Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer 2013 - Outward Bound for Zack and Bicycle Tour Colorado for Jerry

It's hard to believe that summer is upon us!  Zack finished school on Monday and now has 10 weeks of summer bliss to look forward to.  Unfortunately for me the work schedule will continue on the same as it does every other month.  However with Zack out of school we will be doing some things like spending more time in the mountains.  As a matter of fact, I am writing this blog entry from there as we left home early this evening and are now hanging out in our condo in Silverthorne.

With the summer season comes plans for summer vacations.  Unlike last year we do not have any international travel planned for the summer of 2013.  I considered taking a trip to Ireland for a week, but the economics of it given all that we had done to the house in 2012 just didn't make sense.  So instead we are staying close to home and pursuing a different sort of vacation.  In fact, Zack and I will be taking separate trips!

Zack's trip is an Outward Bound Expedition.  For those of you who might not know of Outward Bound, it is an organization that is dedicated to providing young people and adults experiential trips into the wilderness.  They describe their purpose in this way on their website.  "Outward Bound is the premier provider of experience-based outdoor leadership programs for youth and adults. Outward Bound courses change lives and give you the tools to see further, climb higher and know your way."

Both Zack and I are hoping that he will gain some valuable life experience and internal confidence from taking part in one of their expeditions.  We discussed a lot of different options as to what kind of course he would take, as there are options for backpacking, mountaineering, canoeing, etc.  After our discussions we decided that he would take part in a backpacking expedition that was specifically for kids who have suffered some in-depth loss in their life.  Both Zack and I felt, along with the Outward Bound counselors that this kind of course would give him the best opportunity to grow in specific areas that deal with all the trauma the he experienced with Patty's illness and death.

The expedition he will taking part in is in the middle of July and will take place in Collegiate Peaks area of Colorado.  It will be a great experience for him.  He has experienced a good amount of camping in his life so that won't be a shock to him.  Additionally, in past summers we have done a lot of hiking in the Colorado high country, so that shouldn't be much of a challenge.  What will challenge him is doing both at once and sharing the experience with a group of other kids.  He won't be able to put off doing things and will be part of a team seeking to accomplish a series of goals.  It really should be a great experience for him that will hopefully help him grow and come to terms with all that he has experienced in life and all that he has lost.

As for me, I have big challenge ahead of me.  I will be riding in the 2013 edition of Bicycle Tour Colorado.  This year the Tour will be a 483 mile loop starting in Canyon City.  A total of seven days will be spent biking through the beautiful Colorado scenery.  The first day takes us 86 miles from Canon City to Buena Vista.  Day 2 goes from Buena Vista to Carbondale covering a distance of 91 miles.  From Carbondale we will travel 58 miles to Paonia on Day 3.  The next day we will have a choice of routes to reach Crest Butte.  We can travel 47 miles, including 26 miles on dirt over Keebler Pass or do 111 miles and stay on paved roads.  After the tough ride to Crested Butte we get a day off to enjoy that beautiful town before taking on a 99 mile ride on Day 6 of the tour to Salida.  The last day takes us on a short 55 miles jaunt from Salida back to Canyon City.

(Bicycle Tour Colorado Route for this years ride.)

It should be a great ride if my body will cooperate and stop hurting!  Surprisingly as I have been ramping up my biking throughout the last month my back has responded very well.  For reasons unknown to me however, my right elbow and wrist have been killing me.  Unfortunately, this makes some of the motions I go through while riding my bike very painful.  Based upon the symptoms it seems like it is the proverbial "tennis elbow", though I don't play tennis.  My doctor has me on steroids to help resolve the situation.  Worst case, each morning with my breakfast of energy bars I will eating a bunch of Advil to shed the pain.

The tour takes place from June 22 - June 29, so hopefully the weather will be good and we will not yet be into the really hot days of July.  My prior experience riding the BTC in 2008 was fantastic and I am looking forward to the experience this year.  I will be doing the ride with my college roommate Allen.  Even though we only see each other at most once a year, we still have the same easy go lucky friendship we had in college.  So I am sure we will have a good time!

Zack's school came to an end on Monday, with the 8th grade class picnic at Elitch Gardens Amusement Park in Denver.  I can't believe that he is on the verge of going to high school!  It seems so strange to me as I still think of him as my "little Zackie".  He is anything but these days as he is only about 2 inches shorter than I am and is becoming built like a brick wall.  You always hear people say it but you never believe it, our kids do grow up so fast!  Though I miss those days when he was a little kid, I am so proud to see my son growing up and becoming a young man!

House of Death

This article was forwarded to me by the volunteer coordinator at the hospice at which I volunteer.  The subject matter is relatively profound and explains something that very few people every talk about - so I thought I would share it.

For those of you who don't know, I volunteer at a Hospice in my town.  There were a bunch of reasons that got me to start volunteering there over 2 years ago.  I don't need those reasons now, as I have come to enjoy the work that I do there and find it very fulfilling.

The hospice at which I volunteer was the place in which my mom died back in 1999 and though I didn't agree with the philosophy of hospice back then, I have come to see it as so important in terms of helping people leave this life with some dignity and on their own terms.  Additionally, after all that I went through when Patty was sick and dying, I really feel like I understand what the families feel and experience.  So being able to just give even one family the understanding of "you aren't alone" is a great thing.  I wish so much when Patty was so ill, I had someone to give me that understanding.

If you would, take a read of the article and understand how important hospices are.  And if you have the gumption,  how about finding you local hospice and think about volunteering or helping out.  Chances are, it will leave you with some pretty deep but good feelings.

Thanks for reading! ~J.