Monday, March 28, 2011

T-rex Express A Total Success!

When I came home from the T-rex Express I was totally exhausted.  But it was a good kind of exhaustion.  The event was totally successful.  Both train runs were completely sold out. 

For $15.00 per ticket each passenger received a kit with a dinosaur cookie, water bottle, program, entry form, pencil, (kids got a bucket, shovel, and brush as well) along with our school brochure.  There was a complete program from start to finish.  There were two dome cars, the one people like the best because of the nice seats and view.  On the first car Ranger Patrick gave a presentation of fossils found in and around the valley with some extra fossils from other places.  In the second car Jim Moon, song writer/musician performed his songs written especially for the T-rex Express.  With Jim  was "Rexie", our T-rex Express Mascot.  After fifteen minutes the presenters switched cars and gave their programs to the other coach until the train arrived south of town at a simulated dig site set up by Eric VanIwaarden and Don Kanen.
Boarding the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad.

Passengers exited the train and
 went to the section assigned to them and the kids dug for real Mammoth bones.  They were so excited when they found one and brought it up the the canvas with a baby Colombian Mammoth drawn out.  Ranger Patrick then explained the bones found and placed them where they should go on the Mammoth.  Then the smaller kids were directed to a special dig where they could find dinosaur egg toys and plastic dinosaur toys.

Back on the train and heading for the station there was a drawing that provided prizes like a book on dinosaurs, a T-Rex Express T-shirt, and a "dig kit" of Mammoth, Stegosaurus, and T-rex.  Ranger Patrick took around a "living fissile" a giant salamander for everyone to pet. Passengers could also purchase these items in the gift shop at the train depot.  

"Rexie" greeting little passengers.

Kayleith and Patty distributing buckets and bags.

 While waiting to board the train passengers took advantage of the T-rex balloons made by Casey Martinez and friends.  They could also have their picture taken with Rexie next to the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad.

When getting off the train I asked them how they liked the trip.  They all said it was fantastic and worth the ticket price.  This event would not have been a success if it weren't for the hard work of volunteers and donations from the San Luis Valley businesses and sponsors.  Because of their generosity we were able to provide tickets for all the PALS kids and provide them with T-rex Express T-shirts too.    Thank you to all who helped and to those who came and rode the train.  This was a total success!!

Ranger Patrick and son presenting fossils to passengers.

Tim Pellandini and Josh Kanen, Section Leaders at the Dig.

Digging at the dig site.


Myrna, Casey, and Jessey making T-rex balloons.
Jim Moon singing the T-rex song.

Chris and Myrna, Alamosa Welcome Center
workers with "Rexie".

Santana, Skyleigh, Deja, EllaGrace, and Calista enjoying the ride.

Getting off the train at the dig site.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Buena Vista Colorado Adventure

Africa Safari Room, the largest room sleeps six.
Don and I like to go to Bed and Breakfast places every now and then just to get away and take a break.  We like them because they are comparable to a hotel with much more personal service.  A home made breakfast beats those packaged and pre-mades in other hotels.  These B & B's are usually quieter too.  The decor is fun in most of them.  The ones we usually go to are remodeled older homes like Victorian style or the newer ones sport the latest in fashionable design.  This one however was very unique. 

The owner, Mark, told us it took him about 6 years to find something he could afford.  Then he had major work to do to get it presentable.  With the amount of work he did I am sure this home is in far better shape than it once was.  The home was only 14 years old but was really beat up by previous owners.

This place is located on the west side of Buena Vista right across the street from the golf course.  You can see the 8th hole from the front porch.  Other homes around it are of similar design, very Colorado looking.

But what surprised us was the decor when we got inside.  The larger bedroom is done in Africa Safari.  Very interesting indeed.  The linens on the bed needed to be updated because of wear. The beds were hard.  The furniture was from the 80s, overstuffed couches and dining chairs.  It was a very casual atmosphere to say the least. It was clean and the towels were nice.  The bathroom has a "jet" bathtub and separate shower with lots of counter space and two sinks. Tile flooring was used in the bath so your feet get cold.  The rest of the  place was carpeted except for the kitchen and dining area.

View from upstairs railing over the breakfast area.

Breakfast area.
Mark is friendly and accommodating.  He did sit down with us at meal times.  If there were more people then he sat off to the side and chatted.  He had some good breakfast dishes like his quiche.  But the food is sparing.  If you have a big appetite for breakfast then don't plan on getting full here.  He doesn't put out evening snacks either like many places do.  But for a place run by a single guy who does everything it isn't to bad.  The price is good too.
Marks living room that doubles as a guest area.

View of front porch towards mountains.

Buffalo Peaks Bed and Breakfast.

Other "guests" right outside dining area.

Up the road road about four miles is the Cotton Wood Hot Springs and Spa.  We went there Saturday evening and soaked.  At $15.00 per person, plan on spending some time.  You can schedule a massage for $65.00/hour and up.  There are cabins there to if you prefer to stay there though we didn't go in to see what they looked like.

Since there is a golf course across the street and you are a golfer, take your clubs.  I think it is a public course so shouldn't be hard to get on.

The restaurants in Buena Vista are okay.  We went to a new one called Eddyline Restaurant and Brewery.  We had great food there.  I had the humus and pita chips.  Outstanding!  They brew great root beer too.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

T-Rex Express - Totally Amazed

I am totally amazed by my community in the San Luis Valley.  They have joined together and donated towards making the T-Rex Express an awesome and wonderful experience. PALS Childrens Program of La Puente in Alamosa (Positive Activities Lift the Spirit) was established to help homeless children receive positive experiences that they otherwise might not have.  PALS kids don't often get to do the fun stuff that other kids get to do so our community made it possible for every PALS kid to get a ticket and a T-shirt for the event.

Businesses also donated printing for tickets, toys and prizes, t-shirts with our dinosaur logo, cookies, water bottles, dig kits, lanyards, and personal time.  Churches supported the event by announcing this family oriented activity in their services and handed out posters. Radio stations aired PSAs. The newspaper ran ads for it several times with our logo in color. The railroad put it on their website and signs.  The Welcome Center of Alamosa also put it on their sign. Wow!  What and awesome community!

The T-rex Express is a fundraiser for Sunshine Christian School.  They collaborated with the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad to take passengers to a simulated dig site and dig for real Mammoth bones, a prehistoric mammal found in the San Luis Valley.

Ranger Patrick, from the Sand Dunes National Park will be giving a program with stories, facts, and songs.  Kids will get to pet a giant salamander, take pictures with Rex the friendly T-rex, eat cookies, and enter to win prizes that include dinosaur books, t-shirts, and mini digs in a box.

Jim Moon wrote two songs for the event and will be performing these on the train ride to and from the dig site. 

This all takes place on March 27, 2011.  There will be a photographer taking pictures of the kids by the train so ticket holders need to be there a half hour to an hour before the train leaves the depot.  They will be able to pick up their pictures after the train returns from the trip. Pictures are $15.00 for 5 X 7 and $20.00 for 8 X 10 and are cash or check only.  There will be two runs.  One leaving at 2 pm and one leaving at 4 pm.  There is a limited number of seats so call 719-587-0520 and reserve your tickets now.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Basket Ball Cake for Davy

This is Davy's second birthday cake.  He loves basketball so I made a simple cake.  The cake is a Sour Cream Pound Cake I found on line at Margie's Kitchen online.  The recipe is below. I used two recipes for each layer and a small square pan. I used a chocolate ganache filling and buttercream crumb coat.  I sprayed the layers with a simple syrup for extra moisture. I used my usual Marshmellow Fondant from the previous cake blogs.  I got my lines straighter on this cake.  I used the pound cake because it's dense and I wanted to do better on my edges.
For the basket ball I used my round pancake pan (aebleskeiver, I think it's Danish).  Worked great.  I glued two half spheres together with the chocolate filling, coated it with chocolate, filled in the bumps with fondant and wrapped it in orange fondant.  I used one of those stop skid liners you can put in your drawers to make the dimples in the ball.  I used black fondant strips for the lines.  I would have liked that to come out a bit cleaner, but all in all it turned out okay. 

Sour Cream Pound Cake
1/2 cup butter - room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs - room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/8 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour (I used cake flour)
1/2 cup sour cream, light - room temperature

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour cake pan.  With an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth.  Add sugar and mix on high until light and fluffy.  This takes longer than you think, at least five minutes.
Add vanilla and almond extract.  Beat slightly.
Add eggs one at a time.  Beat thoroughly after each egg.  Scrape the bowl down after each addition.
Add baking powder and baking soda.  Mix in.
Add flour and sour cream all at once.  Beat on low until just combined. 
Pour into loaf pan or cake pan and bake 6o minutes for loaf pan, 50 pinutes for cake pan.  check with toothpick.  Continue baking until toothpic comes out clean.  Cool on a rack about 10minutes.  Remove from pan and cool completely.

Modified from Better Homes and Garden - New Cook Book