Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Sorry this is a day late, and a dollar short as the saying goes. We've really been bad about blogging lately. It seems like we always have something to do, and then the day slips by...

Yesterday was a very l-o-n-g day for Phoebe & I as we got up around 6am to start the various preparations for meals, etc. It was also a very blessed day, full of surprises (wink, wink, Mom!), blessings and laughter. Thank God Mom is still with us to enjoy and share the day of Christ.

We had Scottish scones for breakfast, along with some rice & a clementine (similar to a tangerine), along with honey, molasses and peanut butter for 'toppings'. Needless to say, both giant pans were scarfed up in a heart beat. Phoebe is such a great baker. :)

I'll have to leave it at that for now, but we have sooooo much more to write about in the next few days. Hopefully we can post pictures we took... especially of the big surprise we gave Mom!

Keep your *eyes* peeled.

Just a reminder

We like comments :)

- the bloggers @ Texas Skies

Colorado Adventure: Introduction

Joel here,

I know it's been a good while since I've posted.

That said, for some time now I've been intending to post some photos and notes about my recent trip to Colorado... the time has finally arrived!

Let me preface by saying that this past September after Mom's parents had traveled to southern Colorado for a week (per their tradition the past 5 years), I mentioned casually to Poppy that I wished I had remembered that they would be doing that this year, as I would've tried my hand at stuffing myself into one of their suitcases... you see, I (as well as several others in this house) have joked with them about stowing away in their luggage on such a trip.

Well, a week or so after I had mentioned this to Poppy, he called me and said, "remember what you said about tagging along with us to Colorado sometime?" I said "yes." He said, "Well, how would you like to come with us to Colorado the week of Thanksgiving in order to help us with a remodeling project at Redcloud [the Christian camp they stay at every year]?" to which I replied, "Wow, I think that'd be great!"

So, approximately 2 months later, on a bright Saturday morning, 6 of us - Mom's 2 brothers, Jay and Abe, Uncle Anthony, Poppy & Grams and myself - left Uncle Jay's home in Ft. Worth for beautiful southern Colorado.

2008 Chevy Suburban - Our ride for our trip to Colorado - Fast, Quiet, Smooth, and a somewhat of a gas guzzler!

Our mission was to provide the labor to convert one apartment in Camp Redcloud's family camp lodge into two guest apartments . We would be dismantling a modest sized kitchen from floor to ceiling (to be turned into a bathroom), turning two adjacent closets and an office into a hallway and storage room, and hopefully having some fun along the way, not only during the worktime, but also in the form of some sight-seeing in the area.

We accomplished virtually all that we set out to. The 6 of us each worked about 60 hours on this project over the course of the Monday morning through Friday evening of the week of Thanksgiving. It was almost like being a part of the reality TV program "Extreme Home Makeover", but this was the real deal.

I will spare you the gory details, and just proceed to post (in separate postings) a few (around 95 - be forwarned!) of the several hundred photos I took on the trip. After all, "a picture is worth a thousand words"... right?! (Saves me some typing!)

Enjoy! (Scroll down to view the posts)

Colorado Adventure - Sights Seen Along the Way (To)

West Texas Skies

Sunset over the wilderness in Northeastern New Mexico.

Our source for supper upon arriving in Raton, NM. on Saturday night.

Just 4 fun - timed exposure of traffic passing the Raton Electric Co. building.
Just 4 fun - an old-timey gas station with a new-timey truck - Raton, NM.

Many interesting geological formations were to be seen along the way.

A snakey river (the Rio Grande, I think).

Lines and Shadows - Near the Headwaters of the Rio Grande River

Colorado - words and photos don't do it justice... you've just got to experience it for yourself!
Headwaters of the Great River - the Rio Grande.

70 degrees, and an icy river (West side of Continental Divide - between the Spring Creek and Slumgullion Passes).

Spring Creek Pass - CO 149.

Alpines and Blue Spruce on the Continental Divide on CO 149. Notice how each of these evergreens point to heaven - the place where each person who submits to the Creator of the entire universe, Jesus Christ, as their Lord, and believes in Him as their Savior from sin, will spend everlasting life in His presence. A Christian's life should always point others to Jesus Christ.

Mesa Seco - Notice where part of the mountain has slid (at least twice in the past few hundred years) off down into the valley below. The first slide dammed the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River and formed Lake San Christobal - the 2nd largest natural lake in Colorado. Geologists estimate that part of it is still sliding down hill at the rate of 20 feet / year. By the way, I believe there is some property for sale in that valley below... anyone interested?

Uncompahagre Peak, of the San Juan Mountain Range, as seen from Windy Point on CO 149 near Lake City.

Lake San Christobal (the lake of Lake City) seen from Scenic Overlook on CO 149.

House built over a cave or old mineshaft in the side of a ravine near Lake City, CO. Is this a good idea?

That concludes our overview of sights seen along the way to Camp Redcloud. Checkout the following posts for the rest of the story.

Colorado Adventure - The Project

Extreme Home Makeover - Lodge Apartment Edition

Basically, as I stated in a previous post, we dismantled (to the subflooring) a modest size kitchen in order to turn it into a two-shower, two-sink, single-commode, bathroom. We also removed a wall separating two back-to-back closets in order to open that up for a hallway. A wall had to be built to facilitate the hallway as one of the closets had been inside a office / storage room. We also cut a doorway through from what had been a wardrobe closet into the office / storage room in order to complete the hallway. In essence, we enabled the Red Cloud staff to turn what had been a single apartment (with bathroom and kitchen), with a sleeping capacity of 4 into two separate apartment quarters (each with a dedicated bathroom), housing 8 - 12 people.

The Kitchen. Nice Rustic Cabinetry. Very Well Built.

The two built-in lazy susans made for interesting contortions for me as I was the smallest person and got the "privilege" of (trying to) stuffing myself into them in order to unscrew them from the base. At one point I thought the others were going to have to pull and / or cut me out!

We demolished the wall between this closet and the one directly behind it in order to build a hallway as an access to the other part of the two part apartment suite we were making.

"Big A" (Anthony) and Poppy take down the "Ventahood".

Poppy and Jay Dismantling the Former Kitchen's Countertop

Abe at work demolishing the wall separating the two closets which were removed to make a hallway.

(Trying to) Remove Stubborn and Tenacious Carpet! Arrr!
(We finally did get it out after much effort!) That's me in the white t-shirt.

New Hallway in Process

Semi-Completed Hallway

Semi-complete bathroom lavatory

Whoa, Abe, what happened?! I think we must have made a mistake in our measurements! (Actually, the distortion is from splicing two photos.) This is the outside of the bathroom that was created on the "footprint" of the kitchen which we removed.

We were able to complete the lion's share of the remodelling. Basically all that was left to do, when we had to leave for home, was texturing and painting, putting up trim and laying flooring. That will be done by Red Cloud personel.
That's the basic overview of the project. Overall it was a good, practical learning experience for me and pretty enjoyable too.
(I won't bore you with all the gory details - like how many dead packrat skeletons and carcasses we found in the walls, or how many hundreds of screws I had to drive to hang the sheet rock. Or how many goof-ups we made [not that many], or how long it took to figure out how to do certain things. Wait a second, I thought I said I wouldn't bore you... well anyway, I tried not to.)

Colorado Adventure - Fall to Winter in Less than a Week!

My Philosophy of Weather

I suppose the weather in the mountains of Colorado can change about as drastically as it often does in North Texas. When we arrived in Colorado on Sunday afternoon the temperature was around 70 degrees. The low that evening was somewhere in the upper 20's, and Monday it warmed a full 50 degrees. Very nice, fall like weather. That was not to last long.

By Tuesday the predicted cold front was beginning to make it's approaching arrival known. The temps Tuesday were in the mid 50's and lower 20's. By Wednesday evening it was downright cold with a strong wind blowing in from the North. Thursday's (Thanksgiving Day) high was somewhere in the lower 30's and the low in the 10 - 20 degree range.

Friday morning we woke up to a light snow on the ground. It snowed off and on to varying degrees of intensity (at one point the visibility was probably less than 1/4 mile) the remainder of the day, and the temps stayed in the mid to upper 20's with lows in the single digits.

At one point we noticed the thermometer was a few degrees below 0 (Fahrenheit). Saturday morning there was somewhere around 2" of snowfall and temps hovering in the upper 20's. Brrr. Interestingly enough though, when it wasn't windy it was still cold, but the difference between 15 and 35 didn't seem like much. The windchill factor really does play a large part in how cold is cold.

Drinking lots of water is key in the dry mountain air. The temp would be 20 with 70% humidity in the early morning, and then 70 with 20% by afternoon (the first two days). It really drys out skin quickly.

Red Cloud Family Camp Lodge (early in the week)

Red Cloud Family Camp Lodge (Friday morning)

(Two photos above) The valley that Camp Red Cloud is located in (early in the week)

(Two photos above) The valley that Camp Red Cloud is located in (Friday and Saturday mornings)

Yes, that does say 3 degrees fahrenheit! Brrr! (Thanksgiving Day morning)

Colorado Adventure - Sights Seen Around Camp Red Cloud

Sights Seen Around the Camp Property
(Shown in no particular order)

Sign at the Entrance to the Family Camp Campus

Red Cloud Family Camp Lodge

Red Cloud Family Camp Lodge


Horses Grazing in the Valley on Red Cloud Ranch Property.
Prairie Dog's View

Sunrise - Morning of Departure (Saturday)

Morning Sun Highlights Frost Covered Flora

2 Horse Power, All Wheel Drive, 48" Steel Rims, Hard Seats, Convertible, Great on Gas Mileage! (Heater and A/C broken)

The Ugly Mountain Framed by Two Alpines

Dawn in the Valley

Tim McKinney, Director of Red Cloud Family Camp

Family Camp Director Tim McKinney's Residence
We ate most of our meals at his home. Grams is a very good cook! Mr. McKinney is also a very good cook!

Doesn't that Dining Room Look Warm and Inviting?
(Inside the McKinney's cabin)

The Work Gang Pausing for a Portrait in the Snowflurry

(L-R: "Poppy" [Ron Russell], "Grams" [Anna Russell], Jay Russell, Abe Russell, "Big A" [Anthony Russell], Yours Truly [the only non-Russell "Russell"])