2010 Colorado vacation top 5 lists

Cambres at Pikes PeakLast night, we returned from our 2010 Colorado vacation.

I won’t bore you with all the details, and if you want the photos, go to my Facebook profile and look at my photo albums.

Here’s some top 5 lists:

Top 5 favorite things

  1. YMCA of the Rockies–the experience, the opportunities, the proximity to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park
  2. Cumbres and Toltec Railroad
  3. Mt. Evans
  4. Seeing relatives in Denver
  5. Every day, we were in the 70s and 80s (occasional low 90s in the cities) while Dallas was baking at over 100

Top 5 lessons learned

  1. Long drives are worse than flying, but they aren’t that bad with occasional stops, technology (DVD player, laptops, etc.), and family fun.
  2. Clayton, NM is a good stopping point between Dallas and much of Colorado, and the Holiday Motel in Clayton, NM is an excellent, low cost, family-owned motel.
  3. My 1½ year old tolerated the trip very well.
  4. Rocky Mountain National Park west of the Alpine Visitor Center isn’t that great. I took that route to get to Denver mainly so I could see the west side. About the only great thing between there and Denver is Berthoud Pass on US 40.
  5. YMCA of the Rockies has super fast internet.

Top 5 things I would do differently in the future

  1. Less time in Colorado Springs and Denver, more time at YMCA camp and non-urban settings.
  2. Made my kids a bit older so either A. we could have dumped them in the YMCA camps and did some things on our own or B. they would want to come along with us on some more adventurous stuff. But not to worry, they will get older some day!
  3. Pay someone to water my grass while I was gone. A generous neighbor helped with the front yard, but the (locked) back yard looked like hay when I returned.
  4. Find more non-chain, family-owned lodging (not including YMCA, which was great). The places we stayed weren’t bad, but good, non-chain places have a “soul” that the chains lack.
  5. Take a picture of the front entrance of everything we visited. That would have been an excellent record of where we went.

Alec’s art

We went to Alec’s school and saw his class’s drawings and stories. They were all about kindergarten-appropriate topics. Flowers, car rides with mom, bright colors, rainbows, etc.

…except, of course, for my son, who drew death, volcanoes, fire, and hellish colors:

I was way  impressed.

I baked my son’s birthday cake

I baked a cake for my older son’s birthday. It probably wasn’t the awesome super hero flashy cake to fulfill his preschool desires, but I was impressed.

I made it from scratch. Nothing but raw ingredients came out of boxes. I even used cake flour to give the cake extra smoothness.

Here’s where I folded in the melted unsweetened chocolate:

I slightly screwed up the recipe. At one point, I was supposed to alternate between adding dry and wet ingredients to the base mixture. I added all the dry ingredients before the wet, so I had a really dry, chunky mixture. I had to beat the wet stuff into it longer than I should have, but it came out fine.

The two cakes after baking:
Our oven is really old and doesn’t maintain temperatures well. A third of the way through the baking, I found the oven was 25 degrees too high. A quick temperature change and some oven venting saved the day.

My wife lighting the final product:

Yeah, the frosting wasn’t smooth:

I made it from scratch, and I made it correctly. I don’t know why it didn’t spread smoothly. Maybe it should have been warmer?

Here’s the inside:

Boy, was it delicious! Way better than box mix cake and partially hydrogenated frosting from the tub!

The birthday boy augmented his slide:

So maybe it wasn’t a superhero cake. But it had a superhero taste!

Great great grandfather’s obituary

Found an obituary of my great great grandfather online today:

Alexander, James D.

Another Good Man Called to Reward

James D. Alexander, old time citizen and prominent over the state and nation fraternally, died suddenly at his home here Tuesday (Feb. 18,1920) morning about 6:30 of heart failure. Mr. Alexander came home from South Texas about a week prior to his death suffering from influenza, but was thought to have been about recovered, being down town (Garland) Monday. But the insidious malady had no doubt weakened the chief organ of his system, which ceased functioning at the hour stated.

J. D. Alexander came to Texas with his wife 39 years ago [Aren: I think from Alabama?] and located in Garland where he has since made his home. For many years he was justice of the peace here [Aren: I also have a city mayor and an Indiana state senator in my ancestry], and taught school in various places over the country. About fifteen years ago he became actively connected with the Woodman order as field man, since which time he had gradually advanced in that order until at the time of his death he was one of the leaders of the order over the nation. He took a heartfelt interest in the work, and had been most ardent in his efforts to explain to members recent drastic changes made in laws.

Several years ago Mr. Alexander was in an auto wreck and sustained broken limbs and other injuries. About four years ago he was struck by a motorcycle in Dallas after alighting from a street car which further injured him. He was in Corpus Christi during the severe Strom of last year and suffered from exposure. All of these combined to weaken a strong constitution and are thought to have hastened his death.

J. D. Alexander was a loyal citizen to Garland and public spirited beyond the average. No move was ever inaugurated which he did not endorse and work for in behalf of the betterment of the town and community. He believed in this community and let no opportunity pass to express this faith. He was active in politics and could always be placed in any controversy. He had been a consistent member of the Baptist church practically all his life, and was an ardent prohibitionist when it was not popular to espouse this cause. [Aren: his grandson, my grandfather, very much enjoyed the drink.] He held the distinction of never having tasted liquor, and was a practical prohibitionist, which created respect for his arguments in favor of the cause.

In addition to the Woodman order he had long been a member of the Odd Fellows. He was active in both orders, and took a lively interest in every move for the good of his home and the state at large. His work and prominence in the Woodman order have possibly given Garland more widespread notoriety than any other one individual.

News of the death was a shock to the community, very few of his friends even knowing of his last illness.

Funeral services will be conducted at the Baptist church this afternoon, Rev. Tobe Wynn of Dallas, an old and close friend, conducting same. Burial will follow in the K. of P. cemetery [Aren: Knights of Pythias Cemetery?, near Garland Ave. and Miller Rd. ? in Garland]. The funeral service will be under the direction of the head officers of the Woodmen.

Deceased was 70 years old, and was married in Alabama 41 years ago. He is survived by his mother, Mrs. S. E. Alexander of Garland, now 91 years of age; his brother, John Alexander of Miles, Texas; two sisters, Mrs. Will R. Weaver of Ft. Worth and Mrs. Annie Smallwood of Garland; his wife, and seven children, Mrs. Dora Alexander Talley of Omaha supreme clerk of the Woodmen Circle; George A., Mayor [Aren: my great grandfather, mayor of Garland], and R. E. and J. A. Alexander and Mrs. Lena Shugart of Garland; W. E. and Dr. Jo C. Alexander of Dallas.

Funeral service will be held at 3 o’clock Friday afternoon at the Garland Baptist Church, the Rev. William H. Wynn, pastor of the Forest Avenue Baptist Church of Dallas, officiating. Officers of the head camp of the Woodmen of the World will have charge of the ceremonies. Burial will be made in the K. of P. Cemetery at Garland.

Active pallbearers; C. A. Weaver, A. R. Davis, W. A. Holford, E. P. Squibb, E. B. Shugart and Charles L. Joyee of Garland. Honorary pallbearers; Judge O. S. Lattimore, M. L. Wigginston and R. M. Hays of Austin; H. W. Wiseman of Cleburne, H. Russell of Mineral Wells, J. M. Denton of Sherman, F. C. Hernichel, R. H. McDill, E. H. Wendtland, E. Z. Crowdus and John H. Cullom of Dallas; R. R. Hood of Weatherford; J. H. Moore of Detroit, Texas; W. G. McLain of Waxahachie, W. A. Matthews of Denton, O. D. Baker of Gause, Texas; John T. Jones, J. D. Curfman, J. I. Williams, B. W. Taliaferro, A. M. Spillers, T. J. Swim, G. W. Crossman, W. P. Peavy, F. F. Capps, C. L. Taylor, J. W. Buchanan and D. F. Bryan of Garland.

Garland News

Source: http://www.dallaspioneers.org/stories/obituaries.php?ID=130.