End of July and the Bronskis Visit!

Dave did an excellent job writing about our trip to Pennsylvania, but I can’t help but add a few terrific photos he didn’t include.

Three little cousins: Genevieve, Phoebe, and Cordelia.

There’s a photo just like this in which the grownups all look happy…but the kids aren’t as cute. So we’ll go with this one!

Jess, Phoebe, Erika, Cordelia, Genevieve, and Dave
Grammie with her little granddaughters.
I think Pappy might be doing a bit of tickling…

The week after we got back from Ephrata, the Bronskis came to Boulder to sign the closing paperwork on their house. We haven’t seen them in a year, so we knew that Marin and Charlotte would be big girls all of a sudden! Here are some photos from our YABS (young adult Bible study) get-together.

This is what happens when you leave the kids alone in the playroom…
Hi-ho, the witch is dead! Notice the legs poking out from the mattress.
Charlotte, Phoebe, Addie, Marin, John, Thomas.
This is the aftermath (middle-math?) of Phoebe’s first whole Klondike!

The Bronskis planned a really cool trip while they were in town, and we were lucky to be invited. On Friday, July 13, we headed up to Vance’s Cabin, one of the 10th Mountain Division huts. We were carpooling with our friend John (aka Big John), so we left work a little bit early to pick him up in Boulder. We stopped at a good Nepali restaurant in town for dinner and then drove out toward the cabin, near mile marker 164 on I-24. I know…that’s a weird geographic description! However, the trip had become more exciting earlier that week when a huge sinkhole opened up along I-24 at mile marker 165. Pete sent us an e-mail saying that even though there was a blockade, we should be able to get through, since we were considered local traffic and we weren’t going as far as the sinkhole.

Thanks to the Huffington Post for this image of the sinkhole.

It was a long drive up there, about 3 hours. As we neared our turn, we ran into a roadblock around mile marker 162. Dave got out to talk to the two mustachioed men who were not interested in allowing us through. Despite pulling out a map and showing them where we were headed, they simply refused. We drove back a short way to see if we could waylay Marlene and Jade, who were coming after us. In fact, we were pretty sure we saw them go by, but they didn’t come back. John didn’t have cell phone coverage, so we couldn’t get any information up at the roadblock.

We were pretty exhausted by that point, and Phoebe was extremely late for bed (and not sleeping in the car). Fortunately, John’s parents have a ski condo in Vail, which was just back down the mountain. That seemed a lot better than driving all the way back to Boulder! Unfortunately, our little peanut gets carsick on winding roads, so she ended up throwing up all over on the way back down. We had a nice night in the condo—Phoebe got to sleep on Sesame Street sheets! (So did Dave and I, actually.) Many thanks to the Friedbergs for their hospitality in absentia.

We had reached Pete on the way back down the mountain, so we learned that Marlene had indeed talked her way through the roadblock. In the morning, we decided to go back up, armed with the information that the sinkhole was beyond our destination and local traffic was allowed through the first roadblock. This time we met a Hispanic guy who couldn’t understand much of what we were saying. At one point, he frustratedly asked if we could speak Spanish. (A bit of high school Spanish, but nothing better! I know we never learned “sinkhole.”) We managed to convince him to let us through, and as we started to go ahead, a car came through the roadblock the other way and picked him up! So I guess we’d have made it through in another minute anyway.

When we got to the cabin, the Bronskis and Marlene and Jade were out for a hike, so we decided to go for our own hike. We had plans to find them, but we ended up on a different trail. We would’ve liked to get through a saddle between two hills, but it started to rain and hail, and Phoebe got cold, so we ended up heading back.

Phoebe, John, and Dave consulting the map.
The view on the way back to the cabin.
Look how long the kiddo’s legs are getting in that backpack!
What a pretty hike!

It was a nice hike, and John even found the shoe Phoebe lost partway down the trail! She’d been asleep, and when she woke up she said, “My other shoe.” At least we knew to look for it. When we got back to the cabin, we had a really nice afternoon with old friends. The little girls played, and the grownups even got in a game of horseshoes. We enjoyed dinner and had some time to chat once the girls went to bed.

Kelli reading to a lineup of little girls.
Big John gets covered in stickers.

After a nice hut trip, we headed back for a makeup softball game on Sunday afternoon. We left at about 9:50 to get back to Boulder for a 1:00 p.m. game. Can you believe that we missed all but 10 minutes of the game? The I-70 traffic was just atrocious. Fortunately, we got to the game in time for Dave to make the winning hit.

Here’s a photo of Phoebe working on a puzzle that came from my cousins Evers and Ashe. Isn’t her one-piece jumpsuit adorable?

Working on a Noah’s ark puzzle.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a very impressive tower Phoebe built.

Camping Again

Colorado's only real fall color is a very pretty yellow-gold. You can se some of the aspen leaves dispersed throughout the pine trees.
Colorado's only real fall color is a very pretty yellow-gold. You can see some of the aspen leaves dispersed throughout the pine trees.

Last weekend Jess and I wanted to get one last camping trip in before the end of the summer. We were pretty busy, so we couldn’t hit the road until Saturday morning. We were going to go up to the national park, but it turns out it was the last weekend of the year that they take reservations, and everything was reserved. So, we did a little searching and discovered that some of the campgrounds along the Peak to Peak highway were still open.

Come Saturday we got up relatively early and finished packing up our stuff. Most of our gear was already packed from the previous weekend’s aborted trip, but we still had to pack up the cooler. We were supposed to meet our friend Elijah in Boulder at 10:00, but by the time we were leaving the house it was clear that we weren’t going to make it there that early. As things turned out, Elijah needed a few more minutes as well, so everything worked out pretty well.

Jess and Phoebe hiking and smiling.
Jess and Phoebe hiking and smiling.

There were a few nice spots left when we got up to the campground, so we picked the most wooded one and set up our camp. Elijah was planning to sleep under the stars, but we brought a 2nd tent just in case he wanted it. We’d end up setting it up too, but despite some ominous clouds and a couple of late afternoon sprinkles, it never really rained.

We decided to skip lunch and went for a little afternoon hike. Somehow we walked right past the trails and ended up following the road for a couple of miles. We had some fun watching a guy ride his ATV through a giant mud puddle that enveloped a short stretch of the road.The rider was dressed more appropriately for the Saturday cruise ride to Kermit’s than a 4-wheel drive road. Elijah thought he looked like Sylvester Stallone’s character Cobra from the movie with the same name. I’m not sure how he managed to stay mud-free, but he looked relatively clean when he cruised through the campground again later that evening.

Here is one of the images I shot using the Nikon pointed towards the Orion nebula. The images was a 30 second exposure at f/4 with a 24 mm lens and the cmos sensor was set to an ISO equivalent of 3200. You can see the faint glow from either the rising sun or Denver, I can't say which.
Here is one of the images I shot using the Nikon pointed towards the Orion nebula. The image was a 30-second exposure at f/4 with a 24 mm lens and the cmos sensor was set to an ISO equivalent of 3200. You can see the faint glow from either the rising sun or Denver, I can't say which.

While we were navigating the same giant mud puddle on the return trip, Jess managed to step directly into the mud. Turns out it was about ankle deep. Of course she blamed me for not rushing to her aid, but I mean, how would another pair of wet boots have helped us? Phoebe slept most of the hike out, but was awake and happy for most of the return trip.

When we got back to camp, we hopped into the car and made a quick trip to Nederland to pick up some firewood and beer. We were in such a hurry to leave town we’d forgotten to pick up a six pack, so we thought it might be interesting to get a growler from the little smoke house and brew pub on the main drag in Ned. We’d first discovered the place a year or so ago after doing a little mountain biking on the West Magnolia trails with Andy and Gretchen and rather liked the beers we sampled. This time around we agreed on a pretty hopped-up IPA style beer.

Back at camp, we grilled up some brats and made up some garlic mashed potatoes. Elijah cooked a grilled cheese on the fire grate, and we all enjoyed a cup or two from the growler. It didn’t take long for the sun to disappear and Phoebe’s bed time to roll around. Since we’d only picked up one little bundle of wood, the timing worked out pretty well. Everyone went to bed and I poured a couple of gallons over the fire to make sure it was out. The Fourmile Canyon fire was only a few weeks ago, so  fire safety was on the top of all of our minds.

This shot was an 88 second exposure pointed along the Milky Way. You can see a couple of other galaxies as well if you look closely. Here I boosted the contrast a bit and used a little unsharp mask to help the fainter stars stand out from the background. I also used the camera's built-in dark frame subtraction.
This shot was an 88-second exposure pointed along the Milky Way. You can see a couple of other galaxies as well if you look closely. Here I boosted the contrast a bit and used a little unsharp mask to help the fainter stars stand out from the background. I also used the camera's built-in dark frame subtraction. You can also see a little shooting star that luckily crossed part of the field of view.

As I mentioned before, there were a few light sprinkles, but the sky was already clearing by the time we made it into the tent. I planned to get up in the middle of the night in order to take some star photos with the new camera if everything looked clear. We’d also forgotten the changing pad we’d used as a baby-sized sleeping pad, so we put little Phoebe between us to help keep her warm. She again slept great, even if her hands and feet got a bit colder than I would have liked. I, on the other hand, got pretty cold taking photos in the middle of the night and couldn’t warm back up once I returned to the tent.

The next morning, we switched things up a little and Jess cooked some breakfast while I packed up our tent. We headed back into town so that Jess could do a little more of her Phoenix work. We also had some friends from church coming over for the first gathering of a new discussion group that sprung phoenix-like from the ashes of the book group. I managed to get everything ready with Jess’s help just in time for the hordes to arrive.

This is another shot of Orion composed from 5 separate 20 second exposures stacked together using Deep Sky Stacker. I though I'd get a bit more detail, but I guess the seeing wasn't as good as I thought, or I've got a few things to figure out about stacking exposures. Probably a bit of each. Again I boosted the contrast a bit and applied a little unsharp mask to get the final image.
This final image of Orion is a composite from 5 separate 20-second exposures stacked together using Deep Sky Stacker. I though I'd get a bit more detail, but I guess the seeing wasn't as good as I thought, or I've got a few things to figure out about stacking exposures. Probably a bit of each. Again I boosted the contrast a bit and applied a little unsharp mask to get the final image.

More Hiking and Phoebe

It looks like daddy is ready to go, but Phoebe is completely zonked out!
It looks like daddy is ready to go, but Phoebe is completely zonked out!

Last weekend, I got out for a little hike with Phoebe around NCAR while Jess was still away at her business trip in Washington, D.C. It didn’t last long, because Phoebe zonked out pretty quickly. We had a few minutes to walk around inside the little museum, and then took a lap around the little trail just outside the Mesa Lab. I read all the interpretive sign to Phoebe, but she wasn’t too excited to learn about temperature inversions and the like. Later that night, Jess came home. We were super happy to have her back, and just in time too; Phoebe had finished up the last of the frozen breast milk earlier that afternoon.

The following day, we spent a little time relaxing with a breakfast burrito from Santiago’s II in Lafayette and a cup of coffee at Cannon Mine. As we were getting ready to go, someone noticed that there was an awful lot of smoke on the horizon. I popped outside and could easily see a large orange-brown haze hanging over the mountains. The wind was really blowing, and you could smell the smoke and see ash falling all the way out in Lafayette. This was the beginning of what is now being called the Fourmile fire because of its origin along Fourmile Canyon just outside Boulder. The fire is already the worst (with over 170 homes lost) in the history of Colorado and is still raging. Luckily no one has been killed or seriously injured, but the fire is only about 50% contained.

Now Phoebe is awake and happy.
Now Phoebe is awake and happy.

We were planning to go for a little hike that afternoon, but the fire pushed us a little further away than we’d planned. The smoke was quite heavy in Boulder, and most of the mountain roads heading out of town were closed. We ended up going all the way up to the national park in an effort to escape all of the smoke. It was a beautiful day in Estes Park, and we ended up riding the shuttle bus up to the Glacier Gorge trailhead. Though it may seem odd, we’d never hiked up to Mills Lake or any of the area beyond the split in the trail that leads to Loch Vale. So, we loaded up Phoebe and headed for some new sights. Over the years we’ve heard that Glacier Gorge is very pretty, but of course, that entire part of the park is spectacular. There really isn’t a bad choice amongst the trails available.

Here is another 7-image stitch. This one is of Mills Lake in Glacier Gorge at Rock Mountain national Park. The original is a whopping 121 MB TIFF.
Here is another 7-image stitch. This one is of Mills Lake in Glacier Gorge at Rock Mountain national Park. The original is a whopping 121 MB TIFF.

After about an hour and a half of hiking, we were finally standing along the shore of Mills Lake and Phoebe was finally awake from a little nap. Already it was getting late, so we didn’t hang out long. The wind was also blowing fiercely, so we put Phoebe into her little jacket for some added warmth. We switched the backpack to give Jess a try and I snapped a few pictures before turning around. We made great time back down the hill to the parking lot and only had to wait a few minutes for the first shuttle bus to arrive. We made it back to the parking lot and drove back to Estes Park. Phoebe was getting a little hungry, so we stopped in town to give her another snack. Afterward, we walked around town for a few minutes, and Jess tried on a unique jacket with a built-in mitten. I grabbed a cup of coffee—yeah I’m an addict—and we drove back to Lyons.

Phoebe is getting anxious to join in mom and dad's weekend ritual. Nevertheless, she seems a wee bit too young for a spicy chai. Maybe in a couple of weeks when she hits the big point 5 years.
Phoebe is getting anxious to join in mom and dad's weekend ritual. Nevertheless, she seems a wee bit too young for a spicy chai. Maybe in a couple of weeks when she hits the big point 5 years.

Since it was still technically our anniversary weekend, we stopped at Oscar Blues for a nice dinner. Phoebe was awesome and let her mommy and daddy enjoy a nice dinner without any drama, and she even flirted with all of the waitresses—one enough so as to earn a helium balloon. By the time we were leaving, it was dark outside, so it was hard to see the smoke. As we were approaching Lafayette, you could see the red-orange glow from the fire lighting up the smoke.

Fast-forward to this weekend, and we’re back at the coffee shop having a burrito. We were planning to go camping; however, Jess is a bit too busy with teaching at the University of Phoenix, and she has a little copy editing project as well. She’d have ended up working the entire time, so it didn’t really make any sense. Hopefully we’ll be able to reschedule for a couple of weeks from now and get decent weather as well. Phoebe has been having a fun weekend. She’s becoming a really expert sitter and has even learned a few new tricks. In the video below she uses one rattle to fetch another rattle. Wow, using tools already. She’s also discovered that instead of crawling towards her toys, she can just pull them to her along with her blanket. Pretty cool.

Since Jess had so much work to do, Phoebe and I went for an urban hike with the stroller around Boulder. We had a good time when she wasn’t pointed directly into the sun. I’ve been looking at replacing my old iPod and thought the new iPod touch looked like a pretty cool tool, but they were out at the Apple store at 29th Street. So I guess I’ll have to order one online if I want one. It looks like it can do some fun stuff like play on-line chess. Maybe I’ll be able to give Grandpa Gribble a MacArthur Park smackdown Internet style. It also has a cool video Skype-like app, but it requires talking to others with an iPod or iPhone, and few of my friends have either.

Later in the evening, we went for another walk around Lafayette. We stopped back into the mine and spent a few minutes listening to a guy sing and play original tunes on his guitar. The crowd was pretty small, but he was pretty good. Don’t ask Phoebe about the music; she slept through everything. Well, it’s time for the kiddo to hit the hay, and I’m needed for a little bed-time reading. Au revoir!

Hiking to Lost Lake

Daddy and Phoebe along the trail
Daddy and Phoebe along the trail

Hi All. I know it’s been like forever since I’ve added a blog post. Well today I’m making amends for that. Last weekend Jess and I took Phoebe for a little hike to Lost Lake. We packed a bunch of stuff into the car and drove up above Nederland in order to avoid some of the heat down in Boulder. As we approached the trailhead, we discovered it was a little overcrowded. We grabbed a nice roadside parking spot and Jess set to feeding the bottomless pit of Phoebe. I pulled out her kid-carrier backpack and changed into my hiking boots. The last time I tried putting Phoebe into the nice backpack she got from her Grandpa and Grandma Gribble, it was comic how large the seating compartment was in comparison to her tiny body. Even with the chin rest removed, she was practically buried in a deep hole and there were a good 3 inches of space between the shoulders and the harness in it’s smallest position. Jess didn’t think there was any way Phoebe would fit into the backpack yet, but I wanted to try again anyway. The last time it was pretty close. While she still sits down a bit, she can see out pretty well, and although there’s still a bit of space in the shoulder harness, it was clear she wouldn’t fall out. And best of all, unlike the last time I tried the backpack out, she was all smiles.

Jess and Phebe by Lost Lake
Jess and Phoebe by Lost Lake

It was a little awkward shouldering the pack without upsetting Phoebe, but in short order we were off and hiking. Initially there were a few low-hanging branches to worry about, but luckily Phoebe is a bit on the small side and well protected by the back and sides of her, ahem, mobile throne. Not long after leaving the trailhead, we realized that while we had a whole host of snacks and things for Phoebe, we forgot to bring any water or food for ourselves. We decided to go for a shorter hike than we’d planned in order to avoid catastrophic parent dehydration and Jess’s bigger fear, starvation.

Along the way, we passed a number of hikers, most of whom thought Phoebe looked adorable in her new backpack. I had to get Jess to frequently check on the little tyke, as it made me slightly dizzy to turn my head far enough to see 1/2 of her head and one of her eyes out of the corner of my vision.  She managed to blark a few times along the hike, which is becoming somewhat common at altitude. So much for being a native! Or maybe it’s all the uncontrollable bouncing.

Phoebe doing a little caving in an old hollow tree trunk.
Phoebe doing a little caving in an old hollow tree trunk.

Up at the lake we took a few photos and pulled Phoebe out of the chair for a little fun time. Jess provided a little snack and we had fun watching a nice doggy fetch sticks from the lake. We also spotted a nice hollow log that Phoebe enjoyed posing in once dad brushed out all of the little droppings. We put on a little more sunscreen and saddled up for the hike back down to Luna (that’s right, we finally settled on an name for the new car). Since it has a moon roof, we came up with this predictable and boring name.

On the way back to the car, I came up with a terrific way to combat our growing thirsts and hungers (Phoebe excluded). We’d stop by this “new” smokehouse and microbrewery in Ned for a plate of fries and something to drink. I was going to try a nice cherry wheat, but they had just run out when we arrived. I settled on some soda and Jess happily downed some root beer. The fries were tasty and really hit the spot.

Since we were supposed to meet up with Ben, Elijah, and Christina for a little soccer and were already a bit late, we packed up and drove back down the canyon to the heat of Boulder. When we arrived at the soccer field, we discovered that our friend Jehanne and Ben and Christina’s new neighbor Claire were already playing a little two-on-two, so we joined in for a little aerobic exercise. After an hour or so, we packed up and headed home to watch the Steelers-Broncos pre-season game. All told, it was a very fun weekend.

This image of Lost Lake is a composite of 7 separate images. If you want to get similar results check out my digital phoyography post from earlirt this summer.
This image of Lost Lake is a composite of 7 separate images. I put it together using a single, manually-set exposure for all 7 shots and simply hand-held the camera throughout. If you want to get similar results check out my digital photography post from earlier this summer.