Happy Being Blue

Just proud to report that Chloe is now doing blue (intermediate) trails at Eldora! She had another ski lesson today, and after lunch, her instructor took her and her class over to the "Big Mountain" where a large majority of the blue trails are. She was going down some trails that Peggy and I go down on occasion. Looks like Peggy and I may need to take some lessons at some point so we can ski with her!


All about Chloe

Chloe recently finished her 2nd trimester at her Elementary school, and much like the first, I'm proud to blog that she is progressing with flying colors! I think her teacher summarized it best: "Chloe's reading has really advanced this trimester. In writing, Chloe is using more detail and demonstrates proper writing conventions more and more. She has good number sense and likes to practice counting, writing and adding numbers. She consistently adds to class discussions in a meaningful way. Chloe is an active member of our kindergarten community and I enjoy having her in class."

Also, for those looking to help the American Heart Association, Chloe is signed up to take part in their "Jump Rope for Heart" fundraiser. (Click here to donate.) Her school was second in the state last year in terms of fundraising for this event, and they're hoping to take over the number one spot this year. Chloe, though, has her sights set elsewhere: if she is the biggest fundraiser in her class, she'll get to throw a pie at a duct-taped teacher. Now who wants to deny a child the privilege of doing that?!?


Weekend Recap: Doin' the Butte

Last Thursday morning, Peggy and I came to the realization that we didn't really have anything planned for the President's Holiday weekend. And with Peggy having off from work on Monday, and Chloe having off from school, as well, we thought we had to do something. And preferably, that something would involve some skiing at a resort in a part of the state we haven't been to yet. Having been to just one ski area up until now, that didn't really narrow down the options, but we knew anything involving Interstate 70 would also involve sitting in a multi-lane traffic jam.

So, with some furious searching online, we looked for availability at ski resorts that were off the beaten-I-70 path. To our glee, we found some at Crested Butte, which is in the central-western part of the state, and west of the Continental Divide (which usually translates into more snow!) So, after making sure we found "lodging" for Chamberlain for the weekend, we booked our stay at the Grand Lodge in Mt. Crested Butte (technically, the name of the "town" at the base of the ski area; the town of Crested Butte is 3 miles away.) Now, all there was to do was prepping and packing, all the while keeping it a surprise for Chloe until we picked her up from school on Friday with the Explorer loaded up with luggage and ski gear.

Friday afternoon came, and our plan worked wonderfully. Peggy and I went to Chloe's Valentine's Day party at her school, after which we all walked to the car, with Chloe complaining the entire time about just wanting to go home. But when she opened the door to the car and saw all of the stuff, her eyes got big and asked "What's THIS?!?" When we told her that we planned a mini-vacation at a ski resort (one that has an indoor/outdoor pool, of course) she was no longer interested in going home right away.

It's about a 5 hour drive from Boulder to Crested Butte, and we did a little over half of it done during daylight. One of the areas that stuck out was the South Park basin (yes, it is tangentially related to the animated cartoon.) Here we saw a herd of approx. 75-100 elk, and were viewing vast pasture lands situated below snow-covered peaks on all sides. Another part of the drive that was great was as we dropped down into Buena Vista... the views of Mt. Princeton and some of the other Collegiate Peaks were amazing. After dinner in Buena Vista, the rest of the drive took place at night, including the climb and descent over snowy Monarch Pass. We arrived at our hotel at around 8:30p.

Saturday and Sunday were spent either skiing, hanging out in the outdoor pool and hot tub, or heading into town (i.e. Crested Butte) for dinner. Skiing on Saturday was OK... snow was coming down, but the light on the trails was pretty "flat" making it difficult to pick up terrain and contrast at times. During one run on my own, I think I was spared certain injury when a guy in front of me right over a 5 foot drop-off from an access road that bisected the trail. I'm assuming he didn't see it, for he went flailing. Lucky for me, because I definitely didn't see it, but his mishap gave me those precious seconds to turn slightly and slide down the embankment sideways, just barely being able to keep the skis snow-side down.

Sunday, though, was perfect: new snow, sun, clear-blue skies, and no wind. (I actually got a little sunburn on my neck!) The story of the day, though, was Chloe... her ski lessons were definitely paying off. We spent most of Saturday on Beginner/Green trails, occasionally taking an easier Intermediate/Blue. On Sunday, though, after 2 warm up runs on some Greens, she was actively seeking out some more Blues! She negotiated her way down some sections that were by far steeper and longer than anything she had done at Eldora. We skied from 9a - 4p, and were secretly hoping for an overnight snowstorm that would prevent us from leaving on Monday.

(Pictures amidst the text above, top to bottom: Chloe at the top of Paradise Bowl; Peggy and Chloe at the top of Paradise Bowl; a view from the deck of the Paradise Warming Hut; Chloe and I enjoying lunch outside; Peggy and Chloe taking a lift back up the mountain; a view of Crested Butte peak (l); one of the many views available from the ski area.)

*** A note about pictures: As is the case with all pictures in this blog, click on them to view a larger version. ***

A close up of The Shredder

Chloe kicking back at an outdoor rest stop.

Another spectacular view.

Chloe with Crested Butte peak in the background.

A view of Mt. Crested Butte (the base-area town) and surrounding mountains.

Family picture at dinner after a day in the sun and snow

A view of Mt. Princeton (2nd peak from the right) and other Sawatch Range peaks.

A close up of Mt. Princeton (center peak; 14,197 ft.)

Another video of Chloe


Chamberlain vs. A Cougar

As has been posted before, cougars (a.k.a. mountain lions, pumas, panthers) are not foreign to Boulder. In fact, earlier today there was another incursion. A baby mountain lion had been trapped in a neighborhood not too far away from both our home and Chloe's school, and the mother was believed to still be at large. Neighbors were advised by the Division of Wildlife to keep their children and animals inside.

While we acknowledge the situation is one not be shrugged off, it nonetheless got Peggy and I wondering how things would transpire if Chamberlain ever crossed paths with a cougar (and I'm not talking about Demi Moore.) Peggy thought Chamberlain's loud howling would dissuade the cat from advancing, but that if it did get within striking distance, he could hold his own.

I thought differently. I reflected back on the several run-ins he had with my parents' Abyssinian cat, Scooter. Scooter was (maybe) 8 pounds, but packed A LOT of fury into his little paws when 35 pound Chamberlain came to visit. Despite being undersized and weighing considerably less, Scooter beat the snot out of Chamberlain every single time, and would even sometimes attack him as he was retreating with his tail between his legs, just to get in a couple of more good swats for good measure. So, with that as my reference point, I thought that if Chamberlain ever did tangle with a cougar, I guess the best I could hope for is that he would somehow channel some of Scooter's fury and put up a good fight.


6 Months in the Books

It only seems like yesterday we were driving through Illinois commenting, "Man, there are a lot of cornfields here!" but to our surprise, it's been 6 months to the day since we moved here.

The biggest concern for Peggy and I with moving was the impact it was going to have on Chloe. While in PA, it was a good several days for her to begin to understand what was involved and how things were going to be different. (A side note: if any of you plan on moving or even visiting here with small children, be careful on trying to explain to them the fact that there is less oxygen at a mile above sea level. Once you let that cat out of the bag, it might take a while for you to get your point across that people can still live and breathe at that altitude.) It pleases me to no end to report that, much to the delight and comfort of Peggy and I, she has taken the change in-stride and is off to a great start here. She's doing really well in school (AND enjoying it to boot), has developed a great group of friends in the neighborhood and at school, and has enjoyed the new experiences like skiing and Spanish classes.

So, what are our thoughts about living here? We love it here. We really do. We've made some great friends already, which has gone a long way in having us enjoy our lives out here. I know some people thought the major factor in our decision to move here was so that we could be in a cycling, skiing and hiking mecca. I won't lie... The relative ease of being able to do those things is great, for sure, and part of the reason why we love it here so much is the outdoorsy stuff we like to do – I'm biking more and have joined a team, Peg's running and hiking more, and we're skiing, biking and hiking as a family.

But it's more than that.

A lot of it has to do with the day-to-day things, like: not having to wait 3 cycles to get through a traffic light; or having kids in the neighborhood for Chloe to play with; or being able to cut the grass in 20 minutes (vs. 2 hours); or being able to walk/bike to places and not having to use a car for everything; or not having to get dressed up to go to a nice restaurant; or the ability to get in to town easily if you want to, or to get into the mountains easily if you want to.

Yes, there have been some eye-opening incidents (e.g. wildfires, mountain lions and coyotes "foraging" in town, house-rattling winds) and we suspect there will be more of them in the months and years ahead. But we've quickly come to accept them as the "new realities" of life in the West. And we do miss getting together with family and friends back East, but this blog, along with e-mail, Facebook and Skype, have helped bridge the distance.

We've been asked if we have any regrets about moving out here. After factoring in all of which I just wrote, Peggy and I can think of just one: That we didn't move out here sooner.