigar bar filled with people from all walks of life and leather sofas in the corner. We sat and visited for a while and then called it a night.
On Thursday we got up and packed all of our things and went back to Panera Bread for some lunch and then went to an Imax movie called "Monsters of the Deep." It was a good show, scary enough to make us close our eyes a few times, but interesting enough to keep us engaged. After the movie we headed to the airport. Our flight was delayed and we didn't make it back into Santa Maria airport until 11:45 but nevertheless we were glad to be home.
Kendall had a great time with the neighbors. She watched the house for us while we were gone, picked up the mail, took the trash cans out on Tuesday night, did laundry and some light cleaning and we are told she was a joy to be with. We were so proud of how responsible she was. When we got home, we gave her a thank you card and the movie Ratatouille that she had on the top of her Christmas list.
We're tired, our bodies are thrashed, but it was good to spend some time alone together in God's country. There's no place like home, but sometimes it takes being away from home to truly make you appreciate it.

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