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October 25, 2007

Morning, Sunshine!

Gooooood morning! Okay, it's not so early anymore--it's just taken me a bit to get around to writing this.

I've been waking up feeling a bit aimless and maybe anxious, not really sure where I'm going or what to do. And then I realized this morning that not only should I not be waking up with background grumpiness, but that I should be waking up feeling the opposite. It's a brand new day! And the whole thing is mine! I can do with it what I want! What I've been wanting for about as long as I can remember is time and to write. Well, and to travel and to build community. But here I am with time in which to write, write, write, so I'd better get on it! Hooray day! Hooray sunshine! How lucky am I?!

And congratulations to my friend Elizabeth, who now has her website with many beautiful jeweled and sculpted creations online. Check it out if you want, it's quite well done:
www.elizabethjewels.com

Posted by beth at 5:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 23, 2007

Desert Grit

My first spring break trip of college was an epic road trip to Utah to climb and hike. I just for the first time returned to the area, to climb at Indian Creek with some Boulder friends.

I'm not much of a climber, but if I had "thing" in climbing, I think crack climbing would be "my thing." I love it. Not enough to do it all the time, but for one weekend of getting battered and bruised, I love it.


[Mark, Barbara, Marcus, and Joseffa.]


[What it takes to be safe.]


[Mark goes up.]


[Kacey.]


[Kacey's pup, Burrito.]

I also just love being in the desert.


[Big things to look at, small things to look at.]

By the end of the day, however, the wind had kicked up and to walk around I had to shield my eyes, while gusts sandblasted my bare thighs. What was I thinking, wearing shorts, anyway? Incidentally, I don't have any pictures of this part of the wall from this part of the day, since I didn't want to ruin my camera...


[On the protected part of the wall, Marcus descends from a 180-ft climb.... with quite an assortment of gear. One might even use the word "ridiculous."]


[Marcus and Barbara have a calm moment before stepping back out into the wind.]

As Barbara descended from the last climb of the day, we turned to see a neighboring valley disappear into whiteness. The whiteness was heading towards us. Rain? Snow? Dust? We'd find out soon enough, and the closer I was to the car the better. So I bid the others goodbye and started down to join Kacey and Burrito, who had already retreated downslope to get out of the wind.

The white turned out to just be moisture--nothing falling, just a light fog I guess--but Kacey did say that the car had been pelted with sand and that several gusts had her worried that her car would blow over. More worrisome still was the unknown state of our camp. We were a bit anxious to get back while there was still enough daylight to locate incidentals like, er, our tent.

Turns out our tent was fine. It had only blown about, say, 60 feet, and was caught upside-down in a brush-lined gully. The ground cloth and stakes (yes, we'd staked it--but the desert sand doesn't offer a whole lot of stability and we'd neglected to rock down our corners) were conveniently caught and/or strewn, respectably, at our tent's original location. No problem.

After a great meal of bison brats and beer and wine etc., we called it a night and crawled into our warm, cozy, fluffy, sand-filled sleeping bags. And rested our heads on sand-dusted pillows. Ah, the desert. The neighboring camp's blasted music lulled us to sleep (what is it with some people?), and several hours later the wind woke us up. Repeatedly. Turned out Kacey and I hadn't quite learned our lesson, and we'd again neglected to effectively stake out our tent--which meant that the rain fly flapped against the tent all night.

Needless to say, everyone was a little worse for the wear the next morning.

Still, we climbed, and despite a decent amount of cloud cover we were periodically treated to beautiful sunshine.


[A view downvalley.]


[Kacey and Burrito.]

We left in the early afternoon for the 6-7 hr drive home, which turned out to be about 8 1/2 hrs because of snow on the passes. The road was slow-going because it was slick, but there were also *quite* a number of semis stopped in the road--despite a sign stating that all commercial vehicles were required to chain up. Sigh. On the up side, the drive was at times absolutely beautiful. The mountains were dusted with snow in that classic dusted-with-snow sort of way, where there is still plenty of definition in the trees and houses but everything facing up is white. Very, very pretty. I felt at times like we were driving through a life-sized model train set--which I guess is funny, since model train sets are constructed to mimic real-sized communities--with perfectly-shaped housed nestled in perfectly-spaced lots and surrounded by trees, with light shining out from within and snow all around.

And, when it wasn't snowing, there were stars out.

Posted by beth at 5:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 19, 2007

Hiking Like a Local

I have a few extra pounds around the waist right now, so I'm trying to get more exercise, and while I'm checking out local health clubs I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather today and go for a hike in the foothills. This is one of those benefits of being unemployed. Mmmmmm......

The trailhead is only about a five minute drive from my house, so it's quite accessible. No excuse not to go for walks here all the time, really. Except for one thing. It's kind of a weird one, so bear with me. I seem to be fine hiking up in the mountains, but every time I go for a hike in the Front Range my legs itch like crazy. I've looked around on the web for a solution and have only found one person who describes similar symptoms and I wasn't able to comment on their blog for whatever reason. And there was no insight in other commenters' words, just sympathy.

Here's the deal: I hike up and up happily, like I did today, and then I turn to come downhill and am in agony. It's a downhill thing. If I could do an all-uphill hike I'd be fine, but I don't know of any of those yet. Let me know if you know of some weird vortex where I can live and hike in peace. My legs also itch like crazy when walking in the cold. I'm pretty sure it's not a dry skin thing--maybe a circulation thing. I think I've determined that the itchy areas are also cool to the touch. Any insight, if you've heard of this sort of thing, would be much, much appreciated. My doctor had no advice. Suffice to say, this might be my last hike in the Front Range.

Anyway, on with the hike. I enjoyed the way up and once I'd slowed down and was on flat terrain I went back to my happy place.

I ended up accidentally turning off the main trail too soon and was spit out into a neighborhood. This turned out to be quite nice, as I put on my photo eyes and enjoyed the fall suburban scenery.

Ah, the leaves may be gone from the trees in the mountains, but fall is still in full swing down in the flatlands.

Posted by beth at 12:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 14, 2007

Another Weekend, Another Hike

Again up to the Indian Peaks Wilderness, and on the same trail as last week even, but this time with work buddies Marianne and Seth.

And, a gray day.

Or, rather, a white one. It wasn't snowing when we got there, but the mountains became more and more evasive the closer we got.


[Looking back.]


[And continuing on.]


[Marianne fell for these colorful grasses.]


[Seth standing in it.]

The trail leads to Isabelle glacier, a small and shrinking mass of ice clinging to the side of the mountains. Marianne had hiked here two weeks ago but didn't make it all the way up because rain moved in and dampened her motivation; last week, for me, it was the setting sun. This time, despite the snow that had begun to fall, we pressed on. Until Marianne threw a surreptitious snowball at Seth from behind. It wasn't the snowball so much as the sudden, loud crackle of thunder that happened to accompany it. Marianne and I both jumped. Seth probably did too. After a brief discussion, we continued on--until the next crack and rumble, for which we saw the accompanying flash of lightning...very shortly before the crack of thunder. I grabbed on to Marianne's backpack, for what that was worth, and Seth did an immediate 180 on the trail. That's it, he said. I'm outta here. Marianne and I, of course, followed.


[Hightailing it down.]

The lightning pretty much stopped there, but since we were already facing east we continued out. Not without slowing down and taking some breaks to check out all the beautiful and fascinating things around us, though. We--I think perhaps Marianne most of all--were basking in the joy and wonder of our first snow.

Posted by beth at 4:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 13, 2007

Last Day in the Cube

Well, it's kind of my last day at work. Maybe. This marks the end of my polar stint filling in for and then helping out Scotty, who actually came back to work last week. I don't have anything lined up next, although I have a lead or two for who to come help out here, and I just figured I'd be back working on stuff but since everyone else has been treating it as my last day I finally after lunch started believing it. I'm cleaning the last of my things from my cube and then will head out of here. [So it *is* my last day in my cube.] I may well be back on Tuesday, or... maybe not for a while. I do like closure, but leaving this open-ended gives me the opportunity to come back and make some $$, which makes perfect sense, so I'll just be living in limbo for a bit and will have to be okay with it.

Tomorrow, a hike with some work friends, and frisbee on Sunday. And then, on Monday....

Posted by beth at 1:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 10, 2007

This is Colorado

Ah, fall.... I love it. Especially when the weather stays warm. Last week I went on a nice but gray-day hike, and this weekend I went on a glowing sunny-day hike. It took forever because I kept stopping on the drive and then on the trail (so much for aerobic exercise) to take pictures. I mean, how could I not? This is just a fraction of what caught my eye!

Oh yeah, a note on where I was--I hiked out to Lake Isabelle (and a bit beyond) in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, just past Brainard Lake (which is the first lake pictured below). Hooray for fall! I mean, yeah, the colors, but also the fact that I can wake up leisurely and do a few things around the apartment and *then* decide to go on a hike. No afternoon thunderstorms anymore. And, hooray for UNAVCO getting a day off for Columbus Day! I went hiking on Monday and hardly saw anyone else on the trail. And, of course, being normal people, they were on their way out when I was on my way in. Yes, I had a headlamp. No, I didn't need it. Note that the dark pictures make it look like it was a bit darker than it was. Not that I'll deny that I was up there for sunset. My friend Jen gets up early early to get all that early morning light. I say evening light suits me just fine. Here's to dusk!

Goodnight...

Posted by beth at 5:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 5, 2007

Here and There--Seattle?

I figured it wouldn't hurt to post an update about my current thinkings about life, the pursuit of happiness, maybe moving to Seattle... because some of you out there might have some good suggestions for me.

Here's my story: Part-time at work (yay!) on my way towards leaving completely, and thinking dreamily about what to do next. Thoughts:

Write a book.
Be a naturalist on nature cruises or other cool trips.
Do something with film/media/photography/design.
Other.

And, I'm thinking of moving to Seattle.

And, I'm going to need to buy a computer here pretty soon. No, I don't have one yet. I've been using my work computer for forever.

Any leads or suggestions would be great. I'm open. Hooray!

Posted by beth at 8:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Back to Africa?

I got an e-mail from the scientist I worked with in Ethiopia in March asking if I was available for some field work in Africa in the fall.

That's all he said.

Where, when?

I figured probably back in Ethiopia in October, but knew he works elsewhere as well. Turns out there has been a seismic swarm (lots of small earthquakes) and increased volcanic activity in norther Tanzania, and he applied for some emergency funding to put in a few GPS instruments.

Count me in!

Problem was (and is), they didn't know if the funding would come through. He wanted the work to be done ~October 8-22, and we worked it out that I would go through UNAVCO (where I'm still working part time), but as of Thursday morning (that would be yesterday), I still didn't know if it was a go! How do you plan for that? I like sponteneity, but I also like to plan for, prepare for, and get excited about things.

Turns out is was a no-go. Relief. So I'm here through October.

However, the group is re-applying for the funding and are hoping to get things going in November. Yay! Plenty of time now to plan--pack up my apartment, study up on the Great Rift Valley, and head over? Finish the project, spend a few days on internet finalizing the documentation, and then travel as a free agent? Explore the rift valley! Photograph the wildlife! Meet the people! Climb Kilimanjaro? Spend some time with NGOs volunteering on various (or one good) projects? Learning, experiencing, exploring, and gathering the foundation (coupled with my experiences in Ethiopia?) for a book?

All very exciting.

However, I still don't know if I'm going to go. And the outlook is not good.

1) The group has to resubmit for funding, like I said, which puts us back where we were a month ago--not know if the project is going, and when.

2) My boss is inclined towards putting someone else on the project.

So, we'll see.

Honestly, I'm a bit done with waiting and uncertainty. I'd like to know what's coming up (or not) so I clan plan around it. Where to put my energy? Time will tell.

Posted by beth at 8:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 4, 2007

Fall

Yep, that's right. It's fall in the Front Range. It's apparent in everything and everywhere now. The weather has mellowed out and, most importantly, plants are doing that whole changing color thing. And the sun is offering up that great fall lighting.


[Thistles outside work.]

I decided to go on a hike on Saturday to get up into the mountains. I've done very little of that this year--go figure. It always seems like a hassle, probably because I travel enough that when I'm home I like to be *home*. But it was time to go to the mountains, at least for a drive. I headed up Left-hand Canyon and stopped to take a few shots on the way.

The gray clouds looks like they'd settled in quite comfortably for the day, and I was feeling lazy by the time I reached the trailhead, and I was hungry besides, so I actually considered just calling it good and turning around to drive back down the canyon. But it had been so long since I'd hiked, and I needed exercise, and I actually had some time, and here I was... So I decided to at least start out. The first lake, Lake Mitchell, was only a mile in. Why not.

I got immediately into a groove and wanted to just go go go. It's not so hard to do on this trail, which is my favorite--well suited for a lazy mountain-lover like myself. It's nearly flat, only a mile and a half or so to treeline, and only three miles to Blue Lake, a lovely alpine lake cupped in bedrock and quite pretty--especially on a sunny day.


[Not a sunny day. But still beautiful.]

I've been wanting to head up past the lake and explore the less traveled reaches (the area is pretty popular), but decided contentedly that today wasn't the day for it. It was chilly, and gray, and I was alone, and I'd already gotten a good dose of solitude since there happened to be no one else at the lake when I got there. Lovely. Plus, it started to snow. Time to head down.

Withing ten minutes, I turned back to see a scrap of blue sky. I could tell the strip was slowly widening, so I waited. And waited. And eventually, I could see my shadow.

But I was already set to head down, so I continued.


[See me in the shadows?]

And enjoyed the sun on the way down, and then checked out the aspens just outside the park.

Quite a nice afternoon. I forget how much I like to be up in the mountains, and then I get there and feel whole and good. I need to do more of that.

I wanted to go back up on Sunday, but I had a frisbee game in the morning. I also had a plan. I convinced my friend Larry to go on a drive up the same canyon in his convertible. Sunday was sunny. Niiiiiiiiiiiice.

Posted by beth at 5:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack