Saturday, June 28, 2008

Compare and Contrast

This weekend is the big annual girls' NYC weekend.

Once a year, a group of about 13 girls head up to NYC from D.C., for a heel-wearing, fancy-dress flaunting, Broadway watching, martini sipping (chugging?), Sex and the City-esq weekend.

I think this is the first NYC weekend I've missed.

I'm both super bummed about missing the trip and happy with my Laramie weekend at the same time, which makes me think of that movie Sliding Doors starring Gwyneth Paltrow. Anyone ever see that? It's all about what's happening in her character's "real life" and a parallel "what if" life.

I feel like I'm having a very Sliding Doors weekend. Here's how they compare and contrast:

Friday night the girls loaded the back of the "hell bus" to NYC eventually drinking and gradually becoming more obnoxious as they got closer to the city. They got off at the scheduled rest stops for snacks and mixers, went out on the town and dropped into bed around 5 a.m. (or later). **I packed up the Escape and went to Denver to see Paco, who is moving from D.C. to L.A. I stopped in Cheyenne to drop off some paperwork and a load of belongings at my new apartment. I attended a dinner party at a house in the 'burbs and promptly passed out at 1 a.m. after a long drive back.**

Today, the girls had brunch at a fancy NYC restaurant, are attending a Tony Award-winning musical and will be having an amazing post-show dinner at a swanky restaurant followed by more going out at uber-cool clubs. **I had a breakfast of yogurt and berries, got my hair cut by a new "cool" guy at a salon in Laramie, am currently watching Yo Gabba Gabba with Linds' son Sam while enjoying an awesome dinner of gourmet turkey burgers, caprese salad and grilled asparagus with Linds. This will be followed by a movie, some more Napa Valley wine, and hitting the hay around 10:30 p.m. fully expecting to be woken up at 2 a.m. by the girls who are either dancing their bums off at a club or eating late night food at Cafeteria.**

Tomorrow the girls will wake, shove their stuff into their weekend bags, run for coffee and a quick breakfast of maybe a Nathan's hotdog before nearly missing the the bus home. They will pass out from exhaustion on the bus, get to their homes and pass out again. **I will get up early and load a few more boxes in my car before heading to Cheyenne with Jonna and J, who has a shooting competition. Jonna and I will go furniture and antique shopping, likely grab lunch somewhere and head home. Since I don't have a job until July 7 I can sleep in Monday morning, unlike the D.C. girls.**

At the end of the movie the two lives kind of meld together showing that no matter what choices she made there was a preordained end that she couldn't have controlled.

I dont' think going to NYC this weekend would have ultimately landed me in Wyoming, but who knows...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Favorite

I took this last Sunday when I went up to Lake Owen and Rob Roy Reservoir.

Oh, that Wyoming humor.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fancy Fragrance

For folks in Wyoming, getting caught up in the newest perfumes or colognes to hit the shelves of department stores and Sephora makes very little "scents."

There's a very practical reason behind this: We don't want to be eaten alive by the dark menacing clouds of mosquitos those smells would likely attract.

So, rather than reaching for my Stella or Coco in the mornings as I used to, I have found a new alluring fragrance I believe isn't getting the marketing attention it deserves.

OFF Skintastic in Tropical Fresh.

It's light tropical fruit smell will make you feel as though you're sipping coladas on a breezy beach. Only you don't have to worry about contracting West Nile!

For those with sensitive skin there is OFF Skintastic Unscented, and for men (and super woodsy women) there is the Original OFF.

These fragrances don't cost an arm and a leg and can be found at most Wal-Marts, supermarkets, gas stations, or for the high-end shopper - Targets.

And the packaging! It's colorful, expressive, and who wouldn't want to join that family walking in the woods?

So, move over you other 5th Avenue scents! For me there's a new kid in town! For at least another month or two anyway when those pesky pests aren't hatching by the gazillions.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Set Forth

I was going to call this post something like The Next Step, or Moving Forward, or something else kind of cheesy. But as I was thinking, the Into the Wild soundtrack came on and the first song is Set Forth. I thought, that's it! That really works!

That's because everything is pretty much lined up now for me to "set forth" with my new life, so to speak. I took a job on Friday and today I took an apartment.

And is it a great apartment! I feel really good about it. It matches me, and importantly, my furniture.

It has hardwood floors, will have a new paint job and carpet in the bedrooms, a nice big bathroom and kitchen, and two bedrooms, which I'm particularly excited about because I hope to have lots of visitors - and because this is the most space I've had in eight years.

And, not to rub it in for my D.C. readers, but Wyoming rent is mind-blowingly cheap! I won't torture you with the financial figures, but let me assure you I'm getting a lot of apartment for my money. To go on would just be mean, so I'll stop gloating. And kicking
up my heels...and secretly smiling to myself over my cheap, cheap rent.

It's in a four-plex, but you can't really tell. It just looks like a big house. Everything from the window right above the rent sign to the left is mine.

I hope I have nice neighbors and get to know them. Like "can I borrow a cup of sugar" or "let's have an apartment building BB-Q" get to know. Knowing your neighbors in D.C. doesn't happen a lot. I "knew" the lady down the hall because I would see her when I left for work in the mornings. I "knew" the girl two doors down because we had oddly similar grocery shopping schedules. And I "knew" the very old gentleman about three doors down because the other tenants on the floor and I were always wondering if he was still alive. Oh man, that sounds horrible, but it's true. We never "knew."

So, that's it! The beginnings of my new life!

Now to load my car down one more time...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Talk About Trails West

The Annual Pony Express Re-Ride is going on right now commemorating the nearly 2,000 mile route the riders used in 1860 to deliver mail. (This brings to mind the old t.v. show The Young Riders - anyone but my sisters remember this? Another aside, there was a moment several years ago when I was on a horse and we took off across the meadow. My dad was close behind and I always thought we looked rather like The Young Riders riding through the prairie in this clip. Ok, maybe not exactly, but I'm pretty sure the speed of our horses was close...)

Alright, back on track.

You can follow the riders' progress via GPS on this website:

GPS isn't exactly the most historical part of the trip, but it's kind of cool to see where they are.

My goal is to see the rider while they're in Wyoming. Good thing they have GPS these days so I can know when and where to find 'em.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Explore Medicine Bow National Forest

Today I decided to do a little exploring. So, I packed up the car and hit the road for Rob Roy Reservoir and Lake Owen, both above Centennial, Wyo.

I used to love driving up to these lakes. When I was in school and needed a break or to just think, I would hop in my car and many times find myself in this area.

First stop was the Spruce Mountain Lookout Tower. I read an article in 5280 magazine a while ago about being able to reserve these towers for a weekend stay. I thought it was such a neat idea and would love to do that. I want to sit up there with my coffee and watch the sunrise or with a beer in the evening as the sun sets.

Here's Rob Roy from the top of the tower:

And another pretty view:

On a trail that wraps around Lake Owen. This was before humming, black clouds of mosquitos descended on me as I took a little run around the lake. I said in an earlier post that having wildlife chase me might improve my running time. Swarms of mosquitos will do it. I made record time around the lake.
On the way to Centennial at the start of the trip. I thought the colors in the fields were really pretty:

And lastly, this one is for my nephew who also happens to be named Owen:

Saturday, June 21, 2008

9 to 5

Or 8 to 5 as will be the case with my new job!!

On Friday morning the organization in Cheyenne I was waiting to hear back from offered me a position. So, after four months of unemployment - not counting the brief stint at the kitchen store - I'm a workin' girl again!

Starting July 7, I will be working and living in Cheyenne.

This is not at all what I thought would happen when I left D.C. I was focused on Colorado, Colorado, Colorado. I didn't want to return to Wyoming yet. I even went out of my way to avoid this. But try as I might to create other windows of opportunity in Colorado they all slammed shut. The one and only window that remained open was in Cheyenne, and I figured it was like that for a reason.

So, over the pass I go to Wyoming's capitol city - and remarkably I am really excited about it. And weirded out. I just can't seem to get over the fact I'll be living in Cheyenne.

Friday night Linds took me for drinks to celebrate. We went to one of our old stomping grounds, The Ranger. If you think it looks seedy it's because, well, it is. But Linds, Jonna, Apes and I used to go there about once a week for Colorado Bulldogs (basically a White Russian with Coke) while we were in school.

Now, the house hunting begins. How wonderful to have a job AND my own place!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Favorite

This is going to be a new addition to the blog.

Each Friday I will choose my favorite photo from the week to share.

This week's is April's daughter and I at the Fish On Ranch in Centennial. She had this great idea to swap sunglasses for a while. I don't know...I think Barbie doll-pink shades with flowers are pretty cool!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Great Migration

Lots of people are following my lead in moving West it seems (I know - I'm such a trendsetter!), including two friends in particular: Erin and Paco.

I met up with Erin and her mom as they passed through Laramie this morning on their way to California.

I gave them a quick and dirty driving tour of the town before heading to the Overland for breakfast. This was of course followed by coffee at Coal Creek and a very condensed tour of the UW campus.

The most significant stop for them, I'm sure, was a peep at the historic Buckhorn Bar at 10 a.m.

We walked in and all the towns serious imbibers, which the Buck is known to harbor, looked up at us expectantly as if they'd found new drinking buddies.

I had to let them know that wasn't quite the nip we were looking for to get our morning going.

Yep, just call me the official greeter for all wagon trains West!

Up next - Paco in the coming week.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Now What?

Now that I've had my big day I have really very little to do.

It's kind of weird. I've been so in the must-find-a-job mode, spending hours at coffee shops on my computer researching, networking and sending my resume, that I feel a little lost just playing the waiting game.

I should enjoy it, of course, because if I don't get offered the job I will be back to the grind.

So, let's all keep our fingers crossed this won't be the case!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Big Day

I had my first interview today in Cheyenne since beginning my job search.

The funny thing is - I'm starting to really see myself there. I never, when starting this crazy adventure (or even until just a few weeks ago), would have said or thought Cheyenne (or Wyoming for that matter) might be a potential place for me to land right now.

Not because I dislike either Cheyenne or Wyoming - I'm quite the Wyoming cheerleader - it's just not the vision I had for myself.

But things don't always go the way you think they might. Of course, I have yet to be offered anything from the organization, so we'll just have to wait and see if this is where I'll be or not.

Until then, just a couple pictures from the ol' state capitol... see a dome-shaped building again! Ha.

The legs on the horse in this sign move. There was a car behind me so I don't have an action shot.

On the pass between Cheyenne and Laramie...wait, Lincoln Monument?? Where am I?

Ok, what does Lincoln have to do with Wyoming or I-80, you ask? Good question. So good that hundreds of people who have passed by it hundreds of times don't really know. So, I Wikipediad it. Turns out the Lincoln Highway, or "The Main Street Across America," was the first transcontinental highway. The idea was thought up by a guy named Carl Fisher and one of his heroes was ol' Abe. The place where the monument is located just so happens to be the highest point on all of I-80, so that's why the statue is there.

Who knew?

Ok, this is maybe a tad bit creepy...

Anyway, my big day ended with beers and watching Battlestar Galactica with my old friend Jonah. This isn't really Wyoming related, but somehow it so is.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Like Lewis and Clark

With a population of around 3,000, Hermann, Mo., is a pretty small town, which makes finding lengthy running routes a bit challenging.

Enter the Katy Trail. The Katy Trail State Park (in red) is a recreation trail that runs 225 miles across the middle of the state, at times following parts of the Lewis and Clark historic trail.

It's pretty accessible from almost anywhere I usually am, so I've started using the trail for my workouts - including one 2-hour bike ride a couple days ago.

The trail is used by thousands of people each year, and communities along the trail are very welcoming of trail users.

It's also neat because you go through all kinds of Missouri country-side, riding along rivers, cutting through farmlands, passing by farmers on tractors, grain silos, rockwall formations, pastureland, you name it.

I like going past old farm-town churches like this one, which I have a soft spot for.
A few other pics from the trail:

Crossing back over the Missouri River into Hermann...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Old Obsession(s)

I love other people's junk. I love places that sell other people's junk. I love the rush of delight you get when you find that perfect piece of other people's junk.

My friends know this about me, have humored me by accompaning me to various junk places, and have visited my apartment where old dressers, tables, utensils, etc., are used and arranged. My mom, my Aunt S., and to a large degree my sisters all share this love for used up, worn out, many times rusted over, chipped, sometimes musty smelling other people's junk.

Other people's junk is found in places like this: the Red Barn in Hermann, Mo. The yard is littered with stuff like old wash basins, bathtubs, a rusty child's racecar (that the kid would actually sit it), flower pots, crocks, rusted over outdoor water pumps, porcelein-topped tables, and on and on. The inside is packed to the gills with similar stuff and more.

Places like the Red Barn are everywhere in the Mid-West. Antique stores and flee markets with cheap junk are nearly a dime a dozen. I was always a little disappointed with East Coast junk shops. Their stuff usually wasn't "junky" enough and it sure was costly!

Out here I can barely contain myself, however. We visited the Red Barn yesterday and, of course, I found some cheap treasures I just couldn't live without. Like this 12-gallon crock that I am now the proud owner of...

I also found an antique pastry cutter and an old black trivet to put hot dishes on. I'm in ecstasy!

Other old stuff I'm obsessed with but didn't buy: biscuit cutters. Like the kind my grandma and mom used to use and I learned how to bake with.
Metal wash basins. Gotta have some.

Cow creamers. I already have one - and enough sense to know I don't need a whole herd - but I get all tingly everytime I see one.

And this...I absolutely long for this thing. I dream of having it in a backyard to wash vegetables from a garden in. Wait - back to reality! The yard and garden don't exist yet, which is why I am not the proud owner of a rusty double tub. Sigh.

Ok, this one's just for fun. Who remembers playing on these things?!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008



Welcome to my new site!

Ok, it's not a 100 percent complete overhaul, but it's definitely different than what you've been looking at the past few months.

I wanted something that more accurately reflects my experience back home in the West. Clearly, I'm all over the map these days, what with living in Vail, then Laramie, and now Hermann, Mo., then back to who knows where...

I've definitley done a lot of criss-crossing.

But regardless of where I land permanently (I use this term loosely), I plan to still be all over the place with lots of exploring around the amazing Western-half of the U.S. This could include just about anything: riding a burrow through the Grand Canyon, let's say, or rafting in the Rockies. How 'bout some Wyoming rodeo, or maybe a visit to the cliff dwellings in New Mexico? Fly fishing in Montana perhaps? Or hitting Austin, Texas for some serious country music...

The are so many possibilities and I want my blog to encompass it all. The sky's the limit - particularly in the West where you can see forever!

The blog's not perfect. I've still got some tweaking to do. A lot of my links are very Colorado-centric and I plan to add to them.

Also, for your listening enjoyment as you peruse my posts, I have added some good ol' fashioned country music. This will change too, and will likely not end up being just a list of hoe-down favorites. My "I LOVE this song!!" list is too long and ever changing to remain so tailored.

I would also like to note, this is my 100th post! So, happy anniversary to my blog!

And yes, I did try to make the unveiling coincide with the anniversary. This is why I'm about about five posts behind...

The Essence of Air

I went running in Hermann, Mo., the other morning and it was a bit of a shocker.

The last four months I've been complaining about the trials and tribulations of working out with no air. Now, I have almost too much of it. It's so heavy and tangible I can feel it resting on my skin as I run, and it's almost too thick to breathe in as quickly as I need it. But, I'm not at 8,000 ft. anymore, so I guess it's relatively easier.

And, this might be TMI, but I haven't sweat this much since D.C.! I simply walked outside at 8 a.m. to test the weather and started sweating bullets.

A couple other observations from my run:

Hermann is situated on the banks of the Missouri River. A brand spankin' new bridge just went in a while ago and it includes an exercise path. As I ran over the river I felt like I was running over the Potomac on Memorial Bridge. I loved that route - looking out over the river with the early morning rowers at practice, seeing the Kennedy Center, the banks of Georgetown, and the view of the Lincoln Monument as you cross back over the bridge into town, which is my most favorite view in D.C.

As I was crossing the bridge a whole flock of birds - sparrows? starlings? not sure - would fly up from below sqwaking and hovering very close overhead. They made me laugh, but they also made me think of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. I ran a little faster.

Hmmm...maybe having wildlife chase me will improve my running time. On second thought nevermind. I'll just keep plodding.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Here and There

I am taking a break from my "break." I will be spending the next couple weeks with the fam in Missouri. My dad and I made the 12-hour drive from Colorado today.

No sooner do we get here than we flip on the local news to see B-roll of A-Basin ski resort in Colorado. The newscasters are talking about people still being able to enjoy the ski season, even though it's June. This is not weird to folks from the West where it is perfectly logical to sometimes see snow in July.

This clip was preceded by the forcast which predicted a full week of 92 degree weather in Missouri. With humidity.

I asked my dad if it was too late to go back. He didn't really reply...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

To Lock or Not To Lock

For many in Wyoming this isn't even a question.

Nobody locks their homes, or their cars. In fact, I just had a friend tell me he keeps his keys IN the car. Around here that isn't insane and on top of it all the car is usually left running. I admit I used to do that myself back in the day. I left my keys in the car once in D.C., without meaning to, and it was the only time my car should have been stolen and wasn't. Thieves like to wait until they can actually break into something there. I guess it's not as fun when it's just handed over to you...

Anyway, after having my car stolen three times, my purse stolen countless times, and my bike stolen right before I moved, I think it's understandable that I'm a little leery about leaving everything unsecured.

I'm trying to be better though. At Linds' I park on a road right next to the prairie, but I notice I still hit the lock when I get out of my car. It's just habit. Lately, however, I've caught myself doing this and will flip it back reminding myself that unless I'm afraid of a prairie dog making off with my car then there's no need to worry.

I even locked my car at April's ranch the other day, which is completely ridiculous. They are miles from anything let alone someone interested in driving away with my vehicle.

And locking one's home...? It's customary to leave them open - wide open - during the day around here. We lock up at night, however, because who wants to be caught off guard and killed in their bed?

So, I'm trying to regain that small town level of trust. It's just slow going because with my luck? That one lone circus-trained prairie dog turned-free will find my open car and will be headed for the open road.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Too Late...

I'm sitting in Coal Creek Coffee in Laramie - the second location, not the original - about to start another day of job searching. 

As a quick aside (are any of my asides ever quick?), I have been spending a portion of nearly every day at Coal Creek since I've been here.  In college it was kind of an original coffee house for Laramie, and I loved it.  It had good personality, good ambiance, good food and drink.  Now they've expanded to a second location right by the stadium on Grand Ave.  It's nice...but generic.  It follows all the rules of a run-of-the-mill coffee house, i.e., oversized couches, rust colored walls, cement floor...but it's not Starbucks, and I would rather give my money to the local shop. So, why am I here if it's not my fave?  Well, because I was staying with my dad in the hotel next door while he's in town for work.

And now an aside to my aside:  Many of you know my weakness for wonderful foam so I must note that I had great foam at the downtown Coal Creek last week.  It wasn't French Press good (just look at the picture of the coffee on their homepage!), and nowhere near the foam at La Boulange in San Francisco, which is the gold standard for foam in my opinion, but the Coal Creek foam was up there.  Ahhh...

Anyway, back to the subject.

So, the song playing in Coal Creek as I walked in was the slower version of Apologize by OneRepublic, you know..."It's too late to apologize...too late..."  For a couple months before I moved I was pretty obsessed with the Timbaland version.  It just so happened to be the song I heard in the car on the Friday before I left when I was stressed out about packing and sick as a dog and I suddenly started bawling.  See this post.  

Walking in and hearing that song suddenly made me sad.  Now, let's get something straight here.  I do not regret moving, I wouldn't move back, and I'm happy being back in the West.  

But hearing that song reminded me of a life I once had...not necessarily settled, mabye?  Once, three short and simultaneously long months ago, I had a job, an income, an apartment of my own, and now I have none of those things.  And like the song says, it's too late now.    

It was just a flash of sadness, which I am now over.  Particularly since they've changed the station to one that's a little more upbeat. 

Ok, time to start job searching!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Morning Humor

Uncle D. sent this forward to my dad. We read it while having breakfast at Village Inn in Ft. Collins, Colo., this morning.

Since I nearly snorted milk out of my nose laughing I thought I would share.

Purina Diet

"I have two large dogs and was buying a large bag of Purina at Wal-Mart and was in line to check out.

The woman behind me asked if I had a dog.


On impulse I told her no, I was starting the Purina Diet again. Although I probably shouldn't because I ended up in the hospital the last time. However, I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes everywhere and IVs in both arms.

I told her it was essentially a perfect diet and the way it works is to load your pockets with Purina nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete so I was going to try it again.

I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was now enthralled with my story, particularly a tall guy who was standing behind her.

Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me.

I told her no, I'd been sitting in the street licking my butt and a car hit me.

I thought the guy behind her was going to need help as he staggered to the door laughing."

All-Around Cowgirl

Saturday night I went out to the ol' Fish On Ranch in Centennial, Wyo., where Apes and her family are the ranch managers.  They were having a birthday BBQ for some family friends and I went out to take a break from big city life in Laramie.  

The ranch is amazing.  It's a private guest ranch where people like Bobby Knight go to fish - and Craig, April's husband, is his fishing guide.  (Yeah...Craig is the one holding the mountain lion on the ranch's homepage.)

Anyway, we had a great time.  I filmed a little going away video in the corral for a friend who will be moving West soon, and enjoyed some burgers and rum and cokes (thought of you CK!) as we watched the sun and some elk go down in the hills.

It was wonderful.

The drama of the night?

I killed my first animal since I've been back while I was driving out there.  I didn't mean to!  The dumb gophery thing darted out in front of me, saw the car and decided to double back.  Big mistake.  Big.  I'm pretty sure I sawed him clean in half.  I was disturbed for about 30 seconds until I remembered those gophery things easily number somewhere in the bazillions.  This sounds a little heartless, but eh, what can you do?    

Ok, a couple of pictures from the ranch...

The entryway at April and Craig's (this is only a portion of the heads):

Still in the entryway: