Monday, September 01, 2014

Vacation: Horse Ride and Louis CK

Despite being a last minute decision for what is one of the more popular activities in Garden of the Gods and despite all the rain, we managed to get in a horse ride.  Our timing was almost perfect because on the way back out of the park it started to sprinkle and that was the sprinkle that turned into several days of parking lot-flooding rain.  Have you noticed a theme yet related to our vacation.  Rain.

Eryn loved the horse ride even though the shorter ride isn't a lot of time on the horse, particularly when you factor in the in-town riding on roads out to the park and back.

Here's Eryn on Whinnie.  Big smile!  Eryn, not the horse.  She learned that different horses have different bowel-voiding preferences.  Some like to walk while taking a dump.  Some like to stop.  Some like you to get up in the stirrups while stopped to relieve pressure.  Important skills when the apocalypse kicks in and you want to be The Postman.  They didn't explain that part in the book or the movie.  Get a horse that can void on the run - it'll potentially save you from the bad guys during a chase.



In the park.  You can see some of the washed out nature showing that the rain didn't start just because we showed up. It had been going on for a while.  A few places, like 7 Falls, were closed down due to flooding damage.


My horse, red.  Not the horse butt.  The horse ears.  He was afraid of flapping rain jackets/ponchos.  Nice, eh?  Given all the rain.  I wore my pullover and decided I'd just get wet if it came to that.  Our guide told us that he had always heard Red was afraid of flapping ponchos but hadn't realized how bad it was until a guy tried to change his poncho on him a week or so earlier despite the warning and Red had totally freaked out.


Beautiful place to go for a horse ride.  I wished we had done the longer ride despite the impending rain.


Eryn had the back of the team (if you don't include the guide).  Nice place to be if you wanted to hear the history tour portion of the ride.


Here you can appreciate the clouds.  Supposedly you're able to see Pikes Peak on clear days.  We never saw Pikes Peak unless we were on it and turning around because I have ethical issues with paying private costs to see the top of a mountain when I can go to Rocky Mountain National Park and pay the people to see the mountains.  I noticed on the tourist web sites that I'm not the only one to have made that decision.


Eryn with some of the Garden of the Gods rocks in the background.


As an interesting aside, I met this guy who may or may not be Louis CK.  He's got enough young girls of the appropriate ages to be convincing.  My sister is convinced it's him.  She thinks I'm holding out on her when I say he's a dad from Oklahoma who moved to Colorado, as though I'm protecting his known desire not to have people invading his space and going all paparazzi on him.  She'll just have to believe what she believes.


Some live action footage of riding in the Garden on Red.



And an over-the-shoulder video of Eryn.  Literally.  I found trying to use a handheld camera to record behind me while riding a horse to be particularly difficult.  I should have been wearing the bike camera Ming got me.  I bet it works equally well on horses as long as I don't try to mount it to them.

Vacation: Golden

We spent one evening, though not the night, in Golden, Colorado.  Reminded me a lot of parts of the Twin Cities.  A very hippy vibe for sitting next to the Miller/Coors brewery.  We checked out the local fair that was going on so Eryn could slide down the giant bouncy slide, walked along the river where lots of people were tubing despite the rain, and had dinner at Woody's Wood Fired Pizza, which was excellent and had particularly friendly service.

I know this photo doesn't look like it's raining, but you can see some of the clouds in the next one.  Then again, maybe I just remember rain the whole time despite it not raining the whole time.  Everywhere we went was somewhat flooded or raining.  In Colorado Springs.  In Denver.  Near Vail and Breckenridge on the mountain.  I noticed in the news it rained more after we left - as in more frequently and with more intensity - the whole state must have been a giant pool for a while.

Here's the brewery.  Doesn't look like a major source of conservative politics from here.



There's a little pioneer town along the river.  Eryn fed the chickens.  Our vacations seem to involve feeding animals.  There's a little train that runs up and down the river (no tracks) and you have to be careful not to get run over.


Golden seems to be something of an artist community slash resort town.  So there's a lot of art along the river as well.  I took the opportunity to avail myself of posing with a few of the statue installations.  I sang.


And I read.  But I did not touch any of these statues inappropriately as I did the buffalo earlier.  Some statues you just have to leave alone.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Vacation: Miscellaneous

A few miscellaneous photos from Denver.  Here's Jen and Eryn at Casa Bonita.  I think Eryn had more fun when she was littler, but she really enjoyed going back to relive the experience we had with Grandma Madeline and my parents.



And here she is near Chatfield, reading a book in the park near a small rocky spillway.


One of the things Eryn really liked four years ago was her ray gun that made lots of noise.  When presented with the opportunity to replace it, she upsized.

Vacation: Garden of the Gods

Taking a while to get the vacation photos out here.  I plead busy.  Despite a long weekend.  I intend to speed up, if only to get back to a bit of book blogging.  Jen remembered Garden of the Gods fondly, although the last time we went it was almost empty because it was off season.  There were a lot more tourists this time, although given the several days of nearly flood-level rain, you would have expected a few less people in the rocks and a few more people locked in their hotel rooms enjoying recreational drug use.  Then again, Colorado Springs is medical only, not recreational, so perhaps they all headed back to Denver when the rain really kicked in.  I hope they got a cup of coffee on the way like we did at the very friendly bikini coffee shop.  Which is entirely deceptive because only one day a week is someone serving coffee in a bikini.  The other days they're in (potentially ass-baring) lingerie.  She was very nice for a partially clothed barista.  My coffee was good and she chatted with Jen for a while about the good hours, the good pay, the pleasant customers, and being able to spend more time with her kid.

I digress.  Here is a gratuitous picture of rocks at the Garden of the Gods.  When I posted one of these to Facebook, Facebook did the social thing and told me Jen's cousin had also recently been to Garden of the Gods with his family.  At the time I thought "well, that's nice", but that was before I heard that perhaps he'd hauled his family out there under pretense to force a divorce decision outside Minnesota.  The socially share-able moment is now less endearing.  And yet the rocks and the kissing camels remain.



Kicking it up a notch.  Rocks AND Eryn. She was very worried as the rain rolled in and we could hear thunder.  I don't do lightning after the accident.  I'm worried with all that metal I stand out like a lightning rod.  I'm also worried sharks can detect me easier and might be tempted to explore my electrical charge.  I also have a paranoia that I'll lift something heavy and bend my hip and walk in a circle the rest of my days.  But the lightning one is topmost.  It's rubbed off on Eryn and she worries for me now so I don't have to worry.


Back to just the rocks.  Since last time we were there they've instituted a lot of signs to try and keep people off the rocks and on the trails, to preserve some of the natural growth and discourage erosion.  It wasn't working so well.  In the clearly marked areas, there were large groups of people.  This was not one of those areas (just to be above board).  Wherever I could, I collected bits of trash to post on Instagram for Litterati.org.


Rocks...with a bird.  Good job J.B., now your initials live on not only carved into the rock, but in a picture.  I hope that was the immortality you were hoping to achieve.


Here's a bird with more focus than the rocks.  An iPhone camera and my personal little handheld are not optimal for all picture-taking possibilities.  This would have been a much nicer picture with Jen's DSLR.


This was the least amount of rain during our visit.  The parking lot was a pool much of the trip and, even when it wasn't raining, it was humid and sticky.  Made for nice pictures though.  Looks like something out of a Chinese valley series.


Or Avatar.  I'm going with Avatar because Ming hates Avatar.  If he thinks Colorado looks like the set of Avatar, maybe he'll see big blue creatures everywhere if he goes there for the recreationals.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Velfie

A video selfie of me at 14,000' in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Way up above the visitor center.  I walked up there while my family was doing a bit of shopping and watching the marmots.  A velfie.  As the video notes on Youtube, this can be considered as a keepsake primarily in case I ever kick the bucket, my family will have a nice video to watch on loop.  If they ever realize it exists.  I don't think they read my blog.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Vacation: Concerts

My family was supposed to plan vacation, but in the interest of making sure there was something to do, I scheduled two concerts at the Chatfield Botanical Garden annex.  It was a nice place, near the mountains in Denver and not too big.  We sat just left and behind the sound and light controls for both concerts and had a great view.  Surprisingly, with the marijuana laws, it didn't smell like smoke at all.  The timing of all those smoking laws fit well with the relaxing of the marijuana laws.  So I suspect people are eating it and using oil, but not puffing.  That was nice.  Smoke in any form is no fun at a concert.

Here's Sara Bareilles.  That was the second night.  It was a good concert except for the women next to us getting louder and louder as they drank more and more.  I'd have preferred they toked up (well, in a fashion - eaten a brownie, I guess). I bet they'd have been mellower on pot rather than alcohol.  I thought I'd lost my sunglasses as we were finishing up and I was able to go back and scan the area by locating their nest of empties.

I was a bit disappointed she didn't sing Gonna Get Over You.  One of my favorites.



Eryn preferred the concert the night before by The Barenaked Ladies.  I've got to say, they did a great concert.  Good patter, good songs, all the favorites, and a montage of modern pop at the end including Wrecking Ball that was hilarious, followed by a lot of extra songs that weren't there's and serious bouncing around.  A smaller audience than Sara Bareilles who seems to draw an LGBT crowd and larger percentage of young women overall, but an enthusiastic crowd as evidenced by the fingers.  Wooo!


Eryn went up to the stage after the concert and came away with a set list that now decorates our refrigerator.  She told me the next night over and over how she wished that concert would have been second because it was obviously going to be the better of the two.  Then she tried to read her book in the dark to prove herself right.  Well her you go daughter, BNL is second here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vacation: Room 204

Welcome to Room 204 at the Super 8/Ramada Wheat Ridge (Denver).  we hope you enjoy your stay.  This sign will be the nicest experience of your stay.  You say you book sight unseen based on a Booking recommendation and a pool for your daughter?  Non-refundable, so make the best of it.



Smart guy - you checked for bed bugs, unlike one of the travels at Trip Advisor.  Sure, the toilet overflowed on the last day and you had to go tell the front desk staffer who seemed clueless about what to do even though you assured them you'd turned the water off so it wouldn't flood the room below.


It's a bad sign when even the vents are bent.  I wonder what someone was hiding up there.  Maybe this reviewer has an idea? (via Google)

"HOLY CRAP. YOU BETTER PROMISE ME KNOW ONE EVER GOES TO THIS PLACE YOU MIGHT GET PIMPED OUT SERIOUSLY. it was like watching cock roaches scatter in the night outside the window. ME and my friends took turns watching car and people go in and out after getting with what we assumed was prostitutes. There was plenty of Drug dealers and THE ROOMS WERE DISGUSTING AND SMELLED, the doors trimming were you shut and locked it looked as if it was kicked in a lot so they kept replacing the trimming. It felt unsafe even with the doors locked being there. If you're a family traveling looking for a decent price for a night this ain't worth it, spend the extra money and go somewhere nice this place is GHETTO. I live in Detroit and I wouldn't even stay here or wish this place of living on my worst enemy."



This hole isn't so bad - maybe it's just for a very big cable/satellite wire.  And maybe the ants coming out of it were laying the cable.  Then again, maybe it was a hidey hole.  What do you think reviewer #2?

"There was a group of young individuals in the lobby talking about a party they were having at the hotel. One individual was talking on his cell phone in the lobby, explaining how he could get any drug they wanted. We were apprehensive to stay as we did not want a loud party to interrupt our sleep."



Ah, the pool.  Looks nice from here.  But from here you can't see the health department sign on the gate declaring it closed down that last day.  Or the disappointed look on my daughter's face.  Other reviews seem to state that's almost always the case, and Eryn found a review describing homeless people bathing in it.  I suspect they weren't really homeless.  There seemed to be a bungalow full of migrant workers right next to the pool.  If their shower/bath facilities worked as well as ours, they were probably making due.  Albeit in a way the health department did not approve of.  Hey, other reviewer, didn't you want a place with a pool?

"Wanted a place with a pool. They advertised a pool but after I checked in we went to find the pool and they didn't have one. They used to but said it was in bad shape. I told them that is why I picked them to stay in and said I wanted a refund so I can find a place with a pool. The front desk lady acted like she couldn't do that and had to get special permission from someone on the phone. We just checked in.... I was serious and stood there with my kids and our luggage until I received a refund. She finally got a hold of someone and they offered to let me drive to another one of their locations that had a pool. I thought that was just so nice of them (sarcastic), but decided to go ahead since I was going to have to go find another hotel anyway with a pool (they offered me absolutely nothing for my inconvenience and acted like I was asking for a lot). I drove to the new location. The original location had a free full breakfast. This new location was in a bad neighborhood, did not have the same breakfast facility, and wasn't clean. But I was there and we were going to make the best of it. It did have a pool. We went into the room and it was so thick with cigarette smoke (and something else I'm not sure of) my sons and I couldn't breath (it was a non smoking room). The room was extremely dirty. The sheets had black spots and the cover to the bed had something hard and crusty on it. I felt like crying. We were in Denver because my uncle died and I wanted to have a relaxing night with some fun with my boys. The whole afternoon and going into night was the most frustrating I have had to ever deal with during travel. I'm not very picky, but this was bad. I decided to call the super 8 headquarters because I was hoping they would be able to refund my money because where I was at was not where I originally paid. The second location was comping my room since I already paid at the other place."



The nicest, cleanest light switch.  If you weren't willing to touch them, then you couldn't really see them.  At least at night.  Bonus.  That hair dryer doesn't do anything.  It's for show.  How clean was it other reviewer?

"I wouldn't even give this place one star. I'm here with my kids and fiance and let me just say ew. We asked for a non smoking room it smells like a bar the door doesn't look like it's secure and did I mention the twakers downstairs. Never again this is f***ING disgusting."



The shower/tub referred to above.  We didn't try it until morning when I realized the shower didn't work at all.  So I tried to take a bath, but there was no plug.  So I used a washcloth to stop it up.  But I was concerned it would overflow into that hole in the tub.  The sunglass-ed woman I saw bringing her breakfast back to her room despite admonitions not to (who was trying hard not to look at me) seemed to have it all worked out.  I'm pretty sure she hadn't taken a shower in an extremely long time.  She didn't look like she'd even been in the sun in a long time.


The door.  The frame had been pried up in several places with a crowbar and the chain was attached to this loose piece of framing.  I put several large items in front of the door before we went to bed so there would be some warning.  I was more worried about my father in law's car, but it remained unmolested.  The only shady characters I saw in the lot were the two janitors who spent an hour picking dirt out of cracks (literally about a handful) rather than picking up the obvious fast food trash in their lot.


Here's the plaster hitting the floor from the frame.  They sunk the frame an inch deep into the wall, so when it started to pull out it was pulling half the wall with it.  Fortunately, it was a relatively rain free and stranger free night unlike for this reviewer:

"The girl at the desk at no idea what to do when the tornado warning said to seek shelter. She also did not believe my husband when he said there was someone in the room we were assigned. We had to embarrass the people and ourselves!"



Did I forget anything?  The awful breakfast with the grease all over every surface and the two guys (one older, one younger with a family) arguing about who was more religious and what appropriately speaking tongues sounded like?  The people sort of sitting in chairs staring at people in the dark?  The customers showing up only to sit in the entry for 30-60 minutes despite their being no other customers?  The food on the walls in the other building?  The amazingly dirty carpets?  The smell of musty smoke everywhere?  If you're in the Denver area, buck up, spend some extra cash, and follow this international advice:

"Schmutzig, musste 30 Minuten auf das Personal warten um das Zimmer zu bekommen. Pool geschlossen. Einrichtung völlig veraltetet."


Vacation: Kearney, Nebraska

We drove to Colorado on vacation.  I had originally planned to bring my bicycle, but my wife swapped cars with my father in law, and I wasn't willing to put the first scratches on his new SUV with my bones rack.  Some day I'll have to get back out there with my bike, or fly in and rent one, and bike the trail between Vail and Breckenridge.  It's probably more just coasting, but it looked like a lot of fun (it was pouring as we came down the mountain, so that part wouldn't have been any fun).

On the way out we stopped at the halfway mark around Kearney, Nebraska.  My wife wanted to check out the Great Platte Archway, a pioneering museum that crosses the interstate and looks like it might have once been one of those commercial places that span highways.  Unfortunately, we rolled in with only an hour or so to spare on Saturday night and decided to wait until the next morning when it was supposed to open at 9 a.m. or so according to AAA.  But the Great Platte Archway doesn't read AAA, and didn't open until noon.  Well past our timeline for moseying on to Denver.  Instead, we just wandered around outside.  A number of other folks were using the AAA guidebook as well and were there with us, staring at the closed building.

I wandered around the grounds picking up trash and checking out what we could see.  We were assured by one couple who was there three hours too early that they'd been there a decade before and it was wonderful.  Good to know.  So here are pictures of us doing pretty much nothing.

The museum itself is pretty cool looking.  There seem to be two floors up there, although it could just be a very open space.  Who's to say.


This is the horse atop the right hand tower.  It looks a little like a flying Blucifer from the Denver airport, which Eryn had us go out of our way to say on the nighttime trip home.  No light up eyes though - at least not during the daytime, or the daytime prior to noon opening hours.


Jen and Eryn did spend a lot of time feeding the fish.  Perhaps just to mock all the folks fishing who were required to stay at least 50 yards away from the bridge.  I bet it's harder to fish when all the fish go to the bridge to eat.  There's a trail from here through town.  Missed bicycling opportunity #1.


A maze that was also closed.  Eryn said she would have liked to try it.  I picked up some geotagged trash just to show we were there and didn't bother to get lost.


Fortunately, there was a statue I could touch inappropriately and almost no one around to frown at me for it.


Eryn and Jen checking out some of the native and pioneer buildings near the museum along the bike path.  Jen thought that was a bunny hutch, but if it was, then you put the bunnies in and force them through the bottom until the chaff is out of the bunnies.  Maybe pioneers did that sort of things.  I can't really say.  I was more a Tudor/Stuart history guy.


Eryn looking like she just finished up a pioneer rap song.  Here I be, in my lean too teepee, You might think it's the funnies, but I'm all about chaffing bunnies. Word.


There's a big area inside this mound where you can get a lecture during open hours.  My best picture is actually the litterati picture I took from inside the Pawnee Hidatsa Lodge.  No set up - I try never to move the trash unless it's merely to flip it over to see who produced it.


And the wire bison.  These kept my wife busy for 20 minutes or so.  I bet she has a few hundred pictures on her camera.  I'm glad I don't have to sort them.  I took two - one of them I permanently deleted because it was a lot like the other one.  Go figure.  That was Kearney.  We stopped on the way back as well, but only long enough to grab breakfast at Perkins while we waited for the sun to come up because I was getting tired after driving all night.  I'm glad we hit the halfway point on the way out - straight through in a car was too much.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

And then there was that...

Break is over.  I have fully enjoyed not blogging for a while, although it was primarily because I didn't feel like writing much at all, which is rather disappointing on the surface of it.  I don't feel like I was accomplishing many of my usual habits, but almost 20,000 pages of reading, almost 4,000 photos of trash, and a variety of exercising without much weight gain, and once again switching roles (projects) at work attests that it's not as bad as I suspect.  Then again, all that time I racked up on the Xbox playing first person Batman v. Joker FPS (Gotham City Impostors) makes it obvious I could have been writing on top of everything else without much of an effort.

C'est la vie.

In the normal course of this blog.  A role change took me out of blogging.  A vacation will get me back into it.  So I'm tagging my photos from our trip to Colorado.  In the meantime, here's a picture from my Litterati adventures in Colorado - I tried to geotag trash as we drove across the midwest.  This was at a rest stop and immediately caught my eye.  I'm certain it's random.  But it certainly looks like someone was up to a bit of kokopelli-based art.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Tech Debt 101

A good article on Tech Debt. I had no idea what a puxadinho or a favela was before this article.

"The puxadinho is the standard pattern that builts up whole “favelas”, the brazilian slums."

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Flooding

We drove to downtown St. Paul today to take the car for an open air ride, see the flooding at the Mississippi, have stomach-churning amounts of ice cream at the new Nelson's in St. Paul on Snelling (we shared two child sizes between the three of us and still couldn't finish), and do a bit of antiquing at the nearby stores on Snelling.

The Mississippi was wild, particularly as we were at the Showboat only 8 days ago.  At that time, you could walk out to the steamboat.  Today there was at least a block of water between the shore and the boat and the ticket office was deep in water.  You can see where the walkway down to the shoreline is in this photo - those flags mark the top of the stairs.


The Mississippi was actually down a little from where it must have crested.  Hopefully it will go down a bit more before all the water from later today kicks in. It looked like someone was dumping a bucket of water on the neighborhood.


There's the Showboat and the tickethouse.  Understandable why the U of MN is putting Jekyll and Hyde off for a while.


The playground.  We could see the St. Paul Yacht Club on the way to the park and it was way out into the water.  That's not unusual as it tends to go under with even a little bit of flooding, but it seemed excessive even for their location.  I usually ride down into St. Paul along the cliffs which come out at the Club.  There must be a mile or more of water along the trail which would stop passage even if the trail wasn't closed because the cliffs were loose.


This is the picture they're showing on the news. Now it's on my blog too.  They have receptions there.  I hear they moved a lot of weddings and receptions to lower town St. Paul to sooth the tears of upset brides to be.


It's the apocalypse.  Wildlife reclaiming what was previously a human area.  I'm surprised lions didn't start chasing us like something out of Will Smith in I Am Legend.  Swimming lions.


Not our footprints.  Going in the water is a no-no.  These are the footprints of two people who were yelled at by the mounted police.  Eryn was excited to see the police on horses.  She had no sympathy for the barefoot waders.  We left after talking to Kuz's cousin for a while, who was undoubtedly taking much better pictures with his 7200 than I was with my iPhone, to go find ice cream and an antique cat key hanger.  We pulled into the garage just as the rain came down.  Good timing to a good afternoon outing.