One If By Land...

For the last 5 days we've been giving a big ol' Colorado welcome to my Uncle Skippy and Aunt Dotty. They're here from PA visiting us as part of their 3-stop (MO, WY and CO) tour. Tour by car, that is. That's right, they put about 2,500 miles on their car between leaving PA and arriving here, and have probably about 1,700 miles ahead of them beginning today on their return home. At the risk of sounding like ageists, Peggy and I feel that the traveling they've done (and are about to do) is a good amount for anyone (who isn't a truck driver). But when you factor in that the younger of them is a septuagenarian, well, we feel that's pretty darn special. Our (terry cloth) hats are off to both of you! Now, on to their visit...

Their visit got off to an unceremonious start on Thursday as within a couple of hours of arriving, we were at the local Emergency Room. My aunt had been experiencing some heel pain for several days and wanted to get it looked at. After being unable to set something up with local podiatrists, we set off to Boulder Community Hospital to have someone look at it. After seventy five minutes and an X-ray or two, she was told that she has a bone spur and that she'll need to take it easy over the next couple of days. So, we adjusted plans to accommodate and things worked out really well.

On Friday, while Peggy worked and Chloe went to school, I took them for a driving tour of Rocky Mountain National Park. Trip highlights were the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park (which inspired such pop icon phrases "Redrum" and/or "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"), the Old Fall River Road, reaching the Continental Divide, and Trail Ridge Road (which, if you remember from a reference in a previous post, is the highest continuous highway in the US.) Except for the occasional snowflake and/or rain sprinkle, the weather cooperated quite well, as did the aspens and some of the local elk.

On Saturday, we took a quirky local bus tour of Boulder in the afternoon, and went out for a nice dinner.

Sunday was another road trip, this time to the cog railway near Colorado Springs of that summits Pike's Peak. As was the case on Friday, the weather couldn't have been better and the aspens in the higher elevations were brilliant. Taking the cog railway up to the summit is wonderfully relaxing and educational way to get to the 14,110 foot summit, even if some of the 25% grades made it tricky trying not to slide out of one's seat. And the views... well, after seeing them, it's no surprise Katharine Lee Bates penned those famous words back in 1893 when she saw the same views we saw today.

Yesterday day was a day of rest and prepping for the trek back East.

RMNP Pictures

The visitor's center sign where Old Fall River Road meets Trail Ridge Road.

Poudre Lake at Milner Pass & The Continental Divide

View of Horseshoe Park (grassy area in the center), the Alluvial Fan (fan shaped boulder field at the bottom end of Horseshoe Park) and part of Trail Ridge Road (bottom right of picture). The bright yellow trees are aspens.

An RMNP elk.

Looking West at the Continental Divide.

Views from Trail Ridge Road

Aspens near Hidden Valley

Pike's Peak Pictures

View from Inspiration Point

Your's truly...

Peg atop Pike's Peak, with spacious skies, purple mountains and fruited plains as a backdrop.

View from cog railway (note track zig-zagging from left side of picture.)


I'll Take "Potpourri" for $800, Alex

1) Driving out here in the beginning of August gave me a better understanding of the proportionality of the US. And now that I'm in a different part of it, I underwent an exercise to give me an idea as to where I am based on how far away I am from where I was. Here are some places that are as far away from Boulder as Richboro (i.e. about 1,600 as-the-crow-flies miles):
  • Utica, NY
  • Ottawa, ON, CAN
  • the northeast tip of Polar Bear Provincial Park, ON, CAN
  • Yellowknife, NT, CAN (base of operations in the show Ice Road Truckers)
  • Terrace, BC, CAN
  • Metlakatla, AK (which is near the infamous Bridge to Nowhere)
  • Acapulco, MEX
  • Cancun, MEX
  • Jupiter, FL

2) With the new surroundings comes a new weather event: Chinook winds. Rather than try to explain it myself, I'll refer you to what the contributors to Wikipedia have to say about Chinook (or foehn) winds. What I can tell you, though, is that this is no slight breeze. I mentioned in an earlier post about the somewhat common mid- to late-afternoon shower. More often than not, you can see them forming off in the distance. Some, however, seem to stall out and never make it over the mountains. When they do you can witness the eastward advancement of the clouds seemingly stop and then "pile up" as if hitting a wall. The wind that ensues from this change of events is amazing, and usually comes on quite rapidly. We don't have an anemometer, but neighbors have told us it is not unheard of for winds to go from slight breezes to 80 mpg within the span of several minutes.

3) I've been amazed over these last several weeks about how careless some people in and around Boulder are when they are on their bikes. I think every ride I've been on I've seen people that aren't wearing helmets and some that are wearing headphones for their MP3 players. What's just as striking are the moms and dads riding without a helmet while going out for a ride with their kid(s). Do they think their skull is harder? (Thankfully, I haven't seen too many kids riding without helmets.) The large majority of people, of course, due take the proper precautions and exercise prudence. But given how widespread cycling is around here, a lot of people know the risks involved. As such, I would have expected to see fewer people who purposefully stack the deck against themselves.


It's Never Too Early to Think About One's Career

Chloe's been discussing "community helpers" (e.g. doctors, nurses, dentists, police officers, firefighters, etc.) in Kindergarten lately, so I thought I'd put some different hats on her (literally and figuratively) to see what she might want to do for a career. So, from left to right we have:
- (Mad) Scientist: While this may look like "The Ol' Volcano Simulation" whereby one mixes baking soda, dish soap, and vinegar in a soda bottle, she assured me it isn't and that I'll find out soon enough. To quote her: "In due time, Daddy Dearest... in due time."
- Ski Bunny/Bum/Instructor: We're in Colorado now... this is at least a 4 month gig.
- Nurse: Of the three, this is the one I said would seem to benefit her the most. Not only could she attend to both the nasty chemical burns scientists sometime incur and the calamities that sometimes befall skiers, she could also attend to her own scrapes, bumps and bruises (like the nasty scrape she has on her left knee.)


Beagle stuff

Chamberlain was due for a teeth cleaning, so Peg took him in this morning. For the uninitiated, getting a dog's teeth cleaned is not as simple as telling the dog to smile and then taking a Sonicare to the pearly whites. There's an IV, general anesthesia, morphine and, because Chamberlain has a heart murmur, an EKG involved.

Everything went well, and Peg picked him up in the afternoon. He was still pretty groggy and not stabilizing himself or focusing real well, but he was mobile. He was discharged with the usual care instructions -- limited food for several hours, not a lot of activity, etc. We were also given one warning from the vet: "Dogs who have had morphine administered earlier in the day sometimes wake up howling at night. If this happens to Chamberlain, it's nothing to worry about... he's not hurt or in pain. He's just coming down off his trip." We're hoping for a quiet night.

And while I'm on the topic of beagles, I thought I'd post this link that my brother sent to me. It's pretty amazing... but does give me pause as to why, given what that beagle can do, Chamberlain, well, makes the dietary choices he does sometimes.


Yippee! We're Less a Home!!!

Pop the bottles of bubbly! After being on the market for 3+ months, we closed on our Richboro house today. No more making two housing payments... phew! (I was just about ready to ask Peg to take a second job!)

While we're not particularly keen on renting for the long term, it's been great for us in the short term and we know it has its perks for our particular situation. We suspect we'll take a breather from the housing market for several months, and begin to look for the Schrammel Ranch in 2009 sometime.

Off to do a happy dance!

Site upgrades

For those so inclined...
- I've added a poll to the bottom of this page for readers to chime in on. Sorry, no write-in responses, but your welcome to leave comments with this post.
- I've also added some functionality that (hopefully) allows you to follow this blog a littler easier. On the left side of the screen you'll see a section titled Followers of KnPnCnC, where you can "sign up" to follow this blog. You will need a (free) google account to take advantage of it, though. If it turns out to be a flop, I'll remove it.


Weekend Recap

Today was the beginning of a very active weekend. We got up around 7:30a and got Chloe ready for her 1st Soccer game (and mine as assistant coach... a stressful role, indeed.) Unlike in PA, the league she's in here is co-ed (although her team happens to be all girls), and the games are 5-on-5 (including goalie) and are played on a much smaller field. Chloe and her team played well... Chloe scored two of her team's goals, and made some saves when she was the netminder. The most important stat, though, was that the TigerBears (Chloe's team) and the Squirrel Girls (the opponents) had a fun time.

Upon returning from the game and having some lunch, I went on a short, but climbing-intensive ride. It was just a shade over 27 miles long, but involved almost 3,200 feet of climbing. I would have liked to go for a longer ride, but there were important matters to attend to...

Tonight, Peggy and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary by going out to dinner at a great restaurant in Boulder's West End. Not having lined up a babysitter, we had Chloe join us and a great time and meal were had by all. Afterwards, we strolled around the Pearl Street mall to get some ice cream (for Chloe and I) and coffee (for Peg). We couldn't make it too late of a night, for there was more in store for tomorrow.

Today is the second day in a row where the alarm clock went off at 7:30a. After topping off the stomach's with fuel and getting the right gear on our bodies and loaded into car, we headed to the CU campus to participate in the Buffalo Bicycle Classic. The ride raises money for scholarships that go to students within the CU College of Arts and Sciences. Since it's inception 6 years ago, it has raised over $800,000 and is the single largest source of scholarships for CU's CAS. Like many charity rides, this one offered routes of varying length. We opted for 14-miler, which had its own nickname, the "Little Buffalo."

For our first, big family ride, things got off to an inauspicious start. We got to the Start/Finish line about 30 minutes before our ride started. So we checked in, got ourselves a course map and read that there is a rolling start (meaning we can leave when ever we want too, versus a mass start for everyone riding a particular route). Rather than wait the 30 minutes, we decided to venture off on our own.

We left the Start and followed the directions given to us by the volunteers manning the intersections. Right off the bat, we were pointed in the direction opposite of where I knew we needed to go, but I figured it's early, maybe we'll head back the right way after a block or two. As we approached the first intersection, I asked a volunteer if this was the way for the 14 mile route. He said "Yep." I wanted to make sure because I knew if we made this turn and it was wrong, it meant going down a short but moderately steep hill, and that we'd have to go back up said hill to correct things. (Normally, I don't mind climbing hills, as my brief cycling comment for Saturday attests to. But it's a COMPLETELY different ballgame when I'm also pulling around a 45 pound girl on a 15 pound trail-a-bike. In these situations, hills are considerably less attractive.)

We make the turn, go down the hill and continue on for a couple more blocks, still not heading in the direction we need to go. At this point, we pull to the side of the road, consult the course map again, and begin to think the ride organizers don't have the swiftest volunteers manning the course. We turn around, head back up the aforementioned hill and make our way back to the Start/Finish line. By this point, more "Little Buffalo" ride riders have amassed to begin the ride, so we decided to wait a bit and leave with the group. As luck would have it, we met up with friends, Jordan and Baylor, who were also doing the ride with their kids, and pedaled away most of the morning with them. (I can't complain too much about my setup with Chloe... Baylor has a tandem trail-a-bike for his two sons attached to his bike.)

We crossed the finish line around 11:00a, parked our bikes and took in some lunch. And talked about what (longer) route we wanted to do next year. (Photos, top to bottom: Taking a break at the first rest stop; At the finish line; Chloe nearly getting stampeded by a raging buffalo.)


One Month in the Books

We know we're still in the honeymoon phase, but we've been here one month now and so far so good. Here are some observations thus far:
- Boulder is home to its fair share of prairie dog towns, Subarus and Obama supporters.
- Peg is enjoying the work from home lifestyle, and really loving having the "bonus" 2.5 hours per day, hours that used to be spent in traffic to and fro work.
- TV show start times aren't adjusted completely. That is, even though CO is 2 hours behind PA, prime time TV shows start just 1 hour earlier. So, shows that start at 8 o'clock in PA start at 7 here, and the local news is at 10.
- There aren't many mosquitoes here... we saw our first ones just 2 days ago.
- There are many hiking trails in the immediate area.
- Cars in select counties need to have emissions tests done, but not any kind of PA-style inspection.
- The mule deer here are just as acclimated to people as the white tails in Richboro. We've seen several walking through our neighborhood.
- We no longer own Chamberlain. We, well, read on...
- Boulder is known for being an "outdoorsy" town with a populace that likes endurance sports... there are MANY cyclists and runners. But if that isn't your cup of tea, there are other lofty pursuits available, namely paragliding, hot air ballooning and gliding. During my Saturday morning bike ride, I saw 7 hot air balloons aloft just East of town.
- Even though it's early September, there's already plenty of talk about the upcoming ski season. Some resorts open up mid- to late- November, and hope to stay open until early June 2009.