17 January 2018

We tried our hand at winter camping. I just really like the desert and I hate the heat so I figured the desert during the winter would be great. And it was! Except at night it was really cold and very little changed that. Lesson learned. Anyhow, we drove to Grand Canyon National Park. We arrived after dark, so our first view was sunrise the next morning. A very nice introduction. Hiking at the Grand Canyon isn't much fun, as it starts on the downhill and ends on the uphill. But we did a couple little jaunts and it was quite nice. On the way back home, we stopped by Monument Valley which was beautiful and camped near the southern entrance to Canyonlands National Park in Utah. That night was probably even colder, but woke to a spectacular sunrise. I was super nice to take a vacation and get away for a bit. I don't think we'll be winter camping again anytime soon, though.
Sunrise on the south rim. 

Desert Watchtower. 

Mittens at Monument Valley

Sunrise near Canyonlands. 

Newspaper Rock. 

04 January 2018

New Year New You

... Nah.


I'll just update some of my previous goals.

2017 was a pretty 'meh' year. Not a whole lot happened besides the relative madness that is politics. I did get a new position at the shelter that I still mostly really like, even though it can be super busy/stressful at times. My manager is leaving in a month though, so things could take a drastic turn. I don't know how I feel about all of that.

I finished paying of my student loans, so that's cool.

I signed up for my first official trail race in May. I decided to go all in and do a 50k. It's at Greenland Open Space, which is a trail I'm very familiar with. It's mostly flat and I'm hopeful that I'll finish. Gotta get on the training though! My days off are Sunday, Monday and Thursday, so no more "Trail Tuesday."

This year my modest goals are to get out of the country, run some more, maybe buy a house?

Still have the cute and broken foster dog. I really want to know the person who adopts him. He's just a neat dog. That said, I want him to be done with foster and all healed up, because he's pretty annoying in the house with all the cat chasing and not-quite-trained-ness.


28 December 2017

Foster Pup madness.

I've had a really cool little foster dog these past few weeks. Usually we have tiny cute puppies that are loud and make a lot of messes and it's easy to return them once they heal up. This one is an older pup, super scruffy and gangly and really not all that cute. But he is more or less house-trained and he's super cuddly. He does have the tendency to chase cats (terrier!) I really hope I can find him a home with someone I know, so I can keep up with him. I am in no position to have a dog as we've got way too many in our house as it is, and have been putting off some repairs until we get rid of the foster pups. (My roommate has a 2 lb chihuahua pup.)

We've been calling him Ricky, though his given name was Tupac.  Anyone out there want a neat little dog?
cuddles!

style-able hair. 

catlike. 


Roommate's tiny. 

15 November 2017

One of my very good friends was just diagnosed with cancer. On the week of his wife's last chemo treatment for her cancer. I know life isn't fair, but this is just ridiculous. I know that what I feel is unimportant compared to what they feel, but I feel so powerless and so exhausted. I don't know what to do to help them. I don't want to overwhelm them with my need to be useful. I'm at a loss.


26 October 2017

Jobbing.

My new position at the animal shelter is quite a contrast to animal care. In the transfer department, very little remains the same from day to day. We have certain duties that need to be carried out regularly, but things about them always vary. Things are generally very fast paced, but I'm not sure if that's just the learning of a new job or if things are actually faster than my previous position.

My job involves a lot of driving in rather large vehicles. Mostly just to shelters in the metro area, but also to our other shelter location down in Castle Rock. We also have a few partner shelters out of state.

My second week of work, I drove our box truck (moving truck size) to the north west corner of Texas. I started from Denver around 5pm and arrived five and a half hours later at 12:30 (central). I awoke at 6:30 and downed some coffee before driving to the shelter and loading up the dogs. It was an uneventful trip, really. Besides the driving at night and the fact that this was likely the last trip anyone from my job will make to that shelter.

Just this week, we received a bunch of dogs and cats from Puerto Rico. I didn't help with the intake, but will certainly dabble in the ongoing paperwork.

For the first time in a long time, I find myself actually liking my job. I rarely hated my last position, but I was usually unable to feel very positive about it. While I definitely still make sure to take my breaks and use my weekends, I find the days do not crawl tediously by as they used to.

It is a lot more sedentary than I've been used to. While I am very active for short bursts loading and unloading animals, much of my day is spent either in the driver's seat or in front of a computer. But that just means I need to use my three weekend days to be active.

Really, the only thing that could make it more enjoyable is having Saturday and Sunday off as well as a weekday, instead of only one weekend day and two weekdays. But with a department of only 2 and a manager, schedules are tough. One can dream.

28 September 2017

disaster relief

Recently, I travelled to Atlanta Georgia to help with some disaster animal sheltering. It was quite the experience.

I always have conflicting emotions when I go do disaster relief for animals. Because I really do believe that human take precedence. But this was a help to people in need as well. Atlanta was taking animals from shelters in Florida. From areas affected by the hurricanes. That freed up spaces in those shelters for owned animals whose people might be homeless. Most emergency shelters don't allow pets, so it's up to either relief shelters or local shelters to house the pets.

the shelter. rows of crated dogs. 
My job in Atlanta was similar to my previous job at my shelter. Namely: animal care. I walked and cleaned several hundred dogs each day with a team of around 10 people. The dogs were mainly pit bull types and all very sweet and patient. The animals were rotating through every few days. And one evening we took in a bunch of cats. Not a few cats. Over 50 cats, I can't remember the exact number. They had all been up for adoption in Florida, so they were mostly very nice and even pretty unperturbed at being transported and housed in a warehouse filled with dogs. Right, the warehouse: the animals were housed in an old Home Depot-- a warehouse without any air conditioning, only large fans.
comfy









these cats don't care.



my makeshift bed for the night shift. 


We worked 12 hour shifts. After the first two days, my coworker and I were asked to take the night shift. This was possibly an "easier" task, as the dogs didn't need cleaned or walked at night. But we got very little sleep due to the sporadic barking.




This did free up some time during the day for an outing or two. I was able to take a nice run along the Chattahoochee river. The humidity nearly killed me, but the lower altitude was a nice change on my stamina.
morning run on the Chattahoochee

30 ft. whale shark. coolest thing ever. 


My coworker and I went to the Georgia Aquarium. It was amazing. I can't begin to describe it all. We watched a dolphin show and saw the four huge whale sharks. I am still in awe.

jellies!

 On the last day, we switched back to help in the afternoon and then I took a lyft into town to meet a friend. He works at a fairly posh restaurant and I got a fancy drink and had to choose between a dozen fancy cheesecakes. It was a good send off.
best. 



Over all, it was a good experience. There was a lot of frustration involved with the organizing and communication, but I'm glad my job allows me such opportunities.

oh, did I mention we brought one home on the plane?

(I'm terrible at formatting!)

17 August 2017

Through Smoke and Fog

I got a chance to camp in Washington for a week with two of the best people. One of our first stops was Cascadian Farms for fresh picked blueberries.

I have had many sorts of fresh fruit right off the tree/bush/vine, but this was really something special since blueberries are not native to Colorado. We got enough to last us the 2-3 days in North Cascades and on the way out, got more for the next few days. There's a fire in British Columbia, so we didn't get to see a whole lot of the North Cascades except trees, which were very nice.

Diablo Lake, our first two campsites were near here. 

I had been to Olympic National Park before, but not the mountain portion, only the ocean. The Olympics are beautiful and ridiculously rugged mountains.
Sunset from Deer Park. 

Sunrise at Deer Park. 

The smoke obscured a lot until we got the the coast. There, the fog never lifted. The days and nights were around 55 degrees. It was a welcome relief.




One day on the pacific coast, we saw otters frolicking in the river, an osprey perched and a pod of orcas. On our last night we camped in a campground right on the beach and woke up to orcas just offshore, spouting and showing us their fins. It was amazing.

so close to shore!

fins!

11 July 2017

Out in the wilds of Colorado

So I've been doing this trail running thing for a few years now. I'm no pro, obviously, but I've been working on my milage. I learned a couple weeks back that 20 miles in the heat is no good. This week I dialed it back to 6 very pleasant miles up Ben Tyler trail. I love running through aspen groves next to a creek. I wish it was less of a drive.
Aspen grove and Ben Tyler trail. 

I also went on a photography outing with my friend (incidentally back to the scene of the crime of my previous grueling trail run.) We found some pretty birds.
mountain bluebird

goldfinch

Last weekend, I went white water rafting for the first time. It was super fun! But I won't be able to afford doing that regularly. No photos of that though as I haven't got a waterproof camera and the professional photos were exorbitantly priced.

The weekend before that, we revisited the Black Canyon National Park. It really is quite impressive.
Black Canyon

Friends. 

And the weekend before Black Canyon we took an impromptu hike to Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.


After just over 8 years in animal care, I landed a new job at my work. It's a newly created position that will involve driving and paperwork. It will be good to change some things up for sure.

13 June 2017

Some Catch-up

I haven't been writing much lately. I feel sort of boring I guess.

I've been working on getting my trail running miles back up. I need to start getting up earlier and just intending to spend a good portion of the day at it. I always feel like I have so much to do on that day off (Tuesday), I think I need to rearrange my chores schedule so I don't feel the need to keep the runs short.

Last Friday an old friend (from first grade!) visited. It was great to catch up. Our lives are very different, but she's doing something I sorta secretly aspire to. She's running an ultramarathon! I have a lot of work to get to that point, but it's sort of been a low key goal of mine since I discovered I actually like trail running a few years back. Maybe if I go ahead and set a race as a goal, I'll actually kick myself into gear on the training.

This past weekend I spent in two new states and a district. I flew on a red eye to Dulles and walked from Virginia to downtown DC to meet up with some friends for the Equality March. It was in conjunction with Capitol Pride, so there were a lot of rainbows. It was extremely hot. Mostly because I'm not used to humidity. For the remainder of Sunday and most of Monday, I spent time with an old friend (college roommate even) and their spouse in Maryland. We walked around Fredrick and they showed me some of the neat places around town. They are moving to Scotland in a few months and I haven't seen them since they left Colorado about 8 or so years ago. It was great to catch up.

Needless to say, I'll also be visiting them in Scotland once they're settled.

I've been working on photography things lately. A buddy and I took a nature photography course through the Museum of Nature and Science. I learned a lot. I just need to get out there and keep practicing.

Maybe next time I write, I'll include some photos and/or accomplishments.

06 March 2017

More National Parks

Last weekend the boyfriend and I took a trip. Mostly it was just to get out. To check a couple more national parks off the list. We headed south to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and Guadalupe Mountains just south in Texas.

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed those two parks. We hit Guadalupe Mountains first. The Chihuahuan desert is pretty bleak and Texas' tallest mountain is just over 8,000, and thus none-too-impressive, but there is a beauty there. I'm sure it helped that we went in February, before the temperatures settled in the mid 90s. The one major drawback was the wind. It was windy the entire time. Blowing us around while on the highway south. Blowing dust. Blowing the tent over (we ended up sleeping in the SUV.) We were unable to hike Guadalupe Peak because of the wind. We did get in a nice hike to a stone cabin up a canyon that would surely have been much prettier with some summer greenery.

Guadalupe Peak. 
Pratt Cabin and madrone trees
After our hike we drove the 40 minutes north to Carlsbad. The entrance to the caverns is actually up on top of a hill, the caves are 750 feet below. That first day, we descended via the elevator and stepped out into an underground cafe of sorts. It was pretty surreal. The ground was flat and paved and there were kiosks for snacks and t-shirts. And picnic tables and bathrooms with running water. And then, a bit further on, the Big Room.

(part of) the Big Room
I used to work at Glenwood Caverns. I always thought it was super cool. There are lots of formations and plenty of space to stand up on the basic tours. The Big Room is huge. I knew somewhere in my mind that Carlsbad Caverns was big. I mean, it's a national park and all. I was unprepared. No photos will ever fully show the vastness of that space. Something like 60 football fields in length. Monolithic stalagmites. We walked around the whole room. The trail is over a mile. It's paved and has handrails to keep people contained to protect the visitors and the caves.

These are at least 2x taller than me. 
gazing into the depths of hell. Or something.
The following day we walked down the natural entrance. The whole 750  vertical feet via a winding trail down a dark hole in the earth. It was quite the experience.


candle lanterns lighting the Left Hand Tunnel
We had a ranger guided tour to a different part of the cave. It was lighted only by handheld candle lanterns. It was a highlight of the trip. Though the formations were not as impressive as in the Big Room, Left Hand Tunnel was a very fun experience. We learned a lot of history about the caves, some Native American lore, some stories about the man who first explored and pushed to make it be a park.

cave pool

It was a very pleasant trip, any really not that long a drive compared to what we often do to visit parks. My main regret is that the bats were wintering down south and so we couldn't watch them fly out at dusk. And also the crawling tours weren't available in the off-season. I guess we'll just have to go back in the summer sometime. And spend the whole down down below to beat the heat.

Here are a few more photos from the trip.


sunset from our campsite near the Caverns. 







see? they're big.