Monday, September 27, 2010

Timely Fashion

Today I said goodbye to a dear friend.  One which has been with me on many an adventure - hours of work writing papers for my Master's degree, miles of running training for my marathon, thousands of feet of elevation ascent and descent climbing the mountains here in Colorado, not to mention the occasional make out session with my wife on the couch.  I'm speaking of course of my Timex Ironman watch.  Sadly the battery is about to die; I know this because when I turn on the light the numbers fade out of readablility.  The wristband's velcro is getting tired and although it was once as clingy as a toddler getting dropped off for the first time at preschool, it now has less strength to hold on than Jon and Kate.

Normally I would just replace the band and the batteries, but since they both are giving out at the same time, and since one of the screws that holds the face of the watch on has suddenly gone missing, making the waterproof nature questionable and detracting from the appearance of an already scratched and beaten down watch, I decided to just go for the replacement option. I now have a new buddy, which is going to take some getting used to, since I look at my watch multiple times per day, if not per hour, and I have seen the same gray face peering back at me for the past several years, which has suddenly been replaced by a deep blue that is both soothing and excitingly new at the same time.  It's like getting a new tattoo in place of an old one.  I haven't faced this kind of visual transition since Michael Jackson became white.  Who ever knew a watch could provide such visual stimulation?  Of course I had to get another Ironman watch, as this is all I have worn since I was in High School, but although the form and function are identical, the color really does spice it up.  May we make many wonderful memories together.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Night at the Movies

I admit it, I read the Twilight series, and actually enjoyed them.  Yes, I'm a guy.  No, I am not gay.  So once they started coming out with the movies I of course had to see them.  The first one was so ridiculously low budget that the special effects made me laugh and I felt uncomfortable watching some of the scenes, like I was watching a bootleg version of the rehearsal.  Thanks to a rabid following and large profit, the second movie got a huge budget increase, with exponentially better special effects, a better director, and the same bad actors, which led to a much better movie. 

Unfortunately for me, Heather hates scary movies and would not go with me to see the second movie, and let me know she would not go to see any of the others either.  Yes, I know that Twilight is a love story with some action thrown in, not a horror story, but try to convince Heather of that and let me know where it gets you.  Last year I was fortunate to be able to watch New Moon with a posse of Twilight-loving friends, but this year that was not an option.  It looked like I would be watching Eclipse as a rental at home.

Then at the 11th hour an opportunity opened up to watch it at the theater.  A couple of friends of mine recently moved to town, and Jenny was just getting into the series.  She burned through the books in no time and watched the first couple of movies at home in time to catch the third one at the dollar theater, so I asked if I could tag along with her and Matt, who I'm also good friends with.  We decided to go to a late showing so the kids would be in bed, leaving Heather less to have to do (she agreed to watch the kids so the rest of us could enjoy the movie.  Okay, in reality probably so Jenny and I could enjoy the movie, and Matt could tolerate it.  It's hard for Matt to enjoy a movie that doesn't contain one or more of the following elements: spaceships, laser weapons, and time travel).

Fortunately we left early, as we hit a major traffic snarl.  It turned out they were doing a sobriety check-point.  It also turns out the city can function with a few dozen of its police officers hanging out on the side of the road.  I couldn't help but wonder if a crime spree was occurring somewhere on the other side of town.  At least they were getting all the drunks off the road.  At least the ones who were driving at 9:00 at night.

The officer I talked to was friendly enough.  We engaged in some small talk so he could check my speech for slurring, my pupils for dilation, and my breath for the smell of alcohol.  Then he asked where we were going.  I told him "to the movies" and he asked which one.  As often happens when I'm unexpectedly asked to retrieve a trivial piece of information unexpectedly, such as "what movie are you headed to see?" or "what is your phone number?" or "what did you eat for lunch today?"  I drew a blank.  Luckily Jenny piped up from the back of the car: "Eclipse".  Yes, Eclipse, that was the name of the third book.  The officer, not knowing if it was me or Matt who was with Jenny didn't know who to look at with pity for being the third wheel, so he just directed us to drive on.

We made it to the movie in time, although there was a bit of a line for the tickets.  Jenny headed to the bathroom, and Matt and I stood in line for the tickets.  Apparently the lady on the opposite side of the circular counter called out that she didn't have a line and could help someone back there.  Matt, being the good friend he is, promptly went back and got his tickets, without letting me in on what she had said.  I wondered where he was going, and my question was answered a couple minutes later when he stepped out from around the corner with two tickets in hand and a goofy grin on his face.  So I deserted my place in the non-moving line and went to the back counter for my ticket.

When my turn came I handed the lady 2 dollars, obviously only enough to cover one ticket at the $1.50 price, and asked for a ticket to Eclipse.  She responded with "Just one?".  Yes, lady, just one!  I'm with two friends, I'm not by myself, honestly.  Don't judge me!  It's not my fault my wife thinks all vampires are scary!  I got my one ticket and joined Matt and Jenny.  We hung out for a while waiting for them to let us in, got pretty good seats in front of the smallest movie screen you'll ever see (but still much bigger than my TV) and enjoyed a couple of hours of an imaginary world where vampires and humans fall in love, and werewolves can't find enough t-shirts to remain fully clothed for more than a few minutes at a time.  I think even Matt enjoyed himself, although I'm not sure if it was because he got to see the bad vampires getting their heads knocked off, or the cherry slurpee he got from concessions.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Quandry Peak

Recently my friend Mike was in town for a conference, so we got to spend some good quality time together and he decide he wanted to go on a hike, but not "a lame 2 mile hike", so I suggested we do a 14er.  Since he is from out of town and only had a week to get acclimated, I decided we should do an easy one, so we drove up to Quandry Peak on Friday afternoon after he was done with his last session of the day.

Ok, so there are no easy 14ers.  But this is about as easy as it gets.  So up we went.  I packed Mike some snacks in Heather's Camelbak backpack, although he brought his own bladder.  It was very humorous listening to Mike try to explain to Heather what a Camelbak is, before I told him she has one.  She was so good about listening attentively I didn't want to break in.

The bottom half of the hike is very pleasant, with a well maintained trail that meanders through the woods.

I think some hikers must feed the wildlife, as these goats were very friendly.  Or perhaps they were attracted to my "wild goat" scented deodorant.  Either way, it was good to know that if a freak snowstorm developed I would have something to slice open and climb into for warmth.  I called dibs on mamma goat, as the kids wouldn't keep much more than my feet warm. 

Quandry Peak in the background.  Two of the Billy Goats Gruff in the foreground.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get the troll under the bridge to pose for a pic.

We ran into a couple of guys who were somewhat skeptical about us having enough time to get up and down before nightfall. Their words "I hope you brought a flashlight" helped keep us motivated. That and not wanting to run into the troll after dark. For the record I had planned on bringing a flashlight but forgot to pack it, so we were definitely motivated to finish before 7:45 - the official time of sunset. Since we didn't get started until 3:00, we knew we would have to stay moving. Needless to say, it was a tough haul for Mike, who wasn't properly acclimated. My hat's off to him for not only making it, but for summiting in only 2 and a half hours. We weren't able to take as many breaks as he would have liked, and he had a pounding headache and difficulty breathing, but he never talked about giving up.  He did find it necessary to stop and sit down often, but I couldn't fault him for that.

This is how Mike will remember our climb.

This is how I will remember it.

The views aren't as spectacular as other 14ers, but it's still a rewarding spectacle for all of your work.

Even with a 10 second timer I still almost didn't make it in time to get in the picture.

We hoofed it down and made it to the bottom right at 7:45. Mike was really glad he went, even despite hurling on the way home. I will never forget the haunting sound of his body dispelling the orange poweraid he had been drinking on the way home. Not that vomiting is ever pleasant, but the gurgling mixed in there made it especially awesome. At least I didn't have to hold Mike's hair back.