Front Range Update

Fast forward through the last 4 months and Mike and I are settled in a great little town just 10 miles east of Boulder – population 26,000.  Quite a nice change from Austin’s 900,000 strong.  Our town just celebrated it’s 125th anniversary in September, has a fairly established artist community and four outstanding microbrews.  Seriously, they are all good and each unique, so they each seem to be thriving (Odd 13, Liquid Mechanics, Front Range and The Post.)  The Post, I will add, hired the former head brewmaster of Dogfish Head to run its brewery – which equally doubles as a fantastic restaurant serving up better than average/eclectic southern dishes (think fried chicken, shrimp, etc.)  One last cool factoid about The Post – it’s housed in our town’s old post office and boasts a really nice outdoor area with cornhole boards and a fire pit.  Cornhole, by the way, is really popular in Colorado.  And yes, it’s called cornhole!

Mike and I have really been enjoying exploring our town and all the surrounding areas.  One of our favorite places to spend time is Nederland, which is about a 45 minute drive from our house.  Nederland sits at about 10,000 ft. and is just 19 miles from Boulder up a twisty canyon road.  Ned, as the locals call it, is the gateway to one of my absolute favorite places to hike – the Indian Peaks Wilderness.  Hoping to check out the ski resort Eldora this winter for some cross country skiing – maybe even downhill.  Although, we’ve been advised that the best place for beginner skiing is Loveland Ski Area – just about 1.5 hours from our house.  Two hours away are Breckenridge, Copper Mountain – four hours Aspen and Vail.  I can’t wait!

There’s just so much I want to do and learn now that we’ve moved.  Sometimes it takes a new place to re-energize your sense of adventure.  High on my list:

  • Cross country skiing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Downhill skiing
  • Horseback riding
  • Art class
  • Camping – lots of camping
  • Bouldering
  • Learn to play mandolin

 

Fun times in Lafayette

Mike and I are starting to become a bunch of groupies for a local band called Rogue 2.  Three guys, who play for fun – maybe some money and maybe some hope to leave their day jobs.  Who knows?!  We just love to hear them play their wide range of songs from Lady Gaga to Nine Inch Nails, and all on string instruments.  A gloriously and obnoxious array of beautiful string instruments.  Take a listen to their rendition of Lorde’s Royals.  A song I previously despised.  I think they do it much better. IMG_0933

Ned

Oh Nederland.  You had me at Dead Guy Days.  Yes, this town, nestled 10,000 feet above Boulder, celebrates some dude (Grandpa Bredo) that was frozen in a Tuff Shed (since the 90s) in order to preserve his body.  The three day festival takes place in March, and my guess is that it’s still pretty chilly up in Ned at that time.  There’s music, beer, costume polar plunge and parade of hearses, just to name of few of the events that take place.  ”Keep Ned Weird” I say.

But, the real reason I love Ned is the beauty.  Gateway to the Indian Peaks Wilderness, Ned is a small, but mighty mountain town.  A lot of folks from Boulder will tell you it’s full of “mountain men”, and to some extent, they are right.  There are also families and business owners, young and old hippies that make Ned a unique and relaxing place to be.

Ned5

Colorado, our home

So much to catch up on, but not enough attention span to share it all.  I’ll provide a quick synopsis below with lots of very pretty pictures.

  • Left Austin on Monday, July 14; 99 degrees and a collective 6 hours of sleep over 2 days.  Began the adventure through Texas heading west toward New Mexico.
  • Drove through Lubbock. I’m hoping there is more to it than the empty beltline skirting the city.
  • Crossed into New Mexico around 5 pm CT.  Both Mike and I were smiling and excited to be in the state where we got married.  It was an awesome moment for all of 30 seconds before we saw the giant haboob/tornadic event heading right toward the highway.
  • Spent the next 3 hours in driving rain on two lane roads in the middle of nowhere; so much not-fun.
  • Finally made it to our friend Bill Stimmel’s home in Albuquerque and visited with him, his wife Beth and kids.
  • Fell into bed like a ton of sleepy bricks.
  • Explored Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and even snuck in a hike on the Big Tesuque Trail.
  • Drove to Boulder on Wednesday to move into our new-temporary residence: CU Boulder Family Housing.

It’s only been a couple of weeks since we got here and it has been chock full of ups and downs and a range of emotions.  All to be expected with a big move. (Pictures after the jump.)

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The Yin and Yang of Cycling

I loved this post “Why Bikes Make Smart People Say Dumb Things”.   I run into animosity toward cyclists all the time and it totally confounds me.  Sure, there are some bad bike seeds out there who blow a stop sign or swerve in and out of traffic, but the majority of us are law abiding citizens who just want to exercise or find a cleaner way to get to work.  Not to mention all of the proven benefits of biking.  How did a right of passage of childhood garner so much attention and vitriol from a vocal minority?  In my dream world, the U.S. would adopt similar behavior.

(Santa Fe Century, 2011)

Santa Fe Century 2011

I’m Gonna Miss You Texas!

Wow!  I still can hardly believe how fast this move is happening, and I am really excited for both Mike and myself to finally make it to the mountains, which has been our dream.  It’s been a long time coming!

First things first…where are we going?  I’ve accepted a position as Director of Marketing for Housing and Dining at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  I’ve found a career path in higher education, and having the opportunity to work for CU Boulder and live in the mountains is too good to pass up!  I’m going from one large beef producing animal mascot to another.  From Longhorn to Buffalo, Colorado, here we come.

But leaving Austin is hard.  Eleven plus years is a long time.  I can still remember the day I pulled away from my apartment on 19th street in Manhattan and drove down an icy, January west side highway to cross the George Washington bridge to my new destination, Texas.  It was only eight degrees and little icebergs were floating down the Hudson River.  I literally high-tailed it out of town with my dog Mattie and arrived in Austin three days later to 70 degree weather and birds flying in the night sky.  It was one of the most thrilling and fulfilling feelings of my young adult life.  I made a move entirely on my own and it felt so right.

If you had asked me back then, I would have told you that I would be in Austin forever.  That’s how much I loved this city town back then.  The population seemed manageable and it was definitely weird (a good kind of weird) by comparison to anywhere else I’d lived.  Austin is one of those places that has a feeling – like New Orleans or Santa Fe.  It’s just different and oh-so refreshing.

I still love Austin, but I have to admit that a lot of the things I once loved about it have changed a lot.  For example, I used to swim at Deep Eddy or Barton Springs after work (or during the work day, as some of you remember).  Sometimes I would even rock climb before taking a dip in the refreshing spring waters of both pools and I could do all of this without much traffic or rearranging my whole night around crowds and congestion.  I used to love all the haunts of south Austin and making my way there was never a problem.  That’s changed a bit with the influx of hundreds of thousands of new residents since I came here.

There’s still a lot of weird here, and I bet anyone not from Austin will tell you that it still has that unique feel and its sense of soul.  So, maybe it’s just me or maybe getting older has clouded my view – or perhaps all of the above – but I started to lose the sense of making this town city my forever home a few years ago.

But, I will miss it – like big, wet balling tears of home sickness miss it.  I will miss being a Texan (although I hope that being here so long means I am permanently indoctrinated.) I will miss all of the following:

  • Breakfast tacos!
  • Observing the dichotomous worlds of cowboy hat wearing, wrangler swaggering, Ford F350 driving folk and skinny jean sauntering, pencil thin mustache (eeewwww) displaying, fixie riding hipsters.
  • Texas branded stuff – like cars, beers, commercials. I think it’s the only state that has their own branding for nationally recognized products
  • The music
  • The easy winters
  • Barton Springs and Deep Eddy
  • The Hill Country
  • Salt Lick
  • Drives to the Big Bend
  • Julio’s
  • The Draught House
  • Sunsets
  • Bluebonnets
  • Amazing Tex-mex and Mexican food
  • My friends!!!!

What I won’t miss:

  • Texas summers.  Summer used to be my favorite season, but spend 90 straight days at 100 or above temperatures (you heard me – 90!) and summer is now your new winter.  You don’t go outside much and you eat a lot of Tex-mex.  Colorado, I am counting on you to redeem my love for summer!
  • Texas drivers.  Fast lane, slow lane – it don’t matter.  You drive wherever you damn please.
  • The growth.  Austin is now the 11th largest city in America.  Seriously. That’s bigger than San Francisco, Boston, Seattle – you see where I am going with this.
  • Rick Perry, you can kiss my grits on the way out!
  • Dewhurst, Abbott, Patrick and the other minions.
  • How big this state is.  Takes 14 hours just to cross it.  It will take 10 hours for us to get out of it on our way up to Colorado.
  • The Dallas Fort Worth Airport.  I will continue to avoid you like the almighty plague you are.
  • The “my shit don’t stink, I’m from Texas” attitude you run into sometimes…wait, I take it back.  Sometimes it can work in your favor.

Some wild-life trade offs:

  • crazy bugs and slimy things that can poison and kill you for more readily seen black bears, moose, marmots, etc. – I see it as an upgrade.

Damn you, Texas!  You’re in my blood now.  I plan to return for a visit next year so you better welcome me back with open longhorns.

Happy Father’s Day

When I was too young to remember, and memories act like faint whispers of wind passing by your ears, I was three.

I picked up a fat, diamond shaped piece of dried out wood in a parking lot of the Fair Grounds.

My dad had just taken me to the 9th annual Jazz Fest. Before it became a national attraction.  I can’t believe I don’t remember the actual music.  Just that piece of wood that I swore spoke to me.  I had to have it.  It still sits in a purple plastic box from 1980 that contains trinkets and loose ornaments from my childhood.  Things that have acrylic paint on them with round little dots on the end points of the letters of my name.

There’s a great picture of me, and I remember when it was taken.  It was that same year.  No shirt on. Just some small shorts and me standing on a chair at our kitchen table sucking on the head of a crawfish.  My dad proudly sitting nearby, sipping on a tin can of Dixie.  I had an amazing childhood. 

He smoked then. He smoked in his office in the French Quarter. And I can remember the smell of it when he’d take me up there.  So vast, in an attic-like part of the museum, looking out on Jackson Square.  It smelled like cigarettes and old paint.  I was so proud to have him show me around. He knew everyone at his work and they all smiled as we walked by.  He loved showing me where he worked and what he did.  I envy the love he had for his job.

Sometimes, he’d take me with him on his bead and doubloon shopping.  Almost all men inside those stores in New Orleans that serviced the Mardi Gras krewes.  We picked up some pincer-like tools with plastic alligator heads.  I called them Humphreys for no good reason.   The Rex den where his float was parked was so huge and it scared me tremendously just to see those looming, decorated machines ready to roll out as if they were going to roll right over me.  But, my dad held my hand and made me feel safe.  Later, when he’d get ready the morning of his parade, he would fill a plastic bottle with what I thought was Apple Juice.  It was like celebrating my birthday when we would see that Jester float go by, and I tried to pick him out behind his mask. 

Even when we moved to New York and I was a little older, he still loved showing me around his work.  One time, I read a Christmas Carole on the marble staircase of the museum, to a large crowd.  I focused on him down below me, smiling with that signature sparkle in his eye. 

He smiles with his lips closed. Pursed lips.  His smile is all in his eyes. 

We spent weekends exploring West Point or the Lower East Side.  Navigating the pickle stands or the fishmongers of South Street Seaport.  New York smelled like sea air and cement.  I wish I had known then how much he knows of that great city and begged to see more of it. 

In Fall, whether I was 10 or 20, we’d drive to Armonk on the weekend to see the farm stand and eat warm, fresh baked donuts washed down with hot cider.   The crisp air and changing leaves awakened me from my week.  He was always taking me on adventures. 

Now, even though I am married and our time is short and infrequent when we do see each other, I will always remember all the warm and engaging moments that infused my world with wonder.  Simple, wonder. 

I know there is more ahead and this essay is my request for his promise to show me Bulls Island, the secrets of downtown Charleston and the hidden meanings behind our family’s history.  

You will always be my dad, and I will always be your daughter.

I’ve been told that I look like you.  At least I heard that a lot when I was little.  Now, it’s more in my smile. The one that you can see in my eyes.

 

May Recap

I can’t believe it’s almost June.  It’s especially hard to believe because Austin weather has been so unusually nice this past month.  Soon we’ll be bracing ourselves for multiple 100 degree days and dreaming about a time when highs only hit 93.  Oh, the humanity.

So, I’ll post some pictures here to return to when it gets so hot you could bake chocolate chip cookies in your car (its a handy trick.)  This past month, Mike and I headed for the mountains of Colorado and the fine city of Fort Collins.  We had planned the trip for several months and it more than lived up to expectations.  Great people, great vibe and beautiful scenery.  Here’s a taste (too bad it’s not a taste of the Equinox Darth Vernal that Mike is still dreaming about.)