Monday, May 30, 2011

Rockies the day before Memorial Day

So we thought, what a nice day - let's go grab some Rockpile tickets for the afternoon game. Unfortunately that's what everyone else in Denver thought, too:



Yup, there's a few hundred people in line. Instead, we went to the Littleton museum. They had a little display where I could do water administration in District 6. And I got to tend the plow:



Good weather - good times.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Classic Camping: White Ranch

Sure, you know where White Ranch is - it's where you do your epic mountain biking and run those annoying bird watchers and joggers off the trail. Right off. I mean, now that you have a Niner, you definitely don't have time to mess around hopping on and off the bike to let people pass.

But it also has fine camping:



It's so fine, it's actually like camping used to be. It's free, you walk in, and there's an actual working water pump. And an actual non-smelly outhouse. JeffCo really goes over the top by stocking wood to burn. A friendly ranger came to visit us to see how we were doing. Did I mention it's free? Catherine just kept saying, "This is so easy. It's so fun. There's nothing hard about this."

Here's Will-J enjoying himself:



Here's the crew - notice only my family is mugging:



And this could be our Christmas card this year:



Fun. And there's a great view of the city lights. Did I mention it's fun? And a mile from the trailhead? Word is it gets pretty hot up there, but that's the only negative I know of so far.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rain, Perspective, small races (Sean May Memorial Run), and THX-1138

It rained a lot in Denver this week - the flow in Cherry Creek (aka the Cherry Creek Memorial Denver Storm Drain) jumped by 70 times overnight. I took a few photos on the Friday morning commute.

Here's the confluence really moving:



Here's the creek up over the bike path:



Here it is thinking about coming up over a little bridge:



And here of course is the death-defying plasticized pedestrian bridge that gets infinitely slick with the most minimal moisture:



I've been trying to crash on this thing for years, but haven't managed to do it yet.

Of course none of this compares even in the slightest to the flooding going on in the south currently - which puts our wet Denver in perspective. By today, the rain had stopped, baseball was back on (even though you could get pretty much any seat in the house for $5 on a cold, humid Sunday), and Cherry Creek was back to its normal demure self.

So Cherry Creek crested at 700 cfs. How much could the walled channel along the bike path hold? I think it's huge, like 30,000 cfs. Someone else (more rational) said maybe 7-10,000.

Aside: During the ride a few other intrepid commuters took time out of their day to warn me that: "DON'T GO ANY FURTHER THERE'S FLOODING AHEAD!!!" It's wonderful universal human trait - we have the inborn desire to warn each other about the obvious. I remember once backpacking along in the glorious summer sun and encountering a trail sign festooned with notes of all sizes warning that the trail was CLOSED from TOO MUCH SNOW!!! Sure, but then August eventually comes.


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I've written here about some of the races I've run. I left out a lot of small races I've entered over the years, and a lot of these were the most meaningful and fun - and certainly I've had some of my greatest "glories" (in perspective, of course). Like a random 8k (?) I ran at City Park years ago, where I suffered through a poor breakfast decision (a big baguette with lots of butter) to third place. There were maybe six of us in the last 3/4 mile, and suddenly this older guy came blasting up with the craziest running style I'd ever seen. He was practically falling forward, with his legs kicking out diagonally. It looked like he was trying to swim - but he was going incredibly fast. It completely threw us for a loop - a few guys laughed and fell off the pace, he sped past, and another guy followed me and we got in behind him to finish. No one took our pictures, we got a little medal, I threw up, and we went home to enjoy the day.

Or the little-known but longstanding Carbondale Mt. Sopris Runoff - 16 miles from Basalt to Carbondale up over the shoulder of Mt. Sopris (on a dirt road). This one is something like $10, and I think of all people Matt Carpenter has the record. I showed up to "race" my friend from Carbondale, who proceeded to absolutely destroy me. However, the paper ran my picture with his name under it. Then the next year they ran my picture again with the same error. There were some random comments that helped us both keep our perspective - I think someone say that he looked good with a full head of hair. Someone told me that he looked like he had gained weight in the photo. Such is life.

So this weekend, I ran the Sean May Memorial Run. Sean May was a Denver deputy district attorney who tragically and senselessly died far before his time. Access to Justice and others run a 5k and a 9 mile in his honor and as a fundraiser at Barr Lake.

I did the 9 mile, and of course I did what I've done at races since I was 10 - go out too fast, go into the hurt locker, and suffer until the finish. Which raises the question of why do I keep doing races. There were four of us at the front (with my coworker sensibly marking us). Two guys were obviously strong. One guy blew up, the strong two took off, and I suffered along by myself around Barr Lake keeping a little over a six-minute pace. Soon enough, I ran into the remnants of the 5k race, which hid the fact my steady coworker was coming up. He ran out of trail, though, and I got third. Third seems to be a pattern for me.

It was fun, and of course while I ran along I thought about how all our time here is limited/borrowed, and how might I best spend some of that said time.

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Suitably inspired (?), we finally watched THX-1138, a movie about living life to the fullest. I was expecting dour/ponderous, like Logan's Run or Planet of the Apes, but it was really fun. There's a lot of (dark) humor there, that very much reminds me of the scientifically organized buffoonery of the Communist era. Some of that reminded me of "Lives of Others" - another movie about living under constant surveillance. The ending is supposed to be open-ended, but birds (accidentally?) fly across the setting sun, which for me made the result obvious. In any case, it was good.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Last Day at Loveland - Arizona Trail Record

It was closing day at Loveland, and Will-J and I went up to enjoy our one day of spring skiing (it was 14 degrees last weekend up there). I found it surprisingly subdued - it was fairly quiet, and the promised band was still fiddling around with their equipment when we left at 2:30 or so.

It was an interesting contrast to closing day at Crested Butte - when I worked there, closing day was an outrageous party. At Loveland, people put on their Hawaiian shirts and ski around. Oh, and other people cordon off large areas of the (nasty dirt) parking lot with police tape to host "private" parties. So that I can't get to my car with my tired son. Boo on private taped-off parties in the Loveland parking lot.

Our goal today was to take every lift. Will-J did just fine. Here he is at the top of Lift 9 on the Continental Divide:



And here he is mugging by the West Ropes:




We won't be renewing our Loveland passes next year, and as we drove off I was a bit sentimental - Loveland helped keep me sane during a particularly difficult job period this year, and on one cold January day I had one of the best days of skiing in years. But the terrain is limited, and they do a few weird things practically designed to annoy season ticket holders (like practically give away tickets on random weekends/closing the Valley too early). It was a good year to hold a pass - they nearly broke the snowfall record. What's next? Catherine says Copper, but I'm not sure.

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I've enjoyed following Mr. Bradley/Krudmeister/Monstro on his record breaking Arizona Trail trip. The cracks on my feet haven't even healed yet from my own minor adventure, and here is this guy hiking the whole thing in something like two weeks. It's like a Cliff Notes version of my hike. He posts a photo from the Superstitions, and then the next day he posts a photo from the East Verde River. Um, those two places are separated by 100 miles of really difficult terrain (to put it mildly). And now it takes a turn for the weird - apparently there's someone out there racing him for the record. They're passing each other out there at night and whatnot - there was a veiled accusation of someone cutting trail.

Which of course reminds me of the epic Continental Divide Trail yo-yo battle between The Onion and Mr. Magoo. These guys are out there, doing crazy superhuman mileage, in many cases without a net. To me, it's petty/compulsive and compelling simultaneously.