September 12th – Colorado Springs

     This morning I had the strange and welcome surprise of waking up in a real bed again. When I got over that, I had another pleasant realization. Breakfast would be waiting for me out in the lobby! That got me out of bed with an added bit of excitement for the day. I enjoyed eggs, buscuits and gravy, sausage, a waffle, and a glass of milk. When I finished eating, I made up another waffle to take on the road (shhh, don’t tell anyone!).

     I made full use of my hotel room by writing at the desk until ten minutes before the 11 A.M. checkout time. Before incurring a fine for breaking the deadline, I turned in my key and filled up my large mug with ice and coffee. I walked out to my car and made sure everything was ready for today’s drive. Yesterday I noticed a slow leak in my left front tire, so I made sure to pump air into it before driving both yesterday and today. Thankfully, my dad sent a handy little electric air pump along with me. I brought it along so that I could leave my basketball deflated while crossing the mountains and then reinflate it when I needed it. Now it’s turned out to be very useful for my tires. As always, my dad thought through the “what ifs” and sent me off well prepared.

     I started listening to a new book on my drive. It’s called Assassin’s Fate. This is the last book in a series I’ve enjoyed for several years. Way back in book one, the main character was an illegitimate little prince in a faraway fantasy world of political intrigue, invading armies, and hereditary magic. He was trained to be an assassin and alse developed two kinds of magic – the one that was a birthright of his bloodline and another that was condemned by society. Through the series, he developed into a young man and lived a life full of love, war, pain, and loss. In Assassin’s Fate, he is now an old man, but he is driven into one more adventure by the kidnapping of his daughter. The book follows him to the end of this adventure and ties up the threads of his nine-book saga.

     After listening to this book for awhile, I took a break to call my friend in New Mexico and then listened to the radio for awhile. I was surprised to find that northern Colorado has five country music stations. I thought I’d need to go a little more southeast before hearing so much country.

     Around four in the afternoon, I arrived in Colorado Springs and drove up to “The Mansion.” That’s my name for the home I’ll be staying in for the next week. The friends I’ll be staying with (Lou and Valli) have been friends with my parents for longer than I’ve been around. My dad owned a duplex with them for several years. Right now they’re splitting time between California and Colorado, and eventually, they plan to stay in Colorado. Their son, Louis, is three months older than I am. We sometimes say that we have been friends since before we were born. He is still in California right now, but he’s going to fly out on Wednesday and visit for a few days.

      In my mind, a mansion is a large house that is more than one story tall and has a cool gate on the pathway leading to the front door. This place passes the test. There is also a great view of the Cascade Mountains from the back patio and a workshop/garage in the large backyard. Upstairs, my favorite thing was the enormous kitchen. It has two ovens and plenty of room for multiple people to cook at the same time. Downstairs is a huge sitting room with a sectional couch that can fit at least nine people.

     As my hosts showed me around, we visited and discussed plans for the week. Before arriving, I had let them know that I would be available to help out with any projects they could think of. I found out that they did indeed have something for me to do. Lou showed me a slope in the backyard that leads down to their workshop. It is a somewhat steep slope and was only broken up by a few levels of block steps that weren’t helping out very much. Our job will be to make a real set of steps. We’d have to pull all the cement blocks out, remove the sod, cut into the slope to make steps, put the blocks back, and level the grass in between the steps.

     The job sounded like fun to me. I was all settled in and had nothing else to do, so we decided to start right away. We began by pulling out the blocks. That didn’t take long. As we moved onto cutting and removing sod, I realized that I needed to document this project – at least the beginning and end of it. Here is a picture of the slope with only the cement blocks pulled out.

     When it started to get dark outside, we cleaned up the tools and went inside for dinner. We talked more about the week ahead, and Lou told several stories of the summers between college semesters when he worked in a sugar beet factory. After dinner, there was a relaxing hot tub bath waiting to reward us for the evening of work. And finally, another real bed!

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