Monday, June 30, 2008

6/30/08 - The year is half over!

Hard to believe the year is half over already. Time is really flying. I don't want this time in life to end! It's really awesome.

We've been busy having fun and doing stuff around the house. We got up early on Friday morning and climbed the Yellow Spur in Eldo in two long pitches before I had to meet a friend at 11:30. We've been out to Boulder Canyon quite a bit as well. I don't think we've seen a single other climber on any of these trips. I've become much more accustomed to the rock which has been quite nice.

Some of the 'approaches' to the climbing areas in Boulder Canyon have been 'exciting'. The tyroleans are fun of course. The 'cross the rotten log over the rushing creek of death' approaches have been like fun, but different. Today we had to wade across the roaring creek while holding onto a single line. I backed out of the rushing creek, put on my harness and clipped in to the single line. (No redundancy - boo hoo). I'm happy I did it too since some official would be fishing my carcass out of the water downstream about now had I not done so!

And the biking. Lots of fun road biking. I still have no photos of our road biking fun since carrying the camera seems like such a hassle. I wish we'd take it though since we see some really beautiful views on these rides. One day last week Dave did a 103 mile ride. I stayed home and worked (and pouted since I'd rather have been riding). :) On Saturday we road about 83 miles gaining somewhere over 5000' throughout the day. We hit the towns of Lyons, Drake, Glen Haven, and Estes Park. It was quite fun.

We've settled on a multi-day bike tour in southern Colorado. We just don't know the dates yet. We'll invite others to join us. I'm really looking forward to this ride. Plus, we are planning on getting out to California in about a month for some climbing and road biking in the wine country. Looks like we'll have some friends in Cali join us. That should be a blast.

Yesterday was a rest day following the bike ride. We spent it working in the yard, dealing with grass and getting the truck waxed. Pente came out on leash (to the dismay of the area birds) and enjoyed the weather. She also got in some more advanced tree climbing and leash tangling. Only one leash-Houdini move occurred as she escaped the harness and leash. The yard looks really great so far. There is a bit more I'd like to do out there. In time, I'll get it done.

Dave made a screen door for the bird room. This is a great addition since it means their door doesn't have to be closed all the time to protect them from Pente. We are calling Ferne and Clover the bats since they don't like to exit their cave. Having a screen we hope will make them more amenable to the house outside of their room. We'd planned on leaving the door open and screen secured on their room all the time. This plan changed a bit after seeing Pente at the door. Now, the door is open and screen secured only when the cat and birds are supervised. The penalty for error on this interaction is death of a bird (or birds) so we are taking no risks.

The birds have been coming out more when Pente safely locked in a room sleeping. Henri is enjoying the most attention. He demands the most attention. He likes to be in the kitchen in the midst of everything. I've attached a photo of him helping me with my blueberry granola breakfast the other morning. He has quite the attractive blueberry beard. He also helped with a chicken sandwich one afternoon. Check out the big smile on his face!

Henri has really been responding well to Dave's teaching him to say "Almond" when he wants an almond. Before he only used to scream "ARK ARK ARK ARK ARK ARK ARK ARK ARK ARK, etc." I tried to post a video of Henri saying his new word (video failed). He does it immediately for Dave. He goofs off a bit, scratches his head, bobs his head and makes little peeps before I get an "almond" out of him. He knows I'm a sucker for him. I'm being strong and resisting giving up the almond until he says it.

Tomorrow we head out to Devil's Tower in Wyoming and the Needles in South Dakota for a week of climbing. I've not been to either location. I'm really looking forward to it. I see blood and bruises but lots of smiles in my future.

Monday, June 23, 2008

6/22/08 - Solstice Picnic at Betasso Preserve

Dave and I hosted a fun picnic at Betasso Preserve from 5 pm to sunset. This timing worked well as it allowed all of our friends the opportunity to go out and play all day long, then come by for the picnic. We too took off and got in several pitches at the Bell Buttress in Boulder Canyon. Several folks showed up and a great time was had. The best way to illustrate this is through photos, so I'll shut up and just show you the fun!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

6/19/2008 - Day Trip to Lumpy Ridge in RMNP

Today we got up early and drove to Estes Park to climb at Lumpy Ridge. This was my first time to Estes Park, Lumpy Ridge or the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). It was a gorgeous day all day. Plus, there were few others in climbing so it was quiet. Very nice.

From Lumpy Ridge, we could see many peaks in the RMNP. The higher we climbed, the more that was visible. Most intriguing to me was the Diamond. I've heard SO much about this piece of rock. It was great getting to finally see it - even if it was miles away. There is still a lot of snow on the mountains.

We hiked from the car to an area called the book. Though it is difficult to tell from the photo, this area has many multi-pitch climbs on it. The first climb we did is on the left-most rock in the photo. There is a left-leaning arch on the center of the rock. That is Romulan Territory (5.10a - yeah, sure!). It hardly looks it in the photo, but that climb is 400' tall with the top being at about 8,600 feet in altitude. This was a super fun climb with smearing feet, lay backs and underclings the entire way. I really enjoyed this physical and fun climb.

After topping out, then scrambling all the way back to the ground we moved to the right a little to do a two-pitch climb on the Bookmark Pinnacle. I've totally forgotten the name of this climb (maybe I never knew). The first pitch was a fun, less-than-vertical hand crack. Very easy, but interesting and fun climbing. The beginning of the second pitch offered the hardest moves of the day for me. Aside from that gut-buster 10 feet, the climb was just fun. This pinnacle tops with a tiny little point.

We rapped off the pinnacle and scrambled back to our packs and started the hike out. After an hour drive home, we were having dinner on the back porch to a beautiful sunset with all sorts of gorgeous colors on the clouds.

Tomorrow is a rest day for me (i.e., work day). I need it. Saturday we plan to get up and ride to Ward on the bikes. Hopefully I don't expire mid-ride. :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

6/16/2008 - New Bird Perches!

Since we came to Boulder, the birds have spent most of their time in the room and new cages. They've not minded since they like both their room and their cages. However, we've noticed that they've been more reluctant to leave the safe confines of their room. That's no good. So, we decided to build some nice portable bird perches to get them out of their room more.

I used to have some super basic ones, but after some time of "use" I tossed them in the trash in STL. Dave designed some new ones that provide greater ease of cleaning, plus they are easily stored. We don't have a lot of extra storage space here so that is critical. Check out the cool hinge design so the fit easily in the closet when not in use.

Once they were completed, we poured ourselves a drink for the bird introductory ceremony. I carried the flock in the room. Ferne and Clover were immediately leaning toward the perches. As I knew would happen, they all loved the perches.

I thought Clover would have been the first to take a big bite out of the perch. To my surprise hough, Henri was! That old guy (he's 30 years old) still has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. After some happy time chewing up the perch, Henri opted to sit with Dave and share his drink. He wasn't allowed any alcohol, but only the tasting of the ice cubes.

I had the birds out this morning while Dave was at a meeting. He'll be surprised to see the "work" the birds have done to the perches already. Happily his design makes for easy replacement of the horizontal perch.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We ended up leaving Pente at the Camp Ahlers for a few days after we arrived home. They really enjoy her, and it seems cruel to take her away from the kids and the rest of the family who she stays with.

As a result, we ended up having the birds out of their room much more. Dave and Henri are really becoming a pair! He has Henri saying "Ma Ma" (or more like "Blah Blah") to get an almond. Henri learned this very quickly.

Another trick is he has Henri hopping onto the yoga ball where he sits until he flies a very short distance to me. It's quite cute!

Dave has been building some new bird perches that will make it easier for the birds to come out of the room and hang out. They should be finished tomorrow.

Since we've been back, we've not slowed down. We've been to Boulder Canyon for two days of climbing. This place is quite fun, and has the added adventure of Tyrolean Traverses over Boulder Creek - super cool!

Plus, today we did a 55 mile road bike trip. We started off hard doing the Lee Hill Road/Old Stage vertical challenge, continuing up to Jamestown. Then we went down to Hwy 36, and went north to Hygiene, CO. From there, we went through Niwot, CO, then back home. It was my longest ride yet. FINALLY I feel some fitness!

6/11/2008, The Ice Age Arrives, Day 7

A nasty storm came in during the night. I really was sure that the tent was going to be ripped apart. No joke. It was the first night that we didn't sleep well because of the noise of the wind ripping at the tent, as well as the cold (even sleeping with layers of clothes on). Even the train horns at our first bivy didn't disturb us as much.

When morning came, we peeked out of our tent (which was still intact) to see about 2-3" of snow on the ground. And ice. And it was definitely below freezing. Although it was shortly after 6 am, we quickly decided to bail. Enough of this!

We were home by 6:30. It was gorgeous in Boulder.

While the weather blew the entire trip, we had a great time. Lots of laughing in the tent, huddling in the car, climbing and hiking. One of the funniest moments was that on the warmest day, I pulled a beer out of the ice chest and for the first time, it felt cold. Finally, the temperature in the chest was colder than the temperature out of the ice chest. The cold also made for economically ice usage. We purchased a block of ice in Boulder before leaving to put in Dave's 1980s not-so-efficient ice chest. When we got home, the ice was hardly melted! He said usually, they last only two days!

6/10/2008, The weather continues to crater, Day 6

A wicked storm blew in during the night. It blasted wind, it rained hard, and the temperature dropped quite a bit. When we got up, we hopped in the car and drove to Almo looking for a hot breakfast. No way were we going to subject ourselves to more numb torture in the relentless wind and cold.

We spent the rest of the day walking the campground making notes of which sites were good and which weren't. It was a great task to get done - but the weather made it quite unpleasant.

Not much else to report for this day except that I started feeling sick. I think the constant wind and cold was taking its toll on me.

We didn't even take photos today.

6/09/2008, City of Rocks, Day 5

We got up leisurely to the best weather of the trip. We estimate it may have actually gotten into the 50s! In fact, there were times during the day that we removed our down jackets! A real heat wave.

As we hung around camp trying to motivate to go climbing, Eric and his Boulder-friend Chris dropped by to chat. They were heading to the Crack of Doom on the Morning Glory Spire (aka the Incisor). We ended up going to the same formation to climb on the opposite side.

We opted to climb a three-pitch route called Morning Glory. The first pitch was non-stop, solid, gripped, breath-holding slab the entire way. I really can't understand the slab aficionados out there! I mean, some slab moves here and there is one thing - but nothing but slab? It baffles me.

The second pitch was everything I love in a climb. Just enough small edges to get one to the top of the pitch. It was quite beautiful. The third pitch had a powerful first move (okay, okay, I missed the critical undercling) which spit me off the wall like a gnat. After the first series of awkward moves, the pitch went to the top. All in all, a very fun climb. It was windy at the top, but for a change, it wasn't freezing. Such a welcome change.

After rapping, we walked around and did the classic "Skyline" trad climb. It is immediately clear why this route is a classic. Super fun climbing!

Next we went up a fun sport 10b to the immediate right of Skyline. This route is called "Fall line". The bottom had a weird feeling start, but after that, it was great. I find that at least everything we did in the COR has the awkward or difficult crux at the bottom.

Following this, we wandered over to the Anteater Formation. Dave soloed a pretty crack which put him in position to stand on top of a big balanced rock. Dave and I have so much in common, it's freaky. This however is not one of those commonalities. I could not be paid enough money to stand on top of a rock like that!

We finished the day on a climb called Scream Cheese. Why is it called Scream Cheese? Probably because the climber screams when they fall off the heinous slab at the top. The guidebook even stated that the slab turns most climbers into whimpering crawlers at the top. Pretty accurate description of my time on this climb.

We went back to camp and had a nice meal of nature burgers and margaritas. We then walked up to the Boulder crew's campsite and enjoyed music and songs they performed. I was so exhausted, I started falling asleep at their campsite. Time to go to bed.