Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A new hobby

I will start by apologizing that the updates are not as frequent as we intend. Between my work schedule and the spotty internet, I have slacked on posting.

Now, on to our new hobby. Thanks to the inspiration and jumpstart on equipment and information by Stephanie's brother and sister-in-law, we have begun geocaching. For anyone unfamiliar with this activity, it consists of using a GPS device to locate treasure boxes hidden by others using some clues and a set of coordinates. More information can be found at the official website here. There is even an app for the iPhone, which comes in a free but limited version, or the full version for $10 (direct links for the free version and paid version).  We quickly purchased the full version, realizing that we are hooked on geocaching.

We have ventured out a few times in search of some caches. The kids have been able to find a few, but several have taken some help from mom and dad to locate and retrieve. We have tried to keep it to easy/beginner level ones, but I know that I am looking forward to advancing to the intermediate level caches. A benefit to geocaching is discovering locations along the way. On our first outing, while searching for a cache we came across a community garden in Carbondale. We happened upon it at the same time that one of the caretakers had shown up to harvest some food. It quickly turned into an educational moment as they talked about what food they were growing and had the kids help harvest some fava beans.
Harvesting the pods, then sorting the beans.
Stephanie's mom was able to come visit us this past weekend. It was fun to get to use our 'guest suite', which is really our sofa that converts to an air bed. Stephanie and the kids were able to have some fun adventures with grandma, heading into Basalt and Snowmass, and we all were able to take a day to explore Aspen. We were able to find some fun parks to play at, some interesting stores to shop in, and we discovered a few geocaches along the way.
Some bricks from a walk in Aspen. I loved seeing the older architecture in town.

We had to stop here. They had some fun and interesting items (and I have nothing to show).
One of the perks that the kids have been thoroughly enjoying is having a library close by in Basalt. The library graciously issues short term lending cards, which Stephanie quickly picked one up. They have enjoyed multiple visits each week, with each child being able to check out a book of their choice. Stephanie also checks out some read aloud books and a movie or two as a treat for the kids.

I know that every parent will brag on their kids and say that they are so smart or bright, and I am no different. What has surprised me is the reading skills of my oldest two. They both have started to check out chapter books from the library, which has not been too much of a surprise. What has caught me off guard is how quickly that they are plowing through the books and their reading comprehension. They are reading through their books in 1-2 days, making it harder for Stephanie to keep up with them. I will admit that it is fun for me to walk in after work and see 2-4 kids sitting and reading intently. I can't argue with a passion to learn.

The summer has been beautiful, and we are looking forward to fall coming around the corner. We anticipate only being in the area for a few more weeks, but do not have anything firmed up yet. Right now, we are taking things one day at a time and enjoying our time in Colorado.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Rodeo

Every Wednesday during the summer, the town of Snowmass Village holds a rodeo. They have been doing it for decades, which answered my question of how permanent is the rodeo arena. It wasn't a free event, but we thought that it would be worth the price to check out some cowboys in action. We were not disappointed.

The experience began with walking through the gate and being greeted by some qualifying events in the arena, as well as an electronic bull for the kids to ride. We made our way through the crowd to the dinner tent, where they were serving up some delicious bbq. You can't call him a roving minstrel, but there was a cowboy with a guitar wandering around the dinner area taking some requests. Honestly, I don't think that hearing John Denver's 'Rocky Mountain High' will ever get old while we are out here.

Next up was finding a seat on the grandstands to watch the main event. We found a place high up, which proved to be good so that the kids could see. All four of them were enthralled the entire time. The show included cattle roping, mutton bustin', bull riding, bronco bustin', mule riding, and just about anything else that they could toss into the arena. We got to see some cowboys get tossed off of the bulls and horses, but thankfully everyone walked away.
The start of the rodeo. All of the horses and riders at attention.

A graceful dismount, but I don't think that this bull is done.

Don't worry, he was off of this horse in no time.
I enjoyed working on some fast motion photography. An event like this presented some challenges, but I am happy to have come away with a few good shots. It was fun to see faces in the background reacting to what was happening in the arena. It is things like that I do not notice while the event is going on, and may never notice unless it is captured in one still frame.

Everything wrapped up just after dusk, sending us along our merry way into the night. In addition to some mild temperatures, we got to have a nice sunset and see some stars peeking out as we went home. I think that we will definitely attend more rodeos down the line.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The weekly routine

Yes, we have been quiet.  It is somewhat due to my working a lot, but mostly due to us settling into a routine.  We have been in Colorado for a little over a month now, so we are getting past the point of everything being a new discovery and instead creating new habits.  So, what exactly are we doing from day to day?  Glad you asked.

Monday begins the work week.  We usually stay around the campground on Mondays, unless we are in need of something from the store.

Tuesday is pretty much the same as Monday, although we may try to head out on a bike ride for ice cream or go to a park, weather permitting.

On Wednesdays, Stephanie and the kids head into Basalt to the library for story time and borrow books and movies for the week, and then play in the park or visit a local restaurant for a snack.  They also have brought back some crafts, so it is fun for me to hear all about it when I get home.  I like how each child has their own interpretation of what happened during story time, as well as how they did the craft.

Thursdays, we try to head back to Snowmass for the free concert.  They have a stage set up on one of the slopes and bring in a different act each week.  The concert is free, and we pack our dinner to eat on the lawn as we listen to the band.  It is a nice break and gives the kids a chance to see where daddy works.

On Friday we may head out to the store again or a playground, depending on our needs and the weather.

On Saturday we try to go out for dinner in the evening, looking for another great place to eat.  I will mention that is has been wonderful to not really have any chain restaurants around, thus helping us in our quest to find local eateries and the yummy food that they offer.  We love how many places offer locally grown and raised food, and how it helps support the local economy.

Sunday, if I am not working, is the day that we get to sleep in.  Once we are up and going, we head to the farmers market in Basalt to stock up on fresh meats and veggies.  We are super stoked to have found a local farmer who raises cows, pigs, and chickens.  They are all pasture raised and freshly processed.  Couple that with good prices, and we have a definite winner.  After we head back home to drop off our purchases, we will head up to Gypsum in the afternoon to shop Costco for any other food items that we are looking for and to fill up the truck for the week.  They have the best diesel prices around, at times $1 cheaper than up valley where we are staying.  We usually head over to our friends' house to visit and maybe grab some dinner.  The exciting news is that they just had their baby this past weekend, so now we get to have baby time also.  We stopped this past Sunday to drop off a meal, but it turned into a nice visit with them, their newborn, the dogs, and parents.

While we are not out on exciting new adventures each day, we definitely are enjoying where we are at and what the surrounding area has to offer.