Hi there readers,
This post is long overdue -- and was written a month ago, when we got back from our trip. But Mr. Chris is having trouble uploading the photos, so you're just going to have to use your imaginations! Enjoy.
Every now and then the Universe plunks something down into our laps; It offers up to us a glimpse of beauty and hope and human decency so intense that our hearts get seared and changed forever. Chris and I experienced this during our recent trip to Colorado to visit his family and friend Lori. discount jerseysAbout two-thirds of the way through our visit we headed from his hometown of Arvada (outside Denver) to Nederland, a tiny mountain town outside Boulder. Lori was working, but she and her husband Paul had told us about The Carousel of Happiness. You can read the full story here (www.carouselofhappiness.org), but here's the scoop: Scott Harrison was a Marine in Vietnam and he lost friends during the war. During his service, he was sustained by daydreams of building a carousel in the mountains. He wanted to give back to the world that sense of childlike wonder and awe and pure goodness that can be so difficult to find. Over 26 years after the war, Harrison carved dozens of animals and then opened The Carousel of Happiness, with some of the proceeds from the rides (and gift shop) going to local charities. Chris and I rode The Carousel of Happiness (I chose the ostrich), chatted with the kind volunteers, watched this little girl fall in love with the mermaid she rode, and watched a ride or two from the observation "deck" on the second floor, where there also was a puppet theatre. You just can't believe how detailed this ride is -- carved foxes and skunks hang from beams; fairy dolls dangle and perch in windows and on the walls; carved children smile next to mirrors along the top of the ride. We walked out feeling recharged; we were like little kids. Not since my experiences with Wisconsin's House on the Rock have I been so in love with a carousel and the wonder it can bring to you.
The rest of our day crackled with perfection: we sipped coffee and ate quiche at Bluesteelers jerseys cheap Owl Books (and took pictures with the mannequin "sentinel"); walked by the waterfront and watched a loon dive for lunch; and teared up at a famous Eleanor Roosevelt quote on a bench by the covered bridge. Then we headed back to Lori's horse farm for another yummy home-cooked meal, and hung out with her and Paul and the dogs and horses. Before we jumped in the car to head back to Arvada, I made sure to sniff deep the smell of the hay bales in the barn and was instantly transported back to Serendipity, the farm my family used to visit every summer in my childhood. My brothers and I -- along with the Russo kids -- would ride the rope swing and play with nfl jerseys cheap the kittens and tumble down the bales onto the barn floor.
I'm in love with Chris's family, and I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to have "in-laws" that are so open and accepting and kind. Chris and I joked that I got the "sampler platter" of Denver and his childhood during our 10 days there. At first he felt a little goofy taking me around his neighborhood (i.e "Here's my elementary school" and "This is where we went to church"), but those were some of my favorite moments. It wasn't hard for me to picture him amongst the Rocky Mountain landscapes, trekkingjerseys wholesale down Pierce Street to make his classes on time. Donna and Cliff, his parents, are cute as buttons; I just wanted to bottle them up and sell them at the local Farmers Market. I'd make zillions. In many ways, the Ohmans are different from the Bucks -- they're quieter and more reserved. But in other ways we're the same: our sense of family and connection, for instance. I'm already looking forward to the next time I get to see them, get to know them that much more. On our last night -- which happened to be Chris's birthday -- Donna, Chris, and I headed out for ice cream at Sonic and took a detour to the Arvada Center; there's this amazing playground there with Squiggles the Dragon -- he's quite a site to behold. I mean, the artistry that must've went into making this humongous dragon that weaved in and out and around the playground, accompanied by fellow comrades such as the Wooly Mammoth!
The Ohmans made sure I was well taken care of, and we definitely did the "touristy stuff" cheap jerseystoo: the amusement park Elitch's; the botanical gardens; our day trip up through Trail Ridge, with a stop to hike around Bear Lake and another stop for lunch; and much more. Chris and I each made a new BFF -- at Elitch's we decided to enjoy Shipwreck Falls, a water ride, and we ended up in the front next to this adorable 10-year-old chatterbox who wouldn't stop telling Chris all about the ins-and-outs of the rides. She'd say things to him like, "Now be careful, there's a bump at the top of this ride" and "Make sure to stand on the bridge afterwards, so you get soaking wet!" She even ended up behind us in line for our final outing on the Twister, a rollercoaster. She couldn't wait the whole time because her and her friend's parents were about to leave, but I'll never get over how she waved goodbye at us, like all she wanted in the world was to hang out and chat with Chris forever. As for my new BFF, I met her on the plane ride home. I'd dozed off during the flight, and in typical class act mode not only snored but ended up with a trail of drool on my chin! After I woke up, this girl across the aisle who was maybe two kept pointing at me, saying, "Night-Night!" Her mother told me she was fascinated by watching me sleep -- she kept pointing at me the whole flight, saying "Night-Night." Chris has informed me this is one of my new nicknames. Lucky me! (Though I not-so-secretly like it.)
Our entire vacation was, indeed, a Carousel of Happiness. And now I'm home and about to walk up to my mother's house and give her a huge hug and spend time with her and the dogs. I'm going to tell her all about my trip and also tell her how much I missed her. I now have two wonderful families. What more could I ask for?