Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thurs, July 31, 2008: What is "adventurous"?

Ever since moving to Colorado, I have given a lot of thought to what people out here consider to be adventurous. There appears to be some sort of accepted state-wide definition that you either fit or you don't. It seems to me that in order to be considered adventurous by Coloradans, you must be involved in athletic feats that involve heights, speed, or heights. Or speed. Examples of this include rock climbing, jumping out of airplanes, riding a motorcycle, and repeatedly biking up and down mountains into oncoming traffic.

I'm afraid of heights and excessive speeds - so what does this make me?

I recognize that this is a generalization of the many different types of people who live out here, but I have found it to be true often enough that it tickles my funny bone. The thing that I find interesting about the idea is that I do think myself to be adventurous, just not necessarily in that way. I'm not an adrenaline junkie, but I have made some pretty intense life changing decisions. Dropping my "real life" for two summers to live in a tent is one of those, and leaving Connecticut to come to Colorado is another. For me, that is a huge adventure. For me, that is embracing the adventure that is life, and all of the ripples that lap at me as a result.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Uprooting: Where it Begins

Hello. :) That seems like a good way to start.

Another good way to start seems to be the beginning of my adventures over the past year, the spark that started it all... my online relationship. It's funny how life is a steady chain of event after event, each one leading to the next; in order to explain the situation I find myself jumping in to the middle of the chain, leaving out the things that came before but able to follow the events forward. We met while raiding in World of Warcraft - he ended up as the rogue tank more times than he should have, and I played the crazy resto druid who pulled him through his crazy situations. It was a pretty fun time, seeing each other at the top of the damage and healing meters, and we became an infamous couple of sorts among our friends and guildmates (and not necessarily in a good way - I later learned that a good number of my friends thought he was a complete jerk and a waste of time).

Our relationship progressed toward something more normal and less abstract: phone calls every day, trips across the country to visit, and finally lead to a discussion of me relocating to Colorado to complete my school psychology internship. I grew up hearing of Colorado from my father, who came out here in the 80's to take some computer classes in Boulder, and if there was anywhere I would consider moving to in this country, it was Colorado. I agreed to move.

This blog is the story of my life after having made that decision. As I wrote about the events of my life, I did my best to keep things upbeat, to focus on the positive, to hold at bay the terrifyingly overwhelming feelings of sorrow and disappointment that threatened to overturn my world.

These are my words.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sat, July 26, 2008: Buffalo Bill and Boulder Creek

Howdy y'all from the Olde Weste. This weekend the lovely people of Golden are celebrating Buffalo Bill Days! The celebration involves lots of free Coors beer (which seems to later end up decorating the road), live music and vendors spread out across a couple of our parks, and people dressing up like cowboys... which I guess kind of happens every day too.

There was a neat little parade on Saturday morning, which I woke up waaaaay too early to see with one of my co-ice-cream-scoopers.Afterward, I left the cowboy days behind and headed up to Boulder to go tubing with some friends. It was the most amazing tubing I have ever done, and if you ever get a chance I would highly recommend it. In Connecticut, the river we used to tube in (Farmington River) was pretty wide and fairly flat, with some areas of rapids. Overall, the elevation didn't change a whole lot. In Boulder Creek, which is apparently low this time of year, the water gushed through narrow channels and waterfalls that fell a good 3-4 feet. The best part about it was how often the waterfalls occurred. It was like: aah, a nice little flattish spot, AAH another waterfall! aah, flat... AAH waterfall!! I pretty much screamed like a little girl over every one and wiped out twice: once while going over a waterfall and once while just standing there with my tube waiting for others to catch up with me. Yeah, I'm just that good. :)

While crossing under a bridge, I crossed a group of what looked to be college guys sitting by the stream and cheering at people as they passed. We exchanged greetings, and one of the guys said, "you're beautiful!" I just smiled, and he and his friend started singing a song to me that I didn't recognize. It was pretty goofy and that on top of the giddiness of the waterfalls made me giggle, the sound echoing against the bridge. The water was carrying me very slowly at this point, so I spent many awkward moments slowly drifting past them... so... slowly....

The funniest part about the day, even better than my slow motion wipeout or watching a cowboy parade, was trying to walk down Pearl Street (that's like the main street of Boulder) with my friends, in my bathing suit with a ginormous yellow tube around my waist. Good stuff.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fri, July 18 to Sun, July 20, 2008: Clear Creek Reservoir

((Last night, my cat jumped onto her kitty tower, which crashed into the window screen, bowing it out on one side. She either jumped or fell through the hole created by the bowed screen, and I woke up this morning for the first time in almost a year without her sticking her whiskery face in my sleeping one. I'm terrified that I'm not going to find this vibrant, lovable member of my little Colorado family, and my search efforts today have thus far turned up nothing. I'm hoping that perhaps I can find her once the sun goes down.... Please keep your fingers crossed for me if you wish, and for her - I hope that she makes it home safely.

I've been feeling a great sense of loss and losing things this year, as I have shared many times in this blog: losing a relationship, losing my job, the ending of my lease on my apartment... and now my cat?! Honestly... I'm beginning to wonder at the universe's methods of conveying messages. The relationship I dealt with, the job I'm dealing with, but my cat? She is an irreplaceable part of my family, and one kind enough to let me hold her and pet her while I've been crying about the other stuff (though usually with a look that tells me I'm in trouble if I get any tears on her!). I can't understand what the purpose of my cat escaping is, and why it's happening right now in my life. I want to just throw open my arms to the sky and yell, "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME????))

* * * *

Hooray, I went on my first Colorado camping trip this weekend!!

I headed up caravan-style with two of my friends, their baby, and their 2 dogs (which is why there was no room in the car for me!), and it was strange following somebody out into the places I usually explore on my own. We camped near Clear Creek Reservoir, which is off Rt. 24 and had a lovely dirt road for me to travel.

The first day, we made camp about halfway up the road, in a hilly little area dotted with pine trees. The camp had a beautiful view of a long waterfall rushing down a mountain, and in the background we could hear the river below us.We passed a peaceful night, punctuated by the arrival of another couple in our group, a wood gathering session, and everyone having to scooch our sleeping bags when we rolled over since we all seemed to be sleeping on slight hills. At least, I thought it was peaceful until my friend informed me that she woke up to the sounds of gunshots from the next campsite...!

The next morning, the third couple of our group drove into our campsite, saying that they arrived the night before and found a fantastic place to camp. We all took the poles out of our tents and stuffed the tents into our cars without even packing. This seemed somewhat more logical than our original plan, which was to stack all three tents on top of the truck and watch as they flew off. :)

They were right... the second campsite was GREAT!! I pitched my tent about 10 yards from the river, which went right past our site.From the firepit in the middle of the site, we had views of the mountains on both sides of us.The weather was perfect, though pretty cold at night. I told my friends how psyched I was to spread my stuff out all over my giant tent; they informed me that I would be less psyched when I had nobody to cuddle with to keep warm during the night (they were right, of course... although it was sooooo nice to have all my own space...).

We relaxed most of the time we were there, and went for two hikes. On Saturday, we just traveled down the main road.On Sunday, we headed toward Winfield, an old mining town of about 1,500 people during the gold and silver rush a hundred years ago. It was really cool!!Along the way, we saw this house that was built right at the bottom of a giant avalanche chute. This is why you should not build your house at the bottom of a giant avalanche chute:The greatest mystery is why the toilet ended up in *front* of the foundation, while everything else was swept away behind it.

The town of Winfield was very cool, though there were only about 7 buildings standing. We could see the bare peaks of many mountains surrounding us, and it was amazing to see them up close and so still (as I am usually driving through/past/around them).The trip was wonderful and relaxing, and it was so great having other people to explore things with - not only that, but to be able to explore them on foot instead of in my car! I ate some different stuff (buffalo meat and fresh caught rainbow trout - yum!!), woke up in the middle of the night and screamed "HELP!" because I thought my tent was washing down the river, and somehow managed to escape without a single bug bite (there were TONS of flies and mosquitoes).

For some reason, although I was with 3 couples, I didn't even take notice of their relationship status. It didn't phase me to sleep alone or prepare the food I'd brought on my own. The thing that did get me was hearing them talk about the things they were looking forward to doing when they got home, though my plan of curling up and watching a movie sounds pretty good to me. :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sun, July 13, 2008: Cheeseman Reservoir

Things out here have the strangest names....

Today I headed out to Cheeseman Reservoir, which is located completely in the middle of nowhere. There is no way to reach it except for a narrow and windy dirt road (my favorite!). Here is a map of my travels today:One of the first things that I noticed as I bumped down the road toward the water is that the hillsides were covered by spindley bare tree trunks and not much else.These past few weeks seem to be full of wildflowers for me, and today was no exception. The sunlight was able to bathe the hillsides in a way that would not have been possible if the trees weren't burnt to a crisp. It seemed that everywhere I looked my eyes were greeted with the beautiful textures and colors of opportunistic plants.

The resevoir was fairly large, but only a small portion of it was open to the public. The water was wonderful and soothing. I'd hoped to wade around a bit in it, but there were signs posted everywhere stating that no part of my body should ever touch the water. Aye aye, cap'n. *salutes*
Boats are forbidden as well, and the only sounds were the lapping of tiny lake waves against the shore mingled with the distant conversations and laughter of fishermen and their families.

This next picture presents the strangest juxtaposition that I have seen thus far in all of my travels of the West: yucca, a succulent that only lives in dry climates, flourishing beside a massive body of water.
The resevoir itself seemed to be living in a bed of sand, and I couldn't get over the shoreline. It looked like dry piles of cemented earth.
I did something that I do not usually do during my trips: I wandered on foot. I walked all along the edge of the water, soaking up the feeling of the sun on my skin, the sand sliding into my flip flops, and the sounds of the water below me. It felt wonderful.

The second part of my trip involved following NF-211 (a National Forest road) through the mountains and back to some semblance of civilization. The farther I drove, the more amazed I became by how much land had been devistated by the fire. I wondered if it was a controlled burn to encourage new growth, an accident, or an act of nature. Somehow only one of those seemed right to me... (trees seem to have done pretty well for themselves for hundreds of thousands of years. Can we say the same for ourselves?).

I was amazed to recognize Pike's Peak over the hillsides.A beautiful rock formation loomed beside the road and was the focus of much of my attention as I crossed the charred forest.I was completely amazed by how vivid everything looked; it was all larger-than-life. I think that the countryside was so clearly visible to me because there were no trees blocking the views. My eyes could look for miles and miles in any direction and meet with no resistance.

As I continued my journey, I stopped seeing other people. I looked out and saw nothing but burned out forest lands in every direction, and was hit with the powerful realization that I may be the only person for tens and tens of miles. There were absolutely no signs of civilization and hardly any glimpses of animals, although a white tailed deer did cross the road in front of me at one point. As I was struck by this powerful feeling of solitude, my eyes filled with tears - not tears of sadness, but of awe, humility, and wonder. I was completely overwhelmed and humbled by the grand scale of the world and the power of nature. I had to stop for a minute to let the feeling settle down.

As I came around a sharp bend in the road, I noticed these two rocks. They look like a couple in love to me, surveying the beautiful countryside. Aww. :)The road seemed to lead me forever through the fantastically dramatic countryside and then, after many miles, signs of civilization began to slowly creep in to the forest. As I crossed the crest of a hill, the signs of the forest fire diminished and I was surrounded by healthy groves of aspens and pines. Small dirt roads leading to campsites nestled in the woods began branching from the slightly larger dirt road that I traveled. Eventually I reached Rt. 77, a beautiful road that followed the path of a small lazy river through the meadows and pastures below the mountains. I don't think that I have ever felt so much awe or amazement over the grandeur of the West as I felt today; not during my trip to the Tetons, or my drive out here from Connecticut. What hit me so powerfully was that feeling of complete solitude, and the beauty of it is not something I'll easily forget.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sat, July 12, 2008: One Year Anniversary

Wow... I've been out here for a year today. It seems sort of anti-climactic since all I've done so far is slept in and organized some of my photographs, then will be heading to work and possibly to a friend's house afterwards. But maybe the fact that it's anti-climactic is the best part. Today is a drama-free day!!!

I have such different things inside of me right now, compared to this time last year. All I remember feeling then was an immense pressing pain and an inexplicable drive pulling me out to Colorado. Now I feel productive and free, and grateful every morning to wake up in my peaceful apartment.

This has been, hands down, the roughest year of my life, and possibly also the best. Cool beans.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Weds, July 9, 2008: Jefferson Lake and Boreas Pass

((I think that there is more to the circularity of my blog than the idea that lessons I'm refusing to learn are continually trying to penetrate my existence. It seems that certain places attract me during similar times of the year, or are perhaps only accessible during certain times of the year. There are definitely lessons circulating too, and I have learned a lot from reflecting on the patterns. Take this blog: I was just down in the Boreas Pass area about a week and a half ago, visiting my friends' property. This time, instead of wondering what I'm doing in Colorado, I am living here intentionally. That feels pretty good!))

* * * *

I've been sick for about a week and a half with some strange virus that just won't seem to go away, but today I started feeling awake and alive inside again. Being sick gives me these cobwebs inside my brain and today I cheerily handed them their pink slips and swept them out my ears. It always feels so nice to start feeling healthy again. :)

Today I intended to head to Boreas Pass, which looked to be a windy mountain road between Como and Breckenridge. I was distracted from my route in Jefferson when I turned off to take a picture of the mountains, only to find that I'd turned onto a road that promised to take me to a lake in 5 miles. It felt right to go, so how could I resist?

The road began with a beautiful field brimming over with wild purple irises. When I stopped to snap this picture, I was taken by how completely silent it was. Even the sound of my car, which was just across the street, was subdued. Jefferson lies near the top of a massive flat space of land surrounded by mountains, which seems perhaps too big a space for little sounds to make much difference.It quickly narrowed to a 1.5-lane dirt road, and I bumped along smiling over rocks and potholes. The land around me was lush and some areas even seemed swampy, something that I haven't seen much of in Colorado. I was extremely pleased to notice the pleothera of wildflowers congregated along the sides of the road. They were even growing among the rocks and aspens , thriving in the shimmering sun-shade of the trees.The road wound up a mountain and ended at the shore of the lake, depositing me in a nest of fishermen, hikers, and kayakers. The water was crystal clear and reflected a beautiful view of the nearby mountains. (Yes, that is still snow up there...).I was pleased by my side trip, though curious as to why I felt I should take it when I turned down that road. Perhaps it was just something I was supposed to see, though for a while I wondered if something would happen while I was at the lake. While my body drove me towards Boreas Pass, my brain mulled over thoughts of gut feelings and instincts.

As my car climbed up the pass, I became more and more immediately present as my stomach twisted into knots of excitement and anxiety over the edge of the mountain hanging 2 inches beyond the edge of the road. I realized that I am just as much of an adrenaline junkie as many of the people out here - but instead of getting my kicks off extreme sports, I get them when I barely keep my car sticking to the mountain. Here is a beautiful view of the valley, I think facing east:I find the mountains in the summer to be so pleasant, especially with water still in abundance due to the stubborn snow still piled into crevices and shadows. It's just so green! And there were so many aspens, I made a mental note that this might be a beautiful drive in the fall.Along the road, I saw 3 beautiful deer: a mother and her two fawns. I stopped my car and we stared at each other for a while, until they decided I wasn't a threat and continued their passage across the road.

Once I crossed the highest point of the pass, I was presented with a sudden breathtaking view of the rocky peaks near Breckenridge:The road on the way back down took on a deep earthy red color, and the road became littered with narrow rocky passages through which I repeatedly hoped I would not meet another car...
The road eventually widened and the hills presented a smattering of houses and condos, signaling me that I had entered ski country. I looked at the lush manicured slopes of the ski resorts and wished for probably the 100th time that I wasn't so afraid of skiing.

I'm not sure if it was this thought, the elevation, the fact that I turned my music off, or the fact that when the guy at the gas station asked me how my day was, I couldn't make myself say it was any better than "good", but something sent my thoughts into a spiral of anxiety and doubt. What the hell am I doing in Colorado anyways? Why haven't things fallen into place for me? I wonder if I'm doing something wrong. Maybe I'm not supposed to be here. It's really just some random place that I moved to because I got the idea in my head from some guy who wasn't even good to me. What if I'm supposed to be somewhere else?! Where should I be?!? What am I doing?!?!

Then my thoughts turned to relationships, as they have been frequently as of late. A while ago, my friends talked to me a bit about manifestation and the idea of consciously attracting the things that you want in your life. Sometimes when people give me information it becomes something that I store away for a later time, and I have come to trust that when I am ready for it, I will remember it. Well, a couple of weeks ago was my time to remember what they told me and I have been monitoring my thoughts and feelings with great care. Though I am positive and hopeful, it's still hard not to miss having someone special around. I would love a road trip companion!

*pant pant....*

For a little while, I was completely freaking out. I'm still not sure where all of that came from, and I didn't realize that such a scared little part of me was hiding away in my brain. I turned my music back on and finished crossing the mountain over Route 6, and suddenly I felt grounded like a rock through my depths. I would love to say that I am so self-aware and have such control over my emotions that I was able to make myself feel like this consciously... but that would be a lie. It's just a feeling that sunk onto me like a deep, comfortable hug, reminding me that everything really is okay.

I think that this is a really important time for me - though my life has been less full of traveling adventures (mostly due to being broke...), my head is swimming with concepts of being, versions of reality, and my deepest desires from the core of who I am. Perhaps that makes a less interesting blog, but it's very exciting to me. :)