Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hot Springs and Jeep Rides

We've just returned from a trip to Pagosa Springs and Lake City, Colorado. Carrie's parents, Don and Cindy Zumstein, wanted to surprise Carrie and Jacob with a trip before they left for China, and we were lucky enough to be on their minds when they were planning the surprise--so we were asked to join them in Lake City and as difficult as it is to agree to an all expenses paid trip in the mountains, we thought we'd indulge them and come along.

Chris and I first made a stop in Pagosa where we stayed at the Springs Resort. The rooms aren't that great, but their hot springs are awesome! I've never seen Chris so relaxed. They have a series of mini pools each different temperatures that you can sit and watch the river from. The next morning, we ate a quick breakfast and headed for the springs again (if you stay at the resort, you can enter and leave as many times as you like). A huge fog had descended on the town which made the hot springs that much more enticing. I had to make Chris leave as we needed to drive the 2 hours to Lake City to meet everyone.

There could not have been a more beautiful time of year to make this trip. Autumn was in full swing, the aspen leaves had already turned to gold. In fact, the first snowfall of the year happened on Sunday and the tallest mountains were covered in white. Our inn looked out over Lake San Cristobal and was run by a Christian man and his wife. David, the inn keeper, made a huge breakfast for us every morning and followed it up with a simple devotion and prayer afterwards. The inn was very cute, but the atmosphere and peace of the place was the best. You can check the inn out at:

After we had surprised Carrie and Jacob on Friday evening, we all decided that a jeep ride over Cinnamon and Engineer's Pass (the Alpine Loop) would be the best way to spend Saturday. Don and Cindy rented a jeep for us (I've been begging Chris to take me over this pass for a year since I remember doing it a couple times as a child and loved it), we loaded up and headed up the mountain. There is nothing quite like being in an open jeep, seeing wildlife, beautiful waterfalls...we headed into Silverton where we ate lunch, then checked out the old mining ghost town of Animas Forks, and back on the road where we made our very slow way up Engineer's Pass to check out the awesome view from what felt like the top of the world. We were a dusty, dirty bunch when we arrived back at the inn.

The next day it rained all day which was slightly frustrating for Chris and I since we wanted to go climb the big mountains. The day before at devotions, David spoke of how we need to remove ourselves from busyness and stay in the "calm waters" sometimes. I guess a day of rain will force you to do that. We eventually couldn't take sitting around any more and headed straight up the mountain behind our inn where we found a mine that had not been sealed off. I'm fascinated with mines for some reason and really wanted to crawl into this one. Until Chris scared me by telling me about all the snakes and spiders I would encounter. It was a good tactic. It made me angry that I was afraid, so I walked into the opening, but stopped there. The idea of a big rattlesnake lurking in the dark was enough to deter me.

We ended the day eating the best Italian food I've ever tasted. If you are in Lake City, you absolutely have to eat at A & A Pasta Factory. It's in a cute cabin decorated with all things Italian. The noodles are homemade. I had the vegetarian lasagna which was absolutely delicious. To finish it up, we ordered tiramisu which was unlike any I've had a good way. The waitresses spoke English with an Italian accent, which reassured me before we ordered. My experience of food in Colorado has not been the greatest. It's very difficult to find anything vegetarian (well, healthy vegetarian, I should say), and the food is usually quite plain. But, this restaurant could hold it's own in a huge city.

After breakfast on Monday, we unfortunately, had to make our way back home. Chris and I weren't too happy to leave as it was a beautiful, sunny fall day. We are already planning our next trip to Lake City.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Camping Trip With Carrie & Jacob

Sharing a sleeping bag with Trudy, two sleepless nights, and a 14 mile hike: these are the days of our lives. We went camping this weekend with Carrie and Jacob near Truchas, NM in a beautiful spot by a stream. There were no 30 pound packs to carry, unlike my first camping experience. Instead a large tent, a blow-up mattress, and even a picnic table figured into this posh camping experience.

We chose the site based on the gorgeous hike Chris and I had done before. Carrie and Jacob were troupers! Unused to the altitude, they made it to the lakes (hiking 7 miles to 11,000 feet) where we lit a fire and took naps and just enjoyed the quiet and serenity of a remote mountain lake. Everyone but me slept like a rock that night; I was so cold I chose to share my mummy sleeping bag with Trudy. She warmed me up, but it was a tight fit. Before bedtime, though, Carrie and I decided that a bath was needed, so we warmed up some creek water, donned a bikini, and made our respective husbands soap and pour. It was truly a cold, yet refreshing experience. I would recommend it highly. Who says you can't enjoy all the comforts of home while camping? Obviously they've never gone with the McKeans...for pics follow this link:

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hippy Time

Chris and I have been accused of turning into hippies once we made our move to the ABQ mountains, and perhaps in some aspects it is true, but the most hippy experience I've had thus far had to be this Sunday. We hadn't been to the Jemez mountains for almost a year, my parents wanted to try out the bath house, and it seemed like a unique experience, so we accompanied them. After a short hike and lunch (I had a veggie burrito with sweet potato; it was very odd), we headed for the Jemez Springs Hot Springs. For a mere $10 you can soak in their individual tubs for 30 minutes. I guess I expected something similar to a sauna, but no, these were tubs that were stained brown on the bottom and had huge faucets where it took all my strength to pull the hot and cold water on. The hot water is a nice toasty 154-185 degrees. You could boil a lobster with you in the tub. There are curtains all around so if you choose (I did not), clothing is optional. The hot water is full of minerals (calcium, sodium, etc.) which is supposed to be very good for you. But it also stinks. The place looked like it needed a thorough cleaning, although with water that hot, I guess you don't need bleach. But, I would have appreciated it. I'm sure it has the potential to be a nice, relaxing leisure long as you're not focusing on the bacteria one can catch from a brown tub.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Chinese Christmas

Of all the distant places I've ever wanted to travel to, China was not on the top of my list. However, there seems to be a connection between China and the McKean family. Besides the adoption of Hannah Xiao Ai from China, Chris's brother Jacob and his wife Carrie are in the process of packing up their lives in the Dallas area to move to Beijing to volunteer at an orphanage for an undetermined amount of time. They have been on a couple trips to volunteer at Chinese orphanages, and this year they took my parents-in-law with them. The pictures and stories they bring back of these poor children is enough to make you want to give up your comfortable life and devote it to these neglected, unloved children. However, few of us will ever make that drastic of a brother and sister-in-law the exception (you can check out their blog as they prepare to leave the U.S. at As much as we will miss them, I can't think of anyone better to make a difference in these children's lives. Many times Carrie and my mother in law, Majaunta, have asked me if I would ever go. I didn't think that I would ever get the chance. But, one day soon after Carrie and Jacob officially announced they were going to quit their jobs and move to Beijing, I was doing the dishes and had a brain wave. We could go for Christmas! It's the only time that Chris would have two weeks off without taking all his vacation, and we would get to do something worthwhile for the holidays instead of overeating and lamenting the fact that we didn't get the gift we really wanted. So, we are going to have a Chinese Christmas this year and will probably be eating noodles instead of turkey...which is just fine with me.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Miss Hannah Joy

Pampa has never been so interesting. This Labor Day weekend, Chris and I headed for the plains to meet our new little sister. We weren't sure what to expect, but within 5 minutes of meeting Hannah, she had us wrapped securely around her little finger. She is a tiny 3 year old with big attitude. She ordered all 7 of her brothers and sisters around like she'd been doing it for years. If you didn't obey, she'd put her hands on her hips and give you a withering look which usually brought the offender back around to seeing her point of view. Her English is spoken with a cute Chinese accent. I'm not sure her legs touched the ground much this weekend...she loves to be held (which is fine since she weighs practically nothing). I somehow introduced her to my lip gloss and therefore established a routine (about every 10 minutes) of applying "lippy stuff." I even had my hair done one day with lots of bows and clips. I've never had a sister, but now its difficult to imagine what it was like in Pampa without her. Chris and I were ready to turn our car around and go back. We didn't want to miss any of Hannah's antics. For more pictures of our little sister click this link: