Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Apparently my friend Danielle (see her picture above!) knew I had absolutely nothing to do today. I don't have to work, its too cold and snowy to ride, the dog has been walked, its too early to Christmas shop (for a procrastinator) and all I have to do is stare out the window!

Danielle "tagged" me in an effort to get me to update the ol' blog. This means I have to come up with 6 random things about myself to share with you. Hopefully if you're reading this you are not digesting Thanksgiving leftovers and so my six things plus a little tryptophan don't put you to sleep!

1. When I was growing up, I wanted to become a veterinarian. I love animals and have had the following at one time or another: 2 dwarf hamsters, a ferret, a goldfish, bunnies, cats, turtles, dogs, and I dated a guy with 3 iguanas. The dwarf hamsters had babies and then ate them. Maybe that's when I decided working in the world of animals would be a little tough.

2. I grew up in Grand Haven, Michigan. It was a pretty cool place to grow up and I spent a lot of time at the beach and swimming in Lake Michigan. We also had woods behind our house where my brother and I would hang out and play in the swamp. We would catch frogs and race them and play marbles and climb trees and leave pennies to get squished on the railroad tracks that bordered the woods. My brother was very cool to hang out with me, seeing as I was 5 years younger than him! We would also sneak over to Mother Hubbard, a convenience store, and get candy. My favorites were Tangy Taffy, Nerds, Tootsie Rolls, Now and Laters, and those Jolly Rancher stick candies that cut your tongue when you sucked on them.

3. I was the very last of all my (high school/college) friends to get married. Some of them had even been divorced and remarried by the time Chuck and I met! I'm pretty sure my mom thought it was never going to happen. The thing is, I wasn't going to settle, and it took a while for the right guy to come along. A few of the guys I was dating must haved scared my family, like the super-tattoo'd-septum piercing-guy, or the crazy-military-death-like-stare-guy. There were a few normal dates in there, but they were usually boring! Thank God Chuck came along and saved me from the messy, gory world of dating.

4. I love Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. Even the stupid ones. I am sad there may not be any more Arnold movies in the future, seeing as he's a governor and all. My favorites are, of course, The Terminator series, then I liked True Lies a lot, Total Recall was awesome, and Predator. Arnold better have a cameo in the Terminator Salvation (OMG, can't wait!) movie that's coming out next summer or I'm gonna be very upset!!!!!!!! Check it out--(

If you don't think that's cool there's something wrong with you!

5. I'm a sucker for adventure. This year alone I have done many adventurous things for the first time (also detailed in our last blog):

--Wakeboarding.... And faceplanting into Reed's Lake on the wakeboard.

--Go-kart racing (the real fast 60+ mph karts!). You have to wear a jacket, neck guard, gloves and everything. Its the real deal. And I didn't crash!

--Riding a supermoto and crashing on the supermoto. Sorry about the bike, honey!

--Riding a dirt bike, and yes, crashing a dirt bike. Good thing it was a rental :^)

--Downhill skiing on real mountains and occassionally, biting it on real mountains.

--Then, of course, there's the mountain biking. Here in Colorado I have been challenged to ride on more technical terrain than I have ever ridden.

--And with an adventure rating of 9.88 on a scale of 1-10, having only 2 extremely stressed out days to decide to move to Colorado after 35 years of living in Michigan, when I didn't even have a job and we'd have a house to sell. I do now have a job, of course, but we still own house in Michigan!

A successful year, I must say. Especially because I didn't break anything with all that biting it and all. And we haven't crashed and burned yet here in Colorado Springs. And it ain't gonna happen!

6. I'm taking a ceramics class. Wheelthrowing, to be exact. I took it so I could try something new, and I haven't used the right/creative side of my brain in a loooong time. Here are some of the first few things I made. Actually, its the second batch of things because the first few were UGLY.

There you have it. I think I'll tag Chucky now. YOU'RE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Six Sweet Months

We made it. We moved to Colorado in February and have now been here for 6 months already. I can't say its been easy, but every time I go outside and look up at the mountains, I feel a bit of peace.

What's so great about mountains, you ask? Well.... Mountains are not just majestic and beautiful, but can also be your stairclimber, your therapist, your playground. They call for you from your comfy place on the couch.

You can't possibly think about work when you are in the mountains. When I ride my mountain bike all I can think about is staying on the mountain bike and the 10 feet of trail in front of my wheel. It is not an option to lose control, because if you crash you could tumble right down the mountain (unless there is a strategically placed a pine tree to abruptly and painfully stop your fall). While riding, my sense of hearing is in overdrive as I listen for the tiniest rustle in the woods. Its probably just a squirrel, but I am on the lookout for bears and mountain lions.

Luckily the only bears and mountain lions we've seen were in the visitor center at Mueller State Park.

So this has been a very busy, exciting, adventurous six months. Here are some of the things we have experienced in the last half a year:

1. We went downhill skiing on REAL mountains. Since it was pretty much my first time (my one time at Cannonsburg doesn't count), luckily Chuck is a good teacher.

2. When it was too early to mountain bike, we did some hiking in the mountains (a.k.a. sucking wind and getting used to the altitude).

3. We travelled to the top of Pikes Peak, a mere 14,115 feet tall. Complete slackers that we are, we drove to the top. Pikes Peak is known as "America's Mountain" and is the most visited mountain in the U.S. This is probably due to the fact that there is a road to the top!!! The song "America the Beautiful" by Katherine Lee Bates was written about Pikes Peak. For Purple Mountain Majesties............

4. We went dirt biking, luckily Chuck is a good teacher :^) . I had the time of my life and only bit it once. It was pretty cool riding my own Monster Energy Kawasaki :^)

5. We took a road trip to Michigan, our first time home since the big move. I noticed that all the nephews kept growing without us!
Here are Noah, Simon, Sawyer, and Charlie

While in Michigan Chuck and I learned a brand new sport: wakeboarding! My good friend Angela and her boyfriend took us out on Reeds Lake. I wasn't sure if I wanted to try it--I was actually a bit worn out from trying new things all summer!!! But in the end, I couldn't let the opportunity pass me by.

6. We made it up the incline. Everyone in the Springs knows of the infamous incline. Torture! It is an old railway bed that is one mile long and it goes straight up the mountain. It climbs over 2000 feet in that mile, has an average grade of 41%. The steepest grade is 68%. Being the competitive person that I am, I went for a fast time. Not smart, I could barely walk the first few days afterwards and my legs were sore for a week!

That is not the top of the incline-you can't see the top from this photo!

7. We went to Aspen to ride and visit with friends. It is incredibly beautiful there and we had an awesome time. I actually ran out of memory on my camera (2Gig card!) I took so many pictures. Oh, and on one of our rides, Chuck rescued a dog from a turbulent whitewater river. I thought for sure the poor thing was a goner. The dog got swept away by the water and all I could see was a tiny patch of black on his back, then he was gone. Thank goodness there was a growth of trees in the middle of the river which somehow he got stuck up on.

8. I made it to Fort Collins to visit my friend Jill. She moved out to Colorado 4 years ago so we got together and rode some sweet and challenging trails. To rehydrate from our ride, she took me to the New Belgium Brewery for some taste-testing. They make Fat Tire, my new favorite beer since Founders is 1250 miles away.

Here's Jill on a rocky climb in Fort Collins.

Here I am on a rocky section. There were lots of rocky sections.

9. We got a short visit from my good friend Danielle and her husband Scott. We were pretty excited to see them, our first visitors since we moved to the Springs. We showed them as many gorgeous views as we could, and took them riding at Rampart Reservoir, all part of my scheme to get her back here as soon as possible!

Here are Danielle and Scott posing by the reservoir with Pikes Peak in the background.

Here I am with Danielle on the trail.

10. We have huddled under pine trees during a mountain bike ride to try to shelter ourselves from the hailstorm that suddenly came through. Okay, I huddled and Chuck stood there and took it like a man. Its a good thing it blew over and we didn't have to do anything that I have learned from watching Man vs. Wild.

11. We rode go-karts. I know it doesn't sound any too adventurous, but was actually kind of crazy. We rode these super fast racing karts that go 60 mph+. We had to get all dressed up in safety equipment before we could go--motorcycle helmets, jackets, gloves, and this funny neck protector thingee. Chuck and I raced eachother, and he beat me. :^( He didn't beat me by that much, though!

12. We went to the Olympic Training Center to get pumped up before the Olympics. The OTC is right in Co. Springs and is where many athletes do their training and get expert coaching. It is also where visitors can live out their dreams and stand under the Olympic rings on the top step of the podium, hands raised overhead in victory!


13. We saw our first real live rattlesnake. Snakes don't usually give me the creeps, but seeing this rattler made a shiver go down my spine.

14. We went riding in the mountains and saw the beautiful fall colors. I think I'll save those awesome pics for the next blog. Which will hopefully be soon....

Friday, August 1, 2008

We're not going Mountain Biking?

Chuck and I obviously have a passion for anything on two wheels. I have always, always wanted to go dirt biking. Luckily with an awesome, adrenaline junkie husband like Chuck, I got my chance. We have been hunting high and low for a place to rent bikes from since we got to Colorado and found a place in Divide, about 30 miles west of Colorado Springs.

However, as much as I wanted to go riding and imitate the ways of Ricky Carmichael, I needed to learn how to ride a motorcycle first. (Scary). My mountain bike weighs 21 pounds. Chuck's motorcycle weighs 295 pounds. (Very Scary).

Actually Chuck is a very good teacher and brought me to this empty parking lot to learn on his supermoto. I was pretty relaxed thanks to his calm and mellow demeanor. Wasn't he worried about a girl smashing up his beautiful stylin' motorcycle? Guess not.

I was wondering how on earth I would be able to master the clutch (left foot), front brake (right hand), rear brake (right foot), throttle (also right hand), and the gear shifting (left foot). That seems like a lot to get straight and I was longing for the time I would be able to ride without thinking and concentrating so hard and having my heart beat out of my chest.

So learn to ride I did. I know people do it every day, but the next day I would be doing it on trails with roots and rocks and gravel pits and hills!!! Added pressure!

Here we are with the rig all packed up and ready to head to the trail. Finally I am going dirt biking!!! I am no longer going to be a poser.

That's me on my Monster Energy Kawasaki!!! Check out my sweet new duds Chuck got me for my birthday.

I can't believe that's me!

So why did we ever retire from racing our road bikes and mountain bikes? So we could have time for this kind of fun. I cannot wait to go out again. I think the next time we go out I will be more relaxed and able to enjoy myself without being as nervous about crashing and smashing up the bike and my body.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Aspen Adventures

Sorry for the blog-drought lately but we have been quite busy having the time of our lives. We had to get out there so I'd have something to write about.

We went to Aspen for a few days to visit some good friends last week. It is so gorgeous there you wouldn't believe it. Maybe the price of real estate there will convince you--it costs around 8 million dollars for 0.6 acres of property. No house, just land. And maybe a couple of trees.

Playing tourists in our own backyard. Can you tell its summertime?

Since I am wearing sandals and shorts, it is quite obviously summertime... As I was walking around enjoying the awe-inspiring views, I kept getting snow in my sandals.

Here's a little perspective on the depth of the snow up here. Notice even the graffiti in Colorado is environmentally friendly.

So while in Aspen we had to do some riding. And ride we did. Chuck and I did 3 "epic" rides in 2 days including about 18,000 feet of climbing.

So the term "epic" is an oft abused adjective when referring to mountain bike rides. I, however, am very careful to use this word wisely.

You are probably asking--what in the world made our rides step it up into the "epic" category?

Well, let me tell you.
First of all we were riding with our friends from Michigan, Laura and Craig Webb. They are the first familiar faces we have seen since we've moved to Colorado. Then there was the whitewater rivers we passed, the constant view of the snowy capped mountains, riding at an oxygen deprived altitude of 11,500 feet, and most importantly, the icy mountain streams.
The icy mountain streams were sometimes knee deep and we had to ride right through them because they were flowing over our trail. One of the giant water holes we rode through had a big pile of snow melting right into it. As we rode through and kept knocking snow into the water, it created a nice icy mountain Slurpee. Fun.

Halfway up our trail we found this old miner's cabin from the mid-1800's. Apparently miner's were not especially tall.

I would have to say this is the first time I have encountered an avalanche during a mountain bike ride. It is also the first time I have ridden on snow in June. This would definately qualify our ride as "epic." While I was hiking across I kept getting snow in my mountain bike shoes. Definately not the best day to wear shortie socks, but that's what I get for being vain and trying to avoid the dreaded biker tan lines.

Here's our friend, Laura, hiking her bike accross the wreckage.

So how many flat tires are required to add to the matrix of the "epic" ride? I'm thinking three would be about right. Well, my downhill bombing, self preservation disregarding, adrenaline junkie husband got 5 flats. FIVE. All by himself. Luckily we were riding with enough people and he totally cleaned them out of their spare tube stash.

Together the other six riders on our journey got one flat. I am left to wonder if now there will be a karmic shift and Chuck will win a lifetime supply of free tubes or perhaps have 5 good years with no flats.......

We were lucky enough to end our time in Aspen with a Disco Party. I was very fortunate to obtain a sparkly green disco outfit so I could get completely funky. Or maybe I was just buzzed enough that my fun loving co-party friends convinced me to squeeze into a stretchy green superhero suit from the 70's that just happen to be laying around.

So there you have it. It may have been a long time between blogs, but we were busy being tourists, sucking wind, fixing flats, trying not to bonk, cleaning snow out of our shoes, thawing frozen feet, getting our freak on, drinking beer, and practicing our best disco moves.

I love it here................

Friday, July 4, 2008

Out numbered

Bullwinkel effect

Independence day,
I wake up this morning and look out the window and see 4 deer in the open space across the street. Chewing on some fine Colorado tree bark. A coyote is playing with his breakfast near. The lead buck apparently doesn’t like the company of coyotes and chases the Wiley coyote away.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

There's a Bear Up the Road

Chuck and I actually had a day off together yesterday, so we planned a big mountain bike ride. We packed our jerseys with food, slathered on the sunscreen, and took off on our adventure. It only took about 30 minutes for our ride to become quite exciting. As we started our climb up Gold Camp Road, a cyclist flew by us in the opposite direction and yelled "There's a bear up the road!"

Um, okay. Wait a minute, what are we supposed to do with that information? A bear? Holy $#%*!!!!!!!!! You can't just say that and offer no more information!! I immediately reduced my pace and looked over at Chuck. This was quite a new situation for us. It wasn't "There's a crazy rabid dog up the road," or "There's a huge pothole up the road," or even "Watch out for the Jehovah's Witness up the road!"

My eyesight suddenly became very keen as I scoped out every shadow. While I recalled that bears can run up to 30 mph, I looked down at my Garmin computer to see that we were going a mere 10 mph up this climb. Chuck told me the bear wouldn't just run out and attack us, but I wasn't so sure.

Of course, being the adventurous types we are, turning around was not an option. We had our route planned out and no stinkin' bear was going to ruin our day. As we kept tentatively riding along, I wasn't sure if I should slow down or speed up. I was thinking very hard about my escape plan if we saw the bear--turn around? Sprint UP the hill? Yell at it at the top of my lungs? Of course, I reallllly wanted a picture of the bear, so I hoped he would just be relaxing in the shade eating some yummy flowers or something.

Well, after all this excitement, do you think we saw the bear? NO. No bear. I was very relieved, and yet, somewhat disappointed. So far in Colorado we have seen tons of mule deer, a fox, millions of bunnies, coyotes, and even mountain goats. I really would have liked adding a bear to our resume..........

So we rode on. The road turned to gravel and kept climbing and climbing. At the end of the day we got in almost 5,000 feet of climbing. Here's a pic of my computer at our turnaround point.

Here is a view of a very tiny Colorado Springs and in the foreground, what looks like the remains of a forest fire.

After almost 2 hours of riding and going through 4 tunnels in the rock, we came upon this collapsed tunnel. Luckily, there was some singletrack off to the left so we could get around it. I wasn't too unhappy to go around, because riding through the tunnels on a bike is creepy. You can't see a thing after you get about 20 feet in. You have to have a lot of faith that you are not riding directly into a black hole of death (I've read too many Steven King books, I know). Luckily by the 4th tunnel, Chuck recommended that I take my sunglasses off. It was much better after that :^)
Here's the final stats on the day.... Almost 4 hours on the mountain bike, 45 miles covered, a crapload of climbing, and a nice high heart rate thrown in. The green line is our elevation and the red line appropriately enough, is my heart rate. Both Chuck and I were pretty wasted by the time we made it home. Time for a recovery drink so we can do it again tomorrow!