Monday, October 23, 2017

England, Day 2: Cambridge

Day two in the Merry Olde land took us to Cambridge.  We slept well, not feeling much jet lag, at least not yet.  Cheryl made me some "Manly Energy" herb tea and I was off like a shot!  Cambridge (from the river Cam, and the bridge that goes over it) isn't much on parking spaces, so we parked outside of town and rode a neato orange double-decker bus!
The roads into Cambridge were narrow and I applaud the bus driver for his skill in not ever driving on the sidewalk or into oncoming traffic.  We went immediately to the town square, where this town has been having markets for about, oh, over 1000 years!  So we went to the market and bought ostrich burgers…yummy.  This guy was really jammin' on his guitar…he really was good, but when I saw his face I was struck that this old looking very British guy looked just like Wallace, from Wallace and Grommit.  Dig the sideburns, Uncle!
This place is old (see above) and really beautiful…

…but unfortunately they aren't much on zoning, so there were soviet-looking concrete office buildings built right up against this majestic architecture.  I didn't take pictures of that stuff.  (Think Jason Borne in a room with one bare light bulb sewing up a bullet wound.)   I also saw and entered a quintessential British red phone booth (no phone any more, but pretty smelly.

Cheryl has always wanted to go "punting" on the river Cam, so we were the excuse she needed.  Off we went with some college student who was selling tickets and before we knew it we were punting!  Actually, we were sitting, he was punting.

We passed some cool bridges…

…and King's College (yes, THAT King's College)…

…and a cool old ivy-covered wall.  I noticed that our boatman was punting on the right side of the river, with other boats passing on our left.  When I asked why that was (instead of doing things the way they drive), without skipping a beat he said "the Cam flows all the way to the sea so this is essentially international waters."  I laughed hard and congratulated him with a fist bump (they do that in England too…he didn't leave me hangin').

I saw my spirit rock Easter Island head thing (I really want one for my back yard…

…and we ended the day by attending Evensong at the King's College chapel…I couldn't stop staring at the ceiling...

where Sue sang with the King's College Boys Choir!!!!!  (so did everyone else, but she sounded really great!)  This is all of us outside afterward.
It was a great day with great friends in a really cool place.  Something like 31 colleges in that one little town.  Oh, and this place...

is the pub where Pink Floyd got their start.  Cheryl was beside herself (and in this photo, beside the pub too!)  Thanks James and Cheryl, we had a wonderful day!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

England...the real one...across the ocean

The long awaited time is here, and we've come across the pond to England!  The purpose of our trip is to visit our kids who live in Aberdeen, Scotland, but first we stopped in to see our dear friends James and Cheryl Meinders who live NE of London in the village of Mildenhall.  So...we got on a behemoth airplane

that was allegedly going to fly across the ocean.  I guess that thing called the Stromboli Effect is pretty powerful to lift this huge sausage and keep it in the air.  By the way, I know its Bernoulli, but I like Stromboli better.  British Airways treated us very well, with cute cans of soda and a gluten free meal for me.  Sue got something better.

The Stromboli did its job, as did the 747, so we arrived safely with no problems.  We found the rental car place and got our car, and I drew the short straw so I got to drive first...on the "other" side of both the car and the road.  Sue is a great co-pilot and navigator, constantly reminding me "turn left stay left" or "turn right stay left", and we developed a whole chorus for the roundabouts!

British drivers are very polite, which I greatly appreciate.  We hopped on a highway and got ourselves the 2+ hours to Mildenhall where the Meinders live.  They have a lovely new house that looks old.

Not to let the moss grow under us, they whisked us off to Ely to see the cathedral there and enjoy an Evensong service.  We sat in the cathedral choir seats for the service.

We even stopped for a moment to see Oliver Cromwell's house.  He's an important old British guy.  I don't think he was at home.

(that's not him in the picture, that's Miles, a mini-Meinders.)  Along with the lasagna Cheryl baked and the wonderful company and the really comfortable bed, we had a great first day in England!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Treasurevault Mountain

A week ago Saturday, Sue and I and Grizz climbed Treasurevault Mountain in the Mosquito Range.  This was my highest peak since we move to CO, at 
13,701 feet.  We got to take the Truck this time (Irv2) because we had to drive some dirt roads to get to the trailhead.  Irv2 gets pretty happy when we take him on dirt roads, and it was a lot more fun when I decided to stop and let some air out of the tires so we weren't getting so beat up by the rocks.  How's this for a trailhead view... (remember, make the pictures big, they're better that way)

The hike follows a 4-wheel drive road until it reaches a lake, but we didn't feel like bouncing along at a slower-than-walking pace, so we left Irv2 at the trailhead.  Good call too, the walk was great.  There's that altitude thing, though.  We were soon in the "where did all the air go" zone, but were inspired by Grizz's enthusiasm.  Notice the clumps of bushes in the next picture...Grizz was CHASING BIRDS from clump to clump.  He was having a blast!

We were headed to the peak that is second from the left, with the snow on it's left flank.  First, however, as is often the case in the mountains, the lake.

Ok, so the plan was to hike to that low point on the ridge that is almost in the center of the picture.  This is one of those ridges that doesn't look very far away, and then you get closer and it looks further away, and then you get closer an it looks further get the picture.  Not too steep, but this is at altitude (have I mentioned that I LOVE altitude?), and we were feeling it somewhat.

Our walking took us, not to the low point in the saddle...the snow there turned out to be a wall, so we bent left toward the shoulder of the peak.  Then it got steep.  Steep, at altitude, such a wonderfully humbling combination.  So, I took off my pride, tossed it over my shoulder, and watched it roll away down the slope.  Then I took 50 steps and stopped to breathe.  Then 50 more.  Then 50 more.  While I was 50-stepping, this was my view:

And 50 steps by 50 steps, we made the peak in less time than I though we would.  (Thanks to Irv Nielson for teaching me that one.)  Here's the Peak, with a lovely mountain nymph for added beauty!!

Again the views were stunning, 14ers to the south, 

That's Democrat, Bross, Lincoln, and the other one I can't remember.  Oh, did I mention that we had the peak, and the trail, TO OURSELVES....ON A SATURDAY!!!  13ers ROCK (pun very much intended).  We got to slide down some snow on the far side of the peak, because, if you know Sue, we HAD to do at least a bit of a loop (no out and back on the same trail if we can help it).  On the way down the tundra was really beautiful.  Look at this color pallette...

We passed another high lake...(our peak in the back, with snow on the left)

and then found a cool snow overhang.  I couldn't help crawling in...

After the overhang we ambled back down the trail, through this:

...and ended up back at the Truck.  Humbled by altitude, humbled by the beauty, thrilled by the glee with which Grizz flew across the tundra in his bird-chasing bliss, grateful for strong bodies and a Heavenly Father that designed such a beautiful world.  I LOVE living here!!

James Peak

I'm a terribly inconsistent blogger.  Well, so deal with it.  I'm back, at least for now.  Sue and I had a great adventure two weeks ago to James Peak (13,301) in the James Peak Wilderness.  We were dodging bad weather in the Springs, and there was the promise of better weather in the mountains (not the norm) so we headed up really early on a flex Friday (my extra day off).  As a bonus, the newlyweds Kate and Christian wanted to join us on the last day of their honeymoon.  What great kids!  We started at St. Mary's Lake, which has a great view of St. Mary's Glacier, which we would later walk up (and get a major sunburn on my face because my hat does not protect my face from sunlight coming UP from the ground).

(These pictures don't look so great really small, so click on them and make them big.  Then they're much better!)

Here are the happy newlyweds, with the lake kindly providing backdrop.

So we walked up the glacier, with Grizz running back and forth between us, and we were pretty spread out.

After the Glacier, you can just see our destination in the distance.  It looks like not so far away, but I learned later that the trail goes around the whole thing and up the BACK side!

We got closer, duh, and really the trail was lovely...rocky but lovely and not very steep.  Everyone was in great spirits and the day, as you can see, was gorgeous!

So we made our way around the left side of this massif, and came to a really cool overlook...This is the lower lake (check out that view in the distance)

...and the upper lake...there were waterfalls all over the place beneath this upper lake, and I loved the sound of the running water!

So, up around the back side we went.  Oh, did you notice those black clouds in the last picture?  They hailed on us for about 5 minutes, small, sneet-like hail, and then went away.  It was beautiful to watch the veils of hail wash over that lower lake.  Notice the REALLY BIG rock cairn.  This alpine tundra is a favorite place for Sue and me; we just love being up here.  It is quiet and peaceful and has a quality that words can't completely capture.  By this time the altitude was wearing on us.  It used to hit me around 13,000 feet, but now it seems to come on between 12,000 and 12,500.  As my Dad would say, that has nothing to do with age, just that I haven't been doing this as much as I used to.  Thanks Dad!

And we made the peak.  Not terribly dramatic in and of itself, but look at that view to the West!!!!  This is our playground...can you believe it?!  Come and play with us!

We had lunch on the peak, hung out behind a short rock wall to avoid the wind, and enjoyed being Rocky Mountain High!  We didn't have a "pie" to pass around (:-)), but that would have been a good idea. (Extra points if you comment about that reference.)

We had a lovely walk down, the kind where you're not at all in a hurry, and don't want the day to end.  We stopped at the lake on the way down and Grizz got to play fetch with a stick in the water.  He loves to swim.  But he was tired.  Running back and forth between us the whole time, he probably did the hike the equivalent of 4 times.  We went down the canyon and had dinner in a creek-side restaurant in Georgetown (not the DC one, thank goodness), and Grizz got to come onto the patio with us.  It was a great end to a wonderful day!!