In Other's Words

"Go out to the West. 
Ride slowly, not to startle the wild things. 
Throw out your chest and breathe; look across green valleys to wild peaks where mountain sheep stand impassive on the edge of space. 
Let the summer rains fall on your upturned face and wash away the memory of all that is false and petty and cruel. 
Then the mountains will get you. 
You will go back. The call is a real call." 

Mary Roberts Rinehart, 1916, in "Through Glacier Park"

We saw this quote on Facebook recently and it really struck home for us, as Glacier was our first taste of the West -- with it's rugged mountains, wildlife, vast tundras, lush valleys and openness -- and planted the seed that someday we think we'd like to live out in this region.


Busing, Bike Racing, Backpacks, Bear, Burgers and Beer... A Very Good Day to be a Boulderite

Today was Boulder's day to play host for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, a 7-day stage race that makes its way through a good swath of Colorado. There's been a lot of excitement and anticipation in this town for a while (especially since the town wasn't part of the race last year), and with the finish line atop the locally famous Flagstaff Mountain, the buzz was growing as this weekend approached.

So this morning, we packed up a couple backpacks with gear necessary to make it through the day...  water, camp chairs, sunscreen, sidewalk chalk, homemade posters, bubbles, snacks, a cowbell, etc.  You know... bike-race-watching stuff.  With said backpacks on backs, we walked down to the nearest bus stop and caught the public bus that goes downtown and made our way to our first viewing point for the race.  It wasn't terribly crowded where we were -- people were just one-deep along the side of the road -- but it offered good viewing and was a quite convenient starting point to get to viewing point #2. 

Once the race cleared viewing point #1, we, accompanied by some similarly minded friends, began our quest to get up on Flagstaff and find a place well up on the hill to see the suffer-fest that was due in about 3 hours time.  The first part of this quest involved taking a hiking trail to get to the road itself.  What the trail lacked in length (0.9 miles) it made up for in elevation gain (about 560 feet, or an average grade of around 11%.)  Those figures notwithstanding, the atmosphere on the trail was jovial.  Once we reached the road, we took a break to eat some lunch and take in the mass of fellow spectators making their way up the road on bike or foot.  (The road was closed to auto traffic the previous night sometime.)  We joined them in short order, and began our own ascent of Flagstaff Road. 

We were only about 0.5 mile from the bottom of the climb (via road) at this point, and about 3.5 miles worth of pavement sat between us and the finish.  We knew we had a too late of a start to get ourselves a spot along the finishing section, but if we could find a place in the upper half of the climb, we'd be happy.  Amidst bikes, cyclists, and all manner of pedestrians in all manner of costumes, we followed the road to a switchback about 1.5 miles from the finish, and "made camp" there.  Unlike our first viewing point, we could easily tell this wasn't going to be a "one deep" stretch of road... there was still about 90 minutes until the first racers arrived, and there were plenty of people already on the shoulder of the road, and plenty still making their way up.

In the meantime, we unpacked our backpacks and began utilizing some of the implements we brought along... Chloe and I chalked the road a little bit (it wasn't easy to do with people constantly streaming by), Chloe and her friends Evan, Olivia and Mandy blew bubbles and handed out extra bottles to other kids who passed by, and warmed-up the cow bell by ringing it for those who chose to ascend by bike.

It was amazing how quickly time flew, for it seemed in no time we began hearing the helicopter (it provides the aerial coverage of the front of the race) and seeing the very first race-related vehicles that are up the road a bit from the racers making sure the course is clear and providing updates on the race situation via a PA system.  More cars and motorcycles -- some race officials, some state law enforcement -- continued to build the crescendo. 

And then, all fun and craziness broke loose as we saw the first cyclist approaching, trying to protect his breakaway status. He was swarmed by the crowd, and given near-deafening encouragement and support.  The same held true for the next few short minutes, as those who were chasing him down for the stage win, and those contending to win the overall race, made their way through the gauntlet of spectators screaming, blowing their horns and ringing their cow bells. Racers trickled up the mountain for the next 15 minutes or so, each one getting a fine "Welcome to Flagstaff" salute. We began our descent after the "Broom Wagon" came by, and enjoyed the still-festival-like atmosphere all the way back to the trail we used to reach the road on our ascent. 

As if the day wasn't "Boulder" enough, during our way down the dirt trail, we saw a rather large bear on an adjacent hillside (about 75 yards away) and then once in town, met up with some more friends for a post-race burger and beer at one of our favorite watering holes.

All in all, not a bad way to spend a Saturday.


For a video clip of some of the action on Flagstaff, follow this link.
 - The clip is in 2 sections:  the first is us shortly after we reached Flagstaff Road from the dirt trail, and walking towards Viewing Point #2; the second section is of the first racers coming by.
 - On the topic of the racers, the first one you see is of eventual stage winner Rory Sutherland; the third racer is Jens Voigt.  Later you'll see Andreas Kloden, and a little after him is Levi Leipheimer breaking away from Tejay van Garderen (in yellow jersey) and Christian Vande Velde (shortly after they go by, you'll hear Chloe correctly state she saw Tejay, and I incorrectly dismissing her.)

We didn't take a lot of photos today, but here are some.


Summer's Last Hoorah

Wanting to sneak in a fun, family vacation before Chloe's school started and Peg's work travel ramped back up, I planned a little surprise trip for me and my ladies this past weekend out to Glenwood Springs (about 3 hours west of here.) We spent a short day here last year when we were in the area for a multi-day bike race I was doing, and kept it on the radar screen as a town and area we would want to visit again.

Anywho, with bikes on the rack, cooler loaded with our roadside picnic area lunch (enjoyed up on Vail pass, thank you very much), and back of the car stuffed with other various pieces of luggage, we made our way out I-70, arriving in Glenwood Springs around 3:00p on Thursday.

There wasn't a lot of downtime after our arrival -- we had about 90 minutes to unload/unpack, check out the house, and relax for a bit -- as I had a surprise waiting for Peg and Chloe.  It involved getting back in the car for a 20 minute or so drive to Carbondale where, on every Thursday summer night, they have a rodeo.  A rodeo is something we've always wanted to see since we moved out here, and this "local" rodeo was awesome.  It had a little bit of everything... bull riding, team roping, barrel racing, mutton busting (kids riding sheep) and some events you probably wouldn't find in Cheyenne or Calgary.  We got there a little early on purpose and lucked into a parking space right along the fence; actually, right next to the corral where the calves were kept after they had their moment of fun in the roping contest. 

It was what one might expect at a rodeo... men wearing cowboy hats because they wear them everyday, Wrangler jeans, pickup trucks, old bleachers filled with families, Johnny Cash's "Ragged Old Flag" being played over the PA system, and public recognition of current and past military personnel.  While we hardly blended with that (with our Keens, foreign built SUV, baseball hats and shorts) we felt part of something that was very Western America-esque.

As for Friday, well, once Chloe realized on Thursday where we were going for the weekend, I had a pretty good hunch that the lion's share of Friday's dance card would be filled by the Glenwood Hot Springs pool (and its slides and diving board.)   And my hunch came to be. We spent about 7 hours there, alternating between the 90-degree main pool, 104-degree "therapy" pool, water slides and chaise lounges.

We came into the weekend with Saturday unplanned, but once we got there and a) saw what the weather was going to be like (beautiful) and b) what potential activities were available to us, we built up for ourselves another active day.  The morning consisted of a whitewater rafting trip down the Colorado River and through Glenwood Canyon.  Even with the lower-than-average flow rate (due to the lower than average snowpack from last winter) there was plenty of fun to be had.  And right off the get-go at that, for shortly after we dropped in -- I mean within a matter of minutes -- we encountered some Class III rapids.  We survived those with smiles on our faces, and then spent a good bit of the next 2 hours on a gentle float down the river and through the canyon.  Ironically, it was during this stretch that provided perhaps the most action of the day.

Since it was calm, the guide said Chloe could be our "bow rider," meaning she could sit on the front lip of the raft, facing front with feet hanging over... as long as she leaned back a little.  A little while later, we were taking the raft between two rocks in the middle of the river and lined it up perfectly.  Little did we realize until they were upon us the size the drop on the other side of them... it wasn't huge by the day's standards, but large enough to propel a 9 year old off the bow of the raft and into the Colorado River.  She fell to my side of the boat, and despite being scared and startled, did everything right once she was in the water -- turned and faced the raft, kept her feet up, and swam towards the raft as best she could.  Within a matter of seconds, I handed the T-grip from my paddle to her, pulled her next to the raft, and hoisted her in by the shoulder straps of her life vest. 

For sure, she was pretty rattled by the experience initially.  But being the gamer that she is, said she would want to go rafting again someday.  (Big grins from Peg and I when she said that!)

There was some down-time after rafting to get some lunch and relax a bit before we headed off to our next activity... a sunset horseback ride.  Unfortunately, due to a later start than planned, our 2-hour ride was more like 1 hour.  That aside, and though I'm not as much into horses as Peg and Chloe, but I would definitely consider doing this ride again.  The views were great, as we climbed up to some high pastures and were able to look up and down the canyon as the sun was in the early stages of setting.  After the ride, it was dinnertime on a rooftop terrace near the river... a simply splendid way to end the day.

For our last day, we traveled south to Aspen to do a short hike I planned in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area.  The Maroon Bells are some of Colorado's more famous 14ers, and some of the most photographed... if one were to pick up a photobook of Colorado, there's a good chance these peaks are not only in it, there's also a fair chance they are on the cover.  Our hike, of course, wasn't taking us to their peaks; instead, it was the 1.8 mile one to Crater Lake that sits at their base.  The weather cooperated with us yet again, and the trail afforded us some great views at points throughout (and, with a lot of sun exposure the previous 2 days, some much welcomed shade at other points.)

After completing the hike, we went into the town of Aspen to grab a late lunch at a great ribs and BBQ place.  We couldn't linger in Aspen after lunch as much as hoped, so we jumped back in the car and headed East over Independence Pass, and ultimately Boulder.  The heavy traffic on the way back couldn't take away from the fun we had together for the previous 72 hours, and gave us ample time to think about what we might want to do the next time we visit Glenwood Springs and environs.

Here is the slideshow of pictures from the trip.


Has it been 4 years already?

Today marks the 4th Anniversary of our arrival in Boulder.  Hard to believe.  So I'm taking this opportunity to look back at just some of the things that have happened to us (individually and collectively) since we began living here.  I'm *sure* there are more noteworthy events then those listed below, but these are the ones you are going to read about in this post.

If you want to wax nostalgic here's my first post of this blog and the pictures that accompany our move and drive here.

And, so, without further delay...

Since we've been here, Peggy has...
 - worked for two different companies, has been promoted and is currently a VP in her current company.
 - run a 5K, 10K, and two half-marathons, and is currently in training for her first marathon.
 - purchased a fishing license (and talks fondly of getting bait at McGuckins.)
 - hiked from the rim of the Grand Canyon, down to the Colorado River, and back up.

Since we've been here, Chloe has...
 - learned to ski.
 - run/walked two 10Ks.
 - played 8 seasons of soccer.
 - taken rock climbing lessons.
 - gone whitewater rafting and been in a glider.
 - started formal schooling, and is about to enter 4th grade.
 - had her hair cut for charity, operated a lemonade stand to benefit a local food bank, and helped sort donated, used toys for a Christmas-time nonprofit.

Since we've been here, Kurt has...
 - lost even more of his hair.
 - been in (approx.) 35 bike races, 1 Tough Mudder, and rode his bike in the French Alps.
 - had both shoulders messed up (broken collarbone on one side, dislocated shoulder on the other.)
 - "bagged" three 14ers, and will hopefully bag another one next week with Chloe.
 - regularly volunteered at Chloe's school.

Since we've been here, we have...
 - had 5 different addresses (3 in Boulder, 2 in London.)
 - hiked and skied some of the best terrain Colorado has to offer.
 - mountain biked past dinosaur footprints.
 - snowshoed to a yurt.
 - seen rattlesnakes, coyotes, bear and moose, and have been warned of mountain lions.
 - witnessed an elk rut.
 - introduced people to the joy of Christmas Eve bowling.
 - seen a live buffalo run onto and around a football field.
 - had to evacuate due to a wildfire, and have had a couple of others nearby.
 - come to know and befriend some of the absolute most caring and funny people we ever crossed paths with.
 - not regretted for one day that four years ago, we moved to Colorado.