Tag Archives: hiking

Elk Camp 2014

26 Oct

Life is finally returning to normal after the craziness that was September and the beginning of October. Travis and I are both so ready to be homebodies and not make any plans for a while! (Though as you know, weekends just have a way of getting filled up anyway.) It has been so nice to just chill at home this weekend though and get some stuff done around here.

Elk hunting in Colorado went well again this year, though it looked different than in past years since Travis and I no longer live there. Travis’ parents and nephew left on Wednesday afternoon and Travis had planned to meet them about an hour into the drive, but I had debilitating pregnancy heartburn that day so Travis stayed an extra couple of hours to help me get packed and drive me to Papa Murphy’s for dinner. He met up with them at the hotel that night. They arrived in Denver the next afternoon, went grocery shopping and loaded up Travis’ friend’s truck with gear. They headed up to camp on Friday morning – both to get the spot they wanted (they’re first come, first serve) and because it takes all day to set up camp, chop firewood, etc.

Meanwhile, I had driven down to Rochester to my parents’ house on Thursday after Emma’s 18-month well baby appointment. The drive is 3.5 hours, which is totally doable in one stretch – unless you are 14 weeks pregnant and have a toddler with you. I stopped a little over halfway in Minneapolis and spent a couple hours with a college friend, got coffee and browsed the kid’s section at Barnes & Noble, and then continued on my way. I arrived at my parents’ house around 7 pm. We hung out and ran errands on Friday, and then on Saturday, it was back up to the Cities for me to catch my flight to Denver. I cried as I hugged and kissed Emma goodbye, and I was a mess of emotions for the rest of that day, but after that, I was actually able to enjoy having a break. It helped that Emma did really well with my parents, and I was able to get updates from them every day, even up at camp.

My flight to Denver ended up being delayed a couple hours though (boo) so I didn’t get to Denver as early as I had hoped. My good friend Cathy drove me up the mountain to Silverthorne and my mother-in-law picked me up there. Cathy and I had planned to hang out up there for a couple hours, but she ended up just dropping me off and heading back. It was nice to chat with her anyway. We got up to camp around 7 pm and Beth got to work on dinner. Al was already back from hunting and had a fire going, and one by one, the other hunters (Travis, Drew, Matt and Aidan) trickled back in (shooting light was over by 7 pm each night). Each night followed a similar pattern – the hunters got back by 7:30, we ate dinner, hung around the campfire for a bit and called it a night around 8:30/9. But when you’re getting up at 5:30 in the morning, it doesn’t seem that early!

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20141012_125404 20141014_053956The next day (Sunday), it snowed 4-5 inches so Beth and I stayed hunkered down in the nice warm wall tent, except for a walk up and down the road during a brief respite. And we made a snowman.

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Meanwhile, Travis had shot a bull elk and they had to quarter it and pack it out in the snow. Not ideal, but he was pretty excited about it anyway.

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Monday, Beth and I headed to the tiny mountain town of Hot Sulphur Springs where there’s a resort that has about 20 pools filled with natural hot sulphur water that you can soak in. Since I’m pregnant, I made sure to not get too hot but I was still able to enjoy almost all of the pools (I sat halfway out of the hotter ones). It was nice and sunny, and the pools were outdoors, so it was very enjoyable. Afterward, we ate lunch in Granby, bought a few things from the grocery store and headed back to camp.

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Tuesday was a really nice day weather-wise – so much so that in the afternoon, we read our books outside in the sun and I even got a little sunburned. After lunch, while the guys took their usual after-lunch nap, Beth and I went on a short 2-mile hike on the South Fork Loop. The trail went along the river, so it was pretty flat – exactly what I was looking for because I haven’t been on a real hike in 2 years!

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Wednesday, it was time to pack up camp. None of the other guys in the hunting party saw or shot anything the rest of the week – but that’s pretty typical of elk hunting. We’re always happy to get at least 1 animal. We arrived back in Denver around 3 pm, took showers and headed out to dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings – our post-elk hunting tradition of the past 5 or so years. It was only 7 pm when we were done eating and we all just wanted to go to bed! But we forced ourselves to stay up until 9 pm.

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Thursday morning, my flight left at 10 am so Travis brought me to the airport right after breakfast. True to form, I had totally forgotten to check in to my Southwest flight 24 hours in advance (and not sure if I could’ve even, because we were still at camp) so I ended up checking in just 2.5 hours before the flight. Somehow though, I was assigned A16 for boarding – which, if you know that Southwest only assigns boarding order and has open seating, you would also probably know that A16 is the first boarding position after their version of first class. I have no idea how I got the first position for a completely full flight that close to takeoff, but it was totally awesome!

My parents and Emma picked me up at the airport, and her face was absolutely priceless. Her eyes were wide, her mouth gaping, like she was just in shock that I was back. She didn’t smile or cry or anything – just stared at me. We ate lunch at Q. Cumbers and then played at a park for a while so the dogs could get out of the car (my parents watched them that week too). We decided to have dinner with my brother and sister-in-law so we went to Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America for a couple hours. Emma played with the Legos for a while and then we took her on some of the tamer rides. I think she enjoyed them…? I tried taking a picture of her on the carousel with my dad (she rode a rooster) but they turned out super blurry. Bah.

For dinner, we went over to Chris and Meg’s and then walked to Lund’s, where we got food from their deli. I had a craving for sushi (of the cooked kind) so I got aPhiladelphia Roll. For grocery store sushi, it was decent and it satisfied my craving. I didn’t end up leaving Chris and Meg’s place until 8:45, which meant I got home around 11 pm. It was a doozy of a drive home, but we made it!

We’re still cleaning and putting stuff away from the trip (camping is so.much.work.) but we got all of our meat processed with Travis’ parents last Sunday. Between the new meat and what we had left from last year, our freezer is completely full of game meat. And deer hunting is still coming up! We’re set for the apocalypse.

Our Top 15 Colorado Memories, Part 3

22 Mar

If you missed them, check out Part 1 and Part 2.

………………………..

Continuing on with my top 15 Colorado memories (in no particular order)…

11. Climbing Grays and Torreys

These were the only 14ers I climbed in Colorado, and it’s easy to do both in one day because they’re connected by a saddle. We camped out at the base of the mountain with our friends, Michael and Amy Leon. Unfortunately, it rained that night, and the seams on Michael and Amy’s tent were no longer waterproof. We ended up getting out our extra rainfly in the middle of the night to put on their tent.

DSC03402Early the next morning, we hit the trail. My back has never hurt so bad as it did on that hike – and I wasn’t even carrying a pack! I learned time and time again that being in good running shape does not equate to being in good hiking shape – that’s its own beast. But we made it to the top of both peaks and on the top of the 2nd mountain (Torreys?), the clouds cleared enough that we could see the amazing view.

DSC03424 DSC0340412. Camping with the Normans

Mark and Sarah were the first friends of ours from back home to come out and visit us in Colorado. We, of course, took them camping and hiking. There was still a decent amount of snow up where we were hiking, and on the way down the mountain, we slid down the snow on our shoes/butts – if you’ve never tried it, do! It’s really fun. We also gorged ourselves on Beau Jo’s pizza in Idaho Springs – something we did fairly often when coming home from the mountains.

DSC02427 DSC0242313. Christmas with the Brehenys in Estes Park

For Christmas 2012, Travis and I stayed in Denver instead of going to Minnesota. Our friends Paul and Carrie graciously invited us to join them at a condo in Estes Park with their 2 kids. It was so much fun and a nice change from spending the holiday by ourselves.

blendsgiving 021 (Large)14. Camping at Lutheran Valley Ranch

For Memorial Day 2011, our friend Randy let us camp on his property down at LVR near Colorado Springs. We did a couple of really nice hikes while we were there and the dogs unfortunately got quilled by a porcupine. They survived though.

memorial-weekend-2011-033-large1 memorial-weekend-2011-023-large115. Hiking Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak

Bear Peak is really close to Boulder. It got pretty steep near the top but it was so worth it for the view! The worst part of the hike was actually the way back…it was downhill the…whole…way.     Distance: 7.6 miles roundtrip     Elevation Gain: 2,461 feet

We hiked South Boulder Peak (separated from Bear Peak by a saddle) on July 4, 2008. It was a gorgeous day for a hike and a lot of the trail was in the shade. But this was by far one of the hardest hikes I’ve ever done–not the longest or the highest elevation but the most straight up (1,800 ft elevation gain in about 1.1 miles, to be exact). I didn’t think I would make it – I started getting dizzy and nauseated. But I made it to the peak, which I was able to enjoy for about 30 seconds before all the bugs at the top forced to me to leave.      Distance: 7 miles roundtrip    Elevation Gain: 2,949 feet

DSC02107 DSC02462 DSC02114And that’s all 15! Of course, we have many other great memories so this list is by no means exhaustive. Colorado is a great state, and I feel like we did a good job of enjoying what it has to offer. We didn’t get to everything on our ‘bucket list’ but hey, Colorado isn’t going anywhere!

Emma: 3 Weeks

29 Apr

Emma was quite a bit fussier during her third week than she has been up to this point. I think part of the problem is that I have an oversupply of milk, or it lets down really fast, so she has to gulp the milk down to keep up. Sometimes she ends up choking and coughing, which leads to her spitting quite a bit of it up. And she frequently acts frustrated and angry when nursing – something I read in The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding can be caused by an oversupply/fast letdown. On a slightly related note, she also hates a dirty diaper at the end of a feeding. She cries like her world is ending.

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Besides Emma being hard to console at times, and peeing on the changing table when her diaper’s off more times than I can count, perhaps the most challenging thing this week has been all the grunting Emma does at night. After she’s eaten, I get her to sleep and put her in her swing (where she sleeps for the time being). She sleeps peacefully for anywhere from 30-60 minutes, and then starts grunting/moaning. She’s not actually awake though. She’ll make a little noise, then be quiet for 5 minutes. A little more noise, then quiet.

I have been just letting her stay in her swing while she does it, because usually I have only gone to bed about 30-45 minutes beforehand. But it disrupts my sleep because every time she makes noise, I hold my breath, waiting for it to turn into crying. It seems like she starts making the noise when she’s ready to eat again, but not quite alert. Even though I do get up and feed her before she starts crying (which ends up being about 2-3 hours between feedings), I think it might just be best if I got up and fed her right when she started grunting, instead of waiting the 15-45 minutes that I do (but that’s easier said than done at 4 am).

IMG_4539 (Large)In other big news, Emma drank 3 ounces from a bottle this week and kept it down! Based on your guys’ advice, we bought a Dr. Brown’s bottle and that worked like a charm. She’s also started taking a pacifier, though that is something I definitely want to use more for emergencies (like when she wants to nurse when we’re out running errands), rather than on a regular basis. I had been worried about overfeeding Emma but reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and doing a little online research has convinced me that overfeeding an breastfed infant would be pretty hard to do. (I also asked our pediatrician about it and she said the same thing.)

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Travis’ family has been out here visiting since last Friday, so we’ve been able to get a little bit of break which has been really nice. Emma’s big outing this week was a short hike at Lair O’ the Bear on Saturday. The trail was a little bumpy but Emma slept through the whole thing. She woke up while we were eating lunch though, so I had to go nurse her in the car.

IMG_4537 (Large) IMG_4528 (Large) IMG_4530 (Large) IMG_4531 (Large) IMG_4532 (Large)All things considered, I feel like I’m getting into more of a groove with the whole motherhood and breastfeeding thing. I can recognize better when Emma is sending cues that she wants to eat soon, and getting up in the middle of the night has been slightly easier.

Oh and the weather here has been BEAUTIFUL lately so we’ve been spending more time outside and that definitely helps my mood.

Well, we’re off to Colorado Springs for the day! Happy Monday!

Weekend Fun

30 Jul

Two weekends ago, my mom was in town and we had a girls’ weekend. It also happened to be our birthdays – hers on Friday and mine on Sunday. Friday night, we took my mom out for dinner at a inconspicuously delicious Italian place called Abrusci’s.

On Saturday, we drove up to Georgetown and rode the Georgetown Loop Railroad.

We got tickets for the parlor car, which included a drink and chips or cookie for free!

The whole trip only took an hour, which was the perfect amount of time to experience the railroad without getting bored.

The day we were up there, the Triple Bypass bike race was going on (so named because they go over three mountain passes). That just looked brutal. But part of me thought it looked kinda fun… I’m not sure I’ll ever be into biking enough to want to do something like that though.

After the train ride, we continued on to Frisco and ate lunch at the Butterhorn Bakery. I’ve officially declared this my mountain spot. Everything is delicious and portion sizes are huge.

After lunch, we continued driving through Glenwood Canyon and then headed down to Aspen. It was a very beautiful drive, although a little south of Glenwood, it started pouring. Cars going both directions were driving through massive puddles and I was a little freaked out. But we survived and made it to Aspen by about 4 pm.

We stayed at the Aspen Meadows Resort (got a good deal through Hotwire) and it was a nice hotel but I wasn’t overly impressed. They did have a free shuttle to downtown so we took advantage of that and did some shopping scoffing. Holy crap things are expensive in Aspen! I kind you not – the cheapest store there was J. Crew. My mom actually found a sweater that cost $1,000. We ate dinner at Jimmy’s Bar & Restaurant. I had quinoa-stuffed zucchini cannelloni. It was good, albeit interesting. My mom ordered meatloaf and it was really good. Best meatloaf I’ve ever had.

The whole experience made me realize how wealth is completely relative. I never feel poor in Denver and yet I go to Aspen and feel completely out of my league.

But Aspen does have the whole beauty of nature thing down and that definitely made this trip worth it. On our way back the next morning, we drove up Independence Pass. So awesome. The road near Aspen is so windy and narrow that you’d think it would freak me out (and it probably would if I wasn’t driving) but I loved it. The views near the top are nice too.

And with that, our short girls’ weekend was over. My mom was in town for a school nutrition conference and it started that afternoon so while she went to that, I took a nap and bummed and then Travis, me and her all went out to eat downtown at The Keg in LoDo. It was a good, l0w-key birthday. My mom stayed until Thursday, so we had lots of time to hang out and chat. It was so fun having her out here!

This past weekend, Travis was helping a friend fix their swamp cooler so I took the pooches for an overly ambitious hike at Chautauqua in Boulder. I was planning to take the Gregory Canyon Trial to Ranger Trail to Saddle Rock Trail, for a total of 3.5 “hard” miles (according to the map). Well, apparently hiking at sea level a month ago doesn’t equate to hiking now at altitude. It didn’t help that I got going late so by the time we got out there at 11, it was 85 degrees and sunny on a shadeless trail. (There were plenty of other crazies out there though.)

About 30 minutes up the trail, I was only about halfway to the end of Gregory Canyon. Both the pooches and I were dying so even though I felt pathetic, I turned around. This was my first real hike in Colorado this year (and it’s almost August!?), so I can’t be too surprised that this was the outcome, especially after doing nothing for a month.

Turning around ended up being a good call because I’m pretty sure Katy overheated. And I did what you’re not supposed to do – give her a bunch of water. She puked at least 4 times. Oops. (She is fully recovered now though.) Charlie refused to drink any water. She’s too smart for me.

Even though my hike was shorter than planned, it was still pretty and I enjoyed getting out there.

That night, Travis and I went out to eat at Bonefish Grill and then played mini golf with some friends from church. We ended the evening in the best way – frozen yogurt. Mmm…

Sunday (yesterday), we went to church and then spent the afternoon watching the Olympics (I also took an hour and a half nap). It is so awesome to have relaxing weekends (definitely worth fighting the urge to be productive). Both Travis and I had very busy springs (him with studying, me with training) and we are both just ready to do nothing for a while. Ahh…

4th Annual Camping Trip

18 Jun

This past weekend was our 4th Annual Care Group Camping Trip (at our church, we call small groups ‘care groups’). Just like last year, we went up to Twin Lakes on Friday night and stayed until mid-morning Sunday. And just like the past 3 years, a good time was had by all. Travis and I are really blessed to have such great friends.

We accidentally brought along our smallest tent so it was a tight squeeze with 2 people + 2 dogs but we made it work. And it actually turned out really well because our tent got really warm at night and I slept great. Usually when we go camping, I sleep horribly because I’m freezing all night and can’t wait until it’s light outside. This time, we slept in until after 7 both mornings!

Rocks and dirt provide an endless source of amusement for boys.

Lots of marshmallows were roasted.

Saturday morning, we drove up Independence Pass and hiked a little at the top (Travis went fly fishing instead).

Gorgeous views.

I love wildflowers (darn that camera strap sneaking in there!).

After lunch back at camp, I read The Autobiography of George Muller for a couple of hours. I would’ve loved a nap but it was too hot in the tent.

Then we hiked the Colorado Trail down to the lake.

Boys love throwing rocks into the water.

Charlie was pooped! Katy was hot.

After dinner, a roasted marshmallow got a little out of control…

Charlie made a new friend, Logan, who also loves to play rough. They played for hours the first night and again some more on Sunday morning (Saturday, Charlie was too tired from our hikes to play.) Doesn’t she look ferocious in this picture?

Sunday morning, we had a little worship time.

Then we took a group shot (even though some of the group left early), packed up and headed home.

Good times!

Week 14 Training: 5/21 – 5/27

29 May

Somehow, after the long holiday weekend of sleeping in and relaxing, my brain is functioning even less well than it did on Friday. I don’t know how that’s possible.

Anyway, I am so glad that this is the peak week of marathon training – because that means tapering starts next week. Don’t get me wrong – I love running. I wouldn’t be training for a marathon if I didn’t. But I’m discovering that I don’t love running this much. I’m definitely more of a half marathon gal.

These past 3 weeks, I’ve had a really hard time feeling motivated to get my runs in. I’ve resorted to giving myself little pep talks, “Don’t give up now. You only have x weeks left until taper. You can do this for x more weeks. You’re almost there.”

And I am almost there. One week left. 3 days. 3 runs. I can do this.

It’s at times like this when I need to read and listen to things that pump me up for running. This Nike ad is one thing that does it for me:

You pretended the snooze button didn’t exist. You dragged your butt out of bed while others slept. While others ate their pancakes you had a feast of protein, glucose and electrolytes. You double-knotted. You left the porch light on and locked the door behind you. You ran 5Ks, 10Ks, 26.2 miles. Some days more, some days less. You rewarded a long run with a short run. And a short run with a long run. Rain tried to slow you. Sun tried to microwave you. Snow made you feel like a warrior. You cramped. You bonked. You paid no mind to comfort. On weekends. On holidays. You made excuses to keep going. Questioned yourself. Played mind games. Put your heart before your knees. Listened to your breathing. Sweat sunscreen into your eyes. Worked on your farmer’s tan. You hit the wall. You went through it. You decided to be man about it. You decided to be woman about it. Finished what you started. Proved what you were made of. Just kept putting mile after mile on your interval odometer. For 25 years, you ran. And we ran with you. How much farther will we go? As far as you will.

A few others:

If it was easy, everyone would do it.

Ok! Now that we’re pumped up to RUN, here was my training last week:

Monday: 4.1 mile easy run, untimed (FELT GREAT!)

Tuesday: 8.61 mile tempo run (1:39:18; 11:31/mile)

HOT run. Ran first 6 miles at or faster than GMP (11:18 average). Last 2.5 miles were easy pace (12:03 average). Walked .5 mile to cool down.

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Rest

Friday: 5.23 mile run w/4 x 800 easy (56:52; 10:52/mile)

I ran these 800s like fartleks – at a faster pace but not fast enough to require recovery. 800 times were 5:28, 5:44, 5:13, and 4:55. Not too shabby.

Saturday: 9.58 mile Long Run Part 1 (1:53:18; 11:49/mile)

Sunday: 4.59 mile Long Run Part 2 (55:42; 12:08/mile)

Total Running Miles = 32.11

…………………….

Yesterday, I went swimming at the outdoor pool near our house. It was awesome. I love swimming outside! (Never mind it was my first time swimming since…???) Since my run Sunday morning had pretty much sucked, I took yesterday off from running and Travis and I went on a little hike near Roxborough. We were going to go to the state park down there but they don’t allow dogs. Apparently, they’ve had 10 mountain lion sightings in the past week or 2. After hearing that, I’m not sure I ever want to go hiking there. Yikes.

After that, we went to a park and played frisbee and sand volleyball with some friends. It was a good weekend overall!

Here’s my plan this week:

Tuesday: 5 miles (pm)

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 10 miles (am)

Friday: Rest (my parents are coming to visit!)

Saturday: 20 miles

Sunday: walk/cross-train

I got tagged!

28 Oct

Lisa over at Cow Spots and Tales recently tagged me with two awards: The Versatile Blogger and I Dig Your Blog Award. I feel honored! Thanks Lisa!

What follows now is that I tell you 10 fun facts about myself. I may have used them all up for my birthday post, but here goes:

1. My favorite TV show of all time is Bones. If DVD sets of television shows didn’t cost me the arm I use for the TV remote, I would totally own every season. The season premiere this year is November 3rd. Can. not. wait.

2. It never even crossed my mind to move to Colorado until I got engaged to Travis and that was one of the grad schools he looked at. I always thought I’d move somewhere like NYC or Chicago, since that is where a lot of magazines and publishing houses are. Colorado has treated us well!

3. My favorite season is fall. I love being outside on a sunny fall day, the leaves changing and falling into big piles, wearing a thick wool sweater and doing “fall” stuff – like picking out pumpkins, drinking apple cider, sitting on hay, going to football games, etc. I’ve been too busy to any of that this year! (Boo on busyness.)

4. I used to hate dogs. Like “Don’t come near me, you slobbery, disgusting, stinky mess.” Even before we got Katy, I was very picky when it came to dogs. I liked some dogs, but not all dogs. I prayed for a long time that God would recognize my weird phobias and give us the perfect dog. And He did. Katy has been amazing. Charlie has too, although quite a bit more work. Still, I love those two dogs a LOT.

5. I’m not quite sure if I like hiking or not. I like nature and I like beautiful views but getting to the top is not always pleasant. Regardless, I still go on hikes because Travis enjoys it and we can do it together. I just need to learn how to keep a good attitude!

6. I worked at a drug store in high school. On Sundays when I worked 9-6, the pharmacist would give me and another girl a little “quiz” with trivia facts like what temperature does water freeze at. Whoever won got to choose whether they wanted to vacuum or refill the vial bins (which was a lot of work). We were pretty evenly matched. I usually wanted to do vials.

7. My dream vacation is to go to the Mediterranean — Italy, Greece, Spain, France. A coworker just went to Slovenia and Croatia and said it was absolutely beautiful. If I could go nowhere else, I’d choose there. And if I had to choose a country, it would probably be Greece – why? Because I love Greek food and it just looks like it would be awesome to visit!

8. My favorite author is C.S. Lewis. I haven’t read nearly all of his books but I have re-read some of the classics (Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Weight of Glory) and they are even better the second or third time around. I can’t wait to meet him in heaven!

9. I dislike strength training and weight lifting. I would much rather do hours of cardio than spend 30 minutes doing lunges, bicep curls, and other various exercises I have heard about but would probably kill myself doing. I wish I liked weight lifting… but I just don’t. So that is the one form of exercise that I have to force myself to do because I know it’s good for me. The rest, I really enjoy doing!

10. I am obsessed with cereal. If I could eat a balanced diet of cereal for 3 meals a day, I totally would. Some people crave ice cream – I crave cereal. When I am eat for emotional reasons, I eat cereal. I just LOVE it. I don’t know why. My favorite kinds are Honey Bunches of Oats (best with peaches), Oatmeal Squares, Frosted Mini Wheats, Honey Nut Cheerios, and Kashi GoLean Crisp.

So there you have 10 “fun” facts about me.

And now, I need to pass the kudos on to 10 blogs that I (truly!) dig (and stalk) and find versatile:

B at B. in the Know

Ana Helena Campbell

Brie at Brie Fit

Kristina at Kristina J.

Jen at She Collects

Katie at True Things

Callie at The Wannabe Athlete

Sarah at Once Upon a (L)ime

SkinnyRunner

Kate at Fitting Into the Windy City & My Clothes

If you don’t want to participate, I won’t consider you a curmudgeon. I’m sure your blogs have been nominated a lot more often than mine has!

Elk Slayers

25 Oct

Here are the elk hunting pictures you’ve been waiting for I told you about. Even if you don’t want to see them.

But I promise there is nothing gross or bloody awaiting you. These are just the nice pictures.

Travis’ parents and brother arrived Thursday afternoon and did all the grocery shopping. When I got home, they were loading up the trucks, so while they did that, I packed my bag. I did fairly good this time and only forgot a flashlight. That’s not important when you’re camping, right? (It turned out okay because I didn’t go to the bathroom during the night once – haha!, and I borrowed a lantern anytime it was dark.)

Friday morning, I got up early to make monkey bread (a breakfast tradition with Travis’ family) and shower. We got on the road about 7:15, got up to Silverthorne around 8, and drove another hour and a half into the middle of nowhere to find our mud pit camp spot.

 

Mission accomplished.

You can’t really tell from this picture but 60 degrees, intense sun at 9750 feet, melting snow, and dirt ground = MAJOR MUD. Ew. It was only bad for the first day and the last day we were there though.

We decided on the spot for our tent (easier said than done since the whole campsite sloped one way or another) and started setting ‘er up.

Voila!

Katy didn’t even pretend to help.

Next orders of business were getting the kitchen set up, getting the tent and rainfly staked down, assembling the wood stove, chopping firewood and setting up our cots and sleeping bags. I tell you what, elk hunting is a lot of work. And I don’t even do any of the hunting!

Free tent courtesy of Your Cause Sports.

The Leaning Tent of Pisa. The black camp stove was propped up by wood to be level and it seriously played with your head. Trippy.

My adorable hubby “trenching” – the snow was melting so fast we practically had a river running through our camp!

The inside of our tent – close quarters! The stove isn’t in the pic but it’s to the left, right as you walk in the tent. (I unfortunately didn’t take a pic of it.) My cot is usually the middle one on the left (as this picture shows) but Beth and I ended up switching so I could be near the stove. Nice on cold nights but one night, I melted into a puddle because the stove was cranked so high! Holy cow. I actually got up and asked Travis to turn it down. (Now I know how, so I could just do it myself.)

You can also see the dogs’ kennel in the back left. Charlie slept in there and Katy (who sleeps like a rock) slept on Beth’s sleeping bag most nights. Last year, Katy got so cold sleeping in the tent that I let her sleep inside my sleeping bag. She crawled all the way down to the bottom (talk about not being claustrophobic!) of my mummy bag! This year, I switched sleeping bags with Travis to let her do the same thing, except in a square bag. Well, instead of being rated for 0 degrees, his is rated for -25 and Katy ended up overheating. She crawled back up to the top, panting, and ended up just sleeping the outside of the bag. Then I switched my sleeping bag back and she decided to sleep on Beth’s instead. Fine by me!

After we got everything set up, we just hung out.

Charlie doesn’t mind laying in the dirt one little bit.

I was pretty impressed at Travis’ and Matthew’s wood-splitting abilities (they chopped it after using the chainsaw). I’m pretty sure you don’t want me to ever use a hatchet or a splitting maul. Pretty much anything that involves hand-eye coordination, you want to keep far, far away from me.

Evening, morning, the First Day.

Saturday morning was Opener. Weehee! Beth seemingly bounded out of bed to cook pancakes and bacon (as she did every morning) and by 6:15, the men were off to slay themselves some elk. They were going to come back for lunch at noon, so we had some time to kill. Every day, we read our books while waiting for it to get light outside. Then we’d wash dishes and do various things – read, go on a walk, play a game, scrapbook. Saturday was the nicest day we had so I actually took a nap in the sun.

So did Charlie:

Noon rolled around, then 12:15, 12:30. The guys still hadn’t come back. Beth and I got into a conversation about Occupy Denver and pretty soon, it was 1:15. We decided to go ahead and eat, hoping that the men’s tardiness meant they had actually shot something. Since we were a lot closer to the hunting zone that year, we heard a lot of shots but obviously didn’t know if one of those had been our guys.

Finally, around 4, the guys came back, a nice big rack in the back of the pickup. They had shot it at 9:30 that morning after they heard the elk bugle over a ridge. Once they saw it, Done.

As you might know, elk are huge. Not as big as moose, perhaps, but still huge. They estimated this male elk weighed 750 lbs – once you butcher it, you end up with about 200 lbs of meat. That’s a lot of meat. Each hindquarter weighed 65 lbs just by itself. Travis and Matthew both made 2 trips, Al made one (really heavy) one, to get the elk to the truck. Some people use horses to bring their meat out – these guys just use backpacks. Big, external frame packs. Needless to say, after their haul (literally), they were wiped.

Since I promised no gross pictures, here’s just one of the rack. Aren’t I so lucky that Travis wants to hang that on our wall with the skull still attached?

We ate dinner – I can’t remember what it was that night exactly but over the course of the 5 days, we had chili, potroast with veggies, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken and stuffing. For breakfast, Beth cooked bacon or sausage with pancakes or french toast. And lunch was always sandwiches with a side of baby carrots, chips, trail mix, string cheese, mini candy bars, or granola bars. I tell you, we ate good out there. I also drank more Mountain Dews and ate more mini candy bars than I had since July’s Weeklong Eating Extravaganza.

The next day (Sunday), Beth and I drove into town for ice and a few other things. Because of the nasty, not-well-kept roads and the fact that we were camping in the middle of nowhere, it took us an hour and 15 minutes just one way. We were in town for about 40 minutes, then turned around and drove back. I was not asking to do that drive again anytime soon.

Monday, it snowed and we all stayed inside for the better part of the day.

Everything was freezing (literally) and the wind was blowing snow everywhere. Made it very challenging to do dishes. After the guys left, Beth and I played Bananagrams, scrapbooked, and read. We got checked out by the Division of Wildlife twice. We went on a walk in the snow.

A lot of the trees in that area are dead because of the pine beetle. So sad.

Blaze orange is the new black. Even the dogs thought so, with their blaze orange bows. We didn’t want them to be mistaken for any baby elk, although I mentioned to Beth that the dogs wouldn’t ever stay still long enough to get shot.

Tuesday, it didn’t snow but it was decently cold so we stayed inside or by the fire. We went on a hike called South Fork Loop. Very muddy and destroyed by horse hooves. Grrr…

Wednesday, it warmed up just in time to pack everything up.

But the fun didn’t stop there! Once we got home, everyone immediately got to work unloading the truck, hauling stuff into the house, setting up the wall tent to dry, scrubbing the tent floor clean, etc. I unpacked all the food and went grocery shopping. Travis bought a new vacuum sealer (ours bit the dust – don’t get the Seal a Meal brand!). Finally, it was time for Buffalo Wild Wings – the guys split 50 wings between the 3 of them (they were a little full afterward). Beth and I split 12 boneless wings. I also got a Black Cherry Mojito and it was delicious! And only $5!

The next day, it was back to work and I’ve already told you my saga of what happened after work. I’m glad elk hunting is over – it’s fun and I like Travis’ family but it’s a crapton of work. And I’m ready for some relaxing weekends. (Even so, I’ve already been fighting off the temptation to schedule things “now that I have free weekends”!)

Any questions about elk camp?

Look like something you’d like to do?

Hiking is Humbling.

16 Sep

It’s no secret that I’m not a fast swimmer, biker or runner. When I tell people that I do triathlons, I always mention that I do them “for fun” and not for “breaking any records.” When people ask if I did well in a particular race, I usually say, “Yes… for me,” I guess to avoid the misrepresentation that I won an award or something.

And for the most part, I’ve come to accept the fact that I will never be “fast” relative to other triathletes. I mean, the female winners from these races do the swim in less than 1/2 the time it takes me (I’m too lazy to figure out what their speed is), their average bike pace is usually somewhere around 20 mph, and their average run pace is somewhere around 6-7 minutes/mile. Yeah, I can’t compete with that.

So what’s an athlete like me to do?

It all comes down to the PRs – Personal Records. Trying to better your time for a certain distance. This presents a problem with the sprint triathlon distance, as hardly any race is the same as the next (though the most official distance is exactly half of an Olympic).

Yeah, I haven’t been good at that either. My half marathon times have progressively gotten slower and my triathlon times are pretty much in that boat as well.

Ok, I can deal with that. I’m still getting out there, having a good time. Plus, I’m willing to sacrifice the PRs in order to maintain my sanity and balance.

But then there are situations that just steam me. Like hiking on the Eaglesmere Trail. Or hiking Pancake Rocks. Or hiking in North Carolina.

Ok, hiking in general.

I’ve said it many times before and I’ll keep saying it – I can be in the best shape of my life and still cough, wheeze, and drag up a hill on a hike.

And it pisses me off.

It’d be one thing if the hike was challenging and everyone else was coughing, wheezing and dragging up right with me. But no, they’re just floating up the hill, without a single bead of sweat staining their brow or even so much as a slight increased need for oxygen.

Ok, maybe that’s just Travis.

But seriously, whenever I go hiking, it seems like everyone else is in better shape than I am. 

Which also would be fine if I knew that they were. If they were out there running marathons and doing Ironmans, and busting out 10 hours of intense exercise a week, I’d hand it to them. I’d applaud them.

But usually they’re not.

Usually they’re like Travis – they do intentional exercise 2-3 times a week, but usually only for about 30-45 minutes.

Sometimes they don’t exercise regularly at all.

And then here I come, all puffed up with my “I just did an Olympic triathlon” and “I ran 7 miles 3 weeks ago” attitude, and wilt like a frickin’ popsicle on pavement walking up the hill.

These were my thoughts during our NC Labor Day hike:

Wait, isn’t this a lower elevation than Denver? Doesn’t that mean I should be able to sprint all the way to the top?

Wait, isn’t Sarah pregnant? Didn’t she just say that she hasn’t worked out in 4 months due to nausea? How then is she beating me up this hill?

I did not handle that situation well in the moment. Instead, I got huffy as I puffed slowly up the mountain. I eventually got over it at the top but I’d like to eventually get over it before it starts.

I mean, this is a ridiculous problem. But such is the nature of pride. You try to squelch it in one form, and it pops up in another. Just as soon as I came to grips with being a slow triathlete, I became enraged at being a slow hiker.

My mentally unstable way of thinking is that I’ve put so much effort and time into getting to where I am today that it is totally unfair that other people (like my husband) are so naturally athletic. Travis could sit on the couch for a month and go out and run faster than I could if I did intense speed work for 6 months. (Ok, this is just a conjecture because Travis couldn’t sit still that long and I will never do intense speed work for 6 months. But still, I’m pretty sure it’s true.)

But in the end, my hiking handicap is really a blessing in disguise. If it hadn’t been for my completely unnecessary anger outburst in North Carolina, I wouldn’t have come to the realization (yet again) that my identity is wrapped up in how “athletic” and “in shape” I am. I want people’s praise for doing triathlons. I want people to think I’m a mean, lean, triathloning machine. I don’t want them to see that I still struggle up the side of a hill or that I’m not invincible. I don’t want to show weakness.

God knows that I constantly go to things other than Him to try to prove that I’m worth something, that I’m someone special (try being the operative word). But that way of life will leave me constantly dissatisfied and jealous of other people. Instead of being able to appreciate the talents God has given other people, I end up scheming in the corner about how to make myself just as good (or drowning my sorrows over not being just as good).

I’m like this with a number of things: clothes, success, body size. Measuring myself against others. Feeling good if I measure up. Feeling horrible if I don’t.

Our women’s book study just started at church for the fall and I chose to go through Love to Eat, Hate to Eat by Elyse Fitzpatrick. I’m really praying that this study will help free me from these struggles (because regardless of the specific struggle, it all comes from the same source of dissatisfaction) and release me into the freedom of embracing who God created me to be – body shape, quirks, slowness and all – in order that I might appreciate and love others for who they are. God has made each of us unique masterpieces (like snowflakes!) and I am missing out if I can’t appreciate another woman without competing with her.

Hopefully I’ll have some updates later on.

As for the triathlon tomorrow, I still haven’t decided if I’m going to do it. You’ll have to stay tuned!

Labor Day in North Carolina

8 Sep

For the Labor Day weekend, Travis and I flew out to visit our good friends, Mark and Sarah, and their 2-year-old daughter, Ellie. They live in Charlotte, NC, but we actually didn’t spend much time there. Our flight left at 6:15 on Friday morning (meaning our wake-up call came at 3:30!) and everything went smoothly. We were relieved to not have to check our suitcases at the gate due to full overhead bins.

We arrived in Charlotte around 3 pm and Sarah and Ellie picked us up from the airport. Mark met us at their house and we spent the evening catching up and eating a delicious home-cooked meal – cheesy beer chicken and noodles, garlic bread, and cooked broccoli. It was so good, I went back for seconds. Even though in Denver time it was only 7:30, we went to bed at 9:30 Charlotte time. We were exhausted!

The next morning, we got up around 7:45, took showers, ate breakfast and packed up for our trip up to Sarah’s parents’ cabin in the Smoky Mountains. It’s in Transylvania County, which is also known as the Land of Waterfalls. The elevation increases 2,000 feet in 4 miles and it rains 80 inches a year, so it’s technically considered a rainforest (and it definitely looks like one with all the kudzu growing everywhere!).

{source}

On our way up to the cabin, we stopped at Sky Top Orchard to pick apples and eat some apple donuts. I hadn’t been apple picking in forever so it was fun to be there, but I have to admit that the humidity slightly ruined it for me. I’m not cut out for that anymore! It just makes me feel exhausted and sleepy. So we only stayed at the orchard for about an hour and a half.

Travis was the wagon puller.

Of course, we had to get some Honeycrisp. The orchard had actually picked all the Honeycrisp trees clean that morning but we found some decent ones on the ground and got them for 1/2 off. They were still delicious!

Some of the trees had tons of apples on them – very pretty.

They’re such a cute little family! Sarah is pregnant with their second child, due in February. She finds out today whether it’s a boy or a girl!

After picking apples, we ate the sandwiches we brought and some fresh, hot apple donuts. They were so yummy – I could have eaten all 6 of them.

We drove another hour and a half on the windy mountain roads and then stopped at a roadside store that sells boiled peanuts. The store has been there since 1947 and is a tradition with Sarah’s family. All I can say is that I think boiled peanuts are gross. Travis said that he thought that when he first tried them too but he muscled through half the bag and then they started tasting good. I don’t know why he does that. I did not muscle through. I ate 2 and decided that they were not for me. Kind of like pork rinds. Ew.

Finally, we got to the cabin.

After we unloaded and chose our bedrooms, Mark, Travis and I took a walk around the neighborhood to see all the unique houses and pretty gardens while Sarah and Ellie napped. When we returned, we read and hung out for a while and then ate dinner – North Carolina-style BBQ, bean medley, and mac & cheese. We watched TV for a bit until I started falling asleep. I got my second wind to play 2 games of Scrabble and won the last game (though Mark would have won if he had remembered to play Qi, which is a special word for Chinese life force). Then it was off to bed.

The room that Travis and I slept in had french doors that opened out on to the screen porch, so we left the doors open at night to let the mountain air blow in.

We slept in until 9:30 both mornings we were there! That was one of the many great things about this trip – it was very relaxing. We got a lot of good time to just hang out and talk with Mark and Sarah and be amused by Ellie. She is so cute and hilarious. I hope our kids are as cute someday!

Sunday morning, we ate breakfast (banana pancakes made by Mark) and then hiked up one of the mountains nearby. The hike was no joke! It was challenging for me, I think mostly because of the humidity (it’s amazing how much that makes it hard to breathe just like high elevation), but maybe also because I hadn’t hiked since the Fourth of July. I have discovered time and time again that triathlon/running shape does not equal hiking shape. I must admit that I was very frustrated on the way up during this hike because it seemed like everyone else, including Sarah who’s pregnant, was in better shape than me! They were just moseying up the mountain while I was hacking up a lung. This just reveals my pride in being “athletic” – something for another blog post.

Nonetheless, we made it to the top. The view was definitely worth it.

I called this a Beach Project picture because it was so bright where we were looking (though you wouldn’t guess it from the clouds) that I could barely keep my eyes open. That’s why I look slightly weird.

I’m not particularly fond of this picture but I’m including it just to show the massive sweat stains on my shirt. I was disgustingly sweaty from the hike up. Ew. Ew. EW. Luckily my shirt was dri-fit so the sweat evaporated fairly quickly.

After our hike, we grabbed some snacks to tide us over and went to a place the locals call “Little Sliding Rock.” Instead of explaining what it is, I’ll just post pics.

It’s a rock you can slide down. Mark and Sarah said that this was the busiest they had ever seen it so I only went down twice. The first time, a couple of little girls starting sliding down from the deep hole (see below) right as I was coming down and I ended up running into one. I pulled her to the surface to make sure she was ok. (She was.) Whoops.

That’s Travis going down the rocks. In the upper right, you can see kids hanging out in the middle of the rock. That was actually a huge hole – so deep that kids were literally jumping off the rock into it. It was also a popular hang out spot although the water was so cold, I didn’t really see the fun in hanging out in it.

Travis and Mark went down several more times and even pushed each other down so they’d go faster. Boys.

Nice and refreshed, we went back to the cabin for a nap and dinner. We had steaks with sweet potatoes and salad. Another delicious meal! Mark and Sarah really fed us well. 😉 I also had about 2 Mike’s Hard Lemonades a day. Calories don’t count on vacation, right? After dinner, we got sucked into watching a Dateline Mystery. Sarah said that SNL has done a spoof on the narrator guy. He was pretty hilarious to listen to. I’ve never heard so many rhetorical questions be answered by the person who asked them. Then we played 2 more games of Scrabble and hit the sack.

I woke up around 4 am to what I thought was a really loud fan in our room. Nope, it was rain. We had known it was supposed to start raining during the night and continue all the next day – in fact, the weather reports listed the chance of precipitation as 100%. There was no chance it was not going to rain. And they were right. It rained all day. I welcomed it, though, because it was such a nice change of pace from Colorado where it has been 95 degrees and sunny everyday. (Who knew that cloudy days once in a while could be nice?)

We just kind of bummed around the cabin until late morning and then headed over to Highlands, a nearby town. We shopped for a while, ate lunch accompanied by delicious white hot chocolate, then went back to the cabin. The boys went to a waterfall and swam in the natural pool at the bottom while Sarah and I enjoyed listening to the rain and reading. When they got back, it was time to pack up and head back to Charlotte.

On the drive back, we stopped for a true Southern meal at Waffle House. There are Waffle Houses out here in Denver but somehow, it just doesn’t seem the same. I had an egg and cheese biscuit with a side of grits. You could not have fit one more plate on our table, we had so much food!

We got back to Charlotte around 10 pm, just in time to go to bed. The next morning, we showered, ate breakfast and left for the airport around 10:10… we were supposed to leave for the airport at 9:30 for our 11:30 flight but that didn’t happen. The security line was ridiculously slow – I get so frustrated at the security personnel. They lolligag and take their sweet freaking time while the rest of us are frantically trying to get through because we’re about to miss our plane. To add to that, I forgot I was wearing a belt and didn’t take it off when I went through the full-body scanner (that’s the first time I had to do that!) so I required an additional pat down. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I had to stand there for a couple of minutes while the security lady watched another guy go through the scanner. I wanted to be like, “Hello! I am going to miss my plane. Can you hurry the eff up?”

Travis and I ran to our gate and arrived just as they were starting to board. Whew. We made it.

Our connecting flight in Minneapolis was only slightly less eventful. When we got off our plane from Charlotte, I looked at the departures board and I swear it said our gate was C4 – on the complete opposite side of the airport. Since we had an hour and 15 minutes, we decided to eat lunch at Wolfgang Puck Gourmet Express. Despite the debaucle of their ordering system, I had a very delicious Chicken Tortilla soup with avocado and goat cheese – seriously, I will use that idea myself. The goat cheese melts so it’s like sour cream, only healthier.

Lunch eaten, we headed to our gate. Only it wasn’t our gate. It was for a flight to Philadelphia. Maybe it was C7? Nope. Hmmm… we went and looked at another Departures board.

Our gate was F9.

Are you joking?

We had to walk all the way back around the airport. Travis was mad. I was mad at his being mad, in addition to my mind reeling. What? How did I think it was C4? Did I remember that from the Charlotte airport – no, that was an A gate. Did I look up Charlotte instead of Denver? No, that gate was for a Philadelphia flight. Do I even remember looking at the Departures board? I must’ve because Travis said I did. 

A slight redemption came when we made it to F9 and there was a little old lady who was also at the wrong gate. The airline employee said that the gate had been switched and she now needed G17 instead of F9. Maybe that’s what happened to us?

Either way, we made our second flight as well. The only bummer was that they made us check our suitcases at the gate, and then proceeded to let people on behind us with their luggage. We were slightly annoyed. I am not impressed with Delta’s overhead bins at all. But they do give out free pretzels. Bins or pretzels? Bins or pretzels?

Overall, our trip to NC was very fun and relaxing. I hope to see Mark and Sarah again soon!

{Just a quick note – things at work have finally picked up, so my blog posts and comments will probably be a little more sporadic. But I’ll still try to post and keep up with your blogs as much as I can!}