Ahh..Visitors

We were fortunate enough to have a few visitors to Colorado from back home.  Two of my closest buddies from Minnesota (and their wives & family) came to hang out.  Bert, Beki and their cute-as-a-peach daughter were here for a quick visit in August.  Somehow I came away from the short weekend with no photos (gotta get better at photos that don’t have mountains in ‘em), but it was a great time – we miss them.  Zach & Aly came out about a month later in search of wilderness and solitude.  That’s speaking my language..  It was also really fun.

Regardless, these are definitely two groups of people we’d love to have closer.

 

Picaboo..

Picaboo..

 

A hike in the Park.  And yes, my hair got a little out of control..

A hike in the Park. And yes, my hair got a little out of control..

 

Fire!

Fire!

 

A necessary evil, but destruction isn't that scenic.

A necessary evil, but destruction isn’t that scenic.

 

Blue Lake, Indian Peaks Wilderness

Blue Lake, Indian Peaks Wilderness

 

Setup the camera on a rock and then [sprinted] down to join Zach.  Haha, good times.

Setup the camera on a rock and then [sprinted] down to join Zach before the timer ended. Haha, good times.

 

All 4 of us

All 4 of us

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USA Pro Cycle Challenge

I have been interested in the Tour de France for quite a while, since the last few Lance Armstrong victories.  I realize that those years, and the sport, have taken a significant hit lately, but I still find the race completely amazing.  It would be fun to see the Tour live someday, but in the meantime, we had a chance to see some of these same pro riders right here in Longmont!

This was the second year of the USA Pro Cycle Challenge, which is a smaller 6 stage race in Colorado.  The course varies each year, as it winds through the mountains, but this year one of the stages started in Lyons and finished in Boulder.  TJ van Garderen was one of the big names in the race, a rider from Boulder who finished 5th in the Tour de France this year.  He’s only like 23 or something (disgusting), but took the Tour by storm.  It was awesome to see him, knowing that he’ll be one of the top riders in the world for quite a while.

It’s cliche to say I guess, but the speed of these guys is just ridiculous.  Each stage is in the range of 100 miles, and they went by us like freight train.  We were able to see the peleton (the main group of riders) two times, and each time lasted mere seconds.  With the camera struggling to keep up, I fired off as many photos as possible.  Manda also took a video with her phone, which is really the most impressive thing, because you can get a feel for how fast these bad boys are moving.

One of the most insane things that I did not see coming was the craziness of the team car drivers.  The riders range from 25-45mph depending on terrain, and the team cars have to keep up.  During the part of the stage we saw that was at a sharp 90 degree turn, the riders were leaning into the turn big time, and most likely staying above 30 mph.  Imagine trying to drive a small SUV through 90 degree turn at 30 mph.  Haha, it was just hilarious, and looked like a lot of fun.

Not the Tour, but still cool… especially for being 10 minutes from our apartment, haha.

 

The front of the peleton.

The front of the peleton.

 

Team cars.. driving out of control

Team cars.. driving out of control

 

Team BMC in the lead, with the local rider in 3rd position.

Team BMC in the lead, with the TJ van Garderen in 4th position.

 

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zoom zooom

zoom zooom

 

USA Pro Cycle Challenge 2012 from Jordan on Vimeo.

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Going on a Balloon Hunt

Occasionally Jordan and I have the chance to visit his Aunt and Uncle in the beautiful land of Colorado Springs ( I LOVE it there).  This past September Colorado Springs celebrates labor day with a huge balloon festival… did I mention I love hot air balloons? My love for hot air balloons started when I studied abroad in Florence Italy for a semester of college. I saw paintings,  journals, and assorted other street market items colorfully pictured with hot air balloons which to me was so romantic.

Jordan and I set out for a weekend of fun and excitement  I think I’ve convinced him of his love for hot air balloons too, or maybe he just pretends so I won’t feel alone in my obsession :)

We began our adventure at dusk. The sun was setting behind Pikes Peak as we all walked onto the vast field of balloons just waiting to light up in the darkness. Jonah, Jordan’s cousin’s little boy, could not have been more excited as he kept yelling out “Balluns, Balluns!”

And what a sight it was:

 

Field full of balloons lit up in the night sky.

Field full of balloons lit up in the night sky.

 

Wyoming was represented, this was the largest balloon there.

Wyoming was represented, this was the largest balloon there.

 

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Uncle Joe had friends from grade school (in Germany) who happened to own a balloon and let Jordan work on filling it with air.

Uncle Joe had friends from grade school (in Germany) who happened to own a balloon and let Jordan work on filling it with air.

 

Then Uncle Joe was captured and taken for a ride above Colorado Springs!

Then Uncle Joe was captured and taken for a ride above Colorado Springs!

 

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When he landed and the caravan of cars caught up with them, Landy and I talked our way into the balloon for another excursion!!!!!

When he landed and the caravan of cars caught up with them, Landy and I talked our way into the balloon for another excursion!!!!!

 

Off we GO

Off we GO

 

 

 

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Field Trip

How old, or young, should you be to take a field trip?  A while back, I took a trip with some fellow air traffic control trainees to the ATC tower at Denver International.

It might be a bit confusing, but I don’t actually work at the Denver tower.  I work at a radar facility north of the Denver metro, and we control the enroute air traffic that is in the air between airports.  Our coverage ranges across CO, KS, NE, SD and WY.

Anyway, it was cool to see a high level facility like DEN tower, at one of the biggest airports in the world.  It’s very well designed, minimizing stress and workload.

 

Quite the view..

 

Little 737′s … haha

 

The Command Center

 

The future of air traffic control.. haha

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Wedding in the Woods

My cousin Jamin met a sweet girl from Colombia named Mónica, and we had a chance to celebrate their marriage with them in the mountains near Salida, CO. They had what looked like a great wedding down in Colombia with Monik’s family, but also had a stateside reception here in August.

It was great, and quintessential Jamin.  They reserved this awesome clearing in the aspens in the National Forest, and everybody just brought their tents and s’mores supplies.  It was great to see them again, and the rest of the Grigg/Novak clan.

 

The big tent, held up by a real aspen pole mind you..

 

Home for the night.

 

Jonah was out fishing in the middle of the field. Gotta love the perseverance..

 

Cool things happen in the mountains.

 

Some of the family. Great times!

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Mile High Scrimage

My first ever experience inside the new Mile High Stadium.  Apparently it’s not called Sports Authority Field or something, but I refuse to use that term.  Manda unfortunately had to work, but my parents were in town, so the three of us went down to the Broncos public training camp scrimmage at the stadium.

Thousands of Broncomaniacs descended upon the area to see the Broncs, and specifically, Peyton Manning.  The roar of the crowd when he came out to stretch was insane.  I even managed to snag a few autographs… and no I’m not too old for that.  They had a few Broncos players from back in the day on hand, including Steve Foley, who was apparently my Grandma’s favorite player, back when she and Papa had season tickets.  I even was able to score an autograph from WR Demaryius Thomas.  You may remember him from THIS sick play from last year’s playoffs.

Hopefully we’ll make it back for a real game!

 

The whole view of glory…

 

Still a cool sign.

 

Packed lower level. Not gonna have these seats at a real game! haha

 

On the way down, we swung by Papa & Grandma’s old house. Exactly as I remember..

 

Also, Dad’s childhood house… right down the street.

 

And, apparently his high school. The statue in his honor was down for repair. Bummer.

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Late Night Scouting for Early Morning Excellence

Simple ideas always run wild when nature, or photography, or just a thirst for adventure are involved.

I wanted to take new photo for the living room wall..  with an alpine lake, mountains, wildflowers etc.  Scouting around online, and on Google Earth (one of the single greatest inventions ever) I found a spot about 45 minutes away – Lake Isabelle, in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.  The thing that really added an extra wrinkle is that I decided  the best time for photos at the lake would be at sunrise.  And.. it’s a 2 mile hike from the trail head, which would have to be accomplished in the dark.

I enlisted the help of one of my buddies from work, Nate, to join me on a scouting trip the night before.  We drove up to area, scouted some camping spots, then hit the trailhead while it was still light out.  We planned to check out the trail, stay at the lake for sunset, then hike back in the dark as a test for the following morning.  Survival knives strapped to the hip, and we were off.

 

One of the many mountain streams along the trail.

 

The lake, at dusk. Eerily still.

The hike back was without event, although I was surprised just how quickly darkness fell as the sun ducked below the peaks.  Not a place you’d like to find yourself unprepared..  I was pumped for the next morning, and hoping that Manda would also be also, haha.  To be at lakeshore, ready for the sunrise I figured we’d have to wake up about 3:45am.  Yeah, seriously.

 

Diggs for the night.

The chef, cooking up some grub.

 

She’s a trooper though, and we enjoyed the whole adventure together – waking up waaay too early, hurriedly breaking down camp and throwing everything in the car, driving to the trail head, and hiking into the black abyss.  With headlamps burning we completed the hike at a good pace.

I nearly wet myself however, upon turning the last corner towards the lake and freezing to a halt.  The beam from my headlamp was illuminating two shining eyes, directly ahead, looking right back at us.  Mentally, I envisioned how I’d fight off this wild predetor, or what courses of action were possibilities.  Physically, my heart went anaerobic, and the rest of my body did….nothing.  This all took about 1/2 second, and as I scanned with the headlamp a bit, our attacker proved to be nothing more than an equally as frightened mule deer.  Little punk.  It took off, I checked my drawers, and we continued on.

Haha.. so much for the food chain.

 

The edge of the lake, towards the rising fireball.

 

The sunrise in all it’s splendor.

 

Leaving Lake Isabelle, headed downhill

 

Alpine Wildflowers

A great time together, enjoying the beauty of the Rockies.  Thanks for coming along, wife.

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Golfing with Gramps

Humbling experiences always seem to present themselves when you least expect it.  I suppose that’s a good thing, keeps us on our toes.  Anyway, I had one of these experiences when we were back in Minnesota this summer, golfing with my Grandpa.  He had been spending some time with my parents in the Land of Lakes, which just so happened to overlap with our short visit – awesome.  I was looking forward to the golf game, assuming it would be pretty low key.  At times we’d surely have to wait for my Grandpa to hit his ball again, or finish putting…  I mean, he’s 84 years old right?

Incorrect.

A few quick facts:  We stopped keeping score after a couple of holes; except it was for the sake of the rest of us, not him.  I can’t remember how many balls I lost (although I think I about broke even in that category by rooting in the weeds for lost treasure), but I do know how many balls he lost:  zero.  The best drive of the session was no contest:  Grandpa.  I think I had a couple that were longer, but it shouldn’t really count if the ball lands in the fairway next door.  The simple fact is that all of us (me, Amanda, my mom) tried our best, and got smoked in every facet of the game.

My Grandpa is the man.

 

Boom goes the dynamite.

 

How classic is that?!

 

“Still got it, baby”

 

Good times.

 

 

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July Camping Trip : Lake Granby with Friends

Since coming to Colorado we have gotten involved in a church called Lifebridge Community Church. We were able to find a small group there with people in our life stage = transitional, still renting, and without children. It has been amazing to have these people in our lives and we have been able to do some fun things together.

One activity was our chance to use Mimi’s Uncle’s cousin’s sister’s property up in Lake Granby area (hey you take connections where you can get them up in the mountains!!! :)  Anyways we set up tents along the river and had a grand ol’ time. Despite the onslaught of rain, mud, and cold weather- it was a blast! I think I was just so happy to be in the mountains with friends.

Here are some photos from the trip.

 

Horses on the Granby property: so breathtaking.

 

Bull Moose on our way to hike through the National Park

 

 

Hummingbird friends on our hike

 

The hiking group: Candace & David, Me & Jordan, Mimi & Andy

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Bemidji Baby

We were able to head out for lovely Bemidji MN in June to see my new baby nephew Henry.

Lake Bemidji

 

 We drove a rental car up from Minneapolis and saw the greenest trees on either side of the road. We were missing green, Longmont has been so terribly dry and very brown.

 

Th drive to Bemidji, green green trees!!

 

Seeing Henry at the Farm

Jordan and Me with Henry

I caught Dad singing Hymns to the little guy.

Miranda, Mark, and Jon were able to stop by to take a look at Henry

Grandpa, me, and Jordan

Henry!

 

Can’t wait for our next visit with this little guy!!!

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