Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Quick Retreat Home

I've been planning this for some time, but the timing couldn't have been better. And I couldn't have held out any longer.

I've been busting my butt for months now, since the book came out, working on a gazillion different things, trying to keep up with everything and I finally got to the point where I needed a break. January, February and March were nonstop, the only days I really took off were the beer tour in February and my birthday- last two blogposts.

I scheduled this a while ago, knowing I would need it, hoping to catch the mountains at a time with good weather and few people- in between ski season and summer, also known as mud season here.  I like to come up to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs because I always have come here for peace and quiet- since the days when I lived just on the other side of the pass in Gunnison and Crested Butte.

Back then Mt. Princeton was a run-down, barely held together 1860s bathhouse with a couple of hot springs pools and some spots along the creek where you could sit in the springs bubbling up from the creekbed unless it was the high water spring runoff season. The place smelled like mildew and rotting wood, and walking on the wood floors you wondered if you were going to punch a hole through the floorboards.
Along the back road from town to Mt. Princeton is an old schoolhouse that marks a road I used to run often when I lived on this side. It goes up a hill to some towers but gives a spectacular view of the Arkansas River valley. It descends a steep hill next to the chalk cliffs and into the hot springs area along Chalk Creek.
It's been long since renovated and improved, now it's a real resort with about half a dozen well-maintained pools and the creekside area remains, but it's been reinforced and the building no longer looks like it's about to crumble. And they've added a spa, and the lodge and rooms on the hill have been updated and at least a dozen cabins built on the property.

It's between Mt. Princeton and Mt. Antero. Ponderosa pines, aspen, and pinon pine dot the hillsides. The 14,000 foot peaks of Antero and Princeton are overhead.

I call it home because it is. We have property up on Trout Creek Pass about 15 miles northeast of Buena Vista. And it's just the other side of Cottonwood and Monarch Passes from Gunnison and Crested Butte. South of Leadville where I spent every summer in the 1990s. The other side of Poncha Pass from the San Luis Valley and Alamosa, where Dennis lived and trained for a year under Coach Vigil. This is all home. Back in the 90s when I was teaching at Western, I used to come over the hill once a week to soak in the hot springs, it was my sanctuary then and I guess it always will be.

The wind comes down the canyon and the breeze makes that mesmerizing sound- the one I can't ever get enough of- as it whooshes through the pine needles- that's probably the biggest sensory draw for me. I love that sound. I think between that and the sound of ocean waves crashing on the beach- those two sounds are my favorite and I could fall asleep to either one.

I made the reservation for a room way up on the hill, and they gave me the best room on the property- the westernmost room with the best view, and I scheduled a couple of massages at the spa, and planned to relax, soak, do some writing for me, and generally veg out.

I did all of the above except the writing. It felt so good to do nothing.

Last week sucked, we lost someone from the running community, Kirsten. As much as I hate cancer cliches, I'll say it anyway, cancer sucks. She was too young (45) and had too much left to do, like raising her twin pre-adolescent girls. It totally completely sucks. Her memorial service and funeral were over the weekend and Monday. I went to the service/mass at the church on Monday, many of us from the running community were there. It was really hard. Really. I'm not going into any more details but it just really, totally, completely sucked.

So this little retreat I had planned couldn't have come at a better time.

Our neighbor across the street retired recently and he kept an eye on the girls (Velcro & Gypsy) while Dennis was at work. I drove up Tuesday morning and took my time, got there around 1, checked into the room, and went down to the pool until my massage appointment. It was warm and spring-like, warmer and springier- if that's a word- than I can ever remember it being in April. I soaked up the sun for an hour and then had my massage, which was perfectly relaxing.

I went back out to the poolside after, then walked back up the hill to my room. I went into town to get some Mexican food-take out- and went back to the room and just relaxed.

When I woke up- early- I made coffee and watched the sun rise- what I could see. It was cloudy and the sunrise wasn't colorful like it often is- casting pink hues on the mountains. This time it was subdued. I sat out on the patio overlooking the mountains and it wasn't even cold. I went back in the make another cup of coffee and when I came back to the sliding glass door, someone was watching me.

With about 10 friends.

I normally would run up the big hill toward Mt. Princeton and see how far I could take the trail before it was packed with snow, but I didn't feel like it. I just wanted to relax. So I went down to the pool and got in the water, soaking in the hottest pools first and ending up in the big pool. The sky got cloudy and the wind picked up, so I decided to go up to the lodge and have breakfast and see what happened.

After I ate, the sun came back out. It was windy, but not cold. Getting out of the pool I was only cold until the wind dried my wet swimsuit and then it was perfect.

There were other people around but it wasn't crowded at all. I was able to clear my mind and not think much, I took some pictures but if I wasn't in the pool, I was on the chair closing my eyes and soaking up rays. I decided that I was sick of DOING and I wanted to just BE. And I think in life in general I need to BE a lot more and DO less. So if I got nothing else from this trip, that was my revelation from the universe.

I stayed out there all afternoon until about 3:30 when I decided to head home, timing things so I could avoid the worst of rush hour traffic in Denver. It was not too bad of a drive.

And now I'm home in Fort Collins and it's late and I'm with my girls and Dennis is asleep upstairs, and things are good. And I can breathe again.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Tacos in the Wind: Birthday Urban Adventure Run

March 10th is my birthday, and it happened to fall on a Saturday this year. I was able to round up a few diehards to run with me for tacos. The plan was, 54 kilometers for my 54th birthday, with at least one taco stop. Again, the distance was perfect. It is about 17 miles from my house to the southernmost point on the course, a little dive of a restaurant called Rancho Taqueria Alegre. I'd never been there before, but when I was mapping the course, it was conveniently located.
Cathy, Jen, Alicia and I started at Torchy's Tacos after I ran there from my house. Jen and Cathy were doing shorter runs so each turned around early, and Alicia continued on with me into Loveland. We took the new connecting trail between Fort Collins and Loveland that drops you off at Boyd Lake, avoiding almost all traffic. I love the new bike paths that are being built- it makes running so much easier without having to deal with cars. Felix met Alicia and I just south of Boyd Lake and we continued on the bike path until it dropped us at a spot half a mile north of the restuarant.
I had a taco and refried beans, Alicia was eating shot blocks and skipped the tacos...
and Felix had a burrito.
It was perfect fuel for the trip home.
Sasquatch (aka Dale Perry, aka Richard Cranium) met us south of Boyd Lake and Felix and Alicia peeled off there. The wind was starting to pick up, and it wasn't because Sasquatch joined us or because of eating the taco and beans.
This was pure, Colorado, out of the north, unadulterated wind. The kind that blows the breath out of your mouth and the sand in your eyes.

Sasquatch and I continued north toward Fort Collins and the wind was blowing the dirt across the trail, leaving dunes in our path.

As we approached the lower Power Trail, Sasquatch turned around to head back to Loveland, and I continued north.

The wind was getting stronger. I was making slow progress and I wanted to make sure I got done in time to shower and meet everyone at the Rio for margaritas and more tacos by 4 pm.When I hit 30 miles I realized I wasn't going to make it home in time, so I called Dennis and he picked me up. Thirty miles was enough, and I banked a few extra miles last year on the donut run, so I used those to credit myself.
I wanted a taco.

What I'd been waiting for all day!
Last taco of the day.
The best part was having Dennis and everybody join us at the Rio. Plenty of margaritas and food and fun.

Dennis took the picture, but clockwise from lower left: me, Felix, Amber, Serena, Colin, Steve, Leslie, and Jen.

And what would a birthday be without dessert? Coconut flan. Great way to wrap up a perfect day of running, wind, tacos, friends, and celebration. Now I have to start planning for next year.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Human Powered Brewery Tour 2018: Metal

The eleventh annual Human Powered Brewery Tour was a "Goes to Eleven" success. It was held February 17, 2018, which is when I originally wrote this post, but I didn't get around to adding the pictures until today.

My pogo stick is always part of my Human Powered Tour costume, regardless of the theme. This year it became my guitar. I made my guitar from cardboard, wire, some metal brackets, and lots of super glue and duct tape. I tried using velcro to attach it to the pogo stick but it didn't work, so I used more duct tape. It held up extremely well- still intact by the end of the day with minimal re-taping. The girls watched me with curiosity.

The event is a fundraiser for ALS. Celeste O'Connor is the founder of the event, along with her husband Scott Slusher.
Celeste has lost two of her family members to ALS, her cousins Bob and Annie, and they are the reason why she started the Tour 11 years ago.

That morning I knew I needed to get a run in because the Tour is not very long and it's hard to run in a costume, carrying a 20+ pound pogo stick, along with drinking beer. I went out and actually ran hill repeats on the Power Trail- just a few short ones, but it was a real workout.

I drank more than I wanted to. I had a taster of Raspberry Lime Tartastic at New Belgium, then drank about half of my pint of Blonde Ale plus a small taster of Chocolate Cherry Stout at Snowbank, then a 12 oz glass of Levity at Odell. And by then we were starving so Cat's husband Dave bought us all fish & chips from the food truck. I am not used to eating stuff like that but I scarfed it. Then I felt really gross the rest of the day.

Dennis brought the girls to Odell and they were very well-behaved, didn't try to steal anyone's food or beer like last year. They got all kinds of attention and compliments and they loved every minute. Chick magnets.

So then this morning I ran 13 miles with Cathy on the Power Trail and I felt like I got a real run in, again. It got up to 66 degrees today and felt like spring. I ran in shorts and a t-shirt this morning! This afternoon Dennis and I went walking along the Poudre River which gave me a few more miles, I ended up with nearly 50 miles this week. It's been a while. I feel like I am finally starting to make progress with building my mileage, except this coming week it's supposed to get cold and snowy again, maybe even single digit temperatures or below. Typical Colorado.