We never have enough time on the ranch. As we left, V announced that, "If we win the lottery, I want to buy a ranch in Nebraska and one hour from the beach." I guess her ranch, in addition to housing horses, dogs, cats, goats, a little house and a big pool, will have to include a long runway and a high-speed jet.
Still, it was time to move west to see the Colorado grandparents and aunts and uncle near Denver. On our way out, we took the amazingly well-maintained dirt county roads from the ranch toward Dalton. We made one wrong turn, so managed to find our way to Potter, Nebraska before turning for Sidney, Nebraska, home to a giant Cabela's store complete with mountain taxidermy display, and, find of all finds, the Bargain Cave!
This portion of the store includes a vast array of items returned or otherwise no longer stocked in the store, so offered at incredibly cut rates. The stitches on my hiking boots blew out earlier this year, and the girls needed new snow boots for the coming winter. (We don't have snow here, but we like them to be comfortable on our annual trek to the mountains to play in the white stuff for a week or so.) I found my replacement boots marked down $40 because, the tag stated, there was a "scuff." Seriously, folks, I'm going to do a LOT more to these than scuff them by the time I'm through - and I couldn't find the mark! V's boots were in the cave because they were a discontinued model. She didn't care, and neither do I. They're very nice boots that'll keep her feet warm this winter and probably next. (She picked 'em a bit large.)
Along this portion of our drive, I thank KUNC radio for its diverse selection of music. It kept us all entertained - me driving, the girls catching up on some math and writing.
Muffin is clearly adjusting well to travel. She was given free run of the cat-friendly house:
We played in the basement, hide-and-seek with Grandma, and dinner at a wonderful pizza joint with a gluten-free menu (Beau Joe's). Good pizza and beer for all. On Sunday, we took Grandpa on a hike to Mt. Falcon. This wonderful open space offers trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The views are wonderful, the hikes as easy or moderately difficult as anyone might like, and the rangers friendly.
The mountain has a remarkably similar story to a California mountain we like to hike. Like Knapp's Castle in Santa Barbara County, Walker's "castle" on Mt. Falcon was built after a man made his fortune. Both stone structures, certainly elegant in their time, were on mountain tops with marvelous views. Both were struck by lightening and burned to the ground not particularly long after they were built. And both are now recreational destinations.
As a storm rolled in, we headed down the mountain and into town for a visit to Casa Bonita - a Best Family favorite more for its cliff divers and other entertainment than for its food. (OK...the sopapillas and margaritas are worth the stop, but if you're looking for MEXICAN food, this isn't the stop for you.) It was certainly V's day. Her aunt delivered an early birthday present, the cliff diver stopped in for a visit, she won the head of the pinata, another arcade player gave her his tickets at the prize counter, and she got to play side by side with Grandpa.
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