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California Love

I realized while talking on the phone to a friend tonight, I realized that I have been in California for 1.5 months already! Where has the time gone? Here’s some pics to document where it went:

Golden Gate Bridge on a Beautiful day!

Santa Cruz on Our 5 year Anniversary

Lisa and I getting our bib numbers for Bay to Breakers!

Costumes for Bay to Breakers- made out of bed sheets on the side of the road

On the boat to Alcatraz

Getting our Redwood fix at Big basin State Park

On the beach @ Carmel, a magical place

The California experience has been mostly a “thumbs up” so far. I made a list mostly pertaining to Silicon Valley and the region:

THUMBS UP 

*weather

*Trader Joes, Sprouts, Peets

*scenic vistas

*dog beaches

*redwoods

*mid-level hikes

*Carmel/Monterey

*National Parks

*San Francisco

*lots ‘o wine

*Bike lanes

*local produce!

THUMBS DOWN

*expensive (i.e. gas prices, food)

*over populated

*not so friendly people

*over-rated chains (i.e. In-N-Out Burger, Pinkberry)

*expensive movies- don’t they make movies out here?, shouldn’t they cost LESS?

So that’s what I’ve learned the last month in a nutshell.

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Beer & The Bitter Cold

Last weekend we attended the Winter Brewfest in Denver. It was a good time!

Before moving to Colorado, we had heard about all the microbreweries and great beer. We put attending a beer festival on our “to do list”. There was definitely an eclectic mix of brews here, with several choices from each brewery. Chad trended toward the dark ales and I chose more pale ales or wheat beer. Out of all that we tasted, Chad’s favorite was the Moose Drool from Big Sky Brewing in Montana and I liked the Colorado Native, which is made with ingredients all found in the state of CO. Good Stuff!

This is the food truck that saved my life. Basic Kneads offers wood-fired pizza that is amazing! They use organic flour in their dough and the veggie margherita pizza was superb. It was perfect on a stomach full of barley and hops! If you’re in the Denver area you should try it out.

 

Since last weekend, the bitter cold has descended upon us! We’re talking negative temperatures, but luckily not too much snow. It’s been an inside kind of week, with the exception of our apartment building’s fire alarm going off at 3 AM for about an hour with a temp of -12. Boooo!

The sad part of my week is that my traveler BFF left for her rotation in California, :(. Miss you, Lisa!

(she was being an honorary Saints Fan with us, but her loyalty lies with the Buffalo Bills & Tim Tebow since she’s a Gator!)

The best thing that’s happened all week is that my good friend from OT school who is also a traveler came to Colorado Springs to work with me!!! Her name is Lori & she even brought her dog, A.C., so that Kerbey could have a friend. We can’t wait to show her around Colorado & have some new adventures!

Look at sweet A.C. mugging for the camera. Poor Kerbs, that’s just her face, she can’t change it.

So, it’s been a rollercoaster week. I hope everyone is staying warm out there!

 

 

Cabin Fever

As a Southerner, I am now enjoying a Colorado winter. Snowy days remind me of pretending to be sick in grade school. All morning, you’re just excited that you got away with it and happy to lay on the couch watching morning talk shows. But by noon, you’re over it and bored. That’s how I feel today on a snowy Sunday. We were supposed to go skiing, but the amount of snow predicted will make the roads treacherous for this evening. So, as a newcomer to cabin fever, I have developed a day of indoor activities. Firstly, stretchy pants/PJs are suggested, although not required, and make-up is strongly discouraged, why not let your face breathe a little today?

1. Baking, just Funfetti cookies b/c that’s what I had left over in the pantry. Did not follow high altitude instructions, because I was secretly hoping they would come out terrible so that I wouldn’t eat any-no such luck, they are delicious!

2. Wrestle with the dog, in an effort to get her to stop whining and leave me alone. Also, hid her bone so she had to go find it.

Please excuse her eye boogers, she is taking advantage of being snowed in and letting herself go a little. Here we are watching the snow from the window. Ok, so maybe Kerbey isn’t the only one letting herself go.

3. Catch up on your reading. I plan on downloading Kris Carr’s new book, and Chad’s reading a Dean Koontz book.

4. Yoga Practice. I subscribed for a monthly membership to yogadownload.com where I can stream live video or do one from my downloads.

5. Catching up on Grey’s Anatomy on Hulu.

6. Making some phone calls to far away family and friends.

7. Fold up our Saint’s Jerseys for the season :(. Our season is over, but I’m still proud to be a New Orleans Saints fan, and happy they made it to the play-offs!

Pandora’s Jack Johnson playlist is bringing some tropical sounds into our chilly apartment.

By tomorrow morning, I’ll be wishing I could call in sick and do this all over again!

Southerner’s Snow Education

According to the locals, this winter has been relatively mild and lacking in the snow department. Well, that’s all changing at this very minute. A snow storm is coming down the Rockies and we may get several inches here in Colorado Springs! I walked the two blocks in the snow today, although it was just the beginning. I was cursing myself for leaving my hat in the apartment this morning.

After retrieving my hat, I took the Kerbey out for a walk/romp in the snow. She LOVES snow! I guess we’re converting her to a mountain dog after all!

I loved seeing her little footprints!

Me with newly acquired hat:

That’s our cute little dog park behind me.

I’m still learning about ice and snow, for instance, I would rather clean a thick layer of snow from the windshield than ice. Also, snow makes a lovely crunching sound as you walk-when there is enough of it. Once you come inside all that snow quickly turns to water and if you just throw your jacket, hat, or dog on the furniture, it will leave a nice large wet spot. Dog poop is easier to pick up in snow. The best thing about snow?

How it changes the landscape and the view from inside a warm living room!

Snowy Hikes & Christmas Presents

Needless to say, I was right about “Wireless Wednesdays”: Chad was asleep by 8 pm and I finished the book I was reading. Not the most successful, but all that was missing was a plan. This week we are going to a used bookstore/coffeeshop/restaurant & wine bar on Wednesday night. My Chad can use his Christmas present: a Kindle. Yeah that’s right, we don’t wait for Christmas. Neither of us can stand it, every single day that the presents have been under the tree he has asked me if I want to open my present yet. He went first: tada! a Kindle! Then it was my turn: tada! a nook! Ha! We had essentially gotten each other the same thing! We will be married 5 years this coming May, but together almost 12 years, so I guess it’s about time that we started thinking alike. We returned the nook since it was purchased locally and easier to exchange.

Then we took off on a hike, it was a consolation hike to make up for the fact that I didn’t feel up to skiing/boarding. We stopped at The Pantry first, where I had a veggie sandwich and Chad had his first bison burger. He thought the burger was good, but lacked seasoning. I think everything lacks seasoning here-I need to keep some Tony Chachere’s in my purse!

Here’s pics from our hike in Green Mountain Falls.

 

This was our view while we ate lunch outside! It was a gorgeous December day here & the pond looks straight out of a miniature Christmas village!

The resident cat stalking Kerbey.

Kerbey REALLY wanted to play. Her whining got so loud & the cat just laid there, loving her tortured whimper. She did stop while chomping down the rest of the bison burger.

Flowing water under the ice at Catamount Falls.

This is the same view as this from our hike in October. It’s amazing how much different a hike can be with ice and snow on the ground! It was definitely more interesting crossing over the waterfall with ice, Chad had to carry the Kerbison. I wish I had gotten a picture of that!

On a side note, for all you yogis out there, yogadownload.com is offering 40% off memberships. I’m thinking about signing up for the $5.95/month which allows 6 downloads and unlimited streaming.

Garden of the Gods

Today we decided to go exploring! After a strong cup of coffee from my new Italian percolator, we hit the trails. We have several friends familiar with the Colorado Springs area, and they have all mentioned that we need to visit Garden of the Gods. Today seemed like the perfect day, sunny with a high of 70 degrees.

Garden of the Gods is a National Natural Landmark here in Colorado Springs. It is a huge park with at least 8 miles of hiking & biking trails, and paved roads throughout. We only touched on a small part of the park and look forward to visiting again. The trails that we went on were short distance with some rough ground, but I was happy to learn that they have some trails accessible by wheelchair. The roads throughout the park are situated so that a driving tour would also allow for some great views, with a pull-off area for taking pictures at scenic points.

View of Pike’s Peak

Can you find the Kerbison? She blended in well with all the rocks.

Siamese Twins rock formation

View of Pike’s Peak from between the Siamese Twins rock formation

Climbing up while Kerbs had to stay on the ground, it was too slick for her paws.

Decent self timer picture.

Balancing Rock- 700 tons of rock balancing on a small platform.

Kerbey refused to help.

After a morning of hiking, we were starving, but wanted to continue to explore our new city. We headed to the East side of Colorado Springs, called Old Colorado City. In a word: awesome!

View from Colorado Avenue

View from our lunch spot, Jake and Telly’s Greek Taverna, where I ate an amazing veggie burger & tried french onion soup for the first time. I forgot I don’t really like onions, but the soup was so good, I ate about 1/2 of it.

Yep, they double-stacked the veggie burger, and that’s fresh basil  with melted provolone! I couldn’t finish all of it and couldn’t bear to leave it there on the plate.  This may have stolen the #1 veggie burger spot from my favorite place back home.

The area was decorated for “scarecrow days” and several local businesses were participating in a Halloween decoration contest. Fall is my all time favorite season! I love decorating for fall, and now that we don’t really have a yard or space,  I really appreciate public places that celebrate the holidays. Definitely a great first impression of our new town!

Road Trip!

This weekend we finally put our passports to use and headed across the border to Niagara Falls, Ontario! It was a quick 2 hour drive for us, and well worth the trip! The Falls are absolutely amazing and the landscapes are beautiful!

 

Kerbey  LOVED the falls! It must have felt similar to sticking your head out the car window.  It was super crowded and a little overwhelming for her, but she got used to it pretty quickly. Actually, we had several people walk over to us just to pet her and tell us how much they love boxers. 🙂

We got there Friday evening and quickly made our way to the falls. It was a really nice evening. The Falls are lit up with changing colors every night- I had no idea! Also, every Friday and Sunday night in the summer there is a fireworks show over the falls and we were lucky enough to watch while sitting on a restaurant balcony drinking coffee (well, the husband was drinking Canadian beer).

Everything was so GREEN there! We saw of ton of tropical plants that we actually recognized from back home in La. The Niagara Parks Commission does an excellent job of keeping up all the landscaping, it’s very impressive!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We learned quite a bit about Niagara Falls and its history through self-guided (free) tours and just taking the time to read plaques, etc. The Falls are one of the greatest sources of hydroelectric power in the world and they are a large producer of power in the state of NY. We decided against the boat tours and behind the falls- since it was Labor Day weekend, it was just so crowded! We took our own walking tour, which exhausted both us and Kerbey, but we feel like we covered all of Niagara from Queen Street to Table Rock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was painted in an alley on Queen Street. We passed up the chocolate, we were on a pizza mission! We ending up eating at That’s Amore Pizza, where the pizza was good, the service was friendly and they welcomed our pup at the outdoor dining area. After walking all over creation, we decided that we just wanted to sit and watch a movie.

We opted for the IMAX feature “Legends and Daredevils” the movie explained a little about the history of Niagara Falls, but mostly focused on shocking and daring acts. We were not too impressed with the reenactments and lack of scientific facts about falls.  However, I did learn that the first person that went over the falls in a barrel was a woman named Annie Taylor in 1901.  She was an aging school teacher that did it all for the fame. The IMAX also had an exhibit with actual barrels or metal chambers- for an additional fee 😦 .

Before we left, I took a brisk stroll with Kerbey for last minutes photos while Chad did the packing. It was beautiful this morning and the crowds were considerably less!

 

 

 

 

The only thing I would have done differently is to start planning earlier to rent a condo or cottage. I would have loved to have a kitchen or even a kitchenette; eating out for every meal was taking its tole by the time we got the breakfast bill this morning!

All in all, we had a great trip and I’m so glad that we went! I would definitely suggest visiting the Canadian side, the parks and walking paths are gorgeous and the city is planned out to be “walker-friendly”. It was also surprisingly dog friendly with all the green areas and some outdoor eating. Perfect for a weekend trip!