Saturday, August 22, 2015

Summer vacation

Unbeknownst to us, we scheduled our summer vacation for the last week of summer.  After a large number of years not caring a whit when the school year starts, school is again impacting our lives.  Clara started kindergarten this past week.  But that's getting ahead of the main story, which is that we took a summer vacation in Colorado with Chad's side of the family.

Again, I kick myself for not taking enough photos, but Grandma did her part.  When she sends her set to us, I'll have a full suite of photos to choose from.  But for now, we're stuck with ours.  I promise, the rest of the family was there.

Going into the trip, I had a few small goals to achieve:
a.  Bike ride adventures
b.  Some hiking
c.  Dip my feet in a mountain stream

(c) was quite easy to do, as our condo was a short walk from the Keystone ski resort, which has a very nice stream that flows along the mountain.  We built dams and found some treasured rocks to take home.

(b) was actually pretty limited.  The whole family (except Grandpa, whose knees aren't so hot anymore) rode the chairlift to the top of Keystone and hiked along the ridge.  And it turns out that was the only real hiking we did.
 But Grandpa and Grandma have jeeps!  Grandma's was the available machine this week, so two different groups took a mini adventure ride with Grandpa in the Montezuma area.  We took off the doors and roof for super jeeping mode!  Janny liked the part when her head rattled.  I enjoyed seeing the vistas from the tops of mountains.

(a) was, surprisingly to me, my biggest success.  Prior to the trip, Jill and I waffled about bringing our bikes.  I considered just renting an mtb at Keystone.  Hanging the bikes on a rack on the back of the Protege for 2000 miles makes me a bit nervous (plus we lost an mpg or two!).  But sanity prevailed, and the bikes came!
Jill and I did a couple of rides together, up to Montezuma and up the Keystone gulch.  Jill preferred the pavement over the gravel.  I also managed to talk Bernie and Anna into joining us to Montezuma.  Despite riding on mtbs from the '90's, Anna and Bernie rode great.  We were quite close to Montezuma before Anna decided she'd had enough climbing.  I was impressed!  No doubt she can ride to Grandma and Grandpa's house from their house now.
Just prior to leaving for the trip, I emailed my friend Ryan to see if he was going to be in or near CO during our stay.  Well, in fact, he was there and was planning to ride up Mt. Evans with his brother-in-law and nephew.   We met up at Ryan's 1970 ice cream truck/army transport camper on Friday morning, parked 22 miles from and some 6000+ feet below the summit.  He brewed some tea for me while we awaited the rest of the crew.

We rode most of the way up to Echo Lake together, but I soon realized that to climb that far I really needed to ride my own pace.  So up I went, alone.  About 4 miles above Echo Lake, the rain started.  It poured, and I got soaked.  About 10 minutes later, it hailed.  I was wearing shorts and had no gloves.  Hail on bare legs and hands hurts!  So I contorted myself to have most of the hail hit my arms and head.  Then it rained again.  But at about mile 5 1/2, I was above the storm.  I thought, hey, this isn't so bad.  I'll dry off the rest of the way up, and enjoy a cozy route down.  Alas, it sprinkled more, I never dried completely.  Gloves and a rain jacket instead of my wind-breaker would have been nice to have.

I made it to the summit and was heading towards the trash to throw away my banana peel when a man and his wife offered to let me sit in their van and warm up.  I like to say no to such offers, but warming up did sound nice.  Their 4 kids squeezed into the back seat of the van so I could sit in the middle row.  The family was on a monster road trip from their home in Long Island to Seattle, Las Vegas, and Colorado.  I turned down offers of pizza and peanuts, but accepted the roll of paper towels to dry my shirt and socks.  I very much enjoyed talking to them and feeling the heater blowing on my head.  Then I bid adieu and headed back down.

I saw Ryan and the rest of the crew not far from the summit and planned to wait for them at Summit Lake.  Alas, it was too cold, and I wanted to get away from the lightning storm.  So I headed down... and down... and down.

I didn't realize until this trip that I struggle with a bit of vertigo.  Riding and driving (we drove Loveland Pass on the way there) on roads without guard rails and with huge dropoffs really freaks me out.  I know that a guard rail really doesn't do much, but still, they are so comforting.  Plus, the edge of the Mt. Evans road is crumbling away, and periodically there are 1 foot diameter holes in the road.  I think the holes go to the center of the earth.  Perhaps my bike would bounce over them, but thankfully I managed to avoid them all.

Well, finally I made it to the Echo Lake lodge and drank hot tea while waiting for the crew.  We were all freezing upon arrival.  We had very nearly warmed up when we left, but then it poured rain.  And I had a flat tire.  And my spare had a slow leak.  I gingerly rode the corners down to my car.

I put on dry clothes (except that I didn't have extra socks, so I drove barefoot), and Ryan gave me his nephew's breakfast burrito (thanks!).

During most of the ride, I thought that it was stupid.  Looking back, it was yet another super memorable, excellent ride with Ryan.  May there be many more!

I also rode the service trail to the top of Keystone and took the "green" mtb trail down.  Then I (gently) crashed, and decided that riding a road bike on mtb trails is not fun.
 Thanks again to Grandma and Grandpa for arranging the trip (and paying for the condo!).  It was wonderful to have the whole family together.  We're looking forward to more adventures together.

Finally, TCBC is again the A league softball champion.  We won the semi-final game 9-8, and then for the second year in a row I took vacation for our last playoff game.  Without me, the team won 16-1.  I guess I'm not needed.