Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Rest of Colorado

I'm pretty sure the writing bug has left my system temporarily... probably until later in the fall when I feel like I have a free moment's time to do anything. It's kind of weird how things wax and wane like they do. The podcast was also going strong, but then I went on vacation and now I haven't had a chance to get another episode out simply because there's not a night where I have free time to do it, and when I do occasionally get a moment or two, I'm catching up on bills, laundry, cleaning, or whatever else needs done. I'm starting to wonder whether I need to think about cutting some commitments out of my life so I can focus on what I stick with, but I really enjoy everything that I am committed to, so I can't imagine cutting anything out. Anyhow... that vacation I was talking about... I figured I'd recap quickly since I'm getting prepared to fly to Italy on Saturday for a couple of weeks in Europe.

I never did get to blog more about Colorado while I was out there, mostly because I was trying to catch up on reading I'd had piled up and playing dominoes with the family. Writing didn't top my list of fun things to do while relaxing, I guess. Anyhow, we tried to take in the major tourist attraction type stuff since none of us had been to Colorado and we figured we should see the main sights.

The Royal Gorge was a nice area to visit for a day. Walking over the bridge, feeling it sway, and looking down was quite fun despite my fear of heights. Looking around at the gigantic valleys and scars that nature had carved out of the area was pretty intense. It's so completely different from the flatness of Minnesota. Getting to go down to the bottom of the gorge also gave you a completely different perspective on just how far down it was. As you look back up at the bridge, it's hard to reconcile the fact that this little thing is a two car wide bridge when you're on it. Learning about how it was built was also a treat!

Then, of course, there was a visit to Pike's Peak. How could we NOT go to Pike's Peak being we were staying almost right next to it. The drive up was pretty white knuckle for me, even though I was driving. The road is gravel or dirt most of the way and is consistently at a 10% or greater incline. To top it off there is usually just enough room for two lanes, tons of switchbacks, and rarely a guard rail. Looking over the edge as we drove right along it was freaky as all get out on the way up. On the way down I tolerated it a little better, but for someone who doesn't necessarily enjoy heights, this was quite the nerve wracking vacation attraction. Being up on top and looking around was really fun, even though the air was pretty thin and I was feeling light headed at times.

Where we stayed was less than a mile from the Garden of the Gods, so we visited there a couple of times. My dad and I hiked around the entire park, which was a great way to spent an afternoon. The rock formations are beautiful and jarring at the same time. They seem to just rise up out of the ground, which is kind of neat really. On our hike around the park, the map we had didn't have all the trails listed so we ended up hiking into a different part of Colorado Springs instead of coming back around to the entrace we started at. Luckily it wasn't too far from where we were staying.

We also made a day to drive through and see some of the Rocky Mountain National Forest. We entered at Estes Park. There wasn't much time to get hiking in, but I managed to do a 5K trail while the rest of the family was driving around looking at things. Saw lots of beautiful streams and rapids, along with a great view of some of the mountains.

Hmmm... what else? Oh! We went to Seven Falls as well. Gorgeous falls, but a lot of stairs to traverse to see it from the top. And when you get to the top of the falls, if you decide to go hike, one of the two trails is a constant uphill climb for about a mile and a half. Great view when you get up to the top of the trail, but sort of treacherous if you're out of shape.

Lastly, I think the only other main attraction we saw was the Denver Aquarium. It was a ton of fun and one of the best aquariums I've been to. Lots of unique fish, oodles of fun displays, and all around a good amount of information to take in and see.

So... that's pretty much the gist of the Colorado vacation I took with my family... about a month ago. And now I'm off on to another one. And I'm pretty sure I won't be able to write from over there considering how busy I'll be vacationing and, unfortunatly, working as well. It should be great, though!

Monday, August 11, 2008

It's Fair Time Again

Summer's running its course pretty quickly here with August almost half over. Fair season snuck up on me pretty quickly. And to think I only have a few weeks until I'll be jetting over to Europe for vacation and work. My summer is, for all intents and purposes, done. Part of my summer routine is attending the county fairs and hitting up the demolition derbies that are held. This past weekend I went to the Mower County Fair and caught their derby.

To be completely honest, it feels like the Mower County Fair has gotten worse and worse each year. There are less notable events at the grandstand, there aren't as many things to see, people don't seem to be that enthused to be there, and there just aren't as many people coming to the fair. This might have to do with fairs in general not being as popular any more, but it was definitely pretty apparent at the Sunday demo derby.

Usually you can depend on having a good few hours of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome styled car crashing goodness, but this year there was only a little under 2 hours' worth of action... and there were some significant "intermissions" spaced throughout that time. They even stretched out the classes into multiple heats when there were barely enough cars to fill one full heat.

I hate to think about it, but demo derbies might be on their way out. With less and less cars being manufactured to have metal frames (everything is plastic now) and fuel prices growing and growing, there might not be as many demo worthy cars available and those that are might be better cut up and sold as parts than destroyed for fair entertainment. I really hope this isn't the case, but it feels like it really could be. The true test will be the Owatonna derbies the coming weekend. They're usually the largest and most entertaining in southern Minnesota and I hope that continues through to this year.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Early Summer Vacation Photos

I was on vacation last week in Colorado with my family... but these pictures aren't from that vacation. They're from a trip Kristi and I took to the Wisconsin Dells with my parents and brother Ryan. Most of the photos are of scrap metal robots from the Forevertron outside of the Dells area. Also a couple of pictures of the now dry Lake Delton. Click on the photo below to see the gallery!

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