Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Girls Week: Colorado Part I

It was that time of year again...the Annual Gruber Girls Week! This year it was Amy’s turn to host it, so we all gathered in Littleton, Colorado. Nancy, April, and I met up Wednesday afternoon to head to the airport, leaving behind all our little kiddos. This was my first year to leave behind a little one, and the longest I had ever been away from him. At the same time, it was the longest Jason had ever been solely in charge of Charlie. I was a little nervous for him, but I was able to throw my cares away as soon as we landed in Colorado.

Jason had to work when I left for the airport, so Karl tended Charlie. 
He woke up from his nap to a big surprise! "Who the heck are you?!?"

Leaving Max with the kids

Here we go!

This Girls Week was so much fun! I especially loved it because I finally felt like myself again. Last year, when Nancy hosted it, I was eight months pregnant and not feeling my best. I swear you feel like a totally different person when you are pregnant. So I was living it up this year, enjoying every moment and having a blast. Amy did an awesome job planning the whole weekend! She packed it with good, fun activities. We were exhausted at the end of each day...too exhausted to even play any games...which is an oddity for the Gruber girls.

The memories started early: when Nancy, April, and I were exiting the plane, we noticed a woman with a young baby in a carseat struggling to unbuckle him. We had noticed her on the flight, as she was across the aisle from us flying alone with the baby. I think anyone flying with babies or young children deserve a medal! I dread the day we have to fly somewhere with Charlie. Her baby did such a great job. If he wasn’t happy and smiling, he was sleeping. Perfect flying baby. We noticed that she kept trying and trying to unhook the carseat from the plane seat belt. People kept walking by and walking by. I was shocked that no one offered to assist her, especially the young man that sat right next to her. Anyways, we tried to help her as more people tried walking past us. It wasn’t until there was pretty much no one else on the plane and the new flight was trying to board that some of the flight attendants tried to help. We were wondering if it would take cutting the seat belt to free the baby. It took a male flight attendant to finally unbuckle the seat belt. The woman was so appreciative that we were there to help...even if we couldn’t fix it, we offered her some great support so she wasn’t alone in this ordeal. If it was me, I know I would be sweating bullets and just want to die! Apparently, she has to travel a lot with her baby to see her husband; she is such a trooper!

Alli had just flown in so she met us at the gate, and we headed for the exit where Amy picked us up. By the time we arrived at the Tuttle house, it was 10:30 PM. The Tuttles had just moved into this house less than a year ago, so we were anxious to get the tour! Then it was time to go over the agendas. We could see it was going to be a very busy weekend! While we were building up excitement going over our itinerary, Amy surprised us with a late night snack: fresh homemade bread, homemade pound cake, and fresh strawberries. Yum! 

At the Denver Airport with Alli and April

All together at last! Yummy treats!

Here is a look at our 2013 Girls Week:

Thursday, May 2nd: Downtown Denver Day
8:20 AM - Leave house
8:40 AM - Arrive at Light Rail Station
10:00 AM - US Mint Tour (actually ended up being 2:00 PM...see explanation below)
Lunch and Shopping
4:00 PM - Red Rocks
5:30 PM - Dinner at Sazzas
6:30 PM - Cocktails and Canvas
10:00 PM - Arrive home, April Devotional, and go to bed!

For breakfast, Amy shared with us some very healthy and tasty foods. We had steel cut oats (love with brown sugar), and a chia seeds drink. At the end of the week, Amy surprised us with little jars of both of those things so we could take them home.

When we arrived at the Light Rail Station, regardless of our running and hustling, we just missed the train, so we had to wait another 15 minutes to board the next one. Oh well. When we arrived in Downtown Denver, we stopped at a Starbucks for some hot drinks and cocoa. The weather was pretty cold there that week. While LA was in the 90s and Utah was in the 80s, Denver was in the 60s. The last couple days of the trip hit the 70s, but it all felt pretty chilly.

The Tuttle House
Yep, that is snow on the ground...luckily, it was all melted by the end of the day

We were all advised to wear good walking shoes this day....and it’s a good thing we did! We did SO much walking! Poor April was five months pregnant...but this is her fourth baby, so she can handle it. Right? My feet were pretty tired and sore by the end of it. I swear we walked up and down all of Denver...multiple times...before the day was through. So, we made our way to the US Mint, excited for our tour. We came to the gate at 9:55 for our 10:00 reservation. Behind the closed gate was a uniformed police officer. We told him we were there for the 10:00 tour, he asked if we had a reservation, and we showed him the paperwork (we had it all ready to go). He grabbed the paper, without the slightest bit of warmth or welcome. He walked back to the door of the building and scanned the paperwork. It minute later he walked back to the gate and informed us that since we were late, we could not join this tour. He said we had to be here at least five minutes early due to the security process (metal detector) we had to go through. I looked at my phone and looked at him in shock. “It’s 9:55 right now!” I exclaimed. He continued to turn us down, saying the process takes some time and he wouldn’t want to make the guests who came on time wait. We looked at each other in disbelief! Is this guy for real? I couldn’t believe it. I was at the point of smiling at him because it was so ridiculous. Amy even played the “we’re from out of town and this is our only day here” card...and he still wouldn’t budge! What a jerk! Just some lazy cop who doesn’t want to do his job and wants an early break! He “did us a favor” and put us on the 2:00 PM tour, telling us we had to arrive 15 minutes early. Luckily, we were staying in the Denver till late afternoon, so we could be flexible that way. As we walked away, we saw him walk to his little security booth inside of the gate and just sit there. Oh my gosh! For the next hour, at least, we kept ranting and raving about what a jerk that guy was! We could move things around and make it to the later tour without a problem, but still just a shock that anyone could be that way! When we finally did come back (at 1:45), we basically just had to stand in a line for ten minutes outside in the cold. When they let us in, we were anxious to see how long this “security process” would take. We walked through the metal detector and walked up some stairs...all taking under a minute...and that was it! Once we were upstairs, we were allowed freedom to just look around at the displays. They then showed a short video of the history of the mint. The cop made it seem a lot more formal, in that the tour would have been “waiting for us”...but it was evident that there was nothing formal about it. People were talking, and not everyone was even watching the video..they were still meandering through the displays! By the time the video was over and the tour began it was closer to 2:10. That fueled my disgust for the cop even more! We just laughed again at how ridiculous he was. Overall, the tour was pretty interesting and pretty short...definitely not worth the ordeal it took us. But a great memory!

With our Starbucks in front of the US Mint
...little do know we are about to be rejected...

So in that time between being turned away and joining the 2:00 tour, we decided to do some sight seeing, shopping, and eating. Amy had originally planned to have us get pictures in front of the Capitol Building, but she was “rejected” once again, as we saw that the whole dome was under construction...not the best photo opp! Were all of our plans going to fall flat?? So we settled with some of the beautiful architecture in the square facing the Capitol. Honestly, we didn’t mind at all if any of the planned activities worked out or not...we were just happy to be together, enjoying each others company.

Next, we spent a good amount of time shopping at H&M. Again, I was so glad not being pregnant! I could actually shop! (When I was pregnant, shopping was the last thing I wanted to do). One disappoint, thanks again to the US Mint, we had to put all of our items on hold and come back later to buy them. For the tour, you can’t take any bags or things with you, besides your phone. So that left us having to put things on hold and returning after the tour (mind you, the walking distance between the tour is not slight).

After shopping, we had lunch at Hard Rock Cafe. And, after that, we got a delicious caramel apple to share from Rocky Mount Chocolates. Then we headed for our 2:00 tour.

Once the tour was through, we headed back to purchase at H&M and headed for the Light Rail (in the meantime, once we got to the station I realized that one of my H&M items still had a metal detector device attached to it since it kept triggering the nearby convenience shop. So Amy and I had to run back there yet again to have it removed...literally run!). There is something about Denver employees that is so unimpressive! First there was the US Mint cop, then there was the sloppy H&M worker, and thirdly there was an unhelpful worker on the Light Rail. Here is the story: basically, there was a young girl with a bike that was exiting the train. Trying to get the bike off of the train was quite a task for her, so in the process she apparently left her cell phone on the seat. The woman that had been sitting next to her, noticed her phone just as the train doors were beginning to close. She exclaimed, “She left her phone! She left her phone!” The train worker was standing right next to her and took the phone. We all thought he would stop the train...it started going...picked up speed...and continued to drive on. All of us looked at him in disbelief. He said, “The train will loop around again in an hour, she can get it then.” How sad is that?!? The girl probably didn’t even know she left her phone, and by the time she realizes it (if she even remembers where she left it) it is going to be such a pain and an ordeal to try and find it and get it back! Poor thing! Come on, Denver! You really need to step up your game!

Ok, I’m done venting. Moving on.

Soaking up some much needed warmth in an indoor bridge

Leaving the Light Rail Station

Afterward, we headed straight for the Red Rock Amphitheater. It was awesome! Quite a sight! Basically, it is this huge amphitheater cut out of the natural rock. The rocks and cliffs are red (reminding me of the landscape in St. George) and it is positioned in the mountain so once you are up there, you can look out and see all of the valley and Denver. It is a prime place for popular bands and acts to perform. Looking at the event list from past years and years past, it was evident that this place was a big deal! Acts like The Beatles, John Denver, Carpenters, and Jimi Hendrix are among the list. There wasn’t anything playing at the time (still a little early in the season), but we were able to walk all around and visit the visitor center. Very cool!

After the visit at Red Rock, we went straight to our dinner destination: Sazzas. Sazzas is a delicious, fresh, and organic pizza restaurant. We had to eat quickly because we were cutting it close for our next activity: Canvas and Cocktails.

Have you ever heard of Canvas and Cocktails? I hadn’t. But now it is one of my favorite things! Definitely my favorite activity of the week! Once you arrive, they give you painting aprons, paint brushes, and a good size canvas. They have a “painting of the day”, or a painting that you are trying to copy (if you would like...you have freedom to really paint anything you want). There is also an instructor who stands on a stage in the front of the class. She gives you instruction on painting the picture in phases...giving you time to paint and playing DJ with upbeat and popular music. All the while, you can order cocktails and have a great time with your friends! Of course, we didn’t order any cocktails (we could have brought in our own beverages if we wanted), but that is okay since we were really spending all of our time perfecting our paintings. It was such a blast, and our instructor was such a crack up! She was so cute and funny. We were all a little nervous going into it, not knowing what to expect...but man it turned out to be such a fun memory! We were there for three hours...and we could have easily and happily stayed there for a couple more...wanting to put more and more finishing touches on our masterpieces. The best part, you get to take your canvas home with you. You get all of this for just $35! I think that is a sweet deal! I would do it again at a drop of a hat!

Here we are! Ready to paint!

Our cute instructor

Ok, everyone...let's start with the sky...if you can't do that than you might as well leave...

Making progress


Our finished masterpieces:

They all look the same here, but up close, each one is very unique!

It is now showcased on my dresser in our bedroom!

We had quite a long and eventful day! We were ready to get home and get to bed.

More “Girls Week” to come...

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