Saturday, June 11, 2011

Q: What happens when Life grabs you by your wrist?

A: You try your best to stay on your feet and not perform a stellar faceplant!!

When we got back from New Mexico, we were crazy enough to seriously consider buying a house. Were we nuts?! Don't get me wrong; we'd been saving like crazy for a down payment for a while and that was the plan all along but we didn't know if we were ready for the big jump. We had a real estate agent/office practically built in to the family and there was not doubt we'd eventually use their services. Our wishlist was that we wanted a 2-car garage, a big yard for Pearl, a larger kitchen (as we like to cook & entertain), at least 3 bedrooms and 2 baths and to be in the Cherry Creek School District; one of the best districts in the Denver area, if not the state. We embarked on a few Saturdays' worth of house hunting and narrowed down our search to a few listings in Centennial & Aurora. The place we eventually agreed on, which we'll call Kalispell, was updated and remodeled: the kitchen, bathrooms, floors... everything inside had a fresh coat of paint too. Blake didn't like it so much, mainly because it had a pretty dinky kitchen. I saw the potential but he couldn't see it yet.

"The Elephant" from the living room...

And from the kitchen. Just an empty wall.

It took a showing of another house with a similar layout for him to finally get what I was talking about; that wall's gotta go! It served a purpose as an eat-in kitchen, but we needed some serious storage space!

This was pretty much the kitchen, from the left side of the picture to the right!

So we put an offer on Kalispell with the full confidence that we could tear down that wall and put in more cabinets and countertops. The remodel was completed recently so finding matching everything wouldn't be hard. The only counteroffer the sellers gave us was a closing date change! Easy stuff! So naturally we accepted.

The inspection went well with no major problems. The inspector was worried about the roof and the furnace mostly. We asked the sellers if they'd go halvsies on one or the other. They responded by replacing the furnace free of charge, so we thought we'd better not push it.

We closed on December 30 in the middle of a huge snowstorm! We have a house!!

(Can you find the puppeh?)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Now THAT'S a Cave!

The Crazy Visitor Center Lady also said the last elevator down to the cave at Carlsbad left at 3:30 so we busted butt to get to Carlsbad in time. We put Roswell to our "rudder" and almost broke the speed limit to get there (Carlsbad is about 2 hours from Roswell, plus another half-hour to the caves). The landscape turned from dusty grassland to desert with towering yuccas and prickly pear cactus.

Naturally, once we hit Carlsbad, construction was being done on the main drag through town, which put us way behind schedule! We had only 20 minutes to make a 30 minute trip south to the caves! Would we make it in time?!

Thank God we did; we wound our way through the national park, marveling at the beautiful scenery as best we could as we whizzed past it all. We arrived at the visitor's center with 2 minutes to spare; Blake dropped me off at the front and went to park. I bought both our tickets (which, by the way are like 6 bucks for 3 days- totally worth it!!) and waited nervously for him. With one minute to go he arrived and we made it into the last elevator! Hooray!! Down, down, down we went. Ears were popping and climate was cooling to a very comfortable 56 degrees!

The park closed at 5 pm so we had to hurry thru and look at as much as possible. We didn't bring the tripod with us so not all our shots ended up like we wanted. As we made our way thru we decided that an hour-and-a-half wasn't nearly enough time and that we'd have to come back the next day, with our tripod! We drove back to Carlsbad, took in a late dinner at Chili's and spent the worst night at Motel 6 EVAR. But we were only there to sleep, for the next day held this in store for us:

If there is a way to lend depth-perception to cave photographs I sure would like to know how to do it! That was a big problem I had with these pictures. I couldn't get a feel for depth and sometimes texture with these... then again, maybe it was the subject matter! :-)

I shall give you some neato photos:

I think this photo requires a background story before my mother calls me up and asks what's wrong with me... You know what that looks like, right? As Blake & I were wandering through the main room we occasionally would pass and get passed on the trails by various people. Behind us were three younger guys, maybe in their early 20's. (First off, need I say more??) "Heh heh..." came a quiet voice behind us upon approaching this particular formation, "look - it's Titty Rock!" One guy said to his friends (My apologies to Mom). Click, click went their digital cameras. They spent a lot of time there. And yes, we passed them.

Really cool stalactite (holds "tite" to the ceiling, remember?)

Shot from the highest point in the main room; they say you can fit a Boeing 747 in here!

Stalag-mite make it to the top! :)

Doll's Theater

We wrapped up our cave tour about noon; we still had to make it home to Denver that evening for work in the morning. We did consider going south another 20 miles just to say we visited Texas too, but in the end decided against it. The ride back was uneventful (aside from realizing 100 miles north of Carlsbad that we forgot our pillows at the motel) and we got into Denver at 10:30 that night. Blake went to work the next day and I stayed home the rest of the week to do laundry, run errands and collect Pearl. All in all, it was an awesome trip; we had the best time together, and came home with great memories to last a lifetime. Would I recommend New Mexico for your next vacation destination? YOU BET!! Just go in the fall, and fit White Sands National Monument into your plans and take lots of pictures for me!