Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mountain Biking in Winter

My new favorite cross training sport is mountain biking on snow covered roads. I may not have tried biking in the cold if it wasn't for a party conversation with my friend Anne who told me about her mountain biking adventure on Cty Rd 73 in Fraser on a cold fall morning. She wore her ski pants and ski gloves to stay warm. I was inspired, but I also knew I was going to have to get used to the cold since I signed up for Chilly Cheeks duathlon in Denver. The race series consists of three races: bike and run, run and bike and run, lastly, run and bike and run and bike. 

I started riding my mountain bike up the dirt road near my house that goes through a residential area and tops of almost near the top of East Mountain. It was all uphill, and hard.

Today my training plans states: 60 minute bike ride. Since this ride only takes 20 minutes from my house to the top I needed to get creative. So, I exploreed different dirt roads covered with snow. One new area I found had car tracks leading to the top. I started up it and had to stay in the tracks or I would slide. It was great technique-practice; I had to keep my eyes forward so I wouldn’t ride out of the tracks and wipe out. It was like riding single track - staying focused ahead of the trail instead of staring at the ground under my feet.
Riding snowpacked roads also allows me to practice balance.
It was a great 60 minute ride in the sun, but cold. I got my ride in and can chill out the rest of the day.
Merry Christmas

Sunday, November 27, 2011

How to Get in the Holiday Spirit

In case you are trying to get in the holiday spirit, here are some ways that I am working on:
  • Shop early
  • Don't skip workouts.
  • Wish people that you meet a happy holiday with a smile.
  • Drop spare coins in the Salvation Army collection buckets.
  • Do something nice for someone.
  • Volunteer your time to a worthy holiday cause.
  • Organize a drive at work to collect food and personal items and donate them
  • Don't skip workouts.
  • Play Christmas music.
  • Watch "It's a Wonderful Life"
  • Think about what you'd like Christmas to mean and how you can work towards that goal.
  • Be Inspired by Traditions.
  • Don't skip workouts.
  • Bake cookies and cupcakes
  • Make a new tradition
  • Make a Christmas CD
  • Throw a holiday party.
  • Don't skip workouts.
  • Go see a Christmas play
“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.” ~Charles Dickens

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” ~Charles Dickens

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Vasquez Pass Trail in October 2011

My adopted trail needs some maintenance. I recruite my friend Rosie to come out with me to Vasquez Pass Trail on Sunday.

The Plan: mountain bike from Vasquez Creek Rd to the Wilderness Boundary. Hike to the top from there.

Reality: there is snow on the ground at 10,000 feet.

We walk a mile or so in and realize we aren’t prepared for snow. Daisy didn’t seem to mind it.

It was good to get out there. I didn’t hike the trail all summer; it’s been a wacky summer.

The log bridge needs to be replaced. There are some trees down.

It was fun to mountain bike and hike with Rosie and Daisy-dog.

Here are some photos.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Walking With Wallace Stegner - Grandmother Letters

I just got back from a late afternoon walk on the trails near my house with the dogs. I downloaded the audio book, Angle of Repose and started listening to it on this walk. The narrator begins the story telling us about his grandmother, an illustrator who moves west with her engineer husband. The narrator finds his grandmother's letters from the mining camps across the west she lived in.

I’m thinking about my grandmother who died yesterday, she was 98. I have the letters she kept from her husband while travelling across the US working for the Pennsylvania railroad. All these events remind me to get working on the story I started last year that include excerpts from my grandmother's letters.

Walking on trails, Learning about The West, Travelling Around the Country.

Themes in my life lately.

I want to spend my time learning about The West and the place I now call home. Yet there is work to do, and I must get back to it.

I love every story Wallage Stegner has written and remember his quote about being a westerner, “It should not be denied... that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations, with absolute freedom, and the road has always led West.”

I want to finish listening to Angle of Repose but I’m distracted by a movie I want to watch about Leo Tolstoy.

Opening quote to the movie, The Last Station about the end of Tolstoy’s life and what he believed in. “Everything that I know … I know only because I love.” Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Back to My Travelling Roots; Mount Rushmore

Since I moved to Colorado, I haven’t explored outside the county or even travelled much to other states except for triathlon races. I have the travel bug and need to set out on the open road.

See, I used to be that girl that would get in her car and drive north with no itinerary. I’d go to the mountains, visit relatives. I travelled with friends, met up with friends, or just alone. I’m going back to my roots and need to see everything.

I look at a map and see that Mount Rushmore is a 7 hour drive from Granby. I need to see it - pronto. My friend Sue is from South Dakota, and her cousin Rory lives in Pierre. I make a few phone calls, and Sue and I light out for Dakota.

I have never stepped foot in South Dakota, however when I was in my 20s I read everything about the Pine Ridge Reservation and Lakotas. I read books about Indian land claims. I read about Crazy Horse.

We leave at 5am on Tuesday morning. What I love about the drive through the southeast corner of Wyoming and into South Dakota is the contrast of grassland against green trees. I love trees. I love looking at trees. I’m so bored of the Grand County trees. I love the sparse landscape and the Ponderosa Pines. I imagine a scene in Dancing With Wolves happening right now. I imagine what it must have felt to be a pioneer seeing the country for the first time.

Road trips are all about the time spent talking about your life, telling stories, talking about your feelings. After four hours I conclude - I don’t like sentences that end with “I think”, “probably”, “Maybe”. Sue says that when people say these words "they are telling you that what they are saying may not be the gospel truth.”

I need absolutes.

We also decide that what happens in South Dakota, stays in South Dakota. However, I’m still blogging about it.

Sue is okay with this.

Sue tells the story about driving in these parts and sliding into a ditch. There was bad weather and she hydroplaned into a ditch, “Some farmers saw the entire thing and came to help me out. Everyone has a good ditch story.”

True. I have one, too. Mine takes place in Rye, New Hampshire. That is a tale for another time, right Nathan?

For some reason, I think of the song, Home on the Range and we belt out a few verses.
We pass through Hot Springs and Sue says she wants to retire, “Where the Mammoth came to die.”

We arrive in Rapid City. “If I drove, we would’ve gotten here faster”, is Sue’s only comment about my driving. I’m okay with it.
(Rapid City Public Art, The President's on every corner)

We settle into our new digs and I get the master suite. There are wild turkeys and deer wandering around the house that borders the National Forest. Daisy (dog) chases them. Rory warns of rattle snakes. Abbey (dog) wanders downhill to the neighbors. I’m trying to be stress-free but the dogs are testing me.

We drive to Deadwood and walk around. We go to Midnight Star, the casino/bar Kevin Costner owns.

We drive to Mount Rushmore and stop at a pull off just before the entrance.  It is my first glimpse of George lit up; it’s really cool to see.

We park in an almost vacant parking lot and walk though the state flags and see Mount Rushmore in the distance lit up; it’s really, really cool. We sit and stare.

Back to Rapid City for dinner at the Fire House Brewery.
Next Day: Badlands National Park.

There is no wind until we get into the park. We are on the edge of the Great Plains and there is not a cloud in the sky and the temperature is 80.
I wasn’t prepared for the depth of feeling at seeing the Badlands. The rocks and formations are amazing, stunning; like nothing I’ve ever seen. White rock, striations, colors and spires. The hills look like a papier-mâché project.

Rory says the Indians came to the Badlands because it was their holy ground. They wintered here and felt it was the center of their universe. He says, “They came to talk to the spirits.”

Sand stone, ancient sea bed, shark bones. The movie Armageddon was filmed here. There are cedar trees. I am stunned by the beauty of it all. I can stare into the vastness forever.

We are back to Rapid City, pack, and head south on the open road.

For 8 hours we laugh, talk, listen to music, tell stories. The perfect road trip.

Powderwhore's Breaking Trail

I have to admit, the thought of winter makes me shiver, until I saw this video:

One more winter in the mountains, maybe.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

How to Be Support for Your Athlete

This week I wrote my Outdoor Column about how to be a good support team for your athlete.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Than, the man who taught me how to be a good support team. When we were on the race course in Coeur d’Alene he showed me everything I know. Plus, during down times when we were waiting for our athletes we would talk about family, friendship, racing cars, and our lives so far.
(Note how Than is holding all of Mark's transition bags and has a camera around his neck: perfection)

Than and Mark have been friends since their youth. They take care of each other even though they live thousands of miles apart. I’m envious of their life-long friendship and learned a lot about what you do for friends. Than is a good man; a good father, husband, friend.
I’m glad to know him and call him friend. It was a good day in Coeur d’Alene.
Here's the inspirational shirt created for Team Nash:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Why you should always carry a spare tube, tools, and a phone on a bike ride

This afternoon I went on an awesome 2 hour bike ride with my friend Kim who is training for Lotoja 2011; a 200+mile bike ride from Utah to Jackson, WY.

She had to bike over 100 miles today as part of her training; I joined her for the last two hours.

Riding west towards Kremmling is a beautiful ride. The light in the canyon and on the cliffs is spectacular. There wasn’t much traffic and the roads were debris free (for the most part).
Cliffs in Hot Sulphur Springs

I haven’t been carrying my tools or spare tubes, mainly because I haven’t been going on longish rides. I don’t carry my cell phone because I’m afraid of breaking it. (Dumb)

At 1 hour 15 minutes into the ride heading west, we turned around. The riding was so perfect; not much wind. I love riding my tri bike. I love being aerodynamic and riding fast.
Just about 7 miles before Granby I got a flat. I knew Kim had a spare so I wasn’t worried. Turns out, she has bigger tires than me. We needed to be saved. I didn’t have my phone so I couldn't call anyone to come get us. Bon was at work. We had to save ourselves before the crazies got us. I panicked (typical). It was getting dark.
Since Kim was so tired, I biked on her road bike back to town, got my car, and picked her up. I was so worried that some crazy would get her so I rode so fast.
I got back to her and she was fine. A State Trooper saw her and pulled over to make sure she was okay. He even offered bug spray. How awesome is that? Does that happen where you live?
Lesson Learned: tube, tools, phone. Always, Always on a ride.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Testing Endurance and Muscle Memory

I started mountain biking now that trails in Grand County are totally dry and I need a break from road biking.
One of my favorite rides is up Nature’s Way at SolVista.

As I was riding it today for the first time this year, I remembered how I two years ago I would time the climb. Over a period of a few weeks my times got faster and I was able to stop less; eventually not needing to stop at all.

Today, the trail is a constant climb with some sharp turns that took a while getting used to. I had to stop three times. The ride took 25 minutes from my house to the picnic tables at the top of East Peak.

When I ride (mountain bike or road bike) I always come up with goofy challenges to mix up training days. Here is the challenge I thought about today.
Ride Nature's Way every morning for 7 days and 1) report how much faster I get and 2) see how long it takes to not need to stop. I think that it will be a great study on how fast my body adapts to mountain biking and determine if perhaps muscle memory plays a part.

Definition: Muscle Memory: When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort.

My challenge this week: Ride Nature’s Way every morning tracking time and number of stops. Report back next week

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Outdoor Adventures Review of My Green Manifesto

I loved My Green Manifesto. I read it on the beach, on the plane, and in the car while on vacation last week in New Hampshire.
Here is my review of the book published in the Sky Hi Daily News:
The new environmentalism: Loving wildness and fighting for your backyardKristen Lodge / Outdoor Adventures

David Gessner writes in My Green Manifesto, Down the Charles River in Pursuit of the New Environmentalism, “We need stories, told outside, told in a way that links activism to beauty, wild beauty. They should be told in the open air so that we remember that loving and fighting aren't two specialties, but one thing.”
Read more by clicking on this link.
I’m going to write more about this book because it’s so important. But if you click on the link and read my column, you’ll get a 600 word review.

I have so much more to say about it so stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Green Manifesto - David Gessner

David Gessner just sent me his new book, My Green Manifesto. I started reading the introduction and it's so awesome right now. I started thinking about how I've stopped reading "nature writers", but I think I'm back on track.

I love Gessner's writing style, much like how I want my writing style to be: funny, intellectual, readable. 

I'll continue to post updates about the book.

The subtitle is Down the Charles River in Pursuit of a New Environmentalismand since I'm travelling to New England next week it will be the perfect oppourtunity to read more and write about what I think of the book while I'm a bit closer to the Charles River in Boston.
In the meantime, here's the book's trailer.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Middle Park Half Marathon in Granby Colorado

Middle Park Half Marathon was a great event in Granby today. The weather was perfect for a race, cold and cloudy. I got to lead the #1 runner on my mountain bike; it was more fun that I thought. Residents in Legacy Park came out to cheer on runners.
There were great aid stations.

There were great prizes, running hats, and a sweatshirt for all runners.
The route was scenic. Runners ran past alpacas, there was a bull moose who needed to be run off the road, mountains and valley in the distance, and a final mile run through downtown on Route 40.

There were just under 100 runners, next year we will hope for more.

As we sat around waiting for the medals and prizes, a woman came up to me to ask me about Ironman. She wants to race her first Ironman, saw my Ironman Arizona finisher hat, and wanted to ask me about the race. I love talking about Ironman and my advice: put in the time, use a training plan, read everything you can about racing Ironman. We talked for a bit and exchanged email addresses so she could ask me more questions. Now my fourth bit of advice, ask questions to anyone wearing an Ironman Finisher hat.

I love being part of the endurance sports community and bringing it to Granby was an exciting day.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A story about Hunter Education

Last month I wrote a story about Hunter Education. It is one of my favorite stories because I attended the three day class and went in not knowing much about hunting.

I learned a lot about gun safety, ethics and responsibility, and wildlife.

Here is the story on the Sky Hi Daily News website.
Click here: Hunter Education.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fraser (Colorado) Writer's Group

Every Monday we meet at the Fraser Library. We socialize, we read our stories, try to stay on task, we talk about writing, and then we part.

Today we had a special guest, Kirk Klanke. Kirk came to the writer’s group to talk about the Moffat Firming project and the Fraser River. He came to ask us to write letters to the Wildlife Commission and ask them for a state position on the Moffat Firming and Windy Gap projects that will require mitigation that will offset the true impacts of taking the high flows from the Fraser River. He asked us to share our experiences with the declining health of the Fraser River and send a letter to Colorado Wildlife Commission.

Our Group: from the left: Linda, Howard, Jean, Kirk, Barbara, Gracie, Fran (not pictured) Judy.
I asked him specifically what wildlife is most endangered by these projects. He said trout. But he also said the riparian zones around the Fraser River supports 90% of the wildlife including moose and bird life.

I love that Kirk came to our writer’s group to help us write letters. Last year, his wife, Marianne came to our group as well to help us write letters and to encourage us to spread the word about letter writing campaigns to fight Fraser River diversion projects. Marianne passed away a few months ago and she was a true supporter of saving the Fraser River.

After Kirk left the group, we read our writing. Jean read her outdoor fiction story about her son in the woods during a full moon. Linda read a chapter in her book about women firefighters. Joan wrote about a neighbor friend who helped her care for her children. Gracie read about her first job in Tennessee and how once she was promoted to a better job, the laughter stopped. Judy wrote about an elderly woman who was taken advantage of by a male companion. Howard showed a drawing he did of a man in the mountain off I-70. Barbara wrote a story about wine.

What a great bunch of men and woman who love to write and read. The average age of most members is about 70 so I’m one of the youngest. If you are a writer and would love to read your work, please come. Every Monday at 10:00 at the Fraser Library. We would love to have you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Road Biking in Rocky Mountain National Park

Over the weekend I got a long bike ride in. We rode from Grand Lake into Rocky Mountain National Park as far as we could go. As far as we could go ended up being pretty close to Lake Irene, just over 10,000 feet. The road got more narrow and we had to turn around. It was cold coming down, we didn’t notice the cold so much going up, up, up.

The views of the Never Summer Wilderness and Bowen Baker were simply, Stunning. The bluest sky. The whitest clouds. The whitest snow. Can you tell I’m in love with this place?

Here's me with the Never Summer Wilderness behind me.

Next weekend, we will bike again and see if we can go a bit farther.

The road is closed 10 miles in from the Kawuneeche Visitor Center on the Grand Lake side of Rocky Mountain National Park. But, foot and bike travelers can duck the gate (legally) and walk and ride about 7-8 miles.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Who Doesn't Love A Rant

I’m going to copy another blog that starts with “A Rant”. I don’t really have anything to rant about. I’ve been buried in another life these days. I don’t watch the news or even turn on the TV. I try to read my Twitter and Facebook updates from all I follow but time is slipping away each day. I’ve been training for Ironman, working, writing, and most importantly walking my dogs several times a day just to get outside and walk. It’s mud season here at 8,000 feet; my favorite time of year. As we walk around the roads and some-times trails, I see birds flying past me, and fox running across the hills, deer wander around in herds, and the world is coming back to life.

A few days ago I have been seeing the same porcupine in the culvert. Since I’m around children’s books many hours a week, I see all the wonderful, creative children’s book titles, and when I saw the porcupine I instantly thought it would make a great book title: There’s a porcupine in the culvert. The book would be the adventures of a silly, yellow lab trying desperately to get up close to the porcupine. She just wants to smell it and maybe, just maybe, bite into it like a squeak dog toy. There’s no need to keep the ending a secret, she ends up in the vet’s office.

Maybe there is no rant here in my story. Okay, no rant. But I know I could call up ole KO and he’d have one for me. Maybe.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Solace of Words and the Natural World

Earlier this week I got this email:
Dear Ms. Lodge, I am pleased to inform you that your poems, "And one day you remember," and "When I go Home Again," have been chosen to appear in the forthcoming issue of Clapboard House. Please forgive the delay in responding to your submission.

Keep Writing
Jonathan Moore
Poetry Editor

It was a much needed email. It almost reaffirms my faith in the life I’ve chosen.


Something I’ve been thinking about the last few weeks: choice.

We all make choices that have led us to this exact moment in time. Circumstance and chance are part of it too, but really, choice makes us into the person we are today.

I think about these choices that brought me to this place mostly when outside; either biking, running or hiking with my dogs. I live in a beautiful landscape of mountains and sage. I watch storms approach from the west from my front door. Also from my front door, I can hike and ski. Choice. I chose this.

But chaos comes unwelcomed and I question all these choices. And, when choas comes I go to my words and the stories, quotes, poems, and articles, in the three ring binders. A few days ago I came across a photocopy of The Full Catastrophe by Laura Pritchett. I’ve heard Pritchett speak at writing conferences and have read every article she has written in 5280. I’ve also read her novel, Hell’s Bottom, Colorado and Sky’s Bridge. The Full Catastrophe is written for graduates, but it’s completely applicable to everyone going through a life change.

Here are my favorite excerpts:

1. Your life will be a catastrophe. Catastrophe is good. … the sooner I realized that catastrophe was the norm, the sooner I could dive in and embrace it. ..My point is to try to love the full catastrophe that lies ahead. .. Embrace the mess.

3. Choose your mate wisely. ….. try to pick the right person, because nothing in your life will feel right if you've picked the wrong one.

7. Simple stubbornness can take you a long way. …When I graduated, I set out to be a writer, and I became a writer not because of any great gifts. No, I became a writer because I am stubborn enough to believe I can do what I want.

8. You will meet failure. Because you are human beings, you are going to find disappointment, injustice, betrayal, and irreparable loss. You will find you're weak where you thought you were strong. You will experience times when you feel very alone and very afraid. Probably you already have, and you will again. I hope you will be able to live there, in the dark place, to embrace it for the full catastrophe it is, and to wait it out.

10. We live a full catastrophe, and then we die. That means that, in the meantime, we must be honest and true, raw and real, and honor our fundamental connectedness. ….we must believe in curiosity; we must believe in the power of beauty.
I wish I could remember her advice so sharing this story makes me hopeful that I will remember these things when catastrophe hits, again. For now, I know the solace that words and the outdoors can bring. I’m heading out for a hike right now, maybe in moonlight.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Book Review: Unless It Moves the Human Heart

Unless It Moves the Human Heart: The Craft and Art of Writing by Roger Rosenblatt.

I bought this book because I remember riding in an elevator with a woman who just discussed the book during a panel at AWP Conference in Washington DC. She had the book in her hand and was telling someone that the book made her cry because what it taught her was so important. I asked her what the name of the book was and she showed me the cover. A book that moved a woman to tears - I needed to know more. I bought the book a month later and just finished reading it today.

Rosenblatt’s chapters are from his writing class in New York. The best part was the end. I got a bit tired of reading all the dialogue during each chapter, but he did captured my attention on page 10 when he said the writing life practically guarantees writers “rejection, poverty, and failure.” I read and hear this over and over again, yet something continues to draw me to a writer’s life.

In this first section he tells us that he looks at his students and “can’t help but think that something deliberate and stubborn lies behind their decision to make artists of themselves.” (11) Stubborn-ness, a quality I have.

He says, “Writing is the cure for the disease of living.”

This book reminds me that writers have a story to tell and sometimes these stories assign blame and some attempt to explain things the writer can’t really explain. I like this idea and it makes me think of my novel-in-progress and how I write my character’s feelings and there is an element of assigning blame in their thoughts and actions. The characters attempt to explain things that I never really understood. I can’t wait to see what happens next, in this novel I am writing.

The final chapter of Unless It Moves the Human Heart: The Craft and Art of Writing is my favorite: Parting Shots. Rosenblatt writes about his friend Lewis Thomas and how he says at the end of his life he wants to be useful. He would “die content” if he knew he had been useful in his life. The author writes in response:

“for your writing to be great …. It must be useful to the world. And for that to happen you must form an opinion of the world. …And for that to happen you have to live in the world and not pretend it’s not someone else’s world you are writing about…nothing you write will matter unless it moves the human heart, said the poet A.D Hope. And the heart that you must move is corrupt, depraved, and desperate for your love.”(151)
The final words of the book [I just love them and will follow them]: “Both you and the human heart are full of sorrow. But only one of you can speak for that sorrow and ease its burdens and make it sing – word after word after word.”

These are the words that the woman in the elevator must have heard when she was crying.

How to Avoid Mud Season and Hike at 8,000 feet

It is 7am and I’m hiking with my dogs on the trails in Granby. The sun is shining and the dogs are running around happy to be off leash for a while. We are on the trails behind my house and the birds are singing.

I still can’t identify the birds by their call but will by the end of this summer; no matter what.

I’ve been a bit obsessed with the Osprey (see Osprey post) and my biologist-boyfriend saw the first one of the season near Shadow Mountain Lake on Hwy 34. Lucky him.

He promises to show me their nests. He has yet to learn that he will be teaching me bird call identification this summer.

I think of this while hiking on top of the frozen mud and realize that this is the best time of the day to hike in April and May at 8,000 feet. I know once the sun shines for an hour the trail will be a sloppy mess.

So here are my tips to Survive Mud Season in a Mountain Town:
• All hiking and trail running must commence at first light and terminate at 9am.
• In the afternoon, hike and run on paved trails such as the Paved Fraser River Trail from Alco in Fraser to Winter Park Resort. The sun hits the pavement and dries it by noon.
• In the evening, don’t attempt to run or hike on either dirt of paved trails especially if the temperature drops. Dirt trails will be muddy and paved trails will begin to get icy. It’s best to walk on road with cars, they will be the safest.

It is this thawing and freezing that captures my attention this morning. Much like my bike ride last week with my triathlete friend, Kim. She and I biked from Granby to Rocky Mountain National Park; about 30 miles. The sun was out, thank goodness, but the air was cold. It was also windy. The wind is fierce this spring. The wind and cold air froze my toes while riding.

The melting snow made little streams of water in the road and I rode through them. The water on the shoes froze and melted continually during the three hour ride.

Why would anyone want to come to the mountains or stay in the mountains during mud season?

Great question and I have a great answer:

The solitude. It’s so quiet here. The birds and wildlife are moving around. The sage is starting to appear under the weight of snow. It's a beautiful time to live here in Grand County, Colorado.

Remember my hiking tips and you will love the outdoors during a mountain town spring. Plus, there is no waiting in lines at the grocery store or coffee shop {Mountain Grind and Bistro] or waiting to turn left.

Spend your mornings outside and cabin fever will disappear; and you’ll remember why you live here.

Soon you will be chanting: I Love Mud Season, I Love Mud Season.

To view another story I wrote about Mud Season Click Here.
I love Mud Season.
When I first moved to Grand County last year people asked me how I liked living here and I told them I loved it. Then they said, wait until winter, I wasn’t quite sure what that meant.

Now I know. This winter was tough; windy, snowy, cold.
This story written in 2008. Nothing changes much here. We all think winter is tough, windy, snowy and cold.

You can also view this story, How to Have Fun in Mud Season, a story from last year about fishing in Lake Granby.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Birding for Beginners

Walking in the woods to collect my thoughts is a habit I learned in Vermont; perfected in Colorado.

I grew up in a family of athletes. My dad played college basketball. My mom was a phys ed teacher and soccer coach. My sister a high school soccer star. My brother a quarterback. I wasn’t good at any organized sport.
I didn’t get an outdoor education until I moved to the mountains; the northern Maine woods and the Green Mountains in Vermont. I thought I was an outdoor woman because I skied, hiked, and backpacked. I didn't know a thing.

When I did do these things, I didn’t know the type of tree I skied between or the birds singing ing the trees or the animals that scurried past me on the trails or the tracks of wildlife that trammeled by my tent at night.

I did, however, watch my dogs run free, ears flopping but didn’t look for birds, wild flowers or wildlife.

When I lived in northwestern Maine, I’d hike with my friend Brad. The Appalachian Trail was ten miles from his house and we would often hike on it or all the trails near it. Brad would often stop to point out beautiful flowers or walk off trail to look for Trillium. I would get aggravated that our hikes would take longer for all his stops. I wanted to get to the top of the peak for the amazing view and sense of accomplishment. I was always in a rush to get to the top and, then, to get home. Not that I had anything pressing to do at home, I just wanted to hike, bag a peak, and then get back. I missed so mucy.

However, I do remember the flowers the beautiful pink or purple Trillium he pointed out; and perhaps can still identify today.

A year or two later, after living in Vermont and hiking with my lab, Abbey, I got to know the same trail in every season, for two seasons. I still couldn't name tree and flowers and birds, but I watched. Every day and every season, I watched.

I don’t know if this lack of learning is biological, generational or environmental. I have so many interests and want to do everything perhaps part of the problem. The phrase ’kill two birds with one stone’ in my world includes a long run with the dogs or talking on the phone as I drive to work, not hiking on a trail and trying to identify the bird in the tree by their song.

I got my first bird education at the Christmas Bird count in Granby, Colorado a few years ago. I counted  Ravens, Stellar Jays, Mountain Chickadees, Black Capped Chickadees, White Breasted Nuthatch, and Rosy Finches.

I remember a line from the book The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon: “Scrutinizing – touching what you are looking at with your eyes – you run all over the valley and look in on things that couldn’t see you looking, for what it was out there that you didn’t know and needed to know – scrutinizing people, the world, for the best story, for the truth.”

This is what I do now. I'm slowing down, looking for birds, learning about the outdoor world. I now feel like I'm more of an outdoor woman because I can identify the black capped chickadees in my feeder; maybe next year I’ll learn another one.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Writing and Learning About Place: David Gessner Groupie

I can’t remember the exact sequence of events how I discovered David Gessner and his book, Under the Devil’s Thumb.

I think I read he was presenting a nature writing topic at the AWP Conference in Denver in 2010. Since I thought I “lived under the Devils Thumb” here in Granby, I bought his book to read before listening to his panel.

When I saw him in Denver, he certainly knew how to make an impression. When he was introduced and spoke into the microphone he beat his chest like a caveman. I don’t remember what he said, but I remembered him.

A year later, I saw his name on a panel at the 2011 AWP Conference in Washington DC. I signed up. I brought Under the Devil’s Thumb for him to sign but was too afraid to approach him. (The same with Pam Houston. I become star-struck near published writers.)

Tonight, I finished reading Under the Devil’s Thumb.

East coast born, moved west, and now he lives back on the east coast. I understand his displacement and wanting to know a place well. I’ve lived in Colorado for eight years and finally feel like I know a little more about the place. Gessner says that his story is about “the healing that can come through falling in love with where we live.” Like Gessner, I left many things behind and wanted to live out our national myth, for renewal and regeneration. And, “take my cure in the mountains.”

I wish I could describe the Stellar and Gray Jays he sees on his hikes and the creeks and streams he meditates near. He falls in love with the Continental Divide, the history of Colorado, the trails, this place. Hmm. Sounds familiar.

In his book he quotes my favorites: Thoreau, Stegner, Helen Hunt Jackson, Saner.

He rides his bike, hikes, and camps all around Boulder. He has a cat named Tabernash.

My favorite line from his book:

These are my pleasures as well.
“The jittery feeling after a run, the slight euphoria following the first drink, the quiet of walking by the creek, the mind-emptying joys of a bike ride, the eye-closing pleasure of devouring a great meal, the occasional out-of-self absorption when the writing is going as good as it can…” (75)

Today, I felt blah and unmotivated to write. I was discouraged by the writing life, until I finished reading his book. I am inspired again.

Why do we write? Why do any of us feel compelled to write the stuff of our lives?

I write because it matters. It matters.

I write to feel alive.

I hear or remember a story. I want to tell the world about it. I need to put pen to paper (or finger tips to keyboard) and tell the world what I’m thinking. In that process I make meaning of my life.

It is a yearning for connection. The yearning to hear someone say: “Yes, Yes, I know what you are feeling.” Much like I felt reading, Under the Devil’s Thumb.

Sometime I write about what devours me: sadness, love, pain, want.

Sometime I write about how I wished things turned out.

Sometimes I just write.

Sometimes magic happens.

I think that I will be a Gessner Groupie and read everything he’s written. He has much wisdom about place and landscape. I have a lot to learn.

“I’m afraid I am a polygamist of place. This worries me. Is a man with two homes doubly blessed? Or is he homeless?” (204)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Granby Town Lights

Originally Published in  Rough Writers, Inc Literary Magazine2008

“All the world was shining from those hills, The stars above and the lights below. Among those there to test their fortunes and their wills I lost track of the score long ago.”  – Jackson Browne Barricades of Heaven

It is 9:00 on a cold, windy January night. I am driving north on Route 40, coming home from work in Fraser. I descend Red Dirt Hill as the snow squalls twirl on the black road in my headlights. I come around the final curve and see the lights of Granby in the distance; the twinkling lights are like beacons, and I smile. Every night this happens.

Descending into Granby and seeing the lights remind me of my first night in Colorado in 1988. I was seventeen and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life except be in the west. All my friends were preparing for their first year of college while I flew west to Denver for a hiking trip through the Rocky Mountains with people I didn’t know. I was excited, scared, happy, and didn’t know what to expect around every turn.

I met the other group members at the Denver airport and we drove north to Estes Park. We arrived at night and I was tired from an early morning flight from Boston and ready for bed. A sign on the road to Estes Park made me questions my decision to do this trip: “climb to safety in case of flash flood”. But it all vanished the moment we turned a curve in the road and the sight made my heart race and eyes fill with the tears of extreme emotion. We were coming into a valley of lights; it was like coming into a new kind of paradise for the first time. The lights were welcoming me; calling me closer. I’d never seen a valley like this; the lights sprinkled the lower valley and canyons walls. I was 2,000 miles from home and never wanted to leave.

It is this same sense of overwhelming beauty and wildness I feel as I drive home in the evening; coming home. Home – I feel at home here, more than anywhere I’ve ever lived. I moved to Granby not knowing anyone or anything about the town except the demographics from a website; much like the hiking trip through the Rocky Mountains. The lights of Granby remind me of that sense of adventure and desire to learn about a new place. The lights remind me of a Walt Whitman poem, Bivouac on a Mountain Side

Below a fertile valley spread, with bars and the
Orchards of summer,
Behind, the terraced sides of a mountain, abrupt,
In places rising high,
Broken with rocks, with clinging cedars, with
Tall shapes dingily seen
And over all the sky – the sky! Far, far out of reach,
Studded, breaking out, the eternal stars
All these sights and sounds in Granby remind me of the confusion and excitement of the search for where I want to be. And, they turn me back into that seventeen year old girl with her backpack and hiking boot in the trunk of the car, looking for new adventures in the west.

I am comforted by the Granby Town Lights.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Appalachia, White Mountains, and Dreams

Last month when I was back east for a conference (Washington, DC), I bought the journal, Applalachia, at the Barnes and Noble in Bethesda.

I hadn’t been in a Barnes and Noble in years so I slowly walked through my favorite sections: New Non Fiction, scowling at the popular reality show characters who actually get books published. I smiled at the great titles of new memoirs and their no-name authors who scored book deals. If I had all the money in the world, I would have bought those beautiful hard-cover memoirs and literary fiction with great titles and beautiful covers.

I continued to the sports section looking for triathlon books that I needed to read, ending in the magazine section. I looked for literary journals and magazines about the writing life. I picked up a British triathlon magazine I’d never heard of and in the outdoor section saw the journal, Applachia.

Appalachia is “American’s Longest-Running Journal of Mountaineering and Conservation" according to the cover. It is an AMC book and I had never read it. When I lived in New Hampshire I was an AMC member and every month got the magazine, but never got the journal. I skimmed a few pages and kept seeing "White Mountains" and photos of mountain tops I've been on and knew I needed to buy it.

I didn’t read it on the plane home. I waited until I got home so I could savor every word that was written about hiking in the White Moutains. I wanted to read every article slowly and remember the time spent in the woods and mountain peaks of New Hampshire and Maine.

The cover photo of the Winter/Spring 2011 edition is taken from a logging camp to the north of Owl’s Head, a 4,000 foot peak that I never got to. But I swear, if that photo was in a different magazine or somewhere on the internet unnamed, I could tell it was taken in the White Mountains.

I’m feeling a bit nostalgic today and reading the first lines of Pemigewasset Dreams by Jonathan Mingle, I start thinking about the Pemigewasset wilderness and the time I spent wandering its trails. Those two words together are magical to me today: Pemigewasset and Dreams. His story starts: “I am walking through Zealand Notch, south toward Thoreau Falls.” I’m there. I want to be there. The second paragraph keeps me reading: “But the forest disrobed offers me a chance to scan for signs of the cataclysm, so I do.” He is wandering the valley in winter admiring a reborn forest after decades of logging.

He says the place names that marked my world so long ago such as Carrigan, Zeacliff, Zealand Falls Hut, Mount Tom, and Pemigewasset.

Reading the story, I think about how little wandering in the woods I’ve done this winter. I’ve skied and hiked short trips with the dogs. No long skis on the trails in Winter Park and no long hikes up the mountain behind my house. I am feeling that I am missing winter and bemoaning the cold; very uncharacteristic of me.

Today, I will go out my front door, dogs on leash, and wander around a bit more before the afternoon of triathlon training. Today, I will spend more time outside than inside. It’s a beautiful day on the western slope, blue sky, temperatures hovering in the 30s. Earlier this morning as I write, like William Stafford did, "before first light" that I am living my dream. All this time I thought my dream was Montana, but it really is Colorado.

For now, the Rocky Mountains are my dream and I will wander its valley and mountain peaks. 
I’ll get back to the Whites and the Pemi and Owl’s Head, some day. It’s part of my history. And, it will be part of my future.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

How to Be a Hockey Fan

I went to an Colorado Avalanche game last week and fell in love with hockey again.

You see, I used to be a sports fan. In my early teens I watched the NY Yankees and Pittsburgh Steelers. I ate Reggie candy bars and had a crush on Terry Bradshaw.

As I got older I started going to Plattsburgh State Men's Ice Hockey games with my middle school friends. I liked the player who wore #6; and can’t remember his name. But I followed him for a year or so until I moved to New Hampshire and started watching college and pro basketball.

My favorites players were Patrick Ewing at Georgetown and Dr. J (#6) with the 76ers.

My junior year in high school I went to my first Bruins game and started liking #6 - Gord Kluzak. I took friends to as many games as I could that year. I bought a Kluzak jersey and wore it all the time. [I let a friend borrow the jersey for a Halloween costume, and never got it back.]

Shortly before high school graduation I discovered the outdoor world and started skiing and hiking.

The sports watching stopped.

I even dated a man who had to watch SportCenter on ESPN every night before going to sleep, and still, it didn’t get me back into sports. I vaguely remember the silliness of the sportscasters and wonder if they still have funny broadcasts of the day’s sports stories.

Last week I went to an Avs game. Going to the game was a birthday present for my like-minded boyfriend: we agree that it is fun to watch a professional sports game in person, but we wouldn’t watch it on TV. We went down to the ice during practice and I watched the Edmonton Oilers warm up. I saw #27 Penner and he reminded me of Kluzak, tall, scruffy, tough. During the first period he scored the first goal.
 I am officially a sports fan again. I enjoy following a player I like; it makes watching sports more fun. I have a propensity to have crushes on tall, tough, men with the number 6 on their back. [how old am I?]

I started following Edmonton on Twitter and Facebook.

Days later, Penner is traded to LA.

I become an LA Kings fan. I’m hooked.

I might even start watching SportCenter.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A sense of place is a feeling you get when you feel like you belong somewhere; where you love and feel comfortable. Maybe it is where you experienced the best years of their life. The place gives a feeling of belonging.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Sense of Where We Were; Writing about where we choose to live

Since returning from the AWP conference in Washington DC, I have so many ways to improve my story collection that I’m trying to find a publisher for. The story I’ve been working on this week is called, Granby Colorado, Stories from 8,000.

The panel that influenced me the most was called A Sense of Where We Were: Nonfiction Writers on Setting. I really enjoyed listening to Bob Cowser and Kristen Iversen.

Cowser grew up in rural west Tennessee and wrote about this place in his book, Scorekeeping. He told us that he started writing about the history of this place from the town information in the phone book.
He gave me some ideas on how to rework my Granby essay using historical facts and not just writing about my own impressions of a place.

So here are the first few paragraphs of a revised Granby Story, still a work-in-progress.

Dr. Susan Anderson arrived in Fraser in 1907 "Train Number One" of the Northwestern & Pacific Railway at the Moffat Road Station. She crossed the Continental Divide at 11,660 feet, at the time the only way to get to Grand County in the winter months. She ended up staying for fifty years. Initially she had to prove herself at a doctor over and over to locals and arriving to see patients on snowshoes and in snowstorms. Her patients were lumberjacks, railroad men and women who needed medical care.

One hundred years later, I arrived in Grand County from the north via highway 40 in my 2001 Subaru.

Grand County is named after Grand Lake and the Grand River, the first name given for the Colorado River with its headwaters on the western slope of Rocky Mountain National Park. Granby, the town I live in is 7,939 feet above sea level. Latitude: 40.09 N, Longitude: 105.94 W

Grand County’s rugged terrain is much different from its surrounding counties most likely due to extreme temperatures and wind. Despite all of the extremes I encounter my first year, I surprise myself and fall in love with this place.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Books I like to Read

Alice Walker - the old stand by of how to live and how to write.
Marc Reisner - Cadillac Desert - a class book on living western and western water issues
Anything by Alice Munro - the ultimate short story writer and writing about the most ordinary subjects
Natalie Goldberg - one of her writing prompts in Old Friend from Far Away: Write your life story in 10 minutes. It's amazing what you write about when limited by time; you cut to the chase quickly. It makes you remember what is important and what events have shaped you.
When Raccoons Fall Through Your Ceiling -  a handbook for living with wildlife and a must read.

But the best book, my third favorite book after Angle of Repose (Stegner) and Gone With the Wind, Cowboys are My Weakness by Pam Houston. My favorite story in the book, Jackson is Only One of My Dogs. You should read it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Outdoor Life and Profound Experiences

What life experiences stand out as profound, unusual, or turning points? A great question; one that prompted me to write my book of stories about living in mountain towns.

My first hike was in 1988 when my boyfriend at the time took me on an overnight hike to Mount Lafayette in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I’ve written so many stories from many different perspectives about that first pivotal hike. It changed my life. Once I hiked that first peak, I wanted to hike every peak I saw in the distance. Those days I was running from everything, but hiking a high peak made me feel like I was accomplishing something. I knew that I would be climbing mountains for a very long time. I loved the work it took to get to the top of a mountain.

I loved the views once I got there, that maybe only a few people saw. I loved the companionship of hiking with a friend and the ensuing conversation on the way to the magnificent view. I love the flora and the fauna and the wildlife, I sometimes encountered.

The second profound moment of my life was driving out west, to Colorado; just me, my dog and the open road. I wanted to be a westerner since I was 17 and at 33, I became one. I wanted to know everything about being a westerner: the landscape, its pioneers, its natives, its artists. I fell in love with the landscape, the pioneer history, and the artists of Colorado. I love the adventurous spirit of the people who choose to make a mountain landscape their home.

There are more stories to share and to write; most of the good stories happened when I opened myself up to each experience and just let things happen. Most of them happened while outdoors, or participating in outdoor experiences like hiking, biking, running or skiing. It’s a good life; this outdoor life in the mountains.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ice Skating, Hockey, and a Winter Place

When you grow up in an outdoor place, snow and ice sports are your existence in winter. I grew up in Plattsburgh, New York, just miles from the Canada border. Some call it “upstate”, some call it “the north country”. I love all those names.

I remember snow storms that never ended, playing in snowplowed snow piles, and ice skating. We weren’t a skiing family, in winter we sledded and ice skated.

When I got older I took ice skating lessons at SUNY Plattsburgh's ice rink. I learned how to do figure eights on one skate, how to do a sit spin, and other fancy tricks. I even had a cute little ice skating skirt.

It's a good place to be from; a good place to remember.

FVHA Youth Practice

I’ve always wanted to get back to ice skating and wanted to learn how to play hockey. I just may be able to now that the Fraser Rec Center completed their rink.

The ice rink opened in December 2010.

At the Fraser Valley Sports Complex in Fraser, Colorado there is a 40 acre park just a mile outside of downtown Fraser on county road 5. The ice rink is partially enclosed and it’s NHL sized. I think I might just start skating again.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Snow Day on the Fraser River

All Winter Long the Willows Wait by Aleksandra Lachut

All winter long the willows wait,
Nor more nor less than willing,
Glad to be, but just a bit
Entropic in their chilling.
Life longs ever for rebirth,
Awake to its long sleep,
As willows need their leaves for breath

The Fraser River, on a snow day, today, in Fraser, Colorado.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

"I never intended to have this life"

I never intended to have this life, believe me-
It just happened. You know how dogs turn up
At a farm, and they wag but can’t explain.
-The Resemblance Between Your Life and a Dog by Robert Bly

No, I didn’t intend to have the life I have. But do any of us, really? I always thought I’d be living in northwest Montana; maybe someday I will. I love these lines from Robert Bly.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Writer in Residence; A Poem

With a flick of a gloved hand
a dusting of snow sprays off the green picnic table
that comes with a view of the craggy peaks
of the Rocky Mountains
And at this movement
become writer in residence
On top of East Peak

a new tradition for the holidays
a hike to East Mountain with my dogs
pen and paper
commemorate the tradition
give thanks

While sitting atop the world
watching the landscape
red lodgepole pines, Fraser River Canyon, Continental Divide
sage, wildflowers - buried under snow

And, as writer in residence
there is always a place
to be

KL 1/7/11

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fraser River Project

The next three months I’m dedicating time and energy to learning everything I can about the Fraser River.

I want to know everything and understand everything about the river: it’s origins, water diversion history and potential new projects, the organizations that protect it, the people who love it and play in it.

Three months.

Do you know someone who has a great story to tell?

Are you an advocate for saving this river?

Tell me your story. Tell me what the Fraser River means to you.

Over the next three months I’ll be taking pictures of it: at different locations, at different times of the day, just to watch it, to have it part of my life, to understand it, to save it.

Email me and tell me your story or send me your pictures; it’s important

Sunday, January 2, 2011

"where people love him and will happy to see his face"

Lake Wobegon Days. "Some luck lies in not getting what you want, but getting what you have. which when you think about it, it is what you would have wanted all along had you known..he starts out on the short walk to the house where people love him and will happy to see his face.”

I love this book, I love this quote.

I read this book in 1988 as I travelled through Wyoming and Montana. I find that over the years this quote still holds true. After all my travels all over the world and this country, there is still nothing better than walking into a house where people love you and are happy to see you; perhaps after many years away, a few months, or even just a few days.

But the first line, “Some luck lies in not getting what you want, but getting what you have” and maybe re-reading it again, just a few days after the new year which makes me feel a bit more reflective and a little more sentimental, gets me everytime.

"Some luck lies in not getting what you want, but getting what you have”

When I re-read this quote, I think about Wyoming and Montana, two places where I thought I would live, but never made it.

Some day, maybe.

For now, this outdoor place is enough for me. I get to walk out my door to trails: skiing, hiking, and biking trails. It’s a good place to live. Sometimes, that is all we need to know.

Happy New Year