Tag Archives: pretty pictures

All the colors

On Sunday, Dan was off playing nerd games and I had the day to myself. One of the things I did was to take photos of all the flowers in the yard. I noticed that we had flowers blooming in pretty much every color of the rainbow. So here is my rainbow for April 2011.



Wednesdays

It sure is pretty here.

Two weeks ago on a Wednesday, Dan and I decided we needed to get out of the house and get some serious exercise, so we strapped on our helmets, got on our bikes, and rode all the way to Geyserville. Dan’s able to go much faster than I am, since his third set of gears functions and because he’s got street slicks on his bike instead of knobby tires like I’ve got. He makes the most of downhills because he’s heavier than I am, and I guess he’s just more used to bike riding for exercise, as he did it quite a bit when we lived in Denver. Anyhow, the ride was the same route as the long marathon training run we did, many¬† years ago now, when we were training for the LA marathon and in California for Christmas. Things go by much slower on foot than they do in a car or even on a bike, but the bike still gives you a chance to see details that you might miss in a car.

It was a cool, overcast day, but we were both sweaty and gross when we got to the middle of town. Geyserville has changed quite a bit in the last twenty years, and as we sat there, eating our energy bars, I thought about all the things that were different than how I remembered them being. I realized that was an exercise in futility, so I quit doing it. After a half hour or so of rest, we turned the bikes around and headed north again, and on our way out of town some lady yelled, “Go Giants!” at us. I was a bit too taken aback to be able to respond coherently (since when do people in GEYSERVILLE yell about San Francisco sports teams at bicyclists? I guess when they’re playing in the World Series?). The best part about the ride, other than feeling great at using my muscles, breathing the cool, wet air, and coasting on the downhills, was when we passed Geyser Peak winery in both directions. The crush was in full-tilt, and the air was almost chewy it was so laden with the smells of fermenting grapes. I enjoyed my brief contact high, especially on the way back as I needed something to keep me going on that long, straight trip home. Total mileage: just under 20.

These are the cause of drunken starling flocks

These are the cause of drunken starling flocks

Last week on Wednesday, it was bright and sunny. We rode through downtown, past the cemetery, cut across the First Street bridge, and headed north on River Road. It was a beautiful afternoon ride through grapevines and past people’s houses and yards, and we continued north on Geysers Road all the way up to Preston, into Mendocino County, where it meets the highway just north of town. It’s a long, slow, gradual uphill, with a couple of rough spots, but nothing too hairy. We didn’t really need to rest much at all before turning around and heading home, although the long downhill meant that Dan was at least a half mile ahead of me for a good chunk of it. That was OK, though; it felt nice to be by myself even if we were technically out for a ride together. Total mileage: 12.5.

This¬† Wednesday, we decided to tackle Dutcher Creek Road for a second time. Only a couple of weeks after we moved here, when we were still having car issues, a friend who lives in Chico was in Healdsburg running the marathon there, and I thought hey, we could totally do a 35-mile roundtrip bike ride to Healdsburg in order to cheer him on! So I looked at Google Maps and decided, after much deliberation, that Dutcher Creek to Dry Creek would be the best way to go. We headed out later than expected on that Sunday morning and got totally murdered on the hill, so ended up turning around only about 4 miles into our journey that day and ended up with an 8 mile ride. It had been over a month, and I thought with all the practice we’d had that we’d be up for tackling the Dutcher Creek hill again.

The hill was every bit as murderous as I’d remembered, and I ended up having to get off of my bike and walk it for a while. Then I hyperventilated a little, so at the top of the hill we both rested for five minutes or so while I caught my breath and tried not to vomit.

The ride down the hill and onto Dry Creek, however, was totally exhilarating. Even with the knobby tires, I was able to go pretty fast, and zoomed right past vineyards and a winery and pretty scenery and a smelly dead skunk. We got to the junction at the bottom of the hill, and decided to bike north a ways on Dry Creek knowing it would be pretty flat. When we hit the north end of the valley just before you start getting up to the Lake Sonoma area, I nearly gasped because it looked like the whole Dry Creek valley was on fire.

DEL FUEGO

Maybe it’s just time warping my memory, or maybe my perceptions are accurate. But I don’t remember an autumn ever being quite this pretty here in Northern Sonoma county. The grapevines have been turning for more than a month now, and they’re turning all colors: claret and magenta, brown and gold, orange and scarlet and russet and butter yellow, pretty much every hue in the warm end of the spectrum. Sometimes on the same plant. Often in the same small area, on the same varietal of grape. So riding into that valley, and seeing the sun light up the entire valley was just breathtaking.

We don’t carry cameras with us when we do the bike rides, although perhaps we should. So after our trek home (and it was a trek; coming up the back side of the hill was even harder than the way out, since we were already tired, although I didn’t hyperventilate on the way back), we decided we’d need to come back with cameras when the light was good.

This morning, we did just that. It’s going to take a lot to top this week’s ride (total mileage: 17.2). Next week we may just have to try to make it all the way to Healdsburg.

Dear internet, I have nothing to say

So here are some photos I took, the first set on a hike we took before we went to California, and the second set on a hike this past Sunday.

May 22 or 23, near Evergreen

My first pussy willows


Dunno why I like this shot so much, but I do.


Spanish moss


This was a funky hike, because the first half was downhill and the second half was back uphill. Here’s a photo of us at the highest point.


The creek was still iced over in some places.

June 6, just above Boulder

Sun on the pine needles


Flatirons


This photo demonstrates the inspiration for our wedding colors.

Mt. Falcon (updated)





Story here.

Mosquitos: one kazillion, Strykers: 0

A roadtrip, in numbers

States we drove through: 3 (Colorado, Wyoming, Montana)

National Parks we drove through: 2 (Grand Teton, Yellowstone)

National Monuments visited: 1 (Little Bighorn Battlefield site)(Post forthcoming)

Battery of 120 gig ipod used: almost the entire thing

Campsites: 2 (Rawlins, WY KOA; Yellowstone backcountry)

Cheap-ass motels with funny squeaky beds and ridiculous “art”: 1, in Billings, Montana

Mosquito carcasses on the outside of our tent (between the rain fly and the tent itself): Lots and lots

Mostquito bites each of us got: more than a hundred. Each.

Things we learned:

Sometimes we are very lucky and get the last tent site or a great backcountry camping permit on a holiday weekend in an incredibly busy national park.

Sometimes, we don’t prepare for every circumstance. We encountered a lot of serious weather (rain, hail, thunder, lightning) each night of our trip, and more importantly, we FORGOT THE BUG SPRAY. Our campsite in Yellowstone was 4 miles into an amazing hike, by a creek that empties swampily into a pristinely beautiful lake, at least a half a mile away from any other people. This meant that we were by far the biggest mosquito targets around.

Here you see our backpacks geared to avoid attracting bears and getting wet. It poured rain most of the night we spent there.

Small towels can work relatively well as makeshift horse tails to swat at mosquitoes, but when you’re in a permanent cloud of hundreds or thousands of them, swatting doesn’t really help.

Mind over matter (our bites don’t itch!) only works so well.

Waking up with the sun at around 5 AM isn’t so bad when you’re out in the middle of nowhere, until you leave the tent and end up surrounded by mosquitos again.

Old Faithful is definitely worth waiting for, but it’ll burp a lot and totally tease you before it blows.

Flowers and plants can live in an area that regularly spews hot, mineral-y water.

Thermal areas smell like rotten eggs.

A half hour delay on a road through Yellowstone could be the result of idiots looking at wildlife. In fact, it’s quite likely.


The culprits

Montana is amazingly beautiful, but the cities and towns we drove through weren’t especially impressive.

Sometimes the sky does things that you could swear you’ve only seen in paintings.

Casper, WY isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, either. No public art that we could see, and the whole downtown was closed on Sunday.

It’s OK to cut a trip a day short. It’s nice to have a day at home to recover before having to return to real life.

And now for something completely different

This weekend, we went hiking! Again! Shocking, I know. Actually, it wasn’t nearly as taxing as our Bataan Death March last weekend (neither of us was up for something especially strenuous; we both felt as though our reserves were still not back up to normal after the extreme draination required on our last hike). The hike was in the Poudre river canyon up northeast of Fort Collins, which turned out to be totally different from other hikes we’ve done, and we only hiked 2 miles up and two miles down. I still took a lot of photos. Here, let me show you some of the ones I liked.



There’s a tree inside another tree! How cool is that?



Things I have learned recently:

Kentucky Grilled Chicken tastes pretty good. Saturday evening marked the third time I’ve ever partaken of food from KFC in the US (we went once in Xi’an, China), and I sampled chicken of both the grilled and fried varieties. I can’t fault people for finding it tasty, but boy howdy did it make my tummy hurt most of the night. Next time I’ll stick with rotisserie chicken from the grocery store or Subway (for fast food.)

Even a four mile hike can wear me out to the point of needing a 1.5 hour nap the next day. I think it was a combination of the hike plus not sleeping well at the Dan’Rents abode (I woke up a bunch of times). We went to see Away We Go when we got back to Denver (sadly, not enough time to walk to the theater, so we drove) and by the time we got home from that I was too bushed to think about going back outside to attend the Denver Pride Fest or see the top act, Deborah Gibson. Sorry, internet. We were planning to go – it just didn’t happen.

I have been vindicated in my reluctance to use the office refrigerator for storing my lunch. On Friday, some group had a meeting in our office and they had big breakfasts and lunches catered for what turned out to be a small group, so they had tons of leftover food. As I’d brought my lunch (I bring my lunch every day) I decided to take advantage of the free food and eat that and store my unnecessary lunch in the fridge over the weekend so I could eat it today. When I went to pull out my yogurt for mid-morning snack, it was gone. I looked everywhere. Every other shelf, every nook and cranny. After 10 minutes of searching I finally found it at the back of the fridge behind a bunch of water bottles, in a completely different area from where I’d left it (and the rest of my lunch). While ultimately the story had a happy ending, it was both frustrating and annoying that someone would hide my yogurt. I’m swearing revenge

Things that I do not understand:

Why do real estate agents always put their pictures in ads for their businesses? Why does it matter what your real estate agent looks like, and why do they seem to be the only people who do this? (With the exception of the occasional dentist or blue-collar specialist (electrician, plummer, etc.)

Why some people espouse for years that they have no interest in having biological children (with great vehemence in fact) and then suddenly and without warning end up pregnant with twins in a very precarious financial situation. I know we aren’t going to get cosmic gold stars for waiting until we’re in a better situation, but dammit, this shit is frustrating.

(And on that note, thank you all for your comments on my last post. I know I threw a lot of things in there, so thank you for being supportive. I’m not an especially patient person (Dan, when he reads this, is going to laugh out loud at that statement) and to be soooo close to being able to have/aquire/do those things but notquitethere is the most difficult time yet.)

You’re not hardcore unless you live hardcore

After a considerable amount of deliberation throughout most of last week, Dan and I still had not decided what we were going to do last weekend. I had an idea that it would be fun to surprise Oldest Friend at her second Ironman (in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho). Google maps showed it to be 1,000 miles, mostly through Montana. Dan and I would get to cross two more states off our list. I’d been feeling antsy and wanted to take a road trip.

But 1,000 miles is a long way to go if you have to turn around and drive back all that way just a day or two later (the most we can take off is a Thursday night-Monday this summer, since Dan’s internship is Tuesday and Thursday). Did we really want to sit in the car for that long, with maybe a day at Yellowstone and a surprise for Oldest Friend to show for it? As the days passed, it seemed to be less and less of a good idea – the cost of gas, the wear and tear on the car, all that time sitting. So where else could we go? Yellowstone – but then I would feel guilty for not driving the extra few hours to Idaho. Dinosaur National Monument, to go camping (up in the northwest corner of the state, where neither of us has ever been). Then we found out that national parks in Colorado would be free for the weekend – Rocky Mountain National Park? Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park? Or a different direction entirely. Maybe we should try to do the Pike’s Peak overnight we’ve been talking about (and were unable to do last year).


I was so overwhelmed by options that I told Dan to make an executive descision. He chose Pike’s Peak. So I went to work on Friday and we had a typical Friday night. On Saturday morning, we ate a hearty breakfast and went to work packing up our stuff in our backpacks, figuring out what we would need, excited to get to use a lot of the camping gear we’d gotten as wedding gifts and been unable to use thus far. Dan’s sleeping bag! Water purifier! Personal cooking system! We made our reservation for Barr Camp and ran a few last-minute errands, then drove south through Stepford Springs and Manitou to the trailhead.

By that time, it was nearly 3 PM. Luckily, the weather wasn’t great (overcast and gloomy, not at all hot) and lots of people were leaving from their day hikes, so we managed to get a parking spot right next to the trailhead. We loaded up and headed up, passing umpteen numbers of people running down the trail, some with dogs, mostly without water. It was hard work.

No, it was REALLY hard work. I have never hiked up a steep trail with a heavy pack before, and I guess I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be. Walked with heavy pack, yes. Hiked, yes. Put the two together – and you have a recipe for difficulty. After one stop for a load shift (tent destrapped from Dan’s pack and strapped to mine), we continued up the trail, stopping every five to ten minutes to catch our breath for 30 seconds or so. We knew that the first three miles was going to be really challenging and that the four after that slightly less so (though the latter 4 turned out to be harder than we thought), and the weather got worse as we climbed. We were on a trail that overlooked a deep canyon and couldn’t see the mountain next to us because of fog/cloud, and then the rain began right as we made it out of the tree-covered area and into a more open space. We thought we could wait it out, but after half an hour of steady pour, we broke out the emergency poncho and the blue shell and carried on up the mountain.

Now, keep in mind that we were gaining 4000 feet of elevation over those seven miles. The higher you go, the harder it is to breathe just due to lack of oxygen. Add the backpack and this was hard work, yo.

Finally, the rain stopped, though the clouds kept drizzling on us so we kept wearing the protective gear. And then we got to the sign that told us there were four miles to the camp, which was the best news we’d had in a while. We thought the trail would get much easier after that…but it didn’t. At least the rain completely cleared up and the sun came out a bit. We still had to stop every 5-10 minutes, and sometimes, it was less than five between the breaks. We climbed, and climbed, and sweated, and our feet hurt, and the strap of the pack hurt my shoulder where it rubbed. Finally, FINALLY we got to another sign that said one half mile to Barr Camp.

It was the longest half mile ever.

We made it to the camp after four hours of hiking and half an hour of waiting out the rain. We stumbled in, confirmed our reservation, and went back outside to set up the tent before it got dark. We changed clothing, pulled out our dinner food, and went back inside to prepare and eat it (didn’t use the fuel to heat water but instead the lady who runs the camp gave us some hot water). The feeling of not moving anymore, of not having 25 pounds on my back, was fantastic.

Dinner was filling. After we’d sat inside a while, chatting with other folks, we headed out to our tent expecting a deep sleep. We were comfortable and warm enough, but the wind was so crazy loud that neither of us slept well.

The next morning, we awoke for breakfast to discover that not only had we not slept well but we were in a lot of pain from Saturday’s hike. After some serious consideration, we decided not to try to summit (leaving our stuff at the camp), but instead just to break camp and hike back down the mountain. Summiting would have added 12 miles to the hike we had ahead of us, and we just weren’t up for it (especially since I’m still unsure about my knee). So we filtered water for our camelbacks bladders, packed up and headed down the hill, stopping along the way to take photos (yes, all photos are from Sunday going down). The day was absolutely beautiful (and hot, especially the further down we got). We were still very sore and got more so as the hike went on.


Marmot!

We took a little detour partway down the hill and ended up adding a mile to our distance – so by the time we got down it was hot, bright, sunny, and 8 miles under our belts. We used different muscles coming down and were completely exhausted by the time we got to the car; I can’t imagine having added 12 miles to what we did.

After we’d driven into town, we realized we were famished. We split a $5 footlong at subway and probably could have each eaten another sandwich. By the time we got home, it was really hot and we could hardly move. So that’s what we did – absolutely nothing.

I took Monday off work to catch up on housework and go grocery shopping. It was a good day. We were both incredibly sore in the legs, hips, and shoulders (the muscle soreness is better today, but I still have a raw spot on my shoulder). My knee and my calf held up. So I’m really proud of our weekend adventure, even if it didn’t include the summit of Pike’s Peak.