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Monday, June 18, 2007
It was going to be an early morning start but the three 15-year-old boys had little problem rising to meet the sun since it meant they would soon be soaking wet on the river.
Dan had somehow convinced me again that it would be a great time to spend the day in the hot sun for hours where the only means of escape was jumping into freezing cold water and risking a terrible, watery death. But that’s my paranoia at work and really this is about how much fun the boys - young and older - had, and how much fun I had watching them have fun.
We arrived at Westwater ranger station just before 8:00 a.m., hauled the gear off the trailer, did the car shuttle thing and got back to the put in point about 10:00 a.m. There were three rafts and enough experienced oarsmen to go around.
After about an hour and a half of leisurely floating we pulled over and Greg gave us a little preview of the class 3 and 4 rapids that lie ahead. The boys were excited as heck and I was fighting the urge to walk back to the car. My mood wasn’t helped when Dan insisted on giving me a blow-by-blow of what was coming.
“OK, first we go through Skull
, and there’s a huge rock on the side that we need to miss or we’re dead. Then we go through Sock-it-to-Me
and if we don’t hit it right we go into the Room of Doom
and we’re dead. After that there's the Rock of Shock,
which is always the worst of all. Then we go through Last Chance
and this is where the raft can “taco” and if it does that we’re dead. If we make it through all that we could still be dead.”
He didn’t say it exactly like that, but that’s what I heard. I asked him in a voice way past the edge of hysteria, “Where’s the safest place to be?” and his reply of “On the shore watching,” earned him a look that made the Room of Doom
seem like a welcoming place.
For better or worse we set off to meet our fate. The three stooges were on the bow of the raft sitting as close to the action as possible. As we dropped into Skull
their screams and whoops of absolute flat-out delight could be heard for miles. We got drenched and the raft was almost swamped which of course added to their enjoyment. They bailed and pumped as fast as they could before the next rapid, which of course swamped us again which led to more bailing and whooping. They were shouting with so much delight it made me forget I was panicked and I just started laughing at them having fun. Nick kept encouraging Dan, “Keep rowing! I know how this is done. I’ve seen it on TV!”
I must say here absolutely that Dan is an excellent oarsman. He got us through those rapids with impeccable timing and skill, with minimum risk and maximum fun!
Eventually we were back in calm water, and the boys asked if we could circle back and do it again! If only! The rest of the trip was in mostly flat water and the three boys were joined by another kid for the rest of the trip in an inflatable, supposed-to-be-two-person rubber-duckie. As you can see, Alex had the King Tut position on the front of the boat while the other kids worked the paddles. They had a great time and all of them are now bona-fide river rats, talking about getting their own rig and spending the rest of the summer on the water.
All in all, it was a fun day with a wonderful bunch of people. And other than a few gnat bites, and sun burned foot-tops, nobody was worse for the wear!
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, June 15, 2007
I think Soren would shake his head emphatically up and down if I asked him if this guy was his best friend.
And I'd have to agree because he's mine too.
A very Happy Father's Day to all dads this weekend!
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, June 14, 2007
I was on vacation ... did you miss me?
Our big family vacation this year was to visit Bill's family in and around Buffalo, New York. Bill and the kids are staying for two weeks, I was there for one.
I'd only been to the Buffalo area one time previous when Margaret was 6 months old and Buffalo had just been hammered with a monumental snowstorm which virtually crippled the city. Needless to say, we mostly stayed indoors.
The beginning of June is a much better time to visit Buffalo. I guess I should clarify that for the most of my stay I wasn't really anywhere near Buffalo but was way, way out in the middle of farmland that abuts Lake Ontario in Barker.
But we did a fair amount of traveling around to see the sights, including Niagara Falls.
These falls are amazing. The amount of water pouring over the edge is truly remarkable. The mist will soak you in about three seconds.
We did the touristy thing and took the Maid of the Mist
out into Niagara River, along the American and Bridal Veil Falls and up to the base of the Horseshoe Falls.
And as part of the admission price on to the boat we got these lovely rain ponchos.
Even though we diligently wore our ponchos (and took a little too much enjoyment in wearing them), we got soaked. But we had so much fun enjoying the falls that wet shoes didn't seem to matter so much.
if you're interested in seeing more photos of the falls.
Visiting Niagara Falls: A
Eating awesome Greek food at Granny's Family Restaurant
in North Tonawanda after visiting the falls: A+ (I'm still having dreams about their labni!)
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Well, as promised, here’s my Top Ten list of things I don’t like about living in Western Colorado. Please don’t criticize my
list - be honest and write your own.
Again in no particular order:
1. For every one Mexican restaurant in town, there are at least two others. Come on, I have nothing against Mexican food, but how many do we need?
2. Sometimes, the Bookcliffs and the Grand Mesa are just in the way. Yes, they’re beautiful, but don’t you get a little claustrophobic now and then?
3. It’s becoming mostly a small town with big city problems.
4. The parking lot in the only mall in town is choked off by miles of concrete pipe being laid to prevent a hundred year flood in the desert. When was the last flood? Are we gonna be here to care about the next one?
5. You constantly have to decide whether or not driving to Denver to save $200 or more on a flight anywhere is worth it. Then you miss the good ticket prices anyway because you took too long to decide.
6. Your claim to fame is that you are the largest retail trade center between Denver and Salt Lake City. Except for illegal drugs.
7. Wages are much lower here than for the same work elsewhere. The flip side of that is there’s not much to spend the money on anyway.
8. Kids still whine about having nothing to do. Especially over the summer.
9. We build 10,000 square foot homes for people who got tired of breathing bad air in whatever city they moved from.
10. Most of the real cowboys have left the building.
OK - I'm done.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
A few nights ago my hubby came around the corner to find his pregnant wife devouring a quarter pan of warm brownies swimming in whole milk. I wasn't hiding out of embarrassment but I was hiding from the toddler who didn't eat his dinner. I tell ya, food never tastes better than when you're eight months pregnant. Go ahead...bring on the summer barbecue and June wedding cakes because I'm ready!
But, I'm at that point when the scale creeps up and it gets a little scary. My stomach is beyond the "cute" point and into the "Wow" category.
And I'm at the point where thoughts of another six months without sleep, the pumping, the diapers, the crying, the bills and trying to make it all as smooth of an adjustment as possible for my family is a lot scary too. Despite being an expert baby mom, I'm smart enough to know that there will be a whole new set of challenges to face with a toddler and a new baby.
I can't imagine what it must have felt like to carry six babies like the ones that were delivered in Phoenix yesterday. I didn't even know that a stomach could stretch that big! Mine looks tiny in comparison. Take a minute and check it out
Photos courtesy of MSNBC
I think the father, Brian Masche, said it best in that video when he said that there was no way to prepare for six babies, no way to worry about that kind of hospital bill, or no way to worry far into the future.
It's the same feeling whether you are having your first or your second or six all at once. There's just too much to contemplate so all you can do is worry about having healthy children and the rest will work itself out.
Jenny Masche delivered at 30 weeks which is exactly where I am at right now. She is still in the ICU after acute heart failure but her babies are breathing on their own. All I can think of is what a great mom she is, how lucky she is to have a husband like Brian, and if I could I'd hug her right now and I'd whisper in her ear that it's all going to be okay.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, June 11, 2007
Watch out Rimrock Rodeo...SoJo's a coming!
Like every good parent in Grand Junction I spent part of the weekend at the Shrine Circus. (Watch Video
) We opted for the Saturday morning matinee. The place was packed, the sweet smell of cotton candy was in the air masking the pungent scent of elephant poo, clowns were clowning, and kids OF ALL AGES were jumping up and down in excitement.
My father-in-law loves loves LOVES the circus. To have a new wave of grandchildren to spoil there is just a piece of heaven to him. He always knows everyone including the circus owners and likes to show off the kids. I certainly don't mind letting him spoil Soren and enjoyed the time we got to spend with him.
We started with pony rides. At not-yet-but-nearly 1 and 1/2 I was wondering if grandpa was wasting his six bucks on letting my kid ride. I mean...6 BUCKS...good golly!
I plunked the cowboy kid down on a sturdy steed fully expecting a panic stricken terrifying scream to follow. He wobbled a bit, unsure how to balance until I guided his little hand down to the saddlehorn. He let go of the other hand, placed it on the saddlehorn, scooted his butt back for better balance and then shook his head up and down in a get-ee-up. He flashed his two front teeth at grandpa as we loped by who tried his best to operate the new-fangled digital camera. I kept a hand hovering in case of overconfidence. Then he chanted "Doggeee Dooggeee" over and over again.
He was a natural cowboy. Who woulda known? I sure didn't teach him how to ride a pony like a pro roper! I think mutton-busting is in his future. Is there a nice purse involved in that? I guess we'd better get him some cowboy boots for Christmas.
I have pictures to add to this post but I forgot them this morning. Cut me some slack. It is Monday after all. Come on back for pics this afternoon—ya'll.
Oops....forgot them again! Check back tomorrow to see a picture of an elephant, I promise....I think.
Friday, June 8, 2007
Today I’m sharing my “Top Ten” list of things in Western Colorado that I like. I know you’re saying to yourself, “Thank God! What took her so long?”
(Next entry I’ll give you my “Top Ten” things I don’t like. Stay tuned . . . .)
These are not necessarily in order of preference:
1. The Pinon Grill patio at Tiara Rado golf course for drinks, dinner or Sunday breakfast.
2. A twenty-degree temperature drop is only 30 minutes away.
3. Gorgeous hiking trails right outside my back door the likes of which most people travel hundreds of miles to get to.
4. Snow melts before you have to shovel.
5. You can run into the mayor at some function or other and express your pleasure/displeasure about whatever while having a cocktail.
6. Las Vegas is within driving distance.
7. There is a festival for corn, peaches, wine, mountain bikes, Ska, blues, chamber and classical music, art, bluegrass, apples, rocks, baseball, jazz, independent films, the Renaissance, and chickens with no heads.
8. Double punch Tuesday at Enstrom’s with a side of toffee sample.
9. It’s still (barely) Republican.
10. You can attend an outdoor concert and not know, or care, who the band is.
What’s on your
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Can they really live on love alone?
I think they can. The classic toddler eating pattern is finally emerging. Sometimes he has a hollow leg and sometimes not more than a bite passes his lips. Unless of course it's ice cream...then he'll patiently lick his way down to the fingers.
This being the one and only ice cream cone he's ever had...because if you don't eat your dinner you don't get to have ice cream. It's a good old fashioned rule to follow I think.
I try not to worry but as I've said here
eating is something I try to keep a close eye on. He's still small...the kid needs to eat well. It really makes you wonder if we all NEED
to eat three squares a day or if we are just conditioned to do so.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
The Daily Sentinel is not only a consisently award winning newspaper with an up-to-the-minute Website, it is also a cornerstone of Grand Junction supporting numerous events and projects within the community.
One amenity that I've used regularly in the past six months is the playground located at Mesa Mall
. On any given day this little area is a haven for kids and parents alike.
The toys were getting a little rough around the edges. Last week, the Daily Sentinel unvieled new toys in the area with a camping theme. There is a river with fish that is perfect for sliding on to unwhiten socks, a log tunnel which is Soren's favorite, a ladybug, a turtle, a new tent, a raft, and a campfire.
Gone are the boulder slide and the dragon. Getting rid of the slide is a good thing I think. The slide was very steep. I've witnessed plenty of four kid pile-ups at the bottom and I spent a good portion of my time trying to steer Soren away from it.
Photo by Joy Pope/The Daily Sentinel
Last week's event brought lots of kids and their parents out to enjoy free storytelling about safe camping. Here are more photos by Joy Pope taken at the event.
Not that anyone asked me, but I have just a couple of suggestions for improvement.
For one, it should be gated. Every single time I go a kid escapes. Luckily a kind passerby usually steers the child right back in. It's like an unspoken mom code that if you see an escapee you take action. All the parents watch all the kids but a little baby gate would make the job easier.
Okay, only one suggestion and one complaint. The complaint is that some people allow children that are way way to big to play in the area. There is a height limit to play there for good reason. Little ones like mine don't have much fun when a whirlwind of giant children are zipping all around him. Crossing to the log tunnel is like a game of Frogger (warning: don't click that unless you really want distracted)
for a one-year-old when big kids are present. He's been trampled, knocked down, picked up, hit, teased and kissed all by bigger kids. It's just part of the experience but some kids are much too big to be playing there. I'm a rule follower and I wish others were too.
K-I'm done complaining now.
I do want to thank the DS on behalf of all parents for providing this area and the new toys. The company doesn't get anything out of it but the satisfaction of knowing that parents like me appreciate a place to take a break in the mall or a place to go during the cold winter months. I hope they know that my kid really enjoys it.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
It is easier to talk about my proud mom moments than it is to admit my unproud ones. I made a big mommy oopsy last week that left me pretty rattled for a couple of days.
My great-niece had spent the day with Soren and after a long day at work I realized that the cupboard once again was bare. So I strapped the kids into the side-by-side double Jeep stroller and we were on our way to free food at grandma's house.
We meandered down sidestreets to avoid traffic. Soren had a plastic snake. He had just learned that a plastic snake can be great fun. Even funner when the little girl beside you squeaks and squeals each time it's shaken in her face. Every few blocks he would lean way out to see her face and shake his snake at her laughing hysterically at her prissyness. The classic boy teases girl game. It was pretty cute.
As we approached an especially busy street I waited until all traffic was very very clear. I let the front tires off the curb and at the exact same time an overly rambunctious game of snake shaking began. Soren leaned far forward to get the best possible view of his cousin's face, she pitched herself aggressively forward to get away from the snake, and I held on to the tipping stroller as if it were teetering on the edge of a cliff.
Carrying this oversized belly makes my center of balance a bit comprised. The stroller, the kids, and myself hit the pavement. I picked myself up, ran in front of the stroller, pushed it back upright and hauled it back onto the sidewalk before any cars could come. It took literally a millisecond and it scared the crap out me.
Then I had to assess the damage. Baby girl had a goose egg on her forehead. Soren had a scraped knee. Both kids were crying and a fine layer of grey road ash covered them from head to toe. My eyes were clouded with tears. But my first thought was..."Oh thank God...no blood."
We finally reached our destination. The kids were done crying by the time we finally crossed the street. I cleaned the road dirt off them and they jumped in the sandbox none worse for wear.
But I was visibly shaken for awhile. Of course I had to confess to everyone what a bad mom I am. Nobody seemed to think it was such a big deal. I felt really really bad about it for a few days.
I'm starting to let it go though because I keep telling myself that things like that are going to happen. All parents make mistakes and there are such things as accidents. I just need to learn to accept it. Much worse things than dumping a stroller are going to happen, some may even involve the emergency room and blood. I can't beat myself up every single time I make a mistake but really I do.
Compassionate parents should share their oopsy moments with me. I'd like to hear your stories because they'll make me feel better.