Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Replacement Post

Do you ever have one of those moments where you look at what you are working on - whether it be a hand written document, a computer file, a creative project and you just say "I can't do this"?  Tonight I had one of those moments, as I had written an entirely different blog entry about one of current favorite songs.  I just decided I couldn't do it tonight.  Instead of throwing it away and destroying it, I kept it and maybe someday I will publish it, but not tonight.

The intense heat of these last several days has caused me to burrow underground!  Normally I work from the kitchen table so that I can be involved in the day-to-day happenings in the house.  In the morning it allows me to be at the kitchen table while Zack eats his breakfast and gets ready to go to camp (or school during the school year).  During the middle of the day it is the only way I can interact with Nancy as I am sitting there as she walks by to go out on the back deck and smoke.  Then of course when Zack comes home from camp/school, I can sit there while he does his homework or plays.  Zack has a lot of home work to do this summer in preparation for his seventh grade school year.  He is going into 2 advance classes that will have him working at a ninth grade level.  As a result, he has a lot of preparation to do over the summer.

But given the heat of the last several days I have escaped to my office in the basement.  I know I have described my office on this blog before so I won't go into the details, but nonetheless I love my office and I really like it when I have the opportunity to work from there on a consistent basis.  Given how warm it has been I have left the air conditioning at a higher temperature (78 degrees) and then gone downstairs to work where it is much cooler.  That keeps Nancy happy as I don't freeze her out and I don't end up sweating the day away!

It is hard to believe that the Fourth of July weekend is almost upon us.  Where has 2011 gone?  Next Tuesday will mark the half way point of the year.  That is very scary to think that another year is already starting to wane!  Zack and I don't have any tremendously large plans for the 4th.  This week's camp for Zack will end at 3:30PM on Friday.  I plan to pick him up right on time and head home as quickly as we can.  From there we will load the dogs in the car (I hope to have everything else already packed and loaded) and head to the mountains.  We will be taking our bikes with us so we are planning to do some serious riding at least one day of the weekend.  The biking plan for the weekend is to go as far around Lake Dillon without having to get on Swan Mountain Road. (Swan Mountain Road is a very steep and winding road that has literally no shoulder and it just feels dangerous to ride.  So we will stick to the bike paths!)

Our other plan for the weekend is to make a attempt to scale Buffalo Mountain.  Though this mountain is only 12,749 feet it is a very tough climb as the trails are very steep and there is a significant amount of talus and scree to be negotiated to reach the top.  For more details on Buffalo Mountain see the following link on

 (Buffalo Mountain in the Fall - Courtesy of SummitPost.Org)

Above is a picture of Buffalo Mountain by which you can tell how it got it's name.  The distinctive "hump" of the mountain's summit looks like the hump on the back of a buffalo.  Our condo is built on the lower reaches of the mountain in the Wildernest Subdivision.  (If you look very closely, you can see some houses/condo complexes on the very far left of this picture.)  What is surprising is the fact that I have never summitted Buffalo Mountain even though I have had a second home on it for the last 9 years!  On several occasions I have climbed to the pass between Buffalo Mountain and Red Peak to the north, but I have never reached the summit of either mountain.

I plan to use this weekend's hike as a tune up.  Now that we have finally had some significant snow melt off the tops of the highest peaks, Zack and I will be attempting several 14er's in the coming weeks.  I will follow trail reports posted to various websites to give me an idea of exactly when it is safe to attempt some of these 14er's but we are planning to attempt Mt. Elbert, Mt, Princeton and Mt. Antero this summer.  With any luck we will make our first attempt the weekend of July 8 - 10.  And I do say attempt as I tend to use a lot of caution when climbing with Zack.  If we are starting to see any clouds that are turning gray or hearing any thunder at all - I will beat a swift retreat off the mountain.  I tend to push things a little bit more towards the dangerous side when it is just me, but if Zack is involved - that isn't going to happen!

On the 4th of July we will have some friends join us in the Mountains for the day.  That should be a lot of fun to be able to share the day with some one besides Zack!

Oh well - not a whole lot more to say for the night.  Well - I will add one more point.  I have discovered yet another good wine to enjoy!  This is a French wine called a Minervois.  It is delightful!  It is at times like this that I really like the wine club I belong to as I would never try a wine like this if they didn't send it to me.

I hope everyone is having a great week and is looking forward (to those of us in the United States) to the long weekend ahead!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Milestone - 400th Post to this Blog

Wow!  This is quite the milestone!  With today's post to the Blog I have now written 400 Blog Posts since I started this blog back in November of 2008.  When I started writing this back then I had no idea that I would still be writing it 2.5 years later!

Tonight I feel much more inspired to write and I have a bit more time.  This weekend turned out to be exhausting and last night I just didn't have the determination to write the post that I should have written.  The exhausting part of the weekend started on Saturday morning when I got up very early as I have numerous projects going on around the house and I wanted to make use of every second that Zack was away at camp!  The whole morning was taken up with organizing, purging and more organizing.  My major house reconstruction projects are scheduled to kick off in the next 2 weeks so I really need to get things organized and purged before then.  The first project that is taking place is installation of new garage doors.  The order has been placed and they should be installed by mid-July.  To make this project happen my garage has to be absolutely EMPTY.  So - there has been a lot involved in making that happen.  My other 2 project still have not been approved by the HOA so it might be until August until they happen.  The other projects are replacement of the concrete patio in front of my house and expansion/reconstruction of the garage to allow me to have a "mud room" with doggie door for the dogs.

After working for a good part of the day I had to head to Central City to pick up Allen.  For whatever reason the BTC was not as well organized as in years past and it took me a good while to finally locate Allen.  The problem is that Central City does not have any large facilities to handle almost 2000 bicycle riders.  So pick-up spots were scattered around remote areas of the town. 

Allen and I finally arrived back at my house around 4:00PM so before you knew it, the afternoon was over and we were headed out to dinner at Thai Basil at Park Meadows.  I wasn't able to get anyone to give me info on the bars that I talked about two blog posts ago, so Allen and I instead spent the rest of the evening hanging out at LoDo's in Lone Tree on their roof deck drinking beer.  I have been to LoDo's several times but this was the first I had been there on a Saturday night.  I will remind myself never to go there again on a Saturday night as the place was extremely crowded and pretty darn crazy!  We stayed up pretty late talking and hanging out so Sunday morning came way too quickly.

First order of Sunday was to drop Allen off at the airport and then head towards the mountains to get Zack.  I had a bunch of time on my hands after dropping off Allen so I decided I would stop at Mother Cabrini Shrine and climb to the big Jesus statue on top of the mountain as I love the view from there.  After about 45 minutes there I resumed my journey to "Camp Comfort" and that's when things got tough.

The whole purpose of "Camp Comfort" is to let kids get their grief out and meet other kids in a similar situation.  At the end of the camp they conduct a "Service of Remembrance" in which the kids get to do a bunch of things to memorialize and remember the person that they lost.  All the parents of the participants are asked to be there and take part with the kids.  The service was very good in terms of the way it was conducted but it definitely brings out a lot of emotion in the kids and their parents.  Zack certainly had a hard time with it as it brought out a lot of feelings that he has just continued to ignore and repress.  Even for me it was a tab bit hard as I sat there in a very sober mood as each of these kids got up and said a few words about the person that they lost.  In the end run I think the whole camp and the "Service of Remembrance" were good for Zack, but it was extremely emotionally exhausting for him and for me alike.  I am hoping that some of the things he talked about and expressed there will go a long way towards making him "integrate" the grief that he still feels over Patty's death.

By the time we left the camp I was ready to go home, make dinner and drink an entire bottle of wine - which I did.  So sleep came easy last night for both Zack and me as we were both exhausted!

Thankfully the camp that Zack is taking part in this week didn't start until 9:00AM, so he was able to sleep in for a bit.  I had very early conference calls this morning so I was up early but this allowed me to take advantage of the rest of the morning.

Before we left the house this morning I decided I was going to put my bike on the bike rack and go take a ride after I dropped Zack off.  Given his camp is in the Cherry Creek section of Denver, I decided to ride the South Platte trail north out of downtown Denver.  I ended up doing 27 miles and I rode until the trail abruptly ends just south of 120th street in Adams County.  I was kind of happy with myself that I reached the end of the line!

(This shows the route that I rode today.)

The rest of our week is busy as well as Zack is in camp and I have a bunch of things going on for work.   Hopefully we will also be heading to Greeley to partake in the "Greeley Stampede" and catch a rodeo some evening.

Well enough of my rambling for the night!  I hope everyone's week is off to a good start!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Video Post

I would have liked to have had the time to write a real post today, but alas that is not how things worked out.  Today has proven to be a very busy and somewhat challenging day and I just don't have the time or dedication to write a real blog post tonight.  So instead I thought I would post some of the video I took on my bike cam when Zack and I rode down Vail pass last week.  Kind of interesting if you ask me - but then again I am kind of biased!

There isn't anything too dramatic in this video but it gives you a flavor for riding down Vail pass.  Unfortunately for me the bike cam battery was not fully charged and it died at the end of this video.  Had it continued on, the video would have been more amazing as the scenery got significantly more dramatic - raging stream, waterfalls, beavers dams and ponds, etc.

For those interested in the technical specifications I shot this video with a GoPro Hero Helmet/Bike cam with the GoPro bike mount attached to my handle bars.  The amazing this about this camera is that it there is literally a mount by which you can attach the camera to anything.  If you are into capturing video of your sport exploits of any kind I do highly recommend this camera.  The only downside to this camera is that it is so popular right now you have a hard time getting one or acquiring the mounts because they are so frequently sold out.

One other thing about the camera - it shoots all it's video in MP4 High Def format which produces file sizes that are HUGE.  It is pretty near impossible to upload any of those files to the web without first converting them to a non-HD format.  For example the file displayed here was originally 600 some Meg before I converted it to a WMV format after which the size was only 66 Meg.  Of course the downside is that you lose a lot of the clarity of the graphics.  Oh well!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Friday, June 24, 2011

My weekend as a Chauffeur!

The main goal of my life for this weekend is to be a chauffer!  The work began this afternoon when I took Zack to "Camp Comfort" which is being held at the Easter Seals camp outside of Idaho Springs.  This is a camp to help kids who have experienced the loss of a parent.  The intention of the camp is to help them express some of their grief and also to meet other kids who are in a similar position.

Tomorrow I will be heading back into the mountains to pick up my college roommate Allen who is completing Bicycle Tour Colorado tomorrow in Central City.  The really busy day is going to be Sunday when I need to drop Allen off at the airport by 10:00AM and then pick Zack up at the Easter Seals camp by Noon.  I will certainly be doing a lot of running around on Sunday.

I really hope that this camp does Zack a lot of good.  He is being pressed very hard by both psychologists he sees to make serious progress in overcoming his anxiety and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).  My hope is that the camp will give him the permission to let himself grieve over the loss of Patty.  In many ways he really has never been able to get the grief out of his system.  So anything that helps to "pull" the grief out of him is a very good thing!

Besides running around a lot I hope to get some serious work done at home tomorrow and Sunday.  I have some really big goals that I am working very hard to meet and I want to make substantial progress on them over this weekend.  Then with Allen being in town on Saturday night I plan on taking him downtown and hitting the town.  It is somewhat humorous actually...  Allen is one of my very best friends in life and we have known each over for 27 years.  Yet when I met Allen all those years ago he had not yet "come out".  He did that our senior year in college and though for some people that might create a wedge in their friendship - especially since we were roommates - I think it made us better friends - because up to that point he had never been able to be honest about his life.

So - the humorous part of the weekend is that I am trying to find some gay bars to take Allen out to on Saturday night.  When we both lived in Pittsburgh I would sometimes carouse the bars with him and it was always very funny when other guys at the establishments found out that I am not gay.  (Not that there is anything wrong with that...  quoting the Seinfeld show)  No one is ever hostile it is just amusing the statement you will get - "You are playing for the wrong team", etc, etc.  So we usually have a good laugh over it.  So if I ever find a place to take him, I am sure there will be some humorous stories to tell on Sunday.   I know not everyone will approve of what I just wrote, but Allen is a great person and a good friend and we can have a fun no matter what we get up to. 

Well - I better end today's post before I get myself into too much trouble by saying other silly things!

I hope everyone has a great weekend ahead!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Some More on My Post of Last Night

I received a lot of feedback to my post of last night so I wanted to spend some time commenting on it.  Normally I write my posts very quickly and just get them out on the blog without a whole lot of thought.  Last night I was working at a place at which I volunteer and my work caused me to have some definitely deep and intense thoughts.  So in snippets of time I sat and crafted that blog post.  In the end I conveyed part of what I wanted to convey but not all of it.

The one key point that I really missed in what I expressed was about my yearning for the “normal”.  It is hard to escape the thought that the “normal” I have lived for some 21 years is gone forever.  But yet it is a thought that I must accept and be able to move on from.  I think in my relationship with Shelly I was so yearning for that “normal” and yet because we are two different people we couldn’t come to that “normal” that either one of us desired.  I think too because of the last twenty some years of Shelly’s life she yearned for that “normal” which was in reality being on her own.  So we had a very tough time making it all work out together – because our definitions of what “normal” should be were different.  (OK – I will also admit that all that happened in the fall of 2010 took its toll upon us and that was my fault.)

I guess I have to take the advice of a friend who divorced from her husband, got re-married and then became good friends with her ex-husband but then experienced the loss of her ex-husband when he died.  She told me that nothing will ever be the same again.  The normal that I lived before is gone and I have to accept life for what it is and make a “new normal”.  Well – I guess I just have to try. 

With that I hope I have put that topic out of my head for sometime to come!

Zack returned from his trip to Keystone with my sister today.  He did a good job managing his anxiety while he was on his little adventure.  He had a lot of fun experiencing all that Keystone had to offer for the day.

I am starting to become very discouraged about my stress fracture in my leg.  I am now 3 months post injury and yet I am continuing to experience a fair amount of pain in my leg at times.  I have another appointment with the orthopedic doctor next week and I am hoping I get some clarification as to what is occurring.  I would love to be out hiking every weekend but my leg just doesn’t seem ready for it quite yet.

Zack will be off to another camp tomorrow afternoon.  He is heading to Camp Comfort which is a camp put on for kids who have lost one of their parents.  I hope he will take some comfort (no pun intended) and healing away from the camp.

Lastly I am starting to finalize our plans for vacation.  We are going to stay in the mountain west we have decided and do a very big tour of some great national parks.  We are going to start by heading back to South Dakota and experiencing the Badlands and The Wind Cave National Parks.  Then we will head to Wyoming and spend some time at Devil’s Tower before heading to Casper to spend a day or two with friends there.  Then lastly we will make the stop that Zack really wants – Yellowstone.  Over the next several weeks we are going to research every geyser basin at Yellowstone and determine which ones we just have to see.  My hope is to get into the back country and see some of the more remote less-visited geyser basins.  I hope we also get to hear wolves howl!

Well – this has been a long and rambling post and it hasn’t even been inspired by a vintage such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Malbec or Merlot!

Oh yeah - How can I forget the wonderful event of this evening.  Finnegan decided to roll in something nasty!  Bathing him was like trying to control a bucking bronco.  He really doesn't like his baths.  I think the neighbors must have thought I was murdering him.  Gees...  for a little puppy he can cause a lot of havoc!

I hope everyone has a great weekend ahead!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


We go through life most of the time blindly just doing what comes naturally and living life.  Every once and a while we have significant conscious choices to make - whether we take a new job, buy a new home, move to a new city, get married, etc.  But still we get into a groove in life and we tend to just go with it.  Whether we get married, stay single, live with a friend - we just groove through life living the "normal".

Then every once in a while something drastic happens and the normal ceases to be.   We stop grooving through life and we are left reeling.  We might discover a new "normal" for awhile, but we are really stumbling and grasping at life - trying to make sense of why us?  We struggle to understand why did this change happen have to happen to us?

As the five year anniversary of that "change" approaches for us  (The anniversary being when Patty was diagnosed with leukemia on August 4, 2006.) I find myself grasping.  I thought I had adjusted to a new normal.  I thought I had reestablished my identity but I have come to realize that I have such a long way to go.

This isn't being driven by the final end of the relationship with Shelly.  Though at times I do believe that the relationship with Shelly put a brief scab over the wound.  The wound of the loss of Patty has never healed, it has never moved to the point of becoming scar tissue.

I just want "normal" to return!  I want it the way that it was before that horrible day of August 4, 2006.  What makes the situation that much worse is that the world for the most part doesn't get where I am.  Until you have been there you really don't get it.  One of the things that Shelly could never understand is why I wasn't head over heals in my desire to marry her as soon as possible.  Nor could her family really understand why I didn't want to make a big fuss over the wedding and marriage.  Shelly always thought that there was something "broken" inside me because I hesitated on marriage.  It wasn't that I hesitated - it was that by rushing into a marriage with her I was forsaking the past I had with Patty.  She assumed that I was like her, that I had never been married and that I was eager to just rush into the future without considering all the places that I had been in the past.  She and her family couldn't consider all that I had lived through Patty's sickness and death wasn't the same that Shelly had experienced through her years of searching for a partner.  We were approaching our union for exact opposite directions - and those opposition directions were never going to work.

Shelly couldn't understand that I had already had the "fairy tale" wedding.  I had already had the "fairy tale marriage".  And then it had all ended with death.  It wasn't that I couldn't have had these thing with her, it was that I had just already experienced them with my life mate and doing it a second time wasn't a priority to me.

So today I wish a wish....  I wish for "normal" to return.  I don't know that it ever will.    I wish Shelly could have understood the situation I found myself in after Patty's death, but I don't think it was within her capacity to understand.  She had been wired to think of a one time marriage that was based upon the fairy tales of childhood.  She wasn't capable of thinking of marriage of something else - which in my case was a return to "normal".  Unfortunately for her - I don't know that there are a lot of 40 something men who think of marriage in the terms in which she does.  For me - I know what is important now and as hard as I tried to spin the dream for Shelly I know that she wasn't going to accept what I could offer.  Instead, I can only hope for that special person who understands where I have been and that I understand where she has been.  Maybe I have found her already - I am too scared to consider that at this point - only time will tell.

It's almost Friday again - yippee!!  I have had 2 days without Zack as he has spent the last 2 days in the mountains at Keystone with my sister.  He has done OK, but I am looking forward to having him home.  He returns on Thursday morning and then he heads out to "Camp Comfort" on Friday afternoon.  I then have another 48 hours without him.  Wow!  I don't know that I have had this kind of freedom in years!!

I hope everyone is having a great week and is looking forward to the weekend ahead.

Thanks and peace to all!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Weekend for Dad

Our mountain adventures continued on Saturday morning where we left off on Friday evening.  Though it rained cats and dogs overnight Friday night, Saturday dawned with a fair amount of sun mixed with some clouds.  Allen being the over-athletic type that he is, decided that he needed to go for a fairly lengthy run first thing in the morning.  So he took off on an eight mile jaunt up and down Buffalo Mountain.  Given that he is from sea level the fact that he can do this without so much as batting an eyelid is quite unbelievable.

After his return from his run, it was time to take a proper hike.  The three of us set off on what I call "the mile long loop" though in reality it is much closer to 2 miles.  It is the path that I normally take the dogs when I have them in the mountains.  Much of the area in which we do this hike has been clear cut of trees in the last year due to the pine bark beetle infestation.  Given that we really hadn't been out on this hike in a good six months I was shocked to see how much more had been logged.  There are literally no trees left standing except for a few lonely aspens.  But even now you can see the forest beginning to recover as there are plenty of little sapling taking root.

We spent some time cleaning up the condo.  (Though the next time I am there we are having a "deep cleaning" done including all the carpets and tile floors.)  By 1:00PM we were messing around with the car figuring out where to put Zack's bike since we now had Allen's bike on the roof rack.  Thankfully Zack's bike is small enough that it could fit in the back of the Explorer on top of our luggage.

Instead of taking the direct route out of the mountains on I-70 we decided to go over Loveland Pass and check out the conditions as Allen will be riding over that pass on the last day of Bicycle Tour Colorado.  The conditions on top of the pass were brutal!  The temperature outside was only 40 degrees and there was a very stiff wind blowing.  On top of that you could see where snow had fallen over night!  Hopefully conditions will improve by next Saturday or Allen and all 2300 other riders on the BTC are going to have one painfully cold ascent and descent of the pass!

From there we pretty much made a straight shot toward Central City where the starting point of the BTC is this year.  Getting to Central City of course was easy, but finding the Central City High School which was the official registration and starting point was a bit harder.  It turns out that the High School really isn't anywhere near Central City.  You have to go through Blackhawk and then up Highway 119 for several mile before you finally reach the high school.  It is a small high school so it's ability to handle 2300 riders was dubious.  Parking was difficult and there were people everywhere.  After about 30 minutes we finally found a place we could park that would allow us to dismount Allen's bike and get his gear out of the car.

Whew - that was an experience!  Zack and I then just needed to make it home for the end to our first week of summer adventure!  The rest of the drive was uneventful as we wound through Clear Creek Canyon and eventually got on I-70.   We arrived home around 4:30 and then the process of getting normal life re-started began!  The first thing that had to be done was that I needed to retrieve the dogs from my brother's house.  Unfortunately, I also got to see the path of destruction that my two lovely's inflicted upon my his house.  All I can say is that there are times I really wish I could super glue BOTH dogs mouths shut!  Grrrr....  (Nancy is no longer is a position where she necessarily feels comfortable taking care of the dogs.  So the pups will either be going to my brother's house or the kennel during our future summer trips.)

After that it was a quick trip to the grocery store for some food and then I had to get dinner for everyone.  By the time 7:00PM rolled around I was ready for a glass of wine and plunking down on the couch to watch some TV.  Needless to say, that made short work of the evening for me as I was quickly asleep - only waking up to get Zack off to bed at 9:30PM and stagger up to bed myself.

The good thing about getting to bed early was that it allowed me to wake up early this morning!  I got up and took care of a bunch of things - laundry, dishes, etc before heading out on my Father's Day gift to myself - a very long bike ride.

My stress fractured fibula is still bothering me a bit, so I have scaled back my hiking this summer in favor of biking.  Today's ride was one of my traditional favorites.  I start at my house and then pick up the C470 bike trail heading west.  When I intersect the South Platte Greenway just to the west of Sante Fe, I take that and head downtown.  I added a little variety today by taking a 3 mile detour up the Bear Creek bike path before turning back and heading downtown.  I pushed myself very hard for much of the ride and by the time I was about 4 miles outside of downtown I was pretty darn exhausted.  (It didn't help that I didn't eat anything before I went out!)  I managed to push myself extract hard and get to Union Station without getting too ragged.  I had 20 minutes to rest at Union Station while I waited for the train to take me home.  It was a great ride and has given me some determination to ride at least one century (a hundred mile bike ride) this summer.  That should be fun.

The rest of Father's Day was spent doing some low-key things around the house and paying off an agreement I made with Zack.  Prior to departing for Telluride, I had told him if he kept his "fear mongering" in check he would be able to get the Nintendo 3DS gaming system.  This is the first hand-held gaming system that has 3D technology built in that does not require any special glasses.  I felt it was a good reward for the effort he put forth to fight off his anxiety while he we were away.

Now it is time to start thinking of the week ahead.  It will be a busy work week.  On top of that this is the only free week that Zack has from summer camps, so both he and I have been busy arranging times for him to hang out with some of his buddies this week.  Thankfully this is the only camp-free week as it is a pain in the butt when I don't have a pre-programmed event for him everyday.

(I recorded my bike ride today and last Friday on my GoPro helmet/bike/whatever cam.  Once I go through the footage and find some neat sequences I will add them to this post.)

Anyway - that is the story for this weekend!  I hope everyone had a great weekend!!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Up and Down Vail Pass

Our week in Telluride has finally come to an end and we are now almost home.  We left Telluride on Thursday afternoon when Zack returned from his overnight camping expedition.  From there we journeyed over numerous mountain passes and deep canyons to reach our condo in Summit County.  It was a perfect time to leave Telluride as the place was starting to get very crazy with the start of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.  The population of that small town probably increased by 5 or 6 times on Thursday.  Attempting to use a cell phone was pretty much impossible because the circuits were utterly overwhelmed with traffic.  It was so bad on Thursday afternoon that I had to use the only available land line which was behind a bar at a hotel in Telluride for a conference call with my boss.  Not the best way to conduct a conference call with one's boss but I managed to provide my weekly update on all the work I had done with few interruptions.

Zack had a great time with his camp.  Each of the kids who took part in his group were given "nature names" and Zack's was Red Fox - as the fox his currently his favorite animal in the world.  On top of that last Saturday when we were here in Summit County we saw two red foxes within a period of 30 minutes.  Foxes are common in Colorado but to see 2 of them in 30 minutes is pretty unusual.

Zack did great with his overnight camp out and was the chief helper for getting the campfire started.  He felt very proud of how well he did starting the fire.  His confidence in his ability to do things continues to grow and I love when he comes home from a camp like this as he is so full of happiness, energy and enthusiasm.

Our trip back from Telluride to Silverthorne was relatively uneventful except for the fact that we got stopped for 30 minutes on highway 24 between Buena Vista and Leadville due to construction.  Otherwise it was a fantastic and beautiful trip.  When we arrived at the condo we found my college roommate, Allen already here.  He had spent the week in Breckinridge for a work conference and then is staying on to take part in Bicycle Tour Colorado next week.  So we are hanging out with him on Friday and then dropping him off in Central City which is the starting point for this year's Bicycle Tour Colorado.  (Allen and I rode the BTC together 3 years ago in 2008.  It was a great ride that year.)

Today - Friday - I took as a half vacation day as Zack, Allen and I were to ride our bikes down from Vail Pass into Frisco.  Actually, Allen was riding his bike from the condo through Frisco and up Vail Pass while Zack and I were taking a bike shuttle to the top of Vail pass to start.  (I could do the ride up Vail Pass but I really couldn't ask that of Zack as I don't think he would survive the 30 mile round trip.)

I had a few conference calls to do this morning but then Zack and I got to the bike shop in Frisco that offers the bike shuttle around 10:40AM as the shuttle was set to depart at 11:00AM.  Our bikes got loaded on the trailer and we climbed on board the van with 12 other riders.  The trip to the top of Vail pass only takes about 15 or 20 minutes so before we knew it we were being dropped off at the I-70 rest stop on the top of Vail Pass.

It took us a few minutes to get ourselves all organized as I needed to change into my bike clip shoes and I put my UGo Camera on my bike mount and then we were off on the long downhill ride into Frisco!  Given I have driven to Vail more times than I can count I have seen just about every inch of the Vail Pass Bike Path, but I have never ridden it.  I must say even through it runs right long I-70 it is amazingly beautiful!  For much of the ride, the bike path is in the median between the west bound and east bound lanes of I-70.  For much of that distance the two different directions of I-70 are separated by at least 1/4 mile.  Additionally, the bike path runs right along 10 Mile Creek which due to the large amount of snow still on the mountain tops was in full flood.  It was a great ride!

About 3 miles from the summit where we were dropped off by the shuttle we met up with Allen coming up the path.  We stopped and talked for a bit before Allen continued to the summit and Zack and I continued toward Frisco.  The bike path runs directly through Copper Mountain Resort and we lingered there for a little bit before continuing into 10 Mile Canyon.  For this part of the ride the bike path runs along the east bound lanes of I-70.  This was an amazing part of the ride as there are numerous lakes that have been formed from Beaver Dams right beside the path.  Additionally, at one point there was an avalanche run that had come the entire way down from the mountainside and at one point covered the bike path.  At that point there is still a mound of snow that is over 8 feet tall!

Allen eventually caught up to us on the downward ascent and passed us by.  He then came back up the trail to join us for the final ride into Frisco.  Once in Frisco we walked our bike through Frisco's BBQ Day's festival before we split up again.  Allen stayed in Frisco for some lunch while Zack and I head back to the condo as I had a conference call for work.

Our day of adventure wasn't quite done however.  After I was finished with work once again the three of us hopped back into the car and went to Frisco to partake in the BBQ days festival.  It was a very yummy festival is all I can say.  I ate a turkey leg that was as big as my upper arm!  And that was a small turkey leg compare some of the others that they were selling.

Zack had BBQ pizza and a funnel cake.  But the many event for him was taking part in the jousting tournament that was taking place in the kids play area.  He loved that!!  I was able to get some great photos of him sparring with the other kids.

Tomorrow we will finally head home to Centennial.  First we will drop Allen off in Central City for the beginning of Bicycle Tour Colorado.  He will have a busy week ahead as he will travel close to 500 miles on his bike before he returns to Central City next Saturday.  I wish I were doing the ride with him again this year - but that is not to be this year.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Monday, June 13, 2011

To Telluride

Whew – this weekend has been a whirlwind.  Things have finally calmed down just a little bit as we have arrived at our final destination for this week – Telluride!  Zack is taking place in a camp here in Telluride this week and I am along for the ride.  Last year Zack took part in the Telluride Academy weeklong program.  This is a program that is similar to a shortened version of outward bound.  The kids are challenged to grow and enhance their outdoor skills and experience. 

Tomorrow morning at 9:00AM I will drop him off at the Telluride High School/Middle School.  He will spend the rest of the day working with his group doing fun and adventurous things!  Unfortunately for me after I drop him off I will be back in the hotel room working – yuck!

Our trip to Telluride was a lot of fun.  We left the house yesterday afternoon around 4:00PM and headed to our condo in Silverthorne.  Prior to that I spent several hours swearing and coursing at my bike rack!  I moved my bike rack from my 2001 Honda Civic to my 1998 Ford Explorer.  All I can say is – I curse you Yakima Bike Mounts!   Somewhat teasing by that statement but there was a point on Friday evening that I wanted to kill the designer of the Yakima ‘Universal Mount”. 

Unfortunately the electricity is still off in my condo!  I will have some harsh words for Xcel energy tomorrow!!  We ended up spending the evening in my brother’s house in Silverthorne.  Before that we meet up with my college roommate – Allen Greenberg for dinner.  Allen is in town for work conference in Breckinridge.  After the conference he is taking the following week and riding in Bicycle Tour Colorado.  (We rode the BTC together back in 2008.)  We will meet up with Allen again after our week in Telluride.

This morning we got up and did some work cleaning up our electricity-free condo.  We got on the road from Silverthorne around 10:40AM and we took our time crossing Colorado.  We stopped each time we crossed the continential divide and I got a picture of Zack at the divide point.  On top of that we took a detour and went to the only National Park in Colorado we have never been to – The Black Canyon of the Gunnison.  It was an absolutely amazing experience as the canyon is so deep and so amazingly beautiful.  I look forward to going back there and spending a lot more time there exploring and photographing.

After we stopped at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison we pretty much made a bee-line towards Telluride.  Every time I drive to Telluride I get a pit in the bottom of my stomach.  It brings back lots of memories from 2008 when I rode Bicycle Tour Colorado and I road my bike the whole way into Telluride from Montrose.  That was QUITE a ride and each time I drive that route by car I re-live that bicycle ride.  Even now – three years after the event I still think of that as one of the toughest days of riding I have ever had.

This evening Zack and I spent walking around Telluride and riding the system of Gondola’s that are unique to the town.  We got some great views from the top of the first gondola and I identified a bunch of waterfalls I want to try and hike to during the next several evenings.  We did dinner at the local brewpub around the corner from our hotel and then came back to the hotel to relax for the evening.

Despite having to work all week, I am sure we will have a great week here in Telluride.  I hope everyone else has a great week too!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


The Internet connection is not good from Telluride so I have been unable to add the pictures I wanted to this blog post.  With any luck I can do that tomorrow!

Friday, June 10, 2011


Recently I haven't much of a need to write.  But for some reason this Friday night I feel that I have a need to write but the problem is I haven't a thing to write about.  We have had no interesting adventures today and there is nothing that is so pressing upon my mind that I have to put it words for the world to see.  Regardless I feel like I need to write.

This is an interesting predicament for me as I am usually never at a loss for words.  I suppose I could tell a humorous story about Finnegan that occurred today.  Our neighborhood is continuously being "papered" by people who come around and put door hangers on your front door.  Today instead of having the kind that hang from your door handle they were taping the advertisement to your door.  Part of my front door is glass and Finnegan could see this advertisement blowing in the wind.  He just could not figure out what it was.  He sat in front of the door and just did his little high pitched puppy growl.  He must have sat there for 30 - 45 minutes going "grrrrrrr" at this fluttering piece of paper.  Lex heard him growling and came over to investigate.  He took one look at what Finnegan was growling at and just walked away - he couldn't be bothered.

I was quite amused by it all so I let him continue to growl and make a fuss over that piece of paper.  It wasn't until Zack returned home from a bike ride with two of his friends that I decided to pull it off the door.   When Zack walked in the house with his friends Finnegan unfortunately went into a state of panic as he felt overwhelmed by Zack's 2 friends who were with him.  So - he had a little accident all over the floor.  Thankfully it was only on the hardwood floor so it was very easily cleaned up.  I wish I could get Finn to be a little less fearful but that just seemed to be baked into his personality at this point.  Hopefully as he gets a little older he will become less fearful.  Regardless he is still the cutest little puppy in the world to both Zack and me!

Well - I guess that is about it for the night as I really don't have anything else to say.  But it felt good to write something.  The weekend looks pretty busy for us but with any luck I will start the day with a bike ride tomorrow morning!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Biggest Purge Ever

Wow - it is hard to believe that another week has almost flown by!  Though I am greatly looking forward to the weekend, I still have a lot of work that I need to get done by the end of business hours this Friday.  It is going to make for a very busy Friday at work.

In the evenings when I haven't been working for my job, I have been working on a very large personal project - downsizing my footprint in life.  I have been going through all of my possessions and getting rid of stuff like there is no tomorrow.  I have attacked a few remaining boxes and drawers of Patty's stuff and I have put 95% of that stuff out to Goodwill also.  I kept a few things that are significant for Zack, but the vast majority has gone to charity.

In the past it was hard to let go of stuff, but for whatever reason it is very easy now.  I take one look at something, determine if I have used it in the last year and if not - it is gone to the great thrift store in the sky.  Well to be honest it is not in the sky, it is on County Line and Holly.  The back of the Explorer is once again filled with bags, boxes and other things that are on a one way trip to the thrift store.  Tomorrow during lunch I will take a break from work and get them out of here!

Not much else to say for a Thursday evening.  We have not been up to much since the weekend.  On Tuesday evening we went out and celebrated Zack's last day of school by having dinner at Dave and Busters and playing lots and lots of games.  Zack loved and I didn't mind too much as we took the light rail so I had 3 beers.

I hope that everyone has a great weekend ahead!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Haunting Images

Before I get to the details of my post for the day I wanted to comment on the political happenings in the world as it is stuff that I keep reading about but few major news organizations are now covering.

The "Arab Spring" of 2011 has provided many images that are haunting and hard to view.  In the last 6 months I think I have probably watched dozens of videos on YouTube showing the outcomes of battles between protesters and government forces in several countries.  The latest video I watched was from Syria in which government forces are shown placing weapons on the bodies of slain protesters.  The video is extremely graphic and there are numerous pictures of the dead protestors in detail..  If you care to watch it you can find it at this address:

Though there is outrage and disgust at all that is happening, I really wonder if anything is really going to change as a result of the "Arab Spring".  I feel that much of what is happening today is like what happened in the 1848 (i.e. Spring of Nations, Springtime of the Peoples or the Year of Revolution) in which the revolutionary forces gained ascendancy and then within a short period time the forces of monarchies had retaken the initiative.  (My father was a history professor so that kind of stuff was talked about at my house all the time.)  So in that case I think that there is much blood being spilled for absolutely nothing.  To think that many of these nations are ready for democracy or self-determination is an absolute joke.  There is no tradition of democracy or even free speech.  (Look at Egypt - they have been ruled by authoritarian leaders since the Pharaohs.)  And the fact that that our government is supporting many of these revolutionary forces is the worst thing.  Like we did in 1991 when we encouraged the Iraqi people to revolt, we are leading thousands if not tens of thousands to slaughter.  Additionally - I think in the cases where the revolutionary forces have won or are winning (like Egypt) the end result will be very detrimental to the goals and objectives of our country. 

Oh well - enough on that subject.  I don't know the people who's have been killed by government forces in those pictures and videos so I can't mourn their deaths personally but I do feel for their families and the people that they loved.  Hopefully my ideas and opinions about what is happening in the Middle East are wrong and their deaths will matter in securing the freedom of their people.

My actual point in writing tonight's blog post was about haunting pictures I found from my own life.  I think at this point I have dealt with all the pictures that I have discovered over the years from when Patty was alive.  It was always hard to find a picture I hadn't seen of her and think back to that time.  Today's haunting images were found on a memory stick that was lying around in my office and I just hadn't noticed it for a long time.  I had used the memory stick in my camera for New Years Eve of this year.  I found a ton of pictures of Shelly on that memory stick and it brought back a lot of good memories but a lot of horrible thoughts of why things ended the way they did.  We had such a great time then and we did so much work to rebuild all the ties that were lost in the pain of September of 2010.  But then it all died again...  And I am still so lost and uncertain of all that happened and why.  In some ways I love looking at the pictures as they bring back lots and lots of good memories but in other ways they just rip the soul out of me.  In the end run, I guess it just is what it is and there is nothing I can do about it so I have to live with it.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Search for the Perfect Campsite

It's Sunday evening and I am sitting at the kitchen table with a glass of wine.  Zack is upstairs taking a shower and getting ready for bed.  It has been a long and busy weekend but it is now time to slow things down and do a bit of relaxing before the new week begins.  This coming week will bring big changes as Zack will officially finished sixth grade.  His last day of school is on Tuesday but for all intents and purposes school is already done.  Tomorrow is pretty much a goof off day and then Tuesday the kids only have to attend school until 11AM.  Then it is all over for eleven weeks!

This weekend involved a ton of activity!  Saturday was consumed with a long bike ride for me as I went out and did 21 miles.  It was a great ride as I rode on a new section of the Cherry Creek bike path for the first time.  At the end of April another 2 miles of the trail opened.  Prior to the opening of this section you had to get off the trail and traverse Jordan Street for several miles.  Now that the trail has been completed through this section and you can ride the whole way from E470 to Arapahoe Road without getting on the street.  The unfortunately part of this ride however is that you are dumped off on Arapahoe road right near the intersection of Parker road.  You need to ride for about 1/2 of a mile on Arapahoe Road until you can get on Jordan and ride into Cherry Creek State Park.  Where you are dumped off on Arapahoe Road is at a point that the road is 6 lanes across.  Riding that 1/2 mile is like Russian Roulette as there are cars speeding by you at 60 miles per hour.  In the future I have to figure out a better way to negotiate that section because it scared me crapless!  Besides that short section on Arapahoe Road it was a great ride.  I started here at our house in Willow Creek and joined the C470 bike trail near County Line and Yosemite.  I then headed east and joined the E470 Bike Trail and road until it terminated on the Cherry Creek Bike Trail near E470 and Parker Road.  I then took the Cherry Creek Bike trail North until I reached Cherry Creek State Park at which point I caught the light rail home from the I-225 and Dayton street station.  It was a great ride!

The rest of Saturday was spent doing stuff around the house - by that is a story for another day, as once again there are lots of changes happening.  In the evening it was time to head downtown as it was the Denver Chalk Art Festival.  I love going down to Larimer Square for the Chalk Art Festival.  It always a lot of fun to see what the artists come up with and just to people watch.

The big event of the weekend however was today.  This morning we were up very early and headed towards the mountains.  Instead of our usual stomping grounds in Summit County we were headed towards Park County and the illustrious South Park area.  The goal for today was to find the perfect camping spot for our planned camping trips of the summer.  There were quite a number of different camp grounds in the national forest that I wanted to check out.

The first campground we checked out was very easy to reach as it was right off of US 285 at the top of Kenosha Pass.  It was an OK campground, but the problem is that the campground is only about 1/4 mile off of US 285 which is a very busy road.  I really don't want to consider this campground as I would hate to think if one of the dogs got lose and wandered out on to US 285.  The thought of that just makes me sick - so we are staying away from this campground.

Near this campground is a memorial to the the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad which ran over Kenosha Pass.  The railroad ran through this area from 1872 until 1937 when the line was abandoned.  The small section of track on the summit of Kenosha Pass is one of the few remaining pieces of evidence that it ever existed.

(Zack on the remains of the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad)

(Zack on the remains of the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad)

(Lake at the top of Kenosha Pass)

(Lake at the top of Kenosha Pass - Notice the haze in the air!)

From there it was on to the next campground that I wanted to check out as I thought it offered the best potential for a great place to camp.  Unfortunately reaching this campground was not an easy task.  We took US 285 south for another 5 miles from the summit of Kenosha Pass to the small town of Jefferson.  From there we turned east on Park County Road 56 and continued for another 21 miles.  Those 21 miles were 21 miles of bone shaking, teeth cracking washboard, dirt, gravel, rocks and holes.  But the end result was worth it!  We came across a gorgeous campground with wonderful views of the Kenosha mountains that appears to be very sparsely populated.  I figure even at the height of the summer this campground is not very populated because it is so remote.

(Yes - we did 21 miles each way on this type of road.  Note the washboard bumps on the right center of the shot.  It certainly made for a rough ride!)

(View up the valley from the campground.  There is a large wooded area immediately behind this in which we will pitch our tent.)

(View to the east into the Kenosha Mountains.  Notice the amount of smoke and haze in the air.  It was impossible to get a good photo because of the smoke in the air.)

(Zack up on the rocks near the camp ground.  Not sure why my lens protector is introducing that black smudge on the upper left hand corner.)

(Me on the rocks.  I took my tripod and used the camera's timer to capture this shot.)

(This shot was also captured with the tripod and timer.  It took me forever to get the tripod level to take these shots.)

I attempted to get some good pictures of the area surrounding this campground by I was really stymied by the amount of smoke and haze in the air.  There are a number of wildfires burning in New Mexico and Arizona that are just pumping tons of smoke into Colorado's skies, so pretty much every picture I took appears washed out and bleak.

After 21 more miles of driving on Park County Road 56 for the return to US 285 Zack and I were HUNGRY!  Our originally plan was to stop at the Bailey Coney Island and have a hot dog for lunch.  (The Bailey Coney Island is a semi-famous place as it is shaped like a giant hot dog.)  By the time we reached there around 2:00PM, the line was out the door and I was guess it would be a 30 - 40 minute until we could get served.  Oh well - we will save that for another day.  (We have eaten there numerous times but it is always fun to have a meal there.)  Instead we ended up at the Sonic near Conifer.  I personally don't think Sonic's hotdogs are any where as good as the hotdogs at that Bailey Coney Island, but there was no wait time!

So that bring us to the end of the weekend and the beginning of a new week.  There is lots to be done in the week ahead! 

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Howling

Morning's in the Kromer household are usually very busy.  The first alarm goes off at 6:20AM and I allow myself 2 snoozes and get up at 6:40AM.  I have given up use of my alarm clock in my room and exclusively use my cell phone as the alarm.  In case I happen to oversleep, I have a back up alarm that goes off at 7:10AM.  I have never had to use this alarm to wake up but it goes off religiously at 7:10AM every morning.

Given the business of the morning, I usually bring my cell phone down stairs with me and turn off the other alarms as they go off.  This morning I forgot to bring my phone downstairs and this caused an amazing event to take place.  The alarm went off at 7:10AM and Zack was still getting ready for school so I didn't immediately run upstairs to turn it off.  The alarm just kept ringing and ringing, but I didn't take much notice of it since I was downstairs.  Zack leaves the house by 7:17AM every morning so that he can catch his bus at 7:27AM.  After he walked out of the house this morning, I went back into the kitchen to check my work e-mail and that is when the event occurred. 

As I sat at the kitchen table working on my laptop I heard this sound start.  I wasn't quite sure what it was at first, but then I realized it was a howling dog.  It was Finnegan upstairs in my bedroom howling at my cell phone.  I had to go see what was going on!  As I walked into the bedroom I was greeted with the cutest and most hilarious sight!  Finnegan was standing on my bed with his head pointed towards the ceiling howling like a wolf howls at the moon.  I so wish I had been able to capture this on video, but unfortunately as soon as I walked the whole way into the room, Finnegan was surprised by me and stopped howling.

Finn still has one of the cutest of puppy barks, so when he howled it was just an amazing sound that came out of his mouth.  I am going to see if I can teach him to howl on command or at least if I can get him to howl every time he hears that alarm.  If I can capture him on video doing this, it will be one of the funniest videos that you will ever see.  I hope can capture it so that I can share it with everyone.

I hope everyone has had a great week so far!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.