Basic updates: I was good at parts of go-carting...namely figuring out the line of travel that allowed maximum speed (in this case hugging the curves meant your car shifted sideways a bit and you lost power). I was bad at picking the fastest car. I won the first race. And lost the second, because I was forced off the road into a pile of tires. No fiery, Earnhardt jr-esque crash. Just me sitting there shaking my fist at my cousin by marriage.
I should explain that (the CBM). Since I was not planning on being fired, I was not planning on coming down to Alamosa at this time. Neither were my aunt and uncle. however, I was, and I have. My aunt's brother, sister-in-law and their 4 children did plan on visiting. So it's been a time to blend families. It's been fun for the most part. The Millers (them) are generally pleasant and I love children so that's been great. I was refered to by the 7 year old (while out of sight, and he thought earshot) as Mr. Big Guy. This was said fondly...or so I tell myself. Sunday was fishing. Flyfishing skills came back (I guess those years of casting on my front lawn, while people mocked me came in handy)in a hurry. Caught two fish (both rainbow trout). A 12 incher and a 10 inch fish. My skills at removing the fish are quite a bit more suspect. Touching fish, sorta bothers me. Makes me look like a skittish little pansy---which in this case is wholly accurate. So I need to get over that fear, awkwardness...whatever. Because, I'm planning on resuming fly fishing (in some limited capacity) when I move to Seattle. They have lots of fish there, and lots of places to stand in pretty flowing water and cast a line...and then catch nothing. Which frankly, is my real talent. I can cast really well...and I rarely catch anything. So long as that becomes a prime portion of the goal--I'm golden.
After fishing---there was dinner. After the 2nd fishing excursion of the evening, there were s'mores. After s'mores there was night time hide-and-go-seek.
Day Two of the Blended Family Jamboree.
Breakfast. Driving into Creede. (not, suprisingly enough, named for the crappy Pearl Jam wanna be band). Creede is a small little town (though mineral county, where Creede is the county seat only has 872 residents) where mining was the big industry. But not that big. They now have an underground mining museum. It was fairly nice. Certainly very cool (57 degrees or so). I learned that most of mining is a process called mucking. The audio tour used the word muck in nearly every sentence and several times several times in a sentence. After the U.M.M. we went for a picnic. Turkey sandwich. Then more fishing, this time in the Rio Grande. I was skunked (fishing jargon...it's coming back, for not catching anything). But was the only fisherperson to see a fish, and get a strike (when the fish takes the fly, sometimes, as in my case it "spits the fly" --and you do not hook the fish).
Yesterday was a trip to the Great Sand Dunes National Monument. Volcanic sand from the San Juan mountain range (a long way off) was blown and concentrated between two mountain passes...and ends up pushed into a curve in the Sangre De Christo mountains (near Alamosa). Home to the largest sand dunes in the US, the park is a great sight if nothing else. Several dunes are well over 600 feet tall, with Star Dune at 750. Climbing is so fricking hard. You gain 400 feet and then go down, then gain another 300 feet and go down. So climbing up a 500+ dune (as we did) takes the better part of forever. Sand storms, etc. It was a great time though. Last time I was there was as a 13 year old kid. I hiked off by myself without water, and climbed a very tall dune, and for my efforts and stupidity earned a mighty headache and some dehydration for good measure. I brought water this time. 12 years and more than a few headaches from dehydration later--I've learned at least that.
Fun on the dunes was followed by the Colorado Gators. A fish farm in the area (stocking tillapia) uses a natural aquifer that produces water that's 87 degrees. In the 70s they wanted an efficient way to gather and dispose of the many dead fish that such an operation yields (They are shipping 2,000 lbs of fish to Denver a day). The answer was alligators. So they bought hundreds of alligators and now have this dual operation (or dueling operation). The "attraction" is hot and dusty and honestly not that pleasant. There are lots of alligators, and snakes, and turtles and lizards and millions of flies. At 12 and 4 a 14 year old kid (son of the owner) goes out and feeds some of the smaller gators (8-10 feet long..so smaller is relative). He invites people to join him in the pen to toss fish to the gators. Then he lassoes one of the gators drags it, very much against its will, to the shore and then sits on it and wraps its jaw with duct tape. It's a violent and unpleasant process to watch. Finally after the gator is wrapped and subdued (with some force) children are allowed to sit on the gator and get a digital photo taken. The basic message seems to be--even our children can dominate nature...if we cheat. It turned my stomach. It was rounded out by the fact that every child sitting on the alligator was from a Church Group (or the Millers one of whom was wearing a shirt from her church youth group). I turned to the youth group leader, a too cool for school adult, and said, "sort of a depressing attempt at showing our dominion over nature." Blank stare. Again, too cool, or wildly confused.
After that home, then came go carting.
So that's my past few days. Should be some photos to document, but mainly I've left my camera in the car--don't want to ruin it with sand, water, gators, go-carts, etc.
My sister and father arrive in Colorado Springs tomorrow. I'll drive up to meet them there. Who knows what we'll do. But should be great to see them. And then a week from today--I will be driving to Seattle.