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Monday, November 30, 2009

Seven Passenger Bike


The inventions people come up with truly are astounding. While passing a board of advertisements one in particular drew my attention. I decided my family was about to encounter an experience they surely had never seen coming. Soon I organized for my entire family, grandparents included, to come up to Fort Collins.
Upon arrival, they all walked around this one of kind “seven passenger bicycle” with perplexed looks. “Does it actually work?” said one. “How fast does it go?” asked another. “Lets take it for a spin and see,” I said. With seven people pedaling and others following along waiting their turn, we took on the charming Old Town Fort Collins.
It definitely gained a lot of attention, laughs and of course some confused looks. Even the chief of police had something to say. “Excuse me, I am going to need you guys to come over here.” Startled, seven heads turned to see that there were even more police officers behind him. Knowing we could never escape, even with the power of seven pedaling, we steered over towards them.
The chief of police wasn’t out to arrest us, he just wanted a picture with us. A sense of relief flowed as we snapped a quick picture and continued to head down the road.
I have never seen my grandparents laugh so hard, or so many curious people. It’s always entertaining to try something new and different, especially when it stops traffic.

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Great Aunt Velma


It has been said that with age comes wisdom. Well, it also comes with persistence and never ending laughter. Well at least in my Great Aunt Velma’s case.
Still as sharp as the needle she sews with, she shows no signs of being 95 years old. I had met her once when I was only four, so now that I am at an age I can appreciate her; I knew it was time to make the trip. She lives in an incredibly spotless and well maintained home with no assistance.
I quickly learned how determined and motivated my Great Aunt is. Her daughter recently made a trip to her home to hide the ladder from her insistent mother. Velma says she will now have to figure out another way to get on the roof with the leaf blower. In the mean time, she focuses on picking up leaves and maintaining what is in reach of her height, a mere 4 feet ten inches.
I asked her how she stays so young. With a big smile she lowered her voice and told me it was the simple trick of vitamins! That must be one super vitamin because she is always on the go and keeping up with a craft of some kind. If she’s not sewing pillowcases, she is designing bookmarks, doorstops and pin cushions. But most of all she is always cracking jokes.
My Great Aunt Velma told me about noodling in the lake so her family of nine could have a good dinner. (Noodling…well that will be another story soon to come.) But what she remembers most is chasing her younger sister around the yard with a snake and says she would have her going for miles.
At dinner the waitress rattled off about fifteen sides Velma could choose from. Just as the waitress was finishing she took a deep breath and Velma calmly asked her to please repeat them. The waitress’s eyes widened to the size of our dinner plates. Velma started laughing, told the young lady she was only kidding and would have the first item on the list.
She never misses a beat. At the last doctors appointment the doc told her she should easily live to be one hundred. It was her turn to widen her eyes and she looked at her daughter and said, “Looks like we need a new doctor!” And out came her sweet rolling laughter again.
As the holidays approach may you find the untold stories that could bring joy and laughter to your special family members.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Redstone Meadery


When I mention “mead” I find that most people ask me to repeat myself. When I continue to say it’s a type of honey wine, ears seem to instantly sharpen and eyes focus in. Now that I may also have your attention, mead is the world’s oldest beverage, believed to be invented in 7000 BC in Northern China. A friend first introduced me to the drink and before I could take another sip, I had plans to visit the Boulder Meadery to see exactly what was fermenting.
Upon walking inside the small operation in Boulder Colorado, I found a lively atmosphere and a friendly guide that did not delay in letting the tasting begin. After rolling in the honey, we took about seven steps and were already in the middle of the mead magic. A space about the size of two conference rooms cranks out enough mead to be one of the leading producers across the country. The whole process happens in the small space, from brewing to bottling.
After learning the science of how two sole ingredients, honey and wine, come together to create a delicate and refreshing beverage, it was time to wet the palette again. Our small tour group took turns anxiously rushing sample glasses to the tour guide, to get a fill on many types of mead. Whether sparkling mead, still mead, mead mixed with fruit or mead mixed with spices, each sample has an incredibly distinct flavor. Mead may be a hidden secret many have yet to discover, but I quickly learned why the world’s most ancient beverage was back in fashion. I would like to raise my glass and cheers to those that were brewing up the recipe over 9,000 years ago.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

PHAMALY


Performances are meant to leave an impact, but after seeing the acting group “Phamaly” perform I left with so much more. “Phamaly” stands for Physically Handicapped Actors and Musical Artists League. Despite having disabilities, these actors put on a show that rivals any other company in town.
After seeing “Phamaly” put on the show “Urinetown” I saw a story that needed to be told. I went to the audition for their next play “Man of La Mancha,” with my camera so more people could witness the incredible songs they sing, energy they convey and the compassion they show for each other. As I looked around the room I saw people that had lost the ability to see, hear and walk, just to name some of the challenges faced.
The acting group behaves as the name of the group implies, as a family. Cheering and encouraging each other, even when auditioning for the same role, I saw a deaf person escort a blind person onto the stage for his audition. Upon communicating with them, I learned that they are good friends and need nothing but the compassion to help each other connect, succeed and keep living.
After a day of interviews and remarkable performances the premiere couldn’t come soon enough. The play was flawless even with the added challenges all the actors face. Actors helped one another by guiding wheel chairs around stage, or a blind performer to his mark.
After the show I was able to talk again too many of the cast members. The lead in the show, Leonard Barrett, has multiple sclerosis. He told me thank you for sharing the story of ‘Phamaly.’ But really I owed him a thank you for allowing me to share the powerful story of people that even with loosing an ability, will never loose the spark for life.
Pictured is Leonard Barrett, he has multiple sceloris, and played Don Quixote in the play.
***The story can be seen on my website at http://www.carriwilbanks.com/. Click on news segments and select the "PHAMALY" thumbnail.***

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Billy Banjos Bus Tour




Boarding Banjo Billy’s bus is unlike boarding any other. Upon setting foot inside you realize no seat is alike, and there is not a bad seat on the bus. Well, only if you count the lonely saddle that is saved for the bravest soul. An array of fluorescent couches, recliners and padded chairs take over what was once traditional seating.

After choosing a cushy chair we drove away as the tin roof on the hillbilly looking bus rattled away. We stopped at landmarks, mansions and cemeteries to hear stories of the local haunts. I couldn’t tell you if the ghosts really exist, but I can tell you the stories are gripping.

When we pulled up to Colorado’s Capitol Building, I was thinking of the stain glass, gold dome and large white pillars. On hearing of the haunted happenings in the underground tunnels below the Capitol, my perspective of this location has broadened to include a much deeper level.

The scariest story was that of the Croke Patterson Mansion, which extends beyond creaky floorboards and daunting sounds. The owner was so disturbed that after his first night in the house he never returned. Since then, the mansion has served many types of businesses but all have been driven away by paranormal activities within. Currently, the yard displays a “for sale” sign that could possibly remain as long as the house stands.

After hearing some disturbing Denver tales, I came to find that I really hope some of this history doesn’t repeat itself.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Denver Gorilla Run http://denvergorillarun.com/


1,061. That is the number of gorillas that ran down the streets of Denver Halloween morning. With a sight like this you may think the “Gorilla Run is held to celebrate Halloween, however it celebrates the lives of the 720 mountain gorillas alive today because of the run. The fee and donations for the race raises money so the number of endangered mountain gorillas can continue to grow.

The Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund has made it their mission to help save and protect the lives of the mountain gorillas in Africa. The success is in the growing numbers. Before the “Gorilla Run” made its debut six years ago, there were around 248 mountain gorillas in the wild, today there are about 720 due to these efforts.

Running in a full on gorilla costume for 5.6 kilometers was worth the heat to save the life of a gorilla. The 1,061 of us that came together to run also broke the Guinness World Record for the amount of people dressed as gorillas in the same location at the same time.

Even though I felt as if I was running in a sauna with skewed vision from my gorilla mask, I was going bananas over the creativity of the costumed gorillas. There were no plain gorillas in sight. One man went so far as to put his gorilla on stilts, others bladed, boarded or biked. But most gorillas ran in their gorilla costumes that were decked out from bridezillas to hippie gorillas to hula gorillas. The impact goes beyond the crazy costumes and the record books. The impact lies in effecting the survival of one of the world’s most endangered animals, the mountain gorillas of Rwanda.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Golden Bike Tour



The hooting and hollering of nearly two hundred people accompanied the blaring stereos and honking bike horns. For Golden, Colorado this scene simply marks a traditional bike tour held on the last Tuesday of the month. Those from nearby cities and towns come together to cruise through one of Colorado’s most picturesque cities. But as the riders will tell you, it’s more about the people than the scenery.


As I pedaled with the locals, I came to realize most people come out for an energy boost. It is on this ride that strangers become friends. Chatting away with the riders, I paced with the crowd, a crowd that displays all sorts of apparel. Some wear Halloween type costumes, others plain street clothes, and some go so far as a three piece business suit, complete with dress shoes.


The sun was already setting halfway through the ride, forcing bike lights and bike reflectors to make their debut. Not even the sunset can keep these riders from calling it a night. As you can tell from the picture I had to call it a night before even making it home.



2009-10-28

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