Wednesday, June 29, 2011

06_28_2011 Serious Work Avoidance Going on Here

I have a crushing deadline on a paper. Usually papers seem to write themselves, but this one is fighting me - kicking and screaming at every turn. I so cannot wait to be rid of it!

So while I've sequestered myself to force this thing get finished, I am finding myself engaged in a lot of interesting work avoidance. I've haven't done as much of that since I was writing my dissertation (I was a pro back then).

One way I've accomplished this work avoidance is staring at my feet. Really. I find myself thinking they are kind of starting to look like my feet. And I find myself thinking I really need to get a pedicure. Still, this led me to look at a photo of my old feet.

I found the photo from December of 2010 and wow! Those are looking less like my feet than the feet attached to me do. And wow! I needed a pedicure then too. Okay, enough goofing off. Back to work...I wonder if the cat wants to put on a dress.

Free Blog Counter

Sunday, June 26, 2011

06_18 to 25_2011 Bicycle Tour of Colorado

The 2011 Bicycle Tour of Colorado check in was the 18th. It was scheduled for six days of riding, about 463 miles, and just under 50k' in gain. We began in Central City, next to Estes Park, to Granby, to Steamboat Springs, to Glenwood Springs, to Frisco and back to Central City.

Happily the beginning and ending destination was about an hour from the house. So, Dave and I packed up the pop-up to get me checked in. The weather forecast did not look promising. :/

We found an awesome place to put the pop-up to spend the night after checking in. We got up, had breakfast, and I took of into the threatening weather. Me and 1500 other riders!

The aid stations were always a scene. Lots of people, bike everywhere, lines of porta potties, food and drink. As the picture shows of the first aid station on Peak to Peak (en route to Estes Park) I generally stayed back. I was not aggressive enough often to elbow the big male grazers parking their carcasses right in front of the food!

The ride days was mellow, but the skies opened up the last ten miles (the down hill portion into Estes). I didn't get too wet though those coming in later were a bit spooked by thunder, hard rain, lightning and hail. Due to a tent set up snafu, I ended up with a less-than-desirable tent location with a beautiful view of the porta potties. :) They were seriously well-maintained and didn't smell at all - thank goodness!

The first night, Dave came up to have dinner with me. It was fun having a tent guest given it was cold and rainy outside. We found ourselves in town when the major deluge hit - lots of hail, torrential rain, and big wind. Happily my tent survived that. Some others did not. Bummer.

In town was this funny car full of ducks. It begged for a photo.

An ubiquitous sight at each town where we stayed was the tangle of charging smart phones. In some locations finding an outlet was quite rare. Pretty funny, and I don't think any fires started (which was surprising given some of the tangles I saw).

Several folks on the tour rode tandem bikes. I've not been on one, but I have heard that they "take a relationship to where it is going much more quickly." Often that means divorce. Hence the big laugh everyone got at this 'for sale' sign we saw in Estes.

It rained all night long in Estes and we knew this wasn't good news for the next leg of the trip which was about 90 miles up and over trail ridge road. Rain in Estes = snow up high. And that is exactly what happened. There was 9" of snow up top and it was still falling plus huge winds, and some rain mixed in. We were all trapped on the school property in Estes waiting on word from the Park Service as to whether Trail Ridge Road would open or not. Finally at about 8:30, they let us go. The top wasn't yet open, but the thought it may open by the time everyone got there.

It looked grim going as we headed out. While I'm happy we got the chance to go, it may not have been the best decision. In short some unfortunate folks did get over Trail Ridge Road - and they got to experience hypothermia and spend some time in ambulances trying to raise their body temperatures from the low 80s. It rained/snowed the entire distance to Granby. These poor people were wrecked.

Others of us were stopped at the aid stations given the major cluster going on up higher. We waited perhaps two hours as the weather worsened. The wind got bigger, rain got harder, everyone grew very cold. Finally, I made the decision to go back down as it appeared unlikely that the top would open (it had closed after the few people got over). I headed back to the school while others waited to see if they could get higher. It was the correct decision and eventually everyone was directed back to the school. Those at the very top had to be plucked off it by buses since descending became too dangerous.

At the school, the tour organizers scrambled to figure out how to get 1450 people and 1450 bicycles to Granby. (About 50 went over the top). For those who are not into cycling, keep in mind that inexpensive bikes on this tour were about $4,000. We saw some that were worth about 13k. And they needed to be shipped. Lots of worried bike owners (self included). A moving company came in and filled truck after truck with bicycles using moving blankets to protect them. Happily not one bike sustained even a scratch to our collective relief.

I cracked up as we bused to Granby. I grabbed a quick photo of the exit off of 36 to the house. Only a short walk away were the birds and cat.

The ride to Granby was sketchy including some white out conditions up high. Lots of snow. We did eventually get there were it rained quite a bit. The forecast was supposed to improve for the remainder of the trip. Happily that was the case.

I set up my wet tent for another wet night in the tent ghetto. One can't help but get up very early on these because there was always some noisy contingent of people getting up at 4am to head. Whack jobs! I got up to a sunny, but sadly windy day and headed out. We had about 80 miles to go over a couple of mountain passes - all of it into relentless head winds about about 25-35 mph. What should have been a pretty mellow day was hard as a result. I did stop in Kremmling (where Dave and I started a bike tour last year) and enjoyed a latte with many others.

We rode for a ways with Rabbit Ears Pass in the distance. We all cursed the big wind the entire way.

I enjoyed a break on the top of the pass. My face already hurt from the wind. And I didn't realize how trashed my lower lip was from this. It is still thrashed as I write this many days later. Thank goodness for over-the-counter numbing agents!

There was a lot of snow on top of the pass. It's been a crazy year and that was not changing.

The entire tour provided many breath-taking vistas. Living here, I admit to being a bit more immune to them. It's fun watching other from other places being blown away by them. After a radically fun descent into Steamboat, I set up the tent and grabbed a quick massage. For whatever reason, the only thing that hurts when I ride longer distances is something in left scapular region. I am certain there is not a knife in my back, but it sure feels that way. Nice to get it worked on if even for 30 minutes.

After a good night of sleep, it was up early again to pack up a very wet and cold tent and hit the road. The next destination is Glenwood Springs. Sadly, the big runoff from the late snow melt took out the bike path (still submerged in some RAGING waters) so our ride was being detoured to include a bonus mountain pass. People were calling it King Pass and while I don't think it is an 'official' pass, it felt like a pass. Average grade of 7% for 9 miles is what is is called. In some places, it got up to 11%. It was hot too. 90+miles later, we got to our destination where our bikes had to be stored in tennis courts! What a site that was. Then we were bused to Glenwood where we would enjoy a rest day.

Tent ghetto was alive and well at Glenwood Springs. There is a big incentive to get to the destination early to get a prime spot. This means one not next to the all-night-long banging doors of the porta potties. This means not under some strong light. This means in a location that someone isn't likely to pitch their tent 4" from yours.
I managed to snag an awesome and isolated tent spot at Glenwood High School. No one anywhere near me!

And being the 7 year old boy I am, I had to take a photo of a sign on the school property. Well played kids! Haha!

After getting set up, I walked over to the hot springs. An excellent way to spend a day off. It was a broiling hot day. Hard to believe we were suffering in the freezing weather days before. Later that evening, to escape the heat some of us headed up the tram to the park up high. I forgot the camera for this which was a bummer. I rode the big swing (that puts one face down out over the canyon!!) and the rock climbing wall (on a dare). Then five of us headed back to town for some Italian food. It ended up being a late night (to bed at about 11pm).

The usual insomniacs were up early the next morning. The first I heard dragging out (literally dragging their luggage across the pavement regardless how noisy that was) at 4am. What is wrong with these people?? I finally got up and headed out as sleep was futile. I needed to get on the bus back to the bike, clean it, and hit the road. It was going to be a scorcher again too. Dang. This ride to Frisco includes Vail Pass. As you can imagine it included lots of beautiful sights such as waterfalls.

Even prior to the pass, there were some beautiful spots to stop and grab a photo. I failed to grab a photo on top of the Vail Pass though it was gorgeous. I think I was looking forward to the fun descent. This was I think the best day of the tour in terms of riding - though everyday was great.

I was becoming expert at grabbing good tent sites. In Frisco, I had no neighbors on three sides of me, plus a fence to keep my bike nearby.

The lack of sleep the night before caught up with me here and I ended up in bed at 7:30pm. :) It was terrific! I also managed an 11 hour night of sleep which was super awesome! I got up for the last day of the tour. This day took up back to Central City via Loveland Pass and the Central City Highway (which is steep and savage). The pass was fun and I even stopped a few minutes to grab a photo of skiers at A-Basin. Mid June and they can still ski which is crazy.

I did stop and get some photos at the top of Loveland Pass (included the required bike-conquering-photo...happily it weighs 11 lbs only. :))

Next was an exciting part of the ride - on I-70. Yes, on the freeway. Yowza! We did about 15 or 20 miles on the freeway (happily downhill) which was intense. I clocked my fastest descent time ever the whole way thinking "please don't flat, please don't flat" and "if you crash here, you are gonna die!!"

The last 8 miles were rough going up the Central City Parkway. I'm not sure the grade, but I'd guess it is 8 or 9% and pretty steady. And it was super hot with lots of glass on the side of the road. Lots of folks having to stop and fix flats. Happily I was not one of them for which I'm so grateful!

I rolled to the finish line in Central City where the main street was blocked off for the party. It was quite fun. Dave arrived and we headed home. Totally a blast and I'd do it again in a heart beat!

Free Blog Counter

06_14_2011 Happy Second Anniversary!

Dave was in Peru on our second anniversary so when he returned, we headed up to Flagstaff to celebrate a few days later. We enjoyed some nice weather, sushi, strawberries and champagne.

The two years have flown by with lots happening including several broken bones, ruptured muscles, changes in jobs, and travels.

Not much to say except it's been two most excellent years!

Free Blog Counter

06_17_2011 More Bears in Da Hood

Thought I would put up a dedicated blog for the recent bear visit. This year, they stayed off our back porch (as far as we know anyway), but instead showed up across the street.

And this year, instead of it being one bear - it was four! One mama bear and three cubs. They stayed in the tree across the street all day. News trucks and people came from all over to get a look.

The bears couldn't have cared less. It was difficult to make out all three cubs since most of the day two of them lounged on the mama bear's back. Pretty cool!

Free Blog Counter

Saturday, June 25, 2011

06_2011 Some cool bird photos

Yes, we are behind in blogging. But it's because we've been out doing stuff. Hopefully in the next few days we'll get caught up. This will (hopefully) include Dave's Peru Mountaineering trip, our anniversary, and my ride on the Bicycle Tour of Colorado.

Until then, enjoy these gorgeous photos that Dave took before any of these other events too place. Mostly, they are photos of birds. In addition though, there are some cool photos of our newest neighborhood visitor: mama bear and three cubs. Happily they were NOT on the back porch this year - instead, they were across the street. Pretty cool when they are not on the back porch!

For those who ask, I wanted to identify the birds shown here. Most of the bird photos you see came from Walden Ponds in Eastern Boulder. The first three photos show are of an Osprey fishing. Watching this is always a treat - the birds never miss! It was especially cool as Dave had never seen them fish before. It's amazing.

The second bird shown is the elegant Eastern Kingbird. These are really pretty flycatchers and when we were out walking, there were many of them providing lots of fun watching.

Up next is a Tree Swallow. The babies of these birds appeared to have just fledged as many parents were working with young. Great fun to watch.

The next photo shown is actually from the backyard. I was watching all the Lesser Goldfinch, American Goldfinch and Pine Siskins that day. For whatever reason, they decided it was bath time and territoriality took hold. This is a fun photo in a series in which this Lesser Goldfinch was not about to give up his prime spot on the bubbling bird bath. The American Goldfinch didn't test the little guy to see if he meant business. It seemed clear he did. :)

Dave has been chasing Yellow Warblers for some time. They are pretty common here, but getting a photo is extra challenging. The day we were at Walden Ponds, he got several fun shots. This one is cute - the bird is taking advantage of the bark to get a good head scratch.

We've found a pair of Great Horned Owls out at Walden Ponds. Like clock work, they were in the tree where we thought we'd find them. Beautiful birds!

They may be plain, but their song is gorgeous. Here is a photo of House Wren we watched feeding some young in a snag.

We were also treated to the hunting of a Great Blue Heron. While they may not have a 100% hit rate, they are really worth watching. We watched this guy catch and gobble up multiple unfortunate fish.

Here are the stars of last week in the neighborhood - mama bear and three cubs in the tree across the street. We had news trucks on the street out front and many folks came to check them out. Not sure what became of them. Hopefully they don't come back - if so, the officials have to euthanize them.

Walden Ponds has a lot of White Pelicans. For some big and awkward looking birds, they fly with such grace. We watched the fly, land, fish, play, etc. A real treat.

It's that time of year - Gosling time! Baby Canada Geese were out and about. Seriously, they are so adorable!

And finally, a nice shot of a Yellow Warbler. It's no surprise this bird is on the cover of Kaufman's guide. What a difficult task it is to get a nice photo of one of these...yet here one is! :) Enjoy.

Free Blog Counter