Awe..... Nothing better than stuffed two-headed calves, a fiberglass prairie dog, and multi legged steers. The black cow has an extra leg near his shoulder and the brown cow has two extra legs coming out of his bum area. It was smelly and fun, but we kept pressing on and decided not to stop until we reached Colorado. I guess we stopped just shy of Colorado, for the infamous picture opt.
We pressed on and made it to the Ross' by five (their time). We were greeted by the exuberation of Judah remembering his friends, Taite and Trinity, and by the warm smile of Jennette. Little Jaden was inside with his big blue eyes and Travis was soon home from work. I was so excited to see them all that if I hadn't been exhausted by the hours in the car, I would have cried. We nestled in and watched Survivor (a Ross family tradition) and just enjoyed the evening.
Friday morning I got up like normal and prepared to go running. I bundled up a little more and realized I must be dedicated because I sported some "awesome" running tights (I know Travis had his eye on them.... Christmas is coming!) Feeling a little dumb and slightly more winded (lack of oxygen) we took off down their 1/4 mile drive and turned the corner to see this........
That sight makes it a little easier to keep breathing deep and push on. We cleaned up and headed off to let Taite do his school work. We explored the Garden of the Gods as a family and had a blast.
We climbed Siamese Twins trail and took some shots of the matching rocks. Judah loved that all rocks were "okay" for throwing!
We could have wandered for hours looking at these marvels of creation, but my small bladder forced us down to the Trading Post as fast as we could go.
We checked out Old Colorado City on the way back. It's like Old Town, but cooler (as everything is in Colorado). I got a cool new pair of shoes and Kenton got to eat lunch at a Bagel Bakery.
We made it back "home" and headed out to play with the Ross' at a near by park, tucked away in the Black Forest.
We finished the night by putting the kids to bed and we watched "End of the Spear." It was a great movie, but being tucked away in a heavily treed area, I was a little spooked going to bed, afraid of bushmen jumping out with their spears.
We rose with eagerness on Saturday because my dad bought us tickets to take the cog rail way up Pikes Peak. We were rushing to make our train and were denied punctuality by a friendly police officer who wanted to remind us of the 20 MPH speed limit in Manitou Springs. He gave us grace by simply reminding us and we were satisfied with taking the 10:40 train instead.
We climbed the mountain in a Swiss train and with every mile our breath was taken a little more (literally and figurally). About half way Judah was done in by the altitude and the lack of sleep. We climbed to the top, an elevation of 14,110 feet, to be greeted by a temperature of 21 degrees and windchills below zero! It was an amazing view, you could see all the way to Kansas. I couldn't stand the cold and then it started snowing, so we took it inside to taste the Pikes Peak donuts. They have some special recipe to get the dough to rise in that altitude... tasty!
The five minute warning was given and we braved the cold to re-board the train. As we descended we chatted with out seat mates. They were from the east coast and were intrigued about two young kids from Kansas. (Do you get lots of tornados like Dorothy?) In between explaining that I really never have been on a farm, despite the rumors of Kansas, I was overwhelmed by what I was seeing out my window. I felt so small on top of this famous mountain. I was without words to describe the scene. I felt so amazed by the enormity of creation and even more so by the God that made it all. But as we climbed off the train and looked up once more, I couldn't believe that the God who made these gigantic peaks, that seem to make me feel like an ant, has a passionate love for me, a purpose and a plan for tiny little me, and a guarding hand over me to protect me from all who try to hurt me. I don't believe that I had believed as deeply as I did that day, it's good to have nothing say sometimes.
We rolled out of the train depot with no idea what to do next. Judah had heard that there was a "Nick House" on the mountain and said, "can we go see Nick?" We decided to see what we could do for him. We decided that 13 dollars a head was too much for two hours of theme park fun. So he was settled with a picture outside.
Next time we will have to visit the North Pole and all the Christmas cheer it has to offer!
As we headed down the mountain we were so overwhelmed by how much fun we were having we called the Ross' and asked if we could stay another day, with no hesitation they said yes and we offered to repay their hospitality by offering to watch their kids for the evening so they could go out on a date, once again they agreed with no hesitation. I think they really needed it. We played legos until the cows came home and put the kiddos to bed, only to be greeted by our own exhaustion and to be woken up by a laughing Travis and Jennette when they found us crashed on the couch.
Needless to say, we were ready for bed and to get ready for church in the morning. We loved hearing Travis lead worship again and were very excited to listen to their new pastor deliver the message, but Judah wasn't adjusting so well to his class and we had to listen in the cry room, which used to be a projector room, since their church is in an old movie theater. We went out to eat after to an awesome restaurant called Elephant Bar and enjoyed chatting about what we thought of their new church and new life. (We love it all, just wish that it weren't so far away sometimes. The friendly people at the church kept telling us what a blessing it was to have the Ross' at their church and we could only agree and understand just what they meant.)
We spent the remainder of the day listening to Travis scream at the Chiefs from the other room, deliberating over the real definition of Notorious in a loud game of Scattergories, watching the kids play with everything they could get their hands on outside, and enjoying a Sunday night meal with each other at the end of the day. The kids all wanted to spend the night in one room and we thought we'd try it to see how it go.
We started the movie "Click" and at about ten minutes in Kenton went to check on the noisy room and found Judah saying, "Daddy, it's cold in here and they're too loud." Kenton laughed and knew from that moment Judah truly was my son and moved him to a quieter room. We finished the movie and crashed for our last night in Colorado.
We eventually made our way down their driveway and headed for home. As the mountains shrunk in the rear view window, so did our joy. It took us all by surprise how much we missed Travis and Jennette. Even Judah wanted to go back and play with his friends. It's clear that the Ross' are exactly where God has called them to be, however it's became overly clear just how much God had called them to be a part of our lives too. Now, this part of God's story doesn't require them so closely and we're learning that we will still be okay without them so near. It has felt as though our family had to leave us and force us to grow up a bit more in the last six months and I think we've done well, but man there's no place like "home" to make you appreciate just how great your family of God is. I miss you guys a lot. You're eight hours away by car, two hours by a small plane, and a hour by jet, but you'll forever be right next to us in our hearts. Thanks for everything and We LOVE you!