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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rocky Mountain, HI!

We are on day four of our Colorado odyssey and we're having a great time! We've been doing day trips every day and have been able to see a lot of the main attractions within a 2-hour radius of Denver. The best way to share our journey with you is to give a day-by-day blow, but I'll write in more detail (including links to the places mentioned) when I get home (we just left Breckenridge so I stopped into a Library to check e-mail and update the blog). In the meantime, here are some highlights:

Saturday - We got in on time, picked up our car, and headed to the Capital Hill Inn, a beautify castle/mansion bed-and-breakfast in the capital region of the city. We walked over to the 16th Street Mall, which is a pedestrian mall, went through some shops, and went for a nice dinner at a trendy Mediterranean restaurant. Because I was tired and not used to the altitude, I got a little tipsy but mostly just had a bad wine headache. Then, we went to the B&B and crashed.

Sunday - woke up at 3:45am (5:45 EST) and couldn't get back to sleep. I managed to stay in bed until 6am, then we got ready for the day and went down for a delicious breakfast (this place brings a chef in!). We jumped on the road and headed to Colorado Springs, about a hour south of Denver. We drove up to Pike's Peak, one of the tallest mountains in the area, 19 miles up with an altitude of over 14,000 feet. It was very cold and a bit difficult to breathe at the top. Towards the top, with all the red rocks (there is no vegetation or much of anything up there). It made me think "this must be what Mars is like." Of course, there was plenty of snow!! Then we visited some that live in CS, went to Garden of the Gods, a natural rock structure park, and went out to dinner before heading back to Denver.

Monday - headed out to Estes Park at the foot of the Rockies where the famous Stanley Hotel is located (the Stanley is the hotel that Stephen King stayed which was the inspiration for The Shining. We took a ghost tour at 1pm, and it did not disappoint! I have several pictures that have orbs in them, and the fourth floor where the nannies and children used to stay was downright creepy!

After Estes Park we headed up to Fort Collins in search of New Belgium Brewery (to try their brew and get my nephew a Fat Tire pint glass. Unfortunatley, it was closed! We stopped at another micro-brewery and shot the bull with some of the local characters. Then we headed back to Denver and had a late dinner.

Tuesday - today we are in the Breckenridge area which is just beautiful. On the way here we passed many little mining towns and saw remnants of the past with abandon gold mine shafts in the mountains. Very interesting. Breckenridge was like a ghost town. We hit it during the "mud season" when the ski season is over and the summer season has not begun, so a lot of the stores and restaurants were closed. The good thing was there was no crowding. We also wanted to visit "The Brown," a bar that we had heard was VERY haunted, but it was also closed for spring cleaning.

Animals we've seen so far: elk, mountain goats, prarie dogs, longhorns, magpies, and buffalo.

Other observations: Nothing quite says "quaint" like all the giant Walmart trucks around. And - Okay, we get it! People like Starbucks! Enough already! Is there such a thing as overexposure?

So that brings us up to "now." More on our adventures when I can access the Internet again!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Baker Blog Goes on the Road

Today Mark and I leave for a week in Denver, Colorado - part fun, part business. We're going to explore the Denver area and beyond until Wednesday, when I'm attending a conference (and Mark is going fishing while I sit in a windowless room). Stay tuned for posts along the way, and what I'm sure will be some great pictures!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Our Furry Family Member!

Today we celebrated Jasper's first birthday with a doggie sundae from Moonlight Creamery. We've been making a joke...now that he's one-year-old maybe he'll "settle down." If he settled down anymore than he already is, he'd never even lift his head up!

Love from your family to our sweet pup!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Love, (Rich) American Style

This weekend we went to a wedding for Mark's cousin's daughter. It was one of the most beautiful, elegant weddings we've been to in a long time (and possibly, ever...it's been a while since we've been to a wedding - these events seem to come in waves). Some highlights:
  • The ceremony was a in a quaint little chapel and featured a harp player for the procession/recession and music during the ceremony.
  • The bride (Paula) was just beautiful, and the bridesmaids were very elegant in strapless black gowns. The roses were a deep, dark pink and very striking.
  • We had a cocktail party between the wedding and the reception for Mark's cousins. We only see them once in a while, but we always enjoy getting together them. It was a sunny, warm day and perfect for hanging out on the porch and patio. There was a lot of wine involved.
  • The reception was at the exclusive Oak Hill Country Club, and featured an open-bar cocktail party on the patio (with the harpist, again), followed by a delicious dinner (we chose the beef: filet mignon with huge shrimp). The tables were appointed with amazing bouquets that looked like they came right out of a designer magazine.
  • Each layer of the cake was adorned with the same deep pink roses, and the cake had three different layer choices: carrot cake, cheesecake, and traditional chocolate wedding cake - yum!
It's interesting to catch a glimpse of how the "other half" lives (although it's probably more like the other 1/10th). Oh, to be one of the beautiful people...




Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Pope Catches a Yankee Game

I'm not sure how they got on the subject, but when my sister and my nephew were talking about the Pope's visit to NYC and the fact that he was going to be at Yankee Stadium, Drew could not understand what all the fuss was about. In fact, if the Pope was going to be at YS, why were the Yankees going to be in Baltimore at that time? Wasn't that the reason the Pope was going to Yankee Stadium...to see a Yankee's game? Doesn't everybody want to see the Yankees play? I wonder if they'll have Popecorn?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Daytrip to Lechworth

Today we took a day trip to one of my favorite nearby places: Lechworth State Park. The park features amazing gorges and waterfalls, and is just 45 minutes from Rochester. We took the dog along, and had fun going down the paths (and not so much fun going up and down stone stair steps - boy, am I out of shape after that long winter). Tomorrow it's back to work while the kids lounge at home complaining about how bored they are. Just about all their friends are either in Florida or some other vacation "hot spot" this week. Don't they know it's going to get up to 75 by the end of the week? I never understood the need to get away in April. Now February...that's a different story.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Opossum, Awesome! Plus, Weekend Randomness

Among other news from the weekend is the opossum sighting in our backyard. What the heck was he doing there? There must be a litter of them around because my co-worker, Linda, who lives a couple of streets away, said there were two in her backyard last week (hanging in the tree and around the woodpile). Kind of weird.

Other than that, not too exciting a weekend. On Saturday morning we took Jasper for his training class - he's in pet therapy training through K-9 Healers at the Fairport Bapstist Home. It's a class of mostly Goldens with a Chocolate Lab (Teagan), an Australian Cattle Dog (Rex), a Boxer (Sadie), some kind of Terrier (can't think of her name...), and an amazingly huge, drooly, and fluffy St. Bernard (Peyton) thrown in. We're mostly working on helping the dogs to de-stress and relax in strange situations (by "milking" their ears and massaging from head to toe), and be able to sit calmly when someone comes by to pet them (we've got a long way to go on this one). We're also working on the "long down" where Jasper has to (eventually) lie down for 30 minutes. He's not too bad at this so far, but gets noticeably bored after about 5-6 minutes. The FBH residents watch the sessions so the dogs get used to having people around, and they get used to the adaptive equipment the residents use.

The kids are on spring break this week (they get WAY too much time off), so Mark and I took Monday and Tuesday off to hang with them and do some running around. Of course, the temperature toward the end of the week promises to be in the high 70s (it will only reach a mere high of 47 while we're off). I feel spring fever setting in. I could take a little more time off this week, but I'm saving my vacation time for the trip Mark and I are taking at the end of the month (we're going to Denver for a week, during which part of that time will be spent at a conference). We're looking forward to leisurely day trips and seeing the Rocky Mountains.

On a sad note...we lost our pup Casey one year ago today. We still miss her unique qualities.

On a happy note...Jasper's 1-year birthday is one week FROM today.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Taller Than Me, Finally!

I'm 5' tall, so it's really not a stretch (no pun intended) that Cameron is finally taller than me. It is a relief, though. All his life he's travelled along the 5th percentile in height and weight, and in the last couple of years I was getting really concerned that he was going to be extremely short. While he's had a great growth spurt this year, he still has a way to go, and I'm hoping he'll reach at least 5'8" or 5'10", like Mark.

It's always amazing that every new "season" (mainly as fall and spring approach) we break out last season's clothes and try everything on again. And, as usual, both kids need all new shorts this year (Cameron grew out of a whopping eight pair...) and some new shirts. After separating the "what fits" and "what doesn't fit" into piles, Annalisse loves to hear the words, "Well, I guess you know what this means...", because of course, it means "Time to shop!" Cameron, who hates shopping, dreads those words. Luckily, neither kid is really picky about brands, and we can do most of our shopping at Old Navy and Target. Annalisse only occasionally spends the big bucks (of her OWN money) at Abercrombie or Hollister, and Cameron doesn't care at all about those places...some of his t-shirts are five years old (and he's just beginning to grow out of them).

So, it's off to Old Navy for "everything you can stuff into the bag for 20% off" sale. Wish us luck. Now it will probably snow again.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Do You Hulu?

There's a relatively new site named Hulu on the Internet where you can watch (legally) movies and TV shows with limited commercials (that's how they make it legitimate). I was surprised to find The Partridge Family on the site the other day, so I took a look for some of my favorite episodes like:

The one starring Mark Hamill as Laurie's boyfriend in the episode where Laurie got braces and was picking up radio stations from his transistor radio.

...Or how about the one where...

The family got sprayed by a skunk and had to perform (one of my favorite PF songs) at the children's hospital wearing silly costumes.

There isn't a huge amount of movies on Hulu yet, and the TV program offerings are kind of limited (for instance there aren't any shows at all from several major stations), but keep watching that space...I bet it will grow.

Happy Birthday, Bean!

A happy birthday today to my wonderful cousin, Jeannie (or, "Bean")! Born exactly six months (to the day) after me, the family spotlight quickly turned from ME, to HER...after all, what's so great about the third of three girls when there's a new baby in the family?! I like to tease her, but we grew up very close and I wish her a great birthday!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Great American Canine/Feline Face-Off

Grandma Jeanne's cat, Mercy, is once again staying with us, this time for a month while she's in Turkey. Mercy has greater access to the house this time around, and she and Jasper are establishing their boundaries around each other (meaning: Mercy goes wherever she wants to, and Jasper follows if she lets him). He, of course, is petrified of her after a couple of hisses and swats on the nose.

It sure does shake things up a little around here.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Jackson and Popo

My mother-in-law, Jeanne (a.k.a. "Popo", the Chinese nickname for Grandmother), arrived in Turkey today for a one month visit with Dave, Amanda and baby Jackson. This is a very exciting time for her, coming on the heels of her retirement last Friday after 22 years as a church secretary. Relax and enjoy the first month of the rest of your life, Mom!

We're all a Bunch of April Fools

Nothing too exciting to report...I never got around to an April Fool's Day post when I might have told the story about how my sister and her husband wanted to "fool" their (sometimes hotheaded) son by telling him there's something wrong with the tire on his car..."it looks flat." So, out he went to check it, and they expected him to come storming back in seconds later saying there was nothing wrong with the tire. They waited and waited for his return...instead, he got in his car and drove to a gas station to get air...

Or how about the one where my co-worker wanted to play a trick on her 8th grade son so she said, "The Principal called today..." and he blurted out, "It wasn't my fault that I got in-school suspension..." as he continued on, vehemently defending himself, her face in shock.

The tricks in our house were not as inspired...mostly "I can't believe it snowed again!" (it was a balmy 50 degrees) and "Cameron, come see the bunny in the back yard!"...not the most creative family.