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