Cabin Fever

March 9, 2013 at 2:09 pm

As the snow swirls and blows and flies outside the window, I dream of places to go and adventures to be had this summer.

I dream of tall cliffs and desert sun.

Los Hermanos de la Weenie Way

Penitente Canyon, May 2010

I dream of wide mountain vistas and thin alpine air.

Lunch with a view

Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness, August 2011

I dream of raging waterfalls and calm montane lakes.

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls, July 2011

I dream of dirt in my food and sun on my skin.


Kokopeli Trail, April 2009

I dream of giggling babies and tinkling climbing gear.

Crag Baby

Lilly Mountain, July 2011

I dream of sweat on my back and miles on my legs.

Long's Peak Summit

Long’s Peak, August 2012

I dream of sore muscles, sun burns, laughter of friends, beer by the fire, and sleep under the stars. But the snow just keeps falling…

Digging Out of Our Snow Cave

February 28, 2013 at 8:36 pm

One more month of crazy around our house, and then I think we’ll be back in the realm of “normal.” This month, our family had some pretty radical life-changes, including a move from Fort Collins to about 40 miles south into the Boulder area.

Moving is fun!

Moving is fun!

I started a new job, the kiddo started at a new daycare, and Mark started his new commute all on a snowy Valentine’s Day.

The universe says "Happy first day of work! You should have worn snow boots."

The universe says “Happy first day of work! You should have worn snow boots.”

We have a new house, with our own backyard for the first time in 8 years.

Playing in our own, private dirt

Playing in our own, private dirt

I received a wonderful new camera, a Leice D-Lux 6, as a graduation present, and I’ve been wandering through the snow taking pictures of the mountains around Boulder.

Foggy, snowy morning in Boulder

Foggy, snowy morning in Boulder

We spent most of our free time this month cleaning, packing, moving and unpacking. But we did get up to Rocky Mountain National Park last weekend. Our goal was to go sledding, but there was less snow in the mountains than in our front yard. So, we played in the Sprague Lake area and had a fun day.

After walking didn't work, G decided to stay sitting and let us push him around the lake

After walking didn’t work, G decided to stay sitting and let us push him around the lake

After playing around the lake, we went back to the car, and discovered the 12V battery was dead in our Prius. We had to have a tow truck come up from Estes Park to our trailhead and give us a jump start. If you were curious, it takes about half an hour for Bob’s Towing to make it to Sprague Lake. Not too bad.

Mark fixed the car by himself, during a day of amazing electronic skill. He also created a charger for my camera from a cut-open USB cable, some speaker wire, rubber bands and a coffee mug. The purpose of the coffee mug was to contain any unexpected fires. It worked great! This is why it’s nice to have a hacker around the house.

In Colorado, winter drags on. Our springs seem to oscillate between sunny and snowy on a daily basis. The snow falls, the snow melts, and the snow falls again. Repeat ad infinitum. But it gives us time to sit quietly, snuggle with the kiddo, sleep long, and breathe.

Old Roses and Snow, it must be February

Old Roses and Snow, it must be February

The End of an Era

January 31, 2013 at 9:10 am
My Office at CSU - Where the Magic Happens!

My Office at CSU – Where the Magic Happens!

Last Friday, I successfully defended my dissertation and received my Phd in Atmospheric Sciences!

I’m pretty much elated. It’s been so much fun to tell everybody I meet that (1) I finally finished and (2) they should now call me Doctor Kate. Mark says I’m his favorite Doctor since Dr. Horrible.

It’s been more than eight years since Mark and I arrived in Colorado and I started graduate school in a field I knew almost nothing about. So much has happened in those eight years! Mark has had three jobs, we bought a house, and we had a baby! We’ve climbed at nearly every area on the Front Range, and all over Colorado and Wyoming. We have traveled to Italy, Israel, Thailand and Japan. We camped, hiked, mountain biked, photographed, yoga’d, and crossfitt-ed ourselves through the last eight years and had such a blast doing it all!

So, why am I putting all of this on our blog? Well, the last few months have been a very exciting and very work-centered time for us. We have not been getting outside as much as we would like and we have not been able to keep up with all of our fun hobbies. I know now that I really enjoy blogging about our adventures and travels with our kiddo. But I have become more concerned about his digital footprint, and how my blogging might affect his future. So, I am trying to figure out the best way to keep our blog running and protect his privacy.

Since it’s time for us to move into a new phase of life, it makes sense to move the blog around a bit too. I have not decided exactly what I want to do, yet, and we won’t have much time to mess with the blog in the next few weeks. But I have a new camera and a summer of lower work responsibility ahead of me, so you can bet there will be more blogging!

If you have any ideas for what we should do to keep writing but protect our families’ privacy, let me know in the comments!

Making Babies is Type 3 Fun

August 12, 2010 at 1:19 pm

In climbing and many outdoor pursuits, it is well known that there are, actually, three types of fun. Type 1 fun is the classic, smiling, happy, laughing, good times for all, fun. Type 2 fun can be painful, but you end up with a smile on your face. I think loosing skin in Vedauwoo and biking up Horsetooth mountain both fall into this category.

Type 3 fun, well, that’s a whole different animal. As Fitz Cahall once put it: “This is the epic. The suffer fest. This is collarbone breaking, giardia-getting, soaked-to-the-bone, carnage. If it sounds horrible, that’s because it probably is.”

I would like to posit: making babies is Type 3 Fun.

The most extreme sufferfest ever

So, you think your week in a snow cave in Patagonia was bad? Try throwing up every day for four months. Your legs and back are aching after your 20 mile slog out of the back country? Yeah, I’ve got a small person pressing and kicking against my spine and ribs, and it’s only going to get worse over the next three months. Feeling hungry after a week on a big wall? My Hunger has morphed into an all-encompasing demon, and it never rests or relents. I have even named it: Eddy. Eddy, my appetite, is my new constant companion. He makes most of my decisions for me these days, and not all of them are good.

Yes, I know pregnancy is a wonderful, joyful, hormone-fueled happyfest for many women. I’ve heard some ladies say they felt a little tired and had some heartburn, and that was it! This is much like some climbs that can be done in good conditions, with good route finding and good luck, and be perfectly wonderful days. Those same climbs, when the weather blows in, when the party gets off route, when a sling snaps and you watch your rack tumble into the abyss below, become a new and utterly excruciating experience.

If the stars align, you might have a perfectly happy pregnancy. You might barely notice the tiny life growing in your uterus. If, however, you’re like me (short, and possibly carrying a reptilian alien) then come prepared for pain.

What’s rough right now makes for great stories later

If it’s so bad, why call it fun at all? How can Type 3 fun even be on the fun scale? The surprising thing is, the worse your Type 3 fun is now, the better off you’ll be in the future. True suffering makes for epic tales around a bonfire, or, in my case, a babyshower. These are the stories that last forever, and the experiences that mark our souls, that change who we are and how we see the world.

A day out at the crag might leave you feeling warm and fuzzy for a while, but those memories fade, sadly. However, the limp you acquired on the sixth day of that adventure race might just last you a lifetime. A hard pregnancy lets you test the boundaries of what you can give up, of the aspects of your body and your life that you will lay down for the health and happiness of a loved one. It teaches you about sacrifice, selflessness, and devotion to a goal.

Plus, when you stop to vomit on the side of the trail and then just keep walking, everybody knows you’re a badass.

Want to compare scars?

One of the best parts of an epic climb is the clarity that you find afterwards. It puts life into perspective, and you learn what your real priorities are. It teaches you your limits as a human, and you may find yourself capable of greater things than you ever expected. This is Type 3 fun. And making babies fits squarely into this definition. It’s not something I’d do very often, but it’s something that I’m very glad I did.

And yeah, my episiotomy scar will trump your broken ankle any day of the week.

Pregnancy Gratitude List

June 21, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Pregnant Climbing

“Gratitude, that very specific feeling of thankfulness in your heart, allows you to see and absorb all you have, forgetting for a moment all you may lack. It connects your brain with your heart, and gives you the ground to be more giving, effective, loving human. Being grateful allows generosity to flow. And many believe it also makes us more receptive—as in, the more you love what you have, the more you get what you want.” by Valerie Reiss at

I’ve found adjusting to being pregnant a little bit difficult. While some girls seem to just love every minute of the experience, I’ve found it hard to make such drastic changes in my life. I’ve spent so much time complaining to people, that I thought I should take a minute to list out some of the fun and actually enjoyable aspects of pregnancy. They do exist!

1. Bigger boobs!
2. Eating ice cream – lots of it. (Hey, if I’m going to get fat anyway… !)
3. An excuse to take long afternoon naps.
4. Wonderful pampering from Mark.
5. Spending a little less time on work, a little more on massages.
6. A chance to feel sick so I can really appreciate feeling healthy.
7. Appreciating smaller victories (like climbing a 5.8 on toprope) instead of stressing over insane goals.
8. Learning about patience.
9. Incredible sense of smell and taste – food is a whole new adventure.
10. Making my whole family deliriously happy.
11. Feeling my baby wiggle around and imagining what kind of person he/she will be.
12. Crossing one more thing off of my “to do before I die” list (have a baby!)
13. Clear, pretty skin for the first time in years.
14. Learning about acceptance and giving up my usual attempts to white-knuckle control every aspect of my life.
15. Complements and smiles from so many people.
16. Starting out on a whole new adventure, one we’ve never attempted anything like before!

Spring-ish Garden Update

June 6, 2010 at 8:38 am

Plumeria (Kauai plant) in bloom!

Yes, I know, mid-June is hardly “spring” any more, especially in places outside of Colorado. Around here, we just turned off our furnaces a couple weekends ago, and the world is green and lush! I’m sure summer will be hitting us soon, any day now.

This spring, gardening got a bit of a sideline due to morning sickness, but it was the first activity I turned to when I could get off the couch. Mark has really chipped in more than his share as well, and we’ve managed to pull together a good looking set-up this year.

Early summer container garden

Subtle Changes

Another reason I managed to pull together a garden between bouts of yaking is that I have manged to build up a good infrastructure for containers, a raised bed, and watering in the last few years. Based on my experiences from last year, though, we made a few little changes.

Lots of little oranges on the orange tree

First of all, we wanted a tomatillo, but didn’t want it crawling all over the lawn this year. I’ve stuck it in a container hoping that will help restrain its growth slightly. We had discussed putting a tomatillo in an up-side-down grower of some sort, but Mark felt that if the plant wasn’t anchored to the earth, it might get free and run around the neighborhood, making “RAWR” noises and wearing it’s little green topsy-turvey hat.

We moved the big mountain tomato to a container as well, as I didn’t like my tomatoes hanging into the basement window-well last year. This left plenty of space for our pepper plants in the raised bed. They fit very nicely, but haven’t seemed perfectly happy this year. They got some hail damage over Memorial Day, and may be wanting more sun than that east-bed gets.

Peppers, lettuce, cilantro and peas in the raised bed

Lots of strawberries this year

Little Successes

One of my proudest moments as a container gardener came last week when we decided to crack open the compost bin. I’ve had this homemade compost bin behind the garage for two years now. We made it out of a small black trash can, covered in holes and lined with window screens. I’ve spent two years filling it with leftover veggies from the CSA, egg shells, coffee grounds and other random greenness. And finally, it has all paid off. Under a layer of dry leaves, sat some of the prettiest, lovely dark compost I could have hoped for. I grew dirt! WOW!

Homemade Dirt!

We pulled about a cubic meter of the lovely dark organic matter out of there, and used it to fill in a new tomato container. Those two years of composting have now officially saved us $5 in bought soil!

If everything works out, we should be looking at a big load of crops this year. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, strawberries, pumpkins, sugar and snow peas, bush and pole beans, lettuce, carrots, onions, cilantro, basil, and lavender!

New ColoCalders CrossFit Blog

January 23, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Last summer, Mark was talked into trying out CrossFit classes by his boss, and he rapidly fell in love with it. What’s CrossFit, you ask? Well, it’s a daily workout, focusing on whole-body and functional movements, that tests your mental and physical limits. In other words, he goes to the gym every day at lunch and works so hard he wants to die or throw up or both.

I have gotten trained on CrossFit, and attended several classes so far. The first one was so hard that I started hemorrhaging blood and ended up at the hospital! Since then, I’ve built a ton of strength, and I’ve started to, occasionally, beat Mark at body-weight only exercises.

It’s been a great ride for us so far, and we’ve seen incredible gains in our fitness and strength. One of the best things about CrossFit is the ability to compare gains and accomplishments through careful logging. So, based on this idea, and inspiration from No X in Espresso, we’ve started our own on-line CrossFit Workout Blog.

If you don’t do CrossFit, this blog is unlikely to be very interesting. But, if you do and you’re interested in the struggles and triumphs of other CrossFit-ers, check it out: ColoCalders CrossFit Blog.

The Winter Fog

January 4, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Winter fog

I made myself a snow ball as perfect as could be.
I thought I’d keep it as a pet and let it sleep with me.
I made it some pajamas and a pillow for it’s head.
Then, last night it ran away.
But first — it wet the bed.

– Shel Silverstein

Walking in the fog