Friday, July 31, 2009

Eleven Years Ago Today

(Zack as a six month old.)
Over the years I have written a lot of stories about different things that have happened in my life. I have kept these stories hidden away on my laptop and haven't really shared them with anyone. The stories have been written so that I can share them with Zack when he is older. I have posted several of these stories here on my blog as filler when I haven't felt like writing much. Tonight I am posting one of these stories not so as filler but it is so appropriate for the day that is today - Zack's birthday!
Without further ado - here is a story I wrote back in 2003 called "The Day You were Born". I wrote this story specifically for Zack and it was written like I was talking to him.

July 31, 1998 was a warm day in Denver. The temperature was in the high eighties or low nineties. It was one of those days in which the giant thunderstorms come rumbling through around 2 or 3 in the afternoon and just soaked the city with rain. It rained so badly that day that some of the underpasses on I-25, the major interstate through the city were total flooded.

Your mom’s pregnancy had not been easy for her and on July 29th the doctors had told us that it was necessary to induce labor pretty quickly. We did get to pick the day on which you would be born within a 2 or 3-day window. We choose Friday, July 31 because it also was my Mom’s birthday. At the time my Mom had been diagnosed with cancer about 6 or 7 weeks beforehand. She had just gotten out of the hospital after a bout of surgery. So we wanted to try and have you born on her birthday so that you would share a special day with her.

Anyway, your Mom went into the hospital on Thursday evening around 8PM. We had put Bailey and Devon into a kennel for a couple of days because we didn’t know how long we would be at the hospital. We took some videotapes with us that we could watch in the VCR in the birthing room. As soon as we got to the hospital, the nurses got Patty situated and got her going on the medicine that would induce labor. We then sat down and watch some of the videotapes that we brought with us. Your Aunt Celinde and Uncle Tim stopped by to visit for a while. They gave Patty the Babe stuffed animal that you came to love when you were a 3 year old. They were leaving early the next morning to go to Pennsylvania to visit my Mom since it was her birthday also. So, they weren't around when you were born.

Thursday night was uneventful and I managed to get several hours of sleep, but your Mom didn’t’ sleep too well. On Friday morning, the nurses really increased the medicine that would induce labor. Patty started to feel some pain as labor began. The pain wasn’t good. Around lunch time the pain got so bad that they gave Patty the epidural. After that she felt better and said I should go and get something to eat. I went down to the cafeteria to get something to eat and read the news paper. When I came back, your Mom was in intense pain as the epidural reqlly hadn’t worked. We got the doctor back in who gave the epidural and they worked to correct the situation. It helped somewhat but not too much. In the end run it didn't matter as you were going to be born very shortly.

As the labor continued the doctors and nurses in the room began to notice there were signs of stress that you were experiencing. At first your pulse rate when way up but then after a while it started to fall. It began to fall into a range that would be described as dangerous for an unborn baby.

After a lot of pain and pushing by your Mom - you finally made your entrance into the world at 3:01PM on July 31, 1998. It wasn't any kind of grand entrance as you entered the world in silence. There was no screaming or crying - only silence. The nurses immediately took you over to the "baby cart" (for lack of a better word on my part) where you were put on a soft pad and the temperature was kept nice and warm. The did a quick test on you called an Apgar test and to put it bluntly you failed. You got a big fat zero - which meant that they really didn't detect any life in you. And too top it off you weren't breathing. All of this took place in about 30 seconds so it wasn't a long time. Given that you were breathing or doing anything - besides starting to turn a shade of blue - after 30 seconds the decision was made to call for a "code blue" and get a "crash cart" into the room to get you going.

Just as the call for a "crash cart" was going out - you decided that it was time to get on with life and let out the biggest and most beautiful scream that I had ever heard. It was great - you were alive and though not happy about being out in the world - you were fighting to stay in that world! After about 15 minutes of having you checked out in the room, the you got to go and be held by Mom for a little while before you were shipped off to the neo-natal intensive care. Given the way you came into the work and your size - you were 4lb 9ozs when you were born, they thought it was best that you got some special care. However after spending 2 hours there the doctors decided that you didn't need any special kind of care and you were shipped over to the regular nursery.

You stayed the hospital for the next 48 hours with Mom. Around 5PM on Sunday August 2, 1998 your Mom and I packed you up in car seat and took you home. When you left the hospital to go home on August 2, 1998 you weighed a grand total of 4lb 5oz. Both your Mom and I wondered if we would be able to take of you. Only time would tell in this case!


All of those activities from 11 years ago today seem so distant and part of another life. Despite that fact, Zack and I are together and inseparable. With the loss of Patty our relationship has taken on an entirely different tone. I am his one and only parent who is alive and in this world - so I have a tremendous duty to this little boy.

I will always be there for him regardless of his age or anything else. He is my one and only son, and I will do everything to ensure he has the best life possible. (Not the most cushy life, not the most pampered life or not the life with out responsibility - but the best life possible.) And by that I mean where Zack is working to his potential and is content where he is in life.

Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Sleepy, Sleepy, Sleepy!

Normally I never provide updates like this during the workday. But this morning I am going to take 15 minutes and update my blog during work hours!
I really meant to update last night but to be honest I pretty much passed out once I got Zack to bed. No I didn't drink too much alcohol or anything like that - I was just exhausted. Yesterday I gave platelets and plasma and I think it just wiped me out totally! My platelets were lower than normal (they go up and down all the time - no big deal) so they only took one unit of platelets but TWO units of plasma. I think they fact that they took two units of platelets really wiped me out. But it was of course for a good cause - saving someone else's life!
The main reason I wanted to update yesterday was that I made a huge decision yesterday. So far this summer Zack and I have not taken a vacation other than going to our condo for a couple of days. Given that Zack's school starts in a little bit more than 3 weeks I decided the time had come and I purchased tickets for a trip. We leave next Wednesday August 5 for France for 8 days. It won't be anything too exotic or anything. We are just going to Paris. I have been there before but Zack never has and he has always expressed an interest in going. So it was a totally and completely spur of the moment thing, but I looked for tickets and a hotel yesterday and I found them both responsibly priced.
We are staying in a hotel about 1/4 of mile away from Notre Dame which to me is very nice as we will be in walking distance of many of the key attractions of Paris - The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower, The Musee D'Orsay, etc. So Zack has a little bit of other experiences in Europe, I think we are going to take a train and go visit Brussels - but we'll see depending upon how much fun we are having in Paris.
I'll provide more details when I update again later. Today is a hugely important day as it is Zack's 11th B-Day!
Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Little Bit Delayed - Rockies Game Photos

This is a little bit later than I wanted to be posting these, but here are some of the pictures from the Rockies game flag presentation. I got to say it was really fun to do this. We got to see areas of Coors field that as a common person you never get to see.
I think Zack had a lot of fun with it. He didn't seem phased by the fact that he would be carrying the US Flag in front of tens of thousands of people. To him it was just another boy scout flag ceremony - like the dozens he has done before at his pack meetings.
It was just something very neat to do! Anyway here are some pictures from the event.
Zack hanging out waiting for us to be let into the stadium through the "special entrance".
Z and the other scouts along with me and Sean McCurdy.
The flag was awfully big for Zack. But he did a great job keeping it held high and off the ground.
Waiting to walk out onto the field.
Holding the flags right before the singing of the national anthem.
Hanging out during a break in the action of the game.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pictures... From Attempt on Mt. Lincoln (14,286 ft)

Monday is complete and now on to Tuesday! I don't want to make everyone think I hate Mondays but I DO! Look back on your life - when are all the good memories made that last you a life time - weekends, vacations and holidays. How many memorable memories are made during the work week - probably not that many. OK - I am just kind of kidding about that, but right now with the all the pressure of work and managing Zack through the day-to-day existence of school or day-camp, work weeks are tough! Enough of my simple minded complaints about the work week. Onto the important stuff. Here are some of the pictures that I took during our hike up to the summit of Mt. Lincoln - elevation 14286. I will probably make some of these into another slide show once I find some good music to include in the slide show. Otherwise it was a low key day for us. I was very busy with work and Zack had a good fun day at WCCK day camp. This evening we had a lot of fun by rocking out to some really loud music. We were playing a bunch of Nine Inch Nails songs on my iPod and the iPod docking station. We had it VERY loud, so loud I am sure some of my neighbors could hear us. Oh well - no one came to my door so I would guess all my neighbors were OK with it. Anyway - enjoy the pictures!

Zack at the car waiting for us to start the hike. Kite Lake from one of the steep sections of trail. From this angle you can't tell, but the lake is in the shape of a kite. Zack resting by a sign post.

Jerry by the same sign post. (I look like crap in these pictures!) Photo op while on the "saddle" between Mt. Democrat and Mt. Cameron/Mt. Lincoln.

Mt. Lincoln summit block from Mt. Cameron. Isn't this a desolate, but beautiful place? Zack on the summit of Mt. Lincoln looking for the USGS marker to verify that he has actually reached the summit. The two of us on the summit! Zack on his way back down the mountain. It's hard to tell in this picture but he is carrying two rocks. Why he has to collect every interesting rock he finds I haven't the slightest idea! I hope everyone enjoyed the pictures and that everyone's week is off to a great start! Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Climbing Success

Sunday nights are always late nights for me. I think it is because I don't want the weekend to come to a conclusion. So I tend to stay up late and just put off going to bed and starting Monday. I am starting to write my blog entry for Sunday at almost 1:00AM on a Monday morning - silly me!
This weekend has been exceedingly busy for us. But we have been left with an incredible sense of accomplishment and success. The weekend started for us around 5:00PM Friday when we left for the mountain house in Silverthorne. Besides the normal congestion on C470 between our home and Sante Fe Blvd, traffic really wasn't that bad. I guess a lot of people had heard the weather forecast for the weekend for the mountains and decided to stay home.
We made it to Silverthorne around 6:30PM and settled in for an early night. Given the time I hoped to rise on Saturday morning there was no way we were going to stay up late! Saturday morning dawned early for us (around 5:30AM) as I wanted us to get on the trail at a reasonable hour. After taking some time to clean up the condo and get ourselves ready for the adventure ahead, we were out the door. We stopped for a quick meal at the Dillon McDonalds and were on our way. (Yeah - I know eating at McDonald's isn't the best, but with the amount of calories that we normally burn off on a hike like this, I don't think it really matters.)
To reach the trail head for our hike we took I-70 to Frisco and then Colorado Rt 9 to Breckenridge. From Breckenridge we continued south on Rt 9 over Hoosier Pass and into the small town of Alma. Once in Alma we took the Kite Lake road into the wilderness. The Kite Lake Road is a dirt road that penetrates 6 miles into the heart of the Mosquite Range. It ends at the aptly named Kite Lake. The drive wasn't bad as it is a drivable dirt road as opposed to a 4x4 track.
Along the way to Kite Lake we had an encounter with an irresponsible jerk. Most people driving along dirt roads understand the etiquette of how to drive on a dirt road. We were part of a line of 4 cars moving along the road. We were all going 20 mph or so because the road was rough. When travelling on a washboard dirt road, you can't go too fast or you will just bounce right off. You could tell all of us were probably experienced at driving along dirt roads in the mountains based upon the way we were driving. Out of no where from behind us comes along an idiot in a bright and shiny Lexus 4x4. He decided that he had to get to Kite Lake faster than anyone else and had to pass this line of 4 cars. He was driving at an excessive speed and was doing things that would endanger himself and others. It really annoyed the heck out of me to see this person behaving so recklessly. I didn't do anything rash, but you could see people in the other cars giving the driver of the Lexus the middle finger. I don't know why - but the whole thing just pissed me off.
After that little incident the rest of our drive to the trailhead was uneventful. There is a parking lot at the trailhead and it was reasonable parked up, but we were able to find a parking space only 100 yards from the trail head.
It took me about 10 minutes to get all of our gear gathered up, organized and stuffed into my backpack. I had decided to take some extra things with me and so my pack weighed on the order of 20 - 30 pounds - which is the heaviest backpack I have hiked with in a while. (When I go on back packing trips I will normally shoulder a 60 - 80 pound back pack.)
Once we were ready we started and quickly came to the trailhead. At the start of the trail there was a gentleman from the Colorado 14er's Initiative telling everyone about the land use issues associated with Mount Cameron and Mount Bross. His basic recommendation for everyone was to stay clear of those peaks. For a complete description of the land use issues, you can check out this link to the Colorado 14'ers initiative.
Being good citizens we decided that we would do our best to stay off of these peaks so I changed our hiking plan to just reach Mount Lincoln. To reach Mt. Lincoln you first walk along the northern shore of Kite Lake before heading straight up a very significant ridge. Shortly after we started our hike both Zack and I were gasping for air as we were climbing at a significant rate. This first part of the hike is through grassy terrain that is pretty forgiving on your feet and knees.
In a short distance the environment begins to take on a much more unforgiving tone. The grassy slopes give away to continuous scree and talus fields that are murder on your feet and knees. At various points along this steep up hill climb the trail almost becomes totally lost in this giant talus field. The only saving grace are the extensive number of tall stone cairns that mark the trail.
This steep up hill climb continues for about 1 mile until you reach a "saddle" with a beautiful view between the ridges that run up to Mt. Democrat and those that run up to Mt. Lincoln and Mt. Cameron. To reach the top of Mt. Democrat you go to the south on this ridge while to reach Mt. Lincoln and Cameron you head to the north.
Once you have begun heading north the climb becomes a little bit more reasonable for a while until you enter a series of switchbacks through the continuous talus fields. These switchbacks continue to wind up the side of Mt. Cameron. I had expected that at some point we would have the option to take a trail that didn't carry us over the summit of Mt. Cameron but I was wrong. The only way to reach Mt. Lincoln was to go over the summit of Mt. Cameron.
At long last we reach the summit of Mt. Cameron. The summit itself is just a flat space at the top of a significant ridge. From the "summit" of Cameron you can see the distinct profile of Mt. Lincoln. As I stood there on the top of Cameron I realized that we had a somewhat scary climb ahead of us to make the summit of Mt. Lincoln. Up to this point, Zack had been heads down working hard to make the summit of these mountains. I wondered how he would feel about climbing to the top of Mt. Lincoln.
From the summit of Mount Cameron, there is a down hill section (I believe you lose about 190 feet) that you must cross to reach the summit block of Mt. Lincoln. The terrain between Mount Cameron and Mount Lincoln is very desolate. It is one continuous talus/scree field. Little to nothing grows on it and it makes you feel like you are in the middle of the worst desert in the world. I have read a lot about the environment in Mongolia and other high places and the environment here definitely made me think of what I have read.
From this desolate area between Cameron and Lincoln, you can see the path you must follow to reach the summit of Lincoln. At the base of the summit block it does not look like a lot of fun to reach the summit.
Regardless of what it looked like both Zack and I were determined to at least try and make it to the top of Lincoln. We did manage to negotiate the "path" to the top of Mt. Lincoln and we were able to sit at the summit and soak in the success of our efforts. Our time on the summit of Mt. Lincoln was limited as rain clouds were beginning to move into the area. After about 15 minutes on the summit we decided it was time to head down.
While we were at the summit Zack got a lot of praise from some experienced hikers and climbers. By far he was the youngest person we saw on the trail. (We saw a couple of teenagers but no kids as young as Zack.) Most of the experienced climbers were amazed that a kid of that age was able to make to the top of such a difficult mountain.
Given the extent of the building rain clouds we opted to take the shortest route down the mountains and back to the car which required us to retrace our steps up Mt. Cameron and then back down into the saddle between Lincoln/Cameron and Democrat. We moved as quickly as we could because neither of us wanted to be caught in a lightning storm at that attitude.
The trip down in some ways was as hard as the trip up. Going down through this severe and inhospitable environment of rock and talus took a huge toll our my thighs, knees and ankles. But we were determined to get down as quickly as we could. The total elapsed time for us to get down was on the order of 1.75 hours - which worked out perfectly as we were able to just beat the storm. Rain drops began falling around the same time we were getting in the car and getting ready to get out of there.
The hike was great success and I am so proud of Zack for doing what he did. As I said in my blog title yesterday - we did amazing things on Saturday.
I don't have time to post pictures today as I am on the verge of falling asleep as I type. I will definitely get pictures of this posted tomorrow. Also I will describe Zack being in the color guard presenting the flag during the national anthem at the beginning of Sunday's Rockies game.
Well - I am off to bed as I am having a hard time staying awake.
Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

We Did Amazing Things Today!

I am not really sure where to begin. This day has been an amazing day. There is much to write about but I am not sure that I have the energy and determination to do it now as I am so very tired.
I guess I will summarize now and then provide a lot more detail when I upload all the pictures to the blog tomorrow. We set out today to summit 3 14ers. We did not realize that goal as we only made it to the summit of 2 14ers. But as the saying goes "discretion is the better part of valor". Had we attempted to make it to the summit of a third 14er we would have been caught out in the open during a pretty significant storm. I had no desire for Zack to have to experience the terror of being exposed to lightning at 14,000 ft. It is not something that I would wish on an enemy.
There was one element of tragedy to our day today. On our return drive home we took 285 from Fairplay back to Denver. Part of this drive takes you across South Park. During our drive across the flatlands of South Park the rain was really coming down. A few miles outside of the the small town of Jefferson I saw a white blur in my peripheral vision followed by a very large thud on my windshield. In the blinding rain a bird had flown up from the side of the road and had flown directly into the windshield. Well - you can imagine what happened to the bird given that I was going at 65 miles per hour. I HATE killing anything - even accidentally!
We left the house on late Friday afternoon and sent Friday night at the condo in Silverthorne. We didn't do anything special there as it was really just a way to avoid a long drive on Saturday morning.
We got up early and made our way deep into the Mosquito Range to the Kite Lake trailhead. From there we had a very long and hard hike but we reached the majority or our goals!
I will provide a lot more detail tomorrow when I upload the pictures. Also tomorrow Zack will be carrying the US flag at the beginning of the Colorado Rockies game. His cub scout pack gets to do this once a year. Zack as one of the oldest cub scouts in the pack will get to be out on the field carrying the flag. I will also describe that in my post tomorrow.
Well - time to go to bed - I am exhausted!
Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

This Weekend's Quest - 3 Fourteeners at Once

Much deliberation has been put into our quest for this coming weekend. After reading many of my hiking books, Zack and I have determined that we make an attempt to summit 3 different 14er's this weekend. That might sound extreme and it might well be extreme, but given the geography of these mountains I feel we have pretty good possibility of making it happen.
The mountains we are planning to conquer this weekend are Mount Lincoln, Mount Bross and Mount Democrat. These 3 mountains are all located in an arc around Kite Lake outside of Alma, Colorado. We have read the different routes that we could take to summit them and have decided upon a route that is steeper and a little bit technically difficult, but gives us the best chance to reach the summits of all three mountains before the afternoon storms begin.
So at the conclusion of work tomorrow I am going to pick Zack up from day camp and head to the mountains. We will spend the night in our condo in Silverthorne and then rise very early on Saturday morning for the 30 mile drive to Kite Lake. My goal is for us to be on the trail by 7:00AM Saturday morning.
Here are the stats on the mountains we are planning to climb:
Mount Lincoln: At 14,286 it is the highest peak in the Tenmile - Mosquito Range, the eighth highest peak in Colorado and 38th highest mountain in North America.
Link to info on Mount Lincoln:
Mount Bross: At 14,172 feet it is the 22nd highest mountain in Colorado. It is a flat topped mountain and is one of the easier 14er's to climb.
Link to info on Mount Bross:
Mount Democrat: At 14,148 it is the 28th highest mountain in Colorado. This mountain is literally pockmarked with old mines everywhere! I have climbed this one before and it offers fantastic views of the entire continental divide.
Link to info on Mount Democrat:
I am really quite excited to attempt these 3 mountains in one day. If we can successfully climb all three it will be quite an accomplishment for both Zack and me. We are both pumped up and ready to accomplish this. It's yet another example of us both living life at "full throttle"!
Given the timing of our travels tomorrow I clearly do not expect to take my laptop with me to the mountains - so I won't be posting any updates tomorrow. Hopefully if all goes well I will post a trip report on Saturday and then photos or a slide show on Sunday.
Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Full Throttle!

“Full Throttle – If a person or a machine is at full throttle they are doing something as well and with as much energy as they can” (From the side of a can of Full Throttle Energy Drink by the Coca-Cola Company) Anyone who has ever spent more than a few hours in my house quickly comes to know that I am very into my energy drinks – in particular the energy drink called “Full Throttle”. I am not obnoxious about it and I usually only drink one a day, but it is something that gives me energy and that I enjoy. I suppose you could say that Full Throttle is one of my few unnecessary vices. But this post isn’t about the drink. It’s about living life at full throttle. It’s about living life with as much determination and passion as is possible. In the last several weeks anyone who has followed this blog has read my posts about remembering my late wife Patty. If you only read those posts it might seem that I was a melancholy person still reeling from the death of a person who meant the absolute world to me. But that is not the case. I have moved forward from the point in my life. Though the memories of that time will always be with me and have made me who I am today, it is part of my past. The “me” of today is all about living at full throttle. I couldn’t imagine it any other way. I want to live with as much passion, energy and enthusiasm for life as I can. To me living in any other way is just not living – it’s existing. I am determined to put it all on the table every day of my life and leave nothing behind. I don’t ever want to get to that place in life that I am looking back with regrets because I didn’t live with passion. Not too long a go I had a conversion with a person about living with passion. The point basically came down to why I was upset about a particular situation. I told the person that if I weren’t upset about the situation then the time and effort I put into the situation was wasted because in the end run the situation meant nothing to me. The other person couldn’t see my point of view at all. Looking back at this conversation in retrospect I have realized that so many people really don’t know what it is like to live with passion. Maybe they haven’t gone through the trauma that I have seen. Maybe they haven’t suffered the loss that I have. But in the end run, I feel like they are missing out on life because they don’t feel the passion for life – they don’t feel the emotion in their actions. Regardless of anything I will live at full throttle. I will set wildly unrealistic goals for myself and then strive every day to meet them. I will do the things I feel are right and not just what is easy to do. I will fight so very hard for the things I want and I will win and succeed. I will teach my son the importance of living his life with passion, energy and enthusiasm. My thoughts on this subject run deep. They are very hard to explain so that everyone might understand them. All I can say is that if you have ever been where I have been you probably understand and agreed with what I have espoused. I will write more on this subject in the coming weeks as there is much in my life that I am exploring and thinking about. Peace to all! – J.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

Mt. Bierstadt Video and Recommendations Please

Well after battling with my Mac and my Internet connection for a good chunk of last night and into the morning, I FINALLY managed to get this video posted to YouTube. I felt it was a miracle! A couple of points about the video. 1. All of these photos were taken during our attempt on Mt. Bierstadt on Saturday July 18, 2009. We did make the summit! 2. In many of the photos you will notice numerous people in the background. That is because on Saturday I would estimate that between 500 and 700 people attempted to climb Bierstadt. So in general there were a lot of people around. 3. I HATE the soundtrack on this video. I had to pick one of the "copyright free" soundtracks from YouTube's archive. The version I have on my Mac with "Heaven is a Place on Earth" is so much better, but it would get blasted away by YouTube's copyright infringement protection software. 4. Does anyone have any idea where to get good music that you can use for soundtracks that is copyright free? I have looked around YouTube and many other websites and most of the copyright free music isn't that good. Does anyone do this kind of thing and have any recommendations? With all that said - here is the video. For those of you who follow me on Facebook, this is the same video that I put out there today. I hope you enjoy and don't laugh too hard because of the soundtrack. Peace to all! - J.

Bloody Hell - YouTube and Facebook Stink!

It is almost 1:00AM and I am still up. What is my problem? Simple - I am trying to get my latest hiking video posted to YouTube. It has been a frustrating process this evening and I have wasted a bunch of time. Bugger is all I can say. My problems started when I used Belinda Carlisle's song "Heaven is Place on Earth" as the sound track for the video. Bad idea... Facebook rejected it outright as copyright infrigment and that was after I had spent 1.5 hours getting it to upload. Ok - so I editted it again using one of the copyright free songs that comes with the Mac. Then I attempted to upload it to YouTube. Five hours and 4 attempts later it still is not uploaded! For whatever reason the upload keeps on timing out. All I can say is that is a big pain in the arse! :-) Given my increasing use of video in my blogging, iReporting, etc, I am giving serious thought to finding out how much it would cost to put a T1 line into my house. Though I really suppose that is a hard cost to justify. Maybe later - LOL! On a totally different note... Tonight was episode II of the sixth season of the HBO show Entourage. I managed to catch it on DVR once Zack went to bed. I have always liked this show because it is just so quirky. The character played by Jeremy Priven - Ari Gold cracks the shit out of me. He continually makes me laugh. But from a realistic standpoint, I feel most aligned to the character played by Kevin Connelly - Eric (who for some reason has no last name). First of all - I am kind of similar to Kevin Connelly physically - go figure it out if you haven't watched the show. Second of all, my mentality and temperment are very much like the character - Eric. So it was very interesting to watch this evenings episode and see how his character dealt with "Sloan" and "Ashley". Would I have handled the situation the same way as Eric - umm... only I know that one and I am not telling! : -) (Yes - to have any understanding of what I am saying you have to watch the show.) Entourage is one of the few shows I tend to watch religiously from year-to-year. With the exception of Lost I don't know of any other shows that I follow like that. I used to follow BSG in the same way - but it is now off the air after 6 great years. If for some reason my DVR doesn't record either Lost or Entourage, I am searching the Internet to see if I can find the episode on some website or another. Well - my video is still uploading to YouTube, so I guess I will hang out for a bit more to ensure that it actually gets uploaded tonight so I can publish it here tomorrow. But I am going to sign off on tonight's blog entry. I hope everyone had a great weekend and is ready for the enjoyment of a new week. Peace to all! - J.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Reaching the summit of Mount Bierstadt

My alarm went off WAY TOO EARLY for a Saturday morning! But I had made a commitment to myself and Zack that this was the morning. We were going to make an attempt to summit a 14er - Mount Bierstadt today. This would be Zack's first attempt at a 14er. So despite the fact that I just wanted to sleep I got my butt out of bed around 6:45AM and started filling water bottles and a camelback. This was 45 minutes later than when I wanted to getting out of bed but I just didn't have the vim and vigor to get out of bed at 6:00AM.
I got Zack up around 7:00AM and we were out the door around 7:20AM. Our first stop was at the local Burger King on County Line to grab a quick breakfast. We did the drive through and ate in the car while I drove. I had a great debate which way I should go to reach the trailhead for Mount Bierstadt. The trail head for Bierstadt is at Guanella Pass which is located high above Georgetown, Colorado.
There are 2 ways to reach this pass, the first is via I-70 by exiting at Georgetown. The second way - and the way I normally go is to head south on 285 through the mountains and then take the Guanella pass road from the small town of Grant - which is located at the base of Kenosha Pass. Today I did what I thought would be quicker and took I-70 to Georgetown. As soon as we began the ascent up Guanella Pass Road from Georgetown I realized I had made a mistake. The road is undergoing significant rebuilding and there are 2 large sections that are one way. This means that traffic is restricted in one direction for periods of time of up to 30 minutes. Of course we got stuck in the delay and lost about 20 - 30 minutes of time. Oh well!
We finally made it to Guanella Pass and the Mount Bierstadt trailhead around 9:20AM - which is much later than I ever want to start a climb of a 14er. It is always best to be on the trail around 7:00AM or earlier due to the issues of afternoon thunderstorms. Being out in the open above tree line during a thunderstorm is a very dangerous place to be.
When we arrived the parking area was totally and completely packed. We had to park a significant distance away from the trailhead which probably added 1 mile (round-trip) to our hike. Once again - oh well! Based upon the number of cars parked around the trailhead I am guessing that probably 500 - 700 people were attempting the summit today - talk about a lot of people!
I quickly pulled all of our gear out of the car and got my backpack all set and my GPS turned on with satellites located. Zack got his new camelback in position on his back and we then took off down the trail. The interesting thing about the hike up Mount Bierstadt is the first 3/4 of mile or so is pretty much down hill. With the trailhead right off the Guanella Pass road you descend for a good little bit before actually starting up the side of the mountain. During much of this downhill section you are walking through "The Willows". "The Willows" is an area around Mt. Bierstadt that is covered entirely with scrub willow. Until a lot of effort was put into constructing a good quality trail in the early 2000's, traversing "The Willows" was utter hell. During my first summit of Bierstadt in 1998, I remember coming away with my legs ripped apart by the sharp branches of the willows. In additional to a very distinct trail through "The Willows" there are about 8 or 9 boardwalk style bridges that have been built to keep people and dogs out of the marshy/wet land that is found throughout "The Willows".
After making it through "The Willows" the first real challenge of the hike began for Zack and me. There is a very steep climb by which you climb onto main part of the south western flank of Mount Bierstadt. I prepared Zack for this part of the hike and told him how hard it would be. As a result he was able to attack that climb with a large amount of gusto and determination. After reaching that top of that first section of the mountain there is a bit of a respite as the trail levels off for a while. Then there is yet another very steep climb - but this one goes on for what seems to be FOREVER.
This section of the climb was the very hardest for Zack. I really had to work to encourage him. What was hardest for Zack today was dealing with feelings of anxiety. For some reason today was a really bad anxiety day for him - and I don't have a clue why. So though he wasn't having a lot of physical trouble getting up the mountain, his anxiety was weighing heavily on him and was causing him to feel an extensive amount of fright.
After a large amount of conversation we made it through this second very steep section. At the conclusion of this section, you come out on to the summit ridge from which you can clearly see the summit. There is a fair amount of flatness to the summit ridge which is good as it gives you a bit of rest before attacking the last 3/10 of mile and the hand-over-hand bouldering that is needed to reach the summit. The summit block of Bierstadt is made up of 200 - 300 foot high pile of boulders. You really have to work to jump from boulder to boulder. There are numerous "paths" that lead through this jumble, but to be honest, you are really kind of on your own to pick your way through it. Zack did a marvelous job making his way up this jumble of boulders. He really was like a mountain goat. Watching him climb through this stuff, I did realize that if the kid wanted to - he would have a future as a real mountain climber.
We finally made it to the summit after about 3 hours of hiking/climbing. There were about 15 or so other people at the summit when we were there. On top of the people there we probably saw at least 7 or 8 marmots. They were everywhere and they definitely seemed very used to the presence of people - which seems unusual to me. From the summit we had great views of the entire Mt. Evans Massif. Our last high mountain we hiked several weeks ago - Mt. Spalding was clearly visible right in front of us. There was a bit of haze in the air today so we couldn't see as far as I would have liked - but that is the way it sometimes goes.
It was a very intense hike but the bottom line is Zack did it. He did it all on his own power with his own determination. I am so very proud of my son. I am so very impressed with him and his strength and abilities.
Our hike down was relatively quick. I won't say it was painless as the in most hikes in Colorado, the down hill part beats the crap out of your ankles and knees. We spent about 30 minutes or more on the summit itself and then we took about 2 hours to get down off the mountain and back to the car.
On the way home we did what is becoming a routine for us and stopped at the "Coney Island" in Bailey, Colorado for hot dogs, fries and a Coke. It is always fun to go there as the place is shaped like a hot dog.
I probably took about 150 pictures or more on our hike. I don't have the time to post them in this blog entry as I am really tired and just want to go to bed. I will definitely post a bunch tomorrow or I will make a slide show similar to the other slide shows I have made.
We hope everyone is having a great weekend so far!
Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Well - That's not what I expected!

Do you ever have one of those days that leaves you amazed and in wonderment? Today has been one of those days for me. There are several different things that happened today that have left me truly surprised by the unexpected things that occur.
The first thing that occurred is somewhat prosaic, but will have a monumental impact upon my life. I don't think that it would have a major impact on my life is surprising but I am sure some people would think I shouldn't speak of it. What is it? My employer's stock price has risen by a significant amount in the last 3 days. When the stock market took such a big hit back in the fall of 2008 and beginning of 2009 everyone across this country really suffered. Dreams and plans everywhere were shattered and destroyed. In the case of my employer our stock price fell by over 50% in a period of 2 - 3 weeks. Many of my plans were shelved if not (as I believed at the time) permanent destroyed. These last 3 days have seen a re-birth in those dreams and plans. I am not saying this to gloat or anything - it was just something totally and complete unexpected.
I am happy for the outcome of this issue and I do intend to make it so that I cannot experience a decrease in my assets again - yeah that means I am cashing out. It has had a tremendously positive impact upon my spirits but it was totally unexpected.
One of the less prosaic surprises of my day was how Zack has finally turned the corner in his fight to re-adjust to life. One of the consequences of everything that transpired between 2006 and 2008 was that Zack experienced some significant issues with depression and anxiety. For an adult to experience these issues is one thing, but for a child who is between 8 and 10 years of age to experience these things is totally and completely different. After a long struggle with these issues Zack finally turned the corner in the spring of 2009. However he was aided in his battle by a drug and lots of sessions with a psychologist. In the last 2 months I have worked with the psychologist and psychiatrist to free Zack from the need for the sessions with the psychologist and the anti-anxiety drug.
Zack has now been 100% free of the psychologist for the last 8 weeks and the anti-anxiety drug for the last week. It has been a difficult battle for me to fight through with him. But I truly believe he has won the battle. Today he has finally stopped suffering from the physical side effects from being off the drug. With that freedom from the physical side effects from the drug he has also surmounted the emotional aspects of being off the drug. He surprised me by his strength and ability to work through these issues so quickly. I am eternally proud of my son!
Lastly - an event I went to today has provided me with much food for thought. This entire thought process was not something I expected to experience that is for sure. It is a good thought process and I think it will have some major impacts upon my life.
I am still working on the blog post I mentioned on Wednesday evening. I will definitely post it by the end of the weekend.
My ideas of what to do for the weekend have changed again - don't ask why - LOL! But it now looks like we are going to be rolling out of bed in about 5.5 hours and trekking up to Georgetown and attempting the summit on Mount Bierstadt. Today after Zack was done with WCCK we went to Sports Authority and I purchased him his own Camelback. I think that is going to go a long way in dealing with his potential for altitude sickness.
Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

An Interesting Blog Post in the Making

Well - I am a little bit bummed tonight in the fact that I have a meaning blog post that I have been thinking about for the last several days and I just don't have the time to write it. I have a bunch of work to do tonight in preparation for meetings tomorrow. And I just can't put the time and effort into fully articulating what I want to write this evening. Which bums me out as I want it to stand as a counter balance to the 2 previous blogs. Oh well - it will just have to wait until I have the time to spend thoroughly writing it.
Our day has been busy, busy, busy. We are finally getting a chance to settle down for the night but I still have a ton of work to do. Yuck! I have to do a report, get ready for an early working teleconference workshop and go through a ton of work e-mail.
We did manage to get out for dinner tonight at Olive Garden. We do love going to Olive Garden. Zack has been dealing with pain in his stomach for the last several days as he gets off of this one medication. I think the nausea is finally starting to go away - which will make my life much easier!
We have also been kicking around our plans for the weekend. I originally thought we would be climbing Mount Bierstadt on Saturday. But I am now leaning towards us heading to Cheyenne, Wyoming for the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. Neither Zack nor I have ever been to Frontier Days so I really think it is something we got to do. If we do Frontier Days I am thinking we will probably just stay at home on Sunday so I can take care of the normal weekly chores - washing clothes, grocery shopping, etc. We'll see how it plays out. Given we only have so few weekends of summer, we still might end up doing Frontier Days on Saturday and then climbing Bierstadt on Sunday. Just have to wait and see how tired we get on Saturday.
Well - got to run as I need to get cracking on work.
Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Patty Rae

As I wrote yesterday today is the one year anniversary of Patty’s death. Though many might feel that today would be an especially difficult day for us, it has not been that way. For me personally, yesterday was a much more difficult day to endure. The memories of all that happened on July 13, 2008 are much harder for me to stomach than the memories of July 14, 2008. I think by the time July 14th had rolled around there wasn’t any question as to what was going to happen. And when that day came to an end, there was a sense of relief in the fact that a long fought battle was finally at an end. So I have approached today with a sense of peace and calm. Today is a day about remembering who Patty was and what she was about. For me it has not been a day to mourn. It has been a day to remember and celebrate her beautiful life. As I have read through the number of comments that people have posted on my Facebook page, on this blog, the Caringbridge site and personal e-mails to me, it strikes me how well loved and appreciated Patty was. She was a person with a sincere and genuine kindness to her soul. She loved people and always wanted to do things that were special for everyone and anyone. Of course she most particularly loved Zack. There was nothing in this world she would not have done for him. In fact when things looked so bleak at so many points during her battle against leukemia and side effects of the bone marrow transplant – it was for Zack that she fought. I know she would have given up the battle months before had she not had Zack for whom to fight. In the end we will all leave this world. Some of us will be here longer than others but we will all leave. When we leave the only thing that is left behind is the impact that we made upon others. Patty left an indelible mark on many people and the memory of her actions, her kindness will carry on in the future for years to come. I am proud to have been in her life. I am proud to have been her husband. I am proud to have loved her. I will do my best to raise our son in the way she would have wanted. I’ll remember and love you Rae for as long as my heart beats. Thanks and peace to all! – J.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Worst Day of My Life

When I started this blog in November of 2008 I wanted to make Zack and me the focal point of what it was about. For the most part I have stuck to that goal. I have not made the trauma of 2006 – 2008 a focal point of the blog though I have discussed it at times. Today and tomorrow are going to be two days on which I focus my postings on those issues. A year ago today I lived what is to this point and might well be for all time the worst day of my life. It started at 12:45AM on July 13 when I got a call from the hospital saying that Patty had taken a turn for the worse. It was a shock since at 11:30PM I had talked to the hospital and they indicate that Patty was doing well and tolerating her dialysis. In 1.25 hours everything turned around. By the time I reached the hospital that night the immediate crisis had passed but the final outcome was already determined. Over the next 37.5 hours I sat in that room (the death room as I had always called it – because that’s where the most critically sick people were placed) and I watched one of the people who meant the most to me die. It wasn’t a quick and effortless death. It was long and drawn out. With every second I sat there I watched the monitors go up and down. When the values went too low the monitors would begin to beep. Unlike previous times however the values usually never went up very much. In most cases the nurses just decided to turn the alarms on the monitors off. To this day I sit here and I shake as I think of the horror of those last 37.5 hours. I had seen people die right in front of my face before but this was different. It is hard to explain, it is hard to describe, but it was a difficult death. Patty did not want to go but her body and the horrible infection that she suffered gave her no choice. In the end I was asked by the doctors to end the fight for her - and I did. At noon on July 14 I made the decision to terminate life support. It was the last act of kindness and love that I could show the physical form of someone I loved so much. Today I will focus on those memories and I will relive what happened last year this time. Regardless of where I am today and tomorrow, I will still live my life with eternal hope and optimism. That hope and optimism doesn’t spring from any source outside of me (well except for Zack), it doesn’t spring from a drug or alcohol. It is not based upon a belief in something greater than me, it is based upon a belief that life is to be lived and cherished – not regretted, not looked back upon with questions and uncertainty. I am where I am in life and though it is not where I want to be, I will make it as happy and as content of a place as I can. Events over the last several months have confirmed that belief and outlook. Though I allowed myself to be in position where I suffered emotionally, I will never stop being optimistic. From the ashes of all that we have passed through new and different things will come and with them comes hope. So as I remember Patty during this anniversary of her death, I won’t sit back and be sad. Instead I will remember all that was good about her and what she added to my life. And with the foundation of all that she gave me, I will continue to look to the future with optimism and hope. As long as there is life – there is hope! Cherish every moment you have! - J.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mount Falcon and a discovery

This morning dawned hot and bright here in Colorado. Despite the expected heat of the day, we were determined to get out for a good Saturday morning hike. Originally I had thought of hiking near the town of Deckers along the South Platte River, but I changed my mind after listening to the weather forecast last night. The forecast said for us to expect severe thunderstorms starting shortly after noon today. So I decided to do something that wasn't remote. (Because I didn't want to spend a ton of time driving there and then get out on the hike and immediately have to turn back because of the weather.)
So instead of being down in the South Platte Valley I decided that we would hike at Mount Falcon Open Space in Jefferson County. This open space is located in the foothills above Red Rocks Amphitheater and Morrison, Colorado. The drive from our home is only about 25 minutes.
We set out for our hike around 9:45AM and arrived in the Mount Falcon parking lot around 10:15AM. We had several destinations along our hike for the day. The first was the summit of Mount Falcon. The second destination was the ruins of John Brisden Walker's mansion that had been build on Mount Falcon. The last destination is one hidden in mystery and forgotten to history - the foundation of the "Western White House" that Walker had hoped to build as a gift to the President and the people of the United States. (There is a tremendous amount of history associated with this open space. If you wish to read more about it, you can find it at this web address - )
The parking lot was pretty full when we arrived and we saw a ton of people on our hike. Shortly after we started to hike we quickly noticed exactly how hot it was. Luckily I had brought about 2 times as much water as I normally do. We found that consumed a lot of it as we were sweating off so much.
Our hike took us across most of the width and length of the open space. There are many different trails in this open space and we took a lot of them. For the most part the hike consisted of a lot of rolling hills going up and down - with the exception of when we were scaling Mount Falcon itself. As we approached the top of Mount Falcon we began to notice some very unusual - very large number of lady bugs were everywhere! At the very top of the mountain we found several boulder that were covered entirely in lady bugs. It was very amazing to see!
There is a small wooden tower built on the top of Mount Falcon which of course we had to climb. After a short rest there, we continued on our way to the Walker Mansion ruins. John Brisden Walker had built this mansion for he and his bride, but they never really got to enjoy it as shortly after it was built his wife died. Then 3 years later the mansion was struck by lightning and built to the ground. Today the only things that remain are the chimney and numerous brick walls that made up the sides of the mansion. (I don't have pictures of this as I was using my film camera for part of the hike and I didn't get the pictures developed yet. All the pictures in this post were taken with my iPhone.)
After visiting the mansion ruins we continued on to the "ruins" of the "Western White House" that John Walker wanted to build. I say "ruins" in quotes because not much was ever done to really build the "Western White House" except for the laying of one side of the foundation and the placement of a corner stone. We had to take our pictures there and then as we were wilting from the mid-day heat we headed back to the open space parking lot.
As we headed back to the car we came across many wonderful vistas that provided us with a great view out onto the plains. The downside to the view was the brown cloud (pollution) that was hanging over Denver today. Ugh - it looked ugly.
We had a great hike - we covered 4.6 miles and we built up some good endurance in the heat. This was yet another step in getting us ready to tackle a 14er in the coming weeks. It is funny to think of how many great views and great things there are to see in this open space and for me to realize it has been almost 10 years since I was last here. Wow - there are just so many amazing things to see and do in Colorado.
After our hike we travelled through Lakewood and stopped at a Wendy's for some lunch. We got home around 2:30PM and did some things around the house. At 5:00PM we headed over to Tim and Celinde's house as they had invited us over for dinner. There was another family there so it was a good time for all. The kids all played like maniacs and had a lot of fun. I even brought Bailey and Lex so that they could hang out with Tim and Celinde's Ray and Lulu.
After dinner I sat down with Celinde's Mac and spent some time looking through all of her photos in iPhoto. That is when I made my discovery! I found a picture of Patty from Christmas of 2006! Because of the situation and everything I didn't take a lot of pictures of Patty once she was diagnosed. So finding this picture which was probably one of the last dozen or so pictures taken of her was a fantastic find. I can't tell you how pleased I was to find that picture. I have attached it below.
We just arrived back home a little while ago and Zack is doing a few things before I send him off to bed. He will be exhausted from all the playing he did with the other kids at Tim and Celinde's.
We hope everyone has had a great Saturday.
Thanks and peace to all. - J.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Weak, weak, weak

Ok - I have a problem! I was just re-reading what I wrote earlier and it is soooooo weak! It is like I am having writer's block! Besides not having good blog posts my Facebook statuses are sucking too. My last couple of Facebook statuses were so bad that a few of my friends (Ruben - I am of course not thinking of you!! - LOL) were mocking me. Oh well, I will definitely search for some revitalization of my thoughts while Zack and I are out hiking tomorrow.
I still haven't finalized exactly where we are going to hike, but I am starting to lean towards hiking somewhere near the South Platte not far from Deckers. There are some great hiking opportunities in that area. I am tempted to take Lex with us and let him spend some time in the South Platte swimming. But then if I do that, Zack and I will not be able to stop at Bud's Bar in Sedalia and have Bud's famous cheeseburgers.
Zack and I have had an interesting history with Buds's. We have always talked about going there and we final did last fall. Unfortunately on the way home Zack proceeded to get sick and puked up his cheeseburger all over the car. Let's just say - that was nasty! For clarity sake... there was nothing wrong with the burger - I had forgotten to give Zack a medication before we left the house and as a result he puked.
I will clearly try and do a better job with my posts in the coming days. I feel bad that they have been lacking my normal zip and zing.
Have a great night!

Many Disjointed Thoughts on a Friday

Normally I have a subject or theme for my posts here on my blog. Today I don't have that. I just have a bunch of random thoughts/comments.
I had a headache for a good part of the day today because like a fool I drank an entire bottle of Dynamite Merlot last night. Doing that is a VERY unusual occurrence for me. But I opened the bottle and I just kind of felt like it. Oh well - it will be a very long time before I do that again.
Zack and I were watching SpongeBob this evening and I sometimes wonder what kind of message is SpongeBob really sending to us. I always wonder if in later times SpongeBob will be know as a great philosopher.
We are having one of the coolest and wettest summers in Colorado since I have lived here. I think we have only had 2 days above 90 degrees in Denver. Talk about being unusual!
We are going to get up to something fun and interesting tomorrow - I just don't know what yet. I think we are going to a hike but I just haven't figured out where.
I still need to figure out our vacation plans. No clue what we are going to do yet. Still would like to get Zack to Europe, but I just haven't had the time to make all the arrangements.
That's about it for the day. Hopefully I will have a good "trip report" to write about from a hike that we take tomorrow morning. In the mean time - I hope everyone has a great Friday evening and a fun Saturday!
Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It's been a day

Well - I really don't have any major messages that I am going to communicate this evening, but I still wanted to post a blog entry. First off - I don't know if many people who read the blog have watched my video I posted to YouTube earlier today. As of now there are 38 views of the video and I am not sure how many came from the versus Facebook. But - if you watched and have an opinion - please leave me a comment or drop me an e-mail. I am really just playing around with this stuff right now, but I hope to get a little bit more serious about producing stuff when I get my new camera. Not sure when that is going to be - but.... hopefully this year. On a totally different note, I got one major thing to cheer about today. I got a raise at work! Yes - even despite the horrible economy my employer was still giving out raises. My employer's salary administration process happens on July 1 every year. We don't get a paycheck until July 15th, so I got notified by my manager today. So that definitely put a smile on my face for the day! I went and donated platelets again today. It has only been 9 days since I last donated so I was just past the minimum number of days. They took 2 extra large units of platelets off of me today. I hadn't planned to donate again so quickly but Bonfils called and told me that there was a severe shortage of platelets. So I did what I could to help. Zack stayed home from WCCK today. He is feeling pretty much better but he really didn't want to go on the activity today - a baseball game. He did go to Sylvan and now only has a couple of sessions left before he is totally done. Well - it is a short post tonight, but I am off to watch 9News at 10PM on DVR. Have a great night. Thanks and peace to all. J- (Oh and if anyone is interested. I posted a new update to Patty's Caringbridge site yesterday. The address of that blog is

The Latest Video

It took almost 10 hours but my video finally finished uploading to YouTube over night. I can't believe that it took that long. I have DSL so it's not like I am running over dial up - but it still took 10 hours. Gees is all I can say. The quality of the video is pretty good and if you expand it to full screen mode it comes across pretty well. (The best way to view the video is to click on it and then go to YouTube and watch it there. If you watch it on the YouTube site, you can expand it to be full-screen.) It still doesn't have the quality as when I am playing it directly on my laptop, but I still think it is pretty good on YouTube. All of these pictures have been taken over the last several years during my hikes here in Colorado. I literally have thousands of pictures like these that I have taken. I will probably build a couple more video's like this as I think it gives me the opportunity to show off some of my more "creative talents". I hope that you enjoy! Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Creative Effort - Delayed!

This evening I finished working on a video that I have been pulling together for the last several days. With my Mac I find that I am able to be very creative in terms of sharing and exhibiting the large number of photos that I take. Unfortunately given the size of the video, 420 meg - it is taking a while to upload. I started the upload around 7:3oPM and at 10:30PM it still has about 290 meg to go. So it won't make today's blog post. This most recent video I have assembled does not have any people in it. It is an assembly of about 4 dozen nature photographs that I have taken in the last several years. I am not in the league of John Fielder (famous Coloradan nature photographer) but I think I did a pretty decent job with many of these pictures. My hope for later this year is to be able to afford a professional quality Digital SLR camera and associated set of lenses. The price tag for that is pretty darn high so it going to take a bit of savings or a big turn around in the stock market to make that happen. Once I am able to buy that new camera, I will be getting much more serious about doing a better job with my pictures. The key thing I will have to change about my pictures is when I take them. Yes - it is hard to believe but I am going to have to get up early as the best time to take nature photos is either very early in the morning when the sun is coming up or late in the evening when the sun is going down. Pictures taken in the middle of the day lose much of the vibrancy of their color as the sun has a tendency to wash the finer details out of the picture. As long as the upload to Youtube doesn't time out over night, I will highlight the video in tomorrow's blog entry. I think it is pretty darn cool myself. I hope everyone enjoys it! Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Good News

For any of you who know us personally you know what all we have gone through in the last 3+ years with the illness and death of my wife Patty from the side effects of leukemia. In my previous blog entries I have talked about how sick Nancy - Patty's mom who lives with us has been. As a result of her feeling sick and low blood counts, Nancy had to have a bone marrow biopsy last Wednesday. The preliminary results are back and they do not show any evidence of cancer/leukemia. So that is good news. Now the hematologist needs to figure out what is taking place to cause her blood counts to be so low. All-in-all given the alternatives it is a piece of good news. One other quick note... for those of you who live in the Denver area, consider going into Bonfils and donating blood this week. I got a call yesterday from them asking me to come in again and donate platelets this week. That is very unusual because I just gave platelets last week. The issue is that there is a severe shortage of blood and blood products here in the Denver area. So please considering giving blood or platelets this week. Thanks and peace to all. - J.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Blah, blah, blah...

So it's Monday again and all I can say is blah, blah, blah! Yeah not a very effective message huh? I am just tired of the effort of work and raising a kid on my own. I need a break! I need a vacation! Not sure where, not sure exactly when, but I need a vacation. Yes - I know my vacation will come with a 10/11 year old child in tow who will be wanting to ask me 110 million questions but that is the nature of 10/11 year old children. I really need to start finalizing plans to do something vacation-wise with Zack this summer. We need to get our travel arrangements made and just do it. If I wait too long I am going to get screwed over by the upcoming schedule of activities at work. The major part of my project doesn't go live until January 1, 2010, but the biggest part of the work starts at the beginning of August. So unless I get my vacation planned soon I am not going to be able to take time off in August. I unfortunately don't have a lot to say tonight. There is a tremendous amount of stuff running through my head, but nothing that I can really articulate. So with that I am going to keep my blog post short and tonight. I think I will have much more to write about tomorrow night. Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Lake, A Waterfall, Fireworks and Traffic

I was going to do a post yesterday on the 4th of July - but we were doing too much and having too much fun.  So - I decided the heck with it.
Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny but with the weather forecast saying that there was a really good chance of rain and thundershowers for later in the day.  Given that we got the day off to an early start.  First things were first as I wanted to get Lexie out for a good long walk.  Given our plans for the day included spending a bunch of time in Breckenridge, I decided I couldn't take him with us for our hike.
So we got Lex out for an early morning walk along our typical "mile-long loop".  The "mile-long loop" is actually a 1.4 mile walk on which we take the dogs.  There are a variety of paths carved through the forest behind our condo.  None of these are "official" US Forest Service paths, but they are still very good places to go and walk the dogs - in this case dog.  
Given the amount of snow and cool temperatures this summer, there are huge variety of wildflowers still in bloom in the forest.  This section of the forest in which we were walking had a huge number of Columbines growing in it.  They were absolutely beautiful, so I stopped and took as many pictures of them as I could.
After getting Lex all tired out and then settled back at the condo, we headed out for our hike.  Our destination with this hike was the Mohawk Lakes area to the south of Breckenridge.  Unfortunately to get there we had to go through downtown Breckenridge which was utterly clogged with traffic.  After enduring the traffic for about 25 minutes we finally made to the south of Breckenridge on Colorado Route 9.  We followed CO Rt 9 for about 3 miles until we reached a turnoff for Spruce Creek Road.  This road, though it has a name, is really just a dirt road heading into the forest.
The first 2 miles of the road were actually pretty good for a dirty road.  There was no washboard bumps or major holes - so it was good.  After these 2 miles the road essentially ceased to exist and it became a 4x4 path.  The ride was very rough and I was definitely holding onto the steering wheel very tightly.  I put the car down into 4 wheel drive high mode and just went for it.  We bounced along for another 1.5 miles until we finally came to a point that I just didn't want to go past.  It was obvious that many other people felt the same way as there were about 10 other 4x4's parked there.  
We set out walking up the 4x4 track that would take us to the trail head.  We had stopped about 1/2 mile before the trail head.  As we walked the road got progressively worse.  By the time we reach the actual trail head, the only vehicles that were parked there were high-clearance, modified 4x4's.  There was no way a regular 4x4 like our Explorer would have made it that far.
The hike starts with a steep upward climb following "Spruce Creek".  This creek feeds the numerous lakes that make up the Mohawk lake area.  Additionally, the creek is feeds the dramatic Continental Falls that dominate this area of the forest.
As we hiked we passed numerous old and decaying log cabins.  There were numerous gold and silver mines around the Mohawk lakes in the late 1890's and 1900's.  Evidence of the mines themselves can be seen at various points, though typically the only thing that remains of the mines are the piles of rock and soil dug out from them.  
After hiking for about 1 mile we came to the smallest of the lakes in the area - Mayflower lake.  This lake is found at the bottom a huge drainage area from the mountains above.  Though small in size it is beautiful!
We spent a bunch of time hanging out at this lake before we moved forward to the Continental Falls.  Unfortunately as we walked the sky was beginning to cloud over.  As we neared the Continental Falls we came across another set of cabins.  One of the cabins has been kept up or restored and looked to be in good shape.  I am not sure who uses it for what - but it looked like it could actually safely shelter a number of people.
After this cabins we climbed a series of rock ledges until we reached a point where we had a wonderful view of a lower section of the falls.  The viewpoint was relatively scary at places as one false slip would send you tumbling downward 20 feet into the raging water.
As we began to look for the next point to climb up to, the sky was becoming even more ominous.  So we made the decision that it was time to go back.  Though we were disappointed we weren't going to see the higher lakes, we left the Mohawk lakes feeling a sense of accomplishment.  I know Zack and I will go back there and explore the rest of the area.
After our hike we headed back into Breckenridge where we got some lunch while the storm broke over our heads.  The rain came down in a very serious manner and I was very glad that we had not been caught out in the open during the downpour.  
The afternoon was spent hanging out in the condo - I took another 2 hour nap!  We watched the rain come down and were glad that we were out in it as it got very cold.  Unfortunately, I had to take Lex out for his afternoon walk in the rain.  All I can say is - thank god for Gortex!
Our plan for the evening was to go and watch the Frisco fireworks over Lake Dillon.  We made sure we got to our chosen viewpoint about an hour before the fireworks started.  Over the years I have come to find the best viewpoint is from the Frisco scenic overlook off of I-70.  Many people in the area feel the same way and the overlook is usually packed full.  It was very cold in the mountains last night and we froze our butts off as we sat there waiting.  (The temperature in the Explorer said it was 43 degrees at the end of the fireworks.)   Zack actually sat on my lap most of the time with a blank draped over us to keep us warm.  I think regardless of what we did we would have ended up freezing our butts off.
We headed back to the condo after that and spent some time hanging out before it was time for Zack to go to bed.  I of course stayed up late as I always do!
This morning once again dawned bright and sunny but with the same weather forecast - rain in the afternoon.  I spent a bunch of time clearing up the condo and then we headed out and took Lex for another really long walk.  I wanted to get him good and tired before he headed down the mountain.  We got some lunch at Ruby Tuesday's in Dillon, went back to the condo and got Lex and then headed out to I-70.  Of course as you might imagine - I-70 was a parking lot as it usually is on busy summer weekends like this one.
Even taking all the short cuts I know through Bakersville, Georgetown and Dumont, it still took us 2.5 hours to get home.  Normally it takes us about 1.25 hours to get home.  Oh well - Zack and I had an enjoyable trip down except when he was puking.  Yes - that's right - puking.  From the time we got into the car in Silverthorne Zack was saying his stomach was upset.  Thankfully we stopped in Georgetown to get him something to drink and he promptly threw up in the parking lot of the convenience store.  Not sure what is causing him to have stomach issues over the last month or so, but I tend to think it is because he is slowly getting off his anti-anxiety medication.  As you reduce the dosage of this medication it has the tendency to make you feel nauseous and sick.  With any luck he will be totally off this medication in another week or two and we won't have to deal with this any longer.
Once we got home he continued to feel ill and has thrown up 2 more times.  Right now he is feeling better and I am hoping he stays this way for the rest of the night and into tomorrow.
We hope everyone had a great 4th of July long weekend.  Now it is back to work as usual tomorrow....  : - )
Thanks and peace to all! - J.