Our son: Age seven going on 70

We bought both the kids new mountain bikes this summer (well, new-to-us from Craigslist). We’ve done a ton of hiking and adventuring but not much biking these days. One night, we decided to take them out for a spin and Hadley proposed we take the boys to our secret swamp in an Open Space park near our house.

Actually when we got there, she was mad about revealing our secret spot. Though she said “swamp,” she didn’t mean swamp and had intended for us to go on a secret trail and “why aren’t you a mind reader, Mom?”

Girl drama aside, she quickly recovered from our misunderstanding and took us on on an adventure that wound over dirt, rocks and plenty of bumps. It was Bode’s first off-piste trail on his new bike and he was not. Happy. About. It. Over and over again, he shouted out:


And my favorite: “CURSE YOU!”

Good thing the other 40 percent of him had a great time.

Martin Luther Day Weekend: In Pictures

As much as I love to travel, there is nothing like exploring your own backyard, particularly when you live in an amazing place like Denver. On Saturday, we met up with my friend Amie and her kids who are the same age as H and B.  We played to our heart’s content, starting at our local skate park.At one point, I heard Hadley screaming for me. I raced over to find she had slid down into a deep bowl and she couldn’t get out. Soon, all the kids followed suit. “I’ll go help them,” my friend Amie heroically volunteered. I hesitated. I love Amie but I had serious doubts about her capabilities. Eventually, everyone but her emerged victorious. Her hand-on-face says it all.I debated dropping into the bowl to assist but figured I’d be more help from above and eventually, an 11-year-old boy and I pulled her to safety. How often does that happen?

We then hopped on our bikes and raced along the Ralston Creek trail. Remember these pictures from the summer?It looks a wee bit different in the winter.There was a nearby playground but the kids preferred to climb trails, build dams, throw rocks and scale creeks.

I must be doing something right.

In other big weekend news, Bode lost his first tooth–his bottom right–while watching a movie on Friday night.

The Tooth Fairy got her act together and dyed his glass of water blue to match her dress, as opposed to H’s urine sample.

And Hadley hit a milestone of her own: she got her ears pierced.

Rest assured, major details forthcoming on this feat that has been three years in the making.

On Martin Luther King Day, the kids lazed around all morning while I worked from bed (praise laptops), we met Jamie’s client at Beau Jo’s pizza for lunch (the best mountain pies EVER) and we explored 127-acre Belmar Park. I’ve been a bit remiss lately how fast they’re growing up and that their playground days will soon be behind them but I had an epiphany at Belmar Park. Soccer. Basketball. Swim team. Though I think it’s important for kids to learn skills and gain self-confidence, there is an expiration date on so many of them. I was repeatedly athlete of the year for team sports and I loved them all but what I am most grateful for is my parents taught me to love the outdoors and solo sports like biking, hiking, running, skating, exploring, snowshoeing, climbing and skiing. Those last beyond the confines of graduation.

And will amount to a lifetime of truly living and knowing how to play.

Four TGIF Happy Thoughts

It has been a pretty stressful week. Between some looming deadlines to juggling household stuff to mom’s persisting health problems (they finally did a stomach scope and discovered ulcers) to blowing up at H’s teacher to having a meeting with the principal to discuss strategies with an interventionist in math (can you spell r-e-l-i-e-f?) I am so, so, so glad it is Friday.

Why didn’t someone tell me this whole mom/wife/human thing would be so tough sometimes?

But here are four things that make me happy.

1) One of my only solaces about Denver’s lack of snow is I was able to mountain bike Table Mountain today. In January. I’d still rather be snowshoeing in winter.

2) A friend posted this picture on Facebook by Anna Beck Designs:

Life is a balance of holding on & letting go.

My friend wrote:

Growing up, I spent many an afternoon in a little municipal swimming pool, surrounded by every other kid in the county. I remember that the best part was finding enough space to just back float. The screeches, squeals and shouts of Marco Polo were muffled and I was weightless, bobbing in an ocean alone. I’d forgotten how very awesome that was until I saw this picture. I need to spend more time back floating.

3) My sister-in-law Tammy brightened my day by sending this hilarious blog post. If you’re not LDS, you won’t get it. But if you are LDS, I guarantee the idiosyncrasies will make you laugh. Out. Loud. And if you’re neither, you’ll think we’re all a bit crazy.

4) It is so nice to see positive stories trending on Yahoo. A Reddit user posted a photo of a poignant message that she found taped to the stall in a women’s restroom at her university. The user, chellylauren, wrote: “In a girls’ bathroom stall at my university, girls have written about some of their most horrifying life experiences. This week, somebody replied.”

The reply, written on notebook paper, is anonymous.

The reply in full:

To the girl who was raped: You are so strong. I cannot fathom the pain you must have gone through. The fact that you have the bravery to write it (even on a bathroom wall) gives me hope.

To the girl with eating disorders: I promise you, although I don’t know you, you are beautiful, you deserve your health. You deserve freedom from that hell.

To the girl with the alcoholic father: I am so sorry for the agony it must cause. Again, such courage is remarkable you must be such a strong person to see such pain.

To the girl whose father died: Missing them never goes away. The ache of their absence never goes away. But the love they had, the memories you share surely must last. I am sure, out of the bottom of my heart, the people who have left you in this world are exceptionally proud of the person you are.

Everytime (sic) I see these walls, these confessions, I feel so blessed to know I have the priviledge (sic) of seeing them. Your moments, these secrets, are all precious even though they are sad. To all of you (including those I did not mention, and those who have not yet written)

-You are worthy.

-You are strong.

-You are brave.

-You are loved.

-Somebody cares.

Written below that, somebody penned a quick response: “To the person who wrote this, thank you.” And I echo that sentiment.

It’s a fall frenzy: in pictures!

My computer refuses to read my iPhone picture files so I have a backlog of pictures waiting to be uploaded. Which means I’ve had to email myself each picture and then save it on my desktop. Which means I can’t be bothered to do it.

However, fall is flying by and I’d be remiss if I didn’t make mention of at least a few things we’ve been up to. Haddie has started piano lessons and Bode has wrapped up soccer. Other activities include:

Swim team at the YMCA. Haddie is loving it and I’m loving I can go workout in the weight room during it.

Except for on Fridays when I bring Bode and his bestie Sean to swim. And yes, I said swim. If you’ve followed Bode’s swimming missteps, you’ll realize how truly miraculous it is that he’s finally swimming.

Then there was the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey’s DRAGONS.

Tennis. We’ve been playing every Monday night for FHE for almost two months. Bode, in particular, is obsessed and is begging me for lessons.  I told him he has to wait ’til spring. Even this Canuck has standards about running around the tennis court in the snow. But apparently no standards when it comes to taking over the skate park and using the bumps as a net.

Bode started basketball at the YMCA. Though all the players were a year older and a full head taller, he held his own. This is Jamie coaching nervous Bode about the rules moments before his first basketball game ever. It’s called death-bed repentance.

There was stargazing with our besties at the Pine Valley Ranch Park observatory.

That activity deserves an entire post unto itself. Which I plan to write in all my spare time.

Though I’ve been crazy-busy with work and meetings, I try to carve out a few days every week for an adventure. I’ve become moderately obsessed with biking every trail at North Table Mountain Park in Golden.
Well, in this case hike-a-biking because some parts were STEEP.

Then, there was Mount Falcon Park. Denver recently received a healthy dose of snow so my hike started with views like this. And changed to this as I reached the summit.
And yep, I was in my element.

Speaking of snow, we hit the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Expo where we skied.
If you count that makeshift ramp.

The kids also attempted the Gibbons’ Slacklines (think: hip tightrope), an insanely popular up-and-coming sport. They attempted it over and over again, only venturing out a few feet. Apparently balance ain’t our thing.

And my favorite activity of all: the Denver Curling Club brought a curling demo! As a Canuck mom, I finally felt like I was not failing my little half-breeds in the Ways of the Motherland.

Lest you think we’re all play and no work ’round here, service is always worked into our routine. Here are my boys at building clean-up day at the church. Haddie’s charter school threw a huge harvest festival that was a throwback to yesteryear with butter making, straw crowns and corn husk doll stations, chili and a charming dragon play.

My little bird

And, of course, these activities don’t even touch upon all our Halloween festivities, pumpkin patches and parties. This week, I’m supposed to go to Dallas for a conference Thursday through Sunday. Poor Bode and Jamie are sick so I’ll be nursing them back to health with chicken noodle soup and lots of snuggles the next few days.

I think we’ll all welcome the break after a fabulous but frenzied fall.

Steamboat Springs: Highlights and Lowlights in Colorado’s Coolest Outdoor Town

I’ve only been to Steamboat Springs, Colo. a couple of times in the summer but this recreational Mecca is chock full of memories for me. Mind you, not all of them good:

*There was my infamous hike with friend Kristy 13 years ago wherein we attempted to hike the Rabbit Ears, got lost and never found the summit. On a positive note, Kristy introduced me to “bear sticks.” She was disillusioned to believe that tapping two sticks together would scare bears away. I countered they were more like the bears’ dinner call. Fortunately, they were never put to the test.

*Then, there was my family’s trip four years ago when we had THE BEST TIME at the popular rodeo, only to come back to the car four hours later and realize we had locked the keys in the car. When it was still running. Go here for all the sordid details.

Yampa River

I was recently invited to be on a panel of the Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference in Steamboat and decided this was going to be my trip of reckoning and that nothing would go wrong. Mind you, it almost did when I started on my 2.5–hour drive and shortly after I got on the freeway, I realized I forgot my mountain bike and had to turn around.

Fortunately, that was the only misstep in what became a glorious three-day trip the Yampa Valley. Unfortunately, I had missed the peak of the fall colors but the weather was glorious, crisp and clear.

Yampa River Core Trail

The vein of Steamboat Springs is the 7-mile Yampa River Core Trail. I’ve walked portions of it with my family but resolved to bike it end-to-end and back again (14 miles for the math-deficient). I started on the south side of town at the Ranger’s Station and headed north.

It was the perfect way to discover Steamboat Springs. I wound through beautiful groves.

Past the Rotary Park boardwalk, which extends across the marshes adjacent to the Yampa River with  informative interpretive signs.

Along the Yampa River Botanical Gardens and the Bud Werner Memorial Library (behind which were play structures for kids and fantastic boulders to check-out the Yampa River). I cut right through the rodeo grounds and various park sites (Steamboat has 28 of them) until the trail dead-ended at the local skate park.

As I headed back to town, I realized I was famished so stopped at Bamboo Market–an organic deli overlooking the river. I should have been tipped off this was not your average market when the products that greeted me were Mugwort Herb, Horehound Herb and Horsetail Herb.  It was right out of a Harry Potter wizard’s spell book.

I sauntered over to the deli and ordered the least suspicious thing on the menu: a turkey sandwich on pumpkin seed bread. Or so I thought.

Dude behind the counter: “Do you want mustard and vegenaise on that?”

“I’m sorry. Can you repeat that?”


“That’s what I thought you said. Sure, why not. Just put it on the side.”

Trying vegan mayonnaise? Now that is risk-taking.

I nestled back on the outdoor patio feeling very outdoorsy-yuppy-vegan hanging and started eavesdropping on the outdoorsy-yuppy-vegan peeps the next table over. The woman was talking very loudly to her phone.

“Yes, we’re here in Steamboat and eating (long pause)….organic stuff.”

Nice to know they were as clueless as I was.

My next Steamboat Springs resolution: ski there this winter. And here’s for hoping that trip goes just as smoothly.

Stay tuned for my adventures at Upper Fish Creek Falls!


The Horrors of Biking Bear Creek (Literally)

Last month, I finally kicked my 10+-year-old mountain bike to the curb (or rather, Craigslist) and purchased the coolest new trend in mountain bikes: a 29er. I don’t know what it is about those 29-inch wheels but I feel invincible on my bike.

Problematic when you are indisputably mortal.

During the overheated summer months, I would hike or bike at dawn out of sheer survival.  With the glorious drop in temperatures, I’ve been reconfiguring my day and it has forced me to become more disciplined. Now, I dangle my playtime in the mountains as a motivator for meeting deadlines.

On Monday, I cranked out my Denver Post column and Travel Mamas article (both a week before deadline, ThankYouVeryMuch) as well as put the finishing touches on my PowerPoint presentation for the Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference I’m speaking at this week in Steamboat Springs (more on that later).

I rewarded myself for my productive morning with a two-hour ride. A few weeks ago, I took my road bike for a 30-mile ride from Morrison to Denver along the Bear Creek Trail. I’d noticed a dirt trail “Stone House”and resolved to bring my new 29er back to attempt it. Monday was that day.

The first part of the ride through Bear Creek Lake Park was a bluebird-flaxen roller-coaster ride.

I had summited and descended a steep hill when I came upon the start of the Stone House Trail with a rather unwelcome sign:

Three river crossings? A wise person would have turned back but not me. I was on my 29er! I could do it! I was delusional! And those river crossings were referring to Bear Creek. How daunting could a little ‘ol creek be? Turns out, plenty.

I was quickly grounded when I reached my first river crossing which was, indeed a river. I calculated the water to be between 1.5-2 feet deep. I looked upstream and saw a more shallow crossing with an obstacle course of rocks and a fallen log. I dismounted and slogged my bike through the water as I skipped from rock-to-rock.

River crossing No. 1: Tackled.

What I didn’t have the foresight to anticipate: River crossing No. 2 and the fact I was now trapped between them. As I approached the second one, there were no shallow areas so I picked up speed, surged into the water and despite the fact I was slipping, slipping, slipping, my 29er’s wheels forged on.

Until about three-quarters of the way across when those slippery rocks proved uncrossable. You know those movies that use slow motion for dramatic effect? Thus describes what happened next. I started slipping, I set my foot down to stabilize myself as water shot up my leg. Before I knew it, I completely lost my balance and fell, right-side first into the drink.

That part was fast-motion.

I slogged my way to shore, ringed myself out and dragged myself to river crossing No. 3.

There were no obstacle or traversing attempts. I simply dismounted and walked straight through, cursing the city of Lakewood for being too lazy to build bridges. Following that third crossing, the dirt trail reconnected with the paved one but I was determined! I was going to stay on my dirt path all the way to the Stone House!

Then came the thorn bush.

I took the paved trail back.

I later limped into the house, bellowed to Jamie, “I FELL INTO THE RIVER!” for which he raced up to hear me download the day’s events. I went into the kitchen for a snack and saw the note I’d hastily left him to know where I’d gone:

I didn’t write, “Biking AT Bear Creek” or “Biking Bear Creek trail.” Just simply “Biking Bear Creek.” It was rueful foreshadowing for would I would literally do that day.

And make me realize semantics are everything.

Life: According to Instagram

Sometimes life is best followed by a glorious little app called Instagram. I’m woefully behind on life so here are our happenings before big Spring Break in Utah:

Hadley competed in her second Destination Imagination tournament whereupon she performed the riveting role of a mouse.

Suffice it to say, she was seriously bummed to snag up that role before she realized she could have had the role of a lifetime: a cat.

Speaking of which, our amateur photographers have been taking lots of pictures of Fat Kitty in his element….

….Whining and longing to go outside.

They also documented Fat Kitty’s love story. A new family moved onto our street and they brought Austin the cat with them. It was Fat Kitty’s first kiss ever.
Even Bode who shuns any signs of flirtation admitted he couldn’t turn away from the burgeoning romance.

Imagine their disappointment when they realized Austin was, in fact, a dude.

We’ve been spending a lot of time at the skate park and playground with our neighborhood besties.

A hint of many glorious evenings to come this summer.

Hadley and I are training for her first 5K, The Color Run. First item of business was shopping for running shoes and second was her first run.

She’ll be passing me in no time.

Every day when Hadley comes home from school, she holes herself up in her room to create something amazing.

This is what happened to my office chair during one of her many sessions.

One Saturday, we were Junior Naturalists at the Lookout Nature Center.

Or rather, the kids were. Jamie and I are more in the “senior” camp.

As for me, I’ve been keeping busy. One day, I appeared on Denver’s top news station, 9News, showcasing various baby shower items.

I miraculously survived without stuttering too much.

And through my almost-daily adventures, I’ve seen winter slowly seep into spring. From this hike up Matthews Winters in my Yaktrax….

to Confluence Park.

To a very steep hike up Apex Park to my new favorite overlook of the city.

To mountain biking Standley Lake.

To more mountain biking.

Only in Boulder would a trail with the name Community Ditch be so beautiful.

Some people call March Denver’s “shoulder’s season.”

If that’s the case, I can’t wait to see what our regular season will bring.

What a difference a week makes

Last week started out with mountain biking in glorious 80-degree temperatures at Community Ditch in Boulder.
Trust Boulder to have a ditch that looks this gorgeous.

The next day, it was upper-50s biking Standley Lake.And then came the big cooldown–a 50-degree drop since Monday.

Hiking a much different scene at Standley Lake.

To this place today while Denver has yet another snowstorm.

Goal: R&R.

See you next week!

Copper Mountain and My Ride of Death

Missed yesterday’s post? Be sure to read Part I.

Admittedly, my reason for wanting to go to Copper Mountain in the off-season is because I have been dying to bike the portion of the Ten Mile Recreational Pathway that runs from Copper Mountain down to Frisco (about 13 miles round-trip.)

This extensive network of trails in Summit County is among my favorite in Colorado. A few years back, I biked with the kids from Frisco along the reservoir to Lake Dillon (one of my favorite days ever). Another time, I biked from Dillon up to Keystone and also we did Frisco to Breckenridge.

All that remains are for me to do Copper Mountain to Frisco and then Copper Mountain up Vail Pass, the latter of which is a 1,000-foot climb.

It’s no wonder I saved the best (or rather, worst) for last.

But on Saturday, I was determined to bike to Frisco and so I woke up at 6 a.m. It was still pitch-black outside.

I dozed until 6:30 a.m. It was barely starting to light up.

I fell back asleep hard, awaking at 7 a.m. I tried to talk myself out of going and stay snuggled up to Jamie but I had come on this trip for the express purpose of biking the trail. All other portions have been glorious and why should this one be any different?

Turns out, it was. Different, that is. As in bad-different.

It wasn’t the actual trail that was bad. In fact, a beautiful smattering of lemon-lime trees lined the path and the moderate decline to Frisco should have been a breeze.

But it was awful for two reasons: the weather and my bike.

Daytime temperatures were 60 degrees but nighttime hovered around freezing and that’s what it was when I started out. I had only worn a light fleece and Capri biking shorts and cannot ever remember being so cold on a bike path.

But I wouldn’t, I couldn’t turn back. For me, the only thing worse than quitting is having unfinished business and so I pressed onward, slowly.

The sluggish pace was due to a problem I am admitting publicly for the first time: I have an aversion to pumping tires. I’ve always felt this way and if you factor in my bike’s presta valve (that requires an adapter to pump), I avoid it at all costs.

That morning when I started out, my tires weren’t firm but still rideable. By the end, they were nearly flat.

Have you ever biked 13 miles in freezing temperatures with near-flat tires? It wasn’t pretty.I couldn’t even fake a smile here.

But I did it and now the only portion that remains is climbing from Copper Mountain to the top of Vail Pass.

Lesson learned: Wear winter clothes…and fully pumped tires.

Copper Mountain’s Solace

After our doozy-of-a-week in the hospital, our overnight trip to Copper Mountain on Friday could not have come at a more perfect time. I asked Jamie if he wanted to cancel but we have been trying to schedule this getaway for months (our lodging was a trade agreement with one of his clients).

And so we went with the understanding Jamie would need to lie low.

If there’s a perfect place to do that, it’s Colorado’s mountains in the fall and we nailed the colors perfectly.

Located 75 miles west of Denver right off I-70, Copper Mountain is the last of the major ski resorts I had yet to visit. Unlike many other resorts in Colorado, there is a ski village built around the area but no real town. This means the shoulder seasons (fall and spring) are like a ghost town. The solace was glorious.

On Friday night while Jamie rested at the condo, Hadley, Bode and I hot tubbed and then explored the area, starting with Copper Mountain Golf.

(Shhhhh, don’t tell the golfers we were on contraband bikes).

We also checked out The Woodward at Copper, a year-round snowboard and ski training camp (the first of its kind) with 19,400 feet of terrain park and pipe progression.
Basically, it’s teen/tween heaven and the staffer was gracious to show us around and even let the kids jump off the ramp into one of the many foam pits.

I declined for fear I’d be unable to climb out.

And yes, I speak from old-woman experience.

Tune in tomorrow (read the story here) for the sordid details of my ride of death. OK, maybe I didn’t exactly die but find out why I kind of wanted to. And yes, I still know I’m in need of posting pumpkin updates. It’s on my (very long) list.