A strong appetite, average palate, and weak writing, mixed with outdoor adventure.

A strong appetite, average palate, and weak writing, mixed with outdoor adventure.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Dog’s Bath – In Pictures

Aleka’s dog, Barley, per the norm, does not like baths. Usually mild mannered, he barks and growls, and will twist about to bite the water source, all the while shaking himself to dry off. Knowing this, we don flip flops, old shirts, and heavy aprons, as we will be in the splash zone the entire time.


Looking pleased with the situation.


Doing surprisingly well.


Anxiety creeping in.


Sad eyes.


Flight urge.


Wishing us painful deaths.


Back on the street and completely unfazed

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Strawberries and Gin

I am making an effort to throw less food away. Seems easy, but produce often hides in one of three drawers in the refrigerator. Items in plain sight are overlooked. Maybe an unexpected meal out. Suddenly I am awash in wilted produce, its turgidity waning in proportion to my interest in eating it.

At the end of a productive day, especially a day that featured yard work, gardening, and an emotionally bruising dog bath, which was tough on all parties, but surprisingly, the least on the dog, an abundance of strawberries is a welcome find.


Cleaned, capped, and given a whirl in a blender with gin, a few ice cubes and powdered sugar, it is a velvety cocktail that invites the creeping shadows of the evening. Topped with basil, which offers both contrast and earthiness, think mint minus the cloyingness, and it becomes a potential summer mainstay.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Torreys Peak–via Kelso Ridge


  • Route: Kelso Ridge
  • Distance: 6.75 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,100
  • Start time: 8:01 AM  
  • Time: 6.25
  • Climbers: Alan and Sandy

Today marks the end of the alpine break. With approximately 5 months having past since our last foray above treeline, Alan and I literally dusted off ice axes, packed up crampons, and in a bit of early season delight in which you are not racing afternoon thunderstorms, rolled out of Denver at the seemingly later hour of 6:30.

For those unaware of the location of the climb the US Forest Service provides an impressively large-scale map along the trail, which is shown below.

It is true, the climb is in North America

The quick stroll up the valley quickly gave way to the saddle between Kelso Mountain and Torreys Peak. Looking at the craggy path before us, with the wind picking up, we were excited. Rarefied air, a bit of wind driven snow, and vertical gain spilling upward, the mountains demand awareness, and much of the mental chatter simply drops away, and in that moment I am wonderfully content where I am.

Untitled_Panorama1 copyThe ridge route, we climbed from right to left. Click on the picture to increase size and you can see avalanche debris at the base of the South Paw Couloir.

The climb switches from flats and simple, but steep, walk up sections, to using all limbs in areas where the best advice is simply do not fall.


Alan low on the ridge, before the difficulties began.


Alan topping out a rock rib.


Alan climbing a small snowfield, ending with a slight scramble.

Sandy catching his breath from kicking steps.

Sandy scrambling, in terrain that this photo makes look ridiculously steep.

Crossing a snow covered knife edge.

The going was slow, mostly caused by my sore legs, nagging cough, and lack of acclimation. Yet, it was steady, with us hitting the summit approximately 4 hours after we began.

Summit pose.

The descent was through wet snow, warmed by the increased solar intensity of high altitudes. Sun baked and feeling like we were once again moving through our preferred habitat, the walk to the truck was a lengthy conversation of upcoming climbs. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

White Bean and Kale Soup

When someone I care about gets sick and the what to have for dinner conversation turns towards warm vegetable broth, my inner-cook bristles. Thus, a destined to be salty broth from a who-knows-how-old bouillon cube turned into a white bean and kale soup.



A light flavor, perfect for those without a strong appetite, but rich enough to pair with a malbec for the healthy cook. Caveat, the cook will pair a malbec with nearly any meal and be happy.

Monday, April 16, 2012

South Platte Half-Marathon

A cold morning, that was supposed to be rain splattered and breezy, instead broke partly cloudy with temperatures in the 40’s, almost perfect for a run. At 9:00 AM we were off for a brief tour of downtown Littleton and then a trip due north along the banks of the South Platte, 11 miles north to Denver. The South Platte Half-Marathon was on.

I ran solo. I knew a few people running, but they were all far faster than me, so I settled in with a new running playlist and let it ride. I came out fast, running sub-8 minute miles. The miles flew by, and the anticipated pain of a fast start never materialized. I crossed the finish line in 1:46 even, for a pace of 8:06/mile.

photoHamming it up at mile 11

Last year, the South Platte Half-Marathon was my first half, and far and away the furthest I had run. It was a run that was fueled by anger over my pending divorce, with every mile spent training indicative of some sort of emotional strife. Over the last few weeks some of this anger has returned, and I was not sure what to make of it, but it was channeled into a few long runs and a couple of nights of bad sleep.

Toeing the line on Sunday, it was not present. This run was an effort of awareness, to be light and smooth. To breathe. To enjoy the the stiff breeze, the snow covered hills to the west, and the feeling of a beard sticky with Powerade. To appreciate the slow nature of change, and be thankful for it. For once, being a guy that plods along felt like the exact thing, and in the exact place, that I ought to be.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Urban Elitism

I have lived within 2.5 miles of downtown since I first planted roots in Denver in 1998. Bike commuting from the get go, embracing the walkability of our climate and my chosen proximity to life’s necessity. I can get a bit (actually, a lot) high and mighty about my urban lifestyle, choosing small spaces over three car garages and good school districts. Going to Sputnik for dinner versus Chili’s. Often I catch myself doing this and just laugh. We are all just trying to get by and reacting to our own situations, so if someone wants a long commute in the name of square footage, so be it. Yet, there are some things you cannot turn your back on; such as parallel parking.


The photo above? Not staged. The driver pulled in, Aleka and I chuckled at the misguided first attempt, and then froze in horror as the driver hopped out and walked off. That was their parking job. I have access to a VW GTI that I could fit between that Subaru and the curb. No telling where this person took their drivers’ education, but parallel parking was obviously not on the curriculum.

I am not alone in the importance of parallel parking. I now have several friends, you know who you are, who take great pride in their parallel parking. The moment the car goes in reverse we all go silent, a great judgment being cast forth in those moments of quiet, as we wait and see if they will need to start over, straighten out, or hit the holy grail, in one fell swoop effortlessly find their wheels kissing the curb and bumpers equidistant from the nearest cars. I always root against them, but then again, I am an urban snob, who is not quite in remission.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bikes and Beer

Like so many young shoots leaping forth from the ground, and any other obvious spring cliché, everyone with a bike and a penchant for locally brewed beer was out swervingly pedaling local bike paths in pursuit of a kinship forged over beer and sunshine.

Our short ride took in Renegade, Strange, and the Denver Beer Company breweries. With over 25 bikes in the parking lot, easily outnumbering cars, it was no surprise that we ended up seeing the several of the same people, also traveling by bike, at each brewery. Here’s to an early and Indian summer, featuring more warmth and beer.


Aleka, standing amidst the overflow parking at Strange Brewing

Monday, April 2, 2012

White Sands Missile Range

Alan recently marched in the Bataan Memorial Death March to honor his grandfather, who was a POW on Bataan. This meant he would be carrying a 35# pack through the desert, amidst the stark beauty of yucca and cacti, for 26.2 miles. Knowing that the drive home after such an endeavor would be rough, and in the name of some man time on the road and camping, I joined up as crew.

It began with breakfast tacos at Rudy’s, a chain out of Texas that specializes in smoked meats and ice cold Coca-Cola. Healthy? No. Delicious? No, something even better, maybe nearing sublime. And it was staffed by women whose appearance and hospitality led me to believe they had been imported from the Lone Star State. With all of our senses saturated by the best of Texas, we continued south.


With little fanfare we traded scrubby southern Colorado for scrubby northern New Mexico.


The New Mexican landscape is large. Scrubland, with drought tolerant shrubs, and blue skies that press in. Distance expands as your eyes ingest 100s of square miles of landscape with a simple sweep from right to left.


We fueled up on pistachios about an hour outside of White Sands, home of the largest pistachio in the world.


At the base Alan checked, with a non-military like efficiency, as the line was long and slow moving. It was easily a majority military, but with civilian folk mixed in, pegged by technical wear and schwag from previous races, versus military utilities. We took in a documentary and called it a night, watching the moon drop behind the Organ Mountains as sleep overtook us surprisingly early

The morning featured a whole lot of America. Sun lit peaks, RVs, Eye of the Tiger, cannons firing from basketball courts, and the national anthem. I took all of this in from camp (the back of a truck) as I was sleeping in, enjoying the sun spilling across the basin floor as over 8,000 entrants toed the starting line.



While Alan marched I went for a leisurely run. A slow pace led to a personal distance record, 15 miles. Running in the desert was serene, with few distractions, either natural or anthropogenic. This was followed with a tour of the Missile Park, and in an interesting juxtaposition, the immediately adjacent cactus walk.

Redneck Running in Rugged Region (bad alliteration)




Alan finished in 8:43. He was beat, albeit with surprisingly spry legs, but also surprisingly large blisters. We immediately piled in the truck and began the 10 hour push home. Neither of us were particularly hungry, and conversation ebbed and flowed as we chased higher latitudes in the waning daylight.

Alan approaching the finish line.


Sunset, south of Albuquerque, only 6.5 hours to go to Denver.


All in all, it was a hell of a lot of driving, being on the move for 20 out of 44 hours. It was all offset though by the time without walls. The absorption of the great outdoors in a wide open basin, with a searing desert sun, wispy clouds, and wind blown sand being our living space. I had not slept outdoors since the prior September, and the fickle embrace of the nature was met with open arms and now sunburned shoulders.