Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hike: Rattlesnake Gulch Trail

Last weekend we hiked in Eldorado Canyon State Park along the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail, a moderately difficult trail that goes up to the Crags Hotel ruins, and on to the loop at the top for a total of 3.6 miles RT. Unfortunately, I don't have many pictures, and somehow managed to not take a picture of the continental divide at the top.

This was a class hike (which is a whole other post), so we had to stop a lot to spend some time practicing skills. For instance, as a side trip (not part of the trail), we scrambled up a boulder field, crossed over it (boulders and talus which all moved), and then went down the scree... Some people do this for fun and call it "screeing". Basically, you are "screeing" by balancing on your feet and letting the loose scree take you down the rock slope. The key as we learned, is to relax and just go with the flow of rock.  Honestly, if I wasn't so worried about my ankle the entire time, I may have enjoyed it more... as I kinda like climbing boulders. But really, I think I learned enough about going down scree to know that I want to avoid it as much as possible. The purpose of the exercise was to get familiar with this type of terrain, and gain some confidence. This is common terrain when climbing mountains above tree line (like 13ers and 14ers). I really, really wish I had pictures of the boulder field and scree we went down to show you. It was pretty impressive I think :).

You can see a little of the boulder field at the bottom of this picture
We also practiced finding our location on a topographic map by doing triangulation with our compasses. I think I'm actually better at finding myself on the map by just using sight, than using compass bearings. But I was able to get myself "on the dime", in other words... close enough. The engineer in me wanted to be able to mark my precise spot. Oh well, it was easy enough to recognize my actual location from the plotted bearings, and I can see myself using this as a sanity check.

View from the loop at the top, looking East toward Boulder
Eldorado Canyon State Park is a beautiful area, I'd really like to go back and spend some time there.

Movie: Life As We Know It

Image by Warner Bros
Last night, I had the opportunity to see a sneak peak of the movie Life As We Know It. It was a really good, cute movie, and did I mention the ticket was free? Considering movie prices are $9 around here, I call this a SCORE! Never mind that I spent as much on popcorn and a bottle of water...

LAWKI is about two single people that become guardians for their mutual best friends' daughter after they die in an accident. This movie made me laugh a lot, and it also made me cry just a little. I have to say it was predictable, but that wasn't a bad thing for me. I really enjoyed it, and recommend this movie! So girls, grab your girlfriends and go. Heck, I think it's funny enough that the guys would like it too... or at least not hate it :). It comes out in theaters October 8th.

I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

For the Love of Reading

This year, I decided to embrace my preference to read young adult (YA) fiction. I don't care if you book snobs look down on me. I enjoy reading them, and gosh darn it, I'm going to read what I want :). I've easily increased my reading tenfold. Instead of trudging through some book media/society thinks I should read that just puts me to sleep at night, I fly through books now. Really, I read all sorts of books - from children/teen/YA to best selling fiction, from mysteries to select pieces of non-fiction - but my favorite genre right now is YA. Maybe this is a phase, who knows. I haven't read this much since before college. I realize this is mostly because I'm not working right now, but hey, I'll take it!

This is what I call a successful trip to the library:

31 Bond Street
[Note: links go to book's page on which has description and reviews, images are linked to Amazon.]

First of all the library actually had two books that I was looking for, the most important being my neighborhood book club book for October - 31 Bond Street, by Ellen Horan. Now I don't have to read the pdf version on my monitor. I downloaded the ebook from the library but it was DRM protected so I couldn't put it on my Kindle (at least not legally) - boo. I'm pretty excited about this book. It's a mystery, and historical fiction based upon some factual information. It's about the murder of Dr. Harvey Burdell, which was supposedly one of the biggest news stories in the United States before the Civil War.
The Host: A Novel
The library also had The Host, by Stephenie Meyer, though only the audio version. I've had The Host on my "to read" list for a while. The others I randomly picked up as I scanned the shelves. If I see an audiobook I want to read/listen to sometime in the future sitting on the shelf, I grab it. Mainly because the likelihood of it being there when I'm ready for it is usually slim. I just upload them to my computer and save them for a later date. Some people do not like audiobooks, they just don't like being read to... for me, I see it as another way to engross myself in a story. I listen to them while working out, showering and getting ready for the day, cleaning the house, doing dishes, and while driving. Though I admit, not all of the people chosen to narrate the books are created equal. I've heard some really, really bad ones, and some truly great ones.

Extras (Uglies)Extras by Scott Westerfeld is a good example of a book I'll eventually read, but not ready for yet. It's the 4th book in the Uglies series, though I've only read the first book so far, Uglies. I found it to be a pretty interesting sci-fi, set in the future. Basically, everyone is required to get plastic surgery at age 16 to transition from an "ugly" to a "pretty" in order for everyone to have an even playing field... and to maintain peace. However in the process, your personality is also altered. It was a fun read with just the right amounts of action, suspense, comedy, and romance. It's followed by Pretties, Specials, and then Extras.

All Unquiet ThingsAll Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab looked familiar from my browsing on So I looked it up on my goodreads app while at the library and it got pretty good reviews, so home it went with me.

Something, MaybeSomething, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott was a random selection, and now that I read some of the reviews I think I'm going to really like the main character.

If interested, you can connect with me on goodreads:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Little Touches of Fall

It's officially fall, and I'm disappointed that our A/C kicked on this afternoon. It's hot here for late September, in the high 80s... what the heck CO? It's OK. I'm still grateful it's not in the 90s! Besides, I know cooler weather is coming and I love that it's in the low 50s at night.

Last weekend I started putting out the few fall decorations I have, and picked up few things from Hobby Lobby. These little wooden pumpkins were 50% off, making them like $1.50 or $2 each. I love them grouped together on our mantle. I also picked up some dried sticks, wheat, and grasses to do something with... I'm still not sure I'm happy with the arrangement but I'm trying not to mess with them so much because they are so brittle. Suggestions? Like or dislike?

I couldn't help but splurge and pick up these mums at Whole Foods today. I love their rusty color and they look great in our foyer alcove that's been neglected since the spring flowers stopped blooming (previous post about those here), or rather *cough* died from John over watering them while I was out of town.

I have a few other fall touches scattered around the house, but they aren't really picture worthy (or really I didn't think to take a picture of them).  I'm just really enjoying fall here. A couple of weeks ago we drove up through Beaver Creek and Vail, and up Mt. Evans to show my grandparents the scenery and see the bursts of golden Aspens. Here's a picture from mid-way up Mt. Evans:

If things work out my way, we'll be going up to Aspen this weekend to see Maroon Bells with the Aspens at their peak in color :).

Do you go crazy decorating your home for fall? Or do you focus on Halloween and put spooky things around the house? I couldn't believe that Hobby Lobby already had Christmas stuff on display. Seriously, can't we at least get through Halloween first?

I'm linking up to Hooked on House's fall decorating party.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wannabe Runner

When I woke up this morning, I laid in bed trying to decide wether to close my eyes and go back to sleep, or get up and go for a run. I've been out of the habit of running for a while, since I rolled my ankle hiking Mt. Bierstadt. It's hard to get back to the point where it's easy to get up and go. Or well, to the point that it's easier to get out of bed to go running. I had to give myself a pep talk, or rather debate with myself. It went something like this...
You know you want to run a 5K before the end of the year...
But I was sleeping so well, I could get at least another half hour...
You'll sleep better tonight if you run this morning.
You know you'll feel great the rest of the day if you go. 
The bedroom is cold, it'll be colder outside.
Perfect temperature for running!
You can wear your Slacker long sleeve shirt!
Great, I probably won't be able to fall back asleep now.
Your Nike+ mini (screen saver) will stop whining.
Who cares, I'm deleting the stupid Nike+ mini
It will be awesomeness, the weather is perfect.
You won't meet your goals if you stay here.
Ugh. OK. 
So, I did the hardest part and got up and got dressed. I ran. I didn't get a runner's high like I did last time, but it was a good run. It was the longest I've run in over a year - 25 minutes of running (or jogging depending on how you define it) straight. I feel good about it :). I'm so glad I got my butt in gear this morning and just DID IT.

When I went to sync up my iPhone with Nike+ afterwards, I saw this video posted on my friend's wall on facebook. I'm still thinking about it hours later, so I thought I'd share it here.

Talk about inspiring! The body is such an amazing thing. I love watching people learn this for themselves. Learn that they can do ANYTHING with determination. You can also check out his blog, Ben Does Life.

I'm a wannabe runner.

I couldn't run a mile until I was 29 years old. I never had the desire to.... and when I was younger I'd laugh at the idea of people running to run, and not because they were being chased. I have friends that are runners, and I'm not sure how it happened but they must have rubbed off on me. Or maybe I just wanted to defy turning 30, but I got the bug. I completed the Couch to 5K (C25K) training program, and then I ran my first 5K in January of 2008.

I'd like to say that I've been an avid runner ever since, but unfortunately, no. Though I had fallen in love with running, which for me become a therapy of sorts... I had some issues with my right knee after starting the One Hour Runner program, which I started because I wanted to run a faster 5K, and eventually a 10K. However, every time I hit about 4 miles, something funky happened to my knee and it made me back off... Then summer came with temperatures in the 90s/100s, I found some more excuses, and I pretty much stopped running altogether except for the occasional short run. I missed it. Really missed it. Then we moved to Colorado, and being so close to trails, I was excited to get back into running again. I wanted to try to strengthen up my knee, and go to a doctor if necessary to figure it out.

I thought I was gonna die on my first run. My heart was going to burst out of my chest. Darn altitude. Eventually I decided I should just re-do the C25K program and gradually work back up to running. It was all going great, and I was scoping out my next 5K when I rolled my ankle about a month ago. That was a huge bummer. I have a weak right ankle (which is most likely related to the knee issue I have), but it had been doing so well for a long time.

Earlier this week I returned to the program since I felt more confident about my ankle. I started where I left off, by repeating week 6 day 2 and was shocked by how awesome I felt. First of all I ran further (which means faster) than I had the last time, and I didn't feel like I was dying, in fact, I felt great! This was shocking to me since a) I hadn't ran in almost a month, and b) I had been expecting to struggle since I'd heard (from multiple sources) that stopping for more than a week and starting again, at altitude, you have to adjust again. All I can think of is that my hiking has kept me in better shape than I had thought. I have been hiking at around 8-10,000 ft so I'm guessing it helped keep me in some sort of condition, making running at ~5,500 ft not as difficult as it would have been... had I done nothing. Seriously, the body is amazing in how it is constantly adapting, and able to change. All we have to do is push ourselves.

Wow, this got long! Sorry for the rambling if you made it this far :). I guess that's what an inspiring video that makes me cry does to me!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Bear

Well, today I was going to blog about the fall wreath I had planned on making with my friend K today. That didn't happen because I've been fighting a headache all day and eventually lost that battle to a full blown migraine. :(

I'm feeling a little better now, and thought I'd share what makes me smile, always.

My little bear, Koda. :D

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Yup, I'm a Gleek!

Fall is my favorite season, and one of the best parts besides the crisp air, pumpkin lattes, and colorful leaves is TV season premieres! This week some of my favorite shows are coming back, including Glee which premieres tonight. Sadly, I won't get to watch it until after class... so it's going to be a late night.

Also can't wait for Grey's Anatomy on Thursday! If you're curious about what else I'm watching this season, check out my previously posted schedule here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hike: Carpenter Peak

A couple of weeks ago I hiked Carpenter Peak with my friend K and the Colorado Mountain Club. Carpenter Peak is located in Roxborough State Park, which is a National Natural Landmark. The Fountain Formations are over 300 million years old!

This was a nice easy/moderate hike, with a fairly smooth trail. Great for my recovering ankle that I rolled on Mt. Bierstadt. We hiked in and out for ~6.5 miles roundtrip with about 1,000 ft elevation gain. Here's a few pictures:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hike: Threemile Creek Trail

Fall is here! Last week I was fortunate to be able to hike the Threemile Creek Trail in the Mt. Evans Wilderness. This is easily my favorite hike I've been on since we've lived here, and I hope to do it again (and take John with me) before the Aspen leaves fall. These pictures simply don't do the scenery justice... I really wish I had a nicer camera though really, I wouldn't want to carry a hefty one...

One of my favorite sounds is a babbling creek. I love it just as much as the sound of the ocean. This trail is mostly along Threemile Creek and it passes back and forth over it several times, which means we could see and hear the creek most of the way. I was a happy camper! We just hiked in and out, for a total of about 5.5 miles and ~1,000 ft of elevation gain.

I was surprised by how golden the Aspens were already, and just tried to soak it all in... Unfortunately, I wasn't able to capture how the afternoon sun shimmered through the gold Aspens making everything just... gold. I think the group was amused by me, because as they were chatting away I was knelt down on the trail with my camera zooming in on the gold and red leaves. I've lived too long in the southern states where there are no such thing as seasons. This is my first "real" fall in over a decade, and I am not taking it for granted!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Granny!

My grandparents have been visiting us for the past week and we've had wonderful quality time together playing games and sight seeing. I was so excited to have my Granny with us on her birthday, as we are usually states away. She is such a special person to everyone who knows her, and I felt lucky to be with her to celebrate her 76th birthday!

I made a Sour Cream and Lemon Pound Cake for her birthday cake since she loves lemon desserts. I had a hard time figuring out what to make her, as she kept insisting I bake something the rest of us wanted (like um, chocolate!). Well that wasn't going to happen, it was HER day! The cake came out delicious, but doesn't look very pretty. I would make this again... I followed some recommendations in the comments for this recipe and tripled the lemon zest, added a little more lemon juice, and topped it with a glaze (powdered sugar, lemon juice, and zest). Here's a picture of how it turned out... As usual I had trouble getting it out of the pan, so I just flipped it upside down which actually did better I think for the lemon glaze.

Happy Birthday Granny! I love you more than I could ever put into words.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Slingshot gone wrong...

I saw this posted on facebook yesterday and had to watch it again. OMG.

The poor girl! Ugh, I can't help but laugh. Sorry!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Our First 14er: Mt. Bierstadt

Since before we actually moved to Colorado, I've had the goal of hiking a 14er this summer. A "14er" is a mountain that peaks at 14,000 ft or greater. I'm proud to say - mission accomplished! I chose the easiest peak because, well, I thought it was the smart thing to do... I'm relatively new to hiking (beginner/intermediate), and hadn't yet hiked above 10,000'. I think I chose wisely :). My hubs and I, with our good friend B hiked to the summit of Mt. Bierstadt at 14,060 ft on August 28, 2010. We took the west slopes route (class 2) for a total of 7 miles RT.

A look back a little ways up Mt. Bierstadt
We woke up around 6:30 AM (even though I tried to convince B to leave earlier), and got to the trailhead around 8:15 AM. The parking lot was PACKED. I knew it was going to be busy on a Saturday morning but I really didn't expect to see the lot overflowing. The first mile is the easiest, mostly flat and goes through the willows, and then we started to climb.

I was surprised by how good I felt. I've had really bad altitude sickness before (though it was a long time ago), and I was a little nervous that I would be nauseous, or worse get sick along the trail. I started to really feel the altitude around 12,500 ft. I had to stop every once in a while a lot to just catch my breath. It was almost like a hitting walls at certain points, from the lack of oxygen. I would feel the lack of oxygen and get tired, then it would get easier... my body adjusted to the altitude. Then I'd hit another wall, it'd get easier, and then I'd hit another :). I think this happened about 3 or 4 times. But overall, I felt great, even after I rolled my ankle the first time *rolling eyes*.

I wish I had a picture of the boulder scramble at the top. I was prepared for it after reading other's trip reports, but there was quite a distance of hiking up and over boulders. I think we hung out on the peak for ~20 minutes. It was crowded at the top, but we found a spot, had a snack and took some pictures. The boulders were OK going up, but a PITA on the way down. I rolled the same ankle twice more... but I was still doing OK. We were trying to beat the storms that were forecasted for that afternoon, so we were trying to hustle on the way down. The clouds were rolling in, and you could see rain in the distance. B was half running down the mountain. Seriously. My quads, knees, and sore ankle were singing to me! Honestly, I wasn't too worried, but I didn't want to be out there above tree-line dodging lightning if a storm hit either. So I went as fast as I could (which was slow compared to the guys) while paying attention to where I planted my right foot, being careful with my ankle. We made it back without getting wet, thankfully the storms moved south.

Here's some pictures:

It was a great experience! Unfortunately I messed up my ankle. I couldn't walk on it the next day. I haven't run since, and missed out on a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park last weekend.  I did go hiking a couple of days ago, and it's achy but doing alright. I'm hoping to get back to running soon... I'm just nervous of hurting it more and not being able to do the hikes I have planned this fall.

Anyway, now that I know what to expect, I can better train/condition myself to hike more difficult ones next summer. I've got my eye on Grays, Torreys, and/or Quandry. :)

Have I mentioned lately how much I love living here?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

A few of my favorite things...

I've been seeing lists like these around the blogosphere and thought it would be fun to make my own. Here goes, in no particular order, a list of a few of my favorite [material] things:

1.  My iPhone 4. Heart. Love. Huggy squeezy. Especially now that AT&T replaced the sim card and it doesn't drop calls anymore. 

2.  Teva Olawahu Flip Flops. I have 3 pairs and want need another pair in maya green. 

3.  LUSH shampoo bars. They are the best, easy to use and great for travel. My favorites are the Seanik and Godiva bars... see my previous about these here
4. Body Shop Vitamin E Lip Care SPF 15. I've tried many others and I always come back to this one.
5. My Keens... I love them. I'm proud to say they are much dirtier now than they were when this picture was taken! 

6. My FREE hand-me-down Kindle DX. Thanks, Dad! This is up there in the huggy squeezy category. I've only had it since mid-July (special delivery by my little bro) and I'm reading my 6th book on it, which is why I'm STILL in the middle of the paperback version of The Girl Who Played with Fire, which I started around the same time my Kindle arrived. Honestly, I'd love to have the smaller version that can fit in my purse but in the same breath, I love that I can read pdf files on the full screen (recipes, class material, etc.). LOVE!

I tried to keep this list short... I may have to add to this later though.