September 28, 2006

Ute Valley Park

The mountains to the West say, "Welcome back to Colorado, Gnomey!" My ability to wear socks to bed sounds like, "You missed us, didn't you?" Then there is the hiking which, through the blood pumping in my ears and flushing into my cheeks, says, "And Colorado missed you too!"

I have been trying to get out and enjoy the temperate fall weather before winter sets in by hiking at least twice a week. I have succeeded for three weeks so far--though my other exercise best intensions have fallen along the wayside--thanks in part to the Ute Valley Park. Thursday, I finally got The Boyfriend to hike it with me. That means, of course, that I now have pictures. The camera is an appendage of The Boyfriend's hand and so I have forgotten what it is to carry one myself, preferring our arrangement of him as photog and me as explorer, trail leader and scenery appreciater. Yes, that is my technical title.

I usually hike the trail by taking the right-hand fork from the main parking lot and then traversing in the counter-clockwise direction. We begin by hiking to the top of the ridge, not because that is the first leg of the loop I have been taking but simply for the view:

That is along the ridgeback and, if you turn to the right:

See that? That's houses. This is suburbia yet I have a dirt trail under my feet and a decent grove of trees. I swear, other big cities put in grass, sidewalk paths, soccer goals and monkey bars and call it a park. Colorado Springs does the same thing with the (mostly) natural land (they do have to tinker with and maintain it). And must there must be a lot saved on sprinklers and mowing. I want one of those houses so I can come here everyday. After all, it does seem strange to drive to the place you want to hike. Like taking the elevator to the gym. Unavoidable, however.

Next, we return to the lower trail, climb up to where another neighborhood trailhead joins on, meander back down to the valley between ridges, where the view is still nice:

... climb another ridge parralel to the first and run on back to the parking lot. And yes, I have been trying to run a bit more. I have always rebelled against jogging--to much unnecessary bouncing--but am doing my best to push a bit further. I don't know what I shall do when it snows--brave the rather outdated and crappy apartment gym, I suppose. I shall seize the days that I can before I am forced into indoor exercise submission.

Birthday Present Gone Terribly Wrong...

I special-ordered some tea for The Boyfriend's birthday a few days ago. I made sure to get his favorite--Imperial Tea Room from Taylors of Harrogate--from an online shop called the English Tea Store. Very cute shop. And, an excellent tea. Three thumbs up. For that tea, I have an extra hand.

My mistake was picking out a new brand of tea as sort of a grab bag surprise. I figured if the Imperial was so good, nothing the company made could be that bad, right? Uh, wrong. The Lapsang Souchong tea was labelled a "Pan-Fired Tea." Sounded interesting and strong, like I like my tea (and men!). Upon drinking said tea, however, I found that if the label was going for truth in advertising, it should have read "Bacon-Fired Tea."

Yes, it smelled and tasted like smoked pork products. Very strong pork products. Not appetizing to many first thing in the morning but definitely not to me. Me, who has a standard rant about bacon not being a condiment and how Americans slather bacon on anything edible.

Goodbye Lapsang Souchong. And Mr. Tea Maker? Prepare yourself to be thoroughly scrubbed lest the faintest trace of bacon tea remain.


September 25, 2006

I'm in Love With a Dirty, Old Man...

Well, not dirty. In fact, he's fanatically clean. I know he's used a Q-tip to clean the hard-to-reach-spots on the tires of his motorcycle. He may deny it, but I know.

Old, however, that much is true. That's right. The Boyfriend just turned three decades old--the big 30 and, though I love to tease him immensely, I honestly think it is quite a good age to be. Young enough to be free to do what you please (especially because we don't have any of those ball-and-chain children around yet) while old enough to have a somewhat stronger grasp of what you want, who you are and, ahem, your wallet. That and he has those few adorable grey hairs cropping up at the temples. Sigh. Very handsome.

The fact that we just moved from Phoenix did put somewhat of a damper on my fantasical birthday plans for The Boyfriend. There are no friends around here to have a party with or to tease him. The burden of the big day fell squarely upon my shoulders. So, I planned a whole afternoon of surprises--three destinations to be exact--and gave him some Mapquest printouts so he could navigate us there.

The first destination...

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Yes, I know it sounds juvenile but it's honestly a very cool zoo built on terraces carved into the mountainside. That and they let you feed and touch the giraffes. My favorite? The dancing porcupine.

Destination #2...

The Golden Bee at the Broadmoor resort. An 18th Century English pub ferried across the ocean, operated in NYC for decades and then sat in storage until it moved to Colorado Springs in the 1960s. Excellent mahogany woodwork and yards (or half-yards, that was more wise considering The Boyfriend's empty stomach) of beer.

Destination #3...
The Cliff House. A four star restaurant and inn who offered a "Table for Two" online special. Three courses (house salad, chateaubriand filet mignon and dessert) for a decent price. The creme brulee dessert was to die for with a small ramekin of coffee, chocolate cinnamon and traditional vanilla flavors.

After dinner and the accompanying wine, The Boyfriend seemed overwhelmed with happiness about how his big day went (and also a little tispy).

Happy Birthday all year long, my darling. It shall be happy, I know, if we can spend it together. Love you!

September 24, 2006

Here Comes the Bride...

Now I don't know where some of the Bachlorette Party rituals stem from--the rampant penises of all sizes, the truth or dare games. The drinking and the strippers I get but I wonder who first thought to make penis ballons, straws, breath mints, shot glasses (ok, again, I get that one), glow-in-the-dark antennas glued upon a headband, lipstick (I kid you not!) and all the other good goodies you can all see for yourself at your local porn shop. Bring your wallet--penises are severly over-priced.

Obviously, I cannot share the majority of those photos with you. No, no. Really. It's for your own good. Instead, I will simply point out two things:

1. Why does such poor taste (See exhibit A) proceed the most tasteful event of your life? It is as the bride and groom must unleash their juvenile, lustful, drunken, silly selves before the big day so they can keep a straight face while in their black and white finery. Rather silly in itself.

It's not as if all your friends and family will think you are going to stop being juvenile when no one is looking or that (God forbid!) you will stop lusting after one another. We know you will still watch Family Guy in your pajamas, drink cheap beer and slap each other's butts. That's what love is all about. But we must preserve the solemnity that is marriage and so--woo hoo! Party down and bring on the genitalia.

2. Congrats Jen and Steve. I have known Jen since the first grade and am pleased as punch to see her happy. I am even more excited to see a bride dressed in red! Hope you enjoyed your strip lessons, naughty cake and serenade. Oh, and the headache the next day. Sorry about that one.

September 18, 2006

Rocky Mountain (Mini) Roadtrip...

It was a bright and sunny Sunday at the dawn of our new Colorado lives and so we decided to set out on a motorcycle adventure. Naturally, I have seen many of the sights in the past, though it has been years and years, but The Boyfriend has the unbounded excitement of a kid in a candy store--no, no, like a tech-boy at a Lan-Party--about all the activities in the area.

We began our jaunt at the Garden of the Gods which, lovely and striking as it is, is only 10 minutes from our house. Not outside the city, in the city. It seems the signature flat-iron-esque rocks are almsot a monument and the "hiking" trails at its base are level, even, gravelled and travelled by joggers and their fluffy puppy dogs. It's like a city park but oh so much better. Look! There's Gnomey!

Next we puttered over to Manitou Springs (which The Boyfriend kept pronouncing as Man-i-toe instead of Man-i-too) for a bite at the European Cafe. Adorable vintage shops and hippie coffee bars will have to wait for another day. The Cave of the Winds beckoned, though we just hung out in the parking lot for the view and will explore the caverns another time. There is the town of Manitou in the distance, framed by some fragrant pines.

Then, we climbed 2,000 feet in 20 minutes to the hamlet of Woodland Park, where I lived until I was almost six years old. The picture may not prove the town's growth--it still looks quite quaint--but I see it. I remember when we were thrilled to have a Wendy's come to town so we could have a fast food option of any sort. Now, they have two Starbucks. Well okay, one is inside of a Safeway but that counts!

Excellent views of Pike's Peak from Woodland Park. The native Indians call it the Mountain of the Sun (or "Tava"). I just remember my mother telling me (over and over again) about how my dad wanted to name me Zebulon if I was a boy, after the founder of Pike's Peak--Zebulon Pike.

To round off our adventure, we went back the way we came through GOTG and stopped at the local Harvest Festival. Thanks again to The Boyfriend for so indulging me. I know craft shows aren't his favorite activity. I guess it's just not his cup of homemade soap. The typewriter jewelry, however, was fantabulous. I've seen it before and don't know why I haven't bought any yet. Oh yeah, because it's so freaking expensive. Sigh. Perhaps for Christmas I can get a pair of typewriter-key earrings. The options for right and left are:
  • ? and !
  • F and U
  • " and " - My personal favorite. My earrings would quote everything I say, without resorting those horrid "air quotes."

September 17, 2006

Colorado Springs, CO...

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to present.....

An event you have all been waiting for.....

The Triumphant Return of Gnomey G to the Blogosphere!

Thank you, thank you. No, no. You are really too kind. Down in front now. Thank you.

Well folks, I have to say it's great to be here in the beautiful city of.... where am I again? Oh yes. Colorado Springs, Colorado. Just flew in from Arizona and--boy--are my arms tired. Yuckedy yuck. Actually, we rented a U-haul for our crap and a trailer for The Boyfriend's precious motorcycle. I tagged along behind that triumphant processional in my little Jeepy, listening to books on tape and staying caffeinated. In the end, I took exactly one week off of work to pack, load, drive two days, unload and put the place in decent order (mostly by myself since The Boyfriend started back to work the day after we got into town). With all of that over-exertion, combined with a strange security light outside our bedroom window that makes it seem like noon at midnight, I was completely wasted and cranky for a spell.

Now, we breathe the fresh air and enjoy our lives, which frankly are pretty amazing. Yes, Colorado Springs, where Pikes Peak stands sentinel over a city of wind, his bald pate snowy white like an aging but kindly father figure. The view from the top once inspired "Oh beautiful for spacious skies" and we love the amber waves of grain and purple mountains majesty. And the autumn thunderstorms which strike most every afternoon. Absolutely love that considering we just left a desert whose high temps have been averaging above 110 degrees. We haven't even kicked on the air conditioner here yet!

Our apartment is beginning to feel like home. The kitchen, I fear, may soon become my mortal enemy. It is just so much smaller than my spoiled self had become used to and many of my appliances have to be stacked between the tops of the cabinets and the ceiling. Plus, the lack of counter space and maneuvering room has me bumping elbows with myself. But, like the polite girl I was raised to be, we exchange terse compliments and attempt to get along. Perhaps one day we'll be friends. I hope. If the friendship fails, you will most likely be able to blame the kitchen--that be-atch who just can't hold enough junk in her trunk.

The apartment complex, however, sits atop a ridge with amazing views we have been trying to document for posterity. We walked over to the local coffee shop yesterday and took a few shots. Then today, we hopped on the motorcycle and toured through the Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs, Woodland Park and stopped at a local craft fair. (Details and pictures of this trip to follow!) It all brings up so many memories--I was conceived not five miles from this apartment and Woodland Park was my home until I was six. And there is so much to rediscover and appreciate as an adult.

It will be good. It may have been a stressful two weeks to get up here and make all these drastic life changes, so stressful that my blog has remained empty. Even my book review blog has suffered. My reading hasn't (me? stop reading? NEVER!) and I now have four new books to catch up on. But it's going to be good. It's going to be very good.