Thursday, October 27, 2005

last weekend

me & Dave
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
this past weekend, i was lucky enough to 'escape' to Estes Park for a visit with two of my favorite people in the world.

i drove up Sunday after recuperated from the previous day's trauma of chores. we visited for several hours; Nancy and i took etra time to refine a couple plans we have for world domination and early admission to the Fortune 500. i must point out how well Dave tolerated us. eventually we headed into town to eat at a local Mexican joint that makes quite excellent BBQ ribs. yes, i know that doesn't make sense. what really does in Estes Park? it is a town that is best enjoyed with sturdy suspension of disbelief. next time, i think i will try the artichoke dip-ride the paradox, i say, all the way to the wall. a little tour of the local galleries and organic coffee shop and then back to the house. Dave and Nancy had arranged for me to stay at the neighbor's; it is a second home and quite a blend of antique and contemporaneous bric-a-brac.

it was still dark Monday when i woke. we had plans to head into the Park early for a nice hike and miss the traffic. the stars were spectacular, Orion's Belt heavy with tools. i must confess to some trepidation as i made my way between the houses. Dave and Nancy have regular visits from at least one somewhat pugnacious bear, a fact i remembered most clearly as i rounded the corner of the house. lucky for me, the bears were either sleeping or 'shopping' at another house.

the drive to the trailhead was peaceful, the gawpish tourists still tucked in their beds. it was brisk (~45F) when we reached the trailhead but the sun hadn't quite finished rising. we decided to brave the potential cold and quite evident winds for a chance to see Mills Lake together before the snows close it. as you can tell by my huge grin, the hike was an absolute delight.

we enjoyed a few photo ops at Alberta Falls and curved along many spectacular vistas on the way up. snow occasionally dotted the landscape and winds cut with unexpected vigor into the shadows. happily, we encountered little ice on the way. actually, the trip seemed almost no work at all in spite of being steep in spots. this i attribute to the excellent company.

Mills Lake was quite stunning and only partially frozen. impressively, as we neared the lake, the temperature plummeted from the 40s right into the 20s. there was little wind at the lake and silence settled around us as often happens in the cold. even the Keyboard of the Winds was silent. as usual, Dave and Nancy had everything under control. coffee, nuts, chocolate and camaraderie- the perfect mix to fight off a chill.

still, all things must bow before Mother Nature and eventually we were forced back down the mountain. not long before we were driven from the lake, we were joined by several endearing ragamuffins, angling for bits of our snack. good hikers that we are, we hardened our hearts and turned away. not that it hurt them any-this guy looked chubby enough to have trouble with take-off and landing!

after that, it was back to town for our reward- a delicious breakfast and thick hot coffee. then home for me in time to really put in some work on my grant. the thing is finally taking shape-perhaps i may yet end the 'perpetual student' phase of my life.

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