THE SISTER, FRIEND, FATHER AND MOTHER LODE

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THE SISTER, FRIEND, FATHER AND MOTHER LODE

I’ve hit them all.

By definition, the mother lode in gold mining terms is the principal vein or zone of gold. It is also used to refer to the real or imaginary origin of something valuable or in great abundance.

As parents go, our father and mother were the most valuable treasures we had in our family. My sisters and brothers continue to be treasures as well.

And, because one can never have too many friends, I can also say that with each new friend I make, I continue to hit the friend lode.

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The Sister Lode was conceived three years ago on one of our sister trips to Cripple Creek, Colorado, which is a gold-mining town with ongoing mining, and where the mother lode was struck in 1890. Its history is that of a bust-boom-bust-and boom again town. Casinos replaced the empty storefronts when gambling was legalized there in 1991, and it has continued to grow since.

We have done our part to help it grow.

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Since 2010, we have traveled to this peaceful mountain town typically twice each year; first in March to observe our parents’ passing, but especially to celebrate their lives, and then back again in the fall. The celebrating keeps getting easier, and more fun.

If you know Gail, it won’t surprise you to know that many people in this small town remember her from previous visits, especially the Blackjack dealers and the pit bosses at her favorite casino, The Brass Ass. And this is a good thing.

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Gail even made new friends along the way at her favorite stop along the way, the Pop-A-Top saloon in Peyton, Colorado.

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Usually, Suzanne joins Gail and me. However, the altitude has taken its toll on her during the last few visits, so she decided to stay home this time. It’s never the same without her, so we anticipate the day when we can take an epic trip—likely of her design and plan—with all three of us. Until then, the show must go on.

No one could ever take her place, and we don’t want anyone to try. To prove this, we enlarged and copied an iconic photo of ourselves on the grand stairway of our favorite inn, the one we have chosen to make our home away from home since 2014. The existing picture in our favorite corner room featured three cute little bunnies, so we saw it fitting to replace it with three other cute little bunnies.

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We took a shot of the Ferris Wheel along the way for Suzanne, she’s got a thing for them, and we did ride this one several years ago.  It was shortly after her birthday, and it was a slow day at the park.  We asked the Ferris wheel operator if she could have a special ride in honor of her recent birthday, one that perhaps was a bit faster than he would normally let it go.  We got off, she had the wheel to herself and after that one-of-a-kind ride, he probably lost his job.

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Despite the fact that Suzanne cannot be replaced, we found someone who deserved a long-overdue getaway, and she became our traveling companion.

Gail’s friend Margaret had been there perhaps thirty years ago, so it was time for her to go again.  I had met her prior to this trip, but this was my opportunity to get to know her. She is now a member of my friend lode.

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I would say we showed Margaret a good time, but I think it is more fitting to say that Gail showed her a good time. If the first night out was any indication, she knew she was in for a ride. Speaking of rides, Gail and Margaret dragged in six hours after I tucked myself in, forced to bum a ride from the blackjack dealer as he finished his shift. They didn’t know the shuttle buses stopped running at 2 a.m.

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Three strikes, and they were out. (Be sure to zoom in on the sign.)

There was no monetary currency won that night—or any time throughout the trip, but our winnings were much more valuable than any jackpot.

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We ate at our favorite restaurants,

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I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between this picture, and this classic birthday photo of Gail I posted on her party post several weeks ago…

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Took in the scenery,

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And took advantage of several photo ops.

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We shopped at our favorite shops, bringing home another jewelry jackpot—we always win at 9494–the town’s altitude, as well as our all-time favorite place to find more Colorado treasures. If you ever make it to Cripple Creek, you must stop there, too.

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The mother lode was there for us again, just not in monetary terms. Anywhere we go together, we can feel the father lode, too. This time, the friend lode was a bonus. And, as always, The Sister Lode is the greatest treasure we continue to share.

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LUCKY GIRLS

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LUCKY GIRLS

We hit it big this time.  We hit the jackpot not once, but several times.  And then again.  And again.  We doubled down on the fun, increasing our winnings.

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The satellite radio gods were tuned in to our frequency on this trip…except they didn’t play “Rocky Mountain High” for us, and we both forgot our John Denver CDs, so, we found it online when we had reception, and sang along.

In Gail’s favor, but not mine, the wind was on her side.  The western Kansas wind was a gentle beast on the way,

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but the Colorado wind was a force to be reckoned with.

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Gail took a stroll down Memory Lane with the newly available Daylight Donuts in the new shop downtown, and offered at several places around town.  We even saw a Daylight Donuts semi on the way there.

Another jackpot.

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Rules are maybe just suggestions.  I believe I posted that earlier.  I believe this to be true.

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Suggestions like, perhaps, maybe you should cross the street in the crosswalk, not in the middle of traffic.

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We kind of own the place when we are there…at least, we think we do.

Or, perhaps, that silly rule about ‘no pictures in the casino.’  Again, it’s just a suggestion, and we didn’t take it.

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As Mom said, “If it feels good, and doesn’t break The Ten Commandments, do it!”

So, we did.

We did a lot of things that felt good, and broke no laws or Commandments whatsoever.  Things that made us laugh, and made other people laugh, too.  Uninhibited things, things that we normally wouldn’t do before noon on a Friday—or anytime–but we did them there.   But we’re not telling what they were.  You had to be present to win.

We would do them again given the opportunity.  It’s who we are.  We simply like to have fun, and this is our breed of fun.  It may not be yours, or many other people’s kind of fun, but it is ours, and we own it.

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Gail and I arrived in Cripple Creek after dark on Wednesday evening, Ash Wednesday, which, for Gail, then became Cash Wednesday.  Not so much for me.  At no point in our casino dalliances was I rolling in any dough.

But I remained lucky.  It’s all in how you look at it.   In the end, our jackpots were not measurable in monetary terms; rather, they could be measured in the currency of memories, fun that was had by both Gail and me, accompanied by lots of laughter.  And we shared it with others, making them laugh, thereby increasing the value.  But that always happens when we are together.

We bought experiences and memories.  And, unlike the paltry interest one can earn when money is banked, memories and experiences banked can earn an interest rate that we determine.  We get to set it as high as we chose.

We chose to set it at infinity.

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The only fly in the ointment was that Suzanne wasn’t with us.  We weren’t complete without her, but we had her blessing to go without her.  We will travel together soon enough, tripling down on the fun and memories we make.

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In a post a few months ago, I shared our interior renovations in our living room.  They are now complete:

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Special thanks to my Mark-of-all-trades for his expertise and hard work in our home.

I also posted that Gail and I were doing our own interior remodeling, and our progress is almost as refreshing, just not visible.  We’re still not sharing the exact nature of these renovations, but rest assured that they are allowing us an even greater sense of renewal both at home, and in Colorado–or anywhere.  Suzanne is quite proud of us; she has mastered the challenge we are meeting, and knows the rewards are better on her side of the equation.

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Our Colorado destination will remain a favorite for Gail and me.  Other places, too, are beckoning us.  Not sure where just yet, but somewhere the three sisters of The Sister Lode will arrive, ready to make more memories.

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I don’t think we’ll ever tire of this view.

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If you have a sister or sisters, and you are waiting for a better time to plan and execute a sister trip, perhaps the perfect time is now.  Perhaps a better time will never come.  Maybe you should start planning.  Maybe you should give them a call today.  If the greatest distance you need to travel is bridging the gap,  today is the perfect day to start that journey.  You may not realize it, but you, too, are Lucky Girls.

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Last year’s trip to Colorado

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.  May the luck of the Irish be with you today, and every day.