Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Canyon of Grandness

Yesterday – Tuesday, was our first day at the Grand Canyon. The day started on the early side for us as I had to be up for a conference call for work. Being able to do the occasional conference call while on vacation may seem like a hassle, but it allows me to build a pretty good life/work balance, so I can really complain too much. After my call and a quick “continental breakfast” here at the hotel, we were off to the Canyon. The town we are staying in Tusayan is literal just a stones throw from the edge of the canyon. You arrive at the South Rim entrance to the park about ½ mile after you leave Tusayan. From the entrance to the canyon rim is about another 3 or 4 miles.

Most the terrain right around the canyon rim is what you would call a typical high desert environment. There are place where there are some pretty large pine trees, but a lot of the area is covered in large sage and pinion trees. It is obvious as you drive through the area, that it has been relatively well managed. The forest floor is open and not littered with lots of undergrowth. Many of the larger trees bear scars and charring from fires that have been used to clear the underbrush. In general, the forest around the canyon is low-key but beautiful and seemingly well-managed. We arrived at the main visitor center for the South Rim and we were quickly out looking at the amazing scenery. It is truly all that it is cracked up to be. We were amazed and stunned by the beauty of the area. It is amazing how this entire area has been carved by water in just over 5 million years! We spent most of the morning exploring the various areas of the South Rim. It was a good but very frosty morning! The temperature was only in the 30’s and 40’s and with the wind it definitely kept us on the colder side of life. We saw tons of beautiful landscapes and really enjoyed our time wandering around the rim.

After about 4 hours in the park we decided to head back to our hotel so that Zack could do some swimming. The rest of the afternoon was spent swimming, showering and napping. It was a great afternoon! Around 5:00PM we were both hungry so we headed out to one of the very few restaurants in town. It was a quick meal and we were once again on our way into the park. I wanted to make sure we got to see a sunset over the walls of the canyon. We drove along the road to the eastern rim for a pretty long distance stopping at all the look out points and capturing the view in our memory. I was also taking lots of pictures. Unfortunately, my 35mm Digital SLR camera decided it was time to give up the ghost during our evening trip to the canyon. I have had this camera for over 5 years and it has taken at least 11,000 pictures based upon the image count. It has been beaten and abused over the years but I think it is gone for good. (I have found digital cameras just don’t last as long as traditional film cameras.) On the way back to the hotel we had a close call with one of the largest doe elk I have ever seen. This animal was massive! She darted out onto the road right in front of us. I had to slam on the brakes to make sure I didn’t hit her. But thankfully I didn’t hit her and she was just fine. Once we stopped I gave the horn a honk and she wandered peacefully back into the forest. After that we stopped at the Tusayan General Store to pick up a snack for Zack and then it was back to the hotel. I spent some time on the phone – had to use the landline of course! And then we were off to bed. Wednesday morning has dawned here bright and brisk. I have another conference call to do at 8:00AM local time and then we are off to the park. Today’s plan is a hike down into the canyon. We are NOT going to the bottom of course as I we couldn’t do that and get back in one day. The plan is to cover about 6 or 7 miles and get a little ways into the canyon and get a good taste for it. I think this trip has added another activity to my life to-do list. The activity is to hike across the canyon from either the south to north rim or vice versa. I think that would be an unparalleled wilderness experience. Unfortunately - I am only able to add two pictures to this post as the connection from the hotel is SOOO bad! Til later – Thanks and peace to all!

On To the Grand Canyon

I am not certain if I am going to be able to upload this post tonight or not. From where we sit tonight in the small town of Tusayan, Arizona there is very little Internet Access available anywhere. I always rely upon my laptop’s broadband card to get me access to the Internet from just about anywhere. Unfortunately, you need to have a cellular signal to get that access. From what I have seen so far there is very little cell phone capacity available here. So I am left as a fish out of water – no Internet access and cell phone coverage. Regardless I will write and I will post when I am able. We have had an exceedingly busy day that has left us both exhausted. The day started very early for me as I had to get up and get some things done for work. I got out of bed around 6:30AM and addressed those issues. Before Zack woke up I was already busy packing up our luggage and getting ready to depart Las Vegas. Once the Z-man was awake we got up and got dressed, got some breakfast from the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, took a few more pictures around the Venetian, finished packing and checked out. Though it took a little longer than I had planned we were out of the hotel and on the road to Hoover Dam by 10:30AM. When we reached the Hoover Dam the complete tour was already sold out until 2:30PM – which would have meant that if we did that, we would not have left the dam until 4:30PM at the earliest. We decided that we were going to do the Power Plant only tour. This tour is much shorter, but it at least allows you to get into the bowels of the dam itself.

(Overlooking Lake Meade - I am using the tripod and timer to get some better pictures on this leg of the trip.)

We looked through everything that we could see at the dam and we had a good bit of fun. Even closing over the top of the dam was fun – as we got to look down the steep sides. Zack kept on trying to figure out how far down it was and whether or not you would survive if you fell.

(At the main dam overlook point - I asked another guy to take our picture. I am very good at getting people to take our pictures!) All told we spent about 2.5 hours at the dam and the surrounding environs. We saw everything that we could and explored everything that we could. Lunch was needed by both of us so we got hot dogs, French fries and cokes at the dam gift shop. That is one of the downsides to a vacation of visiting tourist spots – you really have to work to try and eat well. This trip has afford us some opportunity to do that while we were in Las Vegas, but when we are out at spots like this, we really don’t have much of a chance to find good stuff to eat.

(Zack in front of the statues at the Hoover Dam.)

After leaving the dam we headed south on Route 93 to Kingman Arizona. The landscape along the route is dessert and just brutal. I think it would a nasty and difficult place to live. One of the most remarkable aspects of this terrain is the fact that they are building and entirely new road from Kingman to the Hoover Dam – including a huge new bridge over the river. This will prevent people from having to drive over the dam any more. We took a brief stop in Kingman for us to get a snack and for me to get some caffeine as I was very sleepy. After Kingman we started on the longest part of the day’s journey – 100+ miles along I-40 until we reached the small town of Williams, Arizona. From Williams it is only another 60 miles to the north until you reach Tusayan and the South Rim of the Canyon. Tusayan is a very small town with a handful of motels and restaurants to serve the people going to the Canyon. We are staying at the Holiday Inn Express – which we quickly found given the exceedingly small size of the town. We decided not to journey into the Canyon today given that we didn’t arrive at our hotel until 5:45PM. Instead we made use of the hotel swimming pool and hot tub for a very long time. For dinner we did not have too many choices. There are about 7 restaurants in the entire town. We walked across the street from the hotel and went to the restaurant in the “Grand Lodge”. It is now 11:15PM PDT and Z is now sound asleep. I need to get into bed myself as I have to be up early for a conference call for work. Even though I am on vacation I must continue to make sure that my projects continue to move and execute to plan. These last three days alone with Zack have been marvelous. Don’t get me wrong he and I bicker like there is no tomorrow. But in the end run we do so very well together. I think he is going to walk away from this week with lots of memories that he will never forget. Til tomorrow – Thanks and peace to all!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Vacation - Doings Day Two and Three

Every evening I have the greatest intentions of coming back to the hotel room and doing an update for the blog - then I don't. I usually end up on the phone while Zack winds down for the evening. We watch a little bit of TV and then we both fall asleep pretty quickly. So I just haven't had the time to do my updates.
(On the gondola in the Venetian.)
Here's a brief recap of what we did on Sunday! After our gondola ride in the morning and our stop in the hotel room, we headed out and went to Circus, Circus. The neat thing about Circus, Circus is that they have that HUGE amusement park built into the casino. That is of course where we spent 90% of our time. The other 10% of our time there was spent on the midway playing games. At the amusement park we rode most of the rides except for the really scary ones. Zack doesn't like the real scary amusement park rides. We spent most of the late morning and afternoon there. It was a lot of fun and Zack was definitely enjoying himself. We had to stop playing games on the Midway because I kept on winning toys and stuffed animals and I thought we were going to run out of room in our luggage to take them home.
(Attempted self portrait on one of the rides at Circus, Circus.)
After Circus, Circus we moved onto several other places that Zack wanted to see. First we went to downtown Las Vegas so that Zack could see the largest video screen in the world. Since it was still day we didn't get out of the car but Zack loved seeing how big it was. Then we went onto New York, New York as he wanted to see all the attractions there. We got lots of picture of him next to the "Brooklyn Bridge" and the "Statue of Liberty". We then took the tram to the Mandalay Bay and went to their "Shark Reef" Aquarium attraction. I was definitely disappointed in this attraction. It cost a lot of money and I really didn't see a lot of diversity or unusual fish there. We have an aquarium in Denver and it cost less but has tons more to see. So I was definitely disappointed in it.
(Zack in front of New York, New York.)
By this point it was 6:00PM so we headed back to the hotel to relax for a few minutes before we went to dinner and our evening activities. Before dinner we went to the Mystere shop at Treasure Island and bought the Mystere sound track and a shirt for Zack. Since we were already there we decided to eat dinner at their buffet. It was a good dinner and we sat there and talked for a long time. Zack was telling me all about his imagination that he was having from Mystere. It has really given him a lot to imagine about.
(The Venetian at night.)
After dinner we had planned to go to see the fountains at the Bellagio. Unfortunately the was a huge wind storm taking place so the fountains were shut. So at that point we went back to the Venetian and just walked through the Grand Canal area and then headed up to our room and wound down for the night.
It's 7:30AM here in Las Vegas right now and I need to finish up a few things for work for the morning and then we are going to pack and get out of here. Zack had already told me he doesn't want to leave! Oh well - we have to move to our next stop. We are going to the Grand Canyon today but we will have numerous stops along the way. We are going to do the big tour at Hoover Dam and then there are several small little towns along the way at which I want to stop for their attractions. With any luck we will arrive at the Grand Canyon around 3:00PM this afternoon.
Well - we have to run! Til later - Thanks and peace to all!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Vacation - Day Two

This is going to be a brief post as Zack and I are going to be heading out the door for our second day of adventures here in Las Vegas. Our plans for the day are to go to Circus-Circus, the Stratosphere and New York., New York and explore all the fun, kid related activities that they have at those casinos. I will be glad tomorrow morning to head for the Grand Canyon and peace and serenitity of the nature. Las Vegas is a very fun place, but it is very different being here with a child as opposed to being here with just your friends. Yesterday evening was very fun. We had dinner at a "traditional" Las Vegas buffet. We didn't do any fancy expensive restaurant as that would have been totally lost on Zack. So we went for quantity and variety versus quality. The buffet we went to was at Harrah's casino and was called Flavors. After the buffet we headed over to Treasure Island for the Cirque du Soleil show "Mystere". I have seen a lot of Cirque du Soleil shows over the years, but this is definitely one of my favorites. Every time I see this show, or for that matter any Cirque du Soleil show I sit there in awe of the beauty of the human body. It is so amazing what these people can do. They are amazing artists and what they can do with their bodies is unbelievable. I can only wonder how much training and work they must do to get to that level of mastery over their balance, their body movements and their strength. It is truly unbelievable! We got back to our hotel room by 9:30PM and we were both sound asleep by 10:45PM as we were exhausted from our early morning flight yesterday. Today we have been out for breakfast and are now just getting ready to get out and about. In one of the unpleasant facts of life - Zack is a tab bit - how do I say this politely? I'll just say it - constipated. So he is currently sitting on the potty trying to go while I write this. So as soon as he is done we are walking out the door. I talked to Nancy and she is doing fine. (I sometimes should realize that not everyone knows who is whom in my life so I should annote my postings sometime. Nancy is my late wife's mom who lives with Zack and me.) Lex (our 5 year old chocolate lab) is annoying the crap out of her, but otherwise she is doing well.

(Zack with the proto-typical Las Vegas Elvis impersonator.)

I'll definitely post more pictures later today!

Til later - thanks and peace to all!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Viva Las Zackie - Vacation Update 1

Wow - there is way to much stuff to even say about the first day of our vacation. I can't believe all the things we have already done and seen.
The day started VERY EARLY for us. We were out of bed and getting everything ready by 5:20AM. I got about 4 hours of sleep last night. We left the house around 6:15 for our 8:25AM flight. I hadn't checked in on line for our flight so we had to wait through one of the longer lines at the Frontier check-in. Despite the length of the line to check in and the length of the line to get through security, we still made it to our gate on time with out any problems.
I did have a little bit of a concern that Zack was going to get arrested. Yes - arrested. The incident happened when we were going through security. I had given Zack responsibility for packing a few things of his own - his books to read, his Nintendo DS and games and his tolletries. That was the big mistake. I wasn't thinking and he packed his toothpaste in his carryon bag. Well - given the 3 oz rule, his toothpaste was confiscated. It's the law. Zack could understand this and was not happy with the TSA guy. He didn't do anything really bad of course, but he just kept telling the guy - "you can't do that!!". Of course the guy can and has too. It took me a little bit to get Zack to calm down and stop making a fuss about it. It was a lesson learned for both Zack and me. I need to make sure he doesn't pack his toothpaste in a carryon again and he needs to understand that you can't argue with a security official.
We flew on Frontier's mountain goat airplane. For those of you who don't fly Frontier, each one of their airplanes has a different animal on the tail. Zack and I always like to keep track of what we "animal" we are flying.
The flight was uneventful except for the fact that I had to do a little bargaining to get Zack and I to sit next to each other. Originally our tickets had us in two different rows. I managed to talk to the woman who was to be sitting next to me and she agreed to trade seats with Zack - even though he was in the middle seat in the row directly ahead of me. I thanked her profusely as I knew that Zack would not have been happy sitting away from me.
We arrive on time and managed to get our luggage and rental car without any problems. From there our Vegas adventures began. We stopped and took our pictures in front of the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign. We took our time driving down the strip to our hotel - The Venetian. Zack was getting a kick out of the fact that the casinos were so large and had such different themes. We started singing the Elvis Presley sound "Viva Las Vegas" and it quickly became "Viva Las Zackie".
We arrived at the Venetian and after walking around forever we finally got to the check-in desk and were able to do an early check in. Zack just loved the suite that we got. He went around for 20 minutes checking out every feature of the room. Once he found the remote control for the blinds and curtains the room was continually going from light to dark. He loves that feature.
After getting our stuff in the room, we both got into shorts and took off for a whole bunch of other casinos on the strip. I could keep writing for probably another hour on what we did then, but I really don't have time. We are relaxing for a little bit and then we are going out to a proto-typical buffet dinner at Harrah's. After that we have tickets to the 7:00PM Cirque du Soleil show "Mystere".
Here are some of our pictures from the first day of vacation. I update again a little later tonight after we get back from Mystere.
(Fooling around with the Blue Man Group!)
(Zack playing on the Revolution Wall at the Mirage.)

(For all you elephant lovers out there - you know who you are!)

(Zack and I in the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace.)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Frantic Friday!

Today really wasn’t frantic, but I figured it sounded a lot better than Hectic Friday. Today has been very busy. There was a big presentation with the client this morning and I was one of the 2 key presenters. This is one the presentations on which I spent most of the week working. Lots of loose ends also had to be tied up before I head out on vacation for the week. So the work component of my day kept me very busy. In addition to work, I also had to finish all things I needed to do around the house before I left. So this meant I had to wash 6 loads of laundry, pack, shovel all the snow off the driveway, go to the grocery store for Nancy, do some maintenance on Nancy's car, finish writing a letter and keep Zack occupied as school was cancelled again today. Therefore, it was quite the hectic and busy Friday. Despite the craziness of my schedule I had another one of those “perfect contentment” moments. I am not exactly sure why it occurred, but for whatever reason I just felt very connected with my community and the world today. I spent a bunch of time talking with some of my neighbors today. The conversations were good in the fact that we were able to talk about some significant topics. However, some of the subject matter was difficult as lives are definitely affected by the topics we discussed. But it felt really good to be connected to the lives of those in my community. I don’t know - call me weird, but I just feel good about the general tone of life these days, and today was just another reaffirmation of that. I just got the Z-man to bed a little while ago and now I really need to finish getting everything ready for tomorrow morning. I need to be up by 5:00AM so that I can get Zack up and make sure I have everything in order for Nancy. Given the amount of stuff I STILL have to do tonight - I am posting very late and keeping this short. I have to take my laptop with me on our vacation because I have so many work commitments next week. (Like the soup Nazi in Seinfeld – “There’s no vacation for YOU!”) But I will manage them and take care of them early in the mornings before Zack wakes up. Not fun, but has to be done – and with the word yesterday that my employer just laid off 5000 people, I want to be a top rated performer so hopeful I am avoid the golden BB for a while. I will post an update from Las Vegas tomorrow. And for those of you in my friend list on Facebook - I will post some realtime updates from my phone and do some mobile photo uploads. Until later – Thanks and peace to all!

Pulling the Leg of the Z-Man

I guess I am a cruel parent. I love to tease my kid. This morning was a great opportunity to tease my boy. Last night all he could do was think and wonder "Will I have school tomorrow?" He was convinced he won't have school. He just knew it. As normal I got Zack to bed around 9:45PM last night. After that I settled in to my normal routine of working on my computer and watching the late news on DVR. All thoughout the news cast they were running the closures for Friday morning across the bottom of the screen. Cherry Creek was NOT mentioned. However, one of the last things said as Mark and Adele signed off - I watch channel 9 news - was that "Cherry Creek is now cancelled too - Good night". I figured I would check it out first thing in the morning before I told Zack.

(Snow on the back porch at 7:15AM this morning.)

This morning the alarm went off at 6:30AM as normal and I woke up and lay in bed contemplating the day. I used my iPhone to check the Internet to see if Cherry Creek was cancelled. It was truly cancelled. I decided to use this as a good gag on Zack. I woke him up and the first question out of his mouth was - "Do I have school Dad". I told him he did. He wasn't happy. We got out of bed and came downstairs and I got him breakfast. I kept on telling him that he had school and how he had to work hard today and everything. He was not happy! I kept this up for a good 15 minutes until he was done eating. I finally gave in and told him that school was cancel right as he was going upstairs to brush his teeth. He was happy as can be of course, but he laughingly said "You wait Daddy - I'll tease you back". It made for a fun start to our morning. I hope everyone is enjoying the snow and I hope all my friends who were flying out early this morning - actually get out. Have a great day - I write some more later! Be safe out there!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Blizzard that Wasn't then Was

So as you could tell from my post earlier today, I was a little skeptical about the extent of the blizzard that we were going to have. Based upon what was said on the weather forecast last night, I expected to wake up to a lot of snow. That just wasn’t the case as this morning there was just a dusting of snow on the grass of our yard. I was stunned at that point to find out that Zack’s school had been cancelled. As the morning wore on the storm did begin to pick up. Had we had more snow this year, I really don’t think this storm would have been that big of a deal. During the winter of 2006/2007 we had a multitude of storms that were like this one. Most of those storms you just kind of shrugged off and went about your business. But since this was the first and only really storm that we have had this winter, I guess it was kind of a big deal. Despite the lack of school for Zack today, I did manage to keep him pretty well occupied and happy today. First thing this morning he read some and watched some TV. We called over to my brother and sister-in-law’s house around 10:00AM to see what Zack’s cousin Cole was doing. He didn’t have any plans so we made arrangements for Zack and I to pick Cole up around 12:30PM and then go out to lunch. My brother is on a golf outing to Laughlin, Nevada this week and so Celinde’s parents Bill and Doerga are staying at their house to help Celinde out with Cole. Celinde doesn’t have any chemo this week or other medical procedures scheduled, so Bill and Doerga are just here watching Cole. I figured getting Cole out of Bill and Doerga’s hair for part of the day would make them happy and I know both Zack and Cole were happy to hang out together. So after we picked up Cole we head to McDonalds for lunch and so that Zack and Cole could play around. Unfortunately the traffic from just here in Willow Creek to C470 and Quebec was horrible. It took us like 20 minutes to cover the distance that would normally take 3 minutes. I had to be back at the house for a conference call at 2:00PM so the traffic ate up a good bit of our lunch time. We got to McDonalds and the place was open but it was practically deserted. Zack and Cole had the play area almost entirely to themselves. They were happy about that as they didn’t have to watch out for any little kids.

(Zack and Cole hanging out.)

After we ate and they played we got back on the road so I could make it home for my 2:00PM conference call. Doing the conference call was a little bit hard because the boys were bickering at each other for the majority of the time. It all came down to what games they were going to play. Cole wanted to play one game and Zack wanted to play another. I had to put my call on mute a few times and intervene in their squabble. Cole needed to be home by 3:45PM as he was supposed to be going to a tennis lesson with one of his neighbors. I am not sure if they had their lesson or not, but I finished my 3PM conference call and got Cole home. After dropping Cole off I had to go out and run an errand. I ended up at the Highlands Ranch Walmart at C470 and Quebec. I needed to buy ink for my printer. I have been doing a writing project that includes a photo and I want to get it wrapped and in the mail before leave on Spring Break so I was determined to get this ink TODAY! I got into Walmart and I fell for the old “Dad is a softie routine”. I decided that since I would be on conference calls part of the evening, I would get Zack a treat for dinner and buy him a movie to watch. The kid’s movie “Bolt” has recently come out on DVD and Zack really wanted to see it. We hadn’t gotten to see it in the theaters when it was out in the fall. So I got a take and bake pizza and “Bolt” (Yeah – I know I fed my child well today – NOT. Zack had McDonalds for lunch and pizza for dinner – good job Jerry!). As I drove home in the cul-de-sac, I had to give thanks for my neighbors. Of the 8 houses on our cul-de-sac/street, three families own snow blowers. This afternoon all three snow blowers were out in action clearing the sidewalks. It always makes a huge difference to have that kind of neighborly feeling. So thanks – John, Ed and Dietz. Your work is definitely appreciated by everyone on the street! Two other families on my street have kind of gotten screwed by this storm. They were scheduled to leave early tomorrow morning on their Spring Break vacations. Unfortunately by the looks of things they won’t be getting out of here tomorrow. I hope that they can get re-booked and get out of Denver later on Friday. They are going to Cancun together so I don’t think there are a ton of direct flights each day. Hopefully things will work out. So it is now evening and I am at last done with my conference calls and work for the day. Zack and I are sitting here in the family room watching “Bolt”. We are both very comfy on this cold stormy day. We are both wearing nice and comfy pajama pants and we have the fire place turned on. All-in-all a great ending to the day! One other note – while Zack and I are on our vacation we are going to try and do some video uploading to the blog. Here is our first attempt at making a video. Of course it stars Zack! We are going to hang out for the rest of the evening and take it easy. I am working on getting our packing done for Saturday morning. I have a couple of more loads of clothes to do, but I think I will be pretty well packed and ready to go by tomorrow at this time. We hope everyone is safe and sound and out of the snow. If you have to be out – be safe! Thanks and peace to all!

It's A Snow Day for Zack!

The anticipation built all day yesterday. The news and weather forecast screamed it at us all evening. We were to have a major snow storm today. The question all night long Wednesday was "Will Zack have school on Thursday". I felt certain without a doubt he would. I woke up early this morning for the first of several very important conference calls. My alarm went off at 6:20AM and I was out of bed at 6:30AM to prepare for a 7:00AM conference call. I have my normal routine that I do in the morning where I check my work e-mail, my personal e-mail and then I quickly log into Facebook. As soon as I logged into Facebook I saw the status update from another Willow Creek parent that said "WE HAVE A SNOW DAY TODAY!" I couldn't believe it so I quickly went to the Cherry Creek Schools website and sure enough - the entire district is closed for the day! Wow - is all I can say. So far there is just a dusting of snow on my lawn and there is nothing falling from the sky right now. I will have an interesting day a head is all I can say. The Z-man is going to be home and I will be balancing hours and hours of conference calls. Because of the impending weather I at least don't have to head to Boulder in the late afternoon which would have made things even tougher. I really hope we get the snow. I hope everyone has a great day. I'll post again later today. But got to go for now, I have a young pup barking his head off, and I need to get some breakfast for the boy - and I need to get on the next conference call. Thanks and peace to all! BTW - I appreciate all the people who have been leaving comments recently. I also have noticed that I am getting a lot more hits to the site these days. Thank you to everyone! An update at 9:30AM: At 9:30AM we are now getting the snow. I am in the midst of a bunch of calls and Zack and I have the fireplace on and he is snuggied up on the couch with his book. I think it will be a good day.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Re-Building Begins

Early this morning I signed the first contract for the re-building and remodeling of my home. This contract was for the design and implementation of a new irrigation system for the yard. I had already commited to this effort with the company before, but this was now final as I signed the contract and gave them the down payment. Given the size and complexity of the yard, the design is not easy nor is the cost cheap, but it is starting point! Over the last week I have worked with the designer from the irrigation company to lay out a preliminary plan of the system. The attached diagram shows the high-level plan that we have discussed and worked through. This plan will be driven into lower levels of detail to specify all the different kinds of watering heads, specific placement of the zones, definition of the capacity for my stub zones, etc.

I can’t tell you what it means to me to begin this work. I am casting off the pall of the last 3 years of my life and beginning new. Though mentally I have felt renewed and capable of moving forward since late 2008 this is the tangible implementation of renewal. There were so many projects and plans that came to screeching halt in February of 2006. Though the plans have changed they are restarting and the future feels as bright as it has ever been. The work on the sprinkler system won’t start until April 27th. That is provided that this week’s expected blizzard won’t put the company way behind its spring schedule. Where I live the weather forecasters are predicting upwards of 22 inches of snow. That will be cool. We really need the moisture something fierce. The grass is one thing but you can easily re-plant grass if it dies. Trees on the other hand are very hard to replace and I am certain the 50 foot+ Cottonwoods that I have lining my yard are under some serious stress. Any and all moisture at this point will be good. Apparently all the factors are correctly lining up to give us a good dumping of snow. When a storm system stalls or creates a set of “up sloping winds” it means that we are in for a dumping. I am very glad that we are getting the moisture. So in general I am happy about the situation. The only things that I don’t like about spring blizzards are the weight of the snow and the fact that we are getting the snow when it should be getting warmer outside. There is one additional downside for tomorrow’s storm. Depending upon when the snow starts my cleaning lady may not be able to show up. Normally my cleaning LADIES (two as opposed to one) come every other Wednesday. However, Kathy one of the cleaning ladies is on vacation this week. Because of that the schedule got shifted around and only Kelly was going to come on Thursday. If it is snowing too badly tomorrow morning, she won’t be able to make it. So, I’ll have to go 4 weeks without have the place cleaned. Living in Colorado you get used to seeing snow in just about every month of year. In my 14 years of living here, I have seen snow fall in every month of the year except for August. The snow that I experienced in July was in the mountains, but I have seen snow here in Denver itself every month but July and August. During my first fall in Colorado in 1995 we got 10 inches of snow during the second week of September. That was definitely unusual. Our day has been uneventful except for the fact that Zack had a bit of difficulty at Sylvan. Like yesterday Zack had school and I had work – the normal day-to-day stuff. Much of my day has been spent preparing for these presentations tomorrow and Friday. Zack’s difficulty at Sylvan began shortly after he arrived there. He was experiencing a stomach ache and just couldn’t get into his work. I talked to the “coordinator” and I indicated that he should give it a try. I got a call back 10 minutes later saying it just wasn’t working out. So – I went back to pick him up early. His stomach ache was caused by the fact that we forgot to have him take his Lexapro this morning. I can’t tell you how glad I am going to be when is off that drug for good!

I am starting to get everything ready for our trip. I have a ton of laundry to do and then I want to start getting stuff packed as I do not want to be doing it late at night on Friday. I am still debating if I am going to update the blog while I am away. Right now I am leaning towards doing updates while we are gone. I have to take my laptop with me as I have a number of conference calls that I need to lead and some weekly reports and deliverables that I will need to e-mail out. So if I have my laptop with me, I might as well update the blog. I’ll probably keep the updates short and laced with lots of pictures, but I think it will be fun to do. I took the lazy route for us for dinner tonight and just went out and got Subway. I always like Subway for fast food as it is normal more nutritious and tastes better than McDonalds or something like that. For the evening there is a lot of work to be done as I need to finish up a few things for work. After that I have just a ton of work to do around here in preparation for our trip. So – I better get to it. Hope everyone has a great evening! Thanks and peace to all!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Bay-Boo

This morning I was sitting here at the kitchen table beginning the first of something like 9 different conference calls, when the old man of the family came waltzing up to me. He wanted to have his ears scratched. After I rubbed and scratched his ears for a while he plunked down on the floor and put his big ole head right on my feet. I am talking about my Bailey. He is one of the most fantastic dogs in the world! I have had Bailey since July 12, 1996. I remember the day that I got that little puppy like it was yesterday! It was a Friday and I really had no intention of bringing home a dog that day. Little did I know that Patty had the intention of bringing home a dog! We had looked in the Denver Post and found a family that was selling a litter of chocolate Labrador retrievers. Patty had been dead set on getting a chocolate lab because she was in love with Tim and Celinde’s chocolate lab – Jake. The family with this litter of puppies was located in Brighton, Colorado. This was before Brighton had become the little boom town that it is today. Back then it was just a bunch of small little farms located out on the prairie. We went to this place on an early Friday evening after a long day of work for the both of us. It was a small little farm without much around. There were like 15 little puppies running around the place. It was insane. We got to meet the mamma puppy and she looked to be in good shape. She was a little on the old side – 8 years old - to have as large of a litter as she had but all the puppies appeared to be healthy.

(Bay as a young pup on a hike in Deer Creek Canyon)

After looking around for awhile we sat down to play with the puppies. The moment we sat down the decision as to what puppy we were going to get was made. The puppy that was to become Bailey made the decision for us. When we sat down on the ground all of the puppies swarmed around us. One puppy literally fought his way into Patty’s lap. No matter what any other puppy did, the puppy would not leave Patty’s lap. It was like he claimed her for his own – he just won’t move! Though he had been running around like a fiend the moment before and was biting and pawing everything, he was sitting there in Patty’s lap all calm and sedate. Well – you can guess the effect this had on Patty. That puppy was to be our dog. I was very nervous about taking the puppy home that night, but Patty would have none of it. She didn’t want this puppy to be confused with another puppy – even through they put fingernail polish on his toenail. So we ended up bring this little 8 pound chocolate lab home with us that night. Though he was all happy in Patty’s lap he was not a happy camper about leaving his home. He crawled in to the back seat of the car and sat with his paws against the back window and whined the whole time we were driving away from the house.

(Bay high in the mountains near Surprise Lake after a long hike)

Bay’s puppyhood was good and he had lots of fun. He was our “first child” so he was spoiled rotten. He got just about every kind of puppy toy that you could image and he got countless walks. Every weekend I would normally take him with Tim and/or Celinde and their dogs to the dog area at Chatfield State Park. He loved running free and he demonstrated his abilities as a great swimmer. He was a fun loving and happy puppy. There are many stories that can be told about Bailey. I literally could write a book about him. I don’t want to spend all that time right now writing so I am only going to highlight a few stories about this pup. (Bay and Zack posing for a Christmas Card.)

Before we got Devon, Bay had to spend the entire day at home alone. Once he got to the size that he couldn’t squeeze out of the fence we started to leave him out in the yard. To make it comfortable for him I would put his favorite dog bed on the back porch with him. One day I did this and came home to a nasty surprise. It was in the fall and the light was starting to fade when I came home. I went to the sliding glass door to let Bay in and I shook my head. It looked like the entire back deck and a large part of the back yard was covered in snow. I couldn’t understand it. As soon as I let Bailey in I went out to investigate. Yeah – it was white. Yeah – it was soft, but it turned out to be the filling of Bailey’s puppy bed. He had taken his bed and shredded the entire thing! All the filling was covering the entire back yard. It was incredible! Needless to say I was a tab bit angry with my pup at that point. I won’t even guess how long it took me to clean up that mess. Years later when the deck was being replaced, I still found tons of the filling on the ground underneath the deck. I learned my lesson on that one – Bailey never got to have a bed outside again until he was like 7 years old!

(Bay as the wise old dog in his favorite spot in the house.)

Bay has always been one of the strongest swimmers I know. I have seen that dog swim his way out of some amazing things over the years. He just has no fear of the water. One sunny weekend day in spring, I was at Chatfield State Park with some friends of mine – John and Cass White and their Rottweiler named Zeus. Bailey and Zeus were running around playing like fiends as one would expect. We were walking down near the South Platte River and spillway from the dam. For whatever reason, Bailey decided to run down into the water right near the spillway. He climbed up on the top of the spill and was running across it. Unfortunately for him, the water falling over the spillway caused him to lose his footing and tumble over the spillway into the churning maelstrom. I thought he was dead. I figured there was no way in this world that he would survive. I didn’t think anyone or anything would have survived that. I stood there at the edge of the water screaming his name. And then – he broke free of the undercurrent and shot to the surface of the water. Though it was a nasty dangerous situation, this dog was swimming his way out. He was freaking remarkable. I don’t even know how he came up with the capability to get himself out of that mess. Eventually he made it to shore and then looked at me like I was nuts because I was making a big fuss over him. He got somewhat banged up because of the fall, but in the end run he survived without too much damage. Before he got too old, Bay was one of the most marvelous trail dogs. Unlike Devon and Lex who was/is a fiend on the trail, Bay was always very smart about hiking. He normally stayed very close to you while on the trail. Unlike Devon and Lex who constant ran as far afield as they could, Bailey would stay very close and act very protective. He was smart about which trails to take. Whenever we would come to a trail junction he would sit there and wait for me to point which way to go. He didn’t seem to believe in wasting any energy while hiking. He was always smart about it and he would tell you if he thought we had gone far enough. Normally it wasn’t possible to tire this dog out. He would just keep going and going and going. I think the longest hike I ever took him on was 15 miles. We were hiking in the Eagles Nest Wilderness area not too far from this little town called Heeney perched above the Green Mountain Reservoir. We started near the trailhead for Lower Cataract Lake and hiked in for miles along a series of trails until we reached the backbone ridge or the entire Gore Mountain chain. It was a great day of hiking that left us both exhausted but fulfilled. Bay will turn 13 years old in a little over 5 weeks. I know Bay will not live forever, but I can’t help but believe this dog has another 2 or 3 years left in him. He is strong and he loves life. Yes – he can act like an old dog sometimes by sleeping through the majority of the day. But he is still all there – he can hear everything and his eyesight is still good. His back legs have gotten a little weak in the last year – especially since he ruptured 2 discs on his back last year this time. He needed a bunch of surgery to solve that one – but he bounced back. Bay has been a loyal friend and companion to the family for his entire life. He is a member of the family and no matter what – I will do everything to make this little puppy of mine have a happy, joyful and relaxing old age. I am loyal to an extreme and I will express my love and commitment to this wonderful soul without reservation. As for our doings for the day – there here isn’t a lot to say. Zack had school. I had work. Zack went to WCCK after school until 4:30PM. I picked him up and took him to Great Clips to get a hair cut as he looked like he had a mop growing from his head. We had to run another errand on the way home as I needed to buy some photo card stock as I have a card that I want to print and get in the mail within the next day. Zack did his homework and then we went to the mall to try and find a new pair of glasses for him. We got them at LensCrafters and since we got them less then a year ago and we only needed a new frame – we got them ½ off. So it wasn’t too bad of a cost.

(Zack sporting his haircut and new glasses at the mall.)

We had dinner at the food court and now are home. Z-man is sitting here next to me devouring his “fill your hand wiches” for dessert. Anyway – that is our story for another day. Once I get Zack to bed I need to get working. I want to get these presentations finished but that probably won’t be until tomorrow. I am also writing another entry for the Caringbridge site. I might post that late tonight but I am not sure. Until tomorrow – thanks and peace to all!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Colorado's Fourteeners

In many of my prior blog posts I have written about the 14ers of Colorado. I think I have pretty well explained what these are. But I figured as we are moving into spring and the climbing season isn’t that far off, I would write a blog entry about these mountains. There are roughly 55 14,000 foot+ mountains in Colorado. I say “roughly” because there is a lot of debate whether or not several of these mountains are actual mountains or just parts of other mountains. In particular there are two “mountains” which are always in question – Mt. Cameron and Challenger Point. Mt. Cameron is often viewed as being part of Mt. Lincoln. The debate is caused by the fact that Mt. Cameron only rises 138 feet above the saddle of Mt. Lincoln. To be viewed as a separate peak, a mountain must rise 200 or 300 feet above the saddle. Even the debate over 200 or 300 feet is unclear. It makes it fairly confusing as to what really constitutes a 14er. Challenger Point is often viewed as part of the Kit Carson Peak Massif. In addition to these “mountains” there are another four mountains which are in this same limbo. They are: El Diente, Conundrum Peak, North Eolus and North Maroon Peak. The fifty-five 14ers are scattered throughout the state with the exception of the eastern plains of course. Though most people refer to reaching the top of a 14er as a climbing, in most cases it is just a really long hike. You can find technical routes to climb every 14er there is, but in almost every case each 14er can be “climbed” by simply hiking to the top. Several of the ascents are a little bit trickier than others, but without too much trying most 14er’s can be summitted with just a lot of determination and strong legs and lungs. A few of these mountains have roads that go to the top or near the top. Two of the closest 14ers to Denver – Pikes Peak and Mt. Evans are major tourist attractions and anyone can reach the summit of those mountains. Pikes Peak has a road and a railroad that goes to the summit. The railroad is interesting as it is a “cog” railroad. There is third rail on the rail line that is like a gear assembly. The engine powers its way up the railroad by having a flywheel that locks onto that gear assemble and moves the engine up the line. On the downward journey this allows the engine to go very slowly without heavy use of brakes. It makes for a much safer ride up and down the mountain. The road to the top of Mt. Evan stops about 1000 feet below the summit. To reach the top you have to scramble up several boulder fields. Despite the altitude even “flat landers” (i.e. people from sea level) can make it to the top.

(Me on top of Mount Bierstadt in winter.)

Another 14er with a road that almost goes to the summit is Mt. Antero. The road in this case ceases only 160 feet below the summit. This mountain is not a major tourist destination like Pikes Peak or Mt. Evans. The road is instead used for mining. Mt. Antero is home to some of the best and easily accessible mineral deposits in the state of Colorado. Across the sides of this mountain many part-time geologists, rock hunters and prospectors go and dig for precious and semi-precious gems. Some of the types of gems that are found on Mt. Antero include: aquamarine, agate, and topaz.

(Me on the top of Mt. Sherman)

I have climbed a total of six of these mountains. One I have now climbed 3 times and I plan to climb it many more. The mountains that I have climbed are: - Mount Bierstadt (3 times) - Mount Democrat - Mount Sherman - Torrey’s Peak - Gray’s Peak - Quandary Peak

(Me on the top of Mt. Democrat)

My mind is still up in the air as to whether or not Zack is yet ready to climb one of the 14ers with me or not. On several occasions he has indicated that he would like to try a 14er, but I am just not sure if he would enjoy it. For a first attempt we will go to Mount Bierstadt. There are a lot of reasons for attempting this one first. I think it gives Zack the best chance to actually make it to the top on the first attempt. Additionally he would be very interested in the terrain. There is a long boardwalk that has been built across some very swampy land to prevent hikers from chewing it up and turning it into a quagmire. I know my boy and he would love running back and forth across this long elevate bridge.

(Jerry with John and Deborah Moore on the Summit of Mount Bierstadt) With any luck we will have a good summer for climbing. If so I really hope to try and reach the summit of another 4 or 5 of these mountains. The mountains I hope to climb this summer are: Mount of the Holy Cross, Mount Elbert, Mount Lincoln, Mount Bross and possibly Mount Massive. Mount Massive and Mount Elbert are the 2 tallest mountains in the entire state. Mount Elbert isn’t that bad of a hike, but due to it shear mass, Mount Massive is a 2 – 3 day hike up and back. So that one will take some consideration as I will have to spend several nights outdoors to reach the top of that one. I will probably summit Mount Bierstadt or Sherman again as I would like to introduce a friend to the joy of 14ers! Our day has been very low-key. Not much has been going on besides the normal everyday stuff. I got a call from Zack while he was at school which was somewhat surprising. He was calling me from the phone in his classroom because he wanted to be sure that I didn’t forget he needed some more loose-leaf paper from for his binder at school. Unfortunately, the little man got his name on the board today. Arghh…. I don’t like it when he gets in trouble. He got his name on the board for being off task – (i.e. not doing what he was supposed to. He told me he was taking like 5 minutes to sharpen his pencil.) Z had Sylvan after school so I walked to school and got him and walked home with him. He is so funny to watch as we walk home. The best way I can describe it that he continuously reminds me of a foal (baby horse) running around and playing in a field. He runs and jumps and skips. It is just so cute to watch. You can never predict whether he is going to run, jump, skip or just look like he is having the most wonderful time just being him. He had his prerequisite snack before Sylvan and then we were off. While he was at Sylvan I went to a Starbucks in Highlands Ranch and spent the rest of the afternoon working. I have 2 really big presentations that I have to give at the end of this week. All my efforts of the next couple of days are going to be spent getting those presentations ready. These presentations are with members of the client’s executive team, so they have to be done right! While I was working at Starbucks I sat at a window seat which was right next to the drive up window. It was funny as I got to see every person coming there to order a coffee or whatever. It would be very interesting to do a demographic study of who drinks Starbucks. To me most of the patrons at Starbucks between 3:30PM and 5:15PM are very busy women with at least one kid in the back seat. It was just really interesting to observe it all. I love watching people - it is kind of a hobby. It makes me chuckle and it makes me think. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t make fun of anyone. It is just neat to observe and soak it all in. For example, there was this one woman in line who was just screaming into her cell phone. I couldn’t hear it of course, but I could tell just by the way her face was and her mouth was moving. I just kind of looked at her and you could tell she knew I knew she yelling at someone. Her face got all red – it was just amusing to catch someone’s emotions like that. This evening I made some sloppy Zacks (Sloppy Joes of course – I just call them that to get under Zack’s skin.) for dinner. I have spent a good part of the evening on the phone. I was making the rounds of calls to my brothers and sisters. Zack is finishing his reading for the night and in a few minutes we will slow the evening down and watch an episode of Modern Marvels on DVR. Zack needs to get a bath tonight so we won’t watch too much. For a Monday – not a bad day I guess. Though I will be really happy next week this time as we will be at the Grand Canyon!! Thanks and peace to all!

New Caringbridge Post

Ok - it has taken me A LOT longer than I anticipated, but I have finally finished the latest entry for the Caringbridge Site. I still have a bunch more entries that I want to write for Caringbridge before I stop updating that site. If you are interested, please read it and post any feedback you have. The address for that site is: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/pattykromer Thanks! Zack and I really appreciate it! Have a great night - I am off to bed!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The First Bike Ride of the Season

So today was my first major bicycle ride of the season. I always say bicycle because I don’t want anyone thinking I ride a motorcycle. I suppose I understand why people like motorcycles, but in my life I have seen 2 people killed in motorcycle crashes and hence I just can’t get into motorcycles. Yeah – I know people can get killed riding bicycles, but bicycle riding just seems less dangerous to me. Anyway, I digress as writing about motorcycles is certainly not the purpose of today’s post. I had all the great intentions in the world of getting up at 6:30AM and hitting the road then. It just didn’t happen. I am still taking antibiotics every 6 hours and because of when I took them last night (around 2AM) I didn’t end up getting out of bed until 8AM. So after I finally got up, I scurried around getting all my biking gear together. I had most it already pulled together but I couldn’t find my biking gloves. I looked for about 20 minutes before finally giving up. Nancy was making some breakfast for Zack this morning so I didn’t have to worry about that. Every other weekend or so, Nancy will make something special for Zack. This morning it was cinnamon rolls. So while he was eating I was gearing up and getting ready to go. I had Zack take a send off picture of me for my first official ride of the year.

(Heading out for the bike trail.)

I left the house around 9:20 or so. I headed out to the C470 bike trail and picked it up right near our local bookstore – the Park Meadows B&N. From there I headed west following C470. Whoever had the idea to build the C470 bike trail when they built that highway was a genius. I just wish they had kept it up when the built the E470 loop on the eastern side of Denver. Oh well. The C470 trail very closely follows the highway until shortly past the Broadway exit. At this point, it joins up with the Highline Canal trail for about 4 miles. the trail winds through a large wooded area that is very pretty and quiet. Unfortunately in the last year much of this wooded area around Lucent Blvd has started to be developed. The new Ralph Schomp car dealership is now located in this area. The trail rejoins the highway about ½ mile to the east of Sante Fe Boulevard. The crossing at Sante Fe is probably one of the worst on the entire trail. You have to cross a 6 lane highway. Yes – there is a pedestrian crossing light there but it still sucks. From there you head into Chatfield State Park. My ride then departed from the C470 trail and switched over to the South Platte Greenway trail. This trail runs from Chatfield the whole way into downtown Denver. It keeps going through Denver and heads north while continuing to follow the South Platte. The trail eventually ends somewhere near 120th Ave way north of Denver. I have never ridden the trail that far. I have only ever gone as far as the where the trail crosses I-70. My ride on the South Platte trail was uneventful but fast. The trail is relatively level and I can build up a huge amount of speed. At one section of the trail near Mineral Avenue I always gear down into one of my highest gears and just let my legs crank. Today I managed to get my bike up to almost 23 miles per hour – which for the first ride of the season was pretty good. The trail is in relatively good shape for this time of the year. However, as the snow starts to melt in the mountains the South Platte normal flows much stronger and fuller. By later in April and May there will be sections of the trail that are flooded. I didn’t even stop to relax once I reached Confluence Park. I just rode on and got to Union Station as quickly as I could. Luckily I had timed it just right and shortly after I arrived I managed to catch a light rail train home. The ride from Union Station to home costs $3.50 and normal takes about 40 minutes or so. I load my bike up onto the train and normally stand at the back of the car for the trip home. Today’s ride was a very liberating experience for me. It was the first time I had been on my bike for a really long ride since Patty died. I had just completed the Bicycle Tour Colorado last year before she got really sick. As a result, I just never managed to get back on my bike last year before the weather turned. It was just such a wonderful feeling being out in the wind and enjoying the feeling of riding hard. So here are the numbers on today’s ride: Total miles: 27.91 miles Total time: 2:01 Calories Expended: 1305 Average Speed: 13.5 mph Average Heart Rate: 138 bpm I always get off the light rail at the Dry Creek Station and then I have another 1.5 miles to ride home. That ride is always a little tough as my muscles stiffen up after the time on the train. When I arrived home I was starving as I hadn’t eaten all day. So I stuffed myself with some food and then got a shower. Zack had a great time while I was gone as he was outside with some of the girls on the street. He had spent pretty much the entire time outside playing and jumping on the trampoline. Once I was done with my shower, I told Zack that he needed to do his reading for the day. While he did that I sat down on the couch and then promptly feel asleep for an hour and a half. It felt good, but it sure wasted my afternoon! After I woke up, I began addressing the dinner situation. Zack has wanted to use his “Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute Meals for Kids” cookbook and so we decided today was the day. He spent awhile looking through the recipes until he decided upon a watermelon soda for starters, quesadilla pizzas for the main course and cookie and ice cream fill-your-handwiches for desert. To allow us to make this for dinner we had to head to the store. We went to Safeway first but with the remodeling taking place there we couldn’t find a couple of things so we were off to King Soopers next. We eventually found everything that we needed and headed home to allow Chef Zack begin his creations. Of course he needed a little bit of help, but he did do a lot of the work himself. He was proud of his creations and to be honest they tasted pretty good.

(Chef Zack working on our watermelon soda.)

(Bobbie Flay - you better watch out. Zackie Kromer is going to be the next big thing chef!)

Though Nancy wasn’t interested in eating what we had she sat at the table with us while we ate. Of course we had some excellent Mozart music playing in the background by which to enjoy our dinner and dessert. We are now winding down for the day. I am just finishing writing this at 8:45PM but I won’t get it posted for a few yet as I have to upload the pictures from the day. (If I didn’t add pictures to this blog almost every day it would take so much less time. Oh well – the pictures make it interesting in my mind.) We really hope everyone had a great weekend and is looking forward to a good week. Thanks and peace to all!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Perfect Contentment

Have you ever had one of those moments that you feel is perfect? When you feel absolutely content and happy and think that if there is a heaven this is what it would be like. I had one of those moments today. The day was absolutely gorgeous. The temperature was just right, the sun was shining brilliantly and there was just a little bit of a breeze that felt so wonderful on your face. The day was so beautiful that Zack and I decided that we didn’t want to spend an hour in the car driving to El Dorado Canyon. Instead we decided to go to a park in Highlands Ranch so that Zack could play on the playground. It’s the park right next to the Highlands Ranch post office. Zack used to play at this park all the time when he was a little kid as it is very near the Montessori School of Lone Tree where he went to preschool. For whatever reason he got it into his head this morning that he wanted to go to that park. Additionally it was on the way to the trailhead for the East-West Regional trail where we were going hiking today. We got there and though it was pretty crowded it was just perfect. I found a great place to sit on a picnic table so that I could watch Zack play. Zack was having a wonderful time. He was climbing all over the play structure like a monkey. He climbed as high as he could go and he wasn’t afraid. He climbed over the top of the monkey bars and was just so pleased and happy with himself. All the while I sat there and watched. I had my iPhone with me and I had the ear phones on and was playing some music. It was great. I just felt wonderful. It wasn’t a feeling that was caused by anything other than me and Zack. I didn’t depend upon any other person for this feeling of happiness. (OK – it depended upon Zack. As my only son, I think part of my happiness has to depend upon his well being.) I didn’t depend upon a drug or alcohol for this feeling. It was all generated within me and came from just a deep sense of contentment with me and my son. It was good and it was beautiful to me. I know the whole concept sounds weird – but it is the best way I can describe the way I felt. (Zack the monkey man!) We stayed at the park for about 45 minutes while Zack ran around, played with other kids and climbed everywhere. He had a lot of fun but tired himself out to some extent. He and I had a lengthy discussion earlier whether we were going to the park first or for our hike. Of course I wanted to hike first and go to the park second. Zack wanted it the other way around. As a parent sometimes you just have to give in on things like this.. After the time at the park, we got back into the car and headed further south to the Coyote Ridge trailhead for the East West Regional Trail. This section of the trail was only completed within the last 2 years and I have never hiked on this section before. I am really excited for the time when this trail is finally complete. When it is there will be a 25 – 30 mile hiking/biking corridor opened up that will connect to so many other trail systems.

(Zack quenching his thirst at sign post on the East-West Regional Trail.)

Zack and I headed out with the intention of doing at least 2 miles. We weren’t going to push it that hard for the day because Zack was tired from playing at the park and this was my first hike since recovering from all the crap of the last several weeks. We ended up doing a total of 3.2 miles and we traversed some interesting terrain. Give the lack of tree cover, it was pretty warm for a good part of our hike. I had drinks and snacks with us, so that kept the Z-man moving.

(Yes - Zack did take this picture of me! His photography skills are improving!)

Besides the park and our hike, I also got out on my bicycle for the first ride of the season. I only rode a couple of miles today - just enough to make sure my yearly repair work on the bike was good. This is a couple weeks later than I wanted it to be as a result of the whole abscess situation. I will begin my training for the Death Ride 2009 over the next week. I got a lot of miles to cover to get ready for that ride. That ride occurs on July 11, 2009 in California. Though I am looking forward to that ride, there is something else taking place that weekend which would be of much greater significance and enjoyment to me. The other event is a wedding in Michigan and I am hoping to be invited to go as a date of a person who is invited. I am going to train for the Death Ride, but I am really hoping I end up being at that wedding that weekend. The rest of our day has centered on doing things here at home. We did go out to dinner to night at our traditional pasta spot and then went to the book store afterwards. That is kind of a Saturday tradition – to go out to the book store after we have dinner. We started this tradition years ago when Zack was a little kid and it has kind of stuck. We are now winding down for the night with a little bit of TV and off to bed we go. Well – off to bed Zack goes as I will stay up a while longer. I only watched about 45 minutes of the last episode of Battlestar Galatica last night, so I have another hour and 15 minutes to go. I will miss this show as it was pretty good. We don’t have any firm plans for Sunday as of yet. I am thinking I am going to get up with the sun and head out for the first major bike ride of the year. It won’t be a tough one as my plan is to get on the C470 bike path near here and ride to the west until I can join up with the South Platte bike trail and then ride into downtown Denver at Confluence Park. With any luck I will be in Confluence Park by 9:30AM. From there I will take the light rail home. All told it is a 30 mile ride without a lot of hill climbing. It is a good first ride for the season. I am almost done writing the next entry that I want to post to the Caringbridge site. If I get really ambitious I might finish it late tonight. Otherwise I will finish writing it tomorrow and post it then. As always - Thanks and peace to all!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Post Nuggets Game Update

Well - the Nuggies won tonight - 116 - 105. Yippee! I think the Nuggets have only lost one of games that we have gone to see this year. That is way cool.
We had a good time and Zack was a well behaved dude. Though he was breaking the ear drums of everyone around us when the Wizards were shooting free throws. He really believes in the whole idea of "making some noise".
We took a bunch of pictures tonight and here they are:
(Zack with a snow cone the size of his head)
(Z and me in our seats. The ladies who have seats next to us for all of our games took this. Notice my neck isn't swollen to two or three times it normal size!)
(The ladies in the seats next to us.)
(The view of the court from our seats.)
We just got home a few minutes ago and Zack is once again filling his stomach. He is having some flipsides and milk before he goes to bed. As per usual we had hot dogs, soda's and sweet stuff at the game. Instead of dipping dots tonight Zack had a snow cone the size of his head. I had my normal churro.
I am going to get the Z man and dogs to bed and then I am taking some time and changing the tire on my bike while I watch the final episode of Battlestar Galatica on DVR. Then it is beddie-bye time for me too. We are planning to get up somewhat early and head out on a hike. Though it is a fair drive away, I am considering head north up to El Dorado Canyon. I'll play that one by ear. If we don't go there we will probably go to Deer Creek Canyon open space in Jeffco.
Anyway - we hope everyone had a great Friday!
Thanks and peace to all!

The Sound Track of Life

You ever notice that day-to-day things seem so much better when you have music to do them by? I have a saying for it – life is always better with a sound track. I always think this when I am spending a lot of time with music playing. Thankfully today has brought a much slower pace to the work day for me. I only had one hour long conference call today – which is such a relief after the hours and hours of calls and meetings earlier this week. So as I have worked today I have sat here with my iPod playing. Which has provided me with my idea for today's blog post. Today I have been playing some fast beat trance/progressive music. My normal listening patterns go back and forth from various forms of classical music to electronica (i.e. the trance/progressive) to hardcore edgy punk rock. Zack is strictly a trance/progressive kid. I have played just about every kind of music for him (except for country and jazz – as I am not big fans of them). After listening to just about everything I have he has become stuck on the trance/progressive music. His favorite artist appears to be Paul Oakenfold. Zack says that Oakenfold’s trance/progressive music really can fuel his imagination. So whenever we are having a “rocking afternoon or evening” at home, he always wants me to put on some “Oakenfold trance/progressive” music. When I do he will wander around the house in his own little world of his imagination – it is actually very cute to see.

(These pictures are copyrighted! Have to add the legal stuff as both of these images are copyrighted.)

I tend to subject both Zack and Nancy to my affliction for classical music during dinner. Whenever I make a dinner and we all are sitting down to eat I will always put on a classical playlist. I am most partial to Mozart. As Scolieri said in the movie “Amadeus” – “It is like his (Mozart’s) music is the voice of God”. To Zack’s annoyance if I put Mozart on, I tend to leave it turned on for hours. Today’s playlist was one I call “The List”. It brings together a lot of my favorite electronica with some other stuff thrown in. I use this playlist for my workouts and when I am flying. Here are some of the songs on that playlist if anyone is interested. - “Breathe Me” – Sia - “Clocks” – Coldplay - “Munich” – Editors - “Starlight” – Muse - “Where Ever You Go” – 2 Worlds and Lizzy Patterson - “Everything Counts” – Depeche Mode - “Blue Sky Mine” – Midnight Oil - “The Impression that I Get” - The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones - “Beautiful Day” – U2 - “Faster Kill Pussycat” – Oakenfold - “Without You” – Dogzilla - “Turn on the Music” – Roger Sanchez - “Do You Wanna Hold Me” – Bow Wow Wow - “Tripping Billies” – Dave Matthews Band - “A Little Less Conversation” – Elvis Pressley (Remix) - “10 in 01” – Paul van Dyk - “It’s a Fine Day” – Miss Jane - “I Wanna Be Sedated” – The Ramones - “Sister Havana” – Urge Overkill - “The Hand that Feeds” – Nine Inch Nails - “Crystal” – New Order - “Regret” – New Order - “King of the Mountain” – Midnight Oil - “Fine Time” – New Order Zack and I have an entire Oakenfold playlist that we will frequently play in the car. It is kind of funny to see this middle aged Dad rolling down the highway in his Honda Civic with his 10 year old kid playing all this loud trance/progressive music. Somehow it just seems wrong! (Just joking.) I am glad I don’t have a fast car when we do that, as I tend to drive a little faster when Z and I are going nutso over our music. I don’t know if anyone agrees with me or not – but I really think life is much better with a sound track! As for our doings of the day…. It is a normal Friday for us. Zack had school and I had work. We are both happy that next week this time we will be getting ready to head out on spring break! Zack had his appointment with Dr. Jane today after school as is normal. We had to run some errands afterwards to REI and Petco. I needed to get some tire levers for my bike and pups needed some dog food. We have tickets to the Denver Nuggets tonight – they are playing the Washington Wizards. I think we are going to drive downtown as opposed to taking the light rail. If we take the light rail we won’t get home until going on 11:00PM. But if we drive we can get home sooner. Given that I am hoping we get up early tomorrow morning and go for a hike, I think we are going to drive. I’ll update this post after the game tonight. I want to ask the people who have seats next to us to take some photos of us. I'll post those pictures of us at the game to the site later on tonight – I think I’ll just update this post as opposed to writing an entirely new one. Til later – have a great Friday evening!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Why I Write

Has anyone wondered “Why the hell does Jerry write this blog?” Sometimes I wonder that. As I was running around this morning doing a very early conference call, trying to review spelling with Zack, get Zack his breakfast, get him to school and get to a final appointment with the oral surgeon I spent a lot of time thinking about that – why do I write this thing? I am a relatively simply person. There aren’t a lot of hidden agendas or strategic thoughts that go through my head. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. So you get the unvarnished “it is the way it is” kind of writing from me. Ok – yeah – I use “hidden agendas” to manage my dogs. I’ll go outside and yell “Bye-bye in car car” to get Lex inside when he is barking his head off. No – I don’t have any intention of taking Lex in the car, but he thinks I do and he comes running. That is the extent of me having a hidden agenda. So with that said – why do I write this thing? Sometimes it is a hassle. I occasionally have to deal with the e-mails about something stupid I have written. My readers do appear to be vocal and if I say something stupid – I hear about it – rightly so! Plus there are some days – like yesterday where I am exhausted but I feel the need to write. It is worth it to write this blog. When I think about it I guess there are a couple of key reasons why I write this. First – I write because I want to keep a record of the life that Zack and I lead. When someone leaves this existence what do they leave behind? It all depends upon the kind of life that they have lead. If you are famous, infamous or just well known, someone might write a biography of you. Or you might even write an autobiography of yourself - but what about the 99.9% of the rest of us? There aren’t books written about us. When we leave this world there isn’t much left except for the love and the feelings of those you have left behind have for you. So one of the reasons I write is just to have a record of what has happened. Maybe when Zack is an old man and has grandkids sitting on his lap, he can use whatever technology exists at the time and read stories about his childhood to them from this blog. Second – I like to share. One of the things that was so very difficult about the 2.5 years of Patty’s illness was the feeling of isolation. The Caringbridge site helped in a lot of ways. But from all of that experience I had the realization that you really have to work very hard to have a large, strong social support network. We had family and friends who were there for us during the whole episode. But many people stayed away because of the situation. I have heard from many people that they were really afraid of Patty’s situation. They didn’t know what to say, they didn’t know how to act. So this blog is my attempt to share my life (warts and all) with a larger audience and continue to build a bigger social network for Zack and me as a family. Third – I like to write. I’ll be honest - I really don’t like what I do for a career. Yes – I appear to be pretty good at it. But intrinsically it is not something that I wake up every morning and say “Boy I am happy to be a project executive”. That isn’t any slight to my employer and it doesn’t mean that I don’t work really hard – as I do. It just means, I will not continue doing what I do for the rest of my working career. I am 43 years old and if I follow in the footsteps of both of my grandfathers and father – I would tend to think my working career has another 40 years or more. (OK – provided I don’t get killed climbing a 14er or by a tooth abscess run wild!) I have to find something that I want to do career-wise. There are a couple of things I am considering – one of them is trying to become a nature photographer/writer along the lines of John Fielder. (Just as an FYI… I took the picture at the top of the blog. So I feel I at least have some rudimentary photography skills.) For those of you not from Colorado, John Fielder is probably the most accomplished nature photographer/writer that this state has. I make no claims that I would ever reach that level. But if I could reach the level of being able to pen articles for the local publications and self publish a book or greeting cards that I could sell in the art stores around the state – I would be very happy. My writing here, though it sucks and is full of typos, is a small attempt by me to look to the future and what I am going to do. That future isn’t that far off. Zack will enter high school in only 5 more years. As he makes that transition into high school, I will begin to make the transition out of my current line of work. Fourth and for now most importantly – I write for my own redemption. I want my life to be out there. I want to show who and what I am – I don’t want to be characterized by my own misstatements or the words of others. There has been a lot of water under the bridge during the last 3 years and I want it all behind me. For now it is a hope and I will keep working towards redemption. (T Enzo – that is just for you.) So that is why I write this. I am sure I am silly for putting as much of my life out there as I do, but I guess I am just an exhibitionist! Our day has continued along the same path of the prior days of this week – BUSY! I had to be up and on a conference call at 7:00AM this morning. Calls at this hour or earlier always make for a tough start to the day. It means I have to get Zack up early and then juggle getting him ready and doing work. Today was especially rough as we also had to do a spelling review. Zack has a spelling test every Thursday and normally we do the review on Tuesday and Wednesday – however with all the other things going on this week we didn’t have time. I had my final appointment with the oral surgeon this morning. It was kind of funny as he maybe looked at me for 20 seconds and then pretty much said “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out”. OK – that is an exaggeration, but he made it quite clear that my recovery has been quick and near on one hundred percent. I feel very good about that. I feel strong with how my body has handled the whole situation. I know I am no longer a 20 year old, but knowing that I could make it through something that was viewed to be “potentially life threatening” and bounce back as quickly as I did makes me very happy! On top of that I took the last dose of the really nasty antibiotics (Clindamycin) at noon today. This antibiotic is the one that causes C-diff, so I can not tell you how freaking glad I am to get off of this thing!!! One unfortunate event from today’s activities – Zack broke his glasses at school. This pair has survived since September, so it last 3 times longer than his first pair. So this weekend we will be heading to LensCrafters to get another pair. From what he said it was a total and complete accident. I know my little man and I can’t get angry with him over something like this. Bottom line – little kids and glasses often mean broken glasses! The rest of the day was filled with conference calls and then I had to leave for Boulder. My Thursday evenings meetings in Boulder always make for a long day. Despite the length of the day, I always feel good when it is done because then I usually have a light day of work on Friday. I arrived home about 1 hour ago and now the calm of night time has settled over the house. Zack and the dogs are tucked away in bed and now I have a few moments to myself to finish my writing and then relax. I did have a pleasant surprise when I walked in the door – I got a call from my college roommate. We didn’t have much time to chat because of getting Zack to bed, but we will catch up more over the weekend. It’s always good to hear from Allen! I hope to pick up on my writing on the Caringbridge site again. There is a lot more I want to write about. There is a lot more of the story I want to tell. I will probably post more there this weekend. Til later - thanks and peace to all!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What to say, What to say.....

I normally put a lot of thought into what I write in this blog. I don’t know if anyone reads it besides a few people, but the hit counter does continue to go up each day so I am assuming that my thoughts are at least to some degree interesting, amusing or just plain ridiculous to someone. Unfortunately, tonight I am just simply exhausted and not up to putting much thought into my writing. The day has been so very long. Additionally, I think I am pushing myself a little too hard a little too soon. But I don’t have a choice – life goes on and I have to get things done. The schedule for both Zack and I has been brutal this week. I am really looking forward to some down time over the weekend. The day was the same as yesterday in terms of the long hours of conference calls with lots of discussion. Thankfully I didn’t have to start the day by walking Zack to school while I was on a conference call, but I had to pick him up from school while on a call and drive him to Sylvan while on a call. Beside Sylvan we had groceries shopping that had to be done as there wasn’t a drop of milk in the house and Zack would never stand for that. After Sylvan, I had to get a quick dinner for us and then head to the Cub Scout Pack meeting. Tonight’s pack meeting was about careers. There were three different speakers that came in and talked to the boys. The first were a group of firemen from the South Metro Fire District. The second was an Arapahoe County Sheriff deputy. The last was Rebecca McClelland a Willow Creek resident and the current Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Centennial. The kids rotated from one speaker to another and learned about what the fireman, sheriff deputy and the city government do. It was nice as we parents didn’t have to really do anything for this pack meeting. It gave me a chance to stand around and talk to a couple of the other dad’s in Zack’s Den. We are kind of a unique group in the fact that there are only 4 boys in Zack’s Den. Of the 4 parents, 2 of us are single dads and one of the other two dads is recently married after being a single dad for years. It is interesting to talk to other single dads about the challenge of raising a boy on your own. What is good about that is what I face with Zack really isn’t out of the ordinary in terms of other single dads experiences. That makes me feel somewhat good. Zack got a bunch of achievement awards for things that he has accomplished over the last several months worth of den meetings. He was very proud to get these. I had told Zack that if he behaved at the Pack Meeting today I would take him to Maggie Moos – a local ice cream spot for an after pack meeting treat. No sooner I had I told him that we were going than he invited his whole den. Two of the boys had to get home to finish homework, so it was us and Zack McCurdy, his dad and his sister who went. The kids got their ice cream and I got a shake. Zack M’s dad didn’t get anything but he beat me to the cash register. Thanks Sean! But after the next meeting I am taking you guys out and I am paying!!! (I hate when people beat me to the cash register!!) There were a couple of other things from the Pack meeting. Zack will be racing his Pinewood Derby car again at the Arapahoe Scout District Derby on April 4th. This Derby will showcase the winners from all the different packs in the District. If he wins there – which I totally and complete know he will NOT, then he will get to go to the next level of competition. (Sorry Zack – it isn’t that the Mach Z isn’t a good car, it just I know what the competition is like and the Mach Z just isn’t fast enough!) Zack will get to be in the color guard carrying the US flag for the singing of the National Anthem during the Colorado Rockies game on July 26, 2009. (The Rockies will be playing the San Francisco Giants for this game.) This is a yearly thing that the Webelos II’s from Pack 467 do every summer. The Boy Scout Council of Denver has an arrangement with the Rockies to provide the color guard for many of the summer games. So you can be sure we will be at this game. Given that I have a Scout Leader uniform I will probably be on the field with the boys which will be cool for me too! Anyway – that is it for the night. I am utterly beat, tired and exhausted and I have another crazy busy day to look forward to tomorrow. Oh well – 48 hours from now it will be the weekend! Thanks and peace to all!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Breaking the Spring

I have been on over 10 hours of conference calls today. We are walking through the entire ERP system design for the IBM project on which I am one of the project executives. It has been a looooong day. But that is work – you just have to do it! I did have an embarrassing moment when the battery died on my phone. It caused the phone to lose connection with my call. Then the call waiting picked it up and rolled it over to my answering machine. This call with over 30 people was going on and my answering machine message starts going off. Agh – can you say I was embarrassed! The good thing about a day like today is that it did give me a few moments to work on finalizing Spring Break plans for Zack and me. I really wanted to go overseas with Zack for Spring Break, but given what happened last week I just feel it is too soon afterwards. If the infection were to re-occur, then Zack would have been in France with me in the hospital. That would not be a good scenario! So here are our plans: We are going to go to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and a few other national monuments in the Arizona. We will leave on March 28 and fly to Las Vegas. We’ll stay at the Venetian – one of my favorite hotels in Vegas for 2 nights and see the kid-friendly sites of Las Vegas. (No – I won’t be going to Pure!) We will stay away from the casinos obviously and concentrate on the lights and shows. I am sure we will spend countless hours walking up and down the Strip seeing the lights, the fountains and all the other things that make Vegas - Vegas. I haven’t scored tickets yet, but I am willing to pay a fair amount to get tickets to Mystere (a Cirque de Soleil show). I think Zack would really like seeing that.
On Monday March 30th, we will pack up and head out early with our first stop at the Hoover Dam. We are going to do the “big tour” and see every inch of the dam that you can see without working there. I think Zack will be fascinated by this and will really enjoy it. After the dam we will head to the Grand Canyon. Along the way we will stop and see everything that we can see. I have done the drive through some of these sections of Arizona before and I remember the desolation and solitude of the desert. I am sure we will seek out some quiet out-of-the-way place to have a picnic lunch along the way. There are a ton of places along the way from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon that will be cool to stop. I’ll have to sort them all out and figure out the best ones. Some of the places I am considering are Grand Canyon Caverns, a milkshake at the “Snow Cap” in Seligman, the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff and cruising on the longest remaining stretch of Route 66. We will spend the next 3 days staying near the Grand Canyon. I am still working on which hotel near the canyon at which we will stay. I don’t have any plans for us to hike to the canyon floor or anything like that, but we will definitely spend a lot of time hiking and exploring. Given its price tag and obtrusiveness into the natural settings of the Canyon, I am planning to avoid the “Grand Canyon Skywalk”. Additionally, I don’t think that I would get Zack out on it anyway. We'll head back to Las Vegas on Thursday April 2 and spend another night there before we fly home on Friday morning. It won’t be a huge vacation or anything, but it will be part of my goal to let Zack see the world! Our day today has been nightmarishly busy. I had almost 10 hours straight of conference calls. I had to take Zack to and from school while doing conference calls from my cell phone. Zack’s day at school left something to be desired as he got into trouble today. I think he is still emotionally dealing with the issues of last week. This evening I had another conference call that ran from 6:00PM to 7:00PM concerning a project of mine that is just starting up in Kuala Lumpur. During that time Zack had science club in which he was giving part of the presentation on black holes and gravity. Dr Science (Gary Berkowitz) has always sought to include Zack in any of the presentations that have to do with space or physics. Zack gets a kick out of it so I really appreciate Gary including Zack in these presentations.
(Zack and Gary Berkowitz aka Dr. Science)
We were going to go out to dinner after science club, but I forgot to take my 6:00PM antibiotics and so we had to go home after science club. When we got home Zack decided he would rather stay at home than go out. We had grilled cheese and ham sandwiches and a bunch of fruit (honey dew and watermelon) for dinner. It wasn’t planned but it was still a good and filling dinner. I am glad that the day is at an end and I can spend a few moments trying to get things done that need to be done here at home before the whole thing starts all over again. Tomorrow is even busier (don’t even ask all the stuff that is going on!) – but we will soldier through and try and have as fun much as we can!
Thanks and peace to all!