No, not the Akropolis in Greece, the one in Aachen! it is on the Lousberg, a big hill in the middle of the city. Apparently the columns known as the Akropolis used to be part of a restaurant which was destroyed in WWII, and they decided to leave the columns as ruins. It was really beautiful and peaceful there. You can not tell that you are in the middle of a city at all.
Meg’s scout troop celebrated its 5 year anniversary recently, and I was fortunate enough to be able to join in on the festivities, and even stay the night, which was a treat, since usually the parents are not invited on campouts with the scouts in Germany. The last time I was camping with the scouts in Germany was about 20 years ago, with my guest brother Emmi. Not much has changed it seems. They still have great big tents called Kohte (from native american “Dakota”), and Jurte ( English Yurt). The tents are canvas and built in modular sections which you button together. This design means you can button several together to form a really big tent. They had Jurte together for the main gathering tent, which included a stage for the kids to perform skits and songs, and a firepit, around which we sang songs until 3 in the morning (well, Meg and I went to bed around 11, but many stayed up later).
I am really proud of Meg for being such a great scout, and thankful I got to share the experience with her.
It has become an annual tradition to make a big leaf pile to jump in. This year may be the biggest pile yet. This year Meg’s friend Natalie just happened to come over while we were making it. The kids also did a much bigger portion of the raking this year. Yay!
Meg, Spencer, and I went sledding today. It was a great day for sledding, with pretty good packing snow, and temperatures right around freezing. Spencer learned how to “snowboard” on a sled down the hill. He convinced me to try it as well, and I made it all the way down once, but mostly just fell. Falling as an adult hurts more than a kid, so I only did it a couple times, and stuck to sitting down mostly. Here’s a video of some of our runs
A couple days ago I was putting a new latch on one of our gates. As I was finishing up, I heard a buzzing, which seemed to be coming from the basement window well. I walked over to find a wasp (or maybe fly) caught in a spider web, buzzing as it unsuccessfully struggled to get free. A few seconds later, I saw the spider come out, and immediately recognized it as a black widow. It’s the first time I ever saw one in real life. I watched it for several minutes, coming out to spin up the bug, then go back into the corner. I went down to the basement to catch a glimpse from there, and saw two large egg sacs. I continued to watch the spider do its work for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, tried in vain to take a picture with my iPhone, and then grabbed the big camera. I caught a pretty good shot as the spider was carrying its prey back to the corner. As fascinating as all of this was, I bought some spray the next day and killed it. I just can’t take a chance on my family being bitten by a black widow.
This past weekend we went camping. At first it was just going to be our family and the Ichneumons. Then 2 other families joined as well. We ended up with 8 adults and 5 kids, ranging in age from one to seven. The original plan was to camp in a campground at St. Louis Creek. Mekayla and Eva went up early, but it was already full. They ended up finding a spot in the national forest near Lake Granby for dispersed camping, which turned out to be even better. There was a few tense moments, when our car got stuck on a rock right by the campground, but luckily Greg, Mike, and Nick helped me dig out the rock, and jack up the car to get it free.
The kids had a great time playing with each other, especially the first night with the glow sticks that Eva brought.
On the way home, Meg and Spencer were talking about writing about all the things we did, and I suggested that they help me write a blog post, so they are.
We saw columbines at the end of the road at the campsite we were camping at. We had a fun time partying in our tent. On the way back home, we walked up the tundra.
I had a fun time playing with the kids, and there was a beautiful view hiking there.
Good times with good friends are hard to beat.
I love getting out in nature. It allows me to clear my mind from everyday worries and concerns. We are very lucky to live in such a beautiful place, and have great friends with whom we can enjoy it.
On the last day of the reunion, several of us went on a 2-3 mile hike right from the cabin. That was nice because we didn’t have to worry about parking or shuttles in the park. After lunch, we headed back to the gokart place for some repeat gokart rides, batting cages, and bumper boats. Then we headed over to the mini-golf place to use up my free token. We got back to the cabin around 4 to make fajitas for dinner. Spencer passed out for several hours; we tried to rouse him to eat dinner, but we were unsuccessful.
With the exception of it being difficult to get the kids to go to sleep, it was a very fun reunion. Here’s hoping we can do it again in 5 years.
Spencer by a creek in Rocky Mountatin National Park
For the third day of the family reunion, we woke up early and started our trek toward the Alpine Visitor Center in Rocky Mountain National Park, which is at almost 12,000 feet. We decided to go up the one-way dirt road on Old Fall River road, which was really beautiful. Getting a change to stop at Chasm falls was worth it. We took a guided nature walk with a park ranger, who told us all about the delicate ecosystem of the tundra, including fun facts like how it can take some plants up to 5 years to produce blossoms, and that some plants are furry, to help protect them from the harsh wind. It was pretty cold up there, and the kids were ready to go after about an hour, which was okay.
After the nature walk, we headed west a bit, and found a nice place to have a little picnic, by Lake Irene. We took a short walk, then started heading back down to Estes Park. We missed out on actually seeing Beaver Lake on Monday due to whiny children, so we decided to stop their on the way back. The kids actually fell asleep just before we got there, so Clare and I took turns admiring the view.
After we got back to the cabin, we took some family photos, and enjoyed some fun activities like football, horseshoes, and making s’mores.
Clare has been hiking North Table mountain regularly for the last several months. On Tuesday we hiked it all together as a family for the first time. Spencer made it up the steep climb all by himself. I ended up carrying Meg quite a bit of the way, but she walked some too. It was relatively warm and sunny, though windy. On the way back down it started hailing just a few minutes before we got to our car.
Clare and I spent a romantic weekend in Ridgway, Colorado a couple weeks ago, as a combined birthday present for me and Christmas present for Clare. It was very relaxing. It was our first journey to southwest Colorado; we liked it so much we want to go back. We really lucked out with the weather. The mountains were covered with snow, but the roads were clear, and the sky was bright blue. It was about a 5-6 hour drive. We checked out Ouray, drove along the million dollar highway, and enjoyed the thermal pools at the Chipeta Sun Spa. The Chipeta resort was really beautiful. We really enjoyed the large logs in the ceilings, and the solarium. The breakfast was very nice, and the service was great. The only downside is that the bed was not very comfortable.