Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dancing lessons from God...a trip through the looking glass.

Funny the title for this offering isn't it?  But then again maybe not.
That quotation is from Kurt Vonnegut. "Strange invitations to travel 
maybe dancing lessons from God".  I like it, I have it posted on a
little note on my desk at work.  Makes me smile every time I read it.
And now for the rest of the story...
I have some very dear friends Rob and Marianne, and for the sake
of their privacy no last name will be posted.
You all know who they are.
They are "cowboys of the highway", yes they drive a long haul
truck back and forth across the country.  They spend 48 hours in
Kent every week.  And in Kent they are rock stars.  We all
count the hours on Tuesday until we get a message from
Marianne, that just says "here".  Smiles all around for sure.
They stay until around noon on Thursday.  Never long enough-

Anyway... their children Jessie and Rob live in Denver and last year Marianne mentioned that Rob was going to marry his sweetheart Nicole in July 2012. Oh such excitement.  They were renting a ranch for the family (Jessie found it, she is an amazing organizer and sleuth).  The groom's parents provide the rehearsal dinner and wanted to host it at the ranch, so we got busy figuring out the menu, and trying to come up with ideas to make this such a great fun time for all of the family travelling to the wedding. Oh gosh it was the best  talking about the many meals that would need to be prepared and the logistics of cooking at 10,000 feet altitude.  Thank goodness for Google, we printed more opinions for so many recipes, that would need to be amended.  
Rob and Marianne said many times we wish you could come along and cook for us, we really need you.  Hahahaha.  I didn't think so.  But they didn't give up and eventually it was decided that I would have the opportunity to come to the ranch and cook with them for their family. 
One of my other hobbies besides cooking is photography.  It was a win win. I got to take lots of pictures and cook.  A dream adventure for me, that is for sure.
I packed all of my bags (several- how much is too much?).  And my fly fishing gear. Oh my yes, we got to do a little fishing too.
Rob and Marianne took my bags ahead and dropped them off in Denver.  So when I flew in I just walked on with my purse, camera, oh and one other little bag. (reference: how much is too much"?)
So I arrived on Thursday morning July 5th, Marianne was there to meet the plane, she was right on it.  We met Cousin Paul, Cousin Judy, Rob and Robbie.
And then away we went. 
The destination was Happy Thoughts Ranch near 
Georgetown, Colorado.  A brief description and the link to this 
enchanted place follow.

Accommodations:  Cabin, 3 Bedrooms + Detached Unit, 3 Baths (Sleeps 8-10)
Happy Thought Ranch is an 8 acre property located only 40 minutes from Denver and one hour from DIA. Mill Creek runs through the property and feeds 7 trout stocked ponds. 100' blue spruce and aspen trees, and many wildflowers and Colorado perennials add to a lovely setting. Happy Thought Ranch is perfect for a "girlfriend get-away", a guys "fly-fishing" trip or a special family event. Nearby Shadows Mountain Ranch "Wedding" Venue and Idaho Springs United Center can help you plan the perfect wedding. Happy Thought is a great place to host the rehearsal dinner or brunch the day after.

The main house is a log-sided 3,000 sq foot home with every amenity possible and meticulously maintained It has a truly gourmet dine-in kitchen with a Wolf Range and a hand hewn table that seats 10. An outdoor kitchen is adjacent with a massive stainless Bar B Q grill and Jen Air stove making entertaining a breeze. The kitchen is well stocked with spices, teas and locally roasted coffees. All Clad cookware is provided along with a service for 12 and everything needed for entertaining.

The kitchen opens straight through to the library and living room, each with a stone fireplace. The library is well stocked with books and two comfy leather chairs. The living room has a leather down sectional, a big screen TV with surround sound and a built in 300 CD stereo system and DVD player. Well appointed furnishings include original art and accessories.

The 18 x 24 main level master bedroom features a king bed, en suite bathroom, and a huge travertine marble shower. A sitting area opens through French doors on to a breakfast veranda and a professionally maintained 6 person hot tub.

Upstairs has two bedrooms with a shared bathroom and an office with space for additional sleeping for 1-2.

The Sage room has a very comfortable Queen bed. There is a writing nook with a window seat and double windows that open onto a view of the front lawn, three ponds, aspen and spruce trees.

The Yellow room is also 18 x 24 and has two double beds. It is bright and sunny with a private balcony and 2 chaise lounges that overlook the hot tub and Mill Creek. This is the perfect place to let your mind wander as you listen to the stream or sunbathe.

The Cowboy Cabin has a deck overlooking Mill Creek and is popular for those who enjoy a more authentic experience (meaning use the bathroom inside the house). It has a double bed and a wood burning stove and more adventurous guests like sleeping to the rush of the stream. One guest saw a 10-point buck outside his cabin window early in the morning and red fox are often seen sauntering up the road. The art studio has a couch and french doors that open onto a deck and the stream. Bring your watercolors ... its an artist delight.

Other out buildings are of historic and aesthetic value only ... a small barn on the huge wild flower meadow and 2 tumbling down cabins that housed a former Blacksmith and Cooks-cabin in the 1930's when the property was a working ranch, owned by the silent film cinematographer, Joseph August.

Happy Thought Ranch comes from the mining placer Happy Thought Mine. There is no mine on this property but many safe experiences can be had exploring mines in nearby Idaho Springs. You can pan for gold - and you just might get some - but the experience is priceless.

Rafting, Hiking, Mountain biking and flyfishing on a Gold-Metal River are just a few activities less than 5 miles away ... and believe it or not – Starbucks is one mile away by the ski rental shop.

You’ll be as away as you want to be but nearby is anything you could possibly want to do.

There are many shops and dining experiences found in Clear Creek County. The quaint mining town of Idaho Springs is where the Gold Rush started and Victorian Georgetown is the county seat. These make up the two main towns in Clear Creek County but you'll want to explore the little towns of Empire and Silver Plume as well. History abounds and you'll want to check out several of the museums, ride the scenic railway or try your hand panning for gold.

Loveland Ski Mountain is only 20 minutes away and perfect for a day of "skiing" locally. Within 25 miles to an hour of Happy Thought Ranch you'll find 5 other major ski resorts. 14,000 ft "Mount Evans" is a major attraction, with beautiful Echo Lake en-route for a picnic stop.

The beautiful blue hills on the way up to the ranch.

Rob cooks.

one of my heroes  Aunt Joyce

we cooked and Marianne wrapped, and arranged, and kept us all on track.

Brian and Jessie sitting still for one minute. They worked non stop to help
make this time so special for all of us.

OK so their may have been alot of beverages...holy cow!!!
The views were spectacular, I should have taken more pictures.  685 seemed to be enough at the time.
The out door kitchen was a blessing, we cooked all over the place, and I am not
kidding, seemed like every inch of both kitchens did double duty.
Perfectly cooked salmon and asparagus on the grill, we made Debbie's
Spinach Strawberry salad (featured in the blog). And baked red potatoes.
Yum.  Seems like vacations speak of great meals to alot of us.

Marianne and Cindy (the lady that owns "Happy Thoughts"
Now if you look at the picture it seems like Marianne is have such a great time just visiting and messing around.  Let me clear that up for you.  She was on the firing line for all of the guests and for us as well for the duration.  You see she (along with Jessie and Brian) did all of the shopping and schlepping everything up the mountain so that we Rob, Aunt Joyce, Cousin Judy, Cousin Paul and I could cook and play around in the kitchen.
first night

do you love this?

A little view up the hill from the house.  The pine
beetles have not been kind.
The wicked Witch is dead.

One of the ponds, I took lots of
photos please take a look, I hope you are as pleased as I was to see this beautiful place.
The Cowboy Cabin,
Where Rob and Nicole spent their first night, as Mr. and Mrs.
The bridge to the Artists and Cowboy Cabins,

Queen Anne's Lace.

Every where you look
there is more...
Marianne looking for the perfect place for a family photo.




And a bear den, of course their was a bear.

Mill Crick(creek) owned by Coor's  hmmmm.

Sweet wild roses.
Just that beautiful...
OK this will work...

these are different
water falls.  There are
several ponds on the ranch.
Cousin Paul, putting the
simple syrup in the creek to

Red neck cooler... Gotta love it.
These Pictures were taken at the wedding venue,  Shadow Ranch.
It was raining, and we wondered
how it would all work out.

Everyone rose to the occasion,

the wedding party above,
Jessie to the left.

down at the lake, for the rehearsal.
The flower girl and ring bearer, waiting.
The groom Robbie.
Well she is not smiling
and I think it is time to consider
an inside ceremony.

The bride, Nicole.

Robin, Nicole's Mom.

Oh boy, it was really wet.

Beautiful Bride.

The grandma from New Jersey.  Rehearsal Dinner inside at the Ranch. We fed about 50 people in the living room.
It worked out perfectly.
Cousin Paul and Sally

Bird house in the living room.
Board games always a must,
A very whimsical fun home.

The lights were amazing.

Judy and Mary

wine corks in the kitchen
Love this one.

one of my favorite pictures.
So then we took a side trip to the Georgetown railroad ..a little adventure.

It looked like he was conducting

Loved this baby's hair.

mine shaft way up there.

going across a really high trestle.
And then back to business.  After all were are here for a reason....
Ha the best was yet to come.

The sweet moments only a Mother and Son can experience.

The boy's waiting for the wedding.
All of them.

I love the ambient light through the
And they do.

Signs on the porch.

Stepping out, pretty ladies.

Marianne and Barbara.

Beautiful Mother and Daughter.

 Sally -ok let's get this party started.

Marianne and Robbie.

Holy cow, so serious Dad.

Nicole's Mother

So cute getting counsel from the minister.

Proud papa with the bride

Love the wink.

Happy...Mama and Dad.

Guest's posted good wishes on the quilt.

the bride's carriage.

David and Sally.

Aunt Joyce.

Sister Mary.

Ok boy's just let em win...every time.

they only like each other a little...well maybe a lot.

the bride and grooms table....

And then they arrived....

we had cowboys...

After this I had to head
back to the ranch
to get ready for
the wedding brunch
the next day.  It was really
fun and it was truly a blessing
to be included for this special

Cousin Phil

Aunt Joyce and Mary

Paul, Rob, Aunt Joyce and Mary.

nice try Judy, she
was hiding in the
my heroes.

cousin Paul and cousin Al...special times for family.

I think Al had the right idea.

Beautiful family. Check out the feet!! Do you see it too?

And then it
was time
for Robbie and
Nicole to go.
We wished them well.  He scooped her up and carried her away.  Smiles abound.

the director.

Rob's turn..we all took a turn.

smart girl, back up when they are casting wildly

He may have caught a tree.

flash floods.

Oh geeeez...we had to go home
now.  it was a dream, a wonderful
dream it seems.  So glad to be included,
so grateful for the memories.

Mount Rainier.  from the plane.

And then it was over.  Monday evening back in Washington getting ready to return to work the next day.  Still humming with the fun of the weekend.
And to think I could have missed it all if I hadn't heeded the words of Kurt Vonnegut.... Strange invitations to travel  maybe be dancing lessons from God.



  1. Wow! What a beautiful event.

  2. Thank you for the wonderful vacation! So well done!!! Aunt Janet