Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Years at Keystone

I'm slowly but surely catching up on blogs. I know I skipped a pretty major post; Christmas! Can you believe we didn't take a single picture? I seem to get my blogging inspiration from pictures, so I'm still trying to decide what to do about that one.
Anyhow, to celebrate the turn of the decade, Matt and I decided to head up to the mountains for some skiing, relaxing, and some COLD weather!

The worst part of skiing in my opinion, is riding the lift. It's so cold in the wind.

I spent a lot of time in the lodge. The snow conditions weren't great. It was pretty icy in some spots. I don't like ice...I can't control myself very well when it's like that and I just get really tired! Also, there were TONS of kids on my favorite run. They were stopped all over the slopes and it's hard for me to get going fast when I'm scared of running over one of them!

Cheers to a new year!

We look kind of dorky in our goggles, but it's so pretty on top of the mountain. Unfortunately, my goggles met their demise when we got home. Perdi found them on the couch and pulled all of the foam padding off from the edges! She is such a frustrating dog sometimes!

I will never get tired of this view!

After skiing, we went to our hotel, hopped in the hot tub for a little while and then showered and went out to a movie. We saw The Blindside, which was very good! I don't know...i didn't cry like I thought I would! All of the actors did a great job. Especially Sandra Bullock!
After the movie, we walked back to the resort and rang in the new year at the Kickapoo tavern, which is where we usually go after a day of skiing to unwind. It was really crowded, but lots of fun still. I was so tired though, so we left shortly after midnight and went to bed. We spent a few more hours on the first on the slopes before heading back to Denver.
I've been reading lots of "New Years Resolution" blogs. I thought about making one too, but I'm like most other people and am not very good at keeping new years resolutions. I've continued my running routine pretty consistently since April, so I don't want to jinx it with a resolution! :) I guess my other resolve is to put in as many hours at work as I possibly can to get our big project done by Apr. 1. It's going to take a huge effort, but I'm up for the challenge! Hey, it's only Wednesday and I've already banked 41 hours. (Granted, I worked the weekend so I could take Friday off for our return to KC.) Still, I am glad to have this goal in front of me and the extra income will be nice as we set our sights on buying a house.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Handy Men

2010 has started off a bit rough as far as the functionality of our house is concerned. A few weeks ago, the kitchen sink disposal quit working. Thinking that we had accidentally broken the on/off switch somehow, Matt decided to replace it this weekend. What an ordeal that was! After a couple trips to home depot to get the right switch, and finally locating our breaker box (which is on the outside of our house?!?), we were ready to get to work. We discovered that our breaker box is not properly labeled when Matt got his first taste of electric shock while unscrewing the old switch. So we turned off almost every circuit in the house just to be safe! Unfortunately, after all was said and done, the disposal still doesn't work.
In the same day, we found out that our hot water heater went out! The first two showers of my new year were icy cold. Let me tell you, there are not many things on this earth that I despise more than cold showers. After some investigating in the basement, we found out that our water heater was leaking water. We decided to call the emergency maintenance number "just in case the leak got worse." (Hello: After two cold showers, I would consider just about anything an emergency to get my hot water back! :) )
The maintenance man came Sunday morning and finished fixing the heater just in time for us to head off to the Chiefs-Broncos game. (more about that later) I honestly didn't intend to blog about our household woes today, but it provides a perfect transition to another "Rewind" blog: Matt's dad's visit back in early December.
Having a little spare time after his recent retirement, Matt's dad came out to visit us for a few days. He and Matt spent a lot of time doing "handy" things around the house like repairing electrical cords that Perdi severed off during her puppyhood (including my favorite lamp, which I am thrilled to have working again!) and building a little TV stand for our bedroom so that we could see our TV over our huge tall bed. It was so nice to have all of those little things taken care of so that I wouldn't have to think about them anymore!
Perhaps the thing that I personally am most thankful for, is the help and research Bill provided in getting new tires for the Civic. We got some great new tires for a super price. Even the service people at Sears were impressed at the deal we got! And it was perfect timing too...we got a pretty big snow storm the following week and the Civic drove like a whole different car! I felt so safe, and I wasn't the slowest person on the road for once! :)
Well, we didn't make him work the WHOLE time! On Saturday, we went up to Fort Collins to do some brewery touring. The first place we hit up was the Anheuser-Busch brewery. I thought this operation only existed in St. Louis, but I was wrong! It was quite a fascinating facility.

It was a great day for a tour, even if it was a little chilly.

This sign records the total number of bottles and cans brewed by Budweiser to date. Pretty impressive!

The barrells of beer seemed endless! Down in the lager cellar, we learned about that addition of beechwood bark is what gives Budweiser its distinctive taste. We even got to take a piece of the bark as a souvenier! Perdi enjoyed destroying mine when we got home, which is primarily what took it for in the first place.
We were fortunate that on the day of our visit, we could go visit the Clydesdales in the stables and even get pictures with them. They are a lot bigger than I imagined, and very beautiful creatures.

The stables were very clean and I was glad to see that the horses were taken care of well. Of course, when the stable is part of the tour, I wouldn't expect to see the horses living in squalor...

We all got a picture with Wheeler, one of the "retired" Clydesdales. He still gets to pose for pictures, but he doesn't have to pull the Budweiser carriage anymore.

Wheeler's feet were almost as large as this little girl standing next to him!

Enjoying the view outside the Bud brewery...
Next, we headed over to the O'Dell Brewery, which was quite a bit smaller. I suppose it's considered to be a microbrewery, although they distribute to quite a few states.

We started off with a sampler of a few of their beers. (I don't like the dark ones, but the rest are really good!)

Stacks and stacks of BEER!

The O'Dell tour was pretty informal...our tour guide had a beer in his hand the whole time and was really low key and invited questions at any time. I liked this tour better than the Budweiser tour, where a hired college-age gal didn't really have much enthusiasm for her job. The O'Dell guy was enthusiastic and engaging and entertaining.

Matt and Bill posed outside the O'Dell brewery. Awww.... :)
I couldn't end this post without a couple pictures of our pups. We must have done something to wear them out...these kinds of moments are pretty rare!

The beagles enjoyed some quality snuggle time on the couch...

They were sad to see him go!
I think we got Bill to the airport just in time. That snow storm I mentioned earlier was heading in, and it delayed his flight a little, but he got back to KC before the worst of it hit. It was great to have such a handy guy come visit...we had a fun and productive weekend all in one!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Rewind to Thanksgiving

It is time for me to begin playing catch-up on all the time that has passed since my last blog. The past month or so has been pretty bleak and hard. I guess I should further specify that time frame as right after Thanksgiving to right before our trip back to Kansas for Christmas. Life has thrown me a couple curveballs that I never knew would be so hard to deal with. I didn't really feel like "myself," and certainly didn't want to pass along any negativeness to you all. I didn't want to blog about happy things during a time where I found so little to be happy about. Even though there were many bright spots that are most certainly deserving of a good blog.
I feel a lot better now. Maybe it's because my class is over and it got really crazy at the end, or because the stress of the holidays and travelling is behind us. Or maybe it's because things are a lot different now with my family and I am beginning to accept that; well most of it anyway. I am able to look back now and be thankful for the good things in my life. My husband was been amazingly supportive. There were a few nights where I couldn't stand to be around I don't know how he did it! Also, forming new friendships and relying on old ones really held me up. It's great to have people around me who remind me that I'm not crazy for feeling the way I do sometimes.
Anyway, enough about all of that. I am being too vague and too specific at the same time. But just know that if I have seemed distant or unavailable lately, it's not because I don't value our relationship, it's just because I haven't been particularly enjoyable company for a while! :)
What I really intended with this post was to recap our wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. I know, I know. I've been reading all of your blogs about Christmas and New Years. I'll get there too, but for now I'm rewinding a little...

I am lucky to have an awesome family who comes to my rescue on holidays when Matt has to work and my clingy self doesn't think she can handle a holiday "alone." I must also add that I am so appreciative that Matt is OK with me embarking on adventures with my family, even though it means I'm not there when he gets home from work for a couple of days.
Anyway, my dad and brother joined us in Colorado the day before Thanksgiving. They got here Wednesday evening and Brennan proceeded to trick me by calling my phone claiming that they were lost and in need of directions (from a street I had not even heard of), when in fact he was standing on the front porch!
We had a nice Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday before Matt had to leave for work. I got pretty much everying cooked myself (besides the Turkey, which I ordered from Honey Baked), except the pumpkin pie and fresh veggies, which Brennan helped with. After the dishes were clean and the food was put up (and Matt was at work) we hopped on the light rail for a walk through Confluence Park downtown. Brennan and I had been there during the summer and were captivated by a live jazz festival as well as watching people and dogs alike wading in the river. Well needless to say, not much of that was happening in November and the park wasn't quite as charming as before. We did see a fox running toward us, which was really cool. You don't see many of those downtown...
Friday morning, we left Denver for a couple of days of mountain relaxation up near Estes Park. But first, we stopped in Fort Collins to see some family friends and the rennovations they are doing on their house. We had a nice lunch after looking over the house, and then headed up to our cabin.

The cabin is properly named "Solitude." There were a few other places nearby, but at this time of year, it was pretty quiet. My favorite part was the view of Long's Peak from the kitchen window. (Long's Peak is a 14'er, and it's next on my list of 14'ers to hike.) Below is a picture of the view that i loved. You can barely see the peak with all of the clouds!

To finish off Friday evening, we watched the movie "Knowing," which would have been a great semi-scary movie to watch up in a secluded cabin, if the TV hadn't been so small! You couldn't really get the real picture of what was happening. Fortunately for me, I had already seen in on our nice new 50" HDTV so I knew what was going on. :) Otherwise, I probably would have lost interest pretty fast.

Saturday, we ate a big breakfast in Estes Park at a little diner. It was fantastic food... I really do enjoy both breakfast and diner food when I let myself indulge so the combination was perfect. Plus, they had hazelnut coffee which is my absolute favorite. We were so stuffed after that and we felt like a little hike would do us well. We found a trail on the way back to the cabin which wasn't too strenuous, but it had some pretty views. Above, my dad and brother pose along the trail.

On the hike, we came across a beautiful buck. It didn't seem to mind us too much. It walked right up and across the trail behind us.

At one part of the trail when Brennan and I scrambled up some rocks, we could look right down to the highway! It creeped me out a little, so I didn't get too close to the edge. But I had to get a picture!

We continued spending the day driving around the countryside. We stopped to photograph this beautiful church with Longs Peak in the background. How awesome would it be to get married here! Or even just go to church every sunday in a place like this, with the beauty of nature all around you?

Another place we drove was to the town of Raymond, where my dad used to vacation as a kid. We were trying to find the place where they stayed, and also find some batteries for his camera when we stumbled across the "Raymond Store" where we were successful in getting some batteries. This store was run by a rather interesting man, who obviously loves the area he lives in. It was also evident that not many customers stop in at his store because he proceeded to tell us EVERYTHING under the sun about the Estes Park/Allenspark area and all of the trails, mountains and history of the area. It was nice to chat with him, but it definitely took some effort to get out of the store. :)
I enjoyed driving along Raymond Road. You would never know the town existed if you didn't drive it. The town is in a little crevace or canyon (that's the best way I can describe it) tucked between a mountain and the highway above. I love little hidden forgotten places like that!

More on our accomodations really quick. I have always wanted to stay in one of these A Frame style buildings. The light was amazing and the view out of the window was even better! I loved waking up in the mornings to see pine forest and mountains all around.

The inside of the building was cool too. The high ceilings were awesome. My dad's bedroom was up in that lofted area.

Another view of the outside...

It was sad to leave on Sunday morning, but Dad and Brennan needed to head back to Kansas and I was eager to get back to Matt and the dogs. I cooked a small breakfast of eggs and sausage before we left. I also took this picture of Brennan lurking around the cabin. :)

I am so glad we got to spend such a fun weekend up in the mountains. It's times like these that will be remembered for a long time to come!