Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Colorado vacation, part two

Colorado makes my heart sing. Seriously, come close and you'll hear it. I flew into Colorado searching for a mountain view from the porthole plane windows. Once I found it, my heart sang. It was as beautiful as it was humbling, as usual. I looked up to see everyone else on the entire plane doing the exact same thing as me. It's amazing how beauty reaches us.

I love Colorado Springs because nearly everywhere you go has this amazing view of Pikes Peak. It's incredible! Beth and I will be driving down the street and I'll stop mid-sentence to say how great the view is, how great that whole place is. I love it! It just makes you feel alive.

This post is not about Pikes Peak, but it is about a place with a view of it - Garden of the Gods. Garden of the Gods is a beautiful recreational park on the southwest side of C-Springs. It is filled with graceful and gorgeous red rock formations.

Many people climb and boulder through the area. Beth and I did a hike there last summer. Tara and I were looking for something quick and sweet though, so we just wandered the paved trails.

It was a gorgeous sunny day. Tara picked me up from Beth's house in the morning (I forget where Beth was, taking care of Cowboy the horse I think. It's a pretty raunchy story, but basically Cowboy had impaled himself on a fence post and required {excuse me, is requiring} a lot of special care to repair the damage.) We drove over to Garden of the Gods and began to meander and enjoy the scenery. And meander is exactly what we did, because after walking for a few hours, we weren't exactly sure which way was what. Our efforts to get back to the car ended up taking us all the way around the park, which was quite a hike.

Of course, any amount of hiking and trekking is worth a view like this.

We love it here:)
Our travels, however, didn't end with a search for the car. Due to our directional challenges, we also had a hard time exiting the park. Once in the car we ended up in Manitou Springs, several miles south of where we'd entered the park. Oh well, at least we enjoyed the ride!

After the hike and detour, we went to Chipotle for lunch and then to Whole Foods. Mmmm, they also make my heart sing. Thanks for a great day, Tara! This was pretty close to perfection for me.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Colorado vacation, part one

Every Colorado visit must include a hike. Usually we get in a few scenic hikes, walks, or runs. This time we got all three plus some!

John is photographing us as we get ready to go. Just one more call before we head out of town.

We're ready to hit the trail. Just me, my best friend, loads of water, and a bit of chocolatey trail mix.

We drove North to the small town of Palmer Lake to trek the Palmer Lake reservoir trail. We did this hike a few years ago in the fall. It is lovely in summer, too. Go figure...God sure knows what he's doing. I remember reading something by C.S. Lewis that said God gives us variety and constancy in just the right proportions. Just when we've had enough winter, spring unfolds and so on, but spring will always come. It sure seems to work for me. I'm just not sure what he meant to do with these places that seem to have only one or maybe two seasons. I'm not sure he expected us to choose to live in places like, ahem, Wichita Falls. Or maybe they, like the variety, are to help us appreciate the oases. I guess it could also be that he knew some people would prefer hot and dry. To each his own I guess.

We were having a great time, talking and laughing. And this is when I wish I could interrupt and say, oh, Beth, aren't you missing something? At this point in the hike I wish we would've noticed Beth was missing her white sweatshirt that was attached to her camelbak. Not so though...

...Instead we were busy discussing all the different colors of green in this valley, and which shades would've been called which names in the Crayola 64 box with built-in sharpener. As for the sweatshirt, we noticed it was missing after we trucked ourselves all the way up and back down a really big ridge.

The trail forked, Beth offered me the opportunity to choose the path. I picked up. Little did I know what that would mean.

We climbed up, and up for a quarter to a half mile or so. When we finally reached some level land, we got picture happy with the flowers and trees.

We had a good view and a good hike, so we headed back down the mountain to see what other paths we might find.

If you've been up a mountain, then you know how interesting going down can be. It was quite slippery, but we made it safely thanks to the traction of the twigs and needles on the edge of the trail.

This is the classic one-handed-stretch-your-arm-out-as-far-as-you-can-and-say-"cheese"-while-looking-natural-pretty-and-thin-all-at-the-same-time picture. Love it!

Despite our best efforts, we couldn't quite manage a decent picture of the two of us together. Maybe we can jam these two in a frame side-by-side and no one will notice...oh wait, I guess that's why someone created Photoshop!

And resting on the edge of this reservoir is where we realized we had dropped the white sweatshirt somewhere along our path. We retraced our steps in our minds, searching for a memory of seeing the white sweatshirt. At what point did it fall off Beth's pack? Did we have it when we first got to the lake? Did we have it at the top of the ridge?

Beth explained that while she didn't want to be frivolous, this was not just any sweatshirt. This was the one white sweatshirt that she had searched for; good shape, ideal fit, flattering. You know how it is when you finally find that one piece of clothing that complements everything else. With nothing to lose but our midsections, we trod back up the ridge to see what we could find. Forty minutes later and much out of breath, we had been up and down the ridge to no avail. We walked on knowing it must be between us and the trailhead. We joked about the possibility of it being right outside the door of the car or hanging on the gate that marked the beginning of the trail. We also knew one other place it could be...the "bathroom" Beth had made in the woods not far from the start of the trail.

Sure enough, there it was, lying in the dirt. It was right where we had "left" it; a whole quarter mile from the beginning of the trail. We hadn't needed to march all the way back up that mountain after all. In hindsight though, maybe we did, because the next night we made a mountain of our own at Coldstone with all the chocolatey goodness we could fit into a chocolate dipped waffle bowl. I'm sure, in some small way, we felt validated in doing so because of that extra bit of hiking.

Before I'm done, here is a peek-a-boo view of the lake. Isn't it great? The colors are perfect, even if that yellow pollen caused us a few sneezes and trips to the car wash while I was there.

It's so gorgeous! I cannot get enough of the beauty. Here there is room to breathe deeply. Can you believe, for a lucky few, this is just a half mile from their backdoors?

"Keep right"? No problem, I love the right-hand view, and can't wait to come visit again. If I wasn't so partial to spending a good chunk of my life in Northern Michigan, I'd be glad to call Colorado home. Stay tuned for Garden of the Gods and girls' night pictures.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thirty before 30

I'm quickly approaching 30 years old. It's hard to believe. It seems big! For whatever reason though, it's always hard for me to believe big things are true. It's hard for me to believe when summer is here, or when it's almost Christmas, or that Matt and I have a year left in WF. Sometimes it's even hard for me to believe how big God is. Why are utterly true things hard to process like this?

Anyway, I'm still 26 for now, but 27 is right around summer's corner. Most of the time I don't even feel like an adult, but some older, wiser adults have confided in me that not feeling like an adult is pretty key to being successful at adulthood. I like that idea.

Some friends of Beth have been coming up with "Thirty Before 30" lists, some even "Forty Before 40" and so on. Imagine what you could do with this! At this juncture of my life, a bit of direction or purpose is welcome even if it's just thirty things to do before I'm 30. Here's my list (a few are things I've done, but want to do again, in no particular order). Let me know what you think. Are any of these the same as your list? What else would you add or change for yourself?

1. Sky dive.
2. Travel abroad to a new continent.
3. Backpack anywhere.
4. Start an IRA.
5. Live in a house with a yard.
6. Do a pull-up.
7. Be 15 pounds lighter.
8. Have a baby naturally.
9. Run an 8 minute mile.
10. Contribute regularly to a cottage fund.
11. Own a dog.
12. Read the whole Bible.
13. Go to a rock concert.
14. Master self-control with food.
15. Tend a garden.
16. Learn to cook eggs well.
17. Help make maple syrup at G & G Miller's.
18. Go to Uncle John's Cider Mill in the fall.
19. Go on a hay ride in the woods.
20. Volunteer at a shelter for homeless people.
21. Train the dog.
22. Develop strong familial relationships.
23. Visit Alaska.
24. Visit California.
25. Cook food from a new culture.
26. Initiate and nurture female friendships.
27. Make a five course meal from scratch.
28. Scrapbook a week of my life (got this idea from a would be like a time capsule:).
29. Write a children's book.
30. Love well more often than not.

Here is my personal disclaimer to myself: By the way, ALL of this is to point Brooke toward God and require her to trust Him, love Him, and allow herself to be loved by Him.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A month away

This summer vacation thing is so wonderful. While Matt is away TDY in Alabama, I have spent one week at home by myself, am now spending my second week in Colorado, and in a few days will go to spend the next two weeks in Alabama with him.

Colorado has been in typical fashion with a variety of high-heat days and now several days of very cool weather with plenty of rain and hail. So far we have been hiking near Palmer Lake and eating at ALL of the wonderful restaurants in the Springs. I am getting my yearly fill of Chipotle, Einstein Bros., Panera, Chick-Fil-A, Red Robin, P.F. Chang's, Borielo's, Coldstone, Biaggi's... We've eaten out a lot in the nine days I've been here! Mmmm, delicious.

Soon I will post the beautiful Colorado scenery pictures. I don't think I'll be getting too many beautiful Alabama scenery pictures...except I'm actually considering seeing if there's any way to help with the oil spill while I'm down there. I mean, we were going to go to Florida to enjoy the beautiful beaches, but since that can't happen, maybe we can be of some service. If anyone knows how you do this, please share with me! I'll just be randomly googling for "oil spill help" or something like that. Happy summer all!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Delicious little lunch

I love this lunch! I had it today. I had it three times last week. It's delicious. Maybe I should name it! Maybe somebody already has? I'll just add it to my mental list of dishes to serve at mine and Matt's future cafe/marina with attached bed and breakfast in northern Michigan. Did you know we are planning that? Well, it's a possibility anyway.


2 slices hearty whole grain bread (I got a super grainy variety from the bakery section of the grocery store - Matt has stomached it a few times. To me, it is heavenly!)
1 Tbsp. butter
A few ounces of turkey (I like shaved Boar's Head cracked peppermill turkey)
1 slice colby jack cheese
2 slices pre-cooked bacon
1 package Wholly Guacamole 100 calorie pack


Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread, and place butter side down in a small skillet over medium heat. Fold cheese in half and put half on each piece of bread. Put turkey on one piece of cheese and bacon on the other. Cover for about five minutes or until bread is browned and cheese is melted. Spread one half package guacamole on the sandwich and put the sandwich together. Serve the remaining guacamole with tortilla chips.

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