As if we hadn't crammed enough adventure into our Colorado trip this year, we crowned the whole shebang with a trip to Denver's legendary Casa Bonita.
For those of you unfamiliar with La Casa, it is an enormous Mexican restaurant-cum-amusement park. Not only do you get heaping plates of food, and a potentially endless supply of hot, fresh sopapillas (courtesy of the signal flag on your table), there is cliff diving, an arcade, a cave room, a mine room, magic shows, strolling musicians, and skits featuring pirates and gorillas!
Since it was Henry's actual birthday, we decided to hit the Casa after a fun afternoon at Elitch Gardens Water Park - a perfect way to wind up our day. We were seated in the magic show room, and our man Henry got up and planted himself smack dab in the middle of the first row so that he would be picked to get up and assist the magician - and boy did he have a good time doing it! He hammed it up like crazy and proclaimed the magic show the BEST part of his birthday. Here's a video (below) and a gallery of highlights from our evening.
There are times you say, "Yep, that is definitely my kid"—then look for a stiff drink. 😉 (Click image to play)
[No Finnsters were harmed in the making of this vid]
Yesterday the guys gamely braved the heat & elevation to traverse the slopes of San Jose's Almaden Quicksilver County Park, home of the country's first working mercury mine. Being kind of nuts, they & their pals insisted on periodically trying to piggyback one another up the hills. Here's a 30-second taste of the day:
This year, at Henry's request, we finally toured one of the old mines that Leadville, CO is famous for. Much to our delight, it was fascinating, and far exceeded our expectations!
We were led by Bob the Miner, who owns the Hopemore mine a few miles out of town. The Hopemore was established over 100 years ago, and produced gold, copper, silver, and iron, in addition to lead. Bob told us the Leadville area is one of the most richly mineralized areas in the world—a literal goldmine for prospectors!
We got to watch Bob demonstrate all sorts of mining equipment and machinery, including drills, a tunnel mucker, the cage that took us down the mineshaft, pulleys, and ore chutes. The boys were absolutely rapt. He pointed out the vein of ore slicing through the granite on either side, and showed us pictures of a huge ore pocket when it was being mined out - it was dozens of feet high and a hundred feet deep!
We all had a great (and very cold - 42 degrees!) time 600 feet below ground. Henry and Finn even got to push around an old ore car on the narrow tracks. On our way back to the shaft, Bob shone his flashlight on the ceiling of the tunnel, where we could see a bright vein of gold gleaming in the light. ("I never show dentists until the end," Bob chuckled.)
Check out our photo gallery from the adventure.
We could really tell the boys soaked it all in, because once we got back home to San Jose, the boys immediately went downstairs to the basement and built their own Lego mine, including tools for blasting through veins, an entry chute, and a mine car riding on tracks!
Part of Henry's birthday present from his Colorado family was a visit to the Colorado Train Museum in Golden, CO. If ever a kid loved trains, it's Henry Seamus Nack, so it was a perfect gift.
We spent the entire afternoon (gallery) looking at, wandering around, and venturing inside various types of rail car, locomotives, cabooses, and even a push-me-pull-you! We also got to take a ride around the property on a coal-powered steam train. Oh - and there was a spectacular model railroad (featuring Legos!) in the basement of the museum that the boys really enjoyed checking out.
Thanks to the Lingles for the tickets! Our newly-minted seven year-old was beside himself!
Well, if you can’t sleep at 10,200 feet—as I surely can’t for the first couple of days—you can at least have fun passing the time with Photoshop & a photo of your sprawled-out son. 😉
After about 10 years of waiting for all the cousins to be old enough, John and I finally got to take Finn, Henry, and cousins Patrick and Charlie rafting down the Brown's Canyon section of the Arkansas River! All of us had a total blast - although, not surprisingly, it took Henry about 3/4 of the trip to finally start enjoying himself. (He tends to warm up to things far more slowly than the average bear.)
John and I sat in the front/main splash zone, followed by Charlie (11) and Patrick (13), with Finn behind Patrick, and Henry hunkered down in the middle of the raft for fear of getting launched out! In the gallery of photos, you'll notice his little blue helmet way down low, right in between my and John's knees. I started calling Henry "the turtle" because he was very effective at ducking down so low that the bill of his hat was sitting right on top of his life vest's shoulders. He stayed that way most of the trip, as we shot through the Zoom Flume, The Widowmaker, and the Devil's Toiletbowl. At some point I did hear him laughing, and looked over and saw his face plastered with a wide grin. He admitted at the end that he really had fun and would definitely do it again (as would all the other boys!).
Brown's Canyon is the newest National Monument, and boy was it scenic. We had an epic adventure, and we were thrilled to chaperone all the kids on their first rafting trip. The Arkansas river will definitely see more of us in the future!
[Finn got very excited by "The Widowmaker" and kept yelling, "Adios, Dad!!" :-p —J.]
Who will play the player? Mom-O, that's who. Here she makes 6-year-old Henry her tuba...
...in just the way 8-month-old Hen made her his:
Bonus: Even more zerberts from Hen, this time at age 4: 🙂
Lately the boys have been really taken with cooking competition shows, in particular anything involving kid contestants (e.g. “Chopped Junior," “Man vs. Child”). Inspired by all this, Finn’s been cooking up a storm, often preparing his signature “tuna crumble” for Henry, who happily serves as his waiter. Check out "Finn’s Famus Cafe” that they set up a few weeks back in the gazebo.
Of course, none of this is really new: Six years ago today Finn was helping out in his first chocolate chip cookie-making session. Keep it up, kiddo, and long may we savor your creations. 😀
Summertime, and the livin's large at Pasitos—once the boys' preschool, now a tot-fiesta over which they tower as full-on Lego roboticists. 🙂 Check out the fruits of Team Laser Ninjas' efforts yesterday:
Today the guys whipped up a terrific Father's Day pancake breakfast, after which we all headed to San Francisco. I'm too bushed to post photos right now, but in the meantime here's a peek at our visit to the always-fascinating Exploratorium, currently home to the amazing Strandbeests!
This weekend marked our 5th annual Las Madres family camping trip. (I think there've actually been six, but we didn't go the first year.) It's become a much-anticipated event every summer - the guys get to run around all day and late into the night with their friends, and all the parents get to hang out, socialize, and relax (mostly!). We leave on Friday afternoon and stay through Sunday morning. The boys were so excited this year they were literally leaping and dancing around the kitchen on Friday morning asking me how soon we could leave.
This year we had a total of 44 kids and adults spread out over several camp sites at Portola Redwoods State Park - a real gem deep in the redwood forest of the Santa Cruz mountains. Here's a gallery of our adventures, which included gorgeous weather, giant trees—including one dubbed the "man cave" by the Nack boys—hiking, a crystal-clear stream with swimming hole, Ranger-led Junior Ranger programs, s'mores (of course!), delicious homemade cookies courtesy of our friends Lorraine and Dina, making sunprints with found items, counting the scores of banana slugs dotting the ground, and religiously reapplying bug spray (LOTS of skeeters this year).
Man cave tour:
And just for fun, here are the galleries from prior years' camping trips.
The Willow Glen White Sox closed out their year with a bang: Henry knocked out a double, both boys hustled after some hits to center field, and Finn—to his great delight—received the game ball! Here's a little gallery.
Just like their parents (or at least their dad), our guys have their share of hilariously forehead-slapping moments. First, the brilliant cyclist Henry gets a little more familiar than he’d planned with a fountain at Google. (Make sure your speakers are on.)
Second, though separated by exactly six years, these two photos both show Finn’s goofy penchant for having crap stuck to/in his face. :-p
Back when the kids were really little, we were always too swamped & tired to figure out what to do on Memorial Day weekend, and thus generally stayed home and bemoaned the fact that we hadn't planned any adventures.
Five years ago we decided to throw a little backyard BBQ on Memorial Day weekend (see gallery), in hopes that maybe some of our friends would show up, having failed to make travel plans as well. Little did we know that pretty much everyone we invited would show up to hang out at our BBQ!
Over the past few years, our little BBQ has turned into an epic event! At this past weekend's fifth annual Nackyard Memorial Day BBQ, we had scores of grownups and kids populating the yard, coolers full of beer and soda, and good times had by all. Here’s a gallery of shots from the day.
A couple of weeks ago, Hen accompanied me to Google for this year's Take Your Kid To Work Day. Finn had planned to join us, but as he'd been sick the preceding two days, he felt strongly that he should attend school. "My team is counting on me, and if I'm not there, another kid is going to screw up our poster!" he said.
Thus Hen & I rolled on our own—literally, thanks to his bright idea of bringing his dirt bike to ride around campus. Who knew we had our own pair of little dirt tracks to race around? We connected with the boys' pal Zack & his mom, fellow Googler DeAnna, for a round of cookie-making & biking, followed by Henry performing some "dogfooding" down at the Imaginarium (Google's lab for building kids' apps). Getting drenched by a sudden downpour en route only added to the fun.
Who's got two thumbs & was excited to be commended for his on-field hustle? This guuuuuuy. 🙂
We've been awfully sad that our beloved Uncle John Murray has been in poor health lately. It's hard living so far away from our great—and great big—extended family, and I wish the boys could spend more time getting to know everyone. I felt grateful that Finn & I were able to make an impromptu trip to Chi-town last weekend to see Uncle John & spend time with much of the Murray clan, especially as Saturday happened to be my cousin Liz's son Patrick's First Communion.
Here's a gallery (slideshow) of some photos I captured during the reception, and later in the park by the Murrays' house (where Patrick, Mary, and Jimmy patiently gave Finn an intro to lacrosse). "We have a really nice family," he told me later. I'm inclined to agree. <:-)
We've had another rather epic Sunday with the lads. While Mom-O and our friend Jolene toured the de Young Museum, Team KOBI (i.e. King/Kids Of Bad Ideas—newly augmented with our equally mischievous friend Justin) rented a four-man bike & toured Golden Gate Park. We even crashed this year’s Bay to Breakers race, briefly carrying various weird characters who hopped aboard, until a cop kicked us out.
Justin also had the inspired idea of sneaking up "James Bond-style" on a group of unsuspecting musicians who were practicing in the park's band shell. I love that their music swelled up to provide a dramatic score to our hijinx. 😀