Monday, February 24, 2014

Good Weekend Turned Bad Weekend

This weekend was our last one at the cabin in the mountains of CO before we make our 3,000-mile detour to the East Coast to our house (AKA, very expensive storage unit) in VA and then head up to Oregon to start our new jobs and life. 

We knew saying goodbye to the cabin would be depressing. We seriously love that retreat in the mountains and have grown more and more attached to Colorado. We also could not have asked for a better winter. It was crazy windy and cold at times, but the most exciting part was the snowfall. The closest ski resort (Breckenridge) has gotten more than 300 inches of snow this season!!!

 I lost count how many splinters I got from fire tending. Fortunately, J gets some sort of weird kick out of removing splinters. 

Unfortunately, I never got any better at winter driving as I had hoped in living here. I love snow, but the only thing worse (in my mind) than winter driving is Dengue fever. I am a wuss and I know it. Thankfully, we didn't have to drive if we didn't want to and J has awesome driving skills. Of course we went out with a bang and on Saturday night, we had to drive over the infamous Hooiser Pass and there was a raging snowstorm with 0 visibility and slick roads. I was equal parts relieved and forever shaken when we got down safely off the pass. 

We definitely made this weekend count. We had a full house at the cabin with 6 people, 2 dogs and 1 cat. Jamie/SILAdventure and Rachel/DocDoc came up with their (our) 2 friends. We indulged in one of the best happy hours I've ever experienced at Blue River Bistro in Breck (2 for 1 martinis! 2 for 1 apps!). We XC skied (to burn at least 700 of the calories from the happiest hour). We played games. It was glorious. 

J & I also caught a showing the of the Banff Mountain Film Festival. I don't ask for much from my readers, but I am asking, no begging, for anyone who has not checked out a Banff tour to stop what you are doing and book tickets. It is of highest priority. This is our 6th time going and we just can't get enough. I go to be inspired and reminded why I get off my butt to adventure, on a much smaller scale of course. Although I did feel a bit of connection with the 2 characters in the film "North of the Sun." I thought J & I lived a life less ordinary in our choices, but these guys found a remote, arctic island and built a cabin out of beach debris to live for a winter. Things that make you go hmmm … 

This post isn't just my ode to CO though. The weekend was slighted by a bout of bad news. J's grandma passed away unexpectantly. It was a bit of a shock because even though this 91-year-old women had health problems (as every 91-year-old does), nothing seemed to stop her. The woman had an A-mazing career as an accounting professor at Pace University, Georgia Court and other colleges. She was STILL teaching accounting two days a week at a college this semester. Listen, if I make it to 90, my only goal will be able to go to the bathroom on my own, let alone stand up in front of a classroom and instruct eager minds. And here J & I are eluding the 9-5 job and working only when necessary, while his grandma was still working well into retirement doing what she loved. In any case, this woman was a true inspiration. She was incredibly smart and important to the accounting world. So as we say goodbye to this soul, we accept it was her time (just never thought that day would come) and know she will continue to inspire us.

Here is her obit, if anyone is interested. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Currently …

I came across a "Currently" blog post from this Colorado blogger and I loved the idea. Apparently, this is not new to the blogging scene, but once again, I live under a rock when it comes to these things. 

So here goes my own version of "Currently."

Currently thankful for: being on blood thinners for only 3.5 months after my pulmonary embolism and not going bankrupt by my hospital bills 
 - on a side note, I believe I ended up at the least expensive hospital in the country 
 - on another side note, if anyone needs a recommendations for a hematologist in Denver, I have one

Currently sad about: the fact that we only have EIGHT lackadaisical days left in our mountain dream home. Going to be hard to say goodbye to these views.

Currently regretting: Because we have only 8 days left, I am realizing how many places we did not explore while temporarily squatting here in CO, particularly Rocky Mountain National Park this winter (tricky, winter roads). I also regret not doing any winter camping, but the cozy and picturesque cabin is to blame. The truth is, we got what we came for; a place in the mountains to settle for a bit. 

Currently excited about: moving to the Pacific NW and starting this new chapter in our lives. 

Currently not excited about: deciding what is coming with us to Oregon and what is not and seeing if we can fit it all in Big Bird.  

Currently proud of: my triumphs in XC skiing. It helps that the skies have been puking snow almost daily making for good "powder" and we have the time in our schedule to go skiing 3 times a week … 

Currently working on: freelance writing projects and taxes (yuck) 

Currently reading: How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America by Otis Webb Brawley

Current guilty pleasure: Weekly visits to South Park Saloon, the HIGHEST saloon in America, right down the street from us

Currently watching on Netflix: The Office, seasons 6-9, plus any horror movies my dad recommends

Thursday, February 13, 2014

That Mother Nature, She's Crazy

Let me tell you how that East Coast storm (Pax? Can't keep track of these stupid names!) affected us all the way in CO on Wednesday. 

9am - Find out our friends' (Fire Marshall Mac & Alex) flight from DC on Thurs is cancelled and they can't get rescheduled until the 16th. Their visit is a bust. BOO HOO. 

10am - Since we don't have to hang out in Denver to pick our friends up from the airport, we head back to the cabin. Normally, it takes 2 hours. We also decide to take SILAdventure/Jamie & DocDoc/Rachel's dog (Bailey) with us. She loves the cabin. 

11:30am - Leave Denver, stop at grocery store

12:30pm - Stop for a XC ski on the Colorado Trail near Kenosha Pass

2pm - Make it over Kenosha Pass on 285. Yeah! We are halfway there and the sun is shining! Weather looking good! 

2:30pm - Why are all these cars stopped on 285 up ahead? Wow, that wind is picking up. Where did the road go? 

2:45pm - Oh, there is a tractor trailer on its side jackknifed across the road. Damn, we are only 25 miles from the cabin. I wonder how long it will be take to move the tractor trailer off the road. Boy, that wind is really blowing snow across the road.  Is that a MedEVac helicopter landing? Yep…  yikes this is bad.

2:48pm - The section of 285 we are on is officially closed. Shoot. Guess we'll turn around and go almost all the way back to Denver to take the other road to the mountains (70). Wait a minute, is that a jackknifed tractor trailer across the road behind us??? It sure is. Hmmm … guess we're not going anywhere for a bit. 

3:10pm - Layers of rime ice form on our car from the blowing wet snow and cold temps. Tires freeze to the ground. 

3:45pm - Tractor trailer behind us moves, people start turning around. We do too. Only 25 miles from the cabin, but have to backtrack 40+ miles to the other route. Par for the course in wild-weather mountains. 

4:45pm - Wow, the roads are clear and the weather is dry as we head back to Denver. What a difference. Road conditions say 70 is pretty clear (according to CO standards).

6pm - 70 is NOT clear. Everyone else can go 60mph, but we'll stick to our 40mph pace. Slow and steady wins the race. 

7pm - Will we make it over Hoosier Pass at 11,500 feet? I think I can, I think I can … 

7:30pm - We made it over Hoosier Pass!!! YAHOO! Only 9 miles to the cabin … boy that wind is wicked. 

7:45pm - What is going on at our road? Is that a tow truck pulling someone out. Oh hell naw. That IS someone being pulled out because there's about 2 feet of snow that blew onto the road and blocked it!! Let's consider our options. 1 - Get a hotel (with dog in tow) 2 - Drive back to Denver (hell to the no) 3 - Go to our favorite local bar and beg for someone to let us stay at their house 4 - Camp. Wait, what, Mr. Tow Truck Tractor guy is offering to plow the beginning of our road so we can get through. Hell yes. (Sorry for all the hells; it seems fitting). Now Big Bird just needs to make it that final mile uphill on ice and blowing snow to the driveway. 

8pm - Pull up to the cabin and kiss the ground that the cabin is still standing in the 55mph wind gusts. 

EIGHT hours it took us from Denver. EIGHT hours. I would like to publicly thank my husband for his awesome winter driving skills in our AWD vehicle. 

FYI, Bailey the dog never wants to go on an adventure with us again, that's for sure. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Shred the Gnar!

You know those life experiences that you have once and then swear you'll never do again? Like bikini waxes. Or pregnancy and giving birth. I think snowboarding was on my list. I took lessons once, 4 years ago, and according to my very own blog post, I should not try to be a snowboarder. 

Well, I disregarded that declaration and went for it again this past weekend. I figured, you know, it's always a good idea to put yourself in a situation that inhibits falling while on blood thinners. 

In any case, second time around … much better. I could have done without the brutal wind, but there was less falling, less pain and more fun. Thankfully, I had 2 experts giving me a refresher on my lessons (for free!). 

And for those who were wondering the fate of J after his big bachelor party weekend … he came back PERFECTLY NORMAL to my surprise. Apparently they drank milk and went to bed by 11pm every night in Nawlins. What a stellar group of boys! I begged J to take pix and all we get is a lovely picture of the bachelor himself, as well as the bachelor with none other than Evander Holyfield. 

For some reason, this so-called "milk" they drank in Nawlins is making J's liver hurt. Anyone have any ideas about that? 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Driving 'Murica

I suppose this could be in the interest of "Throwback Thursday," but J & I are always reflecting on the awesome summer we had and I realized I never shared some of the best scenes from the road. When you drive 30,000 miles through 37 states over the course of 5 months, you are bound to come across some scratch-your-head type of stuff. 

It probably annoyed the crap out of J, but I was enamored by all the different signs we saw. I would make him stop (or at least slow down) the car so I could snap a shot. On the flip side, his kryptonite was, and always has been, getting a picture at every "welcome to" state sign. My collection amounted to 10 or so. His to 35. He always has to win, doesn't he? 

More often than not, the signs made me laugh, like these in California. 

Then there are the ones that made me worry, like these in Idaho or Indiana. 

In particular, I worried about what goes on at rest areas in America. 
Some provided an education. Oddly enough, this first sign found in Oregon is the pictorial version of this second sign found in Vermont. And FYI, I totally had to look up "scarified." 

But this one, this one takes the cake. Peeing in milk jugs is a real problem in Washington. "Remember, Washington State Patrol has eyes out for violators. (Not to mention their noses)." That's a direct quote folks. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Before Matrimony Comes Bachelor Parties

J has abandoned me for the first of TWO bachelor parties this month. Strange to be separated from him for more than 1 night because not only have we been in the same time zone, state and city this summer, fall and winter, we have also spent all of the last 6,720 hours side by side.

Now, some might think that being alone in a cabin in the woods with no car is the makings for a B-rated horror flick. 

Not me. What I am more concerned about what shape J will be in upon his return. There are 18 grown, respectable, tax-paying, law-abiding men going to this weekend party in New Orleans, so you would expect good behavior. But after his last bachelor party in 2010 with part of this same crew, J did not fare well. 

I'd like to pretend there will be no debauchery. Instead, they are down there doing a Habitat for Humanity project and in bed by 9pm reading novels by candlelight. But, we all make mistakes. This week, the crew was taking bets on who would pass out first, throw up first, expose himself first (J won that one) … I am at least consoled to know there are laws in NOLA against tying horses to trees on a public highway and against tying alligators to fire hydrants. A few less things to worry about, right? All I know is I wouldn't want to be the maid cleaning the house they are renting. 

And now, I need to return to my chick-flick-watching, blog-reading, all-about-me time.