Full of Life


If there is one thing I love about my dad’s ranch…it’s always full of life! I finally got used to taking my camera almost everywhere.

The adjacent land owner has quite a few herds of cattle. This year produced many baby cows and they were so cute!

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We measure distance at my dad’s place by the cattle guards…makes it easy to say, “Hey did you see…by the second cattle guard?” Between the first and third, are countless antelope.  Usually we see several herds, but this time we only saw bucks mulling about.  It’s because antelope drop their babies mid-late June.  We were too early too any this year, but there are several nice looking bucks out there.

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Kind of gross…. we saw many turkey vultures about. Just past the second cattle guard, in an open field, was a dead cow.  Not sure why the rancher had not moved the cow. Needless to say, the turkey vultures were very happy.

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The first day we arrived, we got to see little kill deers. They hadn’t learned to fly yet.  They were playing on the road (or eating bugs off a big cow pie) and I had to stop and get a snap. What was really cool was seeing one of the parents try and play wounded.  Always awesome to see mother nature doing its thing.

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My dad’s ranch is unique.  It has pasture land and a really neat forest. Just beyond the house is a meadow area we all call the park. My dad has strung a line between two trees and from it hangs many bird feeders.  Unfortunately, they are not used to other people, so not too many birds visited…at least ones that would hold still long enough to let me take pictures.

My favorites are the yellow finches. Each year that my dad has lived there (going on three) a new variety of birds come in.  There were so many I had never seen before.  There is also a screech-owl. Around 4:30 n the morning you can hear the turkeys wander through.  Not exactly the most peaceful alarm clock.

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The bird above I’ve seen several times at the Garden of the Gods….but hell if I can remember it’s name.

There are also my favorite red-tailed hawks.

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The only downside to having an under ground river running through your property is when that river flows through to he surface.  Tis year that has been an above average of precipitation…hence lots of flooding.  As the flooding slowly subsides….. out comes the nasty mosquitoes. At one point I was trying to figure out where the sign was that indicated I was an all-you-can-eat buffet. The positive side are all the tadpoles and bull frogs. There are beautiful butterflies and big bumbled bees flying about working hard.

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The most interesting and funny character to watch was the squirrel. You have to give kudos to squirrels.  If they know where the food is….they stop at nothing to get to it.

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Small birds throw seeds out of the feeder; large birds pick them up off the ground, but the squirrels try to muscle in.”
Lilian Jackson Braun, The Cat Who Sang for the Birds

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Denver Aquarium


June 3rd we took a trip to Denver.  I had to drop Dan off at the airport really early in the morning the following day, so we decided to spend the day in Denver.

We actually have had people tell us not to waste our time, that it isn’t worth the money and their isn’t much to see.  I guess we are just nerds because we had an awesome time going!

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Do Over


Dan and I got to throw ourselves a renewing ceremony.  I think they are actually called renewing your vows.  Either way we had the most fun and amazing ceremony.  It wasn’t just about Dan and I…. It was about our whole family making a commitment to each other.

I have to thank my mom and dad for allowing me to call on a Tuesday and asking them for help…by Sunday we pulled it off.  There was nothing special about it….yet everything was special.

The best part is it did not turn into a dog and pony show…unlike or wedding.  Just a simple little ceremony with ourselves, our kids, and the two people in this world who love us and have always given us respect (even if they wanted to take us out back.)

There was no real theme of colors.  We celebrated our differences.  Ok…. SO I picked out Andrews shirt.  The girls wore what they wanted and so did I.  I know white is not traditional….but it was the dress I got to wear for our fancy dinner in Shamoda….and heck I fell in love it.  That says a lot considering it’s one of two I own.

We went to Safeway in Douglas on Saturday and bought flowers from safeway. Bee and I picked a variety and mom made our bouquets.

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The ceremony was in the “park” area of my dad’s ranch. Nestled in the aspen trees, it was perfect and beautiful. The girls walked down first, then me.  What was so unplanned and special is after Amanda walked to meet dad and Bub….my crazy buddy, Sav, came to my side and walked with me.  Completely unplanned but it’s like he knew.

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Both Dan and I renewed our commitment to each other.  We didn’t really write it down….just spoke our love to each other and how much we are ready to move forward.  Never forgetting what we have gone through…but kicking the door wide open to the future.

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After our that Dan and I took part in what is called a salt ceremony.  I had a little dis of salt and he had one.  In the middle was an empty dish.  He pour half of his into the empty container and I pour all of mine after.  Then he poured his on top and stirred them together.  “Just as you can’t separate those grains of salt….you can’t separate us.”  What was really neat is to stop and think about what salt is in life.  There are so many uses and unique attributes that you can think of that applies to our relationship.

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Then as a family we did what is called a sand ceremony.  This was my favorite part with the kids!! Each of us had a unique glass bottle with a unique color of sand.  Each one represented us….represented how different we are.

Dan – orange (because blue was taken)
Amanda – purple
Andrew – red
Amber – green (because blue was taken)
Me – blue (lol I stole blue)

We picked a special glass container to put our sand in.  Dan poured a small amount of his in.  Then I poured a bit of mine in. Amanda poured all of hers in, followed by Andrew and Amber.  Then I poured the rest of mine in followed by Dan.  This was done to celebrate how amazing we are as a family. We are all completely different from each other and we celebrate that difference.  But… we are still a family! Kind of like the salt…. you need to separate the grains of sand to separate this family….and you can’t! (ok Amanda smarty pants, yes you can, but it’d be very difficult!)

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It was such a neat and fun ceremony! My dad was the leader and said some really beautiful prayers at the start and end.  I have my mom to thank for the pictures.  Some of them were taken by me, her, and whomever had the camera.

After the ceremony, Mom made her butter steaks and the works!!

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I got the pleasure of having our cake made by a real special gal! I thought she did a fantastic job with decorating it!

Oh…… and we had some VERY special VIP guest attend.

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Who can have a ceremony without “out takes”…. We had a great day.  Being our goofy…not so darn serious selves.

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I feel so blessed to have such amazing parents who can respect all of us.  They love us for who we are. The kind of parents who don’t judge us…they can see our hearts. I love them so much! I hope they are blessed by helping make this day happen for us!

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From the Air to the Water


When we got to Togendai, we debated if we were going to continue our trip or eat lunch.  We decided to cross the lake and find a little place across the lake. Our excitement continued as we waited in line to board one of four replicated western ships.

Lake Ashi is a beautiful lake! It has a beautiful dark bluish green color. It reminded me of Crescent Lake in Washington. The ride across the lake was fun! The only thing I was nervous about was the choice of food.  Not on the ship, but the local restaurants. The local boast is the trout from the lake.  I despise trout.  I don’t really dine on fresh water fish.

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Once we crossed the lake we did find a cute little place to eat.  We avoided the trout and had prawns. Just as we were walking out it started to rain. We had to buy another umbrella.  I say another because I have a habit of donating them on the train system.

We had a few choices… hop back on the ship and return the way we started or wander around the area by foot.  We could also take the buses…but we decided to leisurely stroll to the next little town. There was a foot trail that passed by many of the local attractions.

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The above slide show has cedar trees that were more than 1000 years old.  We walked on what was considered the old highway that connected Tokyo to Kyoto. The building was a reconstruction of the old military check point. We walked from Hakone-Machi to Moto-Hakone. Along the way we walked through  Onshi Hakone Park, which houses Kyu Hakone Rikyu. This is the only remaining building of what was the Imperial family’s summer retreat. The palace had a western theme to it.

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At the end of the Cedar Trail is Hakone. It was starting to get later in the afternoon so we decided to take the bus back to the train station.

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I can honestly say this was the worst idea we had the entire trip to Japan.  Remember me telling you about the train doing switch backs… yeah…. this ride down the mountain was horrible!! It wasn’t the driving but the grades and quick turns…I was sooooo car sick!!

When we got back to Odawara  we thought we’d walk down to the Odwara castle. First we had to stop and grab a snack.  Japanese fast food cracks me up.  We got these yummy fried balls that had octopus in the middle.  I can’t remember what sauce Dan had, but I had an orange citrus sauce.  There wasn’t any where to sit at the train station, so we sat outside.

Yes…. the rain caught up with us.  Instead of a trip t the castle we invested our money into the romance car (romance is the name of the train company…hehe not what you think) and took the very fast ride home. It was an awesome ride home!

 

Our Photography Journey