22 October 2007

Julia, try it! I'm making it with love ..

Mia was off on a girls canyoneering trip, so I was cooking dinner. Julia is pretty picky with food so I thought I'd try a different approach.

Papa: Hey Julia, You'll have to try my steak sauce. I'm making it with love!
Julia: Is it white sauce? I only love white sauce.
Papa: .. but it's made with love ..
So much for that approach .. (Actually, I think she sort of liked it a little bit.)

It's pretty amazing what she's learning at kindergarten. Julia asks how to write a word. I'll say the letters and she can write most of them. I don't know why the kids are pushed to do this in kindergarten. I didn't learn so early. In Germany, Julia's nephews Max and Florian, didn't learn writing until 1st grade.

17 October 2007

Fall in Colorado

Here's a couple of pics from last weekend. The first is a collage of Aspens, Cottonwoods, Junipers and Pinon in the San Luis Valley.

This second picture is from the next day, driving 285 through South Park. Yah, winter's a coming.

06 October 2007

A visit to Dad

My sister, Laura, gave me a call. She told me about Dad's kidney problems and said I need to come out. I called Dad. He didn't want me to come out in a few weeks because he might be spending time doing medical tests. In other words, he didn't want me out when he might be having trouble and needed support. He wanted me out when he was feeling good and could do stuff. That's my dad ..

I left Friday afternoon and stopped at a rest area West of Des Moines around midnight. I tossed my sleeping bag out close to the adjacent corn field. (When will I grow up? Most 49 year olds would just sleep in a hotel.) Sleep didn't come easily though. I kept dreaming someone would walk up and steal my prosthesis. That would really blow - stuck in the middle of Iowa without my leg.

Dad & Mom looked the same as last year. After a tour of the garden, Dad had rhododendrons to plant. My job was to do a bit of digging, bust up the dirt clods and mix in the mulch. I was going to help more but as I watched Dad, I realized I was watching a master gardener. He had picked a location with just the right amount of winter sun and summer sun. Planting was his joy. I didn't want to intrude too much.

We went for a walk the next day on a trail next to the Illinois & Michigan canal. This canal was a link in a water route from the East Coast to the Gulf of Mexico. The trail was a hiking and bike path. The canal is canoeable also. We had a nice walk. Seeing a group of Egrets was a bonus.

The Dr. has not nailed down the kidney problem yet. I think Dad is still finding his boundaries with the problem. My appearance prompted more activity and different food than Dad was used to. By Wednesday he wasn't feeling good and the Dr. said go to the ER. Of course, Dad had to have breakfast first ... An hour later, he was getting dressed - still. Mom said he's a slow dresser .. It's good that Laura is a nurse at Silver Cross hospital. She could walk down to be with us. After testing and an increase in lasix, to reduce fluid retention, Dad was discharged.

Dad & Mom have a number of decisions ahead but Dad is stable for now. I drove back to Colorado in one 16 hour haul, including stops. I could never have done it without the U.S. history cds. It was even fun.

Here's a few more pictures of the family AND the Illinois & Michigan canal.

05 October 2007

Cripple Creek Mining & the Molly Kathleen Mine Tour

1000 feet underground ... My body shook, my vision blurred, 5 deep, strong, hearty blasts were felt ... more than heard. What was happening? I really wanted it to be done. OK, please stop now .. When it was over - 30 seconds later, Chuck said that was NOT part of the tour. I understand why. I'm sure many would soil their trousers. In any case, mining goes on and it was closer than expected this day.

A rainy day at the Shelf Road climbing area chased us upstairs to the town of Cripple Creek (satellite view, Wikipedia)- the famous gold mining town. I've always wanted to do the Molly Kathleen mine tour and now was the time.

Chuck was a great tour guide. He still has his fingers in mining and told some great stories, like the time his light went out. He was in a crosscut between the Molly Kathleen and an adjacent mine. He crawled for 2-1/2 hours before he found light again.

The Molly Kathleen is still being mined. I had no idea. Lot's of gold still but the processing is more expensive than it used to be. Unless grandfathered in, a mine can no longer use cyanide to process their ore. Mines have to ship the ore to Canada to process. This really kills the profit of course. The mines ship the ore to Canada during the winter, when the train shipping costs are down.

Chuck was a great guide. Our group of 9 entered 2 "cars" over the shaft. Chuck said - You see the town down there? We are going 400 ft below that. This was a really good visual of our destination depth. He demonstrated operation of much of the equipment when he could and explained the rest. Julia had a great time. We'll be back again. More for me than for Julia. I've always hankered to do more than just gold pan mining.

More pics here