Posts filed under ‘Colorado’

Arbor Day: Colorado


The National Christmas Tree
(Photo by M.V. Jantzen)
Happy Arbor Day, Colorado!

Colorado celebrates its Arbor Day the third Friday of April, so Happy Arbor Day Colorado!

Colorado selected their state tree in 1939. They picked the Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens), a tree first discovered on famous Pike’s Peak.

Although there are a number of species that are popular as Christmas trees, it’s a Colorado Blue Spruce that has the honor of being our National Christmas Tree. It was planted in 1978 at The Ellipse, a garden behind the White House. The tree was 15 years old and 30 feet tall when it first arrived in Washington. Presidents have come and gone and the tree has been a first hand witness to changes in lighting technology. In 2007, after 29 years of service, this Colorado Blue Spruce found itself decorated with LED lights for the very first time.

To find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day, check out Arbor Day Dates Across America at ArborDay.org.

April 17, 2009 at 1:00 am 3 comments

Skiing Synopsis

Quick synopsis of the rest of our ski trip.

Tuesday
Kipp was sore, so we spent the day at Sylvan Lake State Park near Eagle.  We took a picture of a frozen lake.  We spent some time hunting for fossils in sandstone and we went for a very muddy hike on McKenzie Gulch Trail.  I may elaborate once Kipp uploads the rest of his pictures.  Afterwards, we ate at Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que in Eagle.  That stuff was delicious and we ran across a very pleasant surprise:


Fuck yeah!

I was in the middle of ordering my smoked turkey breast when Kipp yelled across the restaurant, “Vicky, they have sweet tea!!!”  I was quite pleased.

After that, we drove home and Kipp captured this little gem:


Perhaps I should have gotten that rental car insurance afterall.

Wednesday
Wednesday was the day I fell on my head.  Visibility was quite poor that day and I struggled overall.  Kipp got a couple of shots that showed what we were up against:


Stacy on the left and declining visibility on the right.


Stacy and Vicky on the lift and obscured trees in the background

Thursday
Thursday was freaking awesome!  There was all this fresh powder on the mountain.  At first I found it to be a struggle, but then I LOVED it.  I never fell, but I sure had many less-than-graceful close calls.  Stacy wasn’t as lucky. 

Journal except on how deep the powder was:


…The powder took Stacy offguard and he lost a ski.  The snow was so deep– that the missing ski was no longer visible!  It was buried under the inches of powder.  Luckily Stacy knew where it dislodged and retrieved it.

Kipp and I both come from organizations that focus on process improvement.  As such, our crew realized we might not be so lucky spotting a missing ski next time.

“We’ll have to watch each other,” Kipp said, “So if there is a wipeout, we can see where the skis fall off.”

It was a very good idea.  Then Kipp followed it up with a poor calculation.

“I’ll go last,” Kipp said, “Since I’m the least likely to fall.”

Journal excerpt showing how lucky I am to have forgiving friends:

[Stacy] fell three times in succession and the third time, despite my best efforts, I started laughing.

“I’m so sorry, Stacy!” I choked between chuckles, “I’m so sorry I’m laughing.  Are you mad?”

“I’m mad,” Stacy confessed as he clicked a boot back into its bindings, “but not at you.”

Phew!

Kipp had his own difficulties later that day.  He lost a ski and even though he was able successfully find it in the snow– he couldn’t get it on.  After a 30 minute ado (which did include some skis being hurled out of frustration), he was finally able to get it back on after the large cake of ice was removed from his boot.

Thursday also marks the very first time I took a support call on Vail Mountain.  I got called outside of Two Elks Lodge after lunch.  In case you are curious, it was a DSN issue.

Software Support at Two Elks Lodge

Finally Thursday night, I got to visit with my cousin Allison!  Her babysitter, Liz, drove her all the way down from Boulder to Vail to eat supper with me.  Later that evening we watched watched a movie.  It was very nice of them to come and see me while I was in town.

Friday
Friday the skiing was pretty nice, but the main goal of the day was to go snowshoeing!  We originally aimed to do that on Tuesday, but did not get back in time from Sylvan Lake.  Then we decided to do it Friday morning… but a surprise Gondola closing thwarted that.  The third time is a charm.  We were able to ski in the morning and successfully make the Friday afternoon hike!  

Friday brought all three of us two new experiences:

1) Hiking with snowshoes on our feet
2) Skiing with shoes tied around our necks. 

I love my Asolo hiking boots and the memories I have had with them makes them very sentimental objects.  HOWEVER, that added love did not make me enjoy the sensation of descending a slope with them flopping around my belly.  It was worth it though.  I loved snowshoeing!

I was worried Stacy and Kipp would not enjoy our snowshoe trip that much and that they were just humoring me.  That worry disappeared the second I saw our tour guide.  She was pretty.  She was blond.  She was charismatic.  I knew I was set.  🙂


A stranger from the Bahamas, Stacy and Me on the snowshoe hike!


Kipp rests on the snowshoe hike

Memorable Songs
We had a few songs of note this trip:

1) Sandwiches

Sandwiches are beautiful.  Sandwiches are fine.
I like sandwiches.  I eat them all the time.
I eat them for my breakfast.  I eat them for my lunch.
If I had a 100 sandwiches, I’d eat them all at once!

Kipp taught us that chant in the mornings when we made our “saving money” sandwiches.

2) This is Why I’m Hot

I’m hot ’cause I’m fly.  You ain’t ’cause you’re not.

Stacy and Kipp were not familiar with this song.  Yet, they could still appreciate the deepness of Mims’ philosophic mind.  It was quoted a couple of times during the trip.

3) Born Free

Boooooorrrrn Freeeeeee.  Blah blah blah blah. Blah– Blah.  Blah.

There was a slope called “Born Free” which often prompted this song.  Unfortunately we only knew two words.  “Born” and “Free”.

“One day, we’ll have to look up the rest of the words,” Stacy said.

4) Snore Symphony

The first two nights, Mike and I shared a bed.  Kipp dubbed it the “Snore Bed”.  He said it was like a symphony.  First I would be going, then Mike would join in.  We’d harmonize together then I would fade out and Mike would have a solo. 

Luckily for Kipp and Stacy, I’m told there weren’t many encore performances.

Picture Frenzy!
Kipp’s Pictures on Flickr
Stacy’s Pictures on Flickr
My Pictures on Flickr (Mostly stolen from Kipp and Stacy!)

Related Blogs
Stacy’s Blog
Mike’s Blog

April 1, 2007 at 10:11 pm 2 comments

A New Experience, A New Investment?

Today wasn’t my best skiing day.  It was still great exercise and fun.  But, I struggled with the visibility (very foggy), the terrain changes (a nice mixture of powder, ice and slush), and my turn techniques.  Oh… and I fell.

Falling isn’t a sensation that is new to me.  I do tons of activities that encounter occassional falls.  As a child, my siblings and I biked extensively.  As an adult, I hike.  I rollerblade.  I iceskate.  I ski.  I even fell once jogging with the dogs.  I was trying to yank Jimmie out of a neighbor’s yard as he started to squat (moral of that fall: don’t try to play god with dog dumps).  In all those years of formidable falling experience, one aspect of the fall has alluded me– hitting my head.  That is…until today!


Me after my fall.  Note the snowy back of my head and the lack of snow on the rest of me.

Luckily, it was not a hard fall.  No physical damage was done.  But, the fact that the ground was able to impact my head period certainly provoked a multitude of thoughts the rest of the day.  I do believe I’ll be following in the footsteps of Carolyn and Stacy and investing in a helmet.

Now, a helmet may protect one’s head, but it will do nothing for the ego.  I happened to fall underneath a ski lift.  As I sat up and checked my pockets to make sure my wallet and my cell phone were still in their respective pockets, a kid called out to me from the ski lift, “I’m sorry you fell!”

That was surprising.  I thanked the kid and at the same time of his friends, also on the lift, started laughing at me.  This was the reaction I would expect from lift riders.

The first kid turned around and shouted back at them, “I *can’t* believe you guys!”

As much as I thought the first kid’s sentiment was unexpected and refreshing, I don’t think his defense of me is going to exactly put him in good standing with the “cool kids”.  In fact, he may have done more damage to his social standing than the fall did to my head.  🙂 

Welp, our ski vacation is more than half way over.  Hopefully there will be a stunning abscence of head hits for the rest of the trip.

March 29, 2007 at 12:03 am 4 comments

Greetings From Vail

Greetings from Vail, Colorado!

Transition from Spring to Winter
On Saturday afternoon, I took the dogs for a nice spring hike in Virginia.  We had wonderful warm weather and lots of sunshine.  On the drive back, I passed a house where a little girl was taking down a decorative snowman from her front porch.  Spring was definitely in the air…. and here I was leaving for a winter vacation the very next morning!

Thanks to my insistence to hike with the dogs on my last day home, I put myself in a frenzied situation where I was packing and preparing until 1 AM Saturday night.  That’s all fine and good except I needed to leave at 4:30 AM Sunday morning to get to Greensboro in time for my flight!  Needless to day, Sunday was a tiring day.  But all in all with such little sleep, every leg of the journey went by exceedingly smoothly.  Even my wee hour drive to Greensboro got kicked off with a bang.  As soon as I turned on the car, James Blunt’s “Your Beautiful” came on the radio. 

That song always reminds me of skiing!  Last year, Carolyn and I were skiing a sparse weekday at Snowshoe and that song was playing at one of the lift loading stations.  I was fond of that song already, but it was so much better as Carolyn and I ascended up the mountain and listened to it slowly fade away under the whir of the lift and the silence of the fresh mountain snow.  With that one song on my car radio, I was suddenly in the mood for winter again. 🙂

First Ski Day
Yesterday was my first day on the slopes.  Our crew currently includes Kipp, Stacy, Mike Newman, myself, Paul (Kipp’s brother) and Sarah (Kipp’s brother’s girlfriend).  At first, I thought, “This isn’t that much different than the east coast”, but then as our adventure progressed the views got exponentially more beautiful.  Sometimes, it felt like I was in a movie, all the scenery just did not seem real.  Riding up the chair lifts is a whole different experience because you have so much to look at.  And sometimes, a flat section was a bonus because you could afford to absorb the views (and rest your weary legs).

Last night, we had a wonder dinner at Ti Amo in West Vail/Avon.  It was expensive like all our meals here, but it was well worth the extra expense.  It was far above the caliber of the $5 bottle of Gatorade I had at the Two Elks Lodge.  🙂  I had a pasta entree that featured jumbo shrimp, garlic, mushrooms, a cream sauce (not cheese!) and sun-dried tomatos.  Very good.

We’ve had some casualties so far– Kipp sprained his thumb.  Stacy got sunburn and Kipp got a nice extended snow burn on his back.  Nonetheless, everyone is still having great fun. 

My new cell phone camera proved to be useful yesterday.  I took some pictures from the slopes and thanks to Flickr’s upload capability, I was able to upload them live from the slopes.  Here are a couples of pictures:


Mike Newman, Me (in my Rocky Mountain National Park shirt), Stacy

More of our Vail pictures are available on my Flickr site

March 27, 2007 at 12:25 pm 2 comments

Electric Car

Colorado was not the first state I rollerbladed in, the first state I geocached in or the first state I hiked in. However, Colorado will hold one distinction in my book:

  • The first time I ever drove an electric car (note: not a hybrid– purely electric)

On Thursday, my uncle lent me his electric RAV4 to drive around Boulder. It was obvious to all that I was driving an electric vehicle. Nothing to do with performance. Rather, there were big stickers on all sides of the vehicle:

EV
Electric Vehicle

On a side note, a number of years ago, Barrett A implemented a hilarious satire of the frat boys who liked to put stickers on their suped up cars to advertise the make of their vehicle and subsequently, their perceived prowess. Barrett put huge, giant white stickers that covered both sides of his grey, beat-up mini-van that read:

Powered By
Plymouth

Anyway, I have to say I rather enjoyed the electric vehicle. It was great for commuting through town, seeing the University of Colorado and shopping at Pearl Street Mall. I also enjoyed being able to tell my uncle, “I would offer you gas money, but…” 🙂

Electric RAV4

The only thing I found unnerving was the lack of noise when I was starting the vehicle. Everytime I turned the key, my pulse would momentarily rise when I did not hear the engine turn over. I’d have to be reassured by the green “Ready” light on the dash that everything was in fact normal and that I did not break my uncle’s car.

Other than that, I didn’t notice slow acceleration or any other kind of negative aspect of the vehicle. And with it being powered by my Uncle’s solar panels, I was in one of the most (if not the most) ecologically friendly vehicles in Boulder. It was a little, tiny, tiny bit of penance for the fleet of SUVs I’ve manned the last decade.

P.S. In Colorado, because of their high altitude– they sell 85 octane gas!

July 16, 2006 at 10:54 pm 1 comment

Rocky Mountain National Park and Denver Botanic Gardens

On Saturday, Sean finally got to enjoy some free time in Colorado!  We woke up early and headed over to Rocky Mountain National Park.  We didn’t catch glimpses of any Big Horn Sheep, but saw a lot of beautiful sites, especially along the Old Fall River Road.  My favorite picture of the park came at Farview Curve:

Cloud Shadow 

We drove through the park, visited Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Lake and Lake Granby.  Finally we took a scenic route home via Route 40, passing through the gorgeous towns of Fraser and Winter Park.  I always wanted to see what Showshoe Ski Resort would look like in the summer.  Driving through Winter Park gave me a very good idea of what it might look like — beautiful!

I did have one regret.  Along that Route 40, I believe between Fraser and Winter Park, we drove by a train in the foreground with a field and snow-capped mountains behind it.  I wish I had snagged a picture.  It was very picturesque.

Since we got back to Boulder so early, Sean and I also made a trip out to the Denver Botanic Gardens.  Despite Ryan Somma‘s recommendation, we just could not muster up the desire to visit the famous Bodies exhibit at the Denver Musuem of Nature and Science.

As we were paying our entrance fee at the Botanic Gardens, an exiting guest yelled at us, “Don’t do it!  The inside sucks and the outside is too hot!”

Sean and I did not heed her advice and we did not regret it at all.  Although it was 100 in Denver that day, there was little humidity.  Sean and I could feel the heat, but without the mugginess we are used to in Virginia, the outside was very bearable to us.

The inside section, I thought was beautiful but there was definitely humidity.  In fact, it was so thick you could see it in the light.

Sean in Humidity

There were multiple levels in the indoor facility.  It was absolutely amazing to feel the temperature difference between the top and the bottom.  When we descended, Sean and I could feel a dramatic temperature drop with each flight of stairs.

Outside, I really enjoyed the Monet Garden section with its lily pads, fountains and bronze statues.

Monet Garden

As usual, more pictures from our Colorado trip are available on my website.

July 16, 2006 at 10:21 pm Leave a comment

“People Get Held Back By The Voices Inside Them”

With a few recent exceptions, every hike I go on, at some point I think I can’t make it.  That doubt typically surfaces during an ascent.  🙂  For example, last year’s Tinker Cliffs to McAffee’s Knob Hike– I made it up to Tinker’s Cliff fine, but at the halfway point when we started a slight rise right after Brickey’s Gap, a subtle lump rose in my throat, I thought about the path ahead and I wanted to cry. 

McAfee's Knob - Tinker Cliffs

But as with all hikes, I keep going and before I know it, I’m at the top or in sight of my car and I’m ready for a nice Fuddrucker’s hamburger or better yet, some ice cream.

It is my mind that doubts what my body can do!

This knowledge has come in handy in my professional life.  Last July, I had a very hectic travel schedule.  In looking over the back to back itineraries and flights, I thought to myself, “I can’t do this!  It’s impossible!”  Then I remembered all the hikes where a similiar thought crossed my mind.  I took it one trip at a time and like hiking, I drank a lot of water and ate well.  Before I knew it, I was through all my obligations and I had a great deal of fun while I was at it.

Unfortunately, now I’m on to myself.  On five recent hikes (Tinker Cliffs to VA-220, VA-635 to Pine Swamp Shelter, Blackhorse Gap to VA 652, Mount Rogers and Bald Knob), I knew better.  I never thought I couldn’t make it.  But, with Mt. Bierstadt I definitely had my doubts!  Those doubts were a slightly different species, however– they occurred before I even arrived in the state.

When Mike Newman first emailed me the trail info, the elevation gain of 2,850 feet stuck out to me. 

Bierstadt Elevation Profile

Although I had ascended 3000 feet on a hike on an Appalachian Trail, that was spread out over the course of 13 miles.  With Mount Bierstadt, the elevation gain was pretty much compacted to a 2 mile area. 

Anyone who has hiked with me, knows that I am quite slow on the steep inclines and take a lot of breaks.  Add the thin air to the mix, it seemed to be an impossibility.

“It’s like two Angel’s Rests back to back,” I lamented to friends, “with 1/3 the oxygen!”

Enter Mike Newman who was not deterred one bit by my concerns.

“I honestly think you can do it, and you won’t exhaust my patience–you’ll just have to trust me on that one,” he emailed.

It turns out, Mike Newman was correct on both accounts.  As soon as I was on the trail, I was no longer concerned.  And although I was challenged by the rocky, steep sections– there was never a time where I wanted to turn back…and certainly never a time where I wanted to cry.  By the time the trail got hard, the summit was close enough that I knew it was obtainable (though I still reveled in my surprise that I was going to make it).  The whole while, break after break, Mike Newman proved to be a very patient and pleasant companion (He also demonstrated an uncanny ability of estimating the number of paces to the next cairn).  It turned out to be a wonderful, fulfilling day.

If I had listened to my own doubts or let my worry of irritating Mike Newman win out, I would have settled on a very different hike.  I would have missed out.  And ultimately what was I worried about?  I was worried about looking like a wuss.  I would have missed out because I was trying to save face!

This all reminds me of another K’naan quote from The Beginning

People get held back by the voices inside them

I’m glad, thanks to Mike Newman’s encouragement, that I did not fall into that tempting pitfall.

I’m glad that I did not get held back by the voices inside me.

Vicky at Summit!

July 16, 2006 at 9:30 pm 5 comments

Rollerblading – 16th State

Keeping with my traveling tradition, I packed my rollerblades and brought them along to Colorado.  Last night, I went rollerblading with my ten-year old cousin, Allison.   That makes Colorado the 16th U.S. State I’ve rollerbladed in.

Allison Rollerblading

Young Allison was not the first of my cousins to rollerblade with me.  That honor would go to Samantha Sawyer– who rollerbladed with me in Bethany Beach, Delaware.

P.S.  The other states I’ve rollerbladed in:

  • Virginia (numerous venues– most commonly Occoquan and the Huckleberry Trail)
  • Delaware (Bethany Beach with Samantha)
  • Texas (with Brian Nenninger who jogged)
  • Georgia (on beautiful Jekyll Island)
  • Lousiana (in New Orlean’s Audubon Park)
  • Tennesee (the perfect River Trail in Chattanooga)
  • Kentucky (some waterfront trail in Louisville)
  • Michigan (Vincent Court in Lansing)
  • Maryland (Assateague Island)
  • Minnesota (One of the many bike paths in Hibbing)
  • Wisconsin (Heistand Park)
  • Nevada (Sunset Park)
  • Florida (Bike Path that ran along A1A)
  • Pennsylvania (Montour Bike path near McMurray)
  • Kansas (Prawnee Praire Park)

July 14, 2006 at 9:41 pm 1 comment

Mt. Bierstadt

My day started at 5:30 AM (Not too bad– it was 7:30 AM EST).  Mike Newman picked me up at my hotel at 6:00 AM and we headed to Georgetown, Colorado to hike to the summit of the Mt. Bierstadt, a “14er”.  In other words, a mountain whose summit is over 14,000 feet.

We started at 11,669 feet, descended about 200 feet and then climbed all the way up to 14,062 feet!  To put it in perspective– the elevation of the tallest point in Virginia is 5729 feet.  Our hike began twice as high as that!

A couple of pictures–

Here is a shot at the beginning of our hike when we are crossing the Willows.  The large mound at the top right of the screen– that is where we are heading!

Willows at Bierstadt

The last mile or so, the trail got really rocky.  Here is a shot of some of the rocky trail, Mike Newman AND snow that remained on the mountain:

Mike Snow

Finally us at the summit!
Mt. Bierstadt Summit

Anyway, more pictures from this hike and my Colorado trip thus far are available on my website.

More information on Mt. Bierstadt from 14ers.com

July 14, 2006 at 9:17 pm 2 comments

Seinfeld Parallels from Colorado

Greetings from Boulder, Colorado!

Sean and I arrived seperately yesterday afternoon.  Since his trip is business travel and paid for, he flew from Roanoke, Virginia.  I had a different (cheaper) schedule of flights departing from Greensboro, North Carolina.  I had a very smooth journey– no delays, quiet passengers, a surprising selection of snacks, adequate entertainment.  In fact, my flight arrived in Denver 15 minutes early! 

When I landed, I got a series of text messages from Sean revealing his journey was quite different.  Both of his flights had delays.  On one small plane, Sean was accompanied by an all-woman country music group who would not stop cackling.  On the large plane, Sean was stuck watching “Behind the Scenes of Deal or No Deal”.

It reminded me of that Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Elaine get split up on a flight back to New York.  Jerry gets to sit in first class while Elaine is stuck in coach.  Throughout the episode they switch back and forth to compare the two experiences.  Jerry is pampered and has a pleasant and peaceful ride.  Meanwhile, Elaine is cramped, gets hit with a beverage cart and has to brave smelly lavatories.

This morning, we decided to forego the free breakfast at the hotel and find a restaurant to eat at.  We had a wrong turn right off the bat when we left the hotel parking lot.  Then we could not find a single place (besides coffee) that was open.  Then Sean turned on another road, believing there may be more options there– but even after a few miles, the side of the road was vacant of breakfast opportunities.

Sean was less than pleased and yelled, “DAMN IT!  Every decision I make today is absolutely wrong!  I need to do the exact opposite of what I think!”

Which reminded me of the episode where George came to the same conclusion.  🙂

In the end— we retreated back to the hotel and partook of their free food.

Don’t be misled by those tales though.  So far it has been a good trip.   Yesterday, we were able to visit the Denver Zoo and we had an absolutely delicious dinner at Noodles & Company.  AND the hotel beds felt so so very good after such a long trip.

Today I’m visiting with my Uncle and two cousins and tomorrow I’ll be hiking with Mike Newman.  On Saturday, Sean and I are capping off our trip with a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park.

July 13, 2006 at 10:59 am 1 comment


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