Friday, August 3, 2012

Mountain Living

Today marks the fourth day of the Colorado stint of my travels. I've been staying in Evergreen, CO with my friend Betsy, her husband, Jeff, and Clare, their 2-year-old. Betsy's one of my oldest friends. We go way back to age group swimming, starting at age 8 or 9. We didn't really care for each other back in those days, probably because I was a bit of a brat (or maybe a lot of a brat), but our paths continued to cross as we grew, and we learned to like each other (most of the time, anyway). In high school, we were both lifeguards at the same pool, working with cute college boys who may or may not have been willing to buy us beer, and we may or may not have gotten into a fair amount of trouble as a result. I'll never tell. We both went away to college, but then found our ways back to Columbus, and ended up being roommates for our final year at Ohio State. Then Betsy moved to Colorado and got married, I moved to Massachusetts and started law school, and our friendship has become one of fairly infrequent emails and phone calls with occasional visits.

But that's the thing with good friends. Lives get busy and you may not talk to each other for months and months, but when you reconnect, it's like nothing has changed. It's nice.

The last time I came out to Colorado to visit Betsy, she was pregnant and living on the end of a cul-de-sac in a subdivision in suburban Denver. Now, she has a daughter who's almost two-and-a-half, and lives in a house in the mountains. Things change. When I first floated the idea of coming out to Colorado for a bit, Betsy told me that they'd moved "a little outside the city," but I had no idea what I was in for. They are legitimately mountain people. As in, you need to go several miles up a windy, steep, dirt road to get to their house. Dodging deer, elk, and whatever other wildlife I've yet to see. All I can say is, good thing I brought an SUV. I'd be stuck on the side of the road somewhere if I hadn't.

If you think I'm joking, take a look at these pictures.

I was driving up to Betsy and Jeff's house from "downtown Evergreen," and saw this herd (pack?) of elk just hanging out in a random yard on the side of the road. I counted 28 elk, and I'm not even exaggerating. Of course, being the city girl whose experience with wildlife is basically comprised of childhood trips to the zoo, I pulled over and started snapping pictures. All the locals drove by and rolled their eyes at me, like it was no big deal. And when I walked in the house all excited and said, "Betsy, you'll never believe what I just saw," she answered, without skipping a beat, "a pack of elk on the side of the road." Duh.

Anyway, my trip so far has been filled with hours of amazing training, and, because my hosts live so far from anything, also hours of driving on terrifyingly windy, hilly, mountain roads to get to said training. And my driving is terribly slow....I'm not used to the roads, I don't really want to tumble down a mountain, and who knows what other lions, tigers, or bears could pop out. This seems to really irritate the natives, who have no trouble navigating single-lane, hairpin turns at 11% grade without braking.

I've been hitting up all sorts of training locations -- Aurora, to swim and ride around the Reservoir; Boulder, where I did a ride that included a hill that I very, very seriously contemplated getting off my bike and walking up; Lakewood, for an awesome, 5:30 A.M. open water swim in a private lake; Centennial, for lap swimming; and right here in Evergreen, 8,000 meters about sea level, where the altitude truly kicked my ass during an hour-long run. I've taken lots of pictures because training in such beauty is just such a novelty for me (and maybe, with respect to Evergreen, because I needed a little break to try to find some oxygen, and taking a picture seemed like a good excuse).

I almost called it quits on my trip when I saw this
The Aurora Reservoir
Boulder Reservoir
Evergreen, picture break to catch my breath
OWS in Lakewood
Storms roll in quick here
And aside from that time, I've been hanging out with Betsy, Jeff, and Clare, my new little buddy. Here she is:

She wanted to try on my Garmin. We'll get her doing intervals pretty soon.
She's quite the chatterbox, cute as a button, loves Disney princesses (duh), and is always up for playing. And when it comes to potty-training, let's just say, she's gifted (we learned this at Jeff's softball game, when Clare's potty-training progress was up for direct comparison against another little girl going through the same process. Clare's competitor is 4 days in and not quite there. As for took her nowhere near 4 days. Winning already.).

Tomorrow, I head to Boulder to try and ride 120 miles without collapsing or running out of oxygen. It could get ugly, but at the very least, I'll have some amazing views to see!


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