Wednesday, July 27, 2005

i love denver.

Is it really the end of July? Can it be June 27 again?  I donít know how the summer has flown by so quickly.  Between all of the work, hiking, leadership and relationship lectures, reading, driving, and relaxing, Iíve realized what a blessing it is to be out here.  Thatís why weíre excited for the rest of our time here.  We have so much that we want to do yet! (If you are wondering what that is, check out Jillís last post) 

Yesterday, two car-fulls of us headed to Denver, one of our favorite places to go on our days off.  Itís about an hour and a half to downtown, and the drive is spectacular (I think all of us still want to live there, at least I know I do). After enjoying a delectable breakfast from McDonalds in Winter Park, we made the drive to Denver, jamming to Jackson 5 and Jars of Clay through the Berthoud Pass.  Our plans for the day included:

Shopping at REI
Dropping Sarah off at the airport (She went home for a concert and to see her family for a few days!)
Go to Eliseís house in Aurora, a suburb of Denver

We arrived at REI before it opened, so we took a ton of pictures on the nearby bridge and hit up the coolest Starbucks in the world.  I donít think Iíve laughed so hard in a long time.

In case you are wondering, this is the set picture for the next hit drama on the WB, entitled Snow Mountain.  Talk to Devin if you would like a description of each of the characters. 

Just as an aside, REI is the absolute best store to spend time at—hands down.  Itís a love-hate relationship for me, though.  I go there because they have anything you need for camping, hiking, biking, and other recreational activities; however, you can easily bust your wallet.  You canít go to Denver without going there. 

At Eliseís house, we had the comfort of spending time in a real home.  We havenít sat at a real kitchen table, ate real food, or walked on real vacuumed carpet since the end of May.  Oh, she has a trampoline too.  How fun is that?

After spending some time at a mall and getting some other miscellaneous things at Target, we drove back.  It was very foggy, but in reality, we were practically in the clouds. It was beautiful.

Reba just turned twenty-two, and we celebrated her birthday with cake and ice cream yesterday.  The staff talent show is today as well, so may of us who are participating had a dress rehearsal last night.  Hopefully the guests attend and marvel at the wondrous talent of the Snow Mountain staff!

Posted by Jeremy V. on 07/27 at 12:01 PM
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Monday, July 25, 2005

winding down.

It’s difficult to believe that after this evening’s talk from Chaplain Cooper, we’ll only have two more speakers coming. This summer has flown by! We’ve certainly done a lot of cool stuff out here, but as busy as we are, we haven’t come near to accomplishing all we want to. Over the past week some of us developed a list of the things we want to do before our departure from the beautiful Colorado Rockies. Among the tasks:
Climb a Fourteener Go horseback riding Go mountain biking Hike Devil’s Thumb Visit Rocky Mountain National Park (only 30 minutes down the road!)

These are just a few of the activities we have planned—lots to do and so little time! But even though it took several hours of planning, with work schedules and hike guidebooks in tow, we have dates chosen for Devil’s Thumb, mountain biking, and multiple fourtneener hikes! The next few weeks should be amazing.

In addition to all we have planned, we’ve had a lot going on the past few weeks (hence no blog updates!) We had the pleasure of hearing from Professor James VandenBosch, who, being the stellar English prof that he is, seamlessly incorporated various styles of poetry into both of his lectures. One night I headed into the National Park with Professor VB, his daughter Christina (a fellow LCI participant), and two other friends. I have never seen so many wild animals in my life! Not to mention an amazing sunset.

Later that week we all headed off SMR property for our respective LCI Men’s and Women’s retreats. The guys headed all the way through the National Park while the ladies camped at Willow Creek, near Lake Granby. It was an awesome time for all, especially when we met up the next day for pizza!

Last week we were blessed to hear from Biology professor Joy Bonnema—what an amazing time we had with her! Her lectures were funny and moving and it was so great getting to know her. Plus her daughter Meikea was such a hoot! One night a few of us went into Grand Lake to bowl and have ice cream—needless to say the 6 year old blondie enjoyed that night!

This week should be great as we are hearing from Chaplain Cooper and the Denver area Alumni Chapter is coming up to SMR on Saturday for a day of fun.  But like I said before, time here is winding down—so I think I’ll sign off for now.

Posted by Jill D. on 07/25 at 04:42 PM
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Sunday, July 10, 2005

hands and knees.

This past Thursday, a few of us had the afternoon off of work, and some had the day off altogether.  Taking advantage of the spectacular 75 degree sunny weather, we decided to hike.  At Snow Mountain Ranch there are only three main hikes: Five Peaks, Nine Mile, and Waterfall.  So naturally, we wanted to expand our horizons.  Thankfully, Rick Zomer, Associate Dean of Residence Life and director of LCI, was here again last week, and he told us about an exciting hike. 

“This book I have says that there’s a moderate hike near Winter Park.  It gains 900 feet in elevation over 3/4 of a mile.”

Much to our surprise, the Programs Department at SMR knew nothing of the hike.  The trail book said to park off of Berthod Pass and start hiking near an orange “Avalance Warning” sign.  At least we didn’t have to worry about avalanches during the summer.  Berthod Pass connects Snow Mountain Ranch to Highway 70, the main highway out of Denver.  It winds through the mountains, and is high in elevation.  We all agreed that a 900 feet elevation gain from this starting point would allow for a spectacular view.  After we parked our cars and headed up the trail, we soon realized that this was no normal trail.  It was far from a moderate hike.  On our hands and knees, we planned each step, ensuring that no rocks would lose their place and careen down the slope.  We couldn’t believe where we were. 

“Oh my gosh you guys,” Jill exclaimed.  “This is not cool.”

In the exhiliration, disbelief, and fear of the moment, we kept climbing until we reached the top.  This forty-five minute hike turned into an hour and a half crawl up a slope meant for far more serious equipment than hands and feet. 

“Anyone have any ropes?” Amanda jokingly remarked about the seriousness of the climb.  “I cannot believe we just climbed that.”  That was the first time during the whole hike that we took the situation lightly. 

Looking down the rocky slope, we realized how difficult the ascent was.  Either the rocky climb was not part of the trail, or Rick Zomer’s hiking book told a huge lie about its difficultly.  After sitting down for a while, we prepared ourself for the climb down.  This time, however, we zig-zagged through the woods on the other side of the mountain toward the road.  Who knows what our descent would look like if those woods weren’t there.  We refused to go down the same way we came up.  I’ll be the first to say that the hike back down was much easier. 

I think Amanda summed up the hike nicely:  “If you don’t like someone, you definitely need to bring them on this hike.”
.... No, not to lose them on the way up (as we joked about later on), but to experience some true team bonding.  This is one hike we won’t soon forget. 

Oh, and by the way, the pictures make it look much easier!

Posted by Jeremy V. on 07/10 at 01:18 AM
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