27 June 2010

Hanging with a High Roller

For two days this weekend, my sister Lala and I stepped into the world of cycling by participating in the Colorado Chapter MS 150 bike ride. No, we didn't ride in it, but we did volunteer as Road Marshals. It was a great way to support our dad in the ride. Waking up at 4:30am in the morning was more fun than I thought the second I saw the sun rise painting bright colors over on mountains. In our cool POLICE reflective vests, we directed traffic around bikers. Our position was directly on the front range and the timing happened to coincide with hot air balloons sweeping across the the horizon, adding beauty to the peaceful morning. 
Dad and 3,000 other riders zoomed past leaving us in their dust until they finished the 150 mile loop the next day. Sunday brought more excitement when we brought Marlowe along to direct and cheer the riders into the finish line. It was the first time we witnessed Dad in a big ride and we were so proud to see him at the finish line. Lala has even declared that she will ride in the MS150 with him next year!
With the "high roller" at the finish line
Marlowe was the best volunteer ever!

24 June 2010

Czech list for Prague

There's much to be done before I depart for my upcoming adventure in Eastern Europe. The plane tickets have been bought and my visa is underway. Besides the formal travel logistics, I am trying to prepare culturally. For 9 months I will be eating, seeing, and hopefully speaking everything Czech (outside of the 10 English classes I'll be teaching each week). Although my language preparations aren't going well at this point mainly due to lack of resources, I'm really drawn to popular culture aspect and having a lot of fun with it.

You might be wondering what exactly I can do to prepare culturally. First, I did all of the cliché tourist readings- Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, and Eye Witness Top 10 Travel Guide. These books laid a great foundation of information to start my journey in Prague. I can recite verbatim all the booksmarts you might want to know about Charles Bridge, the Jewish Quarter, or the Astronomical Clock. After reading about all the must-sees, I dove right in to The Trial by Franz Kafka. I didn't completely understand the inner workings of this complicated story but it was very deep and thought provoking. The time frame in which it was written and published contributes to the reasoning behind the body and conclusion. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera, a Franco-Czech author, also had a very interesting take on Czech life in this historical fiction novel. I highly recommend both books. 

Enough of books and more about the part of culture that will interest more people. Ever seen the show Three Sheets? Seems like not many people know of it YET (spread the word), but it's a great travel show about the different drinking customs around the world. Anyways, Three Sheets got me interested in the unique cultural beverages of the Czech Republic. By unique I mean awesome. Watch the Czech Republic episode yourself. Before you know it you'll have watched all 3 seasons. Believe me.

To get a head-start on the Czech drinking experience, Jon and I celebrated the acceptance of our internships by splurging on a 6 packs of imported Pilsner Urquell. Oh yes, it resembled the sweet taste of success, but I'm sure it will be even sweeter straight from the tap. Other Czech beverages to explore are Absinthe and Becherovka. Next on the Czech list is learning about Czech food and how to order in Czech because I will be doing a lot of that very soon.

How do you do to prepare mentally, intellectually, and physically for a big trip?

23 June 2010

Helmets and Spandex

What a sight. Helmets, metal frames, and spandex galore. Today bikers took over the streets and trails of Denver for Bike to Work Day.  The Cherry Creek Path along the Platte River was buzzing with sounds of bike bells and people screaming from near accidents. Promoting biking as a means of transportation is a grand idea but half of it is teaching people how to ride bikes safely. This aside, the Denver Regional Council of Governments did a great job providing rest stops and incentives for riders. Bagels and coffee were plentiful and the power of the somewhat critical mass was invigorating. It's too bad they can't sponsor BTWD everyday.

12 June 2010

Not-So Summer Summit Weather

I double and triple checked my calendar. It is indeed June but Summit Sunday #4 is postponed due to snow in the mountains. Remember, I grew up in Texas where the daily highs are in the 100s May through September. The summer climate in Colorado is going to take some getting used to!

Although the hike is off, I still worked out my hiking muscle this week by attending a free *REI class on "14ers". In the class I learned about the 53 (though some claim 54) mountains in Colorado that have peaks registered over 14,000 feet high. And yes, people climb them. The levels of difficulty, climate, and exposure on each 14ers varies quite a bit, apparently. Because the peaks are above tree level, the weather and dangers are much different than the Mile High City. We were weary this week about the usual thunder and lighting storms at the top of these mountains. (Not so) fun fact: Colorado ranks among the highest in lightning strike density and deaths in the U.S. But with snow involved too this weekend, we did not want to double our chances at disaster. As far as my vocabulary goes, the words summer and hike are not to be used in the same sentence with frostbite or blizzard. Until it is sunny and dry, I will remain curled up with my mug of Lady Gray tea while enjoying pretty pictures of mountains on Google Images, athankyou!

*REI (Recreational Equiptment Inc.) is an outdoor recreational and sporting goods store. One of their huge flagship stores is located in downtown Denver.

08 June 2010

Summit Sunday #3: Section 16/ Palmer Trail

This weekend my new knowledge of townships and sections from working a summer job as a geo-tech consultant was put to use. We hiked Section 16 right outside of Colorado Springs on Palmer Trail. It is known for its wild flowers, ariel view of Garden of the Gods, and panorama of the foothills of Pike's Peak. Along the way, Joei and I saw a gardener snake and a lizard. We'll take any kind of wildlife we can get, excluding bears of course! It was a great trek uphill; good training for our hike next week. Stay tuned for next Sunday's journey up our first 14er (14,000 feet above sea level) : Grey's Peak. dun dun dun....

peak with a view of the foothills
Garden of the Gods from above

05 June 2010

Sidewalk Chalk is Art

It starts like this:

And turns into this:
Sidewalk chalk IS art. Thank you Denver Chalk Art Festival.