Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Festivities










I went up to my mom's house on Christmas Eve. We decorated the little tree while she was at work-see, before and after! We all opened one (okay, two!) presents that night, and did the rest the next morning.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hot Spiced Cider


Most of the country is freezing this week, so take a break and ENJOY!

Ingredients:
2 qt. container of apple cider
3 cinnamon sticks
12 cloves (whole)
a couple tablespoons orangeade mix/"Tang"
1/2 qt. water
a handful of red hot candies
Optional: a splash of "adult beverage"-spiced rum or whatever suits your fancy!
I also sometimes splash in some cranberry juice

Directions: Throw it all in the crockpot or on the stove until it's hot and enjoy! (Put in the adult beverage after cooking, not before!) Be sure to strain out those cloves, too.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I Am A Horrible Blogger!

Why? You may ask. Because you haven't updated in over 3 weeks? No, that's not the worst of it! Because I spent Thanksgiving at my mom's with 10 other people and had a wonderful meal: 0 pictures. Hosted brunch for my brothers and a few friends the next morning: 0 pictures. Made my first quiche, which was not only tasty but quite pretty: 0 pictures!

Oh, well. There's always Christmas....

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Oh, was there an election?





I know, I know, you've been checking my blog expecting a post, and nothing. Well,

WOO-HOO!!!!

And, you know me, I had to be right in the middle of things to watch the results come in: (former Adams Mark) Sheraton hotel, downtown Denver, here I come!

And, what a night it was. Historic.I've never been so proud.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rally!

Disclaimer: I did not take the above picture, but found it online on Obama's website. HOLY COW!

Today, one of Obama's biggest rallies of the year, with an estimated 100,000 people, took place in Denver. Finally, he picked a day I didn't have to work, and I headed down to Civic Center Park with friends Chris and Rene. We got in line at 9am and would all through Denver, getting through security around 10:30. We listened to all of Colorado's political bigwigs (Gov. Bill Ritter, Sen. Ken Salazar, and Congressman (soon to be Senator) Mark Udall).

Did I mention that there were a LOT of people in Denver today?
The people behind us go all the way up the steps of the capital.


These are the people in front of us.Above is the guest of honor himself, see if you can enlarge and see him! Below, Chris, Chris, Rene, and Meghan. Can you BELIEVE we found our friends in this mob? No cell phones used or anything!There was a lot of waiting before Obama himself spoke, but it was worth it! The best part was that we got to hear his entire speech (including things like education and the environment, that don't make the evening 1 minute news). It was also awesome to be part of such a huge group. Seriously, 100,000 people? That is 2 full Coors Fields!! It made the whole thing feel like a movement. 9 days until election day....now GO VOTE!!!

Finally, some pictures of the whole crowd, which I did not take, due to not owning a helicopter.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Week in the Life of a Swing State

Hello from Colorado. You, oh relatives in Illinios, may have heard this term, "Swing State." Of course you know what it means-it is a state that could vote either Democrat or Republican. But what is it like to LIVE in one?

1. I haven't seen a non-political commercial in MONTHS.

2. Here was Colorado's schedule just this week:
MONDAY: Barack Obama was here (Westminster? Arvada? One of the two) to speak.
TUESDAY: Michelle Obama spoke at a college campus in Boulder.
THURSDAY: McCain speaks to a "Women Only" group in Denver.
FRIDAY: McCain will speak in Pueblo, CO.
SATURDAY: Sarah Palin will speak in some undisclosed, but Colorado, location.

Yep, we're just living the dream, here. Now, I have a debate to watch!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

So what's new? Not much.

I know, I need a new post. Seriously, though, not only does work keep me pretty darn busy, it also stops me from doing neat things worth posting about, like going to other countries. I haven't taken a picture in months. And now it has gone and gotten me sick! Therefore, the latest can be boiled down to bullets:
  • Okay, I'm very excited about the election. At last check this morning, Colorado was light blue instead of red or purple! But there are a lot of writers out there much better at writing about politics than I am, so for today, I'll leave 'em to it.
  • That horrible back pain I was suffering from (though don't believe I mentioned on my blog) for about a month following my birthday? Completely gone. Thank goodness!
  • Fencing is great, but I missed Monday due to this cold. Grrr. The jury's still out about going tonight. My instructor thinks I'm almost ready to start fencing in tournaments....hmmm.
  • Fall is finally coming in Denver...it's a little chillier at night and the leaves are pretty. Bittersweet, since I *really* don't like winter, but at least I won't have allergies any more once the snow starts falling!
  • New job = fantastic. Way less stress than classroom teacher, and less take-home work too...but best of all, I'm crazy about all these little ESL guys! They don't speak English so they don't talk back! ;) No, kidding aside, it's neat to see how fast they learn...although Toni gives me a weird look when I say, "Guess what! So-and-so raised his hand to comment on a book today!!!!" Small victories. Only downsides thus far: being in so many classrooms a day undoubtedly contributed to catching this cold, and parent-teacher conferences are going to be a nightmare...I'm double and triple booked most of the evening times!
  • I'm doing some research about going to Guatemala next summer. From what I can tell, it's beautiful, cheap, and a great place to work on Spanish (which, with the new job, seems ever more important to get a better handle on). Oh yeah, and they have active volcanoes. You know me and active volcanoes. :)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

WB2 News visits Denver Fencing Center (Golden)

On a local Denver news channel, there's a news guy whose sole job is to go around and find interesting, and sometimes obscure, places of interest. Friday morning found him at my fencing center! We all showed up at 6 a.m. for the excitement (unfortunately he does not have an evening gig at the station). Here are some pics from the morning...I only was able to stay for the first 2 bits out of 5 or 6 before I went to work.

Oddly, Chris Parente, aforementioned anchor, showed up wearing a white shirt and gray sweater vest, so he totally blends in with all the fencers.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

FINALLY a new post! Birthday!


My friend Julia and I long ago decided that you get a "birthday week"-because one day just isn't enough! Last weekend I had a wonderful "birthday weekend" up in Estes Park. Toni joined me and we spent Saturday wandering through shops and eating! (It was too rainy to get terribly ambitious) I was just beside myself to find a sock store (only socks! nothing else!!) and Toni was a good sport as I exclaimed repeatedly about how amazing this place was. "Look! Socks with crabs on them!!" We also watched the Olympics and I tried some creative drinks from the Estes Park Microbrewery-among them, blueberry wheat beer and apricot mead! (Admittedly weird, but fun)

On Sunday, the skies cleared, sort of, and we went for a walk in Rocky Mountain National Park at the Alluvial Fan. (Which is what all the rocks and debris are called after they flood out of a canyon, it turns out). During brunch it started raining again. By the time we got back to the Denver area, it had cleared up again and we squeezed in a bike ride. It was a lovely weekend, and great to relax before all the craziness of the first week of school started!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Whirlwind Week(s)

(This picture is the roof (ceiling?) inside the tea house. It was beautiful!)
If I had a bit more time, I could probably do at least 5 posts from the last week! I don't have the time. Here's the rundown!

  • Last weekend, Toni and I headed up to Sterling for the Logan County Fair. This entailed a parade (while the whole family ran amok with water guns!), a Karg-style feast, and then, of course, the actual fair. Wow, it was so small-town fair-ish! I don't think a thing there has changed in at least 50 years!
  • Monday I got together with friends Chris and Rene, and we went on Rene's first hike since her knee surgery at Mt. Galbraith. Getting home, Chris and I fixed my hot water heater, with some phone tech support from Toni! Then I went to fencing and realized my legs were *really* tired. That night, went up to my mom's to check in on things, and Chris and Rene joined me there too...they had just gotten back from 8 days in Mexico so I guess we missed each other. Perseod Meteor Showers viewed from the hot tub were very cool.
  • The next morning (Tuesday) we made a massive breakfast (my first pancakes without some sort of Bisquick mix!), then went down to Boulder Reservoir for an afternoon in the sun. Then, to the Boulder Tea House for dinner. What a cool place! (I almost went down to the car to get my camera, but my legs are TOAST....soon.) That night I visited Toni at his pool tournament.
  • Wednesday. I had to go to work. WORK?!? What is this?!??? Harrumph. Lots of boxes to unpack in my new little office area, which I'm sharing with the GT teacher. I'm getting excited about my new position and new principal. But still. I had to go to work. Today-more work. Lots of meetings. This is tiring me out. Last night I did manage fencing for 2 hours, but couldn't handle poker afterwards! I'm pooped! (I fell asleep after getting home today and woke up around 6:30, and had to figure out if I needed to get up and get ready for school!).
I do not anticipate doing any posting until next week...we're going out of town (Estes Park) for my birthday this weekend! Of course, this plan was made when it was 100 degrees in Denver and the mountains were nice and cool. Tomorrow's forecast? Let's just say it may go on record as "Coldest Birthday Ever!!"
Cloudy with scattered rain showers in the morning, and more widespread rain in the afternoon and evening. Snow will fall in the Front Range Mountains at and above the 10,500 foot level. There may be some snow in foothills communities like Evergreen and Estes Park but it will melt as it falls. Morning lows around Denver will be in the lower 50s, afternoon highs will be in the lower 60s. (9news)

Yipes! Time to bust out the cold-weather gear! I think our room has a fireplace. :)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Tasty!

Maybe it's the end of our record-breaking 90's streak, but today I was in the mood for 1. a bike ride and 2. a stir fry-two things I rarely do! They were both successful endeavors! Seriously, I think I've had a wok for years (some sort of hand-me-down) and I've never used it! I even had something called "Wok Oil"-who knew?? I found a recipe online that I modified (because I was too lazy to go to the grocery store) and wallah! Dinner!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Oye!

This was written by my friend, John Blanco. Link to your right. Too funny to keep to myself.



John McCain Definitely Senile

posted by John Blanco @ 9:45 AM

John McCain has had a lot of problems with "misremembering" during this campaign season. Many times, he's insisted he didn't say things that he did say. But, this one takes the cake:

On Friday, McCain attacked Obama's record on the environment during a campaign stop in the Florida Everglades.

"Sen. Obama has no record of being involved in this issue that I know of," he said. "I will stick by my record and my commitment of many years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
McCain seems to have forgotten the *cough* The Obama-McCain Climate Change Reduction Bill.

Dear God.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Quiet week

Devoted Readers,
I guess the rest of my summer has been so exciting, I just haven't had much to blog about since getting home. No new pictures. But boy my house is clean! I did have a poker night/party last weekend. Otherwise, I've just been taking it easy, other than a couple classes last week. Reading books, hanging out with Toni, and trying not to think about the inevitable return to school! As local readers will know, it has been HOT HOT HOT here lately, so unfortunately, I've been staying inside a lot too (when what I really should do is go to the mountains and get in a few hikes!). Rockies are out of town. I took July off from fencing, but will return tomorrow. Hopefully I'll have a bit more to report on next time-but for now, chilling out is good, too!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Just the Facts



This ad has been getting a lot of air time here lately....Here are some facts.
  • According to-oh-John McCain- "Our dangerous dependence on foreign oil has been thirty years in the making, and was caused by the failure of politicians in Washington to think long term about the future of the country. By 2030, America's demand for energy will rise by nearly 20 percent. Our jobs, our way of life, and our security depend on the next president beginning to solve this challenge." (Source: John McCain campaign Web site.) No. Obama didn't create high gas prices.
  • We are already drilling for oil in Alaska-1 million barrels a day. Just not in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In fact, 95% of Alaska's North Slope is open for drilling (Source: San Francisco Chronicle).
  • The ANWR was set aside in 1960 by the Eisenhower administration and was described as "one of the world's great wildlife areas. The great diversity of vegetation and topography in this compact area, together with its relatively undisturbed condition, led to its selection as ... one of our remaining wildlife and wilderness frontiers" (Source: ANWR website).
  • Drilling in the refuge would have a minimal impact on gas prices. According to Energy Information Association, "if Congress gave the go-ahead to pump oil from Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the crude could begin flowing by 2013 and reach a peak of 876,000 barrels a day by 2025...James Kendell, one of the authors of the study, said the refuge would add to domestic production, but “when you’re talking of a world oil market of over 75 million barrels a day, adding 900,000 barrels by 2025 is a drop in the bucket.”
  • 2013? 2025? For these savings: "But the U.S. Energy Information Administration, an independent statistical agency within the Department of Energy, concluded that new oil from ANWR would lower the world price of oil by no more than $1.44 per barrel—and possibly have as little effect as 41 cents per barrel—and would have its largest impact nearly 20 years from now if Congress voted to open the refuge today...EIA said its projection is that ANWR oil production would amount to 0.4 percent to 1.2 percent of total world oil consumption in 2030." (Source)
Other resources:
~James's website, a good source for starting research.
~Ways to increase fuel efficiency
~Obama's energy plan

Victoria, BC, to home






The original plan was this: get up early and take an early ferry over to Vancouver Island, drive around, see the sights, and possibly take a late ferry back to the Seattle area.

Ahh, the best laid plans. After first leaving my cell phone in the Vancouver hostel, necessitating a 15 mile trip back to get it, and then discovering a flat tire, which turned into buying 4 new tires (I really needed them anyway)...I was considerably delayed! So, while waiting for the ferry, I called a hostel in Victoria. They had beds available, so the plan was made to stay there.

When my ferry arrived, I detoured to see a small winery, where I ended up buying a bottle of rhubarb wine-because where else will I find that?! Then I checked into my hostel and walked around Victoria, stopping in Chinatown for a tasty meal. But, after my "Tired" post, I napped from about 7 to 10 before getting up to read, check email, and go back to sleep.

The next morning was another one of plans not working out! I woke up early (5 or 6), packed up again, which was pretty easy because I never really unpacked, and set aside some time to drive around outside Victoria and see the coast. The 9:30 ferry left for Port Angeles, west of Seattle and right near Olympic National Park-perfect! The guy at the hostel advised getting there at 8:30. After a scenic drive and walk, and breakfast, I was at the ferry terminal by 8:15.

By 10:00 the ferry still hadn't arrived.

At 10:30 I got the okay from the U.S. customs lady, and the ferry finally arrived.

At about 10:50 I found out that it was full, and another one wasn't scheduled to come until 3:30. Now what? I got my refund and drove to the terminal that goes to Vancouver, which leaves every hour. After waiting in line a bit longer, boarded that. I talked to a really nice woman from Nova Scotia, she was all about talking U.S. politics-all the Canadians love Obama! They're also very politically aware, since our elections impact them so much.

After that, it was all driving. The flaw in this plan was that I hit Seattle (after a long line at customs) right at rush hour!

At this point, I considered my options. I originally wanted to visit the coast and take my time getting back home. However, at this point, I was tired, my bank account was hurting (4 new tires and $6.80 a gallon gas will do that-yes, that's how much $1.50 a liter adds up to), and I didn't want to sleep in a bunk bed or tent! I was also feeling a little overloaded, and like going somewhere new was starting to be a chore-and that's no way to travel! Long story short, I decided it was time to go home. Thus started the marathon drive!

That night I drove through all of Washington and most of Oregon, stopping for a snooze at an Oregon rest area. The next morning, I drove through the rest of Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, and finally home! It was a loooong day of driving! Now, I am home, sweet, home, enjoying the luxuries of my own bed and bathroom, washing machine, coffee pot....ahhhhh!

Despite being tired toward the end, it was a wonderful trip, and I thoroughly enjoyed all that Canada has to offer-what a beautiful country, what kind citizens!

Here are some totals:
Miles driven: 3,960
States visited, US: 7
New states for me:1
Provinces visited, Canada: 2
National Parks: 1 in U.S., 2 in Canada

Off on the Ferry!




After Vancouver, my car and I got on a ferry and headed toward Vancouver Island, and the city of Victoria.

More Canadian Rockies Pictures





Remember that quirky problem I was having with the vertical pictures? Well, it's been resolved, so here are some more pictures from the Canadian Rockies!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Camping, wet camping







In Jasper Park, Alberta (which borders on Banff NP), I may have mentioned some certain rain. Here are a few pics from that evening and morning.

Camping in the rain necessities: wine and fire starter....in that order. ;)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tired.

Okay, I still want to see Seattle and Crater Lake...but I think it's about time to go home! I'm tired! Driving, a flat tire today, living out of a suitcase or tent, more driving, getting lost, feeling guilty if I am "not seeing/doing enough"....can you tell I'm exhausted?!

Despite my flat tire and leaving my cell phone at the hostel in Vancouver (which I remembered 15 miles out), I did eventually make it to Victoria, Vancouver Island. Took a giant ferry over here with my car. It's beautiful and all...but is 6:30 p.m. too early to go to bed? =)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Nicest People

Vancouver has the nicest people I have ever met.

That's a pretty strong statement, and I've been known to do a little traveling! Here's my evidence:
1. They do not try to run you down when you cross the street. You could jump in front of a moving car here and they'd apologize for not stopping soon enough (not that I've tried). Honestly, though, you can stand on the side alk and look at the street, as though you're thinking you might like to cross it sometime, and people will stop.
2. Monica and I were taking photos of each other at Stanley Park and a woman said, "let me take one of you together. I bet you've got loads of pictures of each other, but not many of you both!
3. We were consulting our map, making sure we were walking the right direction to return the bike and roller blades, and a man stopped and asked us if he could help offer directions.

Usually you have to flag people down to get them to take a picture or directions, and here they are just dying to help! Wow!

Vancouver's Stanley Park




This morning, much to my delight, my "dorm mate" Monica, who's from Columbia, asked if I'd like to go to Stanley Park with her! Since that was on my "to do" list, I immediately agreed, glad to have someone to hang out with. We took a bus down and then she had the brilliant idea of renting bikes (a bike for me, rollerblades for her) to explore the park, so we did that.

Vancouver is very proud of it's park-boasting that it's the size of Central Park, but with more attractions and the ocean. We agreed that it is a pretty nice place. And I'm really glad we rented wheels, because it was an 11km loop! Around the edge, there are ponds, boatyards, totem poles, an aquariam, a kids water park, and a big swimming pool-it is quite the place! On top of that it was a beautiful day and perfect weather, and it was so nice to get some exercise after so much time spent sitting in a car.

Unfortunately, Monica had to leave for a job she's starting with YMCA, but we had a great morning exploring Vancouver!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lakes, Lakes, and More Lakes




(Catch-up post)

On Sunday (oh, that's why it was so crowded) I took the scenic Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper--known as one of the most scenic drives in the world, according to my travel book.

I took a side trip to Moraine Lake, which was stunning. More of that wild emerald green water, with the stunning Rockies as a backdrop.

Goofy side note: still using the hostel's computers, and for some reason after I save my pictures onto my USB drive, I can't rotate them. So about 2/3 of my pictures would be sideways, and I've only used the "right side up" ones....maybe when I get home I can get some of these suckers rotated and uploaded, because there are some good ones! :)

Top two: Moraine Lake. Bottom: Lake Louise