Category Archives: Just for fun!

A slightly different flavor…

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Last weekend was all about snow and winter and being chilly, and it was great! However, coming home to Grand Junction where it hasn’t been above 32 degrees since December 15 and where the inversion is trapping the cold and creating terrible air quality, was not quite as great. Another cold weekend was not in the cards for me. Luckily, Kyle was agreeable and we planned to drive over to the Front Range to bask in some beautiful sunshine and 40-plus weather!

When you hear “Front Range” most folks think Boulder or Fort Collins, Denver or Golden. Not us. We wanted warm sunny weather and lots of fun places to play. We headed to Colorado Springs. The forecast was calling for 50s and sunny, and Kyle found some great places to play. When we arrived, we immediately went to Red Rock Canyon Open Space, a city owned park that allows biking, running and dogs. Perfect!

This crazy rock formation was right outside town, and there were great running trails all around it.

This crazy rock formation was right outside town, and there were great running trails all around it.

This site used to be a sandstone quarry, look at the crazy shelves cut into the hogback. I’m not sure why the stairs were there…

It's the site of an old quarry. See the stairs carved into the rock?

It’s the site of an old quarry. See the stairs carved into the rock?

But Kyle figured it out. He did a couple laps during the run.

stairs

Kyle did some stairs during the run.

The area looked out over western Colorado Springs. See that huge rock fin in the distance behind me? That’s Garden of the Gods. Pretty cool.

I was excited to be wearing shorts!

I was excited to be wearing shorts!

After the run, we were both super hungry. We (almost unsuccessfully) navigated busy downtown Colorado Springs parking scene and found Phantom Canyon Brewing Company. We both had delicious salads, a cup of the most amazing green chili stew I’ve ever had, and some tasty beers.

We treated ourselves to dinner and delicious beer at the Phantom Canyon Brew Co.

We treated ourselves to dinner and delicious beer at the Phantom Canyon Brew Co.

That night we “camped” in the Walmart parking lot. We had grand plans of finding a nice spot up in the forest somewhere, but it got COLD, we got tired, and since we were planning to ride through Garden of the Gods in the morning, it didn’t make a lot of sense to go too far out of town.

The next morning we got up, ate some bananas and peanut butter, and drove to Garden of the Gods. I didn’t take enough picture of the park itself, but it’s a pretty great thing. In the early 1900’s, a man donated the whole park to the city and now it’s open to hiking, running, horseback riding, mountain biking and road biking. All for FREE! Amazing. However, Bailey was not stoked that she didn’t get to come.

Bailey's reaction to hearing she had to stay in the truck during our bike ride.

Bailey’s reaction to hearing she had to stay in the truck during our bike ride.

We started our ride from the Trading Post. There were these crazy/cool welded saguaros in the parking lot. Here’s my attempt to be artistic.

The cool decorative Saguaro's in front of the trading post.

The cool decorative Saguaro’s in front of the trading post.

The ride through the park only lasted a few miles, but it was scenic! These huge red rock fins jutted up from the ground, and there are whole networks of trails winding around, through and over them.

Gorgeous views in Garden of the Gods.

Gorgeous views in Garden of the Gods.

From there we continued riding through the city. Colorado Springs has a great network of bike paths, so not much of the ride was on roads. We finally popped out near Colorado College (my #2 choice after Whitman!) and it was fun to meander through campus and imagine being a student there.

CC has this crazy schedule where they take 1 class at a time for 3 1/2 weeks, then get 4 days off, then start the next class. As a budding anthropology major, I had visions of field trips and off-campus classes in places like northern Mexico or southern Utah. While I think CC would have been great, I’m so happy I went to Whitman. I got my fair share of field trips, and met some amazing people.

From there, we wound our way back up to Garden of the Gods and hopped off our bikes. We had lunch at the Marigold Cafe and Bakery, a delicious restaurant on the west side of town that I absolutely recommend if you’re in the area. I had a crab cake salad (what is better than that, seriously?) and Kyle had a spinach salmon salad with bacon and goat cheese. It was tasty! Then we headed up north to the Jared’s to pick up my engagement ring (we’d dropped it off to get sized the day before – now I don’t have to have that silly spacer in there!), and went back to Red Rock Canyon for an afternoon run. From there, we decided to hit the road to meet some friends in Avon for the evening/morning and make our drive the next day a little shorter. Bad decision.

We got caught in a NASTY snowstorm in the mountains. It took us 4+ hours to do a 2 1/2 hour drive, and Kyle was literally crawling around some of the corners on the passes. It was scary, but I was really glad he was driving. We finally got in at about 9:30 pm and got to spend some nice, relaxing time with our friends. The next morning we went to a fancy brunch at the Westin.

The decor and bar at the Westin.

The decor and bar at the Westin.

Our friends are about as laid-back and unpretentious as you can get, so it was funny to be in this incredibly fancy/expensive hotel with them eating brunch with the people who were spending $400+/night to stay there. But the food was amazing…eggs benedict with habanero hollandaise, huevos rancheros with avacado in little individual sized cast iron ramikins, goat cheese, zucchini and spinach frittata, french toast stuffed with marscapone and fruit preserves and on and on and on. It was amazing.

After a short walk around the golf course to let the dogs burn some energy, we headed home to Grand Junction where, miraculously, it was above 40 degrees and the snow had started to melt. What a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Backcountry skiing and pond hockey and football, and more!

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This weekend I went up to the mountains with some friends. My dear friend Season, from Whitman, has a cabin in the mountains near Creede, Colorado, and invited us up to spend the long weekend with her family. It was lovely. The first morning we were there, we went up to Wolf Creek Pass to backcountry ski with Season’s dad who has been skiing in these mountains for 30 years. Here are some photos from our weekend:

The view from the parking lot.

The view from the parking lot.

Panorama from the top of the hike.

Panorama from the top of the hike.

Our lovely turns in the pretty snow!

Our lovely turns in the pretty snow!

My lovely friend Season in all her ski gear.

My lovely friend Season in all her ski gear.

This is the lovely cabin in the mountains where we spent our weekend. Season’s parents built this from the ground up during the winter of 2004. It’s an incredibly homey, welcoming place and was such a fun home base for the weekend.

This is the wonderful cabin that we spent our weekend in. Talk about rustic!

This is the wonderful cabin that we spent our weekend in. Talk about rustic!

We spent the next day in downtown Creede enjoying pond hockey, small town bars, and the incredible scenery. They filmed parts of Lone Ranger up this canyon.

Downtown Creede, the town nearest to the cabin.

Downtown Creede, the town nearest to the cabin.

We got to watch the annual pond hockey tournament!

We got to watch the annual pond hockey tournament!

Hilarious 4-wheel drive zamboni.

Hilarious 4-wheel drive zamboni.

This dog wanted to play hockey so bad!

This dog wanted to play hockey so bad!

The winning team. We drank margaritas with these guys later. They were large.

The winning team. We drank margaritas with these guys later. They were large.

After pond hockey, we went over to both bars in Creede and watched the playoffs. Pretty excited that the 49er’s are going to the playoffs and I’m pretty excited to watch two brothers face off on national TV.

Season’s cabin is near the banks of the Rio Grande. It’s so beautiful there, especially this time of year when there aren’t loads of people everywhere.

The view from the front yard.

The view from the front yard.

What a wonderful way to spend the weekend!

What a wonderful way to spend the weekend!

This guy was hanging out by the side of the road on the way home. A perfect parting gift!

This guy was hanging out by the side of the road on the way home. A perfect parting gift!

We’re running a half marathon!

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I’ve never really been much of a runner. I played volleyball in college and was always pretty good at the short, explosive movements it requires. But when it comes to running, I have a tendency to get bored fast and just quit. For those of you that have followed my past blogs, you know that running is something I dabble with here and there, and for awhile back in 2010 I seriously considered training for a half marathon. I was living in rural eastern California at the time, and the opportunities were limited so it never happened.

Finally, this fall, Kyle and I decided to sign up for Moab/Canyonlands Half Marathon! Check out their website, I think there are still some spots available.  So on March 16, 2013, we’ll run 13.1 miles along the prettiest road I know. Seriously, has anyone out there been to Moab? Driven the River Road (Hwy 128)? Check out these photos:

This one is from the highway looking southeast back toward the La Sal Mountains.

La_Sal_Mtns._from_Hwy_128_near_Moab_UT

This is why they call it the River Road:

river road

Some of the crazy/beautiful landforms that make this one of the most scenic drives in America. This is looking back at Castle Valley – I think this formation is called A Priest and the Nuns.

castle valley

Needless to say, we’re pretty excited to be running our first half marathon on one of prettiest roads in the country. It’s a gentle downhill grade along the Colorado River so it shouldn’t be too hard. Anyone else out there running this in 2013?

And the time flies.

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I’m surprised I’m still surprised at how quickly time passes. Suddenly it’s December, and just as suddenly it feels normal that it’s December. Normal, at least, until I look around and realize that there is no snow anywhere. Are we due for another winter like last? I hope not. Anyway, here’s the long-lost Thanksgiving post that I promised and never delivered on…

Last year, Kyle and I hosted both our families for Thanksgiving here in Colorado. Though we’d been dating for less than a year, the circumstances lined up well and we decided it would be too fun to feel awkward about. So Kyle’s mom, dad, aunt, uncle, two brothers and sister-in-law and my mom, dad, sister, sister’s boyfriend and aunt all piled into our 850 square foot house for the big feast. We had to put our couch out on the porch and rent a table and enough chairs to fit everyone, but it was a fun day with lots of delicious food, and it was wonderful to have both our families there to spend time with.

This year, Kyle’s brother and sister-in-law hosted in San Francisco. I haven’t spent much time in the city, but I’ve always heard amazing things so I was excited to make the trek. Plus, the weather in San Francisco this time of year is gorgeous. Because of our work schedules, we had to fly the morning of Thanksgiving which meant that things were happening by the time we got to their house! After watching some football and making the food assignments, we got going! Here is the weekend plan:

weekend plan

 

After lazing around a little more, we started cooking. We’d planned on a 5pm dinner, but there was lots to do before that happened. The first was figure out how to use the deep fryer:

thanksgiving boys

Here you see the boys standing around trying to figure out how they were going to measure the temperature of the hot oil without losing all the skin on their hands. The solution: a metal hanger! Meanwhile, in the kitchen we were working on mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, bacon maple brussel sprouts, green beans, cranberry sauce and bread. Finally, not too much after 5, everything was ready! Here’s a glimpse of our serving line (desserts not included).

 

thanksgiving food

 

And here’s a look at our table and the view. Kyle’s brother and sister-in-law live up on a hill almost above the Golden Gate Bridge, and from their house you can see a lot of the bay. It’s really spectacular!

 

thanksgiving window

 

What an awesome day! Afterward, we went on a long walk through the Presidio, around LucasFilm and back to the house. It was so nice to be surrounded with Kyle’s awesome family, I only wished my family could have been there too!

The next morning, Kyle and I got up to go for a quick run before we headed downtown. We crossed the bridge over to Marin and ran in the hills above the Golden Gate. The sun washes it out a little, but what an awesome setting for a morning run!

trail run city view

 

We spent the afternoon of black Friday (with about 100,000 other people) in Union Square. It was fun to walk around one of the best shopping districts in the country on the biggest shopping day of the year, but it didn’t take me long to get overwhelmed. There were police directing traffic because there were so many pedestrians! Finally, we went home and spent the evening watching more football, playing games and eating leftovers.

The next morning we got up and headed across the Golden Gate Bridge to Tiburon – the ferry dock for Angel Island. The day was beautiful and clear, with a breeze on the water. Here’s a view of the harbor.

angel island boat dock

 

Kyle and I before getting on the ferry:

angel island kyle and rosa

I didn’t know anything about Angel Island before this trip. What an interesting glimpse into West Coast history! For many years, the island served as a military camp or fort, and there are several historic buildings on the island. However, it is probably best known as the “Ellis Island of the West.” Between 1910 and 1940, Angel Island served as the immigration processing center during which time 1 million Asian immigrants were granted entry to the country. In the late 1950’s, the US military built a missile base on the island, but it was decommissioned not many years after it was built. Now the entire island is a state park and the only way you can reach it is by ferry. It’s a small island, but you can stay overnight and camp, explore the beaches and historic buildings, even take tours put on by the Parks employees. This is one of the old buildings on the island:

angel island building

And here is the view of the Golden Gate bridge. I just can’t get over how beautiful the weather was while we were there!

golden gate

 

We spent Sunday walking around the city with Kyle’s brother and sister-in-law, checking out some of the fun neighborhoods and taking advantage of the lively bar and restaurant scene that we don’t really get here in western Colorado. What a fun weekend! Did everyone else have a nice Thanksgiving?

 

Jewell

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I know, I know, I’m a little obbssesed with my dog. But she’s so cute and now that the weather is cooling off she’s super cuddly! I’ve been bringing her into the office lately on days that I have to drive and yesterday she spent the whole day cuddled up against the heater 🙂
I may be feeling a little guilty because I’m putting her in the kennel over the weekend while we visit Kyle’s family in San Francisco. This will be the first time I’ve ever kenneled her and I’m more nervous than she would be if she knew what was about to happen :/

This is her grumpy face – I woke her up from a nap to take this picture.

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A weekend in Salt Lake City

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Last weekend was the ONLY weekend in September or October that wasn’t scheduled with something specific. Between work, hunting and a relatively busy social calendar, the fall is a busy time for us! But last weekend the only plan we had was to find some fall. We live in Colorado, after all. Thursday night we got a call from Kyle’s dad: “Hey, I’m going to be in Salt Lake this weekend, you guys want to come out?”

So we packed up the dogs and the car and made the 4 hour trek over the mountains to go see some family. Turns out Salt Lake has fall too!

Fall color – beautiful box elders!

First photo taken looking straight into the sun.

A better picture taken in the shade with pretty leaves in the background.

Riding into a tunnel of colorful trees!

At the top of Catherine Pass

On a run through the lovely leaves!

What a fun weekend! We biked, hiked, ran, ate, window shopped and hung out with Kyle’s dad. I’ve always been a little skeptical of SLC – one of two cities in the Great Basin, a fairly prominent Mormon presence (I don’t have anything against Mormons, I just don’t like having too much of any one thing), a 3.2% alcohol limit from the tap (not an alcoholic, just love myself a good beer!), overall a lot of rules. But I was pleasantly surprised by our time there. The foothills around the city are FULL of trails – mountain biking, hiking, running. There are funny rules about even numbered days being dogs off-leash days, odd numbered days being mountain biking days, etc but what can you expect in a city? On Sunday afternoon, we went up to Snowbird for their Oktoberfest which involved a lot of beer, some delicious sausage and kraut, and a rowdy yodeling competition. But the most important thing of all happened on Saturday night after we arrived.

I found THE BEST pumpkin beer I’ve ever had. Usually pumpkin beer is disappointing. The flavor is either fake, or it’s not strong enough to carry the beer. But because I LOVE LOVE LOVE anything with pumpkin in it, I keep trying. And I was finally rewarded. This beer is brewed with pumpkin puree and pie spices that really bring out the flavor of the pumpkin. I don’t know if it was the aroma that pulled this beer together, but there was a distinct pumpkin-y character to this beer that most pumpkin beers lack. If you find yourselves in Salt Lake City in the next month or so, I highly recommend stopping by Squatter’s to taste their pumpkin beer (the salmon caesar salad wasn’t bad either!).

 

 

 

My dog Jewell, a lovely labrador retriever

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I grew up with dogs. When I was 18 months old we got Shiner, a huge black lab that my then 4-year-old sister named because he “shined in the sun.” He was a powerful dog, and my parents used to tie the sled rope to his collar, put my sister and I on the sled and throw the stick for him while he towed us, shrieking, around the yard. It took that and more to tire him out everyday. When I was 14 we got Lucy, a petite border collie who was so completely focused on her “job” of fetching the tennis ball, that she only made eye contact with you to make sure you knew the ball was waiting to be thrown at your feet. When I went to college, I always looked forward to coming home, both to see my family and to see Lucy. There’s something so genuine and pure about a dog’s love and companionship.

After graduating from college, I worked several years of seasonal jobs that had me moving from state to state every six months, living in temporary housing or out of my car. During that time in my life, I would have loved a canine companion but many of the jobs I worked were not compatible with dogs.

Finally, after moving to Colorado and securing a job that had a more consistent M-F 9-5 schedule and a living situation that could support it, I was able to start looking for a dog. I didn’t look for long. A friend mentioned that he knew a woman who was trying to get rid of her old breeding dog – well trained, but too old to produce any more puppies. I was interested. I went to go meet Jewell on a Saturday morning. When I arrived, her owner handed me a leash and a bag of food and that was that. Jewell was mine.

The first few months were rough. After seven years of breeding, Jewell didn’t have any interest in other dogs. In fact, she was fairly hostile towards any dog that approached her, baring her teeth and giving a warning snap here and there if they got too close. But as we spent more time out on trails, and as she became accustomed to my boyfriends dog Bailey, also a female lab, she got more comfortable interacting socially with other dogs. Jewell has many funny little quirks and in many ways is a bit of a basket case (that’s what happens when you have 7 litters of puppies in 7 years, I imagine) but our life together is pretty great. She comes to work with me several days a week, we go trail running and hiking, I take her to the river and she has a great backyard play buddy in Bailey.

I highly recommend dog rescue. While it’s hard to argue with the downright sweetness of an 8 week old puppy, there are many older dogs out there that just want to be loved. If you have the time and energy to invest in making them feel comfortable around humans and other dogs, you can give them a better life, one that they absolutely deserve. I love Jewell with all my heart.