On a recent stormy Tuesday, we drove north to Estes Park, a small resort town with a good raison d'etre: the proximity of the stunning Rocky Mountain National Park. Our mission: to pay an all-too-short visit to some old friends of ours from our Vail days, now living just yards from the park gate. Though they have not lived in Estes Park for long, their house has already taken on a great deal of their character - organic, serene, and full of simple, artless beauty. I loved the miniature indoor garden they've planted in a terra cotta tray, and the way tin cans repurposed as planters become art objects on their sparsely-arranged shelves. I have vowed to buy the Q a set of these Kapla building blocks when she is old enough. At the moment, tomboy that she is, she is all about destruction, and she's all about knocking things down. I've noticed only just very recently that she's beginning to find some interest in building them up beforehand...a promising sign. Architecture buff that I am, I can't wait for her to start imagining and constructing! I was attempting to be restrained (somewhat) with my camera around friends, but when their eldest son came out in this costume, I lost all self-restraint! I mean, how could I resist? Doesn't he look wonderful, and ready to fight dragons? Here he is showing us the correct way to hold a shield. Don't be too jealous, but this is the view from their deck! B. even found an extra costume for our Q, who had a bit of a case of hero-worship for E's dragon-fighting costume. She looks good in a velvet cape, no? B. even managed to fashion her a makeshift crown. Look how proud she is! Stacking cardboard block cities. The views on our drive home were nothing to shake a stick at, either. This long and winding canyon is usually rather bare, but this year, with all the uncharacteristic moisture, the wildflowers and greenery have gone wild between the crenolated rocks. Gorgeous! Before heading south again to Denver, we made a side trip east out onto the plains to a town called Loveland... ...where we stopped to pick up the newest addition to our adoptive family. More about that soon! ;) Out on the plains, the afternoon weather was once again stormy and dramatic, with a tornado warning just miles from us as we drove. It even looks like tornado weather! (the green tinge to the air is a dead giveaway) I love the farm country on the northern plains of eastern Colorado, with the Rockies fading into the horizon to the west.