Tim had a gig in Laramie, Wyoming, and it was one of those that was set up just right that we could go with him.
So we went.
We left yesterday--the intention was to leave at noon, but that didn't happen. But we left by 2:00 or so and headed up to Fort Collins and then took the short cut (highway 287) up to Laramie, WY. It's a 2 hour drive, usually.
287 from Fort Collins to Laramie is one of the prettier drives around. Awesome rock formations. Broad, rolling meadows with big skies, fantastic canyons. There is one spot, not far above Fort Collins, where there are ridges on both sides of the road that look like someone broke the ground and tipped it up at an angle. On top of one of these ridges are two stone pillars--sometimes they look man-made, sometimes bizarrely symmetrical but still natural. Every time we drive by, I wonder if I hiked up there and walked between them, would I still be in the same world? It looks like a portal to another place or time....
Anyway, it was a nice, uneventful drive (except for Elijah deciding I needed to ride in the back with him half-way there).
We got to Laramie in good time. I have been through Laramie a million times, but I've never been TO Laramie before, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover a charming old town with BIG trees.
Tim took us first straight to the Laramie Plains Civic Center. The corner stone out front of the "new" section of the building says, "Laramie High School 1929". Inside, there is a giant bell, as big as the Liberty Bell (and looking enough like it that Caleb asked if it WAS the Liberty Bell) that says, "Laramie High School 1900" on it. One of the men who belonged to the building (I have no idea his role) said they tried to move the bell, but it was too big and heavy. So the kids climbed all over it.
Apparently, the Laramie Plains Civic center was the high school, and then downgraded to a junior high, and then, up until a year ago, was a "haunted house." It was deserted, beat up, and huge. So the city turned it into honestly the best civic center I've ever seen. And, in the process, they are restoring it.
And the building is gorgeous! The first thing I noticed was the theater, as Tim was unloading a few things in through the stage doors. BIG high stage area, nice sized stage, and a large theater (900 seater) with old walnut seats, which are being restored to have blue velvet on them in the lower level, solid walnut in the balcony. On one side are two-story-high windows. On the other, two-story-high murals depicting Wyoming history. They are apparently original to the building and look like gigantic Minerva Teichert paintings. Gorgeous. The next thing I noticed were the fantastic floors--intricate tile work, mostly. Really cool. Then we noticed arched doorways, and restored paint. The theater's balcony lobby is not restored yet but is a beautiful space. Really great building.
From there, Tim dropped the kids and me off at the hotel and went back for his sound check. Later, Peter brought me the car and Tim called to say, "come to the show!"
So I fed the kids, changed the messiest of them into clean clothes (we hadn't intended to see the show, so I didn't bring nice clothes for any of them. Oh, well), and went back to the venue.
We watched the second part of the first half of the show and the kids were good--but even good the lady in front of us kept turning around to glare at them. Sheesh!
Tim was doing something I wanted to see, too--integrating the solo live looping show with the Tim-singing-with-a-band show. This time it was Wonder Voice (a cappella cover band). It was coming across really well. I also wanted to sit and take notes on costuming (ongoing project, there--we haven't quite got the costuming right....). But no. After intermission, I sent Caleb and Anda and Dan in to see the show, and I took Nathie, Elijah, and Benji out. Right across the theater lobby from the theater was a gigantic open basketball gym, with more of those two-story-high windows. Within a few minutes, Daniel joined us. So, for the rest of the show, I had the kids climbing on the bell and running, running, running in the gym. Half-way through the second half, Anda joined us, too. When the boys got too tired and loud (mostly loud), we went outside and walked around and watched a bunny in a yard, and then went into the hallway that was 'back stage' but off the stage, and then everyone was worn out enough that we snuck back in to hear the encore.
It was really strange for me to sit in the theater and feel the vibe that the audience felt like they were watching "famous people" and it was MY husband up there on stage! So bizarre. It really was a good show, though, and the audience was really very pleased with it. So were the event organizers. That's all really good news, since Tim was sick!
After the show, I showed the kids the balcony, and they looked around and said, "Why is there a cannon up there?" I looked where they were pointing. "That's the spotlight," I said. "There's no light," They replied. "It's turned off," I explained. Benji looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Mom. Those are cannons."
The kids were hanging around while everyone broke everything down. Tim took them to the dressing rooms and let them look in the crawl space under the stage. Even I wanted to cross through that low black hole to see where the light on the other side was coming in. Benji climbed right up into a chair in the dressing room and looked at himself in the mirror and was very happy to be there--he's my little music theater guy, so I should have guessed he'd feel comfortable and calm in a dressing room! Unfortunately, we couldn't stay--Nathanael was out in the hall trying to turn all the knobs and handles on all of the big under-stage pipes.
Despite his love of the dressing room, the bunny, the "cannons" and the gigantic gym, and the fun he had "painting" in the water he'd spilled on the stage floor after the show, Benji later said helping the sound guy put the "snake" (a giant electrical cable) away was his favorite part of the night. Had I included dancing in the list, he might have chosen that. He loved dancing to Wonder Voice, too.
While everyone was breaking stuff down, I went to thank the sound guy for doing a good job, and he said, "You're homeschoolers aren't you." What? Whoa. Yes, we are, how did you know? "We are, too," he said. I replied, "I guess you can identify other ones, then." He said, "Yeah. The kids are nice to each other, the play together, they talk to adults, they help each other out..." Oh. Yeah. Those same things I notice about other homeschoolers. It works!
From there, we headed to WalMart for food and then back to the hotel for dinner and bed. We ate microwaveable chinese food from the freezer section, and fresh fruit, and yogurt, and watched, "How It's Made" on TV (I love that show!). Then everyone went to bed except Caleb was having trouble breathing (a seafood allergy perhaps?) so benadryl was in order, and I needed a shower, and Nathie was picking on Elijah, so he had to get in the shower, too...
We did eventually all get to bed.
Then we got up early (8:45 am--can you believe that?!) and threw swimsuits and life jackets on the kids and took them swimming in the hotel pool. Benji took to the water eventually. So did Dan. Nathie didn't like it, even after I took him in carrying him. Elijah thought it was great, but cold. The kids played while Nathanael and I watched and played with Elijah. Tim took care of Benji. It was fun.
We had to drag the kids out of the water finally because we had half an hour left to clean up and pack out. We almost made it--we were 15 minutes late....
Then we headed home. All six kids fell asleep in the car.
It was a gorgeous drive--wildflowers, rolling meadows, fluffy clouds, awesome rock formations, lots of places that made me and Tim both itch to get out and explore.
We tried to drive around and find the back side of the stone pillars, and, after some wandering, we did find the right place--but were afraid to take our old minivan up the curved, steep, dirt road while it was pulling the trailer. With a drop-off on one side, if we didn't find a turnaround at the top, we'd be in serious trouble. So we abandoned that adventure until another day.
Had to stop at WalMart when we were almost home to put oil in the car, let the desperate kids go potty, and buy diapers. Gotta have those.
Now we're trying to cool our house back down and enjoying resting.