May 27, 2010

summertime in the Mile High

I realize that summer doesn't officially begin until late June. However, I am one of many Americans who consider Memorial Day weekend the induction of summer season.

I bring this up because I was recently discussing summer plans with a softball teammate and he introduced an interesting concept that sparked a thought or two for me regarding summer in Denver. We were talking about a bachelor party that he had been invited to in Chicago, to which I replied that I love Chicago and he was lucky to be going there. He countered with although Chicago is a great city, he has a really difficult time leaving Denver in the summer months.

Now, as an all-season enthusiast, my immediate reaction was to argue that Denver and the surrounding area is an enjoyable destination, year-round (Hello? Some of the best skiing in the country). However, I held my tongue and let his words permeate my psyche for a moment.And, after letting the idea brew, I realized I completely agreed. Summertime in Denver, and Colorado, is hard to beat.

As I continued to process the idea, I developed the following list as to why I <3 summertime in Denver:
  • outdoor concerts -- Mile High Music Festival, UMS, Westword Music Showcase
  •  Red Rocks -- technically, an outdoor concert venue, but deserves a separate mention because it's so amazing. Also, due to its secondary application as a host for Film on the Rocks, which, on second thought, probably deserves its own mention.
  • Film on the Rocks
  • Rocky Mountains -- hiking, camping
  • climate -- arguably, one of the best in the U.S.during the summer months
  • outdoor patios -- rooftops and non
  • City Park Jazz
  • Rockies  -- although games extend well beyond the summer months, it's much more enjoyable to partake in the seventh-inning stretch activities if donning a down parka is not involved in the mix.
  • tube tops, sundresses, sandals
  • promenading along the 16th Street Mall (and Boulder's Pearl Street)
  • July 4
  • Wash Park picnics (and volleyball)
  • botanic garden
  • cruiser rides -- with a different theme each week
  • farmers' markets
  • grilling
  • Coors Field fireworks
  • electricity camp at Steamboat -- another non-Denver addition, but still within Colorado
  • white water rafting -- again, a Colorado destination
  • lounging by the pool
  • summer softball league -- for the same reasons as the Rockies game, the summer league kicks fall and spring leagues' asses
    So, I suppose the moral of the story is that Denverites should appreciate and take advantage of all the wonderfulness that is the Mile High City in the summertime. I'm sure many activities that merit mention are absent from my list, but, these are the off-the-top-of-my-head reasons I love Denver. Also, this paints a clear picture  as to why I don't have a free weekend until mid September.

    Have an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. And, amongst your picnics, camping and other activities, remember to take a moment to thank a veteran.

    Right and below, photos from the summer adventures of 2009 --  July 4 at Coors Field and singles night at the Denver Zoo.

    May 26, 2010

    Wordless Wednesday

    A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a blog of which the author posted a photo every Wednesday, dubbing the event "Wordless Wednesday." I thought the concept was a great idea and am therefore stealing it for my blog, with a little altering as I will be using words to provide a brief description of the photo. So, I suppose my Wordless Wednesday would be more appropriate as "Photo Wednesday," but it's just not as catchy. What can I say? I'm a sucker for alliterations.

    My first posting, below, was taken in Truth or Consequences, N.M., last week at the site of original Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The memorial traveled across the United States before making its permanent home in TorC in 2003.

    May 22, 2010

    new mexico, re-experienced

    Tri-State G&T, the company for which I work, is a wholesale electric supplier to 44 cooperatives in four states -- Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming. One component of my job requires traveling to various co-op lands in order to highlight their goings-on for Network, a quarterly magazine featuring the stories of said cooperatives. 

    Having traveled to a handful of those cooperatives in my near three-year tenure with TSGT, it is no secret at the office that my preference lies in visiting our non-New-Mexico members. As a graduate of the UWYO, I hold a special place in my heart for the state of Wyoming. And, Colorado just continues to amaze me with each new adventure. Honestly, Nebraska is not exactly on my top-ten-travel-destinations list, but, it had ranked above New Mexico -- had being the operative word.

    Today, as I pen this blog from the comfort of (my own) bed, I would venture to say that not only has the Land of Enchantment been rescued from do-not-visit status, it is now on the same plane, and in some cases has surpassed, my preferred travel destinations.

    Perhaps the proselytization can be attributed to the fact that I had spent seven out of the 10 days leading up to the trip at conferences, within the confines of hotels Or, maybe I just hadn't given the state a fair change. Whatever the case, the land and people of New Mexico provided a much-needed rejuvenation of my spirit. I found myself in complete awe a number of times and I am fairly positive my "tour guides" became annoyed at my constant request to pull over so I could capture yet another image on my camera. Beyond the aesthetics, the quaint town of Truth or Consequences (or, TorC, as the locals refer to it) and its people added to the experience by providing a level of generosity and hospitality that will be hard to meet. From the staff at the Sierra Grande Lodge to those at Sierra Electric Cooperative and Wilson Binkley, each of whom contributed to my re-experiencing the great state of New Mexico.

    One year ago tomorrow, I boarded a plane to Costa Rica for a trip that equated to a myriad of memories and unforgettable experiences. At the time, Costa Rica was just what I needed to restore balance in my life and, although not quite the grandiose adventure that was Costa Rica, this recent trip to New Mexico provided many of the same self-discovery and renewal attributes I experienced last year. And, for that, I am truly grateful.

    In tribute to my renewed spirit and new-found love for New Mexico, I have posted a few photos below, taken via my trusty point-and-shoot. Additional photos may be found on my Flickr site, and I will be adding more next week when I am able to download those from my "fancy camera." Below, top to bottom: a yet-to-be-identified cactus; Elephant Butte Lake; the quintessential adobe house; and the Sierra Grande Lodge. 

    hasta la próxima vez

    May 13, 2010

    home, sweet home

    I enjoy traveling, which is fortunate because I am able to do so often for work and for pleasure (or, on some occasions, both within the same trip). Flying or driving, whichever the case may be, to a location that is not home provides a chance for adventures, seeing new sights, gaining experiences and meeting new people.

    However, for as much as I like to travel, returning home takes the cake. Reentering our worlds after a journey provides a new appreciation to the attributes of our home, wherever that may be at the time. In my case, it's the first glance of the towering peaks that are the Rocky Mountains, the familiarity of the Denver skyline and, I will admit, a bit of the Western charm the city posses, that reintroduce a sense of belonging which had been absent during my travels. Driving and car singing also top the list.

    When I arrive at my apartment after traveling, it's that first smell after I cross the threshold and the returning to a place that is exactly as I left it -- static in its existence -- that I appreciate. Although, I wouldn't have minded if someone would have felt compelled to fold and hang laundry while I was away.

    Perhaps it's a sign that I'm happy in Denver, that it's a good fit. Or, maybe it's because I miss having access to my whole wardrobe. No matter the reason, I'm thankful for the opportunity to sleep in my own bed tonight, even if it is only for one night.

    Above, hanging out at Union Station in Kansas City this week with my friend, Becky. Below, watching the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Field. 

    May 6, 2010

    travelin' woman

    I spent last week in South Dakota visiting friends and family and attending my cousin, Kirsten's, wedding. Although I had intended to post a blog while away, even if it consisted of just a few photos, my attempts were futile. While technically being on vacation, as far as my work was concerned, the time spent at home proved to be just as busy as my days in Denver -- if not more so.

    It seems that every time travel to South Dakota occurs, I spend the duration of the trip stressing about finding time to visit with all those for whom with which I wish to spend time. There are friends from high school, my paternal grandparents and maternal grandmother, immediate family and also, the friends I met during my time working as a reporter in Sturgis after college. Inevitably, someone is always missed or I am forced to limit visit lengths or execute a tough choice between who I do or do not have time to see this time around.

    Luckily, my friends and family are seemingly understandable of my situation. Regardless, I always leave from South Dakota feeling a bit disappointed that I didn't have a chance to see or do all I desired and this most recent trip was no exception. This visit did, however, provide a few unexpected gatherings, such as chance meeting with a high school friend I had not seen in many years.

    Highlights of the trip also included a very enjoyable dinner with my friends Mike and Krista and their little one -- Ainsley -- whom, although more than a year old now, I had yet to meet; attending the bachelorette party (which included a limo ride through Spearfish Canyon), rehearsal dinner and wedding of my cousin; eating lunch with my niece, Alexis, at her school; and celebrating the 30th wedding anniversary of my parents. Of course, I always appreciate nearly every second I am able to spend with my nieces and nephew, who always seem to transform any problem I am dealing with seem trivial and trite.

    Next week is another filled with airplanes, taxis and hotel rooms as I travel to Kansas City to spend time with my fellow electric cooperative communicators at the CONNECT conference. Then, a day after I return from the mid-west, I will spend another two nights in a hotel for the Colorado Jaycees Leadership Conference, during which I will be presenting a workshop on writing effective press releases (I would be lying if I said I wasn't more than a bit freaked out about the presentation). Finally, the latter part of the following week will be spent basking in the southwestern sun of New Mexico -- literally, as I have booked a room with a veranda.

    Following the New Mexico trip, I will have the opportunity to enjoy a few nights in my own bed before boarding yet another plane, this time to New Orleans for the U.S. Jaycees National Conference. Then, four days at home and I'm off to Minneapolis for the Cooperative Communicators Association's annual conference. The aforementioned conference is uncharted waters as I have not attended it in previous years. And, as always, I have crafted ways to incorporate a bit of leisure time and activities into the majority of the upcoming trips -- two baseball games, spa treatments and visits with my college roommate and cousin. Basically, I have mastered the skill of turning business travel into work-cations.

    With the vast amount of trips on the horizon for me, my posts may be a bit sporadic for the next month. I do promise to post an update or two when I have the chance, even if  just a sentence or two and a photo.

    ~ à la prochaine fois ~

    My niece, Alexis (second from the left), with her friends on sock-hop day.

    With Ainsley Jane, who obviously did not want to be photographed with me.

    The wedding party, with my niece, Lily, as flower girl. Congrats Kirsten and John!

    To view additional photos, visit my flickr page, which is currently being updated, so please excuse the mess.