Sunday, February 24, 2008

Its been about 2 weeks since my last post, and I feel I owe everyone some sort of update. Truth is, these last 2 weeks haven't been all that eventful, in terms of things to report. I suppose the most news worthy thing is that I have been "ticketed" for my Trip to Antarctica in March. I'll leave CONUS (Continental US, wouldn't be a gov't related job without acronyms!) March 19th and will arrive back April 20th. It's an understatement to say that I'm looking forward to the trip. I'll be flying to Santiago, Chili, and then onto Punta Arenas, Chili. From there I'll board the SSV Lawrence M. Gould and take the 4 day trip to Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula. I'll then spend 4 days there and then take a 4 day trip back to Chili. Once back in Chili, I get to wait about 6 days for the SSV Nathaniel B Palmer to arrive at port. Once it does, I'll conduct some business in it, while its in port. Once it leaves, I fly home. Thats about the extent of knowledge about my trip at this point. Hopefully I'll have lots of cool pics to share.

Went skiing last weekend too. I'm getting better, though I'm still highly humbled by what I can't do. I went down some black diamond terrain, correction, across some black diamond terrain. So I must be feeling a little more confident than I have in the past. Bumps / moguls don't seem to knock me around as much as they used to, but I still don't find them fun. Loveland has lift that takes you to the top of the Continental Divide as well, I believe at about 12,ooo feet. I have finally built up the nerve to go ride that lift as well. What a view! Sorry, no pics though. On the way home from skiing, I decided to take route 6 home out of the mountains. For the most part the road runs next too Clear Creek and Indian Creek through the mountains. I had spotted what looked like a trail that walked along the opposite side of the creek as well. The led to my hiking activities with the family yesterday.

I finally have in my possession a tripod as well. Its the Velbon Ultra Luxi. Overall I'm satisfied with the purchase. It's quite compact, but has decent extension and doesn't way a lot. Not having used the finer brands that utilize the carbon fiber, I can't say I know what I'm missing. I'm sure for the better :) Our hike ended short do to not finding the exact trail I was looking for and my son's desire to go home. The pics I did take were nothing to write home about. If you are interested, though, they are here.

I'm also excited to finally bet getting a new pair of hiking boots. I spent the afternoon dragging the family around to stores looking for the "perfect shoe." I believe I found them (The Kayland Vertigo High, for those of you not wanting to check out the link). Initial reaction on this shoe was a roomy toe box and a nice snug heel cup. Of course, this was the first shoe I tried on at the recommendation of the folks over at Bent Gate Mountaineering. I can honestly say its the best feeling hiking boot I've ever put on. Not wanting to jump the gun, I left and checked out some more shoes at REI as well. I have to say the difference in level of service I received at bent gate compared to REI is another thing that makes we want to go back and get the shoes I found there as well. I noticed there aren't many reviews of the boots (except by backpacking magazine) online, so maybe I'll post one in the future as I wear these things in. I intend on taking them south with me as well. Hopefully they'll provide a good platform for me to start attacking the 14ers this year.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Another weekend, another open space park

One thing I'm liking about Jefferson County, Coloardo, is they certianly seem to have no shortage of open space parks and trails to hike around. Today's adventure took us to White Ranch Open Space Park. We stayed on the rawhide trail for a 4.25 mile hike, according to the GPS.

At the beginning of the trail, on the west enterance, there is a bunch of old farm equipment on display, with descriptive signs. I actually managed to get, what is in my opinion, a pretty decent photo. Could be worthy of getting a print of it.
From White Ranch Park

It was Geoffrey's longest hike he's done to date. Beating his previous record by 6/10ths of a mile. The last half was really a struggle for him though. He spent a lot of time playing in the snow, mud and melted snow, so his feet were soaked. This lead to an unhappy miserable little boy with blistered feet. There's simply no way to reason with a 4 year old in that state. We eventually made it back though.

I'm looking forward to summer hiking, more things become accessible as many roads will no longer be closed, and the terrain won't provide so much of a challenge for 22 inch (approximate) legs.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Get Smart and Help the Hungry

I've run across a website yesterday, that I am enjoying quite a bit. Some might say I have even grown slightly addicted to it. This website helps you out with your vocabulary skills. It presents you with a word, and then gives you 4 other words that are synonyms for it. Your goal is to choose the correct one. For every 3 that you get right, you move up a level, and it starts presenting you with harder words, and some of them are certainly obscure. For every one you get wrong, it drops you down a level. Here's the best part though, for every word you get right, they donate 20 grains of rice through the UN to help stop world Hunger. I'm sure they don't actually count the grains. Its probably more like 100 grains = 1 gram or something like that, and they go by weight.

You can also set an option to let it save your statistics (through a cookie) so you can track how you are doing. I'm not sure why its so fun... I hated English class in school. Its interesting to see how high up in the levels you can get when you sit down with someone else and play together too. I encourage all of you to go over to and start playing.