Monday, November 9, 2015

The Castle

I had the honor of chaperoning my very first field trip with Dawson recently.
We went on a tour of Glen Eyrie.
Dawson told me he wanted to sit by me on the bus. Now, a couple of things here. 
  1. Dawson's school is a charter school and does not have busing service. Parents are expected to car pool or find other transportation for their children to and from school. This doesn't bother me, but I'm explaining that tiny bit of information so that the amount of chaos on the bus ride can be understood effectively.
  2. Dawson got on the bus and immediately went toward the back and plopped down in the seat with his two buddies. *Mom Rejected". I ended up sitting toward the middle of the bus with a student I didn't even know. 

I actually took video of about 19 seconds of the insanity that transpired on the bus drive, but I decided to spare you and keep from being sued for punitive damages.
Glen Eyrie is an English Tudor-style castle built by General William Jackson Palmer, the founder of Colorado Springs. Wow. What a great sentence. 
Now I know that it appears in the picture below that the castle is slanted. But I'm pretty sure that's your head.

Of course I needed to get a picture of Dawson to prove he was there. That I didn't disown him after he rejected me on the bus.
This is Dawson's class, and another 4th grade class from his school. As you can see, i have pixelated everyone but Dawson because I wasn't sure if it was legal to post their picture on my blog. But really, I think they should paying me for making them look like characters from Minecraft. If you look to Dawson's left, you'll see a young girl in a red short sleeved shirt and a navy blue skirt on. She was cold. That information will come in handy later.
The castle is actually located only about 10 minutes from our house now that I think about it. Which basically means I'm royalty.

I told Dawson I wanted a selfie with him and I in front of the castle. I'd say that worked well.
My friend Stacie is the mom of Dawson's best buddy Ethan. She was also chaperoning on this trip and also rejected me on the bus. But guilt took over and she offered to take a better picture of Dawson and I. 
I'm wondering if you are wondering if we were ever actually going to go inside.
We went inside. In case you can't read Latin, the script above the door frame reads "Go Away".
The first part of the tour is a documentary about General Palmer and his family along with the building of the castle. None of the kids paid attention. But I did. I found it fascinating and no one could answer my barrage of questions during the tour.
You enter into a large room with old stuff. I love old stuff. Even old people. Unless you drive slow.  I'm just going to say it. This castle would have been so much cooler if it was abandoned and left in it's original state. I'm pretty sure that the people who run Glen Eyrie read my blog and they're going to abandon it right now.
If you'll look at the suit of armor, you might be as amazed as I was that people who wear armor wear a velvet skirt around it. The altar around the very old fireplace is not for taking sacraments. It's for ladies who stoke the fire that wear dresses. They weren't to get to close and catch their dress on fire. How thoughtful! Equally as thoughtful is the fire extinguisher to the right. Also to the right, you will notice that I allowed the kids to go on to the next room and part of the tour without me.
This is a very old hutch. And I would like a silver tea set exactly like the one in the picture. Thank you.
Speaking of tea, one of the many events that Glen Eyrie hosts are tea parties. 
In the upper left corner of this picture is an old battery cell that General Palmer used. He buried it in a container at the entrance to his carriage house so that he could push a button and the gate would open. Diva.

We toured the upstairs of the castle but Glen Eryie rents out the bedrooms to guests. So we weren't able to view any of those because they were all occupied. If they had asked me, I would have said big deal, open the door anyway and if the people are embarrassed it's their own fault. Because I really wanted to peek inside those rooms.
In the hallway I found a picture of the room we were headed to as it appeared originally
One of General Palmer's daughters got sick. As a result, he had a solarium built for her so that she could get the sun she needed. I really want to go in there sit. Don't you? Only I don't want to be sick. I'm vitamin D deficient. That should suffice.
Eventually we made our way outside where we saw a fountain. This is where the royal deer would drink. I just made that up.
We were led to a secret tunnel. I love secret tunnels! I have in mind to dig one from my house to Walmart. 

And the kind man in the hat was our tour guide. I forget his name. But if you'll look to his right, you'll see the young girl with the super smart transition glasses on and she's wearing my sweatshirt. That's because she was freezing. Yes, she's the pixelated cold girl I mentioned earlier. I got my sweatshirt back, not until after the tour and hypothermic shock had set in.
It was finally time to bring the tour to an end. After taking this picture I realized this probably meant I was going to get the shaft on the bus again.
On our way out, I took this picture of the sun behind a huge rock formation. I'm not sure why I did. I guess everyone else was doing it.
I'll end this with the troubling picture I decided to take on the bus ride home. While I hoped I wouldn't be the one required to use the body fluid cleanup kit.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Surviving LegoLand: A Vacation

We had the blessing of returning to Indian Rocks Beach Florida over Dawson's fall break last week.
Day 1: Denver
Any vacation that begins this way is optimistic in my book:
Especially if you're able to convince your 3 year old to handle the luggage in the airport.
Day 2: Traveling
 And speaking of said 3 year old, I'm still exhausted from the effort I put forth in keeping him entertained on the flights. We are currently pricing private jets as a result.
 We landed in sunny Florida on Tuesday afternoon with this view from our balcony. We were in the same condo as last year but had to rent a different unit which was actually a dive. But a dive with a view. Which is how I imagine most non-hollywood famous residents are able to afford to live in California.
It was late by the time we got unpacked and bought groceries so we called it a night.
Day 3: The Beach
 Of course the following day we wasted no time and headed to the beach.
Jason let me go for a run and I took a short video of the ocean because I love that sound. Maybe you can play it on repeat and use it to help you sleep at night.
This whole day was spent at the beach.
 Evan loves to dig. He ran back and forth from the ocean to his hole in the sand to fill his hole with water. After just one trip, he says "Mommy, help me. It's teamwork." I said "Where on earth did you learn about teamwork?" "Spongebob," he said matter of factly.
We went for a walk along the beach and we spotted a bird pecking at a dead fish so we went to investigate. The fish turned out to be a shark and Dawson picked it up.
After a few seconds of holding it, Dawson said "Uh, I think the shark is alive!" And the shark started to flap it's fin. Do sharks flap fins? Wiggle? Whatever. So he threw it back into the ocean and we never saw it again. Thankfully. Because I told Dawson if I got attacked by a shark later that day I'd hold him personally responsible. And that is the true story of how Dawson rescued a shark on vacation. Which pretty much makes him a marine biologist.
All daylight hours of day 2 were spent at the beach or in the pool.
 "Over there is the Kraken"
 Day 4: LegoLand
While planning our vacation, we decided we would give LegoLand a shot this year. In order to make this happen, I spent several weeks selling as much junk treasure as I could on a garage sale FaceBook Group I'm in. This helped tremendously and we made all the money we needed in order to buy cheap tickets on the black market. Otherwise, tickets are $90 per person. I could have purchased two chrome shoe racks on Amazon for that price. Before we get to pictures, I'll share the lowdown on LegoLand, in case any of you are actually interested in going there.
  1. Purchase tickets through Costco (we actually ordered them through Costco online). They are $55 a piece. Much cheaper. And with the money left over you can buy me a gift.
  2. If you're able, go in the fall. We basically had the park to ourselves, and the ride wait time was less than 5 minutes on every ride. Actually, most rides had no line and we were able to get on immediately and were told we could just stay on when the ride was over if we wanted to.
  3. You can bring your own food and drinks.
  4. Most rides require children to be at least 36" tall. So if you have little kids, they will enjoy the park much more when they reach that height.

 Dawson loved LegoLand because he's in a huge Lego phase right now and has gone so far as to actually sort out ALL of his Megablocks and put them in a container and gave them to his brother.
 We had to find a ride for Evan quick, before we started the day with a meltdown.
 I personally am rather fond of this picture, even though the girl on the left seemed rather disgusted by sheer awesomeness.
Hands in the air Evan. Or, you can put them at a 90 degree angle like you are surrendering at gunpoint. It bothers me that the blue shoe kid didn't have his shoe tied.
 Since many rides that Dawson could ride, Evan couldn't, Jason and I would take turns and one of us would ride something with Evan while the other was with Dawson. this little safari ride had Lego lemurs. I loved them.
 We took the boys to a show: Brick Beard's Pirate something or other. Probably not the actual title. But there is skiing and people dressed up like Lego's so it was entertaining.
 Evan loved the opportunity to drive his own car.
It was serious business though when it became a race.
 Located in the center of the park is an area called "MiniLand" which has Lego sculptures.
By the end of the day, we were all exhausted... except for Dawson.
 I looked exactly how I felt: A tired, sunburned, grumpy person who could be mistaken for someone who had just been run over by a truck.
On our way home, we stopped at a local favorite called Crabby Bill's where Jason ordered enough food to feed himself and a small island. You'll the see the plate of fries that belong to Evan on the left. All he eats is fries. All of you wish you could have a child so picky.
 Day 5: Dolphin Watch Tour
Each day we tried to spend as much time as we could at the beach before taking off on an adventure. If you see two boys floating in the middle of the ocean while you're out and about, let me know.
 Jason showed me this long row of clams that had washed up on shore and they were still alive!
 Evan could have spent each and every day in the pool.
 Jason had done some research and found that the best dolphin watch tour (according to Yelp reviews) was on a small tugboat called "Little Toot". 
So we went to Clearwater Beach that afternoon. May I remind you that the sand there is imported.
We actually went for a walk on Pier 60 this year which made me feel a bit Diva. Until I saw the bird poop on the guard rails.
Once it was time to head to the bay area for our tour, a nice guy offered to take our family picture.
 We spent the entire tour going all over the Gulf and never spotted one single dolphin.
 Evan got bored.
 I saw this house and told Jason we should buy it.
 And as we were on our way back to the marina, we got a call that another tour boat had found some dolphins. So our captain extended our tour and took us back out so that we could see them. Check out this awesome picture I got of one jumping! Is he jumping? because they don't have legs. So.
And THEN, I got this awesome video.
 On the way home, Jason suckered us into eating at Skyline. 
 We got our best sunset pictures on our walk on the beach later.
 I got jealous of their sunset action.
 Day 6: Tarpon Springs
We spent Saturday morning scouring the ocean for sea life and Dawson and I found hermit crabs. This haus wanted to eat me and to prove it, I got a picture of it coming out of it's shell toward my face.
 Dawson found an empty bigger shell and Jason told him to put the shell in the bucket with the hermit crab to see if he would change shells. He did and Jason got video. I'm glad he changed shells, because the nasty ghetto shell he was currently inhabiting was covered in barnacles and they make my skin crawl.
That afternoon, we met Jason's Aunt Karolyn and her husband John in a quaint little Greek town called Tarpon Springs. It's known for it's spongedocks and Greek food.
We visited a small aquarium there.
Dawson was fascinated by this remora fish that kept attaching itself to his arm
Evan was fascinated by this alligator that stared.
 I fed a stingray and I didn't die.
And Jason and Evan fed a shark
We at lunch at a quaint little Greek place called Hellas 
and then got back in time for an evening stroll on the beach.
 Day 7: John's Pass
As we neared the end of our vacation, we made one last day trip out to a small area just down the beach from us called John's Pass. 
In case you ever go there and need to know where all the stores are located, here's a directory.
It has a board walk. We walked down the board walk to a fishing area in the bay and I saw a dolphin! In the wild! But I didn't get a picture.
 It also has a shop that will put a picture of your dog on your shirt for you. I lean more toward air brushed shirts, but whatever.
 We didn't get a shirt.  Maybe next year. Instead we went back to the beach where Dawson and Jason buried Evan in the sand.
 A happy sea turtle.
 Then the boys lounged by the pool.
We spent every evening past 7:00 laying in bed watch cable in case you were wondering. I found a new to me show called Tanked, and now I'm obsessed with owning an octopus.
Day 8: Good-Bye
It was time to say good-bye to our awesome Florida vacation. 
So we did that by taking selfies on the beach.
Dawson made a sign for the sand castle he and Evan built "Welcome People of the The World to Our Sand Castle"
 Good-bye Indian Rocks Beach!
 I'm leaning more toward a vacation in Italy next year.