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25 Years

We decided to celebrate our 25th anniversary despite of all the stupid car trouble and everything else. Yes, Carter, it’s been 25 years since you stood by Margaret’s side as her maid of honor. Well, maid is too nice a word to describe you in those days, but this is a family blog. Yes, we needed 2 witnesses and Mike had (by accident or design, I’m not sure) strategically placed himself next to me and was my best man. Carter stood next to Margaret. No “maiden fair” to be sure, but for the last 25 years we have told people how Carter was the maid of honor there in Judge Thomas Grover’s little office in Shawano, WI.

It was 25 years since we had planned on having a church wedding on June 7th and then were told we couldn’t because we were bad examples, so Margaret came up to Shawano and we got married by a judge on the 5th. Of course, we were told that we wouldn’t last 2 weeks, let alone 2 years, so I guess you can see what stubbornness can do.

We had originally planned to celebrate this anniversary in a big way, including a bed & breakfast in Leadville, but with a minimum of $3500 worth of repairs coming up on the van along with the decision of whether the repairs would cost more than the van was actually worth and does it need to be replaced, we had to streamline our ideas. We upgraded our rental to a ’04 Suzuki Aerio, which fits us okay. Since we have Grandma, poor Abby has to sit in the middle in the back and while there is a seatbelt there, it is not the most comfortable spot. No doubt about it, though, we do have more room than in the Swift.

Margaret had 4 days of vacation, the 3rd thru the 6th, our actual anniversary being on the 5th. We decided to do some sightseeing in Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs. I slept in until around 5:00, Margaret slept in until 6:30. Then we started out with a good breakfast at the “Western Omelette” restaurant. A locally owned place, it is well worth the price, which was not exorbitant.

Manitou is a very interesting place and there are many different types of people there. Many different types of spirits, as well. A lot of “New Age” and “Metaphysical” shops there. Along with that though, there are many nice shops and many nice people. You can take a walking tour of the Springs (Manitou has 9 springs, Colorado Springs has 0 but when our founder named the town he planned it to be a resort town and thought it had a nice ring to it.) and drink form them. They taste a lot like different flavors of seltzer water, really. It’s fun and very tasty. A group of daycare kids were at one talking about how they drank soda at a fountain.

So, Friday, day, we spent in Manitou shopping. Margaret found a nice denim skirt at a place called “The Cotton Club.” Having taken interest in my Irish heritage of late, we stopped in a shop called “Everything Irish.” The shop was run by a couple of little old gals who were, um, how to be genteel about this, um, not the brightest stars in the constellation. Perhaps the little people were playing a joke on them, I don’t know. They did not have a lot of useful information and the only coffee mug they had with the correct coat of arms on it had the name misspelled. I will probably give them the benefit of the doubt and go back again and see if they can be of any assistance.

We ate at a place that says it is an European restaurant, but the special was a BLT. Go figure. Margaret’s blood sugar had started to drop and we needed to do something. The highlight was going to the “Flying W” Ranch in the evening. Some of you have been there, but many of you may not be familiar with it. They have a western town set up with little museums and, of course, shops all around and you walk around and look at the stuff until it is time to eat. They prepare an authentic cowboy, chuck wagon style dinner, (except it’s tasty and edible) and this year they have added steak. The original menu was bbq beef brisket, beans, baked potato, applesauce, and spice cake, served on a tin plate. A few years back they added chicken to the menu, which allows for one of Scotty Vaughn’s famous lines, which he sets up by saying how he never really wanted them to change the menu as he doesn’t think it would be authentic. Cowboys on the range would not have had it and, well, you have to agree that there’s something just not western about roping a chicken. This year they added steak. You pay extra, of course, but I thought it was worth it.

Then the second oldest cowboy band in America (only “The Sons of the Pioneers” have been around longer) comes out and does a stage show of Western music (as opposed to Country & Western music) and comedy that is just great. Both Scotty Vaughn and Vern Thompson are friends of mine (Vern is an honest businessman and leader of the band) and when Scotty came onstage with the preliminaries he made a big deal about us. Then when they started their first song, while they were doing it, Vern says, into the mike, “25 years! That’s great!” and makes a couple of other comments. Of course all night long we had everyone congratulating us. We were sort of pseudo-celebrities. This is a definite “must-see” attraction here. I have every one of their albums and Scotty’s book. You can get little snippets of some of their stuff or order from them at

That’s the first night.

Saturday, the 4th, before we decide we are running a little low on money we decided to stay at a place in Manitou Springs called the “Alpine Motel” which has a king-sized bed and in-room hot tub. It is a mom-and-pop operation and they are going to tear the place down after the season is over and re-build it as a “Comfort Inn.” This rather shocked me, but she said the “mom-and-pops” can’t compete with the big chains that offer things like high-speed internet. They are going to strike while the iron is hot and while they are still doing okay. They have a great location and she seems pretty savvy, business-wise.

In the parking lot on the way to the ice machine I met a metaphysical cowboy. He drives a truck, but broke his rotator cuff and was in physical therapy for two months. Before I could ask him why he hadn’t holistically healed himself he anticipated my question (probably having heard it before) and good-naturedly explained that he didn’t know why he couldn’t help himself. His business card says he is a “gifted cowboy” and can do, among other things, Holistic Healing for humans and animals, clairvoyant, philosopher and scholar of ideas. None of this silly throwing ropes and branding calves. He looked and acted the part of a cowboy, though, and actually was nice to talk to. He said what a lot of people say about Manitou, though and that is that there are a lot of bad vibes there. It is some sort of spiritual center but that’s a topic for a different day as we didn’t care about any of that stuff, hey.

We went to the “Iron Springs Chateau” that evening which offers all-you-can-eat bbq beef and chicken (guess beef brisket and chicken are pretty cheap) and afterwards a melodrama where you “Boo” and “Hiss” the villain, Snivley Backlash, cheer the hero, Dudley Dobetter, “Oooo” and “aaaahhh” the lovely heroine and “hubba-hubba” the vamp. It was really great. Afterwards they have a vaudeville style sing-along and then what they call a vaudeville-style olio.

The main show would be rated “G” or possibly “PG” up to this point. The olio is, in my opinion a “PG-13” although if you gave the melodrama a “PG” (I gave it a “G”) then you might give the olio an “R”. I thought it was funny. There is one part where the vamp comes out in this evening gown singing a song called “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” and she picks out various men in the audience and sits on their laps and sings to them, playing with their hair. It may be too sexy for some. I was sitting by an inside wall and did not have to worry about Margaret murdering me after the show. It was a great time and while I wouldn’t recommend the olio portion for everyone, I would definitely say you should see the melodrama.

Sunday morning I slept in until 7:30! We went and had breakfast at “Uncle Sam’s Pancake and Steak House.” This was great. All American food in a biker-friendly environment. Well, there was a sticker on the door that said “Biker-Friendly” so you know the food and the service had to be halfway decent. It was good.

This morning I got up and took Tabitha to work while Margaret slept in until 8:20! You’d think it was still vacation or something. But today we go looking for a car. Oh joy.

Remember the Good Book says, Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

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