Colorado State Fair

by Touring Mama on September 16, 2010

Liz has her first experience milking a cow

You don’t have to travel to far flung corners of the globe to have unique cultural experiences. A mere 2 hours from home we can attend the State Fair. This two week extravaganza contains plenty of kitsch, but also plenty of good lessons in differences of how people choose to live. We visited the fair on Fiesta Day so just for fun we got a little Mexican culture mixed in with our Farm Culture. Elizabeth enjoyed the dancers and music.

Andrew practices his cattle roping

Andrew practices his cattle roping

My kids have lived their whole lives in a single family home in the suburbs. This environment is full of cars and houses with individual lawns. For a few months they lived in apartment buildings in bustling Chinese cities full of people and bicycles and subways. They have never spent much time on a farm though.

We once spent the night at a ranch owned by one of my friend’s parents and watched calves being branded. My friends were surprised at the frankness of my answers when the kids asked what happens to all the cows. Every year or two we visit the State Fair or the stock show and get up close and personal with the animals that produce and become our food. I think these experiences are just as important as any travel to see cultures in other countries.

Driving a tractor wearing Greece caps next to the Nija Beef stand - How multicultural can you get?

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Lily Pad Lake

by Touring Mama on August 29, 2010

Now that we’re back home and both working locally our adventures aren’t quite so exotic, but we try to make do with weekend warrior trips.  This weekend’s destination was Breckenridge, Colorado.  Just over an hour from home and using credit card points for the hotel made for a quick and cheap weekend away.

Lily Pad Lake

We stayed at the Beaver Run Resort at the base of Peak 9 in a deluxe studio.  Since our credit card uses the same number of points for a hotel room that cost $60 or one that cost $150 this was the best deal I could get for the points.  The room was beautiful and the amenities were great.  The deluxe studio with a kitchenette was perfect for making a quick oatmeal breakfast and storing our snacks in the mini fridge.  The bed was super soft and comfy.  The location would be perfect for the winter with a high speed lift right out the door (of course we couldn’t get a room for anywhere near the same price in the winter) presently surrounded by wildflowers instead of snow.  With a couple of pools and several hot tubs around there was no shortage of water activities to be enjoyed by adults and kids alike.  There is an arcade room with a mini-golf course in the middle.  Souvenir golf balls are $2 each, so if you know your going to play it might be worth throwing in a couple of balls; putter use is complementary.  It was a nice place and I actually felt myself contemplating the possibilities when noticing the real estate add on the back of the door.  Hopefully we’ll be back in the winter.

Helping nature spread seeds

The first day we were up in the mountains we rode our bikes about three miles around Dillon Reservoir.  This was Andrew’s first big bike trip on his own and racking up over 6 miles round trip did not come easy, but with the promise of ice cream at the end of the ride he persevered.  Elizabeth was not too pleased at first to be upgraded from the trailer to the tag-a-long bike, but she got over it pretty quickly and actually helped pedal a bit.  The tag-a-long fits in the car much better too.

Catching fairies

On day two we hiked to Lily Pad Lake above Silverthorne.  This trail was about 2.6 miles according to the sign at the trail head and that seems about right.  This was a big trip for Elizabeth and is probably the longest she has ever hiked without being carried at all – not even a few steps.  We managed to do the hike in about 2.25 hours, just under our usual mile/hour pace with the kids.  There were a lot of races to the next tree and some hide-and-seek games to keep the kids motivated, but it was a very pleasant walk with the kids.  At one point they were catching seed heads floating in the breeze.  Andrew told me that these were fairies and if you caught one you could make a wish.  Andrew wished for all the gold in the world and Elizabeth wished for wings to fly like a fairy herself (with nobody’s help!).  The destination Lily Pad Lake was really beautiful, especially when a breeze caused the lily pads to flutter in the water.  There is another lake right next to it with a beaver lodge in it too.

Unfortunately, this brings us to Sunday afternoon and the need to return home and get some sleep before the next week of school and work.

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Home School for the non-home schooler

August 17, 2010

The most common question we get after returning home after traveling for months is, “So… how did you like home schooling.”  My standard short answer is, “It was fine, but I wasn’t inspired to continue now that we’re home.” I never dreamed of home schooling my kids.  I love my kids dearly, but also very [...]

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Sino-Tibetan Relations

July 11, 2010

I am anything but an authority on this subject, but we did witness some curious things while we were in Tibet and China that are worth sharing.  Even before we arrived in Tibet we were able to see the Chinese propaganda machine at work.  The World Expo was taking place in Shanghai and the kids [...]

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Day 9 – Drak Yerpa

July 7, 2010

Since we returned to Lhasa a day early we had time to visit Drak Yerpa on day 9. This monastery is located in the mountains outside of Lhasa and is only about an hour drive from town. Most of the buildings are built into the side of the the mountain in caves. It is an [...]

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Day 8 – Yangpachen Hot Springs to Lhasa

July 5, 2010

We awoke on day 8 of our trip to Tibet in the Yangpachen Hot Springs Hotel.  This was by far the most expensive hotel we stayed at in Tibet.  Our triple room was 580 RMB (about $85) and our guide apologized repeatedly for the expense.  She didn’t know the rooms at this place were quite [...]

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Day 7 – Nam Tso to Yangpachen Hot Springs

July 5, 2010

We began day 7 by completing the kora (clockwise walk) around the hill that we had scaled the previous day.  This was the only day of our trip where we felt cold.  We actually wore hats and gloves for the walk.  I was beginning to wonder why we were packing around all that gear but [...]

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Day 6 – Nam Tso

July 4, 2010

After spending the night in Damxung and grabbing a quick, but overpriced, breakfast we made the 1.5 hour drive to Nam Tso.  We reached the highest point in our journey when we crossed La Ken La (Laken Pass) at 5190 meters (16600 feet).  From this point on we had glorious views of the 70 kilometer [...]

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Day 5 – Driving Tidrum to Damxung

July 3, 2010

Our original plan had been to spend a full day at Tidrum hiking and soaking in the hot springs.   It might have been the pervasive smell of yak butter in our rooms (I wish I could post that smell for you!) but I couldn’t bring myself to sleep in those beds again or go [...]

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Hotel Kyichu Review

June 30, 2010

Our last hotel in Tibet was by far the best, even one of the best we’ve stayed at in our cumulative 7 months in China.  It is newly remodeled and the beds are soft western-style pillow tops.  I was absolutely not worried about bed bugs.  We had a huge room with a separate sitting area. [...]

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