Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Bit of Knitting for Long Anticipated Baby Boy + Tasty Chili for Our Annual Pumpkin Carving Party and Potluck

(I am happy to announce that the boys have arrived safely and happily in New Orleans. Tonight they rest, eat and visit with Brandon's grandparents. Tomorrow, perhaps they will take a river boat ride. I am sure they will choose something great to kick off their first day of their stay.)

(The colors in this photo are terrible. The hats look much nicer in real life. The dark color is a speckled and heathered dark grey while the blue is a bright blue shade that is between cobalt and tourquise.)

We have several sets of friends who have not been successful in conceiving a child by natural means. Many of them have gone to extra ordinary measure to have a family. Bob and Jen are one such couple. They've tried to start a family for years. They were finally successful with the aid of modern medicine and welcomed Owen into the world on Valentine's Day this past spring.

We've known Bob for many years. He owns and runs the company that takes care of the grounds at school. He has employed Ethan for many years and he has become a friend. He is a tall, reliable and honest man of few years. Word got back to me that it might be nice to have matching hats for the two of them. As you might imagine, I was thrilled and set to work. Since the set would be worn by a baby boy and an adult (I wanted something rather gender neutral) I spent some time thinking about the design. The color choice was an epiphany after noticing a pair of biking socks Ellie was wearing one day on the way to a race. I was struck. Color can do that to me. Really, I was kind of smitten. The challenge then was to find colors of yarn that fit what I had in my head. It took me several stores and a trip to the big store in Boulder to finally come up with something I was happy with. The next challenge was figuring out the design. This one was inspired by a series of quilts that people had pinned in Pinterest. I graphed it out and set away with clicking needles. Originally I was going to include a small bit of red, but did not have any with me when I came to that spot while away at a race. I decided to do without the red. It would have been a nice touch, but I am happy with the end result. Bob was, too.

The yarn is a superwash DK from Cascade. I wanted something warm, washable and not itchy. It fit the bill perfectly.

We will host our annual pumpkin carving party and potluck tomorrow evening. I usually make a curried pumpkin soup and a cheesy garlic bread, but I don't think tomorrow's crowd is all that adventurous. I opted for a nice spicy, smokey chili instead. We will also have a baked potato bar with sour cream, cheddar cheese, bacon bits and ham.

Here are a few images from the past years:

Here's a few fun Halloween Playlists as well:

Halloween Music by Tammy Welshon on Grooveshark Halloween (Jazz, mostly) by Tammy Welshon on Grooveshark -------- Boilermaker Tailgate Chili via: Serves 12

2 pounds ground beef chuck
1 pound bulk Italian sausage
3 (15 ounce) cans chili beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can chili beans in spicy sauce
2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 green chile peppers, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon bacon bits
4 cubes beef bouillon
1/2 cup beer (I used water since I did not have a can of beer on hand)
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (e.g.Sriacha or Tabasco™)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon Smoke Flavoring (I added this. You can use liquid or powder form)
2 (10.5 ounce) bag corn chips such as Fritos®
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Cheddar Cheese

1. Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Crumble the ground chuck and sausage into the hot pan, and cook until evenly browned. Drain off excess grease.
2. Pour in the chili beans, spicy chili beans, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the onion, celery, green and red bell peppers, chile peppers, bacon bits, bouillon, and beer. Season with chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, oregano, cumin, hot pepper sauce, basil, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and sugar. Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
3. After 2 hours, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, and chili powder if necessary. The longer the chili simmers, the better it will taste. Remove from heat and serve, or refrigerate, and serve the next day.
4. To serve, ladle into bowls, and top with corn chips and shredded Cheddar cheese.

Road Trip to New Orleans + Cookies for The Road (and Recipes, too)

This weekend Ethan, along with his good friend Brandon, embarked on an adventure - a road trip to New Orleans. It is his first road trip without Larr or I going along.
(Ethan and Brandon at Graduation in May)

This is something that the boys have been talking about doing for years. Brandon has family in New Orleans and feels most at home there. Ethan loves adventures and Cajun food. I am certain that they will have a grand time.

Yesterday they drove to Oklahoma City. Tonight they should arrive in New Orleans. They will do the usual touristy stuff like a graveyard tour, alligator tour, go on a paddle boat, etc. And oh yes, I almost forgot, a swamp (or would that be bog) adventure They will also spend some time with Brandon's family.

In preparation for the trip I made cookies for the boys. Ethan could not decide whether he wanted Pepparkakor Cookies or Chocolate Chip, so I made both for him. Brandon said he would be happy with Chocolate Chip,but would really love some oatmeal cookies. So, ya' know, I had to (okay, wanted to) make those for him. (It is nice to have a working oven again!)

This weekend we were at an all school retreat up at Snow Mountain Ranch. Ethan and Larr left early so that the boys could get an early start. I hugged him tight, told him I was excited for him, but that I wanted him to be cautious. I don't worry about the driving part as he has done a ton of driving for long hours. I made him promise that he would not drive when he was too tired for fear of crashing. I told him about my two friends who lost their boys to accidents where their boys fell asleep at the wheel. One drove off of the road and down into a deep ravine. The other drove into a pole at 80 mph. Larr had a harder time letting them go. Of course he is happy for the adventure they are embarking on, but seeing his boy go off on a long trip like this is just more proof that our sweet, lovely boy is now a capable, strong and independent young man.

The boys made good time and called once they got to the hotel. They were right on time.

Swedish Pepparkakor Cookies (Molasses Spice Cookies)
via Aunt Lynne

6 TBL. Butter, softened
6 TBL Canola Oil
1 1/2 cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 TBL Water
1/4 cup Molassas (Brer Rabbit is best!)
Cream the above items together.
Mix in:
3 cup Flour
1/4 tea. Cloves, ground
1/4 tea. Ginger, ground
1 tea Cinnamon, ground
2 tea Baking Soda
1/2 tea
The resulting dough will seem very dry. Form small balls. Place them onto the cookie sheet. Place extra sugar in a small bowl (I use a ramakin) , dip the flat end of a drinking glass in the dough, then into the sugar and use to flatten a mound of dough. Repeat until all cookies are flattened and sugared. Dough should be kept cool at this point.< Bake at 375 in a [reheated oven for 8 minutes. Watch closely as they burn easily. Remove onto a rack or paper towels to cool. This makes about 60 cookies. They freze well. ------------- Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

PAN COOKIE VARIATION: Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.
Oatmeal Cookies

3 eggs
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup butter flavored shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1. Beat eggs, and stir in raisins and vanilla. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
3. Cream together shortening, brown sugar, and white sugar until light and fluffy. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; stir into the sugar mixture. Mix in raisins and eggs, then stir in oats and walnuts. Roll dough into walnut sized balls, and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in preheated oven, or until edges are golden. Cool on wire racks.

Friday, October 26, 2012

AVS HAlloween Party

Every year I have this fantasy that I am going to somehow find the time and money to make myself a cool Halloween costume. For a long time I wanted to be Ms. McGonagall. I have a super cool purple with hat festooned with feathers. That could be the start of a fun costume as well. However, it never seems to happen.

Last year I was a teenage Goth Girl and my husband did not even want to drive in the same car with me. The rest of the family could not stand to look at me. I thought it was funny. Ellie said I freaked her how.

This year I was Frida Kahlo. I thought it was cool. I don't have the dark skin, but I have long hair that I was able to style into Frida's signature look. I drew in the unibrow and the hint at a mustache that she had.I thought everyone over about 20 would know who I was supposed to be. I found that this was not even close to being true. Those who have a Humanities education smiled and shot me knowing glances. Everyone else thought I was scary, like I could put a curse on them. Funny, that unexpected reaction was.

Ethan went as a construction worker, donning his gear from work. Everyone was happy to see him, my grown up boy, oh I mean, young man.

Ellie's costume came out different than I had invisioned, but great nonetheless. She had a black and red mask that just did not work out. It was fun to make the tutu. Ellie and Kohlton crack me up - they are so funny.

I love how they can look so deadpan and serious! I cannot do that, I would be cracking a smile for sure.

This one cracks her up. Why she looks so dramatic, who knows, but it is funny. And isn't the lighting just right!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Colorado Mountain Bike Championship - Fruita Dessert Classic

This past weekend was exciting. I know, I know, I probably say something like that almost every weekend, but it is how I feel. This past weekend found Ellie and I in Fruita for the Colorado High School Cycling League Mountain Bike Championship. It was exciting because it was the championship and because Ellie has never had a chance to ride in Fruita, one of the big, world famous mountain bike riding spots.

I was also super excited because I was able to make arrangements to spend time with Natalie, one of my dearest friends, a friend I have not seen in person in about 3.5 or 4 years.
We left Denver bright and early on Saturday morning so that we could be sure that Ellie would have plenty of time to pre-ride the course. We met some of the teammates and parents at Sunshine Cafe in Silverthorn for breakfast. Afterwards the kids piled into my car and we make the remaining four hour drive in noisy, musical fun.

Being the dessert, the race course was hot and dusty. Ellie rode the course a bit and then wanted to go home to shower. She wanted to feel fresh for the next day.

That evening we returned to Fruita to take team pictures and attend the end of the year shindig. (I wrote more about that below.)

Coach Kathy was super jazzed for the final race of the season so she make our spot a party. We hung up balloons and streamers. She also gave both girls tiaras for their helmets and the coaches sported silly costumes. It looked like a little kid's birthday party and everyone who passed us smilled.

Ellie raced the JV girls, the second group to go. The cheering and excitement was really something. People clapped, hooted and cheered. When Ellie's name was announced for her call-up (getting to pick your place on the starting line) the volume of cheering went up a bit. Between her enthusiastic team mates, coaches and people who know her from road or cross, many voices were heard. I was nervous. Coach Kathy had Ellie ride her Super Fly, as super sweet, light bike - a bike Ellie is unfamiliar with. I wanted her to have a good ride, to be happy with her effort and standing.

She went off like a rocket, a buzzing cloud of other girls whirling their pedals just behind her. By the time the girls got to the first big hill Ellie was in second place. I was not worried as she always makes up some time in the successive laps.

The race was a serious battle. Izzy finished just head of Ellie by about 18 feet and just over a second. Soon after the third girl flew in for her finish. By that point she was anaerobic, we could see her hurting as she was entering the final stretch. Her head was bobbing and her bike was weaving - she was bonking. As she passed us I could see foam at the corners of her mouth and white stuff was dried on her cheek. Just a few feet after crossing the finish line she went down. The paramedics checked her out, gave her an IV and set her on the right course. I am sure that the girl will feel like she had a hang-over the next day.

Ellie would have enjoyed being the champion, of course, but she was also okay with coming in second to Izzy since they both put in a lot and gave it their all.

Coach Eric donned a green wig and cheered for every one of our team members. I am pretty sure that makes them feel special.
Here's Coach Kathy, sporting a fun dress, proving that we have the msot team spirit.
Ellie earned second in the JV category in a large field of girls. Next year she may be moved up to the varsity category.

She also earned second overall in the JV girls category.

Fruita State Championships 2012-Vail Composite from Ted vic on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

US Grand Prix of Cyclocross + Roasted Asparagus Recipe

This past weekend the US Grand Prix of Cyclocross took place in Fort Collins. It is a big, exciting National level race, part of a four race series that help determine the call-ups for Nationals. (The top rider gets called up first and gets to pick where he/she is in the starting line, then the second person is called up, etc. It can earn you a great advantage.)Riders from all over the nation show up to race.
There are lots of vendors, racers we are not used to seeing and some fun features, like the flyovers.

I watch the weather on Thursday and Friday. The course would be more fun it it were muddy. Just as we left Denver, it began to rain. By the time the older juniors raced, the rain was coming down hard and it was cold out. This can be both fun, and difficult. The mud become slippery.

It is interesting to watch the race at the barrier section. You can tell a lot about the skill of the riders by how they get over the barriers and how muddy they are. One boy came through in a yellow, lime green and white kit - a gusty choice for a season full of mud and ice. He and his bike were simply splattered. The next boy through had clearly succumbed to a patch of tricky, slippery mud as he and his bike were completely covered. I am pretty sure he must have had at least two extra pounds added to his bike with so much mud and dry grass clinging on. The good riders are wonderful to watch. They look like gazelles effortlessly clearing a log. I envy that kind of a grace, just a bit. I am not sure I am that graceful in any part of my life, let alone hopping over a barrier, bike in hand, slickness underfoot.

This is one of my favorite parts - where the rider throws his or her leg over the bike saddle, mid-stride. When done right, it looks like a dance move from a music video or a high energy line dance. Ellie's technique has a musical quality to it. Newbies then to fall into two categories: 1. stop completely and remount the bike as if you were at a cross walk; 2. Attempt the leg throw-over, the result looking like a clumsy kid trying to climb over a wooden fence wearing his big brother's boots that don't fit.

The riders then to wear their mud with pride. It shows that your are kind of tough since you stuck out the cold and took on a difficult course. The funny thing about this photo is that it is nearly identical to the one we took last year, minus Ethan and Ariana in the photo. That made me laugh a little.

Ellie was her category this weekend so this victory tends to feel empty. However,the nice young man who was announcing did a bang up job, announcing her win just as he does for the pros. He even had a Swiss trained podium boy who shook Ellie's hand awkwardly by taking her one hand in with both of hers.
I always find something sort of artistic about the look of the mechanics of a bike full of mud and dried grass.

Here's a recipe that I made up last night, happy for coming up with such options now that I have a working stove again.

Roasted Asparagus with White Peach Balsamic Vinegar with Cashews and Shaved Parmesan

Asparagus, cleaned and trimmed, removing the white part at the bottom of the stalk
Olive Oil
Sea Salt (Kosher salt would be good, too. Or any large grain salt, for that matter)
White Peach Balsamic Vinegar (actually, any good balsamic vinegar would be great)
Cashews, roasted and finely chopped
Parmesan, shaved or shredded (not the powdered stuff)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Clean and trim the asparagus. Line a cookie pan with aluminium foil. Lightly coat the asparagus with olive oil. Lay them out on the foil lined pan and sprinkle lightly with the salt.

2. Roast the asparagus for about 15-20 minutes, or until it is no longer crunchy.

3. Remove from the oven. Transfer to at a serving plate. Sprinkle with the balsamic vinegar, cashews and Parmesan. Serve hot or cold.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Good Bye and Hello + Pasta Al Forno Recipe

I make most of what we eat from scratch. That means I spend a lot of time at my stove. About two months ago the oven stopped working properly. I figured this out when not once, but twice I lit the stove, went over to the counter besides it to prep the food and was startled when there was a Hollywood Back-Draft sound and the door to the oven was blown open by the force of a fireball igniting. It was a bit scary. It turned out that some part of the burner that provides the fire had worn out and shrunk, so of. The gas control was releasing the gas, which was building up in the cavity of the oven and once the igniter kicked it, we got a fireball. Wooooo!

Having a service agreement, I called Sears and set up an appointment. A great repair guy showed up and happily ordered the parts. Later we came to find that one of the parts was on back order. For the last two months I've been without an oven because we could not get the piece needed to fix the oven.

Sears finally offered a solution. They were not sure when (of if) the repair part could be secured, so they offered to transfer the service agreement and a credit of $500 towards a new stove. I had mixed feelings about that. It was a generous offer, but I really love my stove. However, with no real prospects of getting it repaired, we came to the decision to get a new range. After looking at what our options were, we picked one. It was delivered today. It is great to be able to cook things again. I had no idea how often I used the oven. I am thrilled to have a fully functioning oven again, though I was sad to see the old one go. That stove and I whipped up lots of yummy food together.

Now I have a stove top with five burners, a special, custom grill and the option to cook with convection.

Pasta Al Forno
via: Heather Likes Food

1 1/2 lbs mild italian sausage
2 (14.5 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 (4 oz) stick butter
1/2 C + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 1/2 C whole milk
1/4 tsp kosher salt
pinch nutmeg
1 lb dry rigatoni, cooked
2 C mozzarella cheese, shredded

1. Brown sausage until cooked through and drain off excess fat. Stir in tomatoes and garlic and bringto a simmer. Cook covered on low for at least 30 minutes, longer if time allows. Stir in basil justbefore assembly.

2. Make the bechamel by melting butter in a medium sized sauce pan. Stir the flour into the butter, adding more flour if needed to create a toothpaste-like consistency. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

3. Using a whisk, stir in milk and continue to stir until it comes to a boil and is thickened. Remove from heat and stir in salt and nutmeg.

4. In a large casserole dish (9x13" or bigger) place half of the pasta followed by half of the tomato sauce and bechamel. Top with 1 C of mozzarella cheese.

5. Repeat the layering one more time with the remaining ingredients.

6. Bake at 350° for about 45 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is browned.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Peaceful Valley Invitational

Ellie had her third race of the high school mountain biking league this past Sunday. It was exciting; I was anxious, hopeful and proud of my daughter.
Supporting a teenager is so different from supporting a tween, preteen or kid. Where I used to be able to work together to help her know what to do, now I try to stand back and see where I fit, where I can support. I know that other parents still manage their kids, but I try to be pretty hands off, as much as I can be.

At practice on Wednesday Ellie was doing an tight turn and crashed. The end of her handlebar pushed into her sterum (the space just below your ribs)which resulted in a funky, tattoo like bruise that displayed the design on the end camp. That image was surrounded by a heathered blue. The coach that is also an ER nurse talked to me about how to look for internal damage and bleeding. Her coach who is a lead pharmacist talked to us about pain control. Ellie' torso hurt and breathing was impeded. Being the stubborn girl that she is, she did not want any medication. She wanted to tough it out on her own. Nate told me it could take up to six weeks to completely heal.

On Thursday Ellie found that it hurt more than it had the day before; she could not stand straight without pain. I offered comfort, a hot pad and no judgement. Having never injured myself in that same fashion, I could only guess how bad it was based on what others told me. My stoic girl kept it mostly to herself. Eventually she relented and allowed me to help her, just a bit. We strapped chemical heated pads to her sternum in hopes that it would help her sleep. We heated and reheated a pad that helped bring temporary relief. It seemed to continue to hurt, yet she did not really complain.

Along with her injury, I worried about the weather. Friday was the first snow of the season. Saturday there would be a hard freeze and we were scheduled to camp out. Then we dithered about whether to drive to the race location (about 1.5 hours away) to preride the course and return home. In the end she opted for resting instead of riding. Her coach and I thought it was a good plan.
I was also just a bit anxious about the course. Last year it had been her second race. Even though she pre-rode the course the day before, she took the wrong line when carving through the rock garden and went over her her handlebars, (endo)crumpling on the ground just a inch from a big rock. After a league official checked her out, as well as her bike, he released her and said, "Go slow." As you might imagine, she took off like a rocket. My heart stopped when I witnessed that. I waited with fear in my heart for her to come around again. The mother of one of the varsity riders came by to tell me that she was flying through the course. Ellie was successful, sailing through that very spot and winner her category (freshmen girls that year) by a margin of more than 4 minutes. I tried to bury that image in my head, trusting that she has much more skill and experience this year than last.

With so much stirring in me, it was hard to stand still and keep my anxiety to myself.

Ellie got a call up (getting to pick her place on the starting line) and I took up my post just up the course a pace so that I could see what kind of start she would get. She sped by me in a flurry of girl with determined faces and whirling pedals. People cheered, parents commented on Ellie good form and then we headed off towards the rock garden to wait for the race to come through. In time the varsity and JV girls came by, Ellie with a firm lead in her group. As I waited for Jessica, our freshman girl, to come through, I witnessed another girl crash in nearly the same area. Number 418 hit a water bar and went down, staying completely still. At first I could not believe what had happened, and then it seemed all to real. The girl's older brother rushed to her side, the medic and officials were called and arrived. At first we had the racers dismount and walk past the crash site. Then a clever coach had the specators form a human line to bring the race through the trees on the side. It gave us something to do and allowed the medical folks to work unimpeded. They brought out the foam forms for the girls's neck, then slowly rolled her onto a body board. During that time we could see her move and was relieved to find that she at least had not broken her back. We could see that her eyes were open. When they passed us as they carried her out we could see that she was conscious. It looked like she hit her face, breaking and bloodying her nose. It is also likely that she had a concussion. It is my hope that those are the extent of the girl's injuries. My heart goes out to her and her family.

In the midst of all of that Ellie came speeding through the diversion that we set up. She thought the girl ahead of her was in her category so she put on extra speed, sprinting to a strong finish, winning her the JV category by a long shot. My worries of how injured she was slipped away. Once again, I was amazed at my girl's power of determination and her ability to focus on her goal. I would have been happy to have her race and have fun. It is extra fun when she wins and is happy with her own performance. Her coach says that the fire in her belly is fierce.

Since the forecast was for much colder weather, Ellie was dressed for cold. Some of the other coaches joked that she was Yukon Ellie, ready to race in Alaska. She certainly has a unique fashion sense on the podium.

Our team also received the 2nd place overall best team award for the division 2 teams (teams with 12 or fewer riders). We had been tied for 2nd place with Grand County (the team from Grand Junction) but the tie was decided by a quick "Rock, Paper, Scissors" battle. Our coach Eric won with a quick rock over scissors. We are confident that he could have won in a short race, too.

And the excitement does not stop there. A movie crew was on site for an upcoming movie called "Singletrack." It is the story of a 15 year old girl who moves to a small town in Colorado to live with her uncle after both of her parents have been sent into active duty. Once there, she finds community by joining the local mountain biking team. The production crew has been at each race interviewing kids and coaches alike. Our very own Coach Kathy is advising the woman who is playing the part of the coach. Art, the script writer and producer spent time talking with Ellie about what it is like to be a 15 year old girl on a racing team. He told her that they would put out a casting call and asked if she had any acting experience. They will be setting up a fake race in order to film some of the scenes. Pretty exciting stuff.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Rainbow Lakes Camping

Ellie, Ms. Adventure Girl, had a strong hankering for at least one more camping trip before our light fall weather gave way to the hard grip of winter that is surely headed this way. Saturday was beautiful so we headed out to go camping after the Color Me Rad run.
We took Kohlton and his mother, Britt, with us. We had hoped to get out of town in the mid-afternoon, but did not get on the road until well after 4:00 p.m.

I had hoped to be able to camp at the Pawnee Campground near Brainard Lake (in Ward, just north of Nederland) but it was not to be as it was closed for the season. The quick peak at the snow dusted mountain caps and blue purple tips of the pine trees in the sunset. That colorful vision quickly turned to a silhouette of mountain peaks illuminated by the pink and orange dusted powder puff clouds that were lazy in the sky.

Back down the road we went to seek out another place to stay. In the end we gave Rainbow Lakes a try. The sun had set and the roads were washboards. We bumped our way up the dark road, thankful for a full or nearly full moon. The campground was full, but the friendly camp host pointed out that we could do primitive camping anywhere that we could pull of the road. He said that people had been doing it for years and that there were many great spots. Kohlton helped us locate a good one and we were quickly set up. The original spot by the road would have been okay, but Kohlton scouted out a better place with ground that was soft. We set up camp, started a camp fire and set up making s'mores. It was late, but we were determined to have a relaxing time. The fire crackled, the kids giggled from time to time and an owl hooted off in the distance.

The night was cold and crisp, as was the morning. I woke earlier than the rest. It gave me an opportunity to watch the sun light up the trees and listen to the morning sounds on the mountain side. I pulled out some wool that I purchased, balled it up and began a scarf for my girl. It was cold so I tucked a blanket around my legs. A bit later I made myself a spot of hot chocolate (Starbucks dark chocolate with salted caramel) and a small fire. It was immensely satisfying to have that time alone to listen, think and knit. The various scavenger birds, especially the camp robber birds, decided to keep me company in hopes that I might spill some food or offer them a meal. This cute little bird and his cousins were curious and brazen.

Later on everyone else ambled out of bed and began a slow motion morning. After breakfast the kids headed out to play and explore in the woods. Britt and I hung around the fire, content to simply visit. I would have liked the day to wind down in the same manner, but we had to be off the mountain and back home in the city by early evening. The drive home was speckled the the blazing glory of the aspen trees in their quaking gold, the finest I've seen in years. It was a fitting way to say good-bye to the camping season.