Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rocky Mountain High

"The mountains may well be a way of escape -- from the cities and men, from the turmoil and doubt, from the complexities and uncertainties and sorrows that thread our life. But in the truest and most profound sense, it is an escape not from but to reality." -- James Ramsey Ullman

I've only been home from Colorado for a week, and I would already sell my soul to go back. Okay, so I wouldn't really go that far ... anyhoo, the weather was beautiful -- 45 degrees in the town of Estes Park compared to 100 degrees here at home. A weird cold front blew in that we didn't expect, so hubby and I were suckered into buying fluffy sweatshirts in colors only clowns would wear from a gift shop in town -- but hey, at least they were warm!

We did some hiking, a ton of fly fishing and saw more elk than I thought existed.

I even made a new friend at Bierstadt Lake ...

A freek sleet and rain storm caught us while we were fly fishing at Glacier Creek near Bear Lake, and we ended up waiting out the storm under a huge pine tree. By the time we got back to the car, we were shivering and cold. Even our fishing boots filled with water ...

But, that's part of the adventure. And so is falling into the river -- which I only did once after slipping on a rock in fast-moving water -- but thankfully no one got a picture of that. Maybe I should have listened to this sign ...

Blue skies finally emerged on our last day there ...

And I caught my first ... er, and last ... trout of the week (hubby caught eight) ...

Trail Ridge Road was finally open, too, after being closed due to fresh powder. Leave it to a Texas girl to wear flip flops in the snow ...

Our adorable cabin was a little too quaint -- built before the 1940s -- but it was right on the river and a short walk to the main street. Best place to eat by far is Chicago's Best -- fabulous pizza and the best hot subs I've ever had. However, if you enjoy Mexican food, completely avoid Ed's Cantina like the plague ... unless you don't mind hugging the toilet all night.

All-in-all, it was a wonderful way to celebrate our two-year wedding anniversary. I love the mountains -- the fresh air, neat hikes, great fishing, down-to-earth people ... just being instead of rushing around to meet all of life's demands. I would move there in a heart beat; hubby is not so convinced -- he's quite attached to Texas.

Maybe someday I'll change his mind.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Raw Fish and Cougars

"I never eat sushi. I have trouble eating things that are merely unconscious." — George Carlin

Hubby and I returned from a week in Colorado three days ago -- I'll post a few pictures soon as it was one of the more beautiful trips I've taken there.

We spent the weekend at hubby's work "retreat". We usually get to go to a relaxing resort in Austin, which is nice since it's five hours from home so it feels like a vacation. But, this year, his manager had them stick close to home (read: a hotel 15 minutes from our house). It was fun getting to meet some of the new people in his region. I usually cringe when it comes to forced small talk, but I think we all found we were very much alike.

We dined at a couple of great places including Ra'. I was skeptical because it's mostly sushi (if I wanted to eat raw fish, I'd take a bite out of the ones I catch when I go fishing). As the huge dishes of raw tuna, rolls and such were placed before us, I wondered just how many sea creatures were being consumed by the 17 people at the table. But the place did have great music and a swanky / funky atmosphere ... and fabulous chicken teriyaki. Oh, and the sake bombs weren't bad either *wink wink*.

The "cougars" were out in full force that night at Ra' -- minimally dressed in designer tops and skin-tight jeans, glowing with fake tans and golden highlights. These women prowled around the place, trolling for a delicious snack in the crowd around the bar. It was interesting to watch these women who, from the back, looked my age or younger. One look at their fronts, however, revealed more than good plastic surgery -- some of these women were old enough to be my mother. They were everywhere, including the bar we went to after dinner. I let go of hubby for two seconds on the dance floor, and he was pounced on by a feisty blonde twice his age. Creepy.

What happened to meeting people at coffee shops, or bumping into someone at the book store who happens to be holding the exact same copy of your favorite author's latest creation?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bargain Crazed

"Shopping is a woman thing. It's a contact sport like football. Women enjoy the scrimmage, the noisy crowds, the danger of being trampled to death, and the ecstasy of the purchase." - Erma Bombeck

So yesterday hubby and I decided to do a little shopping. We needed (okay, wanted) a couple of things for our trip to Colorado this week but really didn't want to spend too much, so we headed to the local outlet mall. I know what you're thinking: outlet mall equals barren wasteland of last year's leftovers. But this outlet mall is different -- the list of fabulous stores includes Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Polo Ralph Lauren, BCBG, Coach and more.

Hubby wanted to check out Polo and get a couple of shirts. We should have known better than to go on a Saturday afternoon -- the crowd was horrible. Not to mention it was 103 degrees outside (seriously). We shuffled into Polo, along with half of the world's population, and began browsing through shirts. Too many colors, too many different styles, too many warm bodies -- hubby began to sweat.

I tried to be reassuring and shuffled with him to the dressing room, but as I waited outside I too succumbed to the chaos. I was bumped into by a group of silver-haired women ogling at packages of Polo boxer-briefs. I tried moving, only to do a Texas Two-step with a guy who wanted to literally touch every single pair of fleece pajama bottoms that were hung behind me. In the time it took hubby to try on four shirts, I was kicked by a five-year-old brat, run into with an oversized stroller, hit on by a guy half my age wearing shorts that hung to his ankles, watched a woman talk her hubby into buying neon yellow slacks, knocked over a display of over-priced ties and was sneezed on by at least three people.

When hubby finally came out of the dressing room, I was huddled in a corner sweating and ready to chew my own arm off just to get out of there. Twenty minutes later (yes, that's how long it took us to pay for the darn shirts) we were free. But I began to wonder -- were people there because they truly loved the product, or were they merely suckered into the bargains?

Sidenote: I did find some super cute (and comfy!) hiking shoes in the Columbia store. Eh, guess every cloud has a silver lining ...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Runner

"Out of the silver heat mirage he ran. The sky burned, and under him the paving was a black mirror reflecting sun-fire. Sweat sprayed his skin with each foot strike so that he ran in a hot mist of his own creation. With each slap on the softened asphalt, his soles absorbed heat that rose through his arches and ankles and the stems of his shins. It was acarnival of pain, but he loved each stride because running distilled him to his essence and the heat hastened this distillation." - James Tabor, from "The Runner"

I made the decision last night that this morning would be the morning that I would start running again. It's been awhile. Not that I've ever been able to run very fast or very far, but I do enjoy it. And my body craves it.

When the alarm blared at 6 this morning, I hit snooze and rolled over, pressing my eyes shut. I remained huddled under my soft covers until I realized that it was taking more energy to force myself back to sleep than to actually get out of bed. Five minutes later I was slipping into my Nikes, strapping on my iPod and slipping out the door.

My feet found an awkward rhythem on the pavement, but I kept going as the sun kissed the neighborhood houses in soft pink and yellow hues. Sweat trickled from my brow, glistened on my arms, my heart pounded in my chest. I huffed and puffed. And I kept going.

Today I didn't make it too far, but the incredible feeling is still with me. And I can't wait for tomorrow morning when I can do it all over again.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I Scream for Ice Cream!

Okay, so if haven't figured it out already, I'm a sucker for ice cream. Not just a scoop here, a bowl there. I consume at least a half gallon a week, not including the occasional hot fudge shake from Sonic or an M&M blizzard from Dairy Queen. And I enjoy trying new flavors.

So when Blue Bell introduced Moo Tracks, I was giddy beyond all belief. It's fantastic. Definitely wins my vote for best flavor ever. (Sorry, Tin Roof, it was bound to happen!) I can't get enough of the creamy vanilla, wrapped in ribbons of chocolate fudge, sprinkled with chocolate peanut butter cups. YUM!

What will they think of next?