Wednesday, June 29, 2011

To the Top of the World! (Or at Least the Top of Colorado)

One of my favorite unofficial titles is Sherpa.  On Sunday I got the opportunity to take another friend up their first 14er, so I decided we should go for the tallest one around.  This is the tale of our travels. 

The day started early, at 0300.  At least for me.  I'm not sure when Jenny got up, but since I'm the only one who feels compelled to shower before hiking 9 miles up a mountain, I'm guessing it was later.  Regardless, she was ready when I stopped by at 0400 to pick her up.  We did a drive by the Burger King, but to my dismay there would be no Croissanwich today.  Apparently normal people don't eat breakfast at four in the morning.  Fortunately, McDonald's caters to abnormal people, and we were able to get breakfast to go from there.  The kid at the drive through was very confused on our order, but after walking him through an egg McMuffin and sausage McMuffin meal with soda instead of coffee three times, he finally got it and we got our fuel for the morning.

On the down side, Jenny was unable to get much sleep on the drive, and since I didn't want to put her ears through undeserved torture, I was unable to enjoy singing to my tunes like I usually do.  On the plus side, it was nice to have another human being to converse with on the trip.  In the end I think I came out ahead on this one.  Jenny probably not so much, considering she only got about 4 hours of sleep the night before.  But since I paid for breakfast and gas I'm counting it as all good.

Finally we arrived at Mt. Ebert at about 7:00.  The trailhead was easy to find, and we took one final turn at the restrooms, which was literally less than two minutes after Jenny had made me stop at another restroom on the way that might have been 800 yards up the road, and then it was on to the hike.  In her defense I will say that Jenny held it until we got back, which is both impressive and probably terribly unhealthy. My bladder is approximately the size of my thumb, so I will never accomplish that feat.

After crossing a couple of streams we came to where the trail splits.  The trail to the right takes you up 4100 feet of elevation to today's destination.

The first half of the trail pleasantly winds its way through the woods.

As you approach hte treeline you can see the false summit.  This is not the final destination.  But it is close.

This is a closer view.  This is the steepest, roughest parts of the hike, but it doesn't last long.

The views from the top are fabulous.  Of course, I won't be there for your picture, but you probably look better anyway.
Jenny and I traded cameras and took pictures of each other on the hike.  I had to go to her Facebook page to get proof she went with me on this trip.

It took us 3 hours, 45 minutes to get to the top, and after a quick lunch we started back down.  2 hours later we arrived back at the bottom.  We took a wrong turn after re-crossing the streams and ended up a half mile down the road from the parking lot at the Mt. Massive trailhead.  We were too tired to do that one so we headed back to the car and returned home.  This time Jenny did the driving and I got some much appreciated sleep.  Another great climb on the books!

Friday, June 17, 2011

I Bring Home the Bacon and Fry it up in the Pan

Back when my job had me travelling frequently, I took United Airlines up on their offer to exchange a free ticket for a few hours of my life so someone else could travel on my packed airplane.  My idea was for Heather to use this ticket to accompany me on a trip and take some vacation days with it and have a mini-vacay somewhere nice.

Unfortunately, Heather didn't find the allure of going on a trip with me compelling enough to get the ticket cashed in, so finally on the day it was about to expire (exactly 365 days after I had been granted it) we took her to the airport and booked a flight home for her to visit her family.  If you've ever been stuck with me for a couple of hours you know this was a good call on her part.

Had I known then that this trip would coincide with the two weeks preceeding my job transfer from Colorado to Texas I would have had her make the arrangements for another date.  But hindsight's always 20/20, or 20/15 but with halos around stoplights at night if it's anything like my post-Lasik eyes. (Ok, I actually had PRK, but I digress.)

Of course the timing for the trip wouldn't have been so bad had I not decided that rather than purchase a new home in Texas, I would rent a house once I got there, and buy a third investment property here.  Or I should say, had I not bought a property with so much work needing to be done to get it renter-ready.  So while I should have been living it up enjoying a couple of weeks of bachelorhood and all the attendant hours of playstation gaming, reading, and mountain climbing that should have come with that, instead I get home from work, change, and go to work on the house.

Fortunately, my to-do list is getting close to the bottom.  It would be nice to have someone to field calls while I'm at work rather than getting 8 messages when I get home every night, but I have managed.  As a bonus I have even kept myself from starving. I suppose Heather gets to make up for it by taking care of overseeing the moving company pack all our stuff since the Air Force has deemed it imperative for me to move prior to the earliest date Mayflower can get our life's accumulations into cardboard boxes and removed from our house.  And I will be living it up in a hotel in Texas for 2 weeks.  Who knows, I just may get through Angry Birds.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

That's What Friends are For

I recently purchased a foreclosed home to expand my portfolio of rentals prior to leaving Colorado Springs.  One of the great things about buying a foreclosed home is that you tend to get a good deal on the price.  One of the bad things about it is that it tends to need some TLC to get back to its glory days.  Sort of like Tiger Woods - so much promise, but so much baggage to work through first.  Needless to say, it is rare to find a foreclosed home with any kitchen appliances, and they are often missing light fixtures and other hardware.  The missing light fixtures and appliances didn't surprise me.  I'm sure they fetched some much needed money on Craigslist.  Some other items did surprise me.  I have to wonder how much money you can really get for medicine cabinet shelves and toilet paper roll holders.  I'm assuming that was the previous homeowner's way of sticking it to the man, probably with the bank in mind, but now it's my job to fix it.

Buying new TP roll holders was easy - $4.50 at Walmart for three of them.  The shelves will require either a custom job from a glass company in town or installing new cabinets.  I hired out the plumbing and drywall repairs, the need for which I blame on the pathetic winterizing of the home, not the dislocated family that left it behind.  I also hired a couple of youngsters to clean the baseboards, doors and windows.  That has still left me with a plethora of work, from installing fixtures in the ceilings to touching up or repainting most of the rooms in the house.  I even cleared two clogged sinks (I won't soon forget the rancid smell eminating from the pipes or the peach colored gel like goo that came from within, in addition to copious amounts of hair and whatever other substances had decomposed into a black paste that had to be cleaned out.)

This project has reminded me once again how good it is to have friends.  First my friend Shawn, here on vacation from Illinois, helped me put in 3 ceiling fans, a light fixture in the basement and a chandelier in the dining room, as well as helping fix my gate which had fallen off and fallen apart.  My friend Eric graciously let me borrow his new saw to cut the boards, and another friend Jenny helped put the gate back together as well.  Then today Matt and Jenny came over and took me from my work and took me hiking with them and their two boys.  It was a great hike, and after dinner Matt came over and helped me paint.  He pretty much completed one of the bedrooms, in addition to doing touch up on the basement stairs where it is difficult for me to reach.  I still have a lot of work to do, with re-caulking the tubs right below steam cleaning the carpets on my list of how I want to spend my weekends and vacation days, but it's really nice to have friends lend a hand.  Not only because it lightens the load, but more importantly because it makes you feel loved.

Monday, June 6, 2011

An Excellent Staycation

Last week Shawn, my best friend from college, his wife Amy and their 22 year old daughter Brittany (whom I used to babysit) came to visit for 10 days.  We had a great visit, and did some super fun stuff like playing tag with Amy's nieces and nephews at the park and white water rafting, as well as some less fun stuff like going to a the town's "Frontier Days", which involves walking a couple miles up and down the street looking at products that you wouldn't consider buying at a garage sale that are being hawked by a seemingly enless line of vendors.  It was interesting, however, to see how many different styles of clothing, tatoos and piercings there are.  Speaking of which, Shawn and I spotted a place (not at the Frontier Days) that advertised 200 free tatoos, leaving us wondering just how good a free tatoo is, and who would want to put a permanent mark on their body that falls under that category.

We also did some cool stuff like take a train through the Royal Gorge, which is a thousand foot deep canyon, and we ate a lot of Yo-Yogurt.  This restaurant offers the consumer the ability to choose from a variety of flavors of yogurt and multiple toppings and charges by the ounce.  It quickly became Shawn's favorite place to eat.  He was even talking about opening a franchise, until we looked it up online and discovered the suggested capital available to start one is a cool $300K.  After that Shawn was content with just enjoying their excellent product.

Unfortunately Shawn and I never got in our pre-dawn hike up the Incline that we wanted to do, but we did get to watch cliff divers inside a Mexican restaurant in Denver, and eat chicken that was raised and slaughtered in Amy's brother's backyard.  We missed the killing but according to Brittany it was something she won't be able to wash from her mind soon enough.

Finally the time came for my friends to go back home, and I said good bye to them and Amy's family.  I think the youngest three kids (aged 9, 11, and 13) adopted me as their older brother.  We had a lot of fun together, especially on the trampoline and rope swing in the backyard.  Needless to say it was a sad occassion, but a great vacation!  Now if I could just get some rest.