Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Nuggets, A New Mesa and Greenland – all in one weekend

Whew – I need a vacation from this weekend! It has been busy, busy, busy! Friday evening was another one of our Nuggets games as part of our 10 game “season ticket”. This game was one of the better games that we have seen all season. The Nuggets were playing the Philadelphia 76’ers and it was a neck-and-neck game. Usually no more that 1 or 2 points separated the teams. Ultimately the Nuggets ended up winning by 4 points. We had a lot of fun riding the light rail and enjoying the game. Zack was in rare form – actually he was in normal form – he did his normal routine and attracted the attention of everyone around. In some ways it is kind of nice that he attractions the attention that he does as it is usually good attention. I can’t tell you the number of times I hear people say “he is so cute”, “he is so intelligent”, etc. So it is very nice. On Friday he put on a “drama” show for everyone in our light rail car. He had on a “wig” that he got as a present from his cousin Cole. He really had everyone on the entire train car cracking up.
My brother and nephew were also at the game. However, their tickets were REALLY good, unlike our peanut heaven seats. I called my brother on his cell phone during the break between the first 2 quarters and we spent a couple of minutes trying to find each other. Finally Zack and I were able to spot them 8 rows behind the Nuggets bench. As per usual we indulged in the very bad for you, very expensive stadium food. We had lots of hot dogs, churros and ice cream. It was a good evening! Saturday was a bitterly cold day. But regardless we got out for a hike. We headed south to Castlerock and an open space area that we had never conquered before – Gateway Mesa Open Space. It is not a large open space area, but if offers some dramatic views to the east of the plains and forested areas around Franktown and Elizabeth. We had the place pretty much to ourselves because it was nasty enough that no one else wanted to be outside at that point. Despite the cold Zack was fantastic. I really have to say I am so impressed with the level of strength he is showing and his determination to hike through difficult situations. Sunday we went to Greenland. No not the island in the north Atlantic! Though I wish we were going there. Having flown over Greenland numerous times on my way back and forth to Europe, I really do have a desire to go there. We actually went to Greenland, Colorado and the Greenland Open Space. This open space area is one of the largest open space areas on the Front Range. It consists of over 20,000 acres. The majority of the land is located to the east of I-25. However, all the major trails are within the 3600 acres located to the west of I-25. Nancy was not feeling very well today so I made the decision to take Lex on our hike. Lex tends to give Nancy a hard time – always getting into trouble. Normally, I will leave Lex at home just because I don’t want to take him and leave Bailey at home. Bay doesn’t like being left alone and he is just too old to go on hikes like this any more. But given the situation today – I had to take the Lex-maniac with us.

The three of us arrived at the trailhead for the Kipps loop trail around 11:00AM. Of course Lex was just so eager to go. He wanted out of the car and on the trail immediately. Unfortunately for him, I wasn’t going to let him off leash. We hit the trail and through it was warm today – in the 40s and 50s, we realized we were in for a tough hike. The trail winds through a lot of open range land and the wind had drifted snow across the trail and packed it to the point that it was like walking across very rough cement. But occasionally the snow would give way and we would post hole through the snow and get lots of snow down our shoes. The hike was beautiful as we walked through the rangeland and began to scale a series of low hills. As we climbed the hills the hiking became more and more difficult, but the view across the hills and the plains was simply gorgeous. The climb was well worth it. After almost 2 miles we made the decision to turn around and head back to the car. In the spring once the trail is clear and dry I am sure we will do this hike and do the entire 8 mile loop. As we walked back to the car we came across a party of 6 people on horseback. Throughout the hike Zack had been holding Lex’s leash. As we neared the horses I made sure I had hold of the leash. I didn’t want Lex to take off and spook one of the horses. Zack of course had to ask the people if he could pet their horses. They were very accommodating and stopped the horses so he could stroke their faces. He was petting one of the horses when the horse decided to let out a very loud nay. Zack jumped a mile. I thought he was going to jump out of his skin. After he realized the horse wasn’t being mean or anything he was ok with it.

After the horses we just prodded on through the rough trail. It was tough and by the time we got back to the car we were muddy and feet were pretty well soaked. We were tired and we were just glad to be back to the car and headed home. All-in-all it was a tiring but good weekend with my boy. I love my Zackie so much and we both really enjoy the adventures that we have. I can’t wait for us to have even more! On a totally and complete different note – I have found a little hobby that I am going to start in 2009. As those of you who follow this blog know – I love to go hiking in the “open space” areas of Colorado. In 2009 I am going to start a new website dedicated to listing all the open spaces of Colorado and the trails within the open spaces. My plan is to hike everyone of these trails and write a review of the trails on the website I start. I’ll be working in January to contact every county in Colorado and get a complete list of their open space properties and all the trails within them. It will just be something fun to do and it will give Zack and I an added incentive to get out and hike! We hope everyone has had a great last weekend of 2008! Thanks and peace to all!

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Christmas Day's Walk

Christmas is always such a wonderful time. The day in and of itself is magical in the fact that it is the one day out of the entire year where much of our world, at least in the western, Judeo-Christian world, comes to a complete grinding halt. There are hardly any stores open for the day. There is very little traffic on the roads. I so love the peace and quiet that comes with Christmas! To me Christmas is always a day to get out and walk, hike or ski. This year my desire to be outside and take a long, thought producing walk was very strong. Zack would have nothing of it. I cannot blame him. He just received a ton of toys for Christmas, so he wanted to stay at home and play with them. I wasn’t about to force him to go out and walk with me. I let him stay at home with Nancy – his grandmother – my late wife’s mother.
I journeyed out for my walk late in the afternoon. My destination for the day was the East-West Regional trail in Highlands Ranch. Now Highlands Ranch isn’t necessarily my favorite place in this world. It is large development that has grown from nothing in 1988 to a home for over 100,000 people. Each year, the bulldozers and earth movers scrape away more of the open rangeland and turn into tracts of homes. It is hard for me to see acre after acre - home to wild animals and beautiful plants turned into roads, shopping malls, houses and all the other accoutrements of our modern world. The East-West Regional trail is a new trail that will eventually span much of northern Douglas County running from Highlands Ranch to at least Parker. So far only 6 or 7 miles of it have been built in 2 separate areas. I was going to walk on the section that starts at trailhead near Daniels Park. The sun was already beginning to set by the time I started on my walk. The wind was very strong and I was glad that I had an extra jacket in my car. The hike itself was good as I had the whole area pretty much to myself. The trail follows a high ridge that is up above Highway 85. This ridge marks the western most terminus of the Palmer Divide. Once you descend down this ridge into the valley below the land is relatively flat until you hit the foothills of the Front Range Mountains about 7 miles further west. To be honest the hike was nothing particularly special based upon the terrain and environment. But what was special was the time it gave me to think and enjoy my own thoughts locked away in my head. I am sure if anyone had seen me I would have seemed to have been in a fog – but it was exactly what I needed on this magical day of days! I hope everyone’s holidays are going well and are very enjoyable! Peace to all!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Magic of the Hidden Mesa

Saturday morning dawned very bright but very cold in the Front Range of Colorado. Despite the chill in the air and the brisk breeze, Zack and I were determined to get out and do a new hike. Our destination for today’s hike was Hidden Mesa Open Space in Douglas County. Hidden Mesa is located about 7 miles to the south of Parker, Colorado near the old town of Franktown. This open space was created to build a buffer between the growing towns of Parker and Castle Rock. The centerpiece of the open space is a series of high mesas that rise up from the Cherry Creek flood plain and mark the start of the Palmer Divide. The Palmer Divide is a high outcropping of mesas, bluffs and hills that rise about 2000 feet above the plains on which Denver and it’s suburbs are located. The Divide provides a natural separation between Denver and Colorado Springs to the south. We arrived at the parking lot for the open space around 11:20AM to find that we were the ONLY people there. No other cars were there. We had the entire 1200+ acres of the open space to ourselves – how cool!!
After suiting up in all our cold weather gear we started our hike through the low flood plain of Cherry Creek. After walking for ½ mile we came to a bridge by which we could cross Cherry Creek. The creek was actually frozen over and Zack decided that he just had to go out on the ice. This provided me a great opportunity to teach him about the dangers of walking on the ice. I showed him how weak the ice was and how easy it is to fall through it.
After crossing the creek we entered prairie dog country. For the next ¾ of a mile our walking was accompanied by the constant chirping of literally dozens of prairie dogs. They clearly were not happy with our presence! As we began the twisting climb up various gulches and ravines the prairie dog colonies were left behind and we entered a landscape filled with copses of small oak trees and pines. There was a picnic table situated in one of these copses and after we brushed the snow off of it, we sat down and enjoyed the view. After that we resumed our hike we experience something absolutely magical. As we wound up the trail through a number of ravines and gulches we were stunned to see a herd of elk coming down from one of the ridges crossing the trail right in front of us and then running up the side of another hill. There must have been 20 - 30 of them. It was amazing to see! They were running fast as I guess they were startled to see us. Once they got up on the top of the next ridge they all stopped and just watched us. As they stood there watching us they were breathing heavily and had huge amounts of steam rising from their noses and mouths and hanging over them like clouds. We must have stood there for 10 minutes just watching them. Zack was so captivated by what he saw. He was dumbfounded by the beauty of it. We clearly did not expect to have this kind of encounter. It was absolutely beautiful and wonderful. I am so glad that I was able to give Zack this kind of experience as it is not something that happens every day. After we saw the herd of elk we decided that our hike couldn’t get any better, so we turned around and headed back to the trail head. On the way back we were walking into a stiff, very cold wind. Despite how cold we got, we left Hidden Mesa with our hearts warm and alive from what we saw. If you would like to learn more about Hidden Mesa you can go to the Douglas County open space website. The address is: The topo map below shows the route that we hiked. Our route is illustrated by the red line on the map. Some of you might know this about me, but I am a RABID GPS fanatic. I use GPS devices to track each and every hike I take. It is just my own personal little hobby! Thanks and peace to all!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

There will be Blood

Like the Daniel Day Lewis movie today’s adventure involved lots and lots of blood. Yes - it was my blood and though it wasn’t particularly fun today it was for a good cause. I donated platelets today at our the local Denver blood bank - Bonfils. Today was a special donation day for me, as I achieved my 3 gallon pin. Imagine the gallon of milk in your refrigerator filled with blood and multiplied by three. That is how much blood I have donated to Bonfils over the last several years. My donation count should be much higher but I was excluded from donating for about 2 ½ years because of my travel to such exotic fun spots such as India.
The reason today's donation wasn't particularly fun was the length of time that I was hooked up to the apherisis machine. Given the amount of platelets they took off of me - two extra large units, I had to be hooked up to the machine for the maximum allowable time - 130 minutes. Sitting in the chair for that long without being able to move your left arm can be tough. Normally my platelet donations do not more than 100 minutes. But since they were going to take such a large donation from me - it took a long time. I am very passionate about donating blood. It is something that really takes no effort yet it saves so many lives. After donating a whole unit of blood or as I did today - two large units of platelets you walk away feeling like the king of the world. It is such an inspiring feeling to know that you have saved a life. At least it is too me anyway. I took my camera with me today to the donation. I managed to have the tech take a couple of pictures of me. Additionally, I couldn’t resist the urge to take a picture of the needle going into my arm and the actual bag of platelets that had been sucked out of me.
I don’t know if what I did today really classifies as an adventure or not. But it gave me that same feeling I have when I accomplish some great feat of physical endurance like climbing a 14’er or something like that. So I guess it will count as an adventure. Zack can’t take part in this adventure yet because he is too small, but he has said that he wants to try and donate blood when he gets old. I really hope he does.
Til later - peace to all!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree - And a crazy dog!

Some of my most favorite things about the Christmas holiday season are the Christmas trees and the beautiful lights that are all over the place. I love the glow that the Christmas tree lights put throughout the entire house. I cannot stand to have my Christmas tree sit in my living room unlit. The first thing that I do as soon as I get out of bed in the morning is turn the Christmas tree’s lights on. Seeing an unlighted Christmas tree always makes me feel sad and depressed. It is like the spirit of the tree is gone and just a ghost remains when there are no lights. When it is a natural tree that is going to get tossed out after Christmas I think it was even worse when it sits there without the lights turned on. Given that we live in Colorado, we have an artificial tree. When I first moved here years ago, we would get real trees. After 2 years we quickly learned that real trees in Colorado were plain and simply fire risks. With the low humidity in Colorado, real trees tend to dry out and start dropping their needles within 10 – 14 days. If you are like me and like to have your tree up for 4 – 5 weeks, natural trees don’t work too well. This year marks a return to a tradition that we have had since Zack was a baby. We will have 2 Christmas trees in our house. The larger of the 2 trees is located in the living room. It is a seven-footer and it is decorated with over 2000 lights. It makes the entire house glow with beautiful colored light. We have hundreds of ornaments that decorate it and it takes usually several days to get all the decorations on it. The second tree will be located in our family room and it is a dedicated “Winnie the Pooh” tree. We didn’t put the “Pooh” tree up last year because I needed but buy a new artificial tree as the last one had broken. It is just fun having the trees up. On another note… I just had to add this video to the blog. I was sent a link to this video by a good friend. I laughed my ass off when I saw it. It kind of reminds me of my dog Lex. Hope you all enjoy! I find it funny the dogs name is Bailey. My Bailey is now a nice sedentary old dog - but he was once like this nut! Thanks and peace to all!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Highline Canal

The Denver Metro area is a unique metropolitan area in the fact that it has literally hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails. One of the most spectacular trails is the Highline Canal Trail. The Highline Canal Trail starts in Waterton Canyon in the far Southwestern corner of the metro area. Waterton Canyon is where the South Platte River emerges from the mountains and flows out into the plains. At the head of Water Canyon is a massive concrete dam called Strontia Springs that rises 240+ feet above the South Platte stream bed. From the dam, the South Platte flows 6.5 miles before exiting Waterton Canyon. About 2 miles before the South Platte exits Waterton Canyon, there is a small diversion dam that provides the starting point for the Highline Canal. The Highline Canal proceeds to run for over 60 miles until it terminates in the fields of Colorado’s eastern plains. During this 60+ mile journey, the canal twists and turns it’s way through many of the South Metro’s suburbs. Since the canal was built in the 1880’s it is lined with many large old, gnarled cottonwood trees. It provides a unique habitat for coyotes, fox, deer, other small mammals and snakes and the occasional mountain lion and bear.
For almost the entire distance of the Highline Canal there is a trail that runs right along side it on one of the berms that forms the wall of the canal. A hiker or a mountain biker can walk or ride pretty much the whole way from the mountains to the plains without ever having to go on a road (except at certain crossing points.)
I love walking or biking along the Highline Canal. I have some really great memories of Bay and me walking along there when he was a puppy. Though the canal goes though highly populated suburbs, there are many “horse properties” on either side of the canal. It was so funny to see how Bailey got so excited and scared by the horses. I always had to laugh - as he was scared of the horses but he always had to go and visit them. The horses would usually get annoyed at this "small" little dog and start snorting and whinnying. At that point he would get scared and go running off towards me for protection. Over the coming winter I hope to walk most of the Highline Canal Trail. Being the GPS fanatic that I am, I will keep track of each and every one of my walks/hikes so that I can prove to myself that I actually walked the entire distance. Anyone want to walk with me? Thanks and peace to all! PS - I must give credit for the photos. I did not take these pictures - I picked them up off of Flickr and other websites. I will be sure to take some pictures of my own of the canal as I walk it this winter.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Plans for Adventure.

My goals as a parent are pretty simple. I want Zack to be physically, mentally and emotionally healthy. I want him to be morally good and to respect people. I want him to be happy and as successful as he can be. (No - that doesn't mean I want him to be president of the US, a CEO or really rich. I want him to have goals in his life and I want him to be able to accomplish them.) Given the situation that Zack and I have found ourselves in, I really need to make tough choices about our future and how I can accomplish my goals as a parent. One of the choices I have made is I want to offer him many different and unique experiences. I think by giving him these experiences I will allow him to better understand the world, have a greater sense of happiness and to build his own plans for the future. Please do not think that I am totally absorded in my son's life to the detriment of my own life. I absolutely cannot lose sight of my own life, my own needs, etc. In particular I want to have a companion with me as I achieve these goals. Yes - I will have Zack with me, but I do want to have a FEMALE companion by my side. Along that lines I have been dating. Ultimately what is the biggest adventure for men - women of course! With all that said.... Here's a list of some of our plans for adventure in the coming years. 1. Drive from Denver to Anchorage Alaska on the Trans-Alaskan highway. 2. Visit Iceland and explore it's volcanos, hot springs and geysers. 3. Visit Mongolia and go on a horse riding expedition. 4. Go to either the 2010 World Cup in Brazil or the 2010 Winter Olympics in Calgary. 5. Hike the entire length of the Colorado trail from Waterton Canyon to Durango. (Also - hike the Appalchian trail and the Continential Divide Trail.) 6. Volunteer for a charitable organization and spending either Thanksgiving or Christmas helping out. 7. Learn a foreign language and become fluent in it. 8. Take a train ride across Europe from Paris to Moscow. 9. Travel across the United States from LA to NYC (or vice versa) on a Greyhound bus. 10. Take a "tramp steamer" (i.e. cargo ship) around the islands of Oceania. 11. Visit every National Park in the United States. 12. Hike, hike, camp, camp, travel, travel - see the world as much as we can an experience as much as we can. This list will grow and change over time. But it is a starting point as we conclude a challenging year. Thanks and peace to all!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fighting the Rhino

Zack and I have entered a tremendous battle. We are fighting a rhino. It is a desperate and fierce battle, but we are determined to win.
No we have not traveled Africa and are out on safari. Instead we are at home in our family room for this battle. The battle we are fighting is against the rhinovirus! Yeah - we have colds. Ok - so I probably blew it out of proportion in the first paragraph - just a little bit of writer's license. Zack has been hacking his lungs out for the last several days. He now has a full blown cold and I am starting the ramp-up towards a full blown cold. Oh well - I don't think there are going to be too many outdoor adventures for us this weekend. Instead I think we will mainly hanging around inside. We need to get the Christmas tree up and decorated and the outside lights put on the house. We do have some plans to hang out with Zack's friend Keelie and family. But Keelie is also sick - so we will see if that happens. On a fatherly note - I am very concerned that Christmas is only 20 days away. Oh my goodness - how am I very going to get all the shopping done that I need to do. I am not liking the fact that Christmas and Thanksgiving were so close together this year. We hope everyone has a good shopping experience this weekend as you get all your Xmas shopping done. Thanks and peace to all!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Adventures with DNA

Since our return from our Thanksgiving trip our adventures have been low-key. On Sunday we did NOTHING. Yep - that is right nothing. We sat around and watched TV all day. Zack played some video games and I watched football. Our special treat for the day was that I DVR'ed the whole Planet of the Apes Series on the Fox Movie Channel. So we have hours and hours of Roddy McDowell looking foolish in an ape costume to look forward to. It was kind of funny as Zack was actually very interested in the movies. Tuesday's adventure was all about DNA. Yes - I do mean deoxyribonucleic acid. No Zack and I are not trying to pull a Jimmy Neutron and clone ourselves! DNA was the subject of today's science club. Zack loves science club and we have to make each and every session. This evening's meeting offered the kids the opportunity to explore the orgins of life and how DNA came about and it's impact on life on this planet. Zack is a fanatic about physics and astronomy but biology has not been a strong interest point for him. One area in which he is interested in DNA. I think DNA interests him so much because of how it came about and how it is like an atomic particle in some ways. When I told him the subject of today's meeting he was like - COOL! Gary Berkowitz who is the illustrous "Dr. Science" did a great job explaining to the kids the theory of how DNA came about and how it has evolved. Gary is a Willow Creek parent and does the science club out of the kindness of his heart. Zack and I are already looking forward to the weekend. We'll have some great outdoor adventures to tell everyone about. Til then - Thanks and peace to all!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

New York, New York!

We have returned from our adventure to New York. I really wanted to try and post more when we were there but I had a hard time getting a connection with my laptop’s broadband card so I was limited in my ability to update.
Our first evening was spent hanging out in Times Square and just seeing some of the basic sights. The really adventure began on Wednesday morning. We were a little slow getting up that morning as it was pretty early for us on Denver time. Once I finally woke up I got Zack up and we got moving. Our first NYC breakfast was at the huge McDonalds right off of Times Square. Zack was truly amazed at the size of the place.
After breakfast we scurried through the cold weather to the subway station. We wanted to see if we could take a subway to our first stop – the aircraft carrier Intrepid. Unfortunately, there was no subway line that ran close to it so we decided to take a cab. The Intrepid was very interesting to Zack. He was amazed that airplane could land on the deck of the ship. But once we walked the length of the flight deck he quickly understood how an airplane could land on it. We spent about 1 hour there exploring every nook and cranny of the ship that is open. Unfortunately the Intrepid has just returned from a 2 year upgrade and not all of the exhibits are yet open. A new addition to the Intrepid museum is one of the remaining Concorde Supersonic Passenger jets. I was amazed to see how small the cabin area was. Though you would spend tens of thousands of dollars for the ticket you really didn’t have much room.
After the Intrepid we caught a cab to the Empire State Building. We waited in line over 1.5 hours to get to the observation deck on the 86th floor. Zack was NOT happy with the situation. However, I told him that the Empire State Building was “THE NYC experience”. We toughed it out, but he was just not a happy camper. When we finally got outside to the observation deck Zack was more interested in trying to play with the pigeons than he was in looking at the wonderful view – oh well – that is my boy! We had a great lunch at a small little café on the way back to the hotel. We also stopped at Grand Central and the main New York Public Library. After a short time at our hotel we hit the road again – this time for Central Park West to meet up with my sister and see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloons blown up. Zack was so excited that we took the subway. He loved going down through the different levels of the subway station to arrive at the level that would allow us to get on the Broadway line. Viewing the balloons was an experience as the crowds were HUGE. I kept on my hand on Zack the whole time because had I lost him in that crowd I would never have found him again. We had dinner with my sister, her kids and one of her friends and her kids. All-in-all the day was great.
Thanksgiving Day dawned early as we wanted to get a good position to see the parade. We got out on the parade route at the corner of 40th and Broadway around 7:30AM. I got Zack a great seat on top of a mailbox. After spending 45 minutes in the cold, Zack decided he had had enough. I tried to cajole him into staying put but he would have none of it. So we headed back to the hotel before the parade began. We didn’t end up seeing any of it. But that was OK with Zack as he was sick of sitting there in the cold freezing. I didn’t mind that much as the crowds were SO LARGE and it was cold! (The cold is Manhattan is damp and given that we are from arid Colorado we are not used to that.) We packed up our hotel room and quickly caught a subway to Grand Central Terminal. We were heading to Wilton, Connecticut to join my sister Stephanie and her family for Thanksgiving dinner. Zack was in such awe of Grand Central. He was amazed that there were level upon level of train tracks and subways. The place was absolutely packed but we managed to get on a train to Stamford, Connecticut with out any problems. My brother-in-law Paul met us at the train station and drove us to their house. Thanksgiving dinner was great and both Zack and I enjoyed our selves. On Friday we met up with Patty’s best friend Mary Ellen. She had purchased tickets for us to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas production. Mary Ellen drove from her home in Hartford to my sister’s place in Wilton. From there the three of us proceed to take the train into the city. Upon our arrival in the city Zack decided he was incredibly hungry. This necessitated us stopping several times at street vendors to fill his stomach with street vendor hotdogs. He loved them. Zack enjoyed the show and was amazed by the theater and the entire production.
After the show we headed to Rockefeller Center to grab some lunch at the Rock Café. The Rock Café is a restaurant that is behind the Rockefeller Center skating rink. So we got to sit there and watch the skaters while we ate lunch. After lunch we visited St. Patrick’s cathedral and then journeyed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I have been to the museum many times but each time it is a new adventure going there. I loved looking at Zack and the expressions on his face as he looked at the amazing works of art. It was absolutely fantastic to give him such a wonderful experience! Our last stop in the city before heading back to my sisters was to do some shopping in Times Square. Zack was determined to return to a shop we had been in the first night – M&M’s World. The taxi ride from the Met to Times Square was horrific as there were so many people on the streets. It was impossible to make any progress. When we finally reached Times Square, M&M’s World was so crowded we could barely get in the door. I honestly have never seen a store as crowded as that store was. I managed to get Zack his stuff there and we then walked back to Grand Central Terminal and caught the next train back to Stamford. Saturday was spent not doing too much. We hung out with Zack’s cousins, Emily, Matt and Julie Ann. It was low key day. We left for the airport around 5:30PM and caught our JetBlue flight back to Denver without any problems. We arrived back in Denver about 15 minutes early and we got home at 12:40AM just as the snow was beginning to fall. We had a great time during our short trip to New York City. Though we did not see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, we could not have asked for a more adventuresome trip. On another note – I am still playing with the blog format. Additionally, I experienced some problems with the e-mail feature. I am hoping I have those solved and no one has been left off the new list. We hope everyone had a great holiday and is ready for the new week to begin. Thanks and peace to all!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday's Adventure - Travel to NYC

No matter how hard you prepare for a trip there is always something that you forget. For me it was my memory card reader. So for now I cannot upload pictures to the blog - bugger! Today was our travel day to NYC. Our flight was at 11:40AM so we left the house around 8:30AM because I wanted to get to the airport, get checked in and address some issues for work. Everything went amazingly smoothly. Zack was so very cute when we arrived at the airport. He hasn't flown for over 2.5 years and he was very excited to fly. We got to the airport and he said "Umm... I love that smell of the airport". He cracked me up! Our flight was perfect. We flew an Airbus A320 and we had our 1/2 of the row to ourselves. Zack took the window seat and I would have loved to have sat in the aisle seat, but Zack insisted that I sit right next to him. The flight was smooth and we arrived at JFK about 20 minutes early. After landing we got our luggage and caught a taxi to the hotel. The taxi had a built in TV screen in the back that shows a map where you are. Zack spent the entire ride looking at the map and monitoring our position. We got to our hotel - which is right off of Times Square - around 6:40. We checked in and got our luggage to the room and then we were off! We spent the evening exploring all the major shops around Times Square. Zack was amazed by all the billboards and the lights. He couldn't get enough of all the stores. He wanted to buy something in each one. We had dinner in a restaurant called The Playwright. The food was good but expensive - it's New York City of course! As always we enjoyed eating together. Zack had to explain to me the ins and outs of every aspect of his new video game. All-in-all our trip is off to a great start. I'll post some more over the next couple of days. Thanks and peace to all!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Castlewood Canyon - From one end to another

Our major “adventures” for the weekend all took place on Saturday. Our original plan for Saturday was to hike Centennial Cone Open Space in Jefferson County. Unfortunately, timing was not with us on this one. Centennial Cone is very popular with both hikers and mountain bikers. To prevent trail conflict they have adopted a system in which on weekends, the trails are restricted to hikers on odd number days and mountain bikers to even number days. Given that Saturday was an even numbered days we couldn’t go hiking at Centennial Cone. So I chose to take us to Castlewood Canyon State Park. Castlewood Canyon is a deep canyon that has been carved by Cherry Creek. In the 1890’s a dam was built across the canyon to provide irrigation water to local farmers. The dam failed during a storm in the 1930’s and caused Denver to be extensively flooded. This flood was the impetus for the dam system and flood control network that manage the flow of water in Cherry Creek through Denver.

Zack and I arrived at the trail head in a fine mood around 9:40. I hoped for a warm hike and dressed accordingly – in shorts! I chose to be more cautious with Zack and dressed him in sweats. The hike down into the canyon itself is pretty quick. You lose a lot of elevation very quickly. Within 45 minutes we had reached the canyon bottom and were exploring the ruins of the dam. Zack found it amazing to look at construction of the dam and to observe how the massive rocks had been put in place. After a short snack at the dam we moved onto to the longest part of hike. We were on the western side of Cherry Creek and the trail led us through groves of aspens and pine trees. The canyon at places is very deep and the sides are very steep. The trail for the most part is perched above the steepest slopes. At various points throughout the canyon there are falls that tumble the water downward with a loud roaring sound. At other places you can see the remains of summertime floods that have washed debris high up the canyon wall.

After about 3.5 miles of serious hiking we reached the bridge at the far northern end of the canyon. We traversed the bridge and then began the painstaking processing of climbing back up to the rim of the eastern side of the canyon. There were countless switchbacks and the climb was tiring. Finally we made it to the top and we were rewarded with wonderful views up and down the entire canyon. By this time Zack was starting to get tired and it took some cajoling to keep him going. But he was determined to make it to the end as this hike would be a new “longest” Zack hike.

The hike along the eastern canyon rim was easy and fast. We kept up with a couple of gentlemen who were ahead of us. Zack of course marveled them with his amazing conversations! When you reach the dam again you go back down into the canyon and follow Cherry Creek for a while. We were going to take a different route out of the Canyon and back to the parking lot. The descent and climb back out of the canyon was very steep. Zack was very inspired though as we were closing in on his goal of a new “longest” hike. We made it back to the car and we had a little celebration as Zack had reached his goal of a new “longest” hike. His new record is 6.5 miles! Saturday evening provided us with an adventure of a different kind – the ESPN ZONE! We took the light rail into down town and met up with some friends at the ESPN Zone. The place was packed because of some big football game that was being broadcast. So we had a long wait for our table but we filled the time by playing lots of the games that they have. Then we had a great dinner and played some more games. I love being able to go to the ESPN Zone because we take the light rail and I can have more than one beer – I love that!!
On another note - I have added an e-mail update function to the blog. All you need to do to subscribe is to add your e-mail address in the box to the left and then hit the "Get E-mail Updates" button. You will get an e-mail confirming your subscription in your inbox. Just do what the instructions say and you will get a friendly e-mail everytime the blog is updated. We had a great weekend and we both enjoyed our adventures so much. We will have many adventures to report upon as we go to New York City this week. I will be sure to post lots of pictures and commentary on our trip. Til next time – Peace to all!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I am still learning the ropes about this new website that I am using for the blog. Over the next several weeks you will see me making changes to the format of the blog so that it looks better. A couple of key elements that I need to address are: 1. Making the posting take up more of the page instead of this smaller sliver down the middle. 2. Adding a "gadget" to the blog so that it will send out e-mail notifications to those who subscribe when I make updates. Zack and I have not had any major adventures this week unfortunately. This week has been about work and school. Gosh - you got to hate weeks like this. But we do intend to make up for it during our trip to New York next week. The first words out of Zack's mouth each day this week have been "It's only xxx days until we go to New York City". To say that he is extremely excited for this trip is just a tab bit of an understatement. I am off to bed for the night. It has been a long day for me. If you have any ideas of how to improve this blog either in terms of content or format - please let me know. I really enjoy doing this and I hope to make it a success. Thanks and peace to all!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday's Adventure - FOOD!

Ok - Sunday we didn't have any wild and crazy adventures outdoors. Nope. Instead all of our adventures were indoors courtesy of my cooking. Zack and I already have plans for Thanksgiving - which I'll get to in a minute. No matter what, I love having a Thanksgiving dinner at home sometime during the month of November. So I decided that I would make our Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday. I prepared a complete menu of "Thanksgiving" food to make. We would have a turkey, cheesy potatoes, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, corn, sauted mushrooms, gravy, freshly made rolls and of course pumpkin pie. Our turkey was a nice 13.25 pounder who I prompted named Harold. Since I was a kid I have always named my Thanksgiving turkey. Attached is a picture of Harold as he went into the oven to cook!
All the food was homemade and I feel pretty good that I was able to get all the dishes out of the oven within a few minutes of each other. I always think that is the toughest thing about cooking a big dinner - timing it so that everything is finished around the same time.
I love pumpkin pie and the recipe that I used this year was fabulous. The pumpkin custard turned out rich and creamy - it was great. (Ok - I could make the crusts a lot more fancy!)
I grossed out Zack entirely by cooking up the turkey heart, gizzard and liver and eating them. OK - I didn't eat the liver, I gave that to the dogs. I maybe unusual but I just love the turkey heart and gizzard. They have so much favor to them. I suffered my one cooking related injury when I was giving Lex a piece of the turkey heart. He was so eager to get it he almost bit my finger off!
We won't be home for Thanksgiving this year as we are going to New York city for the week of Thanksgiving. Zack and I will be spending 4 days in New York and Connecticut. For the first 2 days we will be staying in the Times Square Hilton in the middle of mid-town Manhattan. The last 2 days we will be staying with my sister and her family in Connecticut. We will be doing all kinds of stuff and we will be going to see the Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade in person. Zack and I are quite excited for this. I'll provide more information about our New York adventure early next week.
We had some friends over to join us for our Thanksgiving feast. So all-in-all it was a great day and a great adventure. I love to cook and I'll definitely post again about our adventures in cooking!
Peace to all!

Friday, November 14, 2008

At Last - The First Snow Fall of the Season!

Denver has a history of extreme weather. The weather here is never the same and it can change within a very short period of time. This year we were on the verge of setting a new record for the latest "first snow fall". On average the snow falls here for the first time on October 22. The record for the latest "first snow fall" is November 21. We were rapidly approaching November 21 without a flake in the sky. That changed overnight as we got about 1/2 inch of snow. The picture below is that of our house covered in this first snow.
With the snow our options for adventures in the outdoors has increased. Yes - it has been snowing for the last 1.5 months in the mountains and the ski resorts have been open for weeks, but this really allows us to do stuff right here in the Front Range that involves the snow.
But with the snow, conditions will get much more dangerous. I took the next 2 pictures several weeks ago when Zack and I were in the mountains. We went out for a hike that in the summer would have been easy. But with the snow it became down right treacherous and dangerous. Zack was an amazing trooper and dealt with the conditions like a pro. Even when he found himself sliding down a snow slope that ended in a 10 foot fall into Blue Lake he didn't panic. He reacted on instinct and went as flat as he could and dug his heels into the snow. We love the snow but we do need to be more careful. The pictures below were taken on that hike in the Monte Christo Gulch area which is south of Breckinridge.
Well - got to run. Need to get to work.
Peace to all!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jake - The Dog Who Won't Give In

This morning after I dropped Zack off at school, I decided to take a longer walk through the neighborhood. I normally take a bit of a walk after I drop Zack off, but today I went much further. I walked past my old house on Vincennes Way. Nothing much to see there - same old house, same old yard. But what was interesting for me was what I saw across the greenbelt behind my old house. It was a dog. Not just any dog, but Jake! Jake is a dog that is an institution in the neighborhood. He was a middle aged dog when we got Bailey back in 1996 and he is still alive! He is 16.5 years old going on 17! This might not seem really old to those of you who do not have dogs, but this is ancient for a dog. Especially for a Labrador Retriever like Jake. I am utterly amazed that Jake is still alive. He is such a strong and powerful dog. Of course it is sad that so many other dogs in the neighbor are gone. But it is good to see one of Bailey's contempories is still going strong. Bay and I have such good memories of our times with Jake so long ago in the past.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's Wednesday - What adventures have we had...

Another week is half way through. So far we haven't had any "big" adventures this week. On Tuesday night we went to Willow Creek's Science Club and learned the theories of flight. Zack was into it but of course not as in to it as he would have been had the session been about space or black holes. Today - Wednesday - we were supposed to go to the cub scout pack meeting, but Zack had too much homework to do. So we had to skip that. He had Mad Hatter's (the Willow Creek Drama Club) after school. So he didn't get home until 5:15PM and that just didn't give him enough time to get his homework done. This weekend will provide us with some definite adventure! We are planning on doing a major hike in the Centennial Cone Open Space area in Jefferson County. We have never been to that open space area before so it should be interesting! I plan on adding a number of pictures to this blog in the coming days. I really need to get my butt in gear and make it happen. Peace to all!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Starting Point

For the last 1.5 years I have chronicled our comings and going on the Patty's Caringbridge website. I like the whole idea of being able to document our lives online so that people we know and love know what we are doing. But the time has come to start setting up things outside of Caringbridge. I will continue to update the Caringbridge site for now, but realistically life is now about Zack and me. Patty's memory is still alive and her spirit is definitely with us. However, she is no longer alive. She is dead. So it is time to move forward. Starting this blog is part of the change. Zack and I need to move forward and do some different things with our lives. This is going to be the story. Following along if you want. Read our stories, read my rants and raves, hear about all kinds of stuff. Life is not going to be boring for us. We need to live, have fun and have as many adventures as is humanly possible. Peace to all!

Shelly Dierking