Sunday, July 27, 2008

Day 16 - The End

{the full gps track of our trip}

We're home at last. The last day was a rough one, but they usually are. Ellie was a little more fussy than usual, and the train was running very late. We got stopped outside of Cumberland, MD, for over an hour waiting for freight traffic to clear. Made for a long, long day.

Ellie was better at standing at the window in the lounge car on our way back, didn't really need anyone holding her. But she was more into the goings-on around her so she wasn't that interested in standing for long.

Also the East is very tree-y. Makes it hard to get a good picture where there's always trees flashing by the window!

It was a lot of fun seeing the different landscapes go by as we moved from East Coast to Midwest to West and back again, especially going to bed in one region and waking up in another.

It was an amazing two weeks and I can't say I am quite ready to head back to work or anything, but it is nice to be home. Most people probably really like being in their own bed, but my favorite part of being home is taking a shower in my own shower. I don't know why, there's nothing special about our bathroom, it badly needs some updating. But I love it. No matter how nice and fancy and clean their shower is, it's never quite as good as the one at home.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Day 15 - Connections

Today was spent basically watching the clock and counting the hours waiting to see if we'll get to Chicago on time. Our connecting train is scheduled to leave at 7:00. I don't even know what time we were supposed to get there, but by mid-afternoon we were scheduled to arrive at 7:00. That meant any more delays and we're toast. They missed the connection on the two previous days. We're not feeling hopeful.

Woke up, grabbed breakfast, and back to our car in time to watch Omaha go by, along with Offut Air Force Base where they store the extra Air Force One 747s.

Got a bunch more farm shots.

The flooding in Illinois wasn't much different than it was two weeks ago. Not sure where I expected the water to go, but it hasn't gone anywhere yet. We were the last car on the train so it was kind of fun looking out the back window.

Otherwise, we really did spend the time watching the clock, listening for announcements, and tracking our progress on the schedule. If we missed the connection it would mean an overnight in Chicago, which they would pay for, and the next leg of our trip (another overnight) most likely in coach, they would refund our accommodation charge. None of this sounds like fun to us, we like Chicago but we kinda just want to get home.

We roll into the station at 7:00 and find our connecting train right next door. So, off one train and onto another. They'd already made dinner reservations for us and everything. It couldn't have gone more smoothly. Big phew and a nice relaxing evening on the train.

{right = old train, left = new train}

So, we head to dinner. It's community seating so we sit across from a nice older couple who just made same harried train connection. We start chatting and discover that the woman is none other than pioneering astronaut John Glenn's sister-in-law! Wow! They were returning from his grandson's wedding in San Fransisco. She is the only sister of Annie, wife to John Glenn, who has no siblings himself. So, being the only close family, she was there for all the exciting goings-on during those earliest days of the space program. How cool must that have been?!? An interesting end to a crazy day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Day 14 - Heading Home

Well, we're nearing the end of our big adventure. Now all that's left is to take the train all the way back to Maryland. We weren't scheduled to leave until about 7:00 that evening so we had quite a bit of time to hang out and pack things up before heading back to Denver.

We arrived and found out the train was to be about 30 minutes late. Okay, no problem. Checked out bags, went to a nice dinner across the street from the station, grabbed the rest of our stuff out of the car and checked on the ETA again. 1 hr 30 minutes late. Ugh. We didn't actually get on the train until about 10:00 pm, that's almost 3 hours late. This wouldn't be too much of a problem except we have to make a connection in Chicago tomorrow. We have a 4 hr's not looking good already and we haven't even gotten started. Also, there was no airconditioning in the station.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Day 13 - Garden of the Gods

We spent the morning out at the Garden of the Gods, an amazing rock park in Colorado Springs. The sky was a deep blue and the moon was out, that along with the red of the rock formations made for some neat photo opportunities.

{Pike's Peak}

This also gave us a chance to use the nifty backpack. There are paved paths throughout the park so we didn't really need the pack, but it was nice to have. We thought we'd be more ambitious than we were and get in some real hikes, but at least it came in handy on the train and in the terminals.

Then back to the house. The rain the day before really cooled things down, but it was still hot in the sun. But, eventually the afternoon clouds had rolled back in. Pete and Ellie hung out on the lawn for as long as they could before another cooling rain.

After a week of hot hot hot, unusual for the Colorado I remember, we got to pull out the pants and long-sleeved shirts that I brought just in case.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 12 - Quiet time

A quiet day at last. Just spent the day relaxing and enjoying the scenery and being in one place for a few days. Ellie took a walk with Grandma around the neighborhood then sat on the front porch for awhile watching the clouds roll in.

Eventually it rained, really cooling things off (finally).

So nice to just sit. Nowhere to be, no one to see, nothing to do. Ahhhhhh.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day 11 - Par-tay

Sheeee's ba-ack.

I was really nervous that we'd pushed Ellie too far over the previous week and our reward would be a crabby baby for the remainder of the trip. But after a good night's sleep and a nice morning nap she was back to her chipper self. Phew.

Just in time for a party! The in-laws held an open house similar to the one my mom and step-dad had, inviting all their friends over for an afternoon to socialize and meet the grandbaby. It was a delightful afternoon and evening. Ellie did great being passed around again.

{with Grandpa}

She had a great time watching all the other kids playing, and they helped out a lot by keeping her entertained. Even the older folks got in on the fun. It was nice to see some people that we hadn't seen in awhile and meet some new friends. Party started about 4:00 and most stayed until well past 8:00. Good times had by all. And even though this wasn't intended as a gift-giving thing, I guess people can't resist shopping for baby so we got a few new fun toys, some adorable outfits, and a few new books. Suitcases are filling up.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Day 10 - The Springs

Man, did we have a crabby baby today. One nap in the living room does not a happy baby make. Lesson learned. Will my angel baby ever return?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 9 - South

We (maybe it was just me) were slow to get moving today so we didn't hike like we had been planning. Instead, we killed time until our lunch with my old adviser, her husband, and another old friend who was actually in Maryland with us for awhile before moving back west. It was fun to catch up with them. Lots of catching up to do it seems.

After lunch, we visited the favorite coffee shop for a bit, then walked along the creek path and watched people blissfully flowing down the creek on innertubes, even saw someone we knew and chatted with him for a bit. Small town Boulder can be. Sat in the grass and discussed why it was we left Boulder to begin with. Then it was time to get in the car and drive down to Colorado Springs for the next leg of our adventure.

A few gratuitous mountain shots on the way out of Boulder.

{NCAR - where weather gets made}

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Day 8 - Boulder

Our busiest day of the trip, we crammed a whole heck of a lot in to our one full day in one of my favorite places. We decided to splurge and get a fancy room at a fancy hotel right downtown Boulder, the Boulderado.

{our room}

{the view}

Up early and off to breakfast at my favorite place. This was Ellie's first time in a restaurant highchair, which she enjoyed. Yummy Creole food with the best biscuits I've ever had.

Then we hung out on the Pearl Street mall, and went to the best toy and kite shop ever. Couldn't resist buying a few things, but they fold flat so it's okay.

Then to a favorite old hangout to meet up with a new friend and her daughter for lunch and a beer and more mall walking. In case you're reading this, I was so very not underwhelmed and had a great time chatting "IRL." We apparently chose the hottest weekend of the year to visit so our mall walking was limited but still fun.

Then back to the hotel for a quick nap and to get all dressed up for the wedding that evening. The wedding was perfect, very laid back, perfect weather, perfect size. The bride looked lovely, the groom couldn't stop smiling, and both glowed. It was a beautiful outdoor setting, an absolutely wonderful jazz quartet playing. Really, a very, very classy and fun evening. The wedding also gave us a chance to catch up with a bunch of old friends that we hadn't seen in quite awhile, including my old roommate and her husband who I wish we lived closer to. We chose opposite coasts and it's been hard to keep in touch.

{the happy couple}

Thanks to Nat for taking what I think is our first family portrait since Christmas.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Day 7 - Heading West

Traded crops for cows.

The train ride this time was mostly overnight so just hung out in our tiny sleeper and played some peekaboo.

Arrived in Denver the next morning, and that was enough for us. Time to decompress before our whirlwind couple days in Boulder.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day 6 - Goodbyes

Quiet time with Grandma.

A few hugs from Aunt and Uncle.

A last goodbye from the train.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 5 - Family

The second of the Open Houses, this one was a joint celebration - meeting Ellie and my aunts making it through their 50th year. Ellie got a bunch of new adorable outfits and some new toys to play with. It's a good thing we left some room in our bags for extra stuff just in case!

It was especially fun to see one of my cousins all grown up and hearing about what she's doing now. I remember when she was Ellie's age, doesn't seem that long ago.

I just like this picture.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day 4 - Famiy and Friends

Today was a day of getting to know family and spending time with old friends. Ellie's grandparents have been out to visit us several times, but this is the first time we've been able to visit them. She's enjoyed hanging out with Grandpa Mac and getting tours of the garden with Grandma.

This was also the first time meeting her Uncle Jeremy and (future) Aunt Mary, and she's delighted with both.

We also got a chance to catch up with two of my oldest friends and their families (4 girls between us) for a little while. A delightful evening spent with their beautiful girls and seeing what's in store for us.