Friday, November 27, 2009

Rocky Mountain High

Solitude and serenity can be exhilarating.  This past week we stomped through snow; counted stars in the sky - so numerous that i've never seen before and simply marveled and gave thanks for this beautiful world we live in.  

For now, THIS is home - a 2-storey cabin with the smell of pine trees and meadows and the sounds of squirrels and birds that envelop us.  Our hosts are just wonderful in attending to every small detail and making sure we are comfortable :)

So what have we been up to ??

(1)    We hiked - up Indian Mountain  amid threats ... 

and crisp thin air which left the girls breathless and hardly smiling....

yet with still enough in them to make snow angels...

and pose for me :)

In single digit temperatures (celcius),  i must say the girls did pretty well and we managed till here... not quite the summit before

they expired on us.... check out the small one - she could barely move !
Oh yes, and their spanking newly acquired boots ...

(2)   We sled.   Thanks to Gary and David - they really made the girls' holiday :)

and played with snow ...

(3)    We explored.

The girls are on a quest to collect as many Junior Ranger badges as they can. Here at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Park, the girls took a pledge to protect what they've seen  -  some 60,000 species of plant and animal life that lived some 35 million years ago have been collected by Paleontologists for museums and universities around the world. These fossils reveal, in remarkable detail, what life 35 million years ago was like, as they became trapped, after a nearby volcano erupted, and buried in the sedimentary rock and shale that subsequently formed.

The Royal Gorge - the doing of the Arkansas River as it dug this vertical hole more than 1,000 ft deep.    And there we were, bravely (or foolishly) taking the air-tramway across the Gorge.

Scenic Drives like this one on the Continental Divide

The meadows and forests at the backyard of our vacation home...

and the vistas coming home. We take this same route to and from our sojourns almost every day. Yet this same view still captures my breath each time with a renewed sense of wonder.

(4)  Most of all,   we laughed.  We connected. We marveled.  

Here's leaving you with some random shots of the girls that tug my heart :)   Thanks for dropping by !


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

All systems are GO...... blast off !

Fancy being that minute percentage to have caught a Space SHUTTLE launch  "LIVE"   !!

Certainly a privilege and humbling experience as we continued our space learning mission from a week before when we visited NASA -  to witnessing this momentous event :)    

We watched the launch of space shuttle Atlantis in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Monday, Nov. 16, 2009, 2.28pm across at Titusville from Launch Pad 39A. Atlantis and its six-member crew are on a 11-day mission to the International Space Station, transporting spare hardware to the outpost and returning with a station crew member who spent more than two months in space.  There will only be 6 more space shuttle launches, and this is the first of which to deliver critical spare equipment parts to the International Space Station. As such, the Atlantis crew is carrying the largest and the most critical on this mission.


Even at such a distance across the lagoon at Titusville from the launch pad, we could hear the thunderous roar and the smell of burning fuel, which followed what our eyes saw as the rockets blasted off just split seconds before. The girls stood transfixed and spell-bound.  The park, peppered with cameras on tripods, deck chairs and seniors peering through binocs, ruptured with applause

Being at NASA the week before touring the exhibits and watching the various shows provided us with a deeper appreciation and understanding of the multitude of factors that needed to go right, for a successful launch. This was how close we got to the launch pad on our " Up-Close" tour. And seeing the preparations for launch just drove home how real (and dangerous) space exploration was, and made the launch all the more poignant for us.