We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...
1997's Climb

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Buon Natale!

        Merry Christmas!  I can remember every blessed Christmas that Kim and I got to spend together, each one, another greatest time...1993, the day after our engagement, was one of the best - all fired up from receiving a 'yes' from Kim, knowing we'd be together forever, gave me an energy like no other.  We started the day making breakfast for each other and enjoying our morning, then, headed out to see parents, relatives and friends.  We made a lot of extra stops that day, as Kim wanted to tell everyone our great news, show everyone her ring and I wanted to be there right next to her, sharing her glow.   We went to my mom's for breakfast, Kim's parent's  for a late lunch and then to my Dad's for dinner, seeing many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends on short stops in between.  On holidays, we always ended the day by going to the latest movie playing.  We'd smuggle in a bottle of our favorite wine, and enjoying each other's company, more than the movie itself.  There always seemed to be a Disney re-release, and we'd often choose to see that show.The smile would not leave my face that day, stretching perhaps further than it ever had before, by the time we went to bed that night, my face muscles needed a massage.
         Some of the other 'best' Christmas, because they were all best, was the Christmas of 1994, in our new home in Tucson.  We chose a live tree, bought it too early, not aware of how dry they quickly become when you live in the desert, and had to buy a second one before Christmas came.  That was ok, we had fun picking it out and decorating it.  We started our tradition of making the Christmas raviolis that year, from scratch - Kim would make an incredible bolognese sauce to go with it.  It was also our first Christmas with Cajun, a black lab/border collie mix that Kim had bought me for my birthday that year.  She had a blast helping to open presents and she was actually very good at it!
           Christmas 1997 was a great one.  It was our first one with Cody.  We named him Cody because on April 23rd, 1997, Cody was born at exactly 12:00...high noon in the wild west.  He was born at St. Joseph's, so it seems we've come full circle.  He was a fun baby, full of curiosity and always laughing.  We bought him way too many toys, a combination of proud first time parents and me being the manager at Toys R Us!  Christmas 2000 was special, as Autumn joined our family (born in the same room as Cody at St. Joseph's by coincidence).  She was also a wonderful little baby with great big blue eyes...we also had Zona, a black lab/australian sheperd mix, that I had bought for Kimmy as a maternity gift...it took her awhile to appreciate that gift...I'll tell that story some other time!  Christmas 2003 brought us Antonio - he had the best dissposition and had so much fun his first Christmas...playing with the empty boxes! 
         At this point, we were a family of 5 living in a 1250 sq ft, 3 bedroom home...while about 6 months pregnant with Tonio, Kim decided to try to make it work.  While I was working that day, she flipped Cody's bedroom with our master bedroom, putting up bunkbeds, repainting, the works.  I came home after a long day, there she was, tuckered out but smiling...I went into 'our' room, only to find the boys new room!  What a shock and I couldn't believe she had moved all of that furniture by herself while so pregnant!!  After Tonio was born, we decided we needed something bigger and moved to our current home, so Christmas 2004 in our new home was memorable.
        Now, looking back, last year was so incredilby good.  We had a great time at Betsey and Brian's making pizza on Christmas Eve, made our raviolis Christmas Day and then went to Angie's for Christmas dinner and had so much fun...prior to Kim knowing she was sick, we decided to make this year's Christmas very simple, printing out beach photos that we were going to wrap with sand toys, bathing suits, etc and let the kids know that in March, on their spring break, we'd hit the beach and Sea World...well, one of the last things Kim said to me, was how sorry she was, that this wasn't what we had planned...I, of course told her that getting her well was our only thought, our only priority right now and not to worry, we both had such deep faith...deep faith, but we were not in control...as Rush once sang "forget about your silly whim, it doesn't fit the plan".
         Today, the bambini's were greeted with the most presents that they have ever seen!  Our Cottonwood family, Cienega High School club, the Link Crew and friends, neighbors, Grammie and Grandpa Jim and Santa filled our living room with incredible toys.  It really helped keep their minds on how many good people there are out there who had the true spirit of this season - giving.  Autumn did comment that it was the best Christmas ever, but the worst Christmas ever...so I got them busy in the kitchen!  After making them a french toast breakfast, we set to work on ravioli's.  Cody helped me make the dough and manned the pasta machine to stretch it into the proper length, thickness and width.  Autumn helped prepare the ricotta filling and her and Tonio plopped the filling on Cody's pasta, and then cut them into ravioli shapes.  They had a blast!  We cranked up some Frank Sinatra singing Christmas tunes and joined him in our best singing voices - the kids sound like angels and me, well, forget about it.
           We cooked them up and Grammie and Granpa Jim joined us for a ravioli Christmas lunch.  Now, we are getting ready to go to Angie's, where her and her four daughters, Andrea, Janene, Kristie and Kim will be with their husbands and little ones - the bambini's always enjoy going there and playing and eating the wonderful tamales and such that they prepare.  So, we'll look back on this Christmas and be able to say that we made it 'another greatest time'...just like Kimmy would have made it for us.
          Wishing you all your own 'nother greatest time!

"God is our refuge and our strength..."
                              Psalms 46:1

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

   Christmas Eve has always been a magical time for Kim and I.  We'd often bake cookies, make cioppino (sea food soup) and go to church.  When we lived back east, if it had snowed, we'd like to go out late and walk in the snow, make snow angels and throw a couple of snow balls.  Out here, we would walk and see all of the beautiful lights and be so happy we were not freezing!
    We've passed these traditions on to our children, adding the making of home made raviolis for Christmas Day...so this morning, the bambini's and I got to work.  We made pizzelles...it took us three times to find the right recipe!  The first that I found, was one ripped from a page of the pizzelle iron's manual - I told the kids, first, we get out all of the ingredients that we need.  Next, we read the directions all the way through, then we make them...they came out very thick and crunchy.  I looked back over the recipe and found that at the very bottom, in fine print, it said 'this recipe will make an extra thick and crunchy style pizzelle'...so much for me reading the whole thing through!  But, the kids had fun helping with another batch.Then, we made the cioppino - this year adding scallops, Kim's favorite, to the shrimp, clams, mussels and white fish.  Next, we made the marinara sauce, painstakingly remembering Kim's best recipe, which, like any really good Italian recipe, is not written down!  And we nailed it on the first try!  Then, we set to work on making the pasta for the raviolis.  We've had a busy morning, but it is so fun teaching the bambini's how to make these family traditions...
    So the best Christmas Eve that I can remember, was 1993.  It was a dreadful winter in Pennsylvania, mostly ice storms and frigid temps, often going below zero with high winds.  I had about a 45 minute commute to the Toys R Us that I was working at in Montgomeryville and there were several times that I was the only one to make it to work, as I had a 4 wheel drive Toyota truck.  I'd pick up my front end supervisor, Deb, and we'd brave the conditions to get to the store to take care of the deposit from the previous day's business and await permission to not open for the day.
    I was awaiting word on a possible transfer to Arizona.  I had been assigned to help 'clean up' the Montgomeryville location and my store manager, Bruce Feagins (who is now a D.M. with Barnes & Noble!! Small world.) had told me that all of the hours we had put in to make the store successful were being rewarded - he was going to be transferred to the Florida Keys, a dream of his...I asked, hey, can I go somewhere?  He asked where I wanted to go and I said Arizona!  I wanted to live in Phoenix, to be close to concerts and pro sports, but Kim reasoned that if we were moving all the way across the country, we should move to Tucson, a smaller, cozier community - instead of another hustle/bustle area.
   Anyway, on Christmas Eve, 1993, we had gone to church, went to our family's homes to visit and were back at our apartment enjoying each other's company and getting ready to exchange gifts...I remember it was getting close to midnight...
   Well, I gave her a new, fuzzy, warm bathrobe from Victoria's Secret...she loved it and put it right on, sitting down on the couch to watch t.v.  I went over to her, got down on one knee, and asked her if the robe was comfortable...she gushed that it was.  I asked if she had checked out how deep that the pockets were...she said that she hadn't, so she reached in to see and found a small box...without opening it, she burst into tears (sound like Kimmy?)...slowly, she unwrapped the box, opened it up and found the engagement ring that I was giving to her...she sat there crying and staring out the ring...finally, she took it out and I slipped it on her finger...and asked her if she would marry me...she could not speak, and I must say, I had a moment of apprehension...then, she said of course she would!  Well, that was it for me, I cried too and we just held each other for a long time...
      Well, that's may best Christmas Eve memory, of course, we made so many more great ones, especially once the kids came around...and us 'four musketeers' will undoubtly make some great memories too.  We will eat our cioppino this afternoon and then got to our neighbor's, Betsey and Brian, to make pizzas.  Betsey's parents, Ursula and Sam are visiting from Sedona and Grammie and Grandpa Jim will come with us too.
       We all prayed this morning over breakfast, the kids helped me make bacon, eggs and hash browns, that mama was safe in Heaven and wished her a happy Christmas Eve...
       Wishing you all the same,

Thursday, December 23, 2010


  Over the years, Kim and I fell in love with Sedona...we've made several dozen trips there over the last 20 years or so...It has been a magical place for us...
  The very first one was back in 1991...we had come to Arizona on vacation, staying in Phoenix (and going to see Metallica and GnR at Phoenix International Raceway!) and we had to go up to see Sedona, having heard and read so much about it...
   As we approached, the red rocks took our breath away.  We stopped often to just stare at the scenery and take pictures.  We drove through town and headed to the north side of Sedona to Oak Creek State Park, where we hiked, ate lunch and went to the creek, where there is a natural rock slide.  It was incredible.  The water was pretty chilly, but the ride through it was so exhilarating!  We went down the slide over and over until we were exhausted.  Then, we put some towels on a red rock ledge beside the flowing waters, and let the sun bake us and relax us. 
   If you've never been to slide rock at Oak Creek, Sedona, it is just incredible.  There are large buttes framing the park, red rock ledges, pine trees and the creek, flowing through it, is just stunning.  We spent the day swimming, sunning and hiking...perhaps our finest vacation outing...
   After we moved to Arizona in March, 1994, we would always take weekend trips, as we wanted to explore this beautiful state that we had moved to...one of our first trips, was to Sedona.  I had bought Kim a black 1993 Jeep Wrangler, prior to us moving here and we decided to take it to Sedona.  We re-visited Oak Creek, hiked and talked about the time we had been there in 1991...then, we looked to take the Jeep off-road and were told to try Schnebley Road...we quickly located it, turned off the paved road and head on a twisting, turning road that climbed into the red rocks of Sedona.  It was like leaving civilization and going into complete wilderness back then.  After we drove for awhile, we saw a waterful, cascading down some rocks and decided to hike up to see if we could find its source.  We climbed up the steep hillside, which had large pines and ferns alongside the waterfall.  It took us a good hour to reach the top, where a stream spilled over the ledge.  You could see forever up there and we help each other and just soaked up the scene, before slipping and sliding back down to the Jeep, laughing, tossing clumps of dirt at each other and just having a blast.
    We continued along Schnebley road until we reached a plateau, with fields that stretched a long ways...there were huge cattle of some sort up there, that were grazing alongside of the road.  We had never seen such big beasts, with large horns and thought they must be some kind of water buffalo or something!  I can't remember if we ever figured out what kind of bulls they were...As we continued, the road hug a red rock cliff and the other side plummeted straighted down - again, breathtaking views!   The road twisted and climbed even higher, it was difficult to keep my eyes on the road and take in Sedona below.  We found that this road took us all the way to Flagstaff - it was such an incredible drive...we turned around and slowly made our way back the way we had come.  Another greatest time!
   Let's see...about 7 years ago now, Kim surprised our family with an great Christmas gift...she had booked us a hotel room in Sedona and a train ride out of Clarkdale, just southwest of Sedona.  We had Cody and Autumn and Kim was pregnant with Antonio...She had picked us out a beautiful hotel, with a beehive fireplace and a little balcony.  The kids were so excited they did not want to sleep!  We told them all about our times in Sedona together and let them know that the sooner they slept, the sooner we'd be able to go on the train ride!
    The next morning, after breakfast, we headed down to Clarkdale, boarding an old fashioned steam engine driven train.  Cody absolutely loved trains.  He was wearing his conductor cap and cowboy boots, fitting in well.  We chose a spot on an open air car and waited to go.  The train wound it's way through the landscape, following a river that had large cliffs on either side.  You could see eagles nesting and soaring through the air in search of food.  We all had a great time - especially the kids.  Kim had given us our favorite gift that year - she was always incredibly thoughtful and had great ideas like this for our family.  She had given us a memory we'll never forget...
    Now, I've written about our incredible neighbors, Betsey and Brian, who time after time, came to our rescue to watch the kids, bring them to the hospital to visit Kim, clean house, fix things that I can't fix, etc., etc.  As it turns out, Betsey's parents, Ursula and Sam, live in Sedona!  They are a great couple and when we met them, we hit it off right away.  Over the last few years, they have graciously invited us up to their home and have taken good care of us.  We have spent Thanksgiving there, with Kim bringing along her apron and jumping in to help Ursula and Betsey whip up the feast.  Their home has just stunning views of the red rocks and buttes off of their front porch, and the back yard looks like it is out of a magazine.  We would take the kids for walks along paths out of their back porch, spotting deer.  They have seen bobcats, mountain lions and other wildlife in their back yard over the years.  The kids really had a lot of fun playing out there with Hadley and Mitch and they would all camp out together in the same room, rarely sleeping and giggling through the night. 
     In the mornings, Kim and I would sneak out at dawn, breathing in the fresh, cool air and walking, hand in hand along the paths...taking in the sunrise, cool mists coming off the surrounding fields and forest and just talking...
     Sedona has been good to us...I'd like to get the kids up there again soon, so they never forget the beauty we all shared...
      You know, Jodi, Kim's cousin-in-law, keeps coming up with the best Mother Teresa references...I remember this one from her book "Come Be My Light", and she reminded me of it today, and it fits:

      "I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world"
         -Mother Teresa

      If I don't catch up with you, please have a blessed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day...squeeze your loved ones an extra time for me...enjoy their company...make some great memories this Christmas - it's up to you - I know I will, for the bambini's, and we cherish all of the Christmas' we spent with Kimmy, our miracle.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"My mind is in the right place, my body just won't cooperate"

  Kimmy was so sweet during her whole journey...she was so upbeat and positive.  She even told me, 'this is not how I'm going to go...we will be 95 and I will trip over our grandson's Tonka truck'...the odds were just stacked against her.
   One of her doctors commented to me 'you know, this is the kind of case that makes you want to quit your profession and move out of town'.  I went to see my Dr. tonight...thought it might be wise to get some blood work of my own done, just in case.  He listened to my story with sympathy and, towards the end, his head began shaking and he told me, that from what he knows about adenocarcinoma, once it travels from the lung, it is a very deadly disease, spreading rapidly - further, once it begins to mess with the blood, like with Kim's blood clots, it has nearly run it's course.  Trying to see the bright side, or the 'Kim side', I suppose it is a blessing that it went so quickly, as, my Dr. said that chemo rarely does more than postpone the inevitable.  I can tell you, as quickly as I am down, Kim pulls me right back up - I just think back to her possibility thinking and turn things around.
   But she was so positive...and it haunts me, did she know?  I know she was adamant that she did not want the Drs. to let her know how much time she had, as if she were labeled with an expiration date, but still, I wonder...
   Today, we took the bambini's to see the Legend of the Guardians, a movie about owls.  Autumn is a huge owl fan.  The kid's friends, Lexy and Breanna went along with us, as did Grammie and Grandpa Jim - the extra company keeps them distracted.  They had fun, eating a ton of popcorn, candy, etc.  As we littered the theatre, I had a Kim moment...and actually, for the first time ever, cleaned up the trash and put it in a trash can...one step at a time.  Anyway, the kids played, ate some pasta, played some more, Tonio threw up (too much good time!), and then it was time to get ready for bed...tomorrow, I told them I'll teach them how to make pizzelles - Kim bought me a pizzelle iron nearly 25 years ago on 9th street in Philly and it still works great!
    Well, it certainly hasn't gotten easier - Kim was such a huge part of our lives - the void is large, everything seems colder and the shadows deeper.  During this, someone commented that going through a divorce is worse than losing a spouse...from where I stand - I would have rather had the divorce, because I know that Kim and I would have at least remained friends...and her children would still have their mother...and she would still be here, lighting up the lives of those around us...and I could go on and on, so much so, that I just felt sorry for the person who told me that!
    Tonight, the moon had a beautiful, glowing ring around it and the stars poked out from behind the clouds.  I couldn't seem to locate 'our' constellation, the Big Dipper...but, could feel Kim's calming presence in that beautiful night sky...
'Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.'
-Mother Teresa

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Some Good Memories...

     After we broke up back in 7th grade, well, after Kim broke up with me for an 8th grader, we stayed friends.  I'd carry Kim's books home for her.  She'd come to my soccer practices and games.  We'd call each other up now and again.  Sometimes we get together at a dance or at the mall.  In 8th grade, we went to a weekend camp together, Camp Brenard (did I spell that right Terri?), where, Terri alluded to a frozen pair of underwear that appeared in place of the flag way up on top of the flagpole one morning - I don't think they were mine, or Kim's!  It was a beautiful camp, with little cabins set in a circle around a large grassy area.  There was a little lake, with row boats.  We did Bible reading twice a day and there were a lot of activities throughout the rest of the day.  Kim and I were not going steady, but enjoyed each other's company a lot...
   Sometimes we'd get back together in between girlfriend/boyfriends and sometimes the situation couldn't wait until we were both in between...I fondly recall one such time, it was the spring of 1982, we were juniors at Liberty High School together...there was a swim party at a girl's house, I think her name was Abby - she lived right next to the 7-11 where me and my friends enjoyed playing pinball - and Jimmy Durner could last like an hour on one quarter playing Asteroids.  I was there so often, my mom would actually call there if she wanted me home for dinner.
    We swam and ate food at Abby's until around 11:00 p.m., Kim and I had a great time.  When Kim said she needed to leave, I, like a gentleman, offered to walk her the mile or so home.  It was a beautiful night, I remember holding hands with Kim and walking as slowly as possible to make the night last.  I remember how many stars were in the sky - Kim pointed out the Big Dipper and we made the constellation ours - often referring to it over the years, calling each other when we were apart to say we had just seen the Big Dipper and were just calling to let the other know...even to this summer, when we happened to be in our yard and she pointed it out to me and we shared a warm embrace and a kiss...
    When we got to her house, we kissed and said goodnight, not knowing when we'd get together again, but feeling happy, having had a nice night together...
    That Monday, when I got home from school, my Dad told me that my friend David Edwards had called me...I felt my stomach trying to come up through my throat - my Dad must have noticed me turning several shades of pale, because he asked 'Have I ever met David? Is he your friend?'...I told him, no, David Edwards was Kim's current boyfriend.  He was not only a senior, but on the football team.  I can't remember how big he was, but I was so little, he seemed Incredible Hulk-ish to me.  I kept as low a profile as I could the next few days, worriedly telling Kim in school that David was looking for me to 'talk' to me...it seems one of the girls at the party inadvertently told David about how much fun Kim and I had at the swim party.  How nice.  Anyway, David did finally catch up to me, I remember the terror I felt as he interrogated me that night.  Kim had told him that we were just good friends and that he had nothing to worry about and I avoided being beaten to a pulp!  David and I actually remained friendly after that episode over the years. Ahhh, it would have been worth the beating, having such a memory with Kim!
        Thanks for all of the well wishes and prayers for me and the bambini's...we have struggled, as we miss our Kimmy terribly.  It still seems like a bad dream that I cannot wake up from.  The bambini's won't leave my side, choosing to come with me on boring errands - but we make them fun, stopping for breakfast burritos, sharing our favorite 'mom' stories, etc...when we went to church today, to pass on a thank you to Father Harry for all of the support he gave our family, and the comfort he provided Kim, I remarked that I was taking some more time off from work (thank you my Barnes & Noble family!!), and we could make the 10 a.m. Mass regularly until I had to go back to work...little Antonio worriedly piped up 'who will watch us then Dad'...hopefully, by then these guys will know that I am here for them and that their southwest family will watch out for them, love them and care for them...they are such good kids, my tether to sanity right now...I love them so much...
         Thanks for letting me share these memories I have of Kimmy, too...I think it helps me keep her alive - and I know I tried to be a better person today, then I was yesterday...for her...

Monday, December 20, 2010

First Kiss

     ...I was a pretty dorky 7th grader, and had somehow landed an incredible girlfriend, Kim...I desperately wanted to be entertaining, interesting, everything she was looking for in a boyfriend - I also wanted Kim to be the first girl I kissed.
        My parents were pretty supportive of me and my friends, and agreed to allow me to host parties at our home, mostly in our basement.  The basement was always a place that attracted me, yet scared me.  It had concrete floors, a low, unfinished wood beam ceiling - the kind that the house's electricity ran along the beams with those white ceramic conductors.  It had a hulking furnace that roared at you when it fired up and a large oil container, all in the main room.  There were two side rooms, my Dad's workshop and the laundry room.  I had a pretty cool Williams pinball machine that was a lot of fun.  As a kid, I always loved playing down there, but it was not well lit and the shadows ran very deep...the last landing of the stairs created a natural fort beneath it, but, I was convinced a monster lived beneath the stairs and when it was time to go upstairs, I ran pretty quickly up those stairs!
       But I was 12 now, and over the monsters.  When I told my friends I was going to have a party, they were excited.  We did our best to clean up the basement and decorate.  My parents sprung for food and drinks for me.  I had an 8 track boom box for tunes and a strobe light for ambience...the stage was set.
         I invited Kim to the party at school that day and she said she could come.  I let my friends know that my girlfriend was coming and that I really wanted to kiss her, but needed a plan.  We put our heads together and came up with and idea:  when the song 'Calling Dr. Love', by Kiss came on the boombox, my friend, Jerry, would turn off the strobe light, leaving the basement in the dark and allowing me to have the courage to kiss Kim.
         I remember sitting aside of her, with my arm around her that night...thinking it was the greatest party ever - but I'm sure it was probably pretty boring.  My parties consisted of putting out snacks and sodas, putting on some music and hoping the people I invited created a fun time.  I never thought to have games or any theme, but Kim was very kind and if she was bored, she did not show it.
        Finally, my song came on and Jerry reacted flawlessly.  My palms were sweating and I was jittery with nerves, but I leaned over, embraced Kim and planted a long kiss on her lips.  She was shocked, but held me back and we just kind of smushed our lips into each other, because I had no idea of what else to do!  Over the rest of the night, I managed to kiss her a few more times, each one just a straight on smushing of closed lips, that transported me to a higher plane.  For me, it was the greatest night of my life!  I'm sure Kim did not know what to think!!
        Afterwards, we walked the couple of blocks to her house, holding hands, and Kim said she had a nice time...I was in love...
        Last week, at exactly 7:59 P.M., my darling angel moved on to a better place, and I placed my last kiss on her beautiful lips, a straight on smush, but, perhaps with a little more style.  I will forever remember the light she brought into my life, how she made everything special, helped me become a better person and, of course, her wonderful kisses...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Learning to ski...

   Thank you all for your support yesterday, what a beautiful day, and, as we left the church, we saw the pinks in the sun setting that Father Harry told us to look for and knew that Kimmy was close...

    Anyways, back in 1990, I was a manager with Toys R Us in Philadelphia (where I worked when Kim made me her infamous hard boiled eggs that she cooked for 2 hours and me and my team played hockey with).  I was asked to go to Colorado to open some new stores there, as Toys R Us expanded into that state.  Kim was concerned that Colorado would be much colder than Pennsylvania, but I told her that the winters there were actually milder, since they have a lower humidity level - the cold doesn't bite your lungs quite as badly as in Pa.
    The day we flew in to Colorado, there was a huge blizzard - our flight from Denver to Colorado Springs was canceled, so we decided to rent a car and drive down anyway.   We got onto the highway, it was pretty late in the evening, and slowly made our way.  It was snowing so hard at one point, that it was actually easier to see with our headlights off, as the light from them reflected off of the falling snow in a glaring way.  While we were on the road, we heard on the radio that the highway was closed!  They have these big gates at the top of the ramps preventing people from getting onto 25 when it is closed - so I didn't want to get off, as we were in the middle of nowhere - we kept going, seeing no cars and made it through.  I remember there was even lightning during this crazy storm.
     The next day, Kim wanted to try her hand at skiing.  The nice thing about Colorado, was, if you were a resident, you could go to any supermarket, like Safeway, and buy a lift ticket for $10 to any resort except Vail and Aspen.  We chose to start at Breckenridge. 
     We started out route 24 from Colorado Springs, an incredible, twisty, turny ascent into the majestic Colorado Rockies.  The Arkansas river flows beside the highway - in the summer, you can see people shooting the rapids in rafts, fishermen and people just enjoying the river.  As we got deeper into the mountains, Kim began gesturing wildly - she had spotted some big horn sheep pretty low down one of the moutain faces.  We pulled over and took some photos and watched them until the leader of the herd took them higher up the slope.
      We also saw deer, elk and marmasets, a racoon like animal.
       Breckenridge is a beautiful resort and the views from the top of their slopes are breath taking.  We took Kim on a 'bunny slope' first, to get her ski legs and then she wanted to get right to the top to have that bird's eye view.  We took a lot of photos and just stood up their in awe, in God's presence.
       I had explained the trail marking system to Kim before we started down the slope.  Black Diamond = expert, Blue Square = Intermediate and Green Circle = beginner.  We would follow a lazy, winding trail marked with the Green Circle.  Ready to go, I told Kim to follow me and stay close. 
       Kim was doing great, but, about halfway down the mountain, there was a small crowd of skiiers we had to navigate through - when we passed them, I looked over my shoulder and Kim was gone...
       She had veered off down a small off-shoot of a trail that had crossed our Green Circle trail.  I quickly got turned around as I saw her gaining speed down it.  Yelling as loud as I could, I got going as fast as possible and as I turned onto the trail, I noted with growing dread that Kim had just entered a Black Diamond trail!
        I was getting closer when I saw the mogul field about a hundred yards ahead.  These moguls had been groomed high and close together, so a experienced skier would know to crouched down, keep the knees loose and just 'pop' off each mogul hill quickly to reduce the transition between them...Kim was not aware of this - we hadn't covered that on the bunny slope and there was no way I could catch up, although I was now at break neck speed and screaming her name at the top of my lungs!
        Fortunately, there was virtually no traffic on this particular trail and Kim had entered the moguls and although shaky, was holding her own.  My heart welled up with pride as I watched her make the best of a difficult situation (so what else is new?)...however, as she neared the end of the field and back to a calmer section of the slope, she came off the top of a large mogul, kissed the top of the next and wham!!!  Dissappeared in a plume of powder so thick that I completely lost sight of her!!  Those of you who are old enough to remember ABC's Wide World of Sports that used to air Saturday mornings, might recall the opening segments that they used to show to introduce the program...'The thrill of victory...and the agony of defeat'...the agony of defeat segment was of a skiier totally biffing it down a steep slope and being obscured by snow - that is what Kim looked like.  I panicked and threw myself through the rest of the moguls, coming to a stop next to where Kim was partially buried, face down,- still screaming her name and frantically trying to turn her over I suddenly heard something...sweet laughter...Kim was laughing!!  Her goggles hung askew, face bright red from the snow and her head soaked...she had survived the ultimate mogul slope that Breckenridge had to offer and despite the harrowing journey and killer crash, could lay there laughing!  God was truly with Kim that day.
    We headed back to the lounge, where they brew their own beer, and sat warming ourselves in front of a fire for a few hours before heading back out for saner slopes. 
     Over the next few weekends, we also skiied Copper Mountain and Keystone.  We had a lot of fun, but nothing matched the first day on skiis for Kim!
     When we moved back to Pa., we loved to get up into the Pocono mountains to ski there, although it was not nearly as scenic and the conditions were not as favorable as those incredible Rocky Mountains, we still thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
      Thanks for being there,