Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Annual Colorado Trip

MLK Day is very special to me, and though I admire and respect Dr. King, it’s not because of him. On January 15, 2007 Jason and I both had the day off of work, so we walked through the snow to a coffee shop in our neighborhood. Although we’d done this millions of times, on this day we didn’t read newspaper articles to each other, work on a crossword puzzle, or play Rummy. Instead we decided to talk about our dreams – what we wanted to do/achieve in our lives.

After agreeing on a 5 year timeline, Jason and I got down to business. Luckily, we share a lot of the same goals and dreams, so it was easy to make a list that included what we both wanted. One major thing on the list was to find new jobs, possibly overseas, that we enjoyed. Check! Another thing on the list was to buy some land in Colorado. Check! I know there were other things on the list, but we didn’t save the dang thing and that’s all I can remember.

Since buying land in Colorado, we’ve tried to visit whenever possible – which usually ends up being once a year. We camp out, cut down dead trees, clear hiking paths, and enjoy the beautiful view. This year, we spent an entire week camping on our property. Since we had more time than usual, we were able to make some real progress. We started clearing an area for our future cabin. So far, the area will accommodate our gigantic tent. We splurged this summer and bought a 20 x 12, ten person tent. If you feel like joining us next year, we have plenty of room!

We were also fortunate enough to meet up with our wonderful friends Jeff and Lara from Minnesota. They flew in for a few days and we lived it up in Fort Collins and got lost in Rocky Mountain National Park together. It was a really, really fun time and I love both of them dearly. It was the perfect way to end our Colorado trip and a highlight of the summer.

Downtown Westcliffe

Westcliffe's (one and only) Super Market. What a nice background, eh?

Our new home away from home. It didn't leak at all even though it rained every evening.

View of the Wet Mountain Valley.

Our kitchen...it's a great place to eat oatmeal in the morning.

Squatters! These little guys like to roost in the trees on our property. They run and flap their wings as fast as possible and try to jump up onto the lowest branch of a tree - sometimes it takes a few attempts. Then they spend some time hopping from limb to limb until they reach the top of the tree where they spend the night.

Another view of the valley.

Wild Flowers

On our way back from town one day, we spotted a beautiful rainbow.

Our favorite trail in the Sangres is the Rainbow trail. It runs the entire length of the range and there are a ton of trailheads along it. My goal is to hike the entire trail - section by section, of course.

It's a very peaceful trail...so much different than the rush hour style trails in Seoul.

We went for a drive one day to the other side of the Wet Mountains. We had heard about Bishop's Castle from someone a few years ago, but hadn't made it there before. Suffice it to say, it's quite an interesting place.

The castle was/is being built by Jim Bishop. It's a work in progress that started in 1969.

It's beautiful and peculiar at the same time.

Apparently, the dragon's head is a chimney. There's also a hot air balloon burner attached to it that allows the dragon to breathe fire - on the weekends only. Unfortunately, we were there on a Monday.

We were pleasantly surprised by Lake Isabel. It's a nicely developed lake/campground/cabin area with a small general store, church, and a restaurant.

While walking around the lake we encountered several groups of people and small families. Everyone was extremely friendly and one such bloke snapped a picture for us.

The new camp pad! It was a lot of work...but it was worth it. We're going to be so set up the next time we go camping there.

Lara is one of my best friends in the whole wide world - even though she made me sit in the hot sun. ;) haha!

We rode on an urban bike trail that runs along a river in Fort Collins. It was a great day!

Unfortunately, I'm getting old...and I had to wear a knee brace while biking. I think I rocked the look though.

We did the touristy thing and stopped by some of the breweries on our bike tour. O'Dells is my new favorite brewery in town. I love New Belgium, but it feels a little too kitchy these days.

We had sushi on our last night in town. It was owned by a Korean man so there were a few Korean delicacies on the menu, including Soju. Our friends were keen to try it...but at a 10,000 percent mark-up we just couldn't do it. Jeff and Lara - I'll bring you a whole bottle the next time we get together.

The view from our campsite in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Even though the woman at the main entrance tried to frighten us with bear tales, we boldly went on a few hikes in the area.

Jeff and Lara looking lovely after our hike on the Fern Lake trail.

Hippy ingenuity at its best - A VW bus with an added VW bug top soldered onto the roof...sweet.

Lara and I got lost a few times in Colorado. We were too engrossed in our conversations to pay attention to where we were going. Thankfully, we only went an hour out of our way on this trail.

Pretty Bird

I didn't realize how matchy-matchy we were. Next time we'll have to call each other to uncoordinate our outfits.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Iowa & New York; same-same

Growing up, I knew my parents loved me even though they shipped me and my siblings off to our grandparent’s houses each summer. We spent one month with each set of grandparents. After my father’s parents moved to Wyoming, we were able to visit two different states during our summer vacation. And while it was nice in Wyoming, I still loved Iowa best. I relished the lush green humid environment. It was far from the pseudo-Mediterranean climate of the bay area where I lived the rest of the year.

The most vivid memories I have of those summers in Iowa are of running wild around Sibley – a very small town in northwest Iowa. We were either barefoot or shod in jelly shoes from sunup to sundown. We raided the park store for 3 cent candies and spent every day possible at the town pool. In the late afternoons, tired from exertion and the sun, my sisters and I would gather around the TV and watch The Incredible Hulk, I Dream of Jeannie, or The Dukes of Hazzard while we sipped RC cola. When a particularly good movie came to town, like The Muppets Take Manhattan, the neighborhood kids went as a group.

I think it’s the similarity of the environment that makes me love New York as I do. It has so many of the characteristics that I remember fondly from childhood – fireflies, humid nights, soft grass for bare feet, and a pool to lounge in all the live long day. Jason and I spent several weeks in the Hudson Valley again this summer and it’s always a treat. I spent everyday possible in the pool, watched TV or movies in the evenings, and spent time with my in-laws. It was lovely and I’m already looking forward to next year.

We usually do at least one hike a year on a section of the Appalachian Trail that runs near Hopewell.

I remember these same ferns growing outside my grandparent's farmhouse.

Jason and George showing off their hiking sticks.

We caught a concert while we were in New York. It was at Bascobel - an Federal style home from the 1800's that has been turned into a museum of sorts. This is the view from the lawn where we picnicked before the show. http://www.boscobel.org/

We saw Tom Rush play a wonderful acoustic set. He's a folk/blues singer/songwriter whose contemporaries are Joni Mitchell and James Taylor.

Jason and George enjoying the show.

On our way up to Bear Mountain State Park.

View of the Hudson from the Bear Mountain Bridge.

Perkins Memorial Tower is at the top of Bear Mountain.
"With its 360-degree panorama, the Perkins Memorial Tower offers spectacular views of the Hudson River, the Bear Mountain Bridge, U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Storm King, and Fort Montgomery. Four states are visible (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania), as well as the New York City skyline. The observation floor has interpretive displays that describe the distant views, which include several mountain ranges: the Taconics, Ramapos, Shawangunks, and even the Catskills. Perkins Memorial Drive and Tower truly are a highlight of any visit to Bear Mountain."

If you look closely, you can see the NYC skyline off in the distance.

We went on a little tour of diners while I was in New York. We had pie and coffee at a diner that was featured on an episode of Seinfeld. Then we stopped at the I-84 diner near Fishkill, which is as old as I am.

After our trip to the I-84 diner, we went to the Valley Soaring Club to check out George's glider and do a little maintenance.

First, George mowed while Jason supervised.

Then, Jason mowed while George supervised.

As usual, we went to Pennslyvania for a few days to visit Jason's grandmother. On our way back we stopped in Lititz for a bite to eat near this Hotel. I love the Americana feel of this picture.

The Walkway over the Hudson is an old railroad bridge that has been converted into a pedestrain walkway.

Nice view!


The bridge is in Poughkeepsie, NY.

The weather was fantastic while we were in New York - blue skies almost every day.