Into the light!

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Pikes sunrise

…I see the light! In a good way. I haven’t had time to blog (isn’t that always the excuse?). Or I should say, “my life has been so crazy and stressful and changing, I had to set anything that wasn’t essential, aside.” So, blogging was one of those things.

What has happened since the last time I blogged? Gosh, when was that? Let me check…Jan 28. Bwahahahahahaha! Well, exactly a month after that blog, I was standing on a street in Colorado with full list of rental houses to check out. How did I get there?

Well, the last blog I wrote I as close to having peace and I could see the light. My husband had one offer in Virginia (at Quantico, DoD). An excellent job and offer, doing what he has studied and trained to do. An area we know well, were comfortable with, but not ideal (expensive, too far from the mountains/active lifestyle, but we’d make it work). He was thrilled about it…until Jan. when he progressed though the interview process with an opportunity in Colorado. We just didn’t think it would ever work out. Over 150 applicants, not gov’t related (what he had been focusing on), and when it seemed like he was a top contender, we didn’t think the offer would come close to the VA offer. Well, it did. And then some. The benefits were better, more stable work hours (not at the mercy of when units want to train), and COLORADO. All along I’ve told him that I would move wherever his job took him (within reason NEVER THE MIDWEST, my opinion did matter), as we moved to the New Orleans area for me. So, it’s his turn. I told him we could be happy at either location, but I have no shame in saying now that I pushed for CO. It’s more “us”. Way more us.

So, a week after he got an offer, he left Lake Placid, went to Ohio, came back to Nola. Less than a week after that we were on the road to CO.

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Cadillac Ranch. Finest TX has to offer.

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Found an old friend on our first day!

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Girl Scouts at the library. He couldn’t resist.

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Hotel takeout and House of Cards binge watching

I spent his first week of working desperately searching for a place to live…the rental market is insanely competitive! For instance, we found a charming little house and looked at it at 9:15am one morning. When we arrived, another couple was there (9am showing). We left that house to STAND IN LINE for an open house (for a rental!). Interviewed with the landlord. Put in application. Left there and went to the library and put in an application for first house. The next day we got a call that the 9am couple put in an application LESS THAN AN HOUR before us and they were approved. I did another interview with house 2, and we were one of the “top 3,” but didn’t get it. WTF.
Some highlights of our stressful week:

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Cozy mountain house: not bad for our first local dinner with friends.

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When there isn’t room in the freezer, apparently the porch is an acceptable option.

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Cute!

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Pickle bar?! Be still my heart.

We can pickle that!

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Neighborhood view.

On my last scheduled day there, I had all but given up and accepted the fact that we’d rent an apt for 3-6mo and buy a house. We had originally planned to live there for a year, then buy next spring/summer. I was leaving worried, not knowing when I’d be back. See, I didn’t want to move all our things and the children dogs until I knew we had a place to live!
I looked at the house, had a long interview with the landlord hanging out by the wood burning stove in the living room…paid her all the money, and immediately drove back to Denver since my flight was the next morning. Stopped at Whole Foods, rudely texted Bridget asking to celebrate that evening on no notice, picked up some fun things, picked up K from his conference, and went to her house. Oh, did I mention how awesome it is to have people I know that I can text and see within a couple hours?! FRIENDS! I’ve missed them!
In the end, everything worked out. I found something and I think it’s going to be great. It’s an old cottage (100 years) last remodeled in the 70’s-80’s. Haha. But the neighborhood seems great and our landlord is the bomb. Super cool and laid back, big time cyclist. She didn’t flinch when I said the 3rd bedroom would be the “bike room”. She replied “oh, any bike person is good in my book!” (I’m not the bike person, he is) We got along great and we both think we’re a ‘good fit’ and she felt that was important.

Some points I sent out in an email to my family (with some edits for privacy):

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IVYWILD. How will I not walk here every day for coffee? First world probs.

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The rest of the house may be outdated, but the working stove sealed the deal.

“We’re in the revitalizing Ivywild neighborhood. Ivywild is a huge, old school.  They have: a coffee shop, a bakery, a charcuterie, a farmers market, a bike shop (K is excited about that) and a brewery…all in the school. The old gym of the school is still used as a gym with workouts and movie nights.
The house is about 15min from Pikes Peak. That’s just one of the many hiking areas. So many mountains and trails are close and all the ski resorts are about 2 hours (with lesser known ones closer).

It’s less than 10min (about 7, parking to parking) to Garden of the Gods, a huge free park with 15miles of trails for walking and hiking. Great rock formations.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garden_of_the_Gods

2.8 miles from 7 Falls, a waterfall park. It has some trails, but has tons of stairs to climb to the top of the falls.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g33364-d276141-Reviews-Seven_Falls-Colorado_Springs_El_Paso_County_Colorado.html

Finally, Red Rocks is a park and amphitheater. It’s 4mi west near the Gods and Pikes peak. It’s open for hiking, climbing rocks, running in the amphitheater, when there aren’t concerts. Also free. ”

What I found out while browsing the web at the airport* to fly back to Nola, was that the best CrossFit & Weightlifting Club gym in the city is really close. REALLY close. Walkable, ride-able, maybe 5min in the car depending on stop lights? CLOSE.
* I do not recommend Googling something that has the potential to be VERY EXCITING, or you may end up not stepping on the airport escalator correctly, and falling down. In front of many people. I was that person.

SUCH a far cry from our life the past 2.5 years. Our gym was an hour away. Great restaurants and farmers markets and Whole Foods was 45min-1hr. All this stuff…just about walking distance now…AND running, riding or a short car ride to all the outdoor activities that were our priority (why we wanted to live on the West Side of town).

There you have it! We are THRILLED. I think I’ve found my place. And already, some people. (I’ve missed having friends close!) Or, at least my state. I’ve loved CO since I was a kid. I told K that he will have to drag me out, kicking and screaming. I’m ready to settle. I told him that I really don’t think I’ll want to leave CO, unless it was another western state like UT. Maybe.

imageNow, I’m back in the Dirrrty South, packing up our house. We’re I’m doing a POD move. Expensive, but we don’t have enough household goods to justify a moving company 18-wheeler (and more expensive), and a U-Haul is ridiculous, not reliable, and takes forever. Not to mention, I’m probably driving back to CO alone, and I wasn’t driving a U-Haul across TX and pull the car on a trailer. So stressful. Anyway, so far I’m a fan of the POD situation.

I’ll be back in CO soon, once the POD is picked up and I finalize my travel plans (can’t drive across TX and not see friends and sightsee!). I should be settled in the new house well before April 1, which has been my mental “life will be different and settled by then” date that I gave myself in Dec. So, it’s been a long several months, but totally happy with the way it’s all worked out.

Don’t expect another update for several weeks. I’ll just be realistic about that this time.

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Shouldn’t have gone to REI on our first day, and 3rd day, and 4th day…

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“Carpe fucking diem”

A fortunate (or unfortunate) confluence of life changes and more free time than we expected, led us to the decision to “carpe fucking diem” (credit to Hollis, amazing adventure supporter) and run away for a while. We could keep the status quo and tread water for a while, or take advantage of the life limbo and do something fabulous.

A couple weeks of crash-planning, acquiring of gear, guidebooks, and getting boxes and boxes of food in order…we are ready to go.

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Find someone that gets your crazy.

I’ve been hesitant to write about it because until the last few days, I didn’t know if we could pull it off. Sure, we’d gotten so much ready (and spent a lot of money: did you know that while the actual act of getting away to nature and living off the grid is cheap, the prep is not), but we were ready to scrap or cut down the plan if we got calls to relocate or interviews or…whatever. Or a self-inflicted injury that would scrap our departure. Like my toe situation. Or kicking a stair and jamming my toe–one day before we left. (totally happened)

I stopped by a friends house last week to borrow a dehydrator. We were chatting and I told her our plan (she just thought I had veggies to dehydrate), expecting a “you’re crazy” or “ohmygod.” Instead she smiled and said, “you know, we did the same thing. After Katrina, my gov’t job was in limbo. We were told to expect to not have a job, or if we did, we didn’t know when it would start again. My husband was out of work. So, in Houston for the evacuation, we went to the airport and told the agent, “with our miles, send us somewhere cheap, and we must have seats next to each other on the plane.” We ended up in Costa Rica for about a month, when he got a job offer and my work had contacted with a report date.” I was in awe. Why would you sit around and wait, stress, and start an unnecessary spiral into depression or anxiety? They had done almost the same thing.

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A whole box of spinach from Costco. This is what it reduces to! And when it gets crushed, it’ll be even smaller.

 

    Beet murder.

Beet murder.

Mess.

Mess.

 

A whole pineapple.

Due to purposeful life decisions, we have the “luxury” of being open ended in our adventure. We can’t put a price on the experience, and appreciative that we can do this, but we figure to make the investment worthwhile, we will be gone at the minimum of 2 weeks. I’m shooting for a month. 4 solid weeks. In my effed up mind, it seems more “hardcore” or “epic” (hate that word) to say we ran away into the wilderness for a month.

Turn a less than ideal situation into something good. It just might lead you somewhere you least expect.

Don't worry, it's not all healthy. Not shown is the macaroni, grits, and Ramen.

Don’t worry, it’s not all healthy. Not shown is the macaroni, grits, and Ramen.

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postal drop box

Utah, Part 2: Angels Landing Hike. Day 94

The second day of our trip we only had one item on the itinerary: hike Angels Landing. This is a picture only heavy post. It is Friday, so I don’t want to make you work too hard. You’re welcome.
Besides, there really isn’t much to say…it was so awesome.

Obligatory handstands at the park entrance


We took the bus into the park and got off at the Angels Landing trailhead. It was at the bottom of the canyon, next to the river.

Going to that peak up there

One of the very few things we did ‘wrong’ on this trip, was stopping and goofing off before we even started making our way up the trail. We were so in awe of the beauty and rocks in the canyon. We had no idea how much better it was at the top. It was all gorgeous. We really couldn’t comprehend how amazing it would be higher up.

Rando climbing

Shouldn’t have wasted time.

More random stopping for the view

Climbing into holes! It was like climbing up into trees. Of rock.

Then we started the gradual climb up the rock face, then hit the switchbacks to get to the final trailhead to get to Angels Landing point.

Switchbacks

View down the switchbacks

Even the smooth switchbacks were STEEEEP

Once you get up the switchbacks, there is a big “waiting area” that offers great views. From there it’s 1/2mi to the “Landing”, the top of the cliffs. That 1/2mi is deceptive…it’s climbing most of the way. Narrow path and with people coming-and-going, one has to step off to the side, or cling to the chain, to let people pass.

Yep. Climb UP the rocks.

 

Not scary at all.

Nope. Not scary.

On your left…

HANDSTANDS AT THE TOP! Hollis got upset with me and went off to admire the views away from Teeej and me. Apparently, she doesn’t believe in dying via stupidity. I believe in Darwin.

View into the canyon

Same ledge, view from the way we came on the trail.

Some CrossFit douchebaggery fun at the top! And shocker, we weren’t the only ones. These guys stopped to talk to us after seeing me try some squats.

See, this guy was excited I was wearing Inov-8’s too. And he was proud of his shorts. We were actually stunned someone would wear these in public.

Douchebag

Some regular touristy shots at the top
    

Selfie!

One of the selfies from that pic above. Since it’s my blog, I can post the one where I look best!

Teej took a real pic of us up there.

More of the top

Looking one way from the top.

And….on the way back down

 

Amazing.

TJ taking a pic of me down there.

Lets enjoy the view. Also, I was unsure of horizontal striped yoga pants. I got many compliments, as they looked psychedelic when I walked!

NARROW

My heart will go on!

Next….day 95, Zion 50k RR!

Utah, Part 1. Day 93.

The start of my back blogging. Is that a thing? This is part 1 of 3 of our April trip to Utah for the Zion 50k.

I arrived in Vegas eaaaarrrrly on Thursday morning. About 45min later, Hollis arrived. I occupied myself by doing laps around the airport, then played some crazy video slot machine by her arrival gate until she landed. I don’t understand those games. It’s like a horrible kids video game. Anyway, $0.25 well spent. (yes, that’s 25 cents)

Why?

We hopped in cab and killed time at the mall, which was supposed to be a close-to-the-highway easy location for our 3rd DB, Teeej, to pick us up. Browsed a little at Nordstrom and Lululemon (great sale rack!), then hung out outside in the fresh air. I’m sure we looked like weirdos stretching near our luggage, having some snacks, and taking short walks near the doorman guarded Nordstrom entrance.

Hollis taking a walk to the street. Umm hummm…

Anyway, Teeej arrived and we hit up a great brunch. EAT got great reviews on a couple foodie sites and it did not disappoint. It was so good we didn’t even take any pictures.
THEN we really hit the road to head to ZION!!

Into Springdale

We checked into our awesome hotel and took a little walk along the Virgin River and low-and-behold…it was only about 300m from the entrance to Zion NP! It was perfect. Words cannot describe and the pictures don’t do it justice.

View from our room. Terrible. Worst place ever. That’s the Virgin river at the trees. And the park on the other side.

In awe.

I don’t know what Hollis was doing, but I was trying to photobomb. It’s just…weird.

Between the laps in the airport, the mall walk, and walking around outside the hotel, I classify “walking” as my activity for the day! It was a long one!

Day 2 tomorrow!