Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Last days in Denver

While our time in Las Vegas, NM last week gave Erin and I a chance to catch up on some work we were glad to get back to Denver on Friday.  We had even had a nice trip out to Taos, NM last Wednesday, but even as we crossed the border into Colorado and had lunch in Trinidad it felt good to be back in the state.  It helped that our destination was my aunt and uncle's place before taking us out to dinner at Nono's.  It was nice being able to have dinner with them at the same place where we had first had dinner together when Erin and I were dating.

Saturday night, after spending the day back at Erin's parent's place, we were back out on the town meeting our friends for dinner at the 9th Door.  The tapas there were delicious and it was good spending time talking with our friends.  After dinner we walked over to The Red Square, a vodka bar, for some drinks.  More friends met us there for some very tasty vodka.  It was really nice getting a chance to see everyone.  By the end though we were very tired as we walked back to the hotel room we had rented for the night.

On Sunday night Erin's parents treated us to dinner at Sushi Den which was delicious as always.  We are very appreciative of all the help and advice they have given us during this time of transition.  This whole move would have been much more difficult without them.

By Tuesday night we were out again; this time with our supper club at The Wash Park Grill.  The food was good and the company great as always, but the parting was sad as we realized we won't be able to go to one of these dinners again for a year.

Of course it hasn't all been delicious dinners with family and friends.  Our days have been filled with the last minute details of leaving:  Packing, shipping, closing accounts, changing addresses, selling our stuff, and a million other little things.  While we know we will be very busy when we get to Taiwan I feel like I will sigh in relief when we make it onto the plane on Thursday with everything done.  Well, hopefully everything...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tattoo, Ceremony, and New Mexico

For our first anniversary Erin and I decided to skip the traditional gift route (1st year is paper apparently) and went with something edgier.  And while our anniversary was last month, we've finally had some time to get each other's gifts.  So last week we went in to the motorcycle shop where I got her a full-face helmet.  I had also gotten her a necklace earlier, but I think the helmet goes much better with the theme of ths story.  That's because we also went up to Boulder so Erin could get me a tattoo.  I had already sketched out the design and decided where it should go (on my side), they just needed to ink it in.  While there wasn't an artist available when we first went in they were able to schedule us for Saturday.  Though it wasn't my first tattoo the whole experience was as interesting as ever and a glimpse into a very different culture than we're accustomed to.

That night we shifted gears from the tattoo parlor to the roof of the Denver Art Museum as Erin was officiating a ceremony for our friends Rachel and Cameron.  It was a very beautiful ceremony that Erin delivered very well.  It was also very interesting to meet Rachel's and Cameron's families and get more of a sense of where each of them came from.  Of course there were many of the things you would find at a wedding: good food, fun dancing, and many tissues damp with tears of joy.  I'm glad Erin and I could take part in the festivities.

This week as our departure for Taiwan looms large we find ourselves in Las Vegas, New Mexico.  Apart from the temperature it bears very little resemblance to the city in Nevada bearing the same name.  We're here for a conference Erin is attending in a nearby college which will hopefully better prepare her for the classes she will be teaching this coming year.  It has also finally given me a chance to catch up on some programming work that I've needed to do.  Still, there's not much to do here and I think we'll both be happy to be heading back to Colorado tomorrow.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Handies Peak & Crested Butte

Erin and I started last week spending time with her family including her sister, Amy, and brother-in-law, Kevin.  After a very fun 4th of July we went with them and Erin's parents on Monday out for lunch and a nice walk around City Park.  It was good to just stroll around and chat before they had to go back home to Baltimore.  That night Erin and I went to my aunt and uncle's place for a delicious dinner and to stay the night as we were heading up to the mountains the next day.

For the rest of the week Erin and I enjoyed as much as we could of the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  We started out on Tuesday driving up to Lake City.  This is a small town towards the western side of Colorado which meant it was a long, but beautiful, drive.  We were staying at a motel with my uncle Reynold so that we could get an early start on hiking the next day.  After strolling around town and having dinner we got to bed early in preparation for the next day.

Getting up early Wednesday morning Reynold drove Erin and I up to the American Basin trailhead where we would start our ascent up one of Colorado's 14'ers, Handies Peak (14,048' elevation).  It was a rough start getting up at 5:30am, travelling over the 4x4 road, and starting the hike in the cold.  We charged up the hill with Erin in the lead, but soon slowed to a more moderate pace as the altitude caught up with us.  As we climbed the mountain the sun started to warm us up and the amazing views compelled us to continue onward.  Before too long we reached the summit and enjoyed the panoramic view with some fellow hikers.  We started back down as we saw the afternoon storm clouds approaching and were back in the truck headed for town before the rain started to fall.

While we all stayed Wednesday night in Lake City, Reynold stayed on Thursday to hike up two more 14'ers while Erin and I returned to Denver so we could take care of our lengthy to-do list and prepare for our next trip into the mountains.  A rapid turn around found us heading up to Crested Butte on Friday with Erin's parents for the annual Wildflower Festival.  After a lengthy, but beautiful drive we found ourselves again in the mountains enjoying a delicious dinner looking out at Mt. Crested Butte.

Throughout the weekend we enjoyed numerous breath-taking hikes around lakes, past waterfalls, and even down the slopes of Mt. Crested Butte.  Throughout all of them there were numerous wildflowers decorating the landscape.  As the festival started on Monday we even enjoyed a jeep tour through which the driver stopped several times to describe the area and it's native wildflowers.  Each afternoon, after doing a hike in the morning, we would relax back at our lodge with some wine before heading out to dinner.  Our meals were generally good (though often expensive) and I would definitely recommend Django's in Mt. Crested Butte for anyone heading up there.

Today, after our enlightening jeep tour, we made our way back home.  It's been a wonderful week of stunning vistas, cooler temperatures, and thrilling hikes with great company.  As I look at Erin's and my schedules I realize that we likely won't get much more time up in the mountains before we leave.  While that does sadden me a little, I realize that this past week has given us plenty of memories (and pictures) to last us until we come back for a visit next summer.  Until then I'm sure we'll find some other mountains to climb and explore.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Education Conference, Selling Condo, and Discovery Flight

Last week was a busy one for Erin and I.  As the week started I continued to go to the technology in education conference in Denver.  It was exciting learning about how different schools are integrating technology into their schools and meeting other school IT coordinators.  It was a very large conference and finding the information that was valuable and applicable to me was a little daunting at times.  All in all I was glad to attend.

As I finished up the conference on Wednesday I went directly from there to Littleton were Erin was finally closing on the condo.  It has been a long and often difficult process to sell the place with several false starts.  We've had a back-up contract since April, but it wasn't until last week that the buyer finally decided to pull the trigger.  Amazingly they were able to get everything worked out for us to do the closing on Wednesday.  Unfortunately that only left us with 72 hours to move out before they took possession.  We spent most of the rest of the week packing up our stuff and moving out.  It was a massive effort on Saturday to get everything done in time and we wouldn't have been able to do it without the help of our friends Jim and Laura.

We did get a chance to have some fun this week though as we had already scheduled a discovery flight on Friday.  Erin had given me the opportunity to fly a plane for the first time as a gift recently and we were excited to finally go.  We met the pilot/instructor at the Centennial airport where he briefly went over what we would be doing.  I would help taxi out to the runway and takeoff, then fly for about an hour and the instructor would take over for the landing.  The whole thing was very exciting, but a little stressful as there was a lot of things to think about.  Even though the instructor was taking care of the radio communications and was there to take over if anything went wrong I was constantly working to keep the plane moving in the appropriate direction and around a specific altitude.  It reminded me of my first motorcycle lesson when I was so focused on all the details that it was hard to enjoy it.  Erin certainly enjoyed the ride from the back seat, so I guess I was doing something right.

By Sunday Erin and I were settled in at her parent's house in Englewood and enjoying the 4th of July with them, Erin's sister Amy, and her brother in law Kevin.  We enjoyed a nice walk along the S. Platte in Littleton and then a delicious dinner of grilled pizza.  It turned out to be a very wet 4th of July, but we still had a chance to light some small fireworks which was nice.  It was a nice way to relax after a very busy week.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Evergreen, Estes Park, and Anniversary

I'm still a bit behind on updates, but last week Erin and I went up to the mountains in celebration of our one year anniversary.  The night before we left we went out to supper club at Cafe Brazil and had a wonderful meal with our friends.  The next morning, though stressed about a growing likelihood of selling our condo and various furniture we were able to pack up and hit the road.

Our first stop was Evergreen where we enjoyed a wonderful lunch and some nice wine by the creek side.  I also got the chance to get Erin a necklace as her anniversary gift.  After a while we were back on the road enjoying a beautiful day in the mountains.  We took the long way to Estes Park going over Berthoud Pass, through Rocky Mountain National Park, and over the Continental Divide.  The drive was wonderful, though a little scary at points as we went to the top of the mountains.  Before nightfall we got to our campground, set up camp, and started cooking dinner.  It took quite a while for dinner to cook and by the time we were done eating all we wanted to do was watch the fire before going to sleep.

The night turned out to be colder than we had expected and we didn't get the best of sleep, but the next morning we were up and ready to hike after breakfast.  We went to a hike to three lakes in the park that Erin enjoyed.  The views were great, but the trail was very crowded.  Afterwards we went into town to enjoy some nachos and get online.  An appraisal had been done on our condo and the buyer was supposed to have done an informal inspection.  Back at camp we had a delicious dinner of chicken and dumplings that also took a long time to cook.  It may be part of camping, but I think on future trips we'll need to come up with some easier meals.

On Friday, after rearranging our sleeping bags and getting a better night's sleep, we were ready for a longer hike.  Back in the park we found one to two different lakes that wasn't as crowded as the one the day before.  The views were again spectacular on the beautiful day.  We were even able to see the giant plume of smoke off in the distance caused by a new forest fire.  After the hike we returned to camp to relax and get some showers.  It was good to get cleaned up before going out to dinner at The Dunraven Inn.  The food was delicious and it was so nice not having to cook for a night.  Back at camp we still had a fire and a little desert before going to bed.

On our last morning we packed up camp and went into town.  Estes Park was having a Scandinavian festival which we enjoyed walking around and watching.  We did one final hike around Estes Lake before heading back home.  Along the way we were able to pick up our wedding video from our videographer so we would have it for our anniversary night on Sunday.

Back home on Sunday I went to the start of a 4-day conference in Denver sponsored by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).  As I prepare to become an IT Coordinator at the school Erin and I are going to my hope is that the convention provides some useful information.  Sunday night Erin and I went out to "Indulge" in Highlands Ranch for a delicious meal of tapas.  Back home we opened a bottle of wine we had saved from our honeymoon while we looked over pictures from our wedding and our wedding video.  All in all it was a wonderful anniversary and I look forward to having many more with Erin in the future.