Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dessert for the Cows

Earlier today, Aunt Diane had accumulated an enormous box full of corn cobs and corn husks.  Our mission:  feed these treats to the cows in the pastures around her farm.  

 In addition to tossing out corn husks and cobs to the cows, Evelyn also directly fed some of the bovine.
 Meanwhile, Julia hunkered down in the back of the pickup, tossing tidbits up and over the side of the truck.
 It sounds like feeding the cows was a major highlight of the girls' summer vacation.  It's definitely a change of pace for these east coast kids!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Kittens on the Farm

Evelyn and Julia's wish came true - Aunt Leann had kittens on the farm this summer.  They couldn't get enough of these little furballs...and can you blame them?

Mega Railfanning

Last summer we visited the Golden Spike Tower in North Platte, Nebraska, and we made a return trip this afternoon.  Bailey Yard is where you can watch a bazillion Union Pacific locomotives and freight cars move around.  Okay, maybe not a bazillion, but there's a lot going on at this 2,850-acre site (also known as the world's largest train yard).

 Here's Train Girl #1, thoroughly enjoying herself.
 How could she not, with all these UP locomotives moving around the yard?
 And Train Girl #2 loved seeing and naming all the different kinds of freight cars that rolled by.  I'm sure we will have to stop here every time we drive through North Platte, which will be every summer if the girls have any say in the matter.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sweet Cousins

Here's one last shot of Julia and Evelyn with their baby cousin, Lindsay.  Clearly my girls were anxious to get Lindsay playing on the swingset in her backyard...but the sweet little girl can't even sit up, yet!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

The focus of today's trip to Colorado Springs was the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.  The name of the zoo comes from the name of the mountain that the zoo is built upon.  Where else can you walk switchbacks to see animals (at an elevation of 6,800 feet) or ride a ski lift to get a better view of the zoo?

 The zoo's logo is a giraffe.  We now understand the meaning behind their logo.  This zoo leads the world in breeding giraffes, with 196 births since 1954 (with another baby born this morning).  Including today's new addition, there were 22 giraffes at the zoo.....that's a lot!
 The girls had the opportunity to feed giraffes wafers, which was the highlight of their day.  Evelyn was totally comfortable feeding her giraffe.  Julia, on the other hand, was a bit timid.  She wanted to be close enough to make sure the giraffe got the treat, but she quickly pulled her hand away so the giraffe's tongue wouldn't touch her too much.  According to the girls, the top of a giraffes' tongue is rough, and the bottom is smooth.
 After wandering around the zoo for about two and a half hours, we all decided it was time for lunch.  How's this for a picnic with a view?
 Carousel at the zoo?  Yup.  Did the girls want to go for a ride?  Absolutely!  You get your money's worth, too - the ride lasts four minutes.  (Yes, we timed it.)
 We continued our stroll up Cheyenne Mountain and ended up at the Wallaby Walkabout.  After entering the walkabout through two heavy gates, we discovered that the wallabies are free to roam inside the enclosure.  The ropes you see in the picture below are basically to keep the humans off the grass.  It was so cool getting so close to the wallabies!
 The wallaby exhibit is basically as high as you can climb at the zoo, so I informed the girls that it was literally all downhill from there.  The next animal exhibit we came to was the pallas cats.  These little guys (weighing six to eight pounds) are from Mongolia and China, and we thought they looked like fluffy, long-haired housecats.  (I'm sure they aren't as docile...)
 Before going to the zoo today, I got a schedule of animal programs via text message.  We chose several programs to attend, and we learned SO much about the animals by attending those zookeeper-lead activities.  Pictured below is Emmett, a 7-year-old grizzly bear.  We watched him go through his daily physical exam with a zookeeper; the exam looks like a bear doing tricks to us commonfolk.  It was pretty impressive.
We spent seven hours at the zoo today, and we were spent by the end of the day.  However, we didn't have time to see and do everything.  Hmmm...I suppose that means we'll have to come back another time!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Little Man Ice Cream

This afternoon we made it to our most anticipated Denver destination:  Little Man Ice Cream.  When the girls saw the towering milk can, they squealed with delight.  They knew delicious ice cream was just steps away!

 The girls chose chocolate ice cream (Julia asked for rainbow sprinkles on hers), and I splurged on a hot fudge sundae made with their infamous salted Oreo ice cream.
 Oh my heavens, it was just as scrumptious as we had hoped! chocolate ice cream on a hot summer day.  Perfect!

Colorado Railroad Museum

Once upon a time, 3 1/2-year-old Evelyn visited a really fun train museum in Golden, Colorado.  She had a blast, exploring all the different outdoor train displays.  Fast-forward to today, when 8-year-old Evelyn returned to this amazing museum.  There are locomotives, freight cars, cabooses and snow plows on 15 acres.  Plenty of room to explore.   

 Since we rode on the modern Pike's Peak cograil train yesterday, the girls got a kick out of seeing one of the first cograil locomotives (a steamie, not a diesel).
 Watch out, Evelyn!  The snow plow's gonna get you!
 Evelyn didn't know which part of the turntable to explore first, there were so many trains.
 The high-elevation sun got to us before we saw everything...which just means we'll have to come back again.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Garden of the Gods

Q:  Where can two little girls lift a HUGE rock all by themselves?

 A:  Garden of the Gods
 This afternoon was sunny and pretty toasty, so we picked a smaller trail to hike through the rock formations.  Here are the girls in front of Evelyn's favorite - Kissing Camels.
 Evelyn was on a mission to find the best rocks to climb, and Julia was content to follow the leader.
 Evelyn was more of a thrill-seeker this afternoon, crawling into small spaces, while Julia stayed outside the rock formations.
 The area in the picture below was good and bad for the girls.  Evelyn loved playing in the red sand, but Julia had a tough time walking on the slippery slopes.  Good thing I was there to hold her hand!
 Evelyn wanted to go even higher in this crevice, but her arms and legs weren't long enough.  She did well, though, getting about three feet off the ground, shimmying with her hands and feet.
 One last shot of the area we explored this afternoon - can't wait to come back again!

Pike's Peak

Several months ago, I made reservations for the Pike's Peak cograil train...and today was the day.  When we found out we were sitting in the very front of the train, we were pretty excited!

 Two trains rode up at the same time, one behind the other (you can see the other train ahead of us in the picture below).  Here's the view from our seats, looking ahead at Pike's Peak.
 Evelyn asked to use the camera to take a picture of the scenery.  It wasn't until I uploaded the pictures that I realized how interesting Evelyn's picture is.  Instead of positioning the camera level with the horizon, Evelyn used the windowsill as her horizontal reference.  Look closely at the trees - it gives you an idea of how steep the climb was.
 An hour and a half after our train departed, we reached the top!  Thankfully it wasn't windy today, so we were only mildly chilly.
 And here's the obligatory photo at the top of the mountain.
 Evelyn kept trying to get closer and closer to the edge of the mountain.  Thankfully she came in a little bit - we would hate to lose our Peanut!
 Once it started drizzling, we headed inside the visitors' center to munch on donuts for a morning snack.  We bought a six-pack, but we actually got seven donuts.  Score!  (And they were absolutely delicious.)
 As we walked outside to get on the train for the ride back down the mountain, it started hailing.  It hailed for about half of the descent - the white stuff in the picture below is hail.  It snowed a bit, too.  Rain, hail and snow - Evelyn the weather buff was over the moon, witnessing all that precipitation.
The three-and-a-half-hour cograil ride was totally worth it.  Hopefully we can do it again sometime!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

New Baby Cousin

The girls finally got to meet their new baby cousin!  Lindsay Allison is five months old now, and both Julia and Evelyn had loads of fun playing with her.

 Whereas Evelyn played calmly with Lindsay, Julia was louder and loved giving Lindsay as many toys as possible.  Thankfully Lindsay was entertained by both girls.
 Smile for the camera, girls!
 While babysitting Lindsay last night, Evelyn got to give her a bottle.  After about 20 minutes, though, I had to take over, as Evelyn's arm started getting tired (and Lindsay needed to be burped).
 Here's a shot of ALL the girls playing together, even Chessie cat.