When in the Flat Tops Wilderness

At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
into my body, waking the bones. I hear them
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?
– At Blackwater Pond, Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver’s last two lines can perfectly express the entirety of my feelings about the weekend I just spent in the Flat Tops Wilderness, but she can’t describe the place to you if weren’t there. Here is my attempt.  Continue reading →

Am I a “Runner”?

In 2013, I griped when my then-partner wanted us to run the mile to the gym and back for our workouts rather than drive. In 2014, I participated in my first 5k. I brought my dog, who is not built for running, so I’d have an excuse for stopping frequently as he pooped, sniffed, and played in the kiddie pool. In 2015, I agreed to the four-mile leg of a marathon relay team, chosen because it was the shortest leg and largely downhill. Then I signed up for the Bolder Boulder 10k in 2016. I walked parts of it because I had mentally convinced myself I couldn’t jog that whole distance. My pace was 12:12. In 2017, I started going to running clubs regularly and increased my Bolder Boulder pace to 10:27. This year, I ran a 9:23 pace in my first half marathon and then an 8:55 pace in the Bolder Boulder a month later. Continue reading →

The Point of Travel

Travel used to have a purpose – to find trading partners, to cure disease, to scout out fertile land to homestead on. According to my favorite modern philosopher, it still should. Travel should be about more than gaining social media followers and checking items off a clichéd bucket list. It should feed your soul and help you grow as a person. Living in India for five months when I was 21 years old certainly changed my entire being in a number of ways and while I have taken some trips since then that were purely for fun, when I travel internationally, I usually seek out places that offer novel experiences I believe I can learn from. Continue reading →

An Unexpected Mountainside Bacchanal

Hot springs are popular in Colorado. From the mass market, easily accessible Glenwood Springs to the backcountry, yet still-too-popular Conundrum, you can’t spend much time in this state without experiencing the magic of being immersed in 102-degree water on a 15-degree winter night. Even in the summer, evenings in the mountains are cool enough to make a soak in naturally heated water desirable.

However, you may want to research what to expect before you go. Earlier this month, some friends and I took our first camping trip of the season to Steamboat Springs, which, as you might imagine from the name, has some hot springs. While we had all heard of the Strawberry Hot Springs, only one of our group had previously visited. We were eager to check it out, and after a long day of hiking, some therapeutic heat sounded perfect. Our experienced friend mentioned there might be some nudity and the website mentions that people under 18 are not allowed after dark, but these mild indicators of adult behavior were inadequate warning for what we found. Continue reading →

Kilkenny Cats

There were once two cats of Kilkenny.
Each thought there was one cat too many;
So they fought and they fit,
And they scratched and they bit,
Till, excepting their nails,
And the tips of their tails,
Instead of two cats, there weren’t any.

Well, this is quite the apt metaphor for the world we are living in. On a small scale, I was at a concert last weekend and the girl next to my group was clearly pissed off at us for the crime of also being on the general admission dance floor. She kept widening her dance area, swinging her hair and arms sharply to let us know that we were encroaching on “her” space. We basically ignored her and her boyfriend was making noticeable efforts to get her to calm down, ignore us back, and just have fun. Continue reading →

Sanctuary 2.0: It’s Never Too Late

I could have called this post Christmas miracles, but that would be hyperbolic and hokey. I mean, it’s not like I found a Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun under my non-existent Christmas tree this morning. However, two unexpected events at the Little House on the Prairie have really made this month even lovelier than planned.

You can teach an old dog new tricks. (Unknown, modified)

Trotsky Bear—my jealous, protective, and vicious beast—has been spending a lot of time with another dog lately and hasn’t mauled him yet. In fact, they play together. Play! Trotsky doesn’t play with other dogs. At the off-leash park, he prefers to spend his time sniffing around the perimeter, and if another dog invades his space for more than 20 seconds, Trotsky usually starts to growl. But he and Stuff are almost buds. They stay in separate rooms most of the time, thanks to a chair-icade we’ve constructed, but walk together twice a day and enjoying chasing each other around and tumbling on the ground. At least once a day, they lounge several feet from each other, but only when Stuff is firmly rooted to the sofa, behind protective human arms and legs, just in case. A massive cuddle pile on the bed together will likely prove too much too soon for this visit, but there’s hope for a lasting doggie friendship here.   Continue reading →

AirBnB: The Second B is for Bizarre

Last week, I posted about the best experiences I’ve had so far with AirBnB. This post was prompted by dad calling me to discuss an article in the Buffalo News about the home sharing service. One of the points the article made that my dad was curious about was how guest and host expectations sometimes differ, leading to dissatisfaction. For example, the article mentioned a woman who was annoyed when her guests didn’t want to spend time socializing with her.

With the exception of when I am overseas, I always request an entire home/apartment to myself, rather than a room in someone’s house, because I don’t want to socialize. I’m on my own vacation and want to do my own thing, especially if I am travelling with a romantic partner. And even when booking separate accommodation, I read the description carefully to make sure that my expectations align with those of the host. Most descriptions state clearly how much interaction the host is willing to have with the guests. This is important. I believe that many problems in this world, not just on AirBnB, can be cleared up with better communication. Of course, it’s just as much the guest’s responsibility to understand and accept those terms as it is the host’s to express them. A breakdown can be the fault of either party. Continue reading →

AirBnB: The First B is for Beautiful

My dad gets really excited when when modern, gig/sharing-economy type organizations come to Buffalo, which is my hometown and where he still lives. Years ago, when Buffalo got food trucks, he called right away to let me know. Around the same time, the city was redoing the harbor to make it a place for festivals and a place people want to spend time in general. He thought a combination of those two amenities would make me consider moving back there. Then Buffalo got bicycle sharing and then Uber, and he called me each of those times to let me know how cool Buffalo was becoming. I’m happy for Buffalo. I love that city. But the taxes and lack of good jobs and the snow…oh my god the snow. The gray, miserable, long, icy, humid winters. No. I just can’t.

But I digress.

My dad’s latest report was about AirBnB. It’s been active in Buffalo awhile, but the Buffalo News ran a story over the summer about locals’ good and bad experiences with it. He was certain I had used it before, which I have, and wanted to compare my experiences with what the paper was reporting. And so I thought, why stop with the conversation with my dad? Why not share some of my good and bad experiences here? Continue reading →

But Is That Butts or Butts?

English has no shortage of homonyms that can easily cause confusion for someone trying to learn this language. But they can almost as easily cause confusion among native speakers as well.

On our way into mountains last Sunday to hike Grays and Torreys peaks, my two girlfriends and I saw a sign on I-70 just like this one.

FullSizeRender

All three of us had the same thought – we need to bring the car from 75 mph to a complete stop in the middle of the highway and get out of the car right now to see what we are missing! Surely if CDOT felt the need to tell us (in such a cheeky way) that we should remain in the vehicle, something important and exciting must be happening along the roadside. And then 20 seconds later, we non-smokers realized we had all misunderstood which “butt” the sign meant. Continue reading →