Thanksgiving in Colorado

Welcome to 2015!

I am far behind on uploading pictures and posting something new so I’d thought I’d try and capture your interest with a peak into my Thanksgiving with Jon and his dad in the foothills of Colorado. His dad moved up on Conifer Mountain around 8000 feet above sea level with a view of Pikes Peak from his front porch and I immediately came down with post-mountain depression upon my return to Texas. Let’s take a looksy and see how jealous you get.

On Friday Jon and I hiked to the top of Conifer Mountain (where the marker is so it definitely counts as summiting) and I was a little worried when I got winded just climbing to the top of the driveway but my years of swimming and then running came to my rescue and my lungs decided to work with me so I could take in this view:

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Pikes Peak in the distance

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bear sighting on top of Conifer Mountain

Pikes Peak from his dad’s porch. And no, there is no way that this view gets old.

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On Saturday we went out to one of Colorado’s newer state parks, Staunton State Park, for a hike. I was so ready for this hike thanks to Jon’s dad being a gear guru, something about working for PMI and volunteering on a mountain rescue team for years made me trust his advice, I dunno. Where we started was about 8000 feet up and then up up up we climbed.

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some Colorado pride

If I remember this correctly, I believe this one is called Mt. Baldy and is a popular climbing spot.

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I’ve always liked the line from Pride and Prejudice “What are men to rocks and mountains” and without getting to John Muir-ish philosophical on you, that line could not be more true. I have always been humbled going up into the mountains because you immediately know that you are not the big-shot you think you are, in the best way possible.

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this is Colorado in the “ugly season” according to Jon’s dad…

why yes… those are some snow-capped Rockies you see down there. Have I convinced you to pack your bags yet?

this is the highest we went and it was well worth the huffing and puffing

this is the highest we went and it was well worth the huffing and puffing

Thanks to our guide dog and the newest member of the Hauser family, Gabe. Part rotty, part lab and a whole lot of love and couch-potato. He was a trooper on this hike.

DSC01855Until next time Colorado! Thanks for letting me put my new hiking boots to good use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Wild

A very honest memoir to reflect a life that was torn apart and then pieced back together. After her mother’s death, her family members scattering after the death, and her marriage falling apart Cheryl Strayed decides to take on the Pacific Coast Trail. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker and really no preparation for what lie ahead but she took it on alone in hopes that it would put the pieces of herself back together.

Spoilers coming…

My review of the book: Meh. I guess I had higher expectations for such a daunting task after being broken into pieces after tragedy but this did not deliver. I don’t know how harsh that is to say, seeing it is a memoir and what’s being said actually happened but it didn’t seem like she actually took away all that she could from that experience. I got so tired of her as a narrator. She was in amazing scenery, surrounded by nature and few material distractions and all she could think about was sex. That was disappointing to me. Sex, the last time she had sex, who she wanted to have sex with, then she had sex with a stranger and then talked some more about it. Oh and the last time she did heroin (right before the trip). Just great…

This was an incredibly empowering achievement to do this by herself and she had the right motive but it just seemed to me that she couldn’t get past the immediate needs, the superficial needs instead of what was to come out of this hike, how this was going to help her or bring her clarity or some kind of enlightenment. I hope she got what she needed from the hike because I’ll never really know from her account. I did enjoy what scenery she did describe and the account about the fellow hikers and her few encounters with the wildlife but they were few and far between. I guess I’ll just stick to Kerouac and Krakauer. It got good ratings on GoodReads here.

Has anyone else read Wild and have a different review? Anyone have this on their To-Read list? I read it for a book-club I’m in.

Happy reading!

Asheville, North Carolina

After Christmas in South Carolina, Jon and I took a trip up to Asheville! I love Asheville and the Biltmore was decorated for Christmas with over a 100 Christmas trees that I had to see. So armed with a new camera to keep him interested (somehow after 6 or 7 visits this castle of a residence loses it’s luster to some) we took a tour and then explored the grounds. Below are some of my favorites from our trip around the grounds since photography is prohibited inside- you’ll just have to go yourself to see, and make sure you take Jon and make him do the audio tour again because he hasn’t got it memorized all the way yet.

I feel like trumpets should be playing to open with this shot

I feel like trumpets should be playing to open with this shot

Walk to the garden (abloom during the not-winter months)

Walk to the garden (abloom during the not-winter months)

Enjoy the backyard

Enjoy the backyard

biltmore detail

Every detail counts

biltmore ponies

Explore the grounds

Because I wanted to try out the panoramic feature on my phone... not bad Steve (RIP)

Because I wanted to try out the panoramic feature on my phone… not bad Steve (RIP)

Because we can’t help ourselves, we found some waterfalls to hike to outside Asheville.

asheville falls 1

Asheville falls 2

asheville falls 3

until next time Asheville

until next time Asheville

This trip was in particular very exciting, seeing as Jon proposed! It was perfect. Asheville will hold a very special place in my heart from now on. There might be some wedding posts coming up as things start to come together…

Lake Texoma

Almost to Sooner country. Almost, but we kept our distance. Put a whole lake in between us. (See said lake below). We did primitive camping this time with our friend Sean out at Lake Texoma, including hiking out to our spot a few miles before poking through and finding a spot off the beaten path.

The grand Lake Texoma

The grand Lake Texoma: see that strip of land on the horizon… Sooner country.

For real primitive camping we passed up spots like right off the trail: no privacy whatsoever. I think this was around mile 3 inward.

doing manly camping-mapping things

doing manly camping-mapping things

A positive of camping is that everyone out on the trail is usually really nice and considerate. I say usually due to past experiences with hordes of Boy Scouts or some weird cult that stayed up all night chanting…

Thanks fellow camper for the pic!

Thanks fellow camper for the pic!

By the book tee-pee for our campfire. Thanks Eagle Scout Sean.

lord of the teepee fire

lord of the teepee fire

So it got cold later, and we were unprepared. I can remember almost the exact time the fire went out because an unforgiving chill came over me. It was a long night.

well needed fire

well needed fire

Cooking with new gear.

Pocket Rocket

Pocket Rocket

Tried and true gear.

Pocket Rocket

Pocket Rocket

Our spot. You had to scramble through some bramble but it was worth it.

our spot

our spot

Tucked away, hope we can find it again… We will also be more prepared for the weather next time. And for the hiking, none of us had the right shoes.

off the beaten path

off the beaten path

It was overall a good trip besides being unprepared for the cold night. Those hills coming back were once again a surprise but I will gladly hike out again. The Starbucks we got also made things better… But when does it not? We want to get better at backpacking out to primitive sites. Does anybody have recommendations for spots in Texas?

Ray Roberts Lake

We the campers strike again. On a constant hunt to find the best camping sites for backpacking, car camping and group camping Jon and I tried out Ray Roberts Lake State Park outside Denton, TX. What a huge lake, and after a nice long hike along the shoreline and poking through some trails we think we found the ideal sites for the park for next time with friends. Sometimes it’s nice to do things, just the two of us, and what better to do than get away from it all and venture into ┬áthe outdoors. Here’s a peek at our weekend:

Ray Roberts Lake

my, what large teeth you have!

where you go, I will go

follow me

great success for a beautiful weather weekend

best part of camping: the fire. Why are there no pictures of our awesome campfire you ask, because my hands were full of campfire pizza:

Store-bought personal pizza crust + sauce + cheese + toppings all wrapped in foil and placed on the hot coals. Brilliant.