Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas in Boulder

I am so lucky. I get to celebrate Christmas for two whole days! The Danes (as with most Europeans) celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve (don't ask me why....). I, as an American, celebrate Christmas on, well, Christmas Day! I don't question this since it allows Jesper and I to spread out our yuletide festivities over two days.

On Christmas Eve, Jesper prepared a traditional Danish meal of pork roast and red cabbage, followed by dessert of almond rice pudding. A whole almond is hidden in the dessert for one lucky person to find and get a prize. We've been through about half the pudding so far and haven't found it yet! The entire meal was fantastic and we have lots of leftovers!

After the feast, we sat down with the doggers to open half the presents that night. Strelka remembered how to open the presents! She's such a help! Fortunately, she's learned to leave the presents under the tree alone until we take them out for opening, otherwise we'd have a big mess! Mushka even got into it, although all the hoopla soon wore her out and she escaped into the quiet of the kitchen.

Christmas morning dawned with new snow and funny pajamas! We proceeded to unwrap the remaining gifts, with Strelka's help of course. In the end, the living room was strewn with wrapping paper.

Then we headed up to Jamestown with Strelka for a nice winter hike.
The hike worked up our appetites for my Christmas dinner of standing rib roast and yorkshire pudding. More leftovers!

Two full days of food and presents! I like our blended Danish-American Christmas.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Vacation Boulder Style

As of this past Friday, Jesper and I have been on vacation! Vacation Boulder style isn't very relaxing, but we've been having loads of fun.

Actually, we weren't supposed to start our Christmas vacation until Saturday. We had intended to work on Friday, which would have made it the only Friday we would have worked this month. I had a big project that was due on Friday. I got the document on Wednesday late afternoon. Did I work on it all that day? Of course not! I had planned to take both Thursday and Friday to get through it. So, on Wednesday evening we were at our friends' Sue and Mike Bushman's house having a glass of wine and letting the dogs play together. Mike ans Sue have a condo up in the mountains and he was going up to ski on Friday. He asked if we could join them and that's when Jesper asked me if I would possibly be able to get through my project completely on Thurdsday so we could ski on Friday. I had never even thought of that! I wasn't sure I could get through the whole thing, but we said we'd try.

I spent the next day with my butt in my chair from 7:00 am until 4:00 pm, moving only to go to the bathroom. Jesper brought lunch up to me. When you work at home and are not interrupted by co-workers, you can bang out an amazing amount of work. Consequently, I was able to get my project done, with time to even make a last batch of cookies for the Cookie Exchange I was going to that night. Whoo-hoo! We called Mike and a couple other friends and made plans to ski Copper on Friday.

I was a bit nervous about skiing, since I had hurt my right ankle couple weeks earlier. Back in August, I sprained it and when skiing one Monday, I tweaked it skiing some moguls. For the next couple days, it hurt. Then I tried to ski on it the next Friday and it did not feel good at all. I stopped skiing after only a few runs and hung out at the bar. I rested my ankle for a few days and went out the next Monday to try it again. First run and the darn thing hurt a lot. I was super bummed and wondering if I'd done something really bad to my ankle. I skied down to a coffee shop (too early to drink beer) and proceeded to read a magazine. Then I took my boot off and was rotating my ankle when I felt a click, sort of like when I tweaked it on the moguls in the first place. Amazingly, it felt much better. It didn't feel perfect, but I ended up joining Jesper back out on the slopes for the afternoon!

However, on the start of our Vacation, I was nervous about the ankle, afraid I'd tweak it again the wrong way. I started out skiing really conservative and quite frankly not so good. But then I started to realize that the ankle was fine. Good thing, 'cause I ended up skiing some really awesome but difficult stuff with a bunch of really great skiers. We got to hit new areas of the back bowls just opened for the season - really fun but challenging terrain with all kinds of hidden goodies like rocks and the tops of trees. We finished the day coming down Triple Treat, a black diamond moguled run at 4:00pm. My legs were cooked, having teled all day long. It's hard to explain why the day was so fun, but it simply was; great skiing, great friends, beautiful scenery, fresh air, and maybe the beer at the end that Jonathan brought. Sorry no pics, as I forgot to charge my battery.

Needless to say, I was completely useless that night! I could barely keep my eyes open long enough to eat dinner. I love that feeling of playing so hard that you are utterly exhausted. I suspect many adults don't get that feeling very much. It's decidedly different than the exhaustion caused by lack of sleep and too many hours working!

We took Saturday off from skiing, mostly because we wanted to take Strelka out for some extended playtime. We slept in as much as the dogs and kitty would let us, had a nice breakfast of whole wheat french toast with bananas (YUM!) and then loaded up the pup (unfortunately Mushka is not able to go on long excursions anymore). We decided on a hike from NCAR (the National Center for Atmospheric Research), which is located adjacent to some of Boulder's nicest hiking trails. It was a beautiful sunny day, albeit chilly, so we put Strelka's coat on her; darn thing has zero body fat to insulate her. She's pretty cute in her red coat!

The hike was great fun for Jesper and I and Strelka. Although us humans covered about 5 miles, Strelka did at least twice that. She ran up ahead of us and then zoomed back. She ran in crazy circles around us, all the while trying to eat snow on the fly. We laughed so hard! The hike achieved it's intended goal; for Strelka to get worn out having fun out in the snow. I even took her out again for a short walk near the house with Mushka and she almost wanted to stay home, she was so tuckered out. Needless to say, she slept well that night!

With a tired pup, we felt OK leaving the dogs again on Sunday to ski again. This time we met up with Sue, as Mike had to work. My legs were still tired from Friday's long day of skiing. It was super cold and windy, which might be why there were fewer people at the resort that one would imagine 2 days before Christmas. But we still had a great day and it kept getting better and better. I finally had to call it quits, since my legs were burning like mad. All those lunges...

I will sleep well again tonight, having enjoyed another vacation day, Boulder style.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I'm a Lucky Little Snow Bird!

After a slow start this season, we’re finally getting hammered with snow in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. A series of snow storms started last week and should continue through this week. They’ve brought snow to the mountains and to Boulder. We could do without the snow down here in Boulder, as it’s derailed the Hot Tub construction. However, it is very pretty and certainly is helping us get into a holiday mood.

Jesper and I loaded up Strelka (Mushka had to stay at home), donned our Santa hats and headed up Flagstaff Road Saturday morning in a snow storm to cut down our Christmas Tree. The City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) lets people come onto their park land for one weekend in December to help thin the forest by cutting down smaller trees. People are asked to cut down trees around 10 feet tall or less, although they don’t get too picky if you go a little taller. Good thing, because we did! Anyway, the only bummer about the whole setup was that they decided that dogs would not be allowed with you while cutting. This despite the fact that dogs are typically allowed in these areas and that no mention of this ban was made in the information posted on OSMP’s web site. They were trying to manage the higher than anticipated number of participants, but the forest is so big that having a bunch of dogs out there would not have been a problem. However, we sadly left Strelka in the car, where she promptly froze while we sought our tree. We took her out to romp in the snow later that day to make up for it.

Jesper and I tromped around for awhile not finding anything we liked. Most of the trees were scraggly little Charlie Brown trees, but Jesper finally found a beautiful, but tall, Douglas Fir. We debated selecting the tree, since it was probably 11 to 12 feet tall. However, we decided to go for it because it was by far the nicest tree we’d seen.

Holy Moly – that tree was heavy and we had a LONG way back to the car. Getting it up on the roof was quite a chore too. It’s a beauty though, in a natural way that a lot-purchased tree is not. We plan to set it up in the Living Room where the ceiling is really high. I’ll post a picture of it when it’s all decorated.

Since we’re not going to Denmark this year on account of Mushka being so sick, Jesper had a whole mess of vacation days set aside for a long trip to Europe. IBM does not allow him to carry them over. There’s NO WAY we are letting those vacation days vanish, so we’ve been taking off Fridays and Mondays and also plan to take off the whole week between Christmas and New Year’s. What are we doing with all those days off, you might ask? Skiing, of course! All this month of December, and starting on November 30th, we’ve been skiing on Fridays and Mondays to avoid the crowds we’d normally encounter on the weekends. This has left Saturdays and Sundays free for stuff around the house and playing with the dogs. I’ve also had to get some work done over the weekend; work that I would normally do on a Friday or Monday. I’m very fortunate to have that kind of flexibility in my job.

We have lucked out with the latest series of storms on our ski days. Last Friday, Winter Park was slammed with about a foot of snow the night before. We skied there with a friend, Elizabeth, and were extremely fortunate to be there when they opened the Mary Jane side of the resort. Getting first dibs on runs that haven’t had anyone on them all season is wonderful. We went down Mary Jane several times, relishing in the fresh and deep powder. Even after many skiers/boarders had been down, the snow was still deep and soft. There was a lot of hooting and hollering! Whoo Hooo!

Yesterday, we lucked out again! We went to Copper and, although there wasn’t any fresh powder on the runs that were open when we got there, they opened the Sierra Lift at about 1:00 pm. This lift goes up above tree line and allowed access to two black diamond runs opened for the first time this season. Both runs (Gold Digger and Retreat) were super fun, especially since the resort was almost completely empty. After three runs through the powder, the snow wasn’t even close to being tracked out. By then we had done16 runs, which is a lot for one day, so we called it quits and grabbed a celebratory beer at Jacks. Sorry, I have no pictures of us in this wonderful powder at Copper; we were simply having too much fun to stop for photos!

Jesper and I will continue our four day weekend schtick next weekend. I could get used to this! I know I'm a lucky little snow bird!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Ski Season has Begun!

Finally! Jesper and I headed up to Copper yesterday (yes, we played hookey!) to start our ski season. I've decided that, as Colorado residents, it is a MUST that we start our ski season in November. Schwew... we just eeked into November, getting our first turns in on the 30th. Not many runs were open yet, but we had fun none the less.

Last year was our second year on tele skis and we both agreed that the first day on the slopes was awful! The motions felt gorky and the bottoms of our feet got cramped up in agony. You use those foot muscles a lot on, especially on teles. Of course, things got better after a few times on the skis and we both saw huge improvements by the end of the season (40 days on the slopes will help). However, this year, we both secretly worried that it would be just as awful a first day. Boy were we surprised! No gorkiness! We both flowed right into smooth tele turns. We weren't exactly were we left off at the end of last season, but I think we'll be there pretty soon. And although we felt some foot cramping, it was nothing like the pain we experienced last year.

So, we had a wonderful day and ended it early on a high note - beers at Jack's! Cheers to a great ski season!