Memorial Day Weekend Camping Trip, Part 2

15 06 2011

Warning: this post is mostly filled with pictures of Hamlet sticking his head out of the car window as the wilderness rolls by as well as the ramblings-on of me.  Now that you’ve been fairly warned, let’s move on to the rest of our Memorial Day weekend camping trip recap (read part 1 here).

Saturday night in the tent was a loud one for me.  I don’t know if I dreamed half of it (or all of it) or if it really happened but the blowing wind seemed to play tricks on my mind. I swear at two different times airplanes sounded like they were flying overhead but only about 100 feet overhead.  I woke Mike up after the second one and explained that there was an airport nearby.  Now that I know was definitely dreaming but where the noises came from or if they were real or only my imagination turning the wind into something else, I do not know.

In any case, we woke up on Sunday morning feeling good and packed up our camp. Hamlet seemed less than interested in eating his food. Rather, he was eager to roll around in neighboring fire pits (Mike saw him pop out of one at one point) and have us remove the cactus needles from his paws.  He never seemed to learn that the pokey plants were good ones to stay away from.  I even pulled one cactus needle from his chin. Don’t worry, they were small, thin needles and didn’t cause him any harm. He didn’t even whine or bark when they were in his skin; he would just stand still until one of us realized he’d been needled and went to remove it.

We got on the road early, having only eaten trail mix for breakfast and planning to stop for lunch at a restaurant in Colorado Springs we’d seen on the drive down.  Our drive up Shadow Canyon was beautiful, just like the drive down Shelft Road had been the day before.  We saw more cows and a few people who had pulled over on the side of the road and set up their camps by the creek.  Had we known this was a possibility we probably would have done that instead of staying at the campground.

The ride was filled with Johnny Cash and June Carter duets and me playing certain songs (“It Ain’t Me, Babe”, “Jackson”, “Long-Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man”, etc.) on repeat three or four times in a row, much to Mike’s amusement/annoyance, as well as forcing Mike to sing Johnny’s part while I sang June’s.  We also picked out plots of land we thought looked good for our “retirement ranch.”

Also, Hamlet pretty much refused to sit in the backseat so he sat on my lap and stretched and craned his neck and reached his paws onto the windowsill so he could get the best possible view from the passenger window.  For some reason I thought this was highly amusing and took four thousand pictures of it. I’ve whittled those down to a choice few.

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Since we were on a back country byway dirt road we were driving pretty slow to begin with but when Hamlet got really eager about looking out the window and looked as if he might crawl out of the window, Mike slowed way down to a virtual crawl.  Safety first!

We drove through ye olde mining town of Victor on our way back to Cripple Creek. I felt like a bad Coloradoan (and a native one at that) as well as a bad granddaughter of a mining engineer, having never even heard of Victor. The highlight for me was apparently seeing this building that was erected in 1899 because it’s the only picture I have of Victor. Keep in mind, though, we didn’t even stop there, just literally drove through.

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Then we saw some cool mining landscapes, of which I really wished I could ask my Grandad about (unfortunately he passed away some years ago). Yes, I know I could Google it but typing it into a search engine is just not nearly as satisfying and enjoyable as learning about something from a loved one who lived it firsthand.  Plus, Grandad served in World War II so it was nice to think of him on Memorial Day weekend and wonder what the cool mining hill was and how it got formed and think fondly of Grandad.  I think it looks so pretty, the gray sand and stone against the bright blue sky.

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We reached Cripple Creek and decided to get out and walk around the main street. We let Hamlet stretch his legs and take a bathroom break and sniff every inch of the three block span and try to enter every casino that we passed (Cripple Creek is one of a couple of towns in Colorado where you can gamble).

The main street was lined with American flags.  Paired with the brightest, clearest of blue skies, it made for quite a patriotic scene.  Unfortunately I had trouble capturing it on my cell phone camera.  This is the best I could do.

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I thought this old painted Colt sign was really cool.

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There was a cute little choo-choo train in Cripple Creek.  I couldn’t figure out if it was still used in the mining operation or if it was just a tourist attraction but it was neat either way.  And the sound of the whistle just added to the whole western mining town ambiance.  And yes, I said “choo-choo train.”

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They sure make a handsome pair.

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If you see a place called The Brass Ass with a donkey’s tucus in the window, you stop and take a picture.  Even if your face is swollen and your dog is eager to enter the casino and gamble.  You just do it.

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We had to get Hamlet’s picture with this donkey.  Hamlet looked leery but the donkey was cool with it.

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This is sort of an inside joke in my family because we have similar pictures of all of us next to a similar statue in Grand Lake, CO.  So if you’re not hip to the inside joke, then just enjoy this weird picture of me striking my bear pose and if you are hip to the inside joke, then you’re welcome.

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We put Ham in the car and decided to gamble for a few minutes (few being the operative word as we didn’t want to leave Hamlet in the car for more than a few minutes, although it was nice and cool).  After checking out a few of the casinos, we settled on The Brass Ass, much to my enjoyment (because it meant more occasion to say “The Brass Ass”).  Then, to further our enjoyment we promptly won $37.50 playing blackjack.  Our practice session at the campground picnic table the night before really paid off!  Mind you, this was during about six minutes of play so we were pretty happy.  We put the money in the gas/food fund and called it good.

This is the face you make as a winner.  Happy face!

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The drive to Colorado Springs seemed to take eons, probably because my trail mix from breakfast and Dixie cup of Diet Coke from The Brass Ass were not doing much to tide me over. Plus, I was just so eager to hit up the restaurant we’d seen on the drive down – Rudy’s General Store.  We didn’t even know what kind of food they served, it jut looked like an awesome place, a place that was perfect for road trip food.

Rudy’s did not disappoint. Turns out it was barbecue. I didn’t even care that we were headed to my mom and Steve’s house in a matter of hours for a family get together with pulled pork, I was going to barbecue it up!

Mike parked the car while I did recon inside. This consisted of asking an employee whether dogs were allowed on their patio, expecting to be told “no,” and hardly believing it when she said, “yes, as long as you’re on the outdoor patio.”  I called Mike because the smell of roasted meats made me lazy and I didn’t want to walk the 27 feet to the car.  His response, “wow, the Springs seems way cooler about dogs.”  (We have a hard time finding places in Denver where Ham is allowed on the patio, even though dogs and Denver go together like Shelley and campfire hot dogs.)

We left Hamlet in the car for five minutes with a fresh bowl of water and the windows down while we ordered at the counter in Rudy’s.  For the record, we do not usually leave Hamlet in the car in the summertime for fear of overheating.  This was an exception because it was literally five minutes and we knew we were going to retrieve him directly.  Had it been any other case, we would have gotten our Rudy’s to go.

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Thankfully, Rudy didn’t disappoint us.  I’m not a barbecue aficionado, merely a normal enjoyer of it, so don’t usually ooh and ahh or discuss the finer points of wet rub versus dry.  However, this barbecue was fantastic.  I’m sad (or maybe relieved) that Rudy’s is about an hour from our house because otherwise I fear I could develop quite the little habit.

We sat on the outdoor patio with Hamlet and gave him a big bowl of water, as it was quite warm.  Mike had the sausage link sandwich and I had the beef brisket sandwich and we split sides of coleslaw and potato salad.  The coleslaw was decent but the potato salad was the star of the show.  Plus, we had chocolate pudding for dessert.  Hamlet got to sample some of my brisket and by the way he slurped it down and then licked his chops for six straight minutes afterward, I’d say he thoroughly loved it.

After Rudy’s it was a pretty quick jaunt up I-25 back to Denver. We had to stop for gas and I must say that paying for lunch and some of a tank of gas with money that was won rather than earned was pretty sweet.  In the most un-shocking news, Hamlet slept most of the way home.

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We showered at home, picked up coleslaw at KFC (because we’re classy like that) and enjoyed the afternoon and evening at my mom and Steve’s house with my brothers, sisters-in-law, and favorite niece.  The evening finished with a walk with Hamlet up to the ice cream store where I enjoyed a cup of strawberry, Mike had a waffle cone of butter pecan, and Hamlet had none because I’m pretty sure it would give him the runs.  And cleaning up dog ‘rrhea is no way to spend Memorial Day weekend.

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