Monday, January 07, 2019

Right Now-December 2018 recap

Right Now

I'm listening to hum of the office.   From colleagues catching up after 2 weeks break, to the rumble of the copy machine, it all translates to  time to get back to work.   But first, I think I'd better update the blog before the event's of last month become a blur.

I'm loving that we enjoyed the holiday season and seemed to strike the right balance between celebrations, travel, spending time with friends and family to also taking time to unwind and regroup for the new year.   It was a good month in that regard.

This month's highlights...

  • Time with Friends

Hooray...we crossed the finish line..
Let's Party...
Thanks to D and A for hosting their annual Ugly Sweater Party...
which proved the perfect opportunity 
 to dress up and catch up with friends...

  • Fractures...

Thing 2 took a victory lap on his skateboard through the parking lot after his finals.  However, he  apparently didn't nail the dismount.   Luckily, he nailed his finals and the xray showed no evidence of a fracture.  Crisis averted!   A week on crutches and he was back to his double jobs as a barista and ice skate rink attendant.  

  • Vegas!

 Speaking of nailing it, this year I scored the perfect gift for Thing 1 (the Thing who never really asks for anything).   He's got a weird curiosity for a fella named Trump.  We were headed to Vegas to spend time with hubby and on a whim, we surprised him with 3 nights in a suite at the Trump Tower

 Holy Smokes that place was huge....bigger than apartments I've rented
 What really impressed me was how willing the stay-home Thing was to get out and explore Vegas...

He wasn't too interested in the gambling, and only had one drink after I applied some parental pressure, it is Vegas after all.   

Yep, Vegas=mother tested, and #1 Son approved...

  • AZ Exploration...

From famous bridges to wandering donkeys...

 We enjoyed wandering off the beaten path in AZ. 

 Palm trees and sandy beaches?   Yep...still in AZ

  • Family Time...

We finished up this month by spending time with extended family.   It was a great chance to reflect on what a difference a year makes...

 I'm feeling refreshed and relaxed.   Not only was the 2 weeks off the perfect blend of adventures and quiet time, but I'm headed into the new year with less worries on my mind.  Thing 1 is changing schools and we are hopeful that this more structured setting with more hands on learning will help him reach some new goals.   Thing 2 is starting to spread his wings and will be moving into the dorms in pursuit of the full traditional college experience. 

  Who would have ever guessed we'd be sipping cocktails and playing bingo after the bumpy start to 2018? 
 What a difference a year makes!
Life is good...very very good..
I'm needing to wrap this long winded recap up and face the realities of work.   I started it in the morning and now we are approaching quitting time.   I'd like to take "update blog" of the to-do list and move it to the done list before the day is over.   

Until next time...

Monday, December 03, 2018

Right Now- November recap

I'm listening to this collection of short stories.   If you are looking for something "Hallmark movie" like, be sure to walk on past this audio-book as it is loaded with the author's trademark style of story telling, right down to the liberal sprinkling of profanity.   I'm enjoying it as he does make some rather candid and humorous observations about this time of year.

I'm loving that:  we are entering this holiday season healthy and happy...something that when I reflect on year's past isn't always the case.  Last year, my dad's health took a nose dive soon after the Thanksgiving celebration.   And in years before that, work stress has reared its ugly head, filling my head and heart with worry.   But alas this year, all seems to be on a steady and stable course!  Bring on the merriness of the Christmas Season!

My dad joined us for Thanksgiving and we all enjoyed reflecting on what a difference a year makes.   Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera at the ready so I have very few photos but suffice to say, we enjoyed the traditional feast, took in a movie, did a bit of Black Friday shopping (talk about a sure sign he's back to 100%-my dad wanted to go to Kohls of all places), and caught the Badger football game at a local pub.  All in all, a wonderful 3 days spent with family.  

The rest of November seems to have passed by in a blur.   I know we celebrated our 23rd anniversary with the purchase of a new washer and dryer and then for a bonus celebration we splurged on a new kitchen faucet. 

  Yep, those would be the joys of being a grown up.   But seriously, after one costly trip to the laundromat, I was ever so grateful to see the friendly team from Lowes  had delivered as promised.    And after watching my husband and our two Things wrangle with the faucet, I'm thankful for their muscles and flexibility.  If left up to me, I'd still have a leaky way my body could contort to get to the necessary pipes.  Thank you've made me a very happy and appreciative wife/mother!   

I'm feeling grateful.   The rest of the month was filled with a little bit of this and a little bit of that.   Which is my creative way of saying "I can't remember that far back".   I know there was a short camping adventure in conjunction with my annual nursing convention. 

 There were a few happy hour gatherings with friends.   Some books were read, a movie or two was enjoyed and a few great meals were enjoyed.   Every day stuff that makes me appreciate what a good life we've cultivated for ourselves here in CO.   The Things have had some adjustments with school but I believe they are both on a path of success.   It's all good...

I'm needing to keep the momentum going.   As the kids have gotten older, finding the holiday spirit has been a challenge.  Toss in a general sense of "winter blahs" and I realized I needed to do something different this year..

So I made a conscious effort to bring some fun into my life.   This past Saturday, the ladies and I went to see the lights at the local botanical gardens. 

To say it was magical would be an understatement.   My only regret was not switching out my shoes.   Danskos are perfect for work, but when outside, they let in a little too much cold and by the time I got home I was still feeling chilled.  Lesson learned.

  Then on Sunday, a bunch of us bundled up again for the first of what will end up being five 5Ks through the winter season.  

 Granted, my group walked and were proud to be the "final finishers' but we still got more activity on a cold December day than we would have had we sat on the couch. 

 Both of these events reminded me how good it feels to get out and try new things. 

Until next time.. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Right now-October recap

I'm listening to:   the soundtrack from a Star is Born. It's been years since I've purchased any downloads for myself (disclaimer:   I'm really more of a "listen to whatever is on the radio" type of music person). 

 But, I so enjoyed this movie and thought I've got to have the soundtrack so that I can revisit the story line through the songs.    If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it.   The movie has that classic Hollywood theme of "damsel in distress, saved by the knight in shining armor" (or in this case, slightly damaged/flawed knight).   But it also has a strong message of the need to remain true to yourself.   Paired with great casting and excellent music that supports the story line, it is indeed one of those movies that has hung around in my mind a bit longer than most.

I'm loving that  I finally made it to the national parks in UT!

 You see, back in 1999, I suggested to Hubby that with the anticipated birth of our second Thing, we should go explore the various national parks in UT, while we still just had one kid to chase after.   A week long adventure was planned, when just 3 days into the trip, I felt my ankle-foot pop and lo and behold, I'd broken my foot.   There went that trip!   And while I was wanting to make it back that way for a few years, timing never lined up such that we could get out that way during a time that the weather and crowd levels would make for an enjoyable visit.

As I started to contemplate plans for Fall Break 2018, I became determined that this would be the year we make it back to UT!

I'd also heard that the north rim of the Grand Canyon was considerably less crowded.   Curious to see the canyon from the other side, we decided to make this our first stop.

While one could certainly make the trip from our house to the Jacob Lake area in one day, with an RV covering more than 300 miles or so in a day is not "best practices".

So we took our time getting there, stopping along the way to enjoy the beauty that is SW Colorado.   I was pleasantly surprised to see some Fall colors still around Wolf Creek Pass and Pagosa Springs.   With snow in the forecast, it was likely we caught the last glimpse of color for this year.
First stop:   Friday, 10.12.18, Lathrop State Park in Walsenburg, CO
Our morning view as we left the campground
The Spanish Peaks...back in the day this was an important landmark along the Santa Fe Trail..when this area of the state belonged to Mexico.
The view soon after crossing Wolf Creek Pass, heading into Pagosa Springs.  
2nd stop:   Navajo National Monument on Navajo Native Land in Northern AZ
Bonus points for scoring free camping!

Once we got to Grand Canyon, we hurried through the major sites.    The crowds were indeed lighter, there were a couple trails that were totally within my skill set and the views were incredible. 

Post visit Impression:   This is no place to bring an RV with a tow vehicle.   Parking is extremely limited and some of the turns are very tight.   There is a campground within the park, but in speaking to the ranger, very few of the sites can accommodate a moderated sized RV such as ours.   Instead, I'd suggest leaving the RV on the free BLM land near the park entrance and explore in just the side car.   Another lesson to remember for October visits, you lose the sun, you lose the heat in mid-October.   At over 8k elevation, the ride back to the campsite was indeed very brisk.

 Many of the park services would be closing that week as the park itself is not open through the winter months.  Cell phone coverage is spotty throughout the park and all but non-existent as one travels from Jacob's Lake south into the park boundary area.

 In all honesty, I can't really say that this side offered better or even different views.   But, I did appreciate that the sights/trails/crowd level made it all possible to see given the limited amount of time that we'd allocated for this portion of our trip.  No need to plan a return trip as I feel like we've been there-done that when it comes to all things Grand Canyon.  (although seeing it with some snow might still be worth a drive by if ever in the area)
The view leaving the BLM land where we camped outside of the park entrance.
More free camping on BLM land at Sheep Bridge Road, just outside of Laverkin, UT

From there, we headed over to Zion for what  amounted to not much more than a drive-through exploration. In order to visit the bulk of the park, visitors are required to use the park provided shuttle service. 

 Crowds were very light but even still we agreed to skip spending time on this, and instead, push on to what I was really looking forward to:  Bryce Canyon. 

I take that back on the "crowd" comment. 
While waiting for hubby to snap some pictures, a large gaggle of Harley riders pulled up alongside of Scarlett.  It provided me with an interesting opportunity to people watch, as one rider fluffed her hair, put on her shades all in preparation for her partner to snap some pictures.  I'm not sure of the ethnicity of this group, but they were clearly international visitors and seemed amused to see Scarlett perched on the side of the road.   In general, we found that this section of UT was very popular with folks visiting from Las Vegas and CA, renting cars and/or motorcycles and heading to the area for a short side excursion.

Post visit Impression:  I would like to return to Zion and spend more time exploring the trails and the inner reaches of the canyon.   October offered good weather and fewer crowds so I'm hopeful we can return to this area again.

Next stop was Bryce. 

We knew before getting there that snow was forecasted for the following day.   

With that in mind, we did the full drive while the sun was shining.  
A bit brisk at some of the view points...a sure sign that weather changes were on their way!

 Day 2 turned out to be my favorite day of our entire adventure.  
We took a morning stroll in the snow, took a brief ride in the side car and finished up with a second hike that led us down to the Queens Garden.   In addition to the exploring, I also found myself curled up with a cup of tea, a good book and a super soft blanket.   You can easily see why this became my "perfect day"!  

Post visit impressions:   Just shy of 2 full days in the park, we were able to see all the major highlights of the park.   While nicer weather would have allowed us to hike a bit further at a faster pace, I suspect it would have also led to more people on the trails.   I enjoyed having the trails pretty much to ourselves, and I could go as slow as I felt necessary and didn't worry about being in the way of others.  

This park appeared pretty popular with the tourist crowd.  On our 2nd evening in the park, I believe I counted 7 parked tour buses with more international tourists doing the selfie poses.   

That alone brought back some flashbacks to our own travels in Alaska this summer and I thought to myself, "Thanks, but I'll pass" in terms of traveling by way of bus. 

Cell phone coverage was limited within the actual campground.   However, by staying at Sunset View campground, we were centrally located to walking paths that I could explore while hubby stayed behind and tinkered on our smaller generator that was being difficult.   The park service runs the campgrounds and while there were no hook ups, the location was perfect, the site was ample in size and I believe we were one of only about 5 other units in the campground on the 2nd evening.  $30/night.   A fair trade off for the "convenience" of being within the park boundaries.

We had a tad bit of excitement on the return trip home:   After a day of navigating through a twisted path that the GPS insisted was the most direct route, where we battled heavy fog, wandering cows and icy summits, we heard a thunk-thunk-thunk sound just 40 minutes from our planned stopping point for the day.   Seems we'd blown out a tire. 

When the caution signs warn of "open range"...believe them!
Yikes:   Imagine what this road was like the day before somewhere along UT-72
After a few hours while we waited for roadside assistance, our wallet just a tad lighter after replacing 2 tires, we found ourselves arriving just as the sun set, back in the home state of CO. 

Post Trip Impressions:  All in all, an excellent adventure into the beauty of Northern AZ and UT. 

I'm feeling at a loss for words as I pause to reflect on all the loss that has occurred this past month.   The horrific tragedy in Pittsburgh this past weekend, an online friend's husband sudden death earlier in the month and another friend learning that her employer has filed for bankruptcy and she must find another job after 20+ years with the same company.  It's hard to see so many people hurting and worried.

I pride myself on knowing what to say, and almost as important, knowing when to say something.  But right now, nothing comes to mind.  And that's an unsettling feeling for me.  So instead, I will reflect on this sentiment.
I am needing:  to act-show-prove.   Act on those thoughts and plans.  Show my family and friends how much they mean to me.   And well, prove to my boss that I am critical to the success of the team, which I suppose means I should wrap up this post and get back to work.

Until next time...