Thirsty Thursday: Colorful Colorado

Rambler: BethDrink at Hand: Fat Tire Snow Day

Thirsty Thursday here again! Time to pour something yummy and make those weekend plans. A few weeks ago I found myself in Ft Collins, Colorado. I love any visit to Colorado, but there is something magically about October days in Colorado. The light is oh-so-nice, the aspens are glowing, and the skies are fabulous.

On my way to the hotel from the airport, I noticed that the sky was starting to look nice, and with a little time to kill, I decided to find a place to take a few photos. I didn't have time to get anywhere especially scenic, so I settled for an open field just south of the CSU campus. I didn't have a tripod, but luckily this field had some strategically placed boulders that worked just fine. After a day of travel following a stressful week of work and school, an unexpected late afternoon photo shoot is incredibly therapeutic.

aspen road

Get out there and find your own therapeutic sunset this weekend!

Thirsty Thursday: Featured Warrior

Rambler: Beth
Drink at Hand: 2008 Query Grenache

Another Thirsty Thursday here again...time to pour something yummy and make those weekend plans. Thirsty Thursdays are all about getting out there and doing something. In that light, tonight we highlight a true Thirsty Thursday warrior.

Terry and I were out on our after-work trail run tonight when his phone rings. Its my sister, and considering she is known for her total randomness, I was surprised Terry answered...especially considering we were about 50 yards into the ridiculous climb up the Goat Trail. As I'm listening to one side of this conversation, its becoming more bizarre by the second. My sister needed to know how to use the "Find iPhone" app because she had to go find some guy very quickly and didn't know how. Terry hangs up and says "you should probably call your dad when we get done. He crashed his bike." Umm, huh?

So I finish the run and call Dad to get the full story. He told me he crashed his bike. But that's only the beginning of the story. Keep in mind that my family lives in Iowa. Its winter. Its freakin' cold. Gravel road riding is all the rage in the Midwest these days. I guess that's what happens when you want to hit the dirt but don't have swoopy singletrack through mossy forests. My dad says, well, some guys got together tonight to do an indoor training session, but I wanted to get outside, so me and another guy went out to ride outside. Turns out that besides gravel, the rural roads of Iowa currently have a little snow and ice on them right now, too. He hit a patch of ice and went down. I'm waiting for the official verdict, but initial diagnosis by my nurse-in-training sister when she arrived on the scene is a broken collarbone. I told him he's officially a true cyclist now...and to go by a wedgie pillow.

Its incredible and a bummer all the same time is that this happened to Dad tonight. About a year ago he took his morbidly obese self (that was the actual medical term, not mine) to the hospital and had gastic bypass surgery. About 7 or 8 months later he'd lost about 125 pounds (that's an entire Beth)...and is still going strong. Over the last few months, he's really gotten into cycling and has competed very well at indoor roller races (Midwestern winters, who knows!) across the Iowa. He's even rode himself into good enough shape to ride with the "A" ride during the week. Its pretty cool to see his progress and enthusiasm about being fit. Plus, Mom has gotten in shape, too. My parents could probably drop me on a ride now!

So after all those words, just a couple of photos from a ride in Colorado this summer. It was great to ride along with the family instead of waiting for them. Heal up quick Dad! We've got mountains to climb!

Shrine Pass
Ten Mile Range

And the rest of you...get out there and do something this weekend! Just keep the rubber side down.

Thirsty Thursday: Stanley Canyon

Rambler: Beth Drink at Hand: Green Barn Chardonnay (Impulse buy near the register at Trader Joe's...average at best)

Good evening faithful reader. Welcome to another addition of Thirsty Thursday. Time to pour something yummy (hopefully) and make those weekend plans. Since its October and most parts of the country are feeling that chill in the air and seeing some color in the trees, I figured a nice bit of fall color was in order for this evening. Throw in watching a rare Thursday night football game from the United States Air Force Academy (as abysmal as it was for a Falcon fan), and I thought a little photo essay from a fall hike up Stanley Canyon was in order for tonight.

I was at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs last October for a women's soccer alumni event. My flight out after a weekend of catching up with old friends, watching soccer games, and football tailgating wasn't until late Monday afternoon, so I decided a trail run in the wonderfully crisp air of a fall morning in Colorado was in order. I thought about doing the infamous Incline at Pikes Peak, but a little part of me said "been there, done that about 20 times" and I didn't want to deal with getting to south Colorado Springs from Monument during the morning rush. Something else was in order. The Stanley Canyon Trail is legendary amongst cadets, especially those cadets on intercollegiate teams, as there is normally some sort of pre-season "team building" run slated for this trail. Yet, somehow, the women's soccer team never did this run. Terry did it with the men's soccer team, but I'd never done it (read: Beth has no idea what she's in for).

It was such a beautiful morning that I had to take a camera along, but I wanted to run rather than hike, so I grabbed my little Canon G10 in place of the DSLR and off I went. The G10 does surprisingly well given its portability. Holy cow, the first mile or so was tough! Gaining over 1200' in the first mile, the trail is steep and rocky and fraught with the loose decomposed granite "marbles" typical of Front Range trails.

Eventually the trail leveled off a bit to a straight forward (though still very much uphill) singletrack through aspen groves and wide-open meadows. Beautiful despite the fact that many of the aspen leafs were already gone at this altitude. After 4.4 miles (according to a trail map), I arrived at Stanley Reservoir. A beautiful fall morning at a beautiful lake. I strolled around for a bit, taking in the loveliness of a great spot on a beautiful fall morning. Have I mentioned how much I love fall in Colorado?

Across the lake I noticed a still-golden aspen grove and what looked like a fire road that might lead to said still-golden aspen grove. So off I went.


At this point I had to start heading back down the trail toward my car so I didn't miss my flight. I didn't even realize I'd left the confines of the Air Force Academy and crossed into Pike National Forest until I came across this sign on the way down.

Overall, a fantastic run on a beautiful fall morning in Colorado. I was so glad I finally experienced Stanley Canyon!

If you're in Colorado Springs and would like to hit the Stanley Canyon Trail, head to the Air Force Academy. Visitors without a Department of Defense (DoD) ID card can get on base with a valid drivers license between 0800 and 1800 (that's between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm for you non-military folks). Enter the Air Force Academy though the South Gate, then turn left on Pine Drive. About 3.9 miles later turn left into a dirt road right in front of the hospital. Drive another 0.7 miles to the parking lot. The trail climbs 4.4 miles to Stanley Reservoir. The ambitious hiker/runner can continue another 5.5 miles on Pike National Forest trail #707 on to Farish Recreation Area at the top of the Front Range along Rampart Range Road. Terry tells me this portion of the trail is quite pretty, too.

Thanks for stopping by our get out there and enjoy fall this weekend!

Massey Monday: Massey and Tori

I was organizing from photos this morning and came across a few from our vacation in Colorado last year. My parents brought their little Welsh Terrier named Tori. She was about 6 months old at the time, and Massey was just under a year old. They played and played and played together. One afternoon we all went for a hike on the Colorado Trail as it passes through the Copper Mountain resort and the dogs came along. Tori's little terrier legs could barely keep up with Massey's trot, but she sure tried!

Mom and Dad got another little Welsh Terrier a few weeks ago, so Massey might have 2 playmates this year in Colorado. That should be entertaining!

Palmer Lake Hike

I'm finally processing and organizing the roughly 2500 photos I took between September and December last year. Expect a few posts from the archives over the next few weeks. October started my whirlwind of travelling and photographing following my escape from the Air Force in September. I started the month of October in Colorado Springs as I headed back to the United States Air Force Academy to watch the women's soccer team play a match and catch up with old friends.

There is something magical about Colorado in October. Bright blue skies, yellow aspens, and crisp autumn afternoons in the sun are down right intoxicating. Fall was always my favorite time of year when we lived there, but I rarely got to enjoy it because I was either playing or coaching soccer, and October is the peak of the college soccer season.

After a great weekend of soccer games, catching up with friends, and an awesome college football game that saw Air Force sink Navy for the first time in 7 years, I was ready for a hike. So Coach Friend, his daughter, the sweetest great dane, and I headed out to hike from Monument up to Palmer Lake late Sunday afternoon. We were treated to one of those beautiful Colorado afternoons that make one happy to be alive. It was one of those days when I kept saying over and over in my head "Colorado does not suck!"

Enjoy a few photos.

Clinton Reservoir

Back in August our families got together in Colorado. I was there to do this little mountain bike race called the Leadville Trail 100, and they all were my support crew. Unfortunately the race didn't go as planned...while the legs and lungs were sufficiently ready after 6 solid months of training, my neglected core region let me down and I missed the first time cut-off 40 miles in. Disappointing for sure, but on the bright side we all got to hang out together for a bit in Colorado.

My mom is constantly wanting family pictures. Anytime anyone gets together, she wants a photo, and normally we get too busy and forget. So, on the last evening we were all together we headed out to Clinton Reservoir and posed for a few shots.

Terry and I also got distracted by the gorgeous scenery and took a few non-family photos. There were incredible "big views" complete with wildflowers...

And there were some great "smaller scenes"...Terry is getting tired of my back-lit grass photo addiction, but I like them.

I'm loving the way these asters turned out...

Terry's dad, John, got a couple of great candids...I love the way he processed them. And my sister's white-blonde curly hair is perfect for some late afternoon backlighting.

Even Mom and Dad's cutie little Welsh Terrier named Tory enjoyed the view. (For those wondering about our dog, she's somewhere chasing birds up the mountain or attempting to summit her first 14er while we photog-ed).

I remember standing there watching the sun drop behind the far peaks for the final time during our vacation that night and getting a little sad as the last daylight of our Colorado adventure faded away. The last sunset in the mountains is always a little bittersweet.