Saturday - July 13

Warm day here in Alamosa....we sure do like this little town in the San Luis Valley    Kathy, another "latte nut" like me,  had said all the coffee shops in town were good, so we were off around 8:30 to "Blessed Brews" - another winner serving up good stuff.

And then headed to the Great Sand Dunes National Park (about 36 miles).   We checked in at the visitor's center and watched a short movie explaining how this all came about.    The scenery was wow.....we drove down to the dunes and watched all the people walk on the wet sand (water standing here and there) and about 1/10 of a mile across, came to the dunes and the long climb began.    It was quite something to see so many attempting the long trek to the top.    As a lady at Kristi's Mountain Gear told us yesterday, "for every 3 steps forward, it's 1 step back"    You can rent sand boards and sleds.    We enjoyed the views in the movie and had no desire to take that hike!    But I'm sure our 5 older grandsons would absolutely love the challenge!

Great Sand Dunes

Us at the visitor's center
Folks standing on the wet sand walking across to the dunes - some even pitched tents.    Many were there with picnic supplies and spending the day.    We heard the sand is HOT!!!

All those specs in the distance are the hikers attempting to get to the top and then see the panoramic views, slide down, roll down, etc.    Whatever makes you happy!!!

Back to Alamosa and had a late breakfast at "The Campus Cafe", another favorite of Kathy and Dave's.   What a busy little place serving breakfast and lunch from 6-1 every day but Tuesday.    Great omelet (me) and skillet (Mark) +  huge homemade chunks of grilled raisin bread.   Yum!

Off to do the laundry and the best one (according to Trip Advisor) was "B and D Laundromat" (just like our B's and D's ...Brady, Blair, Davis and Drew.!)    Did 2 loads and now all caught up!

Funky little laundry in Alamosa but got the job done!

Hanging out in our room till 3 when Philip, Annette, Luke and Maeve arrived.   So good to see them.

Cowboy Luke is here!

  Helped get their stuff to their room and then we took the kids back to our room.    Luke and Maeve are having a sleepover with Grandma and Grandpa.    Their Mommy and Daddy are having a date night! 
Movie time

 We took the kiddos to Wendy's across the street - wow, it was so windy when we went outdoors and then ugh.....not a good experience!    Walked in the door and it was FREEZING.....VERY SLOW service and lady kept apologizing that they had a new grill cook and things were backed up.    Took a while to order and then when food finally came, decided we were outta there, so asked her to pack it to go.    Came back to our room (private party going on in dining room). 

Off to the pool - Luke is really doing well after taking swim lessons and Maeve has no fear! 

Grandpa has a handful

  We met a nice couple from AZ (he is bus driver for tour groups and his wife is the tour director).    They travel all over the world and currently here for a week with a bus load of seniors who are doing a railway tour (5 different scenic tours - tomorrow they'll be off on the Cumbres Toltec like we just did.).     This couple are traveling with their 10-year old grandson, Kevin from MO.    They like to take their 5 grandchildren (one at a time) with them during a week-long trip and what a eat experience for their grandkids.    Kevin and Luke played together in the pool.

Back to our room for warm baths, shampoos, book reading and just wind down! 

I meant to mention that while we were on the train Thursday, we crossed back and forth between Colorado and New Mexico 11 times!!!!

So, tomorrow is the big day when our kids all gather with us at the Rainbow Trout Ranch.    Michael and family have been in Santa Fe the past few days; Anne, Patrick and boys fly to Albuquerque tomorrow; Philip and clan were in Breckenridge last night and Alamosa tonight.    Ryan is flying into Pueblo tonight.   

We'll be celebrating 4 birthdays next week....
Connor is 13 tomorrow (14th)
Brooke (48) on the 18th
Blair (6) on the 19th
Maeve (3) on the 20th
And...... all because of our wedding 50 years ago!!!!!   Party Time!!!

No internet or cell phone service at the ranch, so no blog this week!

Have a good one.......adios till later!

Wednesday-Friday, July 10-12

Hello from Alamosa, Colorado.....we have been on the go since leaving Ann and John in Colorado Springs on Wednesday .   We've had no cell phone or internet service the past 2 days.  Here's the latest:

Wednesday - breakfast with John and Ann, said our good byes and big thanks for their warm hospitality! 

Ann, McGregor, John

 We drove 2.5 hours to Antonito stopping in Pueblo for a Starbucks fix and few things at WalMart.  Had lunch at Lu's Diner in Blanca, CO and onto our friends' Kathy and Dave's gorgeous home in the mountains 20 miles outside Antonito.    We have not seen them in many years (Dave and Mark worked together at State Farm).    Such a surprise to find that they live just 3 miles from Rainbow Trout Ranch where we'll be next week with our family.    So much to catch up on......and a great dinner of elk burgers, corn-on-the-cob, broccoli salad, wine and all topped off with delicious small fried pies (raspberry, cherry, apple and strawberry-rhubarb) from the Amish.

More visiting and then off to dreamland as we have an early rising tomorrow and big day ahead.

Thursday - Kathy fixed Mark a coffee-to-go and we were on our way before 7 AM driving to Chama, New Mexico (28 miles thru many twisty roads climbing higher and higher)..    Arrived, checked in at the Chama train station and then boarded a bus for a 1 hour ride to Antonito.   We boarded the parlor car of the Cumbres/Toltec Scenic Railway and ready for the 64-mile ride thru this glorious countryside.     The weather was perfect, we had a fresh fruit plate and pastry (not as good as the Amish from night before but still quite tasty), coffee, etc.     So much oohing and aahing at every twist and bend on the tracks.

At 12:45 we stopped in Osier, CO for lunch and oh my what a feast.    Our choices were meatloaf or turkey with all the trimmings.    We both chose turkey and it was "Thanksgiving in July".   Absolutely delicious and so much.   We passed on all the salads and desserts and thorough;y enjoyed the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes/gravy, cranberries, green beans and warm rolls.    This stop lasted 1 hour and we were on our way again.....Mark was just snapping away with the camera and ended up with 460 pics.    We saw deer, antelope, elk, beef cattle and yaks. 

Arrived back in Chama where our car was and Kathy and Dave were waiting for us at the train station.    We walked to the Box Car for appetizers (we were still stuffed from lunch) and drinks.    Then on back to their home...lots more chatter and at 9, we were oh-so-ready to call it a day!    But what a wonderful experience and so glad we did this memorable train trip.

Our train car (parlor)

Our train coming 'round the bend

Sooo beautiful!

Lots of pretty wildflowers along the way.....Mark is not into flowers like me!   This is pretty much it!
But pretty orange ones, lupine (blue) and yellow?    

Ahhhh - our highest elevation we reached was at the Cumbres Summit Pass


On the open-air car

Lo and behold, here I am in Sublette, New Mexico where we had a 5-minute stop for water to run the steam engine.    Nothing else here!
 My hometown is Sublette, Illinois

Friday - woke up to deep blue sunny skies and all this incredible beauty surrounding us.    Breakfast with Kathy and Dave, packed up the car, hugs and big thanks for a wonderful time!    

Kathy and Dave

View from their deck - the Conejos River flows just 100' from their home!

Off to Alamosa (1 hour northeast) where we'll stay the next 2 days.    Nice little town and first stop was "The Roast", (a Kathy recommended coffee shop - at least 3 good ones in town).    Very cute and of course, delicious coffee/latte.   Mark and his I-pad hung out while I got a manicure by Randie ("Seafood, Eat It" )  who comes up with these crazy names of polish?      We've had so much yummy Mexican fare lately, so decided to try some Chinese which Randie had said was really good for lunch.    Well, just might be the best Chinese we've had!     The name of the place is "May-Wa" Chinese and Vietnamese!    Walked around a bit and then stopped for some piddlies at Walgreens, got our dusty rental car washed, stopped at Kristi's Mountain Gear (recommended by Kathy) - fun place but just browsed.    Checked into out hotel, unpacked and repacked organizing all our stuff.   

Walked to Wal-Mart across the street to get some water and have our sunglasses adjusted (tighten the screws) at their vision center.    Back to hotel.....catching up with the blog, reading and watching the weather channel and updates on "Barry".   Had a little rain shower and strong winds blow thru.

Had that big Chinese lunch so just enjoyed some complimentary cookies here at hotel for supper.    We went for a nice walk in the evening - so pleasant after the rain!    Such a pretty little town (8,700) surrounded by mountains!

Nice ending to this day watching the 1975 movie "Rooster Cogburn" starring John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn.    Beautiful western scenery - filmed in Oregon.   

Look who arrived in Colorado this afternoon - boots and all!     We'll see these cowgirls and cowboys tomorrow!!!
NC kiddoes

Meanwhile back in IL this Dude is ready for some fun on the ranch!

Enjoy your weekend!    We are going to check out the Great Sand Dunes tomorrow!

Tuesday - July 9

Gorgeous day in Colorado Springs and so pleasant with perfect temperatures and nice breeze.    Ann, Mark and I went to "R and R Coffee Cafe" for breakfast and great coffee!    Mark had their cinnamon roll French toast - oh my....Ann and I shared an omelet!   Wonderful!!!   

Delicious cinnamon roll French Toast and ham

We 3 left stuffed and off to the Garden of the Gods.   Oh my, absolutely breathtaking seeing all those rock formations against the deep blue skies, and then after some hiking, we watched a short video of how it all happened millions of years ago!    The Air Force Cadet Choir sang "America the Beautiful" and we learned that Katharine Lee Bates, (after seeing Pikes Peak) was inspired to write that beautiful song in 1893.     Very enjoyable morning.

Pikes Peak

Pat and Ann overlooking Garden of the Gods


Pat, Ann, Mark

 Back home....John had stayed behind with McGregor.    This sweet doggie is blind and was not feeling well this morning, but seemed fine after we got home!   Mark, John and I took naps, I did a load of laundry and we just hung out with books, laptops, etc.   

 We all went to Guadalajara Mexican restaurant for very good dinner and lots of chatter.


John and Ann

Ann, Mark and I went for a nice walk around the neighborhood on such a pretty evening.    Love looking at all the homes, golf course, etc.    Watched All Star game....

Tomorrow we are off to Antonito.

Monday - July 8

Been a great day traveling from Texas to New Mexico to Colorado thru some beautiful scenery.     We left Dumas around 9 this morning and drove to Dalhart, TX for breakfast.    We checked with Trip Advisor along the way for a good spot (we were really in the boonies).   Well, the Red Baron in Dalhart came up with great reviews.      It is at the airport (about 3 miles off the beaten path) and so, we checked it out!    EXCELLENT and such a nice friendly place!    Definitely a good place for breakfast/ (serve lunch and dinner, too) out in the middle of nowhere!

The Red Baron

We continued on with great 4-lane highway and light traffic.    I drove 90 miles thru New Mexico and into Colorado and the pass where we stayed with Daisy 2 years ago when we were here for the Albuquerque Balloon Fest.    Stopped in Trinidad at the cutest coffee shop in a bank building.    The Perkatory Coffee Co (isn't that the cutest name)?    We had coffee/latte and shared a caramel/pecan bar - all delish!

Mark drove the rest of the way and we arrived around 3:30 in Peyton where our friends, Ann and John live (about 20 miles northeast of Colorado Springs).    So good to see them, their beautiful home and this lovely, growing area.    We visited, had a great dinner (Mongolian beef made in the insta-pot (must get this recipe for Anne, Annette and Brooke as they love their insta pots.)

More visiting and then we nomads were ready for bed - nice to gain an hour today when we crossed into mountain time, but 2 hours ahead is NY time and 1 hour, Texas, so.....will take a bit to get used to these changes.

Sure a lot of RV's on the highway - many summer time travelers and there are many RV parks, but most are just a grassy field out in the middle of nowhere with absolutely NO trees.

Ann, McGregor and John

Sublettian friends
Pat and Ann

Looking forward to tomorrow and exploring around this area!

Sunday - July 7

Thinking of and missing my Mom especially today.....10 years ago that she passed away while we were in Alaska (Denali National Park),     Cherishing all the memories.

We left The Colony at 8 AM this morning - another Texas scorcher!    Stopped in Decatur for breakfast, 11:00 Mass at Our Lady, Queen of Peace in Wichita Falls, ice cream in Childress and finally, arrived in Dumas at 5 and end to our day - 410 miles.    I drove 160 miles across the flat lands of Texas with 75 mph the speed limit almost all the way.    Passed many ranches and just mile after mile of nothing!!!

We checked into our hotel, had a good supper at "Big Country Cafe" and then caught up on computer stuff.    We are at a higher elevation so only 81 degrees here.

Tomorrow we are off to Colorado Springs and our friends, Ann and John.    Ann is a Sublettian and so looking forward to a good visit and see her neck of the woods since she left Bloomington.   We have 350 more miles!

Liam was in a tournament in Cincinnati this weekend.    They won their first 3 games....15-0, 15-1 and 15-0.    Had some hot bats going, but ran out of steam losing the championship game 14-3.

Have a great week!