Colorado Gators, Mosca, Colorado

Almost halfway between Great Sand Dunes National Park and Alamosa, Colorado Gators is a fun spot to stop and stretch your legs and gawk at something you don’t expect to see in the Rocky Mountain state: alligators.  Begun in 1977 as a fish (tilapia) farm, the gators were brought in to eat the dead fish. Within a few years, the farm became a tourist attraction, as people started stopping by to see the alligators.


The first part of the tour, holding the baby alligator, taking pictures and learning a little about the farm and gators, is held inside, in the dark reptile room. Very much like other reptile rooms we’ve visited (dark and smelly). I must admit, I was happy to move into the fish tank area. Substantially less smelly and brightly lit. I was fascinated with the hydroponic setup there. The fish-waste-to-plant-food-to-fish-habitat recycling system looked very efficient and all the plants I could see looked to be thriving.

water returning to fish tanks

hydroponic sprouts

fish tanks with hydroponic garden above

Finally outside in the fresh air we got to see dozens of alligators lazing in the sun. Even a movie star, Morris, of Happy Gilmore fame, as well as numerous other movie credits, including Dr. Doolittle, Jay Leno, and of course, Steve Irwin (the late, great “Crocodile Hunter”).


Other critters on the property include a couple ostriches, emus, and geese. The farm also offers educational programs for schools, churches and other groups. Alligator wrestling classes are available for the crazy! more adventurous. Gatorfest, held this year on August 2nd and 3rd, features gator roping and wrestling, children’s games and barrel races.


For more info, click on one of the links above, or contact Colorado Gators Reptile Park, 9162 CR 9 N, Mosca, CO 81146, 719-378-2612.

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Tic Tac Toe

In an effort to beat the heat this week, we’ve been escaping another 1000 feet in elevation to Williams, Arizona.  Relaxing at one of our favorite fishing holes, my son sets up an impromptu game of “tic tac toe”.  After a couple of dozen rounds, his interest wanes and he gazes off to the side of our picnic table.  A tiny robin is collecting – something.  Foraging through pine needles and gravel for tasty morsels, perhaps.


The earlier cool breeze now fights with a hot wind, both struggling to dominate our respite.  We move to a shadier spot.  My son has been suffering heat exhaustion for the past few days and the fresh, cool breezes are much better for him than sitting in front of the air conditioner.  He dozes off.  The lake is so quiet today.  It usually doesn’t get too crowded anyway, but today is heavenly, even for midweek.  In July and August, I just expect crowds no matter where we go.  


Clouds build and tease around the edges of the hills.  Will our “monsoons” deliver this year?  The lake is way down and we have a lot of water to make up for.  Boy wakes up and we take a short walk. Spending the days up here, pumping him with gatorade and water have helped keep his temperatures down.  He is just about back to normal now, but his body needs a few more days to recover from the shock he’s had.  He is already chattering nonstop and I expect him to start bouncing around again, soon.

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U-pick, Seattle EMP and Salty’s

Before leaving Portland, OR, we went in search of chocolate covered bacon.  We had heard that it was unbelievably scrumptious, but had no luck in locating a food stand that was open, serving it.  This, however, was a common sight along Highway 97 in Washington.  Produce stands everywhere!  We finally stopped at a u-pick orchard and scored 35 pounds of the most luscious sun-ripened peaches, nectarines and plums right off the trees!  Total damage was less than 50 cents a pound.  What we didn’t eat, we froze at our next stop, to be enjoyed by our friends long after we are gone;)

The EMP in Seattle, WA is a quirky museum of music, science fiction and pop culture.  Mostly pop culture.  The “gallery companion” is a must.  For $3 you can rent an ipod with earbuds which will block out most of the loud noise (um, music) inside the museum, and give you a self-guided tour, extra stories about the exhibits, and additional music playlists.  We spent much of our time in the Avatar exhibit.  Pulling up the videos we made in the interactive sections was a bit tricky, later, but with a few emails to helpful museum staff we were able to accomplish it.  We passed on the opportunity to perform live onstage; we were far more entranced with the sound labs, where we could go into a soundproof room and jam to our hearts’ content on guitars, keyboards, drums and synthesizers.  There’s even a rec room for the little (and not so little) ones to play with  guitars and bongos, make buttons and color.  Afterwards, it was time for cocktails at the Pop Kitchen and Bar.  A non-drinker, myself, I had a rare craving for a virgin margarita.  This seemed to baffle my friend.  I had to explain to her how they were made, and still she eyed me with incredulity.  This just made me giggle more.  You’d think I was the one drinking…

No sojourn in Washington is complete for me, without a bowl of Salty’s World Famous Seafood Chowder. The hearty mix of potatoes, bacon, clams, shrimp and scallops, with a generous drizzle of sherry at the table, and a healthy sprinkle of pepper is the perfect way to end a day of sightseeing, beachcombing or shopping.  It was the perfect time of day to enjoy our patio table on the water, and linger over a shared mango sorbet.  After that it was back to our friends’ house for a movie, and to rest up for our long journey home.

 

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Go Fish!

We got a late start on our fishing this year, but now we’re making up for lost time.  We’re not really big fish eaters, and we don’t particularly care if we catch anything, it’s more an excuse to just get up to the lake for a few hours.  It also saves hundreds of dollars on massage therapy, as gazing out across the water, casting and reeling in, or just going for a walk relieves all the pent up tensions of the week.

It is nice to catch something once in a while, even if it’s just a crawdad.  There’s a feeling of accomplishment.  Fishing played a big part in Jesus’ life.  Many of the apostles were fishermen.  Jesus told Peter and Andrew He would make them “fishers of men”.  What does it mean for me to be a “fisher of men”?

Surely not to just sit passively and gaze across the lake.  After the wonders of God’s creation have filled me up and pushed out all the garbage of the material world, what next?  Eventually it is time to drive back home and take up the daily tasks again.  Fishers of men…to be Jesus to everyone around me.  To extend kindness…to smile…to cheerfully lend a hand.  To suffer interruptions joyfully, because it may be in that moment that the “fish” God has sent me takes the “bait”.

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