Rocky Mountain High: Day 3 – The Ascent

Well that idea of writing these blogs pretty close together was a bit of a failure. I server the first two up pretty well, but then things got busy. Here we are though, as it’s now just after 6am and I had to wrap up a fun 2-hour activation call with work. I plan on watching some soccer here in about 15 minutes, but I thought I would try writing this blog before then.

So previously on “Rocky Mountain High” we did an escape room, ate some food and then scoped out the mountain we planned to climb. I don’t think Jon Snow has bent the knee yet though so you’re not too far behind.

So the morning of our hike started extremely early. We initially planned on getting started around 2am, but after scouting our hike, we decided a little bit later start was sufficient.

I had my alarm set for 2:45am, and though I’m not sure I even slept, I found myself checking the time on my phone at 2:44am. I got right on up, not too tired or dazed ready to take on Mount Democrat. At the same time, Tippin came up the stairs of the AirBnB to greet me. The other guys began to follow, and it was a funny drive up to the mountain. I can only compare it to the likes of us all preparing to go do a major robbery. In the movies when the guys are traveling to their destination it’s pure silence. That’s what our drive was like. It was dark, a little rainy and nobody was talking. I’m attribute this more to it being just after 3am and not the fact that we were about to climb a 14er.

We arrived at the base of the mountain preparing ourselves with headlamps and flashlights. The key component to this hike was how ill-prepared I was in terms of clothes. I forgot a jack and even a long sleeve shirt. Though I made it without turning in to an abominable snowman, I know the next time I ever go hiking I will dress far more appropriately. The poncho that Kevin gave me was the saving grace from my arms not completely freezing off.

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We began our trek up the mountain in complete darkness. We only had a faintly defined path as we got in to the rocks to follow, and there were a handful of times where we had to stop and assure ourselves we were still on the right path. Ollie was our guide and had the tools to make sure we did not go walking off any cliffs or climb in to any bear caves.

I immediately felt the altitude kick in and a hike up a half a mile felt like I had been running for 2. My lungs were feeling it as were my calves. I was surprised at how much effort you feel you put in for not going at a very fast pace.

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The sun just started to come up as we got about halfway up the mountain. It was a foggy haze that would roll in and out over the mountain. It would sometimes make for amazing views and sometimes all you could see are giant white clouds in front of you. It was something I had never in my life seen or even thought I would see.

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We finally made it to the top of the mountain around around 7:30am. It was a bit of a quiet celebration for us because we were all just trying to gather ourselves from the hike up. It was a bit of an odd feeling, kind of like you did something huge and then the thought of, well now back down we go.

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We spent a little bit of time just taking in the sites and when the clouds cleared we could see down to where we had started. I was at this point a bit chilly, and luckily one of the guys let me throw some gloves on to wear on the descent back down.

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The hike down was far easier and involved much more casual conversation; something we could not do much of going up because of the energy it exalted. I also got to take in the views that I had no idea were around me when we were doing up because of the darkness.

The trail at this point was much more lively and people were making their way up. I was glad we had started early because we were pretty much secluded from anybody else. We passed may a small group here or there towards the top, but the initial hike was just us guys.

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It was one of the most physically taxing things I’ve done, but I attribute some of it to my poor choice of clothing. I think if I did it again, and I had the rite attire, that it would not have been too terrible, but even with that said, it was no easy task.

The fact that I can say I climbed a mountain is pretty cool, and something you can mark off any type of bucket list. We got back to the car around 9:30am. We all wanted to get back to the AirBnB so we could change and then go get some breakfast. Despite our immediate desire for sleep, our second wind kind of took over and we all got some coffee and breakfast at a local diner.

After that, we checked out some of the Colorado exclusive shops and went back to the AirBnB. Some of us stayed up for a bit before deciding to try and crash to get some sleep. I tried, but found myself unable to sleep.

Once we all kind of got up and started to take the 2nd part of the day in, we played a few board games. One of the oddest feelings was hanging out playing a game and feeling like we had done an entire days worth of activities and it was only like 10:45 or 11am.

Towards the afternoon I think I got a bit of the altitude sickness that they say can happen, or maybe it was the lack of sleep, but my head was bugging me. While the guys played a few more games I just lounged on the couch. We decided to have one final meal out at a brewery in Breckenridge, CO.

It was a nice little wrap up to the day, and I was more than ready to go to bed when we got home. We had an early morning ahead of us because we had a decent drive to get back in to Denver before hitting the airport.

It was nothing short of an amazing day, and a completely unreal experience to climb a mountain. I’m hoping it’s not the last one I ever climb, but I don’t know if I’m ready for Everest yet. I’ll wait a year or two. Sleep hit quickly and the next day brought the trip back home to St. Louis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rocky Mountain High – DAY 2: Escape

The first realization in the time zone difference came at a very early start of Day 2 in Colorado. I had woken up, saw a bit of daylight and jumped in the shower at the hotel. I got dressed and ready for the day. When I picked up my phone to check the time since everyone else was sleeping, it hit me that it was about 6:45am. Colorado sits in the mountain time zone so they are an hour behind St. Louis. My body normally wakes up around 7am-ish so I was up and ready to go, but didn’t realize much of Colorado probably wasn’t.

I definitely could not go back to sleep, and I did not want to just sit on my phone for hours while the other guys slept (though they did stir a bit enough to converse some). I decided that I would see if a Starbucks or coffee place was nearby and I’d go get a coffee. To my surprise, there actually was a Starbucks right in the lobby of the Marriot Hotel. Not only was this convenient, but it also gave me the motivation to step outside and try and get a shot of the mountains as the sun was coming up. I got my usual “dirty chai” drink and headed outside. When I peaked out the window of our hotel, I saw a pretty cool view, and I thought I’d get a similar view of the mountains outside, but I was sadly disappointed. No worries I thought, I’ll shoot some video and head back to the room.

Not long after getting up to the room, the guys started to get up. We’d make another trip to Starbucks so they could get some coffee. We packed up our stuff and prepared to check out of the hotel to begin our trip to pickup Ollie and head to Colorado Springs.

The trip to Colorado Springs was probably one of the most visual drives of the trip. Not only did we go through the city and past a couple of the Denver sports stadiums, but as we left Ollies, we began to encounter more and more amazing mountain views. We split up in two cars. Tippin, Matt and Ollie rode in one car, and Kevin and myself took the other. We had made arrangements to do an escape room, but we had time to kill so we headed to Gardens of the Gods.

On our way out to Garden of the Gods, I saw some of the most incredible houses I had ever seen. Not just for size, but their location. Some sat deep in the mountains, while others had huge farms on them. It made me wonder if I ever came across a huge sum of money, if I would move out to a place like that away from all the craziness of suburbs. In hindsight, and after getting home, I would probably just use it as a vacation home ha!

We arrived at the Gardens of the Gods with about an hour or so to kill before our escape room appointment, so we made a brief visit in to the attraction. We did some brief hiking/rock climbing to the top of one of the rocks and took in the view. It was not very high up, but at a place like that, the view was still pretty awesome.

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After our brief adventures, we decided to head towards the location of the Escape Room. We wanted to grab a quick bite to eat before we invoked our heavy mystery solving skills so we stopped at a Subway nearby.

Once we got the escape room, we realized that we had actually book it for the following day. The one we had planned to do involved using iPads and walking around the area. The problem was that, though we still could have done the iPad one, it was starting to rain so the escape room was not too sure if it’d be a good idea to take the iPad out, and with Kevin having to put down a $200 deposit on the iPad, we figured an indoor, normal escape room was wiser.

They got it all set up, and we were off to take on the challenge. I had done an escape room two times before. Once with Tippin for his birthday, and another time with Jen’s coworkers. I was 1-1 at them, so this was my chance to get a winning record. It was a fun escape room, and you notice each place creates the experience a little bit different in terms of how they handle clues and such. We all worked pretty quick and were fast to find various clues, and we ended up escaping with about 11 minutes remaining. It was a good time, and we didn’t come across anything too incredibly difficult outside of some tedious work we had to put in for one of the clues involving over 150 tiny nerf balls we had to arrange on a board. Once we completed it, we got together with some props and took a quick group photo.

Escape Room.jpgI had been here before when we lived in Colorado, and I remember the distance chapel they have on site. It’s a pretty incredible structure, but unfortunately we could not go in the top half due to a wedding taking place. It was still a very cool site to see, and we walked around for a short time taking in the campus. There were some very cool statues and a few aircraft on the lawns around.

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After the Airforce Academy we decided to make our way to the AirBnB which was in Fairview, CO. A fun fact about this place, it’s also called South Park, which is the town the animated show is based on. I only saw one reference to the show there, but it was still a cool little pop culture nugget of information. We arrived at the AirBnB after about an hour and a half or so drive. Much of the time was spent playing the movie game where we went through the car naming movie titles based on the first letter in the first word and the first letter of the last word in the title. We carried this on for almost the whole trip, even during our quick stop at a local grocery store to get some water and granola bars for our hike the next day.

Once we got to the AirBnB and situated, we decided to go grab a quick bit to eat. We chose the South Park Brewery. The food was not amazing, but we all kind of agreed that at a brewery, their emphasis is probably more on the beer than the food. After we ate we decided to take a trip to the mountain we’d be climbing the next morning and scout it out a bit. We planned on a very early start the next day so we wanted to see what we would be taking on in the darkness.

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When we got to the mountain to scope it out, I felt a little intimidated. I had never climbed a mountain and rarely even have been hiking. I had no idea what to expect, but knew it was going to be a physical challenge I had not experienced before.

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After a quick glance at the mountain, we headed back to the AirBnB. We hangout for a short time, then decided that we should probably all head to bed. We planned to get up around 2:45am to be in the car by 3am to head back to the mountain to begin our ascent. I’m not sure how much I slept that night knowing it would be a quick turnaround and my body still had not quite adjusted to the time change. Regardless, we were preparing to climb a freakin’ mountain. As the Joker said in The Dark Knight, “And Here…We…Go”

Rocky Mountain High – DAY 1: The Departure

I’m finally getting around to writing the blog from my trip to Colorado for my best bud Tippin’s bachelor party. I wanted to get the video uploaded to YouTube before I posted the blog. Tippin has already written his, and you can check that puppy out right here. To avoid leaving too much out, I’ve decided to break my blogs in to days. From the day I left to the day I came back. I will wrap up with the final blog consisting of my video of the trip.

I’m still catching up on the time zone change and the early mornings that we had there, but a week passed, and I finally have time to reflect on the amazing experience.

Let me start off by saying that this trip had me all sorts of anxious. Not because I thought things were going to get crazy or out of control, but because it was going to involve me figuring out a lot of stuff. We’ll go day-by-day.

I have not flown on a plane in something close to eleven years. I think the last time I did fly, it was from Kansas City to St. Louis, which I believe lasted a brief 30 minutes. I did not have to worry about parking or anything. This trip is when I had to do everything and learn some lessons along the way.

I worked a half-day at Centurylink because I figured it’s easier to leave from work, then from the house, and I could tie up any loose ends at work before heading to the airport. St. Louis’s airport is only about 20 minutes from my work, so it gave me plenty of time to get there and figure out how to get my butt on a plane.

The first thing I quickly learned is that there is no such thing as “free parking” at the airport. If I would’ve given it a bit more thought, then I probably would have had somebody drop me off, but it was too late for that, so I embarked on finding a place to park. I learned about the parking fee from the first place I pulled up to. I asked the tenant if this was free parking. He laugh and told me it was $39 a night. Holy cow, I was preparing myself to build up a hefty bill. I asked, if there were any places cheaper, and he pointed me in the direction about a mile down the road that was $9 a night. I really wan’t too excited about paying per night, but this was the first lesson I learned.

I finally found a parking spot, and stumbled my way to the shuttle area to take me to the airport. Luckily I made note of where I parked, or that would have been a struggle when I got home trying to find my car. My flight was about 2:15, and I had made it to the airport shortly after 1pm. Maybe even around 12:50ish.

I went to the ticket counter to get my boarding pass. I had purchased my ticket online, and downloaded the Frontier app, but was not confident enough in my airport etiquette to try and check in using it. The line was short and I got my boarding pass and was directed to where security was. Security is a beast in and of itself for someone who hasn’t been on a plane in years and years. I tried to study the folks in front of me to see what I needed to do. I ready the sign stating you must take your shoes off and your laptop out of your bag. This was pretty easy, but it was the slew of other items I probably didn’t take in to account that I needed to place in the little check bins. I had coins in my pocket, my keys, my belt, a hat, sunglasses, I even asked the security guard if my wedding ring needs to come off. He very seriously, said, sir you never take that off. He followed up with a joke about different scenarios including divorce. His delivery was great, but I was in no mood to express my appreciation for him making a joke at my expense. I needed to get to the terminal before my nerves would ease.

I made it through security, with very little issues, and felt like it was smooth sailing. I knew what my terminal was, and took a seat to wait for my flight. My next bit of anxiety came when it was time to board. Keep in mind, that I get anxious over probably the most mundane things. This next item was how you board a plane. They call people in zones. I was zone 4, but when they announced the initial boarding item I could not hear what was said. I just saw a ton of people standing up. In my head I’m thinking, do I just get in line? Do I wait? What do I do?! I finally heard the next call for zone 2. Okay, I was back in the swing of things and knew when I should go to the gate. Zone 4 was finally called and I was ready to board the plane.

My next lesson came in learning how the seating is set up on the plane. I was seat 8F. I figured the 8 was easy enough, but in my span of stress, it did not occur to me that the right side of the plane had ABC seats, and the left side was DEF. I walked a good 5 or 6 rows past my seat before asking the flight attendant where my seat was. After it clicked in my head, I felt pretty dumb, but I got to my seat next to the window and took up shop for the proceeding flight.

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Lesson #3 or whichever number we’re on for my random counting. You have no cell service flying on a plane. You actually put your phone in airplane mode. I definitely did not plan my entertainment for the flight. Sure it was only about an hour and a half or so, but I immediately became envious of the gentlemen next to me playing Monopoly on his iPad. I only had a handful of songs saved to listen to. This would be remembered for my flight back.

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Jumping ahead to my arrival in Denver. The stress was easing a bit because I knew I was meeting Tippin at the airport and he is a much more versed traveler so I was in good hands. This was in fact the case, and we met up with Kevin fairly quickly. He was picking Tippin and I up at the airport.

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We traveled into the city of Denver and got set up in our hotel for the evening. We were going to stay the remaining days at an AirBnB, but this was just for the night. It was one of the nicer hotels I’ve stayed in, and I greatly appreciated the Starbucks in the main lobby the following morning.

Once all of the guys (5 of us total) met up at the hotel, we decided to go get some food. We walked through Denver to a cool little pizza place a few blocks down. Maybe a few is an understatement, but I actually really enjoyed the walk to it. I enjoyed me a New York style cheese pizza.

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After we devoured our dinner, we went walking back to find some more entertainment. We walked back the way we came, and came across a really cool plaza or outside mall I guess you would call it. We walked along there looking for a bowling alley we planned to hangout at.

Fun side note, while we walked through the outdoor mall, I saw St. Louis Blues’ hall of fame Bernie Federko enjoying some kind of seafood dinner at a table along the strip. I wanted to fanboy out, but I was the sole hockey fan taking it all in.

Anyway, we found the bowling alley and played a couple of games. We probably could have settled for just the one, as with 5 people bowling, there was a lot of sitting around. I didn’t perform great, and my bowling would win no honors, but it was still fun. After bowling we made our way back to the hotel and called it a night.

It was a stressful, but adventurous first day. Much of the stress came from my inexperience of flying and making my way to and through the airport, but once I got to Denver, it was amazing taking in all of the sights.

I’ll post day 2 tomorrow, which involves, big rocks, an escape room and an early look at our big challenge of the trip…..hiking a mountain.

A Case of Boredom – Barbara Anne

Sometimes boredom can spark real creativity, or at least an excuse to do something goofy. Below is a direct result of that boredom. The idea was from Colorado, my buddy Tippin wanted us all to do a carpool karaoke type thing to the Beach Boys' song "Barbara Anne", but never got a chance. I can't put this on YouTube due to the whole copyright deal so figured I'd post it here. Colorado video will be coming soon!

RIP Chester, Colorado Trip and Free Summer Concerts

We’re rockin’ and rollin’ this Saturday morning as my dogs greeted me early with wanting to go outside. With that, I obliged their demands and then made a trip to the store to get some donuts for Jen and the kids. Coffee is in my cup, and I’m ready to take on this Saturday.

It’s the weekend before I head to Colorado for my best bud Tippin’s “bachelor party.” I’m not sure that’s really an accurate description, as we’re going to just be doing some amazing outdoor stuff. He has also nonchalantly threatened to push me off of a cliff. This should be an amazing trip. For real though, I’m incredibly excited.

On a sadder note, I was incredibly bummed to hear about the passing of Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. That band had some kind of influence I’m sure over a lot of my generations lives. They were one of the biggest bands during that era in music, and still are probably considered one of the biggest bands today. The Chris Cornell death didn’t really hit me too hard as I wasn’t a huge Soundgarden fan, nor did I follow them, but Linkin Park I’ve followed since high school, and I really appreciated how well Chester and Mike Shinoda’s(LP’s other singer) singing styles complimented each other. It definitely sucks, and the circumstances are even worse. There’s a very eerie feeling listening to their new record “One More Light”.

Speaking of music, I realized I had quite a few free ticket vouchers left over from the Ticketmaster class action lawsuit, and when I got on to see what shows qualified for it, I was pretty excited. Below are the shows I got 2 free general admission tickets to go to. Some I’m super excited for, and others I’m kind of interested to check out to see if I become a fan as the genres are a bit out of my wheelhouse.

August 16th
Foreigner w/ Cheap Trick and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience

September 10th
105.7 The Point Presents: WayBack Pointfest
Sublime with Rome, The Offspring, The Urge, Reel Big Fish and Goldfinger

September 24th
Brad Paisley: Weekend Warrior World Tour 2017

September 26th
Matchbox Twenty & Counting Crows: A Brief History of Everything Tour

I’m thoroughly excited for the Pointfest and the Counting Crows show. I had free tickets to Counting Crows last year, but wasn’t able to go for some reason. I definitely don’t want to miss it this time. Jen’s favorite band is Sublime, and though the singer passed away some time ago, we saw them with Rome, and he sounds so much like the original singer. It should be an awesome summer of music.

Finally, I took just a couple shots of my morning. Nothing spectacular, but I put a black and white filter on them so they’re art now or something. Have a great weekend all.

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Amelia very politely getting her chocolate donut fingers all over Je’s phone
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Charlie spends most of his time outside hunting, but every once in a while (especially with the heat) he makes an appearance inside. 

 

A Free Weekend

This is the first weekend in a while where I don’t think Jen or I have anything planned. I think for the passed few weekends we have had some birthday parties or other get togethers. I enjoy getting out and hanging with folks and letting the kids get a chance to play with some of their friends, but I’m welcoming just doing nothing.

With that said, I have been a little productive this morning by picking up the basement. Jen has been painting Ricky’s room, and there are a couple of shelves that we are going to transfer to the basement. I’m thinking these will be a good place to house all of our Funko figures, and any other collectibles until we get better shelves on the walls. My work desk is almost overflowing with toys, so it may be good to relocate them a bit. We also have a ton of the kids’ toys that probably need to go out in to the garage until we can decide if they are to be sold or kept.

I am just a few weeks out from making my trip to Colorado. I’m pretty excited, but also a little nervous. Not so much for the trip, but getting everything squared away when I arrive at the airport. I haven’t flown on a plane nearly 10+ years, and I’m not completely certain what all I need to do once arriving, but I assume I’ll figure it out. The trip itself seems like it will be a blast, and I can’t wait to get out there!

I was worried I may be having some issues with my knees, as I’ve experienced some major soreness (especially my left knee) after swimming a few times in the last month. My left knee feels like it wants to pop or something, but it’s only when it has sat bent for a while. I went for a run yesterday and really didn’t feel too much pain, so not sure if it’s extensive soreness or what. It’s the same knee that I think I tweaked some time ago while sliding down a slide with Ricky. My foot shoe gripped the slide and pulled my leg back. I should probably have it looked at it some time in the near future just to make sure there isn’t some small damage.

For those keeping track of our cat Charlie’s kill count, he made another hit last night on some helpless squirrel. I can also confirm that he eats the heads of these poor creatures and leaves the bodies for the dogs. I caught him in the act last night, and then noticed once the head was gone, he abandoned it. Luckily I was able to get rid of the body before the dogs went out and found it.

That’s all for now, I need to get myself and the kids some lunch. Jen is feeling a little under the weather today so letting her take it easy. The song of the day is “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble. Enjoy your weekend all!

And the Week Begins

The work week is just getting going here and I’m spending my work from home day at Starbucks working, listening to Apple Music and cashing in on the Pokestop that is at Starbucks. I’ve needed to replenish my Pokeballs. I don’t know too many more folks who still play. My wife will every once in a while, but I still frequent the game. It’s the only game I’ve been able to consistently play without losing too much interest.

Last week was a busy week complete with fun but also major concern. Jen’s dad had a minor stroke on Wednesday and it definitely had us all worried. Luckily he was at a chiropractic appointment when it hit and the staff there were quick to respond and get him to the hospital. It’s incredible how quickly he bounced back with almost zero side effects, and I’m sure that’s attributed to the way he takes care of himself. I commend Jen and her brother Eric with how they handled the whole situation, though I know it had to have scared the hell out of them.

We got to spend yesterday afternoon at my sister Andrea’s house swimming and visiting with a lot of my siblings and my niece Sidney who is in town from North Carolina. Ricky absolutely loved the pool, and he probably spent the most time in it of anybody. We’d look over, and he’d just be chilling there taking it all in. It was actually a little chilly outside so it felt better to just stay should deep in the water. I don’t know if it was the son or just getting up at 7:30am that day, but I don’t think I’ve fallen asleep that fast in a long time. We all went right to sleep. One of the few times when the kids are asking Jen and I if they can go to bed.

I don’t think we have anything planned for this upcoming weekend, so we may try and get some stuff around the house. Jen wants to make some changes to Ricky’s room which will mean getting some furniture moved out of there, but we shall see. I know she also mentioned painting which I’m not looking forward too, but his room is pretty basic so probably won’t really be too tough, probably more of me just being lazy.

I hope you all have had a great start to the week so far!