Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Spontaneous ride to Limon

Denver had a few days of fair weather in early January. It got warm enough to melt most of the snow and ice off of the streets. We of the Rocky Mountaineers Motorcycle Club of Colorado got the itch to get our bikes out and go for a ride. Using Facebook and cell phones the clubs Trail Boss put together an impromptu ride.

We rode south on Parker Road to Franktown, turned east and rode through Elizabeth and Kiowa on Colorado Highway 86 until it met-up with Interstate 70; from there it was a short hop into Limon. We were able to find a small Chinese restaurant in Limon Colorado.

It was really great to just get out and go for a ride.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hear the Coyotes howl

I've never been camping in my life; well that isn't entirely true. I have a faint memory of camping along Yellowstone Lake as a small child. The adults did all the work; I was just extra baggage. I remember that my mother and I slept on the boat, and I remember my older brother chasing black bears out of the camp.

When I was in my teens my Dad hired an outfitter to take us on an overnight horseback trip into Sunlight Basin. Everything was provided and the outfitters did all the work; all we had to do was stay on top the horses. Everyone got real excited when a couple of Moose strolled past camp. That night we heard a pack of Coyotes howling from across the river.

What these two outings have in commons is that I didn’t have to pack anything, do anything, or have any special knowledge or skills; all I had to do was go along. That really doesn’t seem like camping to me. My interest in camping has always been a “passive” interest. I like looking at camping gear in the catalog while imagining an “idealistic” scene of sitting with good friends next to a warm campfire watching the sunset over a beautiful calm lake. I like hearing people tell stories of their hiking and camping adventures and imagine myself in their stories. Then I remember that camping also includes cold, rain, mosquitoes, snakes, smelly outhouses or going in the bushes, and usually no running water.

My interest in camping picked up a little last summer when a 25-year-old girl in our office went backpacking into the Amazon for two weeks, and blog buddy Nick rode the End-to-End on a bicycle and camped out every night. My interest in camping peaked even more when I learned that the motorcycle club I joined has an annual camping trip every 4th of July. If these people can camp out then so can I.

I’ve been reading a couple of books about camping and looking at camping gear again – this time I know a little more about what to look for. I like to tell myself that learning how to camp will give me the ability to get away from the city for a few days, will give me the flexibility to go on extended motorcycle trips, and will give me the satisfaction of having done it. These statements may be true but the real truth is I want to hang with the guys. If the guys are going riding I want to go riding. If the guys are going hiking I want to go hiking. If the guys are going camping then I want to go camping too. I think I’ll stop at jumping off a cliff – I don’t want to do that.

Riding with the club last summer expanded my horizons and gave me more confidence. I’m reading about the basics of hiking and camping safety, the “Ten Essentials”, equipment and technique, so camping with the club this summer should be easy. Some of us might even go hiking and camping more often.

Friday, January 01, 2010

My 2009 review

The year 2008 had its highs and lows like any other year. Our company got a new Vice President, I got back into motorcycles after a 30 year absence, my mother passed away, Barack Obama was elected President, and I had Carpal Tunnel release surgery on both hands that year, but for me 2009 was a glorious year.

Our company has been affected by the financial crises and depression but we have been able to avoid layoffs. I was given additional responsibilities at work early in 2009. I now have two more positions reporting to me and I report directly to the VP. This has changed my job duties considerably; I am no longer involved in the day-to-day technical aspects of the operation. In December I took on even more responsibilities, temporarily, while other people were on leave.

Early in the year my Doctor gave me a very stern warning. My Cholesterol and triglycerides are off the chart and the prescription medication isn't working. He warned me that I only have one option left - make some lifestyle changes. I've cut way back on meat, dairy and carbohydrates, started taking Omega-3 (Fish Oil) and Niacin supplements, and I lost 20 pounds. In November I had the best test results I've had in many years! All of the measurements were within acceptable limits. I still need to increase my physical activity because my HDL is still too low.

I've done more photography this year and have taken up casual birding (looking for birds.) I've had mixed success. I discovered that I wasn't very proficient with my camera and needed to learn how to use it more effectively. Since my first excursion in March I got a telephoto lens and am learning some of the advanced features of my camera . I plan to do more hiking, birding, photography and videography in 2010; I already have a new State Parks pass.

Getting a motorcycle was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I rode during the 70's but hadn't been on a motorcycle in almost 30 years so I took a basic riders course first. After I got the bike I joined a local motorcycle club called the Rocky Mountaineers Motorcycle Club of Colorado. It's not a large club but they are all good folks.

This year I have gone places that I've never been to before, and done things that I've never done before. I rode in the Cruise Against AIDS run for CAP, been to Buffalo Bill's grave, ridden down Lookout Mountain Rd, rode in the Molly-Dharma run for Max Fund, rode at the head of the Gay Pride Parade, rode through South Park, got rained on in Roosevelt National Park, rode in the KSL Memorial run, rode to the top of Mount Evans, and to the top of Pikes Peak, rode through Rocky Mountain National Park on Trail Ridge Road, spent a week-end in Breckenridge, rode on the Leadville train, and spent a week-end in Saratoga Wyoming. I've had a blast doing it!

I've developed a better sense of perspective over the past year and am better able to take things in stride. So much of my personal identity has been centered on work. I think of 2009 as the year of my great awakening. Change hasn't come easily. Some change has come from the school of hard knocks, some has come from trying new things, and some has followed periods of deep introspection. I am gradually developing a state of mindfulness and learning the importance of participating in community, developing relationships outside of work, and enjoying what the world has to offer. All work and no play makes Clyde a dull and unhappy boy.

I am looking forward to 2010 with anticipation.
  • I will continue to develop an attitude of gratitude and mindfulness.
  • I will continue to build relationships outside of work through the First Unitarian Society, the Rocky Mountaineers, and the local Audubon Society.
  • I will continue controlling my Cholesterol and triglyceride by being more attentive to what and how much I eat.
  • I will be more physically active by incorporating walking and hiking into my photography and nature activities.
  • I will reduce then eliminate smoking by not smoking one day a week in February, not smoking 2 days a week in March, and not smoking 3 days a week in April.
  • I will go camping in 2010 (as long as there aren't any spiders, snakes, mountain lions, bears or wolves.)
  • And, I will ride, ride, ride.