Mainly at the Invincible Lodge near Idaho Springs, Colorado. October 16-24

In the Colorado Springs zoo parking lot (2nd day of trip). Our rental vehicle was an almost-brand-new Dodge Grand Caravan, which we rented because our first try at this vacation, one month earlier, ended when our 2003 Odyssey's transmission self-destructed!

The zoo in Colorado Springs is remarkable partly for its location -- on Cheyenne Mountain, overlooking Colorado Springs. It also has some impressive collections (we counted 20 giraffes!)

We had left our kitty cats in the care of a DTS student (Michael) back in Dallas. This mountain lion at the zoo could probably have taken care of us!

We probably spent more time in the bird enclosure of the zoo than with any of the other animals.

We did the gorilla exhibit back to back.

Joshua really bonded with the animals and statues.

Late afternoon of the second day, we arrived at the Invincible Lodge, near Idaho Springs (but several thousand feet higher in elevation). This lodge is usually used by larger groups. Our family vacation here was made possible by the owners: the Steitz family.

The Invincible Lodge has a huge picture window in the main living room. All but one (the bunkbed room) of the 6 bedrooms has its own bathroom. In addition to the fireplace in this main living room, there is a fireplace downstairs in the media room. There is also an office/library.

We took food and cooked almost all our meals in the well-equipped kitchen. The boys spent a lot of time upstairs in the loft, where there is a large-screen television with satellite service and DVD player (like the media room downstairs, which also features a drop-down screen and video projector).

Susan luxuriated with a book and hot tea by the fireplace.

There were a few pockets of small Aspens that had not lost their leaves yet.

The weather was great -- clear blue skies most days, with heavy snowfall the other days! On one of the clear mornings we drove a little ways up the Fall River Road and then hiked the .75 miles to Saint Mary's Glacier. Last time Susan and I were there (12 years ago?) the glacier reached all the way down to the lake. Now, thanks to (insert your explanation) the glacier is only about 70 yards long.

Cabin fever.

About a quarter mile upriver from the Lodge, Jonathan and Joshua had painstakingly prepared a lure area where they hoped to collect animal prints. In the middle of an area where we removed the rocks and pebbles, and brought in fine dirt, we placed a metal plate and put Vienna sausages on it. The last time we checked the lure area, some animal had dug all around the lure, leaving some impressive claw marks, but no good prints. We were able to collect prints, using plaster of Paris, when we took a hike further up the Rainbow Road. Jonathan is reading "My Side of the Mountain," which is about a young boy who runs away and lives on his own in the Catskill Mountains. You can imagine how fun this was for him.

The bridge on the road to the lodge. This was a great place for snowball fights!

Jonathan patiently fished for an hour or two in the near-freezing temperature of one morning. We understand that there are trout in this stream, but did not see one even though we were watching carefully for over an hour. Next time we'll try the still water of a lake.

Don't be surprised if you see this picture-or one like it-in a Hepp Christmas card.