On our second day in Vail, we stopped in to the Beaver Creek rodeo to give Q her first real taste of the "wild west".
OK, Beaver Creek is very far from "wild", and is only "west" by way of geography...but, you get the idea. Ahem. In any case...don't you love this gorgeous redhead with her flashy red-headed mount?
Rodeo princesses showing off.
A well-groomed pinto listening to the National Anthem.
Q taking in the scene. This is her "absorbed" face.
Cowboys trying to hold their hats over their hearts while preparing for the bronc chutes (no easy task!)
A girl pining for popcorn.
Meanwhile, Q checks out her first teepee (her daddy is proudly 1/26th Creek indian...or is it 1/67th Kree? I can never remember. He's a card-carrying member of the nation, in any case, thanks to his own proud mama).
The real rodeo started, however, when we met a pony named Mr. T. .. a pony with a very soft black-velvet muzzle, and a heart to match...
....a pony who would become QQ's very first mount.
Now, QQ's mommy was once a pretty good equestrienne in her own right, as was her LaoLao before her...
...so it seems only fitting that the Q felt at ease on her mount within only a few seconds of first setting seat to saddle.
Look at that smile! Look at that eager posture!
If she had a thought bubble over her head, it would say, "Does this thing go any faster?"
How at-ease she looks atop that pony.
At first, we weren't sure she was old enough for the pony-ride pen. Then, we feared she would be too small for the smallest mount. But as it turned out, I think Mr. T was exactly the right size for her, no? She's a long, tall 22-month-old (actually, she was still 21 mos when this photo was taken. She just turned 22 mos yesterday!)
Finishing out her ride. By this time, she felt much too comfortable to hold on to the saddle horn...hence mommy's peremptory grip on her tiny hand, making sure she doesn't do anything too crazy...like stand up in the saddle and yell "Ha-yaaaaaaaah!" Which I'm quite sure is what she wanted to do.
Is there anything more indicative of summer (even on a stormy highcountry afternoon) than a snowcone stand? I have to photograph them every time I see them.
Chased up-valley by an iron-grey bank of storm clouds and a pelting of fat raindrops, we high-tailed it up to Vail village, where we stopped into what is probably the most fabulous of all the fabulous playgrounds in the Vail Valley.
QQ could hardly wait to get out of the car, and it was all we could do to beat her up the ladders to the highest part of the play structures.
Kudos to whomsoever designed this park.
It's just plain gorgeous!
Not long after discovering the park, QQ was approached by an absolutely adorable little girl named Lynn (three and a half) and her two-year-old brother, both of whom were total daredevils, and perfectly suited to Q's personality. Lynn took to QQ right away, and made it her business to show Q the ropes (both literally and metaphorically).
The Q is used to being the instigator when it comes to social contact, so at first she was a little taken aback by Lynn's determination to make a friend of her. She quickly warmed to the relationship, however, and was soon allowing Lynn to lead her around the more advanced areas of the playground.
We have erred on the conservative side with Q when it comes to slides, so she has thus far been confined to the tamer ones. Lynn and her brother were of the school that believes in launching onesself face-first down the highest, fastest and most twisty slide in the park, and they were determined to initiate the Q into their club. They would stand at the bottom of every tall slide, and shout Qq's name until she came down. All the while, they'd both be standing at the bottom, waiting to ease her fall.
They told us they had it covered...that we needn't bother ourselves with spotting...but as nervous parents, we couldn't help pitching in.
It is 100% thanks to Lynn and her brother, however, that Q has now conquered the scariest, highest, fastest, and most dangerous slides in the park.
After a few initiation rituals, Lynn gave QQ the unparalelled honor of asking Q to be her best friend.
The Q was not quite sure to make of this invitation, but Lynn was adamant, and in the end, she conceded. In the last picture, Lynn requested the her mother take a photo of her with her new BFF.