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Cabin Log

At some point after purchasing their cabin in Allenspark, CO. My Mother's parents started a journal. More of a notebook that anyone who visited the cabin could jot down their thoughts. It has been fun to go back and read what we all were doing while we were up there years ago.

These are my cabin log entries for our recent vacation. If you are not family you will likely be bored to tears, my apologies.

Also tonight I am finding proof reading to be tedious and proper grammar to be a bore. So all you school teachers go easy on me.

9/20/09 Mark

We arrived on the 18th at about 17:30 after a 24 hour drive from Houston. The trip went smoothly for the most part. Rylee, now 4, and Reagan, 3, were excellent. Madison and Jordan were much less patient. In fact both twins, mostly Jordan, were inconsolable for the last six hours of the ride. It made the last leg of the trip a little tense. However, I have found that I can still enjoy the beautiful drive up CO 7 from Lyons even with screaming kids.

This is the first time that all my kids have been to the cabin and I am enjoying reliving my youth through them. We explored the loft (I loved sleeping up there). Walked to the "big rock" and dug the orange dump truck out from under the cabin. All this is left to do is see the "Hidden Room" and drink out of the in Allenspark. Those were always the highlights for me. I actually kind of miss having to stop at the spring to fill up the Jerry cans because there was no running water. I kind of wish the girls had a chance to experience going down the hill in the middle of the night with a flashlight. (But not really because I would be the one having to escort them.)

*The cabin now has a flush toilet. Until recently having to "go" required a walk down the hill to the out house. There was also a time when there was no running water and no shower.*

This is also the first time that I have been here since Grandmom past away and it makes the trip a little bitter sweet. I do wish she could have met the twins. I know that she would have loved to watch them playing up here. The girls have been having a really good time. They have been going non-stop since we arrived.

We still have not figured out the best sleeping arrangements yet. Rylee and Reagan have been sleeping up stairs with no problems. The first we put the twins in the bedroom downstairs, while Kari and I slept on the futon. I thought it would be convenient if we put all the kids upstairs so I put a gate at the top of the ladder and put an air mattress up there for the twins. It really seemed like a good idea... I don't know if it was too warm or if they were having trouble with the altitude, but the twins were not happy. They screamed for hours. Rylee and Reagan kept getting up to tell me the obvious.

"Dad? Dad the babies are being too loud." Rylee said. I tried water, I opened the window, I patted their backs and nothing seemed to help. Reagan spent most of this time with her hands over her ears whimpering "Babies too loud." I finally resorted to raising my voice and threats, which worked for about five minutes before the crying started again. So around midnight we gave up and put the twins back in the downstairs bedroom where their screams were a little more muffled. After another half hour of crying Kari went in and switched the twins to the other sind of the bed. Now Madison was on the left and Jordan on the right, closer to the door. That worked for about ten minutes. I am not sure if Madi fell or climbed out of bed, but when I went back in she was between the wall and the bed and she and Jordan were giving eachother an earful. Maybe Jordan pushed her out of bed. At any rate they finally went to sleep.

The dogs have been having the time of their lives. I brought heavy cable tie downs to beep them confined to the property, buth have not had to use them. Surprisingly, they have not wandered very far and have been content with chasing tennis balls and lounging in the front yard.

Phyl (*My Mother's sister) came up yesterday and we all went to the Allenspark Art Festival where the girls got to do an art project and each got a balloon.

Today we are planning on driving over Trail Ridge Road, the highest paved road ing the world I am told by the Walmart cashier.

It has been nice sitting on the deck writing and enjoying a cup of coffee. I may be finally starting to relax.

9/20/09 20:50 Mark

I didn't think we were going to make it up to the Trail Ridge Road. The weather was looking down right threatening as we drove to Estes. We were pretty much conitted to just stopping at Safeway, but the kids fell asleep in the car so we kept driving. When we got to the entrance to the park we decided to give it a try since the $20 pass is good for seven days and we could always come back later.

It seemed like a really good idea at the time... Before we reached the top, three of the four girls were crying and Reagan had vomited. We weren't at the very top, but very near. And so I pulled over at one of the overview spots and we walked a short distance to look down into a valley. The wind was really howling and it was quite chilly. Kari reminded me, quite pointedly, of the converstation that we had before we left the cabin. "Do they need their heavy coats?" she asked. "Naw, they will be fine. It won't be that cold." I had replied. Odd that I would have siad that since my only memory of going up there was that it was REALLY cold and raining. I recall getting to the top. At least Dad said it was the top. We couldn't see more than about 15 feet. Then we climbed from "the top" to a pile of rocks that I was assured was as high as you could go, where I huddled between two big rocks to keep warm until I was told that it was time to go down. I am slightly amused that Rylee will have a fairly similar memory. I guess that what having kids is all about. Making sure they experience the good memorie4s that your have.

Madison, not one to be outdone, vomited on the way down and we had to stop at a tourist trap and buy her a new shirt.

the girls were ready to get home and the dogs were very glad to see us. We had planned to make lasagna this evening bit it was so late when we got home that we decided on pancakes and yogurt. No one seemed to mind.

We found out tonight that Rylee has an imaginary fried. I even made her a pancake. Her name is Liza and has another friend who is a reindeer, named Louie. I find her imagination absolutely fascinating.

Tomorrow we plan on doing laundry don in Ferncliff. Other than that we have no plans... and I like that.

One other thing... I never really thought much about temperature control up here. That was never my job. I am finding it challenging to keep the place a comfortable temperature. It gets pretty cool at night, so I make a fire, then the temperature skyrockets. Right now it is 80 degrees in here. I guess this takes some practice. Maybe you don't need to throw three huge logs on the fire for starters.

Enough writing for tonight. Kari has challenged me to Scrabble.

9/20/09 22:28 Mark

Just a note. I feel after looking back a few pages that anyone "logging" in this book should leave their name at least since I am having a hard time telling who is "posting." I would also like a translation of the hieroglyphics that Phylis is prone to add to her thoughts. *She did send me a translation. LOL*

9/21/09 11:53 Mark

Snow! I just went sledding. The girls were very excited about playing in the snow. Reagan was having a especially good time. She was making snow balls under the deck, so with my toe I shoveled some snow between the decking onto her head. She looked up with a big grin, yelled "HAAA!" and charged up the steps with a snow ball in hand. she has a good arm. She hit me square in the chest from about 8 feet away. That started a big snow ball fight between me and all the girls. Even the twins got involved.

I got the sleds out from under the cabin and pulled the girls aroudn the parking lot. Rylee was a little timid about sliding down the road, but seemed to enjoy watching me. We need a few more inches to really have a good run. I got about 40 or 50 feet before I hit a thin spot.

We kind of hope that it lasts. It quit snowing and started melting, but now it is snowing just a little.

We were not really prepared for snow and so we are toying with the idea of running to Walmart for mittens.

Drove down to Ferncliff to do laundry. the laundromat is open, but the change machine is out of order. I guess laundry will have to wait.

9/22/09 23:25 Mark

I was thinking how odd it is that we find others misfortune amusing. It seems kind of wrong. Or maybe it is because we can relate.

We bought Bunker an "indestructible" frisbee before we came up here. It was chewed to bits in less than two days. However, while it was still in one piece we were playing with it and he picked it up by the hole in the middle. With his nose protruding through the center his vision was obscured. Like most Labs he was completely undaunted by his lack of sight and continued to run back to us at nearly full speed. That is until he collided with a good sized pine tree. Tom and I about fell over from laughing so hard. Not that we didn't feel bad. The poor guy gave himself a bloody nose. I didn't even know that dogs could get a bloody nose.

I took Rylee and Reagan for a walk this afternoon, along with the two dogs. I was amazed by their stamina. The girl's, that is. They ran most of the way. However, Reagan got a little out of control on one of the down hill portions. I was calling after her to slow down and be careful, but like most three year olds, she ignored my advice. I watched it happen in slow motion. Her center of gravity began to creep father forward. Her little legs started pumping faster and faster, but couldn't quite keep up with her shifting mass. For a moment she looked like a sprinter going for the gold, arms outstretched like she was breaking the tape at the finish line. And then all powerful gravity took over and she came crashing down. And while her torso slowed her legs continued with such momentum that the soles of her shoes nearly smacked her in the back of the head.

I didn't find it very funny at the time, but when I was telling Kari about it I couldn't help but giggle. I laugh only because It has happened to me. That and the fact that I warned her and she didn't listen.

We had a very pleasant evening with Phyllis. She did arts and crafts with the kids while I split some logs for the stove. She made a very tasty quiche that all the adults enjoyed, but didn't' go over very well with the younger crowd. Maybe one day our kids will develop some tact. As of today they have none. "I don't like this. I'm not eating it!"

Our renters called yesterday to tell us the AC quit working. Only $1800.00 to fix it. Just when I felt I was really starting to relax. I intend not to dwell on it.

It has been snowing off and on today, but not cold enough for it to last any length of time. Probably a good thing that we saved the receipts for all the cold weather clothing we bought for the girls yesterday.

9/23/09 23:51 Mark

I was actually looking forward to having no cell phone and internet service before we came up here. However, since the internet is such a large factor in our lives I have found it a little inconvenient. We did tap into someone's wireless up here at the cabin, but the signal is weak and intermittent. Just enough to be really frustrating.

We loaded up the girls and drove to Estes Park so we could use the WiFi at Starbuck's. I was in charge of occupying the kids while Kari did our banking. I purchased two donuts, four small milks, a peppermint mocha, and a toffynut latte for a small fortune.

Fortunately the girls were all in good humor. Rylee is suffering from a case of the sniffles, but has not let that slow her down. I asked for four plates and divied up the donuts. I cut some straws in half with my pocket knife after Jordan dribbled a good amount of milk do9wn the front of her jacket. The straws seemed to help everyone but Jordan. She insisted on tipping her cup up, even thou that doesn't help while using a straw. I tried to explain the physics of it to her, but I think my lecture may have been lost on her.

I did learn today that half a glazed cake donut will make each of my kids very hyper. At least they were happy and hyper. Things were going fairly smooth until Rylee noticed that there are board games there for the use of the quests. When she asked to play with them I didn't think it would ge much of a problem.

I got the Connect Four game out and assembled it on the small table. I tired to explain the object of the game, but she wasn't interested in that and was content to just pu the checkers in the top and make patterns. That was okay until all three of her sisters wanted to play too. Once they began to interfere Rylee wanted a different game. So I got her a Dora the Explorer card game and this time set it up on a different table.

Meanwhile Reagan, Madison, and Jordan were standing on their chairs oblivious to everything but how fast they could grab checkers and insert them in the slots. The didn't notice that they had just knocked a nearly full cup of milk off the table. I put Reagan and Madi on the floor, which caused a small fit, while I ran for napkins. By the time I had that small crysis under control kari was finishing up.

One of the ladies behind the counter inquired about their ages and commented on their good looks. I apologized for taking over their cafe. She said that it was okay, they were very well behaved and that I was "Super Dad." I didn't argue.

I was going to run down to Ferncliff to do laundry, but Kari was not feeling well and I let her take a nap. She did tell me that next time it would be okay if I woke her up to make lazagna, because mine was admittedly awful.

We finished the night up with a few games of Yahtzee. I think we are tied. I plan on getting the laundry done tomorrow. Can't wait for the rest of the family to show up on Saturday. It doesn't look like we will be getting any more snow to speak of.

9/24/09 21:00 Mark

Just gave all the girls a bath in the sink. They don't do so well in the shower. None of them like getting water on their faces.

Finally got the laundry done. Five loads and spent all of my quarters.That means we will have to go to Estes to get change since the change machine still isn't working. If I owned the laundromat I would make it a priority to get that thing fixed.

I tried to go for a wold twice. Both times it started raining on us before we got past the end of the driveway. We would go inside and 30 minutes later it would clear up.

I cooked chicken on the portable charcoal grill, despite my Mother's concerns. But Phylis is closest, I consider her the on scene commander and she said that it would be okay if we were careful. * It had been very dry and the danger of starting a forest fire had them concerned.

By the time I got the charcoal lit, however, everyone had given up and eaten something else. I wonder if charcoal goes bad? I used the stuff that was under the cabin and it took me more than an hour just to get it lit. I finally had to start a wood fire under it to get it going.

Kari discovered Grandmom's genealogy/photo album and we spent much of the evening reading it.

9/25/09 23:15 Mark

As much as we have tried to child proof the cabin there have been a couple of incidents today.

I strapped a gate across the ladder leading up to the loft to keep the twins from climbing up there. The big girls have been using a folding chair to get over the gate and that had been working well. However, this morning while Rylee was coming down she slipped. She was trying to step over the gate onto the chair an ended up sliding down the last three steps and gate on her back. She made quite a racket and has a couple of good bruises on her back. So we have decided to remove the lower gate as soon as the twins were in bed. I guess I would still rather one of the older girls fell down three steps rather than one of the twins fall from the top.

Reagan, always the accident prone one, fell off the bench at the dinning table. She tipped over backwards and landed on the bucket of fireplace tools. She too has left some marks on herself.

We have told the twins over and over and over not to touch the stove. (*A cast iron wood burning stove) I kept joking that they would only do it once. Well, Jordan had to test it herself. She was not burned badly, but her hand was a little red and she cried a lot. I wonder now if that lesson will stick.

With two dogs and four kids you can never really let your guard down. At least we can relax a little when they go to bed. I wish they would sleep a little longer sometimes. They ae all worth it thought. I am having a grand time watching them grow.

Kari found Grandmom's binoculars and Rylee was fascinated with them. Just like I was at that age. Just like I still am I guess. So when we went into Estes for food today we got Rylee and Reagan some inexpensive binoculars. Rylee was thrilled. "YOU CAN SEE EVERYTHING WITH THESE NOCULARS!!" she exclaimed. She spent the rest of the day observing everything up close and personal. Reagan was pretty excited about them too, but I don't recall Rylee ever being more excited about anything. It was fun to watch.

After dinner I took Ry and Rea, along with Bunker and Bogie, down the road into the national forest.
we parked down by the river and threw some rocks into the water. We were running out of light so I promised to take them back tomorrow after breakfast.

Boy can you see a lot of stars out here away from the city lights. As I was star gazing this evening I saw the International Space Station fly by. I was thrilled and called everyone out to see it. I had heard that you could see it and that it would be the brightest thing in the night sky. It is. At first I thought it was a shooting star, but it wasn't moving fast enough and didn't go out. Then I figured it must be an airplane, but it was moving too fast. From the time I noticed it overhead till the time it disappeared had to have been less than 90 seconds. It disappeared from view at 19:55. Maybe we will catch it again tomorrow.

Can't wait for the rest of the family to show up tomorrow. We are expecting them between 15:00 and 16:00. Phyllis showed up today around noon. It was a pleasant surprise, but a bit of a shock for her. She was expecting the rest of the Spencer crew to arrive today. I guess some mixed messages were sent somewhere.

9/29/09 9:44 Mark

Been having a very good time with the whole family here. There is never a dull moment. Six children seem to create a perpetual state of chaos.

The rest of the Spencer clan arrived fairly late on the 26th. Tom and I had been working on getting the charcoal lit. Phyl had brought up a bag of Match-lite charcoal that isn't supposed to need any lighter fluid. However, that bag must have been sitting around for several years. It was difficult to get it lit. Reagan helped by pouring a big cup of water into the grill. So I emptied out all the charcoal, salvaged the dry pieces and put them on top of a wood fire. Even that took a long time to get burning. Tome looked like he was having fun playing pyro. We just kept adding twigs and branches until the fire was hot enough to burn the charcoal.

Phyl brought enough steak to feed an army. It took us tow days to eat it all.

One of our first excursions with all the kids was to the Hidden Room. Most everyone walked from the cabin while I drove the support vehicle down to the entrance of Highlands Camp. Papa and Chad were the first ones to go through followed by Cannon. Kari and Meesh went through with Rylee and Reagan while I was keeping an eye on the twins. I finally got a turn and Jordan insisted on following me. That was not the best idea, but we got through without hurting anyone somehow.

Canon was having a good time exploring the loft and finding all the light switches. he was quite flustered when the "disco" light, as he calls it (the one hanging from the top of the cabin over the front of the loft) kept turning on all by itself. "Click" he would turn the light off. "Click" the light would turn back on.

"Dad, the disco light keeps turning on by itself." He called down. Kari, Chad and I were down stairs on the couch so we couldn't see him, but I could picture the look of confusion on his face. "Click" on "Click" off.
"Dad?" He called "It won't stay off."

Then we notice Reagan, with a mischievous smile, standing on a folding chair at the bottom of the ladder. "Click" she turned the light back on. "Click" he turned it back off. Reagan looked over at us, her smile got a little bigger. "Click" lights on.
"Dad?" Cannon called.
This went on for several minutes and we all had a pretty good laugh.

9/29/09 15:09 Mark

Yesterday we took the whole crew to Estes Park. We planned to take the tram to the top of the mountain, but it was closed for the season. So we settled for lunch at a small Italian place. It was very entertaining to watch Reagan eat noodles. She would tip her head back and dangle a handful of spaghetti over her mouth and then tip her head down to slurp up all the ends that missed the mouth.

After lunch we parked the camper and truck at the visitors center and walked along the river back into town. The kids spent about thirty minutes on a playground and burned off some energy. We made a stop at a toy store. It is like herding cats, trying to control six little kids in a toy store. They must touch everything.

Most of the kids needed to be carried the rest of the way back to the cars. We decided that dinner for the kids at McDonald's was in order. If we had waited much longer we would have had a meltdown. The adults picked up steaks for grilling. They were fantastic. * Fresh charcoal lights much easier.

Today we stayed around the cabin. The boys have been playing with axes and saws, clearing dead wood from around the cabin. The ladies have been preparing for Login's Birthday party. It is pirate themed with treasure maps for all the kids and a skull and crossed bones on the cake.

9/30/09 23:24 Mark

It is snowing again. I love the sound and feel of fresh snow crunching under my feet. We may have to get the sleds out again.

Papa and Grandmom, Chad, Meesh, and the boys left today. Back to sunny Sarasota. We sure did have a good time. I only wish it would have lasted a little longer.

Kari and I started cleaning up today. Fourteen people hanging around the cabin tends to create a bit of a mess. I spent about three hours doing laundry and have been working on getting things back where they belong. We plan on mopping the floors tomorrow, walking from the front door to the kitchen will turn a fresh pair of socks completely brown on the bottom.

I got in touch with my Aunt Sue today and are to meet them for dinner on Friday. That should be fun. They have yet to meet any of the kids and i am sure they would especially like to meet the twins who they have prayed for so often.

I'm feeling a bit of an itch to get home. The renters called again and now the garage door is broken. This has not been a good month to be a landlord.

Kari has really taken a liking to hiking. i took her, along with Chad, cannon, Reagan, and the dogs back into the Roosevelt National Forest. we parked by the creek and hiked up the hill a ways. The kids wanted to keep climbing, but poor uncle Chad having just come from sea level was feeling a little tuckered out.

Bogie, being a proper Labrador, came down the hill and just lay down in the creek. I decided that we should hang out for a little bit to let him dry before getting back in the truck.

Kari and I were both hoping to get back down to that spot to hike before everyone left for home, but it didn't happen. Maybe next trip.

Yesterday Tom brought up his chainsaw to help us cut up some of the dead wood aroudn the cabin. When he set it down on a stump to start it he stirred up a nest of Yellow Jackets that had taken up residence there. He got stung at least five times and ended up missing Logan's Birthday party. What is that thing they say about good deeds?

The party went well. Meesh and Kari put in a lot of effort to make it fun for all the kids with treasure maps and hidden toys for all of them.

One other thing that should be noted. We have been having a running Risk tournament every night after the kids are in bed. We are a competitive bunch and some of the games got a little heated, especially between Chad and Meesh. If they hadn't already been sleeping in separate beds they would have been. Despite all the conquering we are all still friends and I am looking forward to a rematch.


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