Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Steve, Nikki, and I went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science last weekend because they were having a free admission event. It was pretty neat! I was a big hit with the other museum-goers. There was even a little girl who told me that she wanted to take her stuffed bear around the world and take pictures like Nikki takes picture of me. (Her mom said she has to get better grades before she'd be allowed to travel around the world.) That really made me feel good, like I was inspiring people, you know? :)

Picture time!!!

Picture one: Steve getting eaten by a sabre tooth tiger in 2009.
Picture two: Steve getting eaten by the same sabre tooth tiger in 2011.

Such a pretty diorama! They had these great halls of different displays. This was in a section about the wildlife of Colorado.

One of the dioramas in the Colorado part featured this majestic golden eagle preparing to feed its chicks this tasty, tasty rabbit.

I'm REALLY hoping that the majestic and terrifying golden eagle is too busy with its dead rabbit to notice a (tasty-looking?!) armadillo!

Yeah, this is me, just kickin' it with A MUMMY!!!

 THIS IS MINE. I CALL DIBS ON IT. (It's a giant quartz.)

 Hooray! Mining! Shiny shiny shiny shiny!

These are also mine too. DIBS DIBS DIBS DIBS. (Malachite and azurite)

Annnnnnnnnnnd this is mine too. (I like shiny things.) (Giant quartz)

Giant rock with gold leaf on it. Steve's eyes got all big when he saw it. Said it was worth a TON.

Then I saw this, and MY eyes got all big! Look at all the cool shapes the gold comes in!

Come on...that just looks fake!

Our meandering trail through the "underground" exhibit about all the different gems and stones was the last exhibit we visited. (We went lots of other places, but didn't take pictures there.) When we were done, we visited the gift shop. Museum gift shops are so cool because there's so much random stuff in there!

Before we even got INSIDE the gift shop, Nikki got all nerded out by this tee shirt. She and her friends founded the official pirate club at Goucher College - the Goucher Pyrate Alliance. And then, of course, she knows a bunch of nerds, so the play on words (symbols?) with pi and Pi-rate was just too much. Seriously, she looks like such a tool, doesn't she? I wouldn't let her get the shirt though; I knew she'd wear it in public, and I will NOT be seen with her in public wearing that shirt!

The children were confused at first, then dumped rocks on me. Serves me right, I guess.

No one here but us rabbits!

How cool is this?! A stuffed animal made from recycled plastic bottles?! And while he wasn't as fluffy as Yours Truly, he was pretty soft for a former Dasani bottle.

*sigh* "Oh look, Claire has the flu. Ha ha ha ha ha." Some stupid in-joke between Nikki and Steve.

To infinity....AND BEYOND!!

Utahraptor. Another in-joke, apparently.

Trying to see how I measure up. I'm alllllmost as big as a dinosaur!

Chillin' with my prehistoric homies

If this isn't the most AWESOMELY EPIC way to end a blog entry, then I honestly don't know what is.


So Nikki and Steve told me that we're going to celebrate Labor Day weekend BY GOING CAMPING IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS!! :D OMG! I've never been camping before, so I'm crazy excited. The two places sound really awesome too.

We're spending Friday night to Saturday day at Glacier Basin Campground, which is 8500 ft above sea level. AND THERE COULD BE BEARS NEARBY!! I'm both scared and thrilled! We could go horseback riding, and there will be a campfire and maybe s'mores! And I guess Steve and Nikki will go hiking or something.

Then from Saturday to Sunday, we're going to stay in Eleven Mile campground. We could go canoeing! And Steve will want to fish, but Nikki won't because she's scared of fish for some reason. :p I don't know if there are any bears there though, so maybe it won't be as exciting.

Then Monday, Nikki and Steve were talking about going to the Taste of Colorado festival in downtown Denver. The food list looks AWESOME, and I'm super stoked that armadillo isn't on the menu! I don't know if they'll let me go with them. We'll have to see.

This is probably going to be the best weekend of my short armadillo life.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nikki Post: Things Denver Doesn't Have

1. Old Bay seasoning
2. Purdue chicken (never realized it WASN'T a national company!)
3. Real beaches
4. Entire areas that smell like dead fish
5. Utz potato chips
6. Boordy Vineyard Wine at every liquor store
7. Natty Boh?
8. People who like to bitch about the Orioles (as far as I can tell anyway)
9. People who like to cheer for the Ravens (ditto)
10. A rock opera society
11. A lot of black people
12. A history (Native American excepted) dating back to the late 1600s
13. A large, permanent collection of Matisse's works (as far as I know)
14. Snowballs
15. Pit beef sandwiches
16. Thrashers french fries
17. Kohr Bros. soft serve
18. Seacrets
19. Giant and Mars food stores
20. A beltway

There are probably a lot more things - large and small - that I've noticed aren't here in Denver like they are in my hometown. And there are a lot of things in Denver that they don't have in Baltimore - a constant view of the mountains, for example. I think the weirdest difference between the two cities is how I still get lost or need to rely on my phone's navigation to get around. I've only been here less than a month, yes, and I haven't explored a whole lot, but it's still a weird thing to move from one place where you know almost every street and the best and quickest ways to get to different neighborhoods and which streets are always clogged with traffic or always under construction....and go someplace where you get lost just trying to get to the supermarket a mile or so down the road. How long does it take to get acclimated to a place?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Random Entry

Just wanted to share two things with you. 

One: This awesome picture of me.

Me outside Caldonia's, a TOTAL biker bar not too far from where we live. Nikki and Steve went to get barbecue, but neither of them seemed really impressed with what they got. I guess growing up in Baltimore, which is so near good bbq places, has kinda spoiled them.

Two: This great link to some Armadillo Facts!! This way you can learn more about me and "my people."


Nikki finally got most of the apartment clean enough (for her) that she let me take some pictures, showing off the new place. She said the other rooms that aren't shown here (bedrooms, bathrooms) are still too messy, so I'll have to wait to show you guys the rest of the place. Let's get this tour started!!

This is our kitchen! It's nice and big and has a lot of cabinets. There's also two circle rugs on the floor, partly for color and partly so when Nikki cooks at the stove, her feet and knees don't hurt. (So she says.) There's a dishwasher and an electric stove. You see the sink on the right? The counter it's on is open to the dining room, which is open to the entryway and the living room. Nikki, like all good Italian women, likes entertaining people and feeding them. This way, she can cook in the kitchen and talk to people in the living room at the same time.

[Nikki Note]: The nicest part of our Baltimore apartment was that the huge kitchen opened up (more or less) to the living room area. We had an apartment before where the kitchen was tiny and closed off, and it made hosting parties really difficult sometimes. Hard to socialize with people when you're stuck in a kitchen the size of a hallway.)

Our super-cool fridge! Representing Baltimore with Steve's Orioles magnets. We also have a lot more magnetic poetry words, but Nikki hasn't put them all up yet.

There's a closet in the kitchen that houses a washer and dryer. It's a weird place for a washer and dryer, but Nikki says she's just glad they don't have to take all their stuff to a laundry room somewhere else in the building.

Tasha's food and water bowls: the most important part of the kitchen.

The dining room! Well, the area we have the table and chairs. A great Craigslist get! The sixth chair was busted, so Nikki and Steve only got the five. Luckily, we have four more from their old dining room set, so it all worked out.

[Nikki Note]: Now we just need friends to come over and have a meal with us, and we can finally use the table as more than a catch-all for mail!

Steve didn't know what this part of the entranceway was for when we first moved in. When you come into the apartment, there's a coat closet to the left; the doors are mirrors. Then there's this next to it. Nikki finally figured out that it was a BAR AREA!! Like, for booze and glasses! How classy!

[Nikki Note]: Note the two different kinds of coconut rum. ;) The glass mugs are from my friends Kelsey and Chris's wedding; they had them custom-made. STILL don't know where the wine glasses came from. We've just always had them. Margarita glass from my friend Audra...even though I don't drink margaritas. ;P The little basket holds our keys. Always having a regular place to put them makes them easier to find.
A REAL, WORKING, WOOD-BURNING FIREPLACE!! I can't wait until it's cold enough to use this! Tasha and I have already decided we're going to make s'mores.

LOOK AT THIS AWESOME COUCH!!! Do you remember the heinous couch we used to have at the Baltimore apartment? The one that Steve's mom bought for him from Goodwill when he was in high school? The one that was torn up and dirty and hideous? THIS IS NOT THAT COUCH! There's a loveseat, and a little corner nook (where I'm sitting), and a couch long enough for Steve to stretch out on (mostly). Still needs some breaking in, but it's so much better than what we used to have!

[Nikki Note]: It was a total steal too. Seriously, it may have fallen off the back of a truck. We bought it from a liquidator. They lost the original carton with our set inside. They reordered it and delivered it, about a week and a half after we made the purchase. They're lucky I didn't have to get all Baltimore on them!

Surprise! The ottoman opens up to reveal a storage bin full of Nikki's art stuff! (And an armadillo.) Now instead of having books and coloring books and markers and sock monkey supplies and magazines in various stages of being read spread out all over the floor in the living room, they can go in the ottoman. ...Let's see how long this plan lasts. ;)

 View from our super-big balcony. We're on the second floor, and there's two ponds with fountains right outside. Lots of trees and plants. It's a nice place to sit.

Best part of the porch: since it's got a concrete floor, we can have a propane grill right on it! Steve put it together, but we haven't used it yet. Hopefully it actually works.

Tasha LOVES to spend time on the balcony. Since the slats on the fence are too close together to allow her to jump out, all she does it poke her head out and survey the land below her. Sometimes, she just lays out there, chillin'. I think she likes just being outside because she never got to do that out in Baltimore.

[Nikki Note]: Just an FYI: Steve and I always check on her and make sure we know where she is at all times when she's on the porch. She's been very good about not trying to jump to her death, and we've reinforced that by yelling at her and carrying her off the porch if it looks like she's going to try to hop on top of the ledge.

I'll finish up the tour (for now) by showing you some of the community amenities that we have here. This is a pic of me, chillin' poolside. Armadillos in general may like to swim, but I don't. If I get wet, I go into the dryer, and I always get dizzy when I'm in the dryer.

There's a small gym near the pool. Steve likes to work out here all the time. Always comes home smelling terrible. ;) Personally, I don't exercise. I don't need to, not just because I'm a stuffed animal, but also because armadillos don't have a lot of body fat. Go ahead...be jealous!

Once everywhere else in the apartment is more "acceptable-looking," I'll be sure to take some more pictures for y'all.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Nikki Post: We're Not Dead, I Swear

Hi all. Sorry Claire and I have been incommunicado for a week or so. We FINALLY got all of our furniture here (yay!), although we still have several boxes to unpack and lamps to purchase. I'm also working through a temp agency right now, so I haven't had as much time to take Claire on adventures. Speaking of adventures, Steve and I are taking Tasha to the vet tomorrow because ever since she's gotten back from the kennel, she's been scratching and licking herself up a storm. We don't see any fleas, but I want to know what's wrong with my kitty.

There's a great park right over the parking lot from our apartment that I plan on taking some pictures in, and we recently visited Cherry Creek State Park, which has swimming, boating, picnicking, and hiking. I'd love to take Claire there; I think she'd have a ton of fun.

So thanks for your patience! I swear I'll be entertaining you all again soon! <3

Friday, August 19, 2011


Tasha and I have safely returned (escaped) from the kennel. I think Tasha and I both have colds, so Nikki's going to make vet appointments for the both of us on Monday. She kept profusely apologizing when she picked us up, because it was obvious that both Tasha and I had given up all hope of her ever coming back.

The first couple of days weren't so bad. It was just me and Tasha, hanging out, not doing much other than sleeping and eating. I kept asking the kennel "care"-takers if they'd mind letting us out so we could wander around and stretch our legs, but apparently, no one there spoke armadillo. On the third day, a Persian named "Mr. Fluffyface" (that poor, poor cat) joined us in another cage (cell). He was an ok conversationalist but tended to brag about his pristine living conditions up in the mountains. After she couldn't take it anymore, Tasha finally asked him why, if the mountains and his house were sooooo great, he was stuck in this kennel by a damn water park like us? That shut him up, which was both good and bad. We had sort of gotten used to his nasally intonations. He left a few days after and blew us a raspberry behind his owner's back as she carried him out the door. Good riddance.

By day six, we were convinced that Nikki was never coming back. She had said that she'd visit us, but we later found out that the staff had told her that it'd be "too confusing" for Tasha and me if Nikki came to visit and then left without us. I can see their point, but it's rough being far from home and surrounded by unfamiliar people and the haunting noise of howling dogs echoing from wherever they housed the dogs.
FINALLY Nikki came to get us, apologies spilling from her lips. It took about 45 minutes in traffic to get to our new apartment, and Tasha was a PSYCHO the WHOLE RIDE. She just wouldn't shut up!! I started to worry that she had forgotten who Nikki was, but I think she was just so elated to be out of the kennel that she couldn't sit still and couldn't keep her mouth shut.

It's taken Tasha a few days to adjust to our new home. It's a huge two bedroom apartment with a big living room and....A FIRE PLACE!! How cool is that!!?? I'm totally roasting marshmallows when it gets cold enough. There's also a great, big deck attached which overlooks some trees and a pond. Tasha is enthralled and loves being outside, something she never really got to do when we lived in Baltimore. Of course Nikki doesn't really trust Tasha as far as she can throw her; my cat friend must be supervised at all times to make sure she doesn't see something interesting and throw herself down two floors to the brush below. Honestly, I don't think Tasha's stupid enough to escape, but I DO hold her in high esteem, so...we'll see. So far so good.

Nikki says that since they still don't have all their new furniture and the place is basically still kind of a mess, I'm not allowed to take any pictures of the new place. BUT!!! I had Tasha take this one when Nikki wasn't looking.

This is from my first day back. I was shocked that they had so much stuff, and that Nikki and Steve managed to get it all into the apartment on their own!!

Nikki assured me we should get most of the new furniture this weekend, so keep an eye out for me giving you all the grand tour!!

To end this blog on a super happy note, here's a postcard that Nikki's mom Diane bought for me:

The resemblance is striking.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Nikki Post: Evergreen

Just a note: Tasha and Claire have arrived home safely from the kennel. I'm giving them a few days to get used to the apartment, and then your favorite armadillo correspondent will return to tell you about all the exciting changes going on in her life.

Steve and I spent our last night up in Evergreen before moving into our new apartment in Denver with our friend Kate. I met Kate when she and I performed in a show together back in Baltimore, and when she realized that her cross-country journey would take her through our neck of the woods, she decided to stop by and be our first official visitor.

We all went to the Little Bear Saloon in the main town of Evergreen. Steve's uncle Rob told us that it was an Evergreen "institution," and we were pleased with our decision to go there. It looks like a saloon that would have been open and popular during the gold rush; you go up their porch and walk into the bar, which has a large eating area and a small stage for performers. Upstairs, there's a pool table space and an upper level deck with tiny tables and a bar area for seating. We got some food and drinks and headed upstairs for the deck.

Kate had never been to the mountains, so she was snapping camera phone pictures of the forest across the street from us, which was illuminated by the bright glow of the full moon. As I gazed over, I noticed a black bear (!!!) just wandering through an open area in the forest. It was smallish, maybe only a couple of years old, and was just strolling along, being a bear. We were all really excited, but it disappeared into the trees before any of us could get a picture of it. Pam and Rob said that they've been living her for almost 20 years, and they've NEVER seen a bear. They were VERY jealous. :)

We went downstairs to pay our tab and watched the band of the night play for a while. They were the Minivan Blues Van, and they were great! Their bassist was a big guy who was getting really into his music...and he was barefoot the whole time. Reminded me so much of the crazy kids at Goucher College, my Alma Mater. I took a video of one of their songs for all of you to enjoy.


All in all, it was a great night with a good friend and good music AND A BEAR!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Nikki Post: The Rockies!

The weekend we arrived, Steve and I took my parents to Rocky Mountain National Park, which is one of the most gorgeous places in the country. I wanted my mom to understand why I probably wouldn't be moving back to Baltimore after I finished grad school out here; after seeing the mountains and everything that exists so close to Denver, she finally got it. I'll have to come back some time with Claire, as I think she'd get a kick out of the tundra and standing on top of the high cliffs. Plus, Steve wouldn't stop and let me climb all over a giant snow pile (glacier?), so I'll have to go back anyway.


One of my favorite things about the Rocky Mountains are the clouds and how big and fluffy and majestic they get. Sometimes, when conditions are right, and you're driving through the mountains, you'll actually drive THROUGH the clouds and end up above them. It's a surreal feeling. I love how the clouds cast shadows on parts of the hills and mountains. I love how you could be driving in warm, sunny weather, and without warning, there will be a rain shower all over you. Then it passes by as the cloud moves overhead, and you're left in the sunshine again.

The highest points of the mountains are perpetually covered in snow. The first time Steve and I visited was in late May, so there was still snow on the lower parts of the mountains too. As we were driving up the road, we stopped and had a snowball fight...while wearing tee shirts and shorts!

First animal spotted in the park: a coyote!! I took this with my telescopic lens and cropped it so that the coyote could be seen a little better, and it's STILL really far away in the photo. I never would have spotted it if there hadn't been a park ranger nearby, making sure that people didn't run into the meadow to get a better picture.

I spy with my little eye, something small and adorable...

It's a pika!! This adorable, bunny-looking rodent was running all up and down the cliff-face, looking for things to eat. Everyone with a camera (myself included) was scrambling to take pictures before it hid in the rocks forever. I apologize for the poor photo quality; I don't think that I made time to switch from "landscape" to "portrait" on my camera.

We climbed higher and higher until we reached the alpine tundra. Because the land is at such a high altitude, very little can grow up there except some kinds of shrubs, mosses, and flowers. Definitely no trees. A tourist sign in the tundra explained that because of the harsh growing environment, it can take CENTURIES for these plants to grow back if disturbed. Of course, that didn't stop ignorant people from walking all over the damn place. I won't get into how angry it made me, as it would involve me going into graphic details about the crimes I would have committed, had I not been (and still am) an Upstanding Member of Society, but believe me, my parents, Steve, and I were pretty pissed off. I chastised two children. I'll leave it at that.

An exciting sight up in the tundra....

A marmot!! There were actually several wandering around together,  scampering amidst the rocks, but for some reason, people only seemed interested in taking photos of one. My dad noticed the others and called me over so I could take pictures. They're not as cute as pikas, but it's still weird to see something ALIVE that high up.

*gasp* Who ARE you people?!

The Alpine Visitors Center is at the highest point you can drive to in Rocky Mountain National Park. Adjacent to it is a long staircase made of rock and wood that's about 500 steps high (although it seems higher when you're walking up it). When you get to the top, you are standing 12,000 feet above sea level. Steve and I walked up the steps the last time we visited Colorado (in 2009), and about halfway up, the altitude, combined with my being out of shape, almost killed me...at least it felt that way. I was keeled over, gasping for air about halfway up, telling Steve, "Leave me! *wheeze wheeze gasp* Go on without me! *GASSSP*" Steve, ever chivalrous, gasping himself, refused to leave any soldier behind. We made it to the very top, and after catching my breath, I had him take a picture of us standing at the summit.

Not shown in photo: my heart and lungs about to explode

This time, the stairway was closed for repairs, so we had to make do just visiting the Center's gift shop, which my mom loved. Daddy also bought some jams (elderberry), as he is a fan of jams, and Steve bought me a raspberry cordial because he is romantic.

Here's some pictures of the aforementioned snow, still hanging out on the mountainside:

 The sign reads: Area Closed Dangerous Snow Fields

My dad's a big man, but he seems so small up in the mountains.