Friday, September 21, 2007 ;
We set off on a road trip again. Although ds1's school term has started, we decided on this last minute trip because there was an opportunity to visit with 2 friends, one in CO and one in New Mexico.
And, for the kids, Thomas the Tank Engine is chug chugging into Colorado's Railroad Museum that weekend for a Thomas Carnival. And both my boys love to play with their Thomas stuff so much.
Journey took us the whole of Friday and we reached Longmont, Colorado just in time for dinner with our dear friends.
The guy was our neighbor at the Teton Camp, who worked as an aerospace engineer, something like that. He's retired now. His wife was from Russia and is an American now. 7 years ago, she still couldn't speak English but now she speaks like an American! Both of them were ultra hospitable.
We had the use of a guest room with a comfy bed in the basement, and the basement all to ourselves. There was a bathroom just beside the room, a fridge, washer and dryer, and we were given fresh towels and basically, everything we needed.
They also had a huge, no, gigantic plasma TV screen mounted on the wall, so dh had a good time watching TV with our friend, after the kids slept.
They have a puppy, who's very big sized and rambunctious, and the kids are all grown up with their own families already, so their house had no toys or child stuff, but they went all out of the way to prepare kids' food for them, and to make sure our kids are happy.
We had never met the wife before and she was so warm and friendly and even gave ds1 a 10 piece matryoshka (Russian) doll which looked very expensive. Just because she saw ds1 playing with his Russian dolls, the cheap State Fair-bought ones. And when she asked him if he liked the dolls, he said "yes!" She gave hers to him. She made him open them up one by one, and the expression on the kids' faces when they see more and more tinier dolls contained is priceless.
We stayed there 3 nights and it was just wonderful. Below shows their beautiful home with the guy's own hunted elk behind us, and their dog.
The story about their dog and ds1 is so funny. When we first arrived in the evening on Friday, they came out to meet us and their dog was so happy and jumpy, he jumped all over us. When he leapt up, he was taller than both ds1 and ds2.
ds1 was tired and cranky from the long car trip, so he was very upset and got angry with the dog, shouting, "I hate the dog!" Our friends heard him of course, and we were apologetic, and knowing my son, he is just at the extreme love-hate stage where they either love something to death or hate it. They carried their dog and we went into their house for dinner.
After dinner, the boys played with the dog until they didn't want to sleep. The next few days were also like that. Even when we went out sightseeing, ds1 will ask if Boyd (the dog) can follow us. See how they change all at once??
Then on Mon when we were leaving, ds1 cried so pitieously and didn't want to leave Boyd. He now said he loved Boyd more than anyone else in the world. Sigh. That's a 4-year-old for you.
Aurora International Festival
Longmont is just about 1hr north of Denver, and Aurora is east of Denver. We drove down to Aurora to attend this International Festival that I read about on the Internet. Reviews said it was good for kids.
We were treated to cultural performances the whole day, from 10am to 5pm. Ranging from Capoeira (martial arts form), to Shaolin Kungfu, Lion dance, Japanese Taiko, Red Indian dances and drums, African tribal dances and drums, Irish dances etc.
For many of the performances, there'd be an interactive segment where the performers will ask for volunteers who want to try the dance or instrument, and they'll teach you and everyone'll perform together. I like the Irish tap dancing, so I went up when they called for people, and was about to dance when ds2 cried for me and even ran all the way up to the stage area. No choice, I had to get down. sigh...
The girls doing the Chinese dances were quite good actually, so I believe there must be a sizeable Chinese population around this area.
The kids loved the activities alright. There was so much to do and all are free, just like at the Boston Children's Day.
Above left: Kids could try on costumes from different countries. Unfortunately, there were tons of costumes for girls of all sizes and cultures but only a few for boys. And for ds1's size, there was only a Japanese Sumo or Russian one. So I chose the Russian one. Ds2 had nothing in his size. The pic shows the official handing ds1 a passport where he could go around each booth to collect stamps or stickers from "places around the world". If he completed all the activities, he could get a surprise gift.
Above right: ds1 trying out face mask-painting at the Venice booth.
Above left: ds2 playing at a sand pit where lots of mosaic tiles and bits were hidden. Kids could unearth them and use them to do a mosaic craft. Ds2 was only interested in searching for "treasures", not in the craft, so we left him there to do that while ds1 went from booth to booth.
Above right: the other activity that interested ds2 was the "Coins from all over the world" booth. He just wanted to scoop up all the coins and let them fall back into the bowl. Arrggh.
After that, when the kids were tired, we bundled them into the car where they napped while we drove to Denver. We had a car sightseeing trip ourselves while they slept. When they woke, we strolled the 16th Street Mall (pic below). A famous street where it's closed to traffic and there's lots of shopping of both sides of the street. We didn't buy anything, just watched the buskers and looked at some interesting stalls.
Then we ate dinner at a Mongolian buffet place which seemed very popular with the Americans. Seemed very Korean to me, kind of like Seoul Garden where you have all the ingredients at the buffet table, pick and choose... only thing you hand what you choose to the chef and he stir-fries it in front of you on a giant hot plate. While stir-frying, he performs a lot of stunts with his long metal stir-fry handles.
Denver's more cosmopolitan than SLC I think, a very nice place.
rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow