Sunday, May 13, 2012

Colorado Craft Beer Week

Matt and I decided to join some of our favorite local breweries yesterday at a craft beer festival to help kick off Colorado Craft Beer Week. It's no secret that craft beer is a huge part of the Colorado economy. Everybody just does it so well out here. It was nice to go to a smaller festival than the Great American Beer Festival where there are too many breweries to even get to every booth. Yesterday's festival felt more like a back yard barbecue. I even got to meet the hosts of the Craft Beer Radio show on AM760. There is a picture of me with Turk and the "Gubna" below.
In addition to some good beer sampling, our tickets also included a meal of either beer can chicken roasted for hours on the grill (my choice) or a spicy brat (Matt's choice). The chicken was amazing. I even let Matt try some. :)
I also had some fun and took some pictures at the light rail. (We were responsible and walked/rode the train to and from the event.) What a fun day! Even better was coming home to a mailbox which contained a letter of acceptance to Northeastern University. I should be finished with my Master's in a year or so now that I finally found the right program. Third time's a charm! :)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Millards meet Mallards

We've had some neighborhood visitors recently. This Mallard duck couple has made our yard its home for about a week now. They showed up right before our camping trip and have been around ever since! We can't find a nest but they seem to like prefer our yard, none the less. Maybe it has something to do with the name?
My hope is that they really do have a nest nearby and one day I will wake up to little ducklings wandering around our yard!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sand Dunes Camping

If you are reading this for the second time, you will notice that I have re-written this post. It seems even my Apple technology is not foolproof. I tried to create a new blog post on my iPad and instead I inadvertantly typed over this original post. Argh. But I want to remember this camping trip, so here I am typing it all out again.
As indicated in the title of this post, Matt and I decided that a camping trip in Sand Dunes National Park would be a great way to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary. Matt has never been and I have been eager to get back there ever since a trip I took with the KU Geography Field Campers in 2006. So last Thursday, we packed up our camping gear and our dogs and headed out to the Dunes.
We arrived at the park's campsite around 1:30 pm which was great timing. We had our pick of campsites but the entire thing was full within a few hours. Our site was great...not too close to any others and offered plenty of shade over our tent all day long. We set up our brand new tent right away. It is so nice to finally have a tent we can stand up in! After that, I had just enough time to go get some firewood and ice for the cooler before the visitor's center closed.
One crazy thing about the sand dunes is that it is windy all day long. It made cooking very difficult. We had kabobs and diced potatoes for dinner, but it took forever before this simple meal to be fully cooked. Thursday night was pretty sleepless. The moon was super bright and our air mattress was leaky, so it deflated as the night went on. Add to that the fact that the boy scouts in a nearby campsite got up at dawn and started making a ruckus.
Things got better on Friday. We successfully cooked breakfast (eggs, bacon and toast) and then set out on a 6.5 mile out-and-back hike over Mosca Pass. The hike was beautiful and we only encountered one other group of hikers so it was also nice and quiet. I was starting to wonder when we would get to the top of the pass, but we made it and had a nice picnic lunch. It took some major encouragement to get the dogs back down the mountain. They were so tired when we got back to the car that Perdi fell asleep immediately and was out for the rest of the afternoon. Apparently she needs more 6.5 mile hikes because she still keeps us on our toes most of the time.
After the hike, Matt drove in to Alamosa to get us a new air mattress (I know, talk about "roughing" it!) and he came back with hot dogs and potato salad as well. Made for a way easier supper and a better night of sleep.
Saturday we again woke up at dawn, but this time on purpose. We needed to get an early start on our dune hike before the sun got too hot for the dogs to walk on. Our early morning paid off, as we were the first hikers up to High Dune. I got a little height sick up there, so we didn't make it to the absolute top. I believe that having the dogs with me on hikes like that makes me become afraid of heights. I guess that I am scared that something will happen to them, although what could possibly happen on a massive pile of sand?
Anyhow, I managed to forget my camera on that morning hike, but we did to another mini hike in the afternoon, which are when we snapped the sand pictures below. Between the first and second dune hikes, we did a lot of reading and relaxing. I decided to get some sun on my legs while I read so I sat outside in a camping chair. I got completely engrossed in my book (hello, second Hunger Games is amazing!!) and when I looked down, my legs were already getting red. I headed straight inside the tent, but an hour later I was as red as a lobster.
Sunday, we pretty much headed out right after we woke up. My legs were uncomfortable and we both were craving some Starbucks. But it was nice to have the rest of the day to unpack and relax around the house before heading back to work Monday.
Overall, the trip was awesome despite the minor hiccups i mentioned. Sand Dunes National Park is way better than Rocky Mountain when it comes to dogs. I had a straight up conversation with a park ranger when we arrived just so that I knew where the dogs were allowed. He was pretty much okay with anything as long as they were leashed and we picked up after them. When we took the dogs to Rocky Mountain National Park a couple years ago, we couldnt even get out of the car with them, even on leash.
The campsite was really nice, albeit a little loud. There were lots of families and boy scouts as I mentioned before. However, this did provide us with some amount of humor. One mom was yelling at her kids so loud and so often that we learned all four of the first and middle names. The dad from the same family yelled at his daughter one night because she wanted to go in the tent but he thought she was "too stinky" to go in. That got a good chuckle out of Matt and I. Hopefully that will be us someday. :)
The pictures below are just a sample of the ones we took. If you double click on one, a slideshow will pop up and you will be able to see the landscape oriented ones better because they are still not displaying properly. Enjoy!