Saturday, September 29, 2007

A nice day with Adam and Emily

We slept in this morning at Adam and Emily's!
It was nice NOT to be at a hotel,
the bed was really comfortable,
and Mr. Jones and I were extremely tired from the road trip ...

But after cleaning up and visiting a bit,
we headed over to THE MALL OF AMERICA!
I drove with Emily,
and Mr. Jones drove with Adam ...

The Mall of America is beyond huge.
It is four levels of incredible stores and entertainment.
It basically has four anchor stores: Nordstrom, Macy's,
Sears and Bloomingdale's.
There are about one million (!) stores in between,
and in the middle of the Mall
(spanning all four levels)
is what is called: The Park at MOA.
It's essentially an indoor amusement park
with rides like:
The Pepsi Ripsaw Roller Coaster,
the Screaming Yellow Eagle,
the Timberland Twister (all "thrill" rides);

and then they have family rides like
the American Carousel,
bumper cars,
a huge tree swing,
a great ferris wheel,
a huge trampoline, etc.

Here's a map of the place ...
It was so much fun just to walk around and see
the sights!
We arrived right about noon, and it wasn't
too very crowded at that time ...
The amusement park ...
I think my favorite store was
the LEGO store.
I spent so many hours playing
LEGO with the boys when they were young --
I love any toy that allows you to build and design
and imagine ...
The store was surrounded with HUGE Lego models ...

So we shopped there for awhile ...
A life-sized storm trooper ... No!
This is a life-sized Jango Fett (per Suz!)
Lego salt & Pepper shakers, etc.
This is a very cool working LEGO clock
that spanned two-stories ...
There are over 50 places to eat inside the Mall!
No! We did NOT eat at the Rainforest Cafe!
We actually ate at Famous Dave's - YUM!
(since none of us had ever eaten at one before)

We spent four hours at the Mall!
Look how happy Mr. Jones looks! He's just NOT a mall person!
But Emily and I shopped around,
went in and out of shops, touched a bunch of stuff,
bought just a very few things, and then it was time
to drive home --

this time I drove with Adam
and Mr. Jones drove with Emily ...

I bet you're wondering WHY we drove two cars!
Well, the back seats of both of their cars
are pretty small
and since Mr. Jones and I are tall folk
and since Mr. Jones was SICK of driving (understandably)
and didn't want to drive the van,
we took two cars to the Mall
(and it is just 15 minutes away!)

On the way home, Adam took me past where he works.
I took a few pictures through the window
of his car, but they really didn't turn out at all!
This is the only one where you can even see that there
is a building!
Anyway, this is Emerson Process Management.
Adam is doing well at his job, enjoys it pretty well,
but doesn't plan to spend his whole life at the place ...
It is just a quick 6-10 minute drive from
there to the apartment ...

Pixie and Emily playing ...
Pixie did not want to pose for a picture.
Pixie hunting a bug on the screen ...
I tried to get a picture of her washing her paws --
Before she eats, she puts her paws
in her water dish and spashes around
licks them dry, and then has her meal -- quite the little lady!
These are the beautiful 24-carat gold roses
Adam purchased for Emily before they were married ...

Their beautiful white kitchen ...
The outside of their apartment ...
They have a two-stall garage, and the garage
is heated -- something that is pretty necessary with
the extreme cold of these Minnesota winters.
The back of their apartment building.
Lake Hazeltine is directly behind their complex.
All kinds of birds and wildlife are back here.
Won't it look beautiful as the trees change color?
I think I would spend a lot of time
on the back deck, just soaking this up!

We played a game of Clue (Adam won),
Emily showed me some stuff on the computer
(how to upload music and make a play list!),

we had pizza delivered,
and just relaxed the rest of the evening!

It's been a really nice day!

Tomorrow morning (early),
Mr. Jones and I are homeward bound!
I probably will not post anything
else until next week ...
I think I am essentially "blogged out." (!)

Friday, September 28, 2007

This is My Father's World

I've decided that I am a lover of nature in general ...
but the Great Plains would probably be the exception --
although to be fair, I think we only traveled
through a little bit of that part of the country.
The picture below is what we saw almost immediately
after turning east northeast out of Denver yesterday ...
and the next four hours were essentially this!
Not one hill, barely any trees, and this
one single color for miles and miles ...
But Nebraska got a little bit more interesting
as we traveled through it today ...
Some of these photos are just silly --
like this King Kong Burger joint ...
See the gorilla on top and the others
gracing the parking lot?
Suffice it to say that we did NOT eat here ...
There was an abundance of wind turbines
throughout our drive east through Nebraska today ...
Here is a turbine blade in transit!
This is one of the many rivers we crossed
throughout the day ... this is
the Missouri River that we crossed into Iowa.
We were on I-80 and stayed on it all the way to
Des Moines ...
this stretch of road was full of
harvest colors of amber, copper, gold ...
This is a steel through truss bridge
with concrete girders on the approaches ...
(per Mr. Jones)
Terraced farming ...

I know that the beauty of Pike's Peak was amazing
yesterday, but it is a beauty that I am not accustomed to --
kind of an alien experience ...
but fields and meadows and farms?
That's something that I just love so much!

Do you see the cattle on those hills?
I missed taking a picture of a
beautiful hillside, close-up,
of cattle grazing in a meadow and I remembered
these verses:
"... all the animals of the forest are mine,
and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.
Every bird of the mountains and all of the animals
of the field belong to me.
If I were hungry, I would not mention it to you,
for all the world is mine and everything in it."
PSALM 50:10-12

This old hymn will date me, but I have always
loved singing it:

"This is my Father's world, and to my listening ears
all nature sings and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world, I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas,
His hand the wonders wrought!

This is my Father's world, the birds their carols raise
the morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker's praise!
This is my Father's world! He shines in all that's fair!
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass
He speaks to me everywhere!

This is my Father's world, O let me ne'er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong
God is the ruler yet!
This is my Father's world, why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heaven's ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!"

We enjoyed hours and hours
of rolling hills, wild flowers, wheat fields,
wide open spaces ...

We saw horse and cow
and many deer along the way ...
I can't get used to seeing deer in the daytime
just roaming about the hillsides ...
I think I would really enjoy living on a farm!

This is Iowa's seat belt sign ...
This is a gas station/store name
I had never seen before: Kum & Go ...
And finally!
We crossed over into Minnesota.
We had been on I-80 across Iowa until
Des Moines, and then we got on I-35 and headed north
to St. Paul/Minneapolis.
It took us another nearly two hours to get
to Adam and Emily's apartment ...

we were kind of "lost" once we
got off the interstate --
this was not Mr. Jones's fault!
Our mapping program was kind of unclear!
Look at their beautiful view!
We enjoyed a late dinner with them
and met Pixie for the first time!
She is such a cutie!
She is trying to get used to Mr. Jones and I
but seems a bit nervous ...
she is still a kitten and is very mischievous!

Well! This is the last leg of our journey.
Tomorow, hopefully we are all going to go to
The Mall of America --
which will be fun for everyone except Mr. Jones
(who really does not like malls).
I'll show you pictures later ...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

On Top of the World

I know. I know.
14,110 feet is NOT the top of the world.
There are a lot of higher peaks in this country,
and Everest is 29,000+ feet!
I didn't hike up or down this mountain,
but reaching the top was exhilerating just the same!
Mr. Jones and I took nearly 300 pictures
today, and I am having technical difficulties with
the internet connection at the hotel,
so these are all the pictures I am uploading tonight!
This is The Cog Depot. It really hasn't changed
much in appearance since it was built in 1890!
This sign is hanging on an outside wall of the depot ...
It's a good thing there was a gift store there
because when I packed for this trip, I didn't take into
account that it would be COLD on top of this mountain ...
bare foot and sandals just wasn't going to be very
comfortable up there ... so I bought a pair of
Pike's Peak socks (!)
and a warm jacket before boarding the cog.
Some of the beautiful pine trees ...
The rock formations are incredible!
Steep granite cliffs ...
Cascading waterfalls ...
These pictures were taken through the windows
of the cog railway car ...
"I love you, LORD: you are my strength.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection."

PSALM 18:1-2
This is Windy Point -- elevation 12,129 ft.
If you look carefully, you will see
bighorn sheep running over the rocks ...
our guide said they hadn't seen sheep up here
for over three weeks!
She also said this was one of the clearest days
with the bluest sky she had seen the whole season!
The sign outside the gift and sandwiche shop ...
The Continental Divide ...
Mr. Jones at the top, taking a photo of ME
at the top!
You can see for 250 miles up here --
four states!
Incredible beauty! Amazing!
Isn't it so awesome that the LORD
spoke all of this into existence?
This was our train that took us up and down
the mountain ...
This is the end of the line ...
Katharine Lee Bates, author of
"America the Beautiful"
came to the top of Pike's Peak (summer 1893)
and was so inspired by the view that she wrote the poem
that became so famous ...

"As for God, his way is perfect.
All the LORD's promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
For who is God except the LORD?
Who but our God is a solid rock?"
PSALM 18:30-31

The seats on the train are grouped in 3's and 2's;
but the 3's are sitting across from 3 more
and the 2's are sitting across from two others --
is that perfectly confusing?
Anyway, the two who were sitting across
from Mr. Jones and I were
this couple, Ron and Becky.
They are both retired, live in Toledo
and have three married children and
a few grandchildren as well ...
What nice folk!
About halfway up the mountain, Ron's camera battery
ran out of power!
We exchanged e-mail addresses
and are going to mail them our pictures ...
They took a picture of us, and we took one of them ...
It was only 30 degrees and windy on top of the mountain;
we had about 40 minutes to look around, grab a snack,
use the facilities, and then hop back on the train!
It actually took longer to descend the mountain
that it did to go up!
I love these rocks!
These pictures really do not do the beauty of this place justice.
But ... next week I will work on doing some editing
and perhaps I will show you more pictures then ...
Right now, it is almost midnight and I am too tired to think!
After we left Pike's Peak today, we headed
north on I-25 to Denver,
turned onto I-76 and headed east, northeast through Colorado
(which, by the way was pretty bleak driving --
flat, miles and miles of wheat ...
and no mountains!)
and then we drove on I-80 through Nebraska
to North Platte, which is where we are for the night ...
Tomorrow, our goal is Minneapolis by about 5:30 p.m.
Can't wait to see you, Adam and Emily!