If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains, you are lucky enough.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Thursday, April 26, 2018


Colorado dream living.

It was, indeed, the month with Colorado in mind, two-fold. One was a trip to our "final life's destination", Colorado Springs, a mere 13 months away (who's counting? heck, you bet I am crossing the days on the calendar already!), and another - a vast increase in training for my solo backpacking of Colorado trail's 485 miles comes July.

While the trip to Springs was only for 5 days (4 of which were in the city itself), it made a huge impact on our month - both prior, during, and after. And yes, it did firmly confirmed - we wanted to move exactly there, exactly to the neighborhood we picked up in other trips and searches, into the house of the style we outlined, and in the projected price range we agreed upon.
That said, April 17th to 21st were days wrapped in a smile of a dream living. The day we arrived the winds were fierce - gusting up to 60 mph, and our tiny rental was having hard time making it along the highway. Larry had a wise idea to drive over the other side of the mountain (Pikes Peak that is) to ensure more clear visibility (even if no lesser winds). Past Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, and Woodland Park we went, to Mueller State park - OMG, clean, beautifully maintained trails, and great views on the back of Pikes Peak range! I cried. Of course. What else is new?

We had lunch on the way back in a cutest coffee shop the Leo - great food and espresso.
By 3 pm we checked into the VRBO house we stayed last year's visit - right in the neighborhood of our choosing, did some grocery shopping to stock up the fridge, and off we walked downtown, only a mile away, to visit the yarn store (for sure!) and a small Mountain-Trail store - where a book "Colorado trail" popped right at me! Yes, I bought it, I figured it must be a sign from God or something along those lines.

Ah, yes, one still can see Pikes Peak from ANY street of the city!

Next day, the winds died out - with the temperatures staying at the lower range. We love, love not being hot, even if we feel somewhat not fully acclimated coming from Texas. The start of our hike lead us to a) bundle up, and b) move faster. We picked a 7-bridge trail to begin the venturing into the backcountry, and out there - it was gorgeous, quiet, and with many discoveries, including one of the log underground cabins (built by a local math professor from late 1800's). We sort of loosely got lost (not really, but having no maps provided for stops and decision makings), as well as foolishly didn't carry any water or food, so last couple of miles felt strained mood-wise, but overall, a great introduction into our future backyard. And we met a pig!

The rest of the day - more walking around and dwelling, checking out (and crossing off the potential list) the near-by (another) neighborhood (as well as coffee shop - "our" is still the best!). Later that evening Larry looked for info on the trail he wanted to do - and it was closed. That allowed me to voice my personal desire - a repeat of the Incline (a 1 mile 2,000 feet vertical staircase built on the old railroad and known as a brutal workout). I love that kind of stuff!
We topped it off a full 5 min faster than we did 2 years ago, and it felt easier already - I can't wait to add these stairs as my weekly training! Larry took us via "local knowledge non-trails" path to a jeep road called J-pipe, and we turned towards a saddle between Pikes Peak and Mount Manitou. The views of Pikes Peak that opened up to us - breathtaking! It was a slow walk full of gratitude.
I used to say Mt. Hood was "my" mountain. Finally, as of now, Pikes Peak feels like "IT". I have a new "MY" mountain that makes my heart skip a bit. Welcome home.
Eventually we popped up the Barr trail at its mile 4.5 (of 11.5 miles up to Pikes Peak), where I remembered that Barr Camp is about half-way point, give or take. It turned out to be at 6.5 M up, and we got there soon enough to ask about Zack Miller (quite famous ultrarunner who works the camp). 10 min later we took off running down, "air in the hair", laughing inside. What a great day!

Once at home and cleaned up, we headed for lunch to "our" coffee shop, where we later met with our future realtor. Yes, it's that serious. Larry researched real estate agents downtown, and picked the one who grew up there, lived there, knew his stuff, and was a nice guy overall. The meeting went great! A couple more walk-arounds, and we were ready for bed. 

Next morning, there were no more big hikes or runs on our schedule, a more lazy kind of day, along with the weather being back to windy and somewhat grey. I decided to start the day by heading out to a local yoga studio, to check it out. Not a bad place at all, close-by, inexpensive, lots of options. That's a start.
 Then we drove for less than 10 min North - to visit trail system (25 miles!) of one (of the many!) inside-the-boundaries city parks, Palmer Park. A different kind of beauty, rock and trees and single track, and even wild life.
More coffee - a stop at former high school that was remodeled by locals into little shops inside the classrooms and connected all via the hallway - and we took ourselves for a walk in Garden of the Gods. After that - one more yarn shop, to commemorate a National Local Yarn Store day (for real!), and then Memorial park (very touching).

Indeed, we only scratched the surface of living in Colorado Springs - but up until this point, there is nothing (absolutely nothing) we don't like about this town (yes, that, what scares some - too; and no to what pleases many others). Can't wait!

It started snowing during our last evening of stay, and it did so the whole night - and on and off during the first half of the day. It was perfect. Just divine feeling, fresh white snow, covering surrounding area.

We drove back to Denver, stopping on the way to visit my friend (hailing from Oregon) Kristin - so awesome to re-connect, and meet her husband Scott and son Jacob (where did the time go??)!!! - and Larry's sister Stephanie with her husband Skye (they are about to have a baby - to think, exactly a year ago our trip was to Kauai for their wedding...).
Sadly, that concluded our get-away, and as much as we didn't want to return to Texas living, we did want to return home. We are both not big travelers - frequent, yes, but not for long periods of time.

On the home agenda, there is lots of training, work, and more training (for me). I added Mt. Bonnell stair repeats (no backpack yet, 100 steps, 10-15 times up, weekly), backpack walking (hilly roads as of yet, 30 lbs in it), and my yoga practice is blossoming (having an extra studio near is helpful). By the end of the month, trails came into picture as well - local hilliest parts of it. Short, sweet and hard.
I also had my body composition measured (last time was exactly 3 months ago) - and without any serious focus towards it, by simply adhering to the same caloric intake I had implemented back on September 1st (and logging my food), yet adding a lot of weight training to my routine - I lost a full 2.5% body fat (totally unexpected). I am now officially in "single digits" - something I had never in my mind even dreamed about (nor wanted to, really). In the last nearly 8 months I lost total of 24 lbs, and 9.6% body fat. While happy about results - and proving the point that age is not a factor, and gimmicks don't work, just dedication and discipline - this gotta stop, or I will have nothing to loose on the trail! In the same token, being light is extremely satisfying, I feel great - and while I have no idea if it has something to do with my running, my running keeps improving (knock on wood, pray to God, and make a wish that it is on its way to a full return and will lasts forever!). I've been running same miles weekly as last 3 months, still not wearing any device but a simple watch - and my overall/average pace kept falling.

During this month, we also visited to our friends for a couple of celebrations: Gabe turned 70 (and we got to see our running friends from the tumultuous past), and Marta had a birthday as well (so I was able to present her a shawl I knitted for her while in Sedona).

And oh, yeah, the knits and the crafts! Big item's month, very timely - heavy wool sweaters, even if only two (one for me, finished a day before our Colorado trip and one for Larry, made during said trip). Must be the wind of our impending move to Colorado is blowing! 

Also, finished all 30 hats for Liza's veterans camp - a 4.5 months project of doing it only at work, between clients, a few rows at a time. Go, me!
My cross-stitch project has also moved along via concerted effort on my part. I really want to tie all the ends of unfinished projects and pick up all the new yarns I bought, in Portland, Sedona, Colorado Springs, and even online (reclaimed cashmere lace, anyone?)!
12 years apart - what matters more?
This month wasn't without some challenges, on personal/extended family/couple's front, but we've overcome, and got stronger with that. No families go without occasional impact, it is important to keep talking, connecting, and being true - to ourselves, our partner, and our relationship. Stay working - love is a verb, not a noun.

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