4th of July and Colorado

Taking advantage of not having to drive up to the Finger Lakes.

Taking advantage of not having to drive up to the Finger Lakes.

We bought Bri-guy a very patriotic outfit for the holiday.  He wore it with pride.

We bought Bri-guy a very patriotic outfit for the holiday. He wore it with pride.

It was good ski'n weather.  I won't bore you with the video.

It was good ski’n weather. I won’t bore you with the video.

After a solid weekend of sausages, fireworks and beer, it was time to head back out west.  I’d never been to Colorado in the summer and it was time to rectify that.  I flew out to hang with Casey from 7/7-7/11.

Our first adventure was camping, so we made a supply run.

We found some awesome coozies at the grocery store.  Mine is the one with the shark (of course).  The full message is: If ya messin with my drink, ya might sleep with the fishes.  Odd threat in land-locked CO.

We found some awesome coozies at the grocery store. Mine is the one with the shark (of course). The full message is: If ya messin with my drink, ya might sleep with the fishes. Odd threat in land-locked CO.

We set up shop in Golden Gate Canyon State Park, which was quite close to Casey's house.

We set up shop in Golden Gate Canyon State Park, which was quite close to Casey’s house.

The park featured some great hikes.  We did one on Monday and a long one on Tuesday.

The park featured some great hikes. We did one on Monday and a long one on Tuesday.

We treated ourselves to some roasted vegetables Monday night.

We treated ourselves to some roasted vegetables Monday night.

Tuesday afternoon we headed back to civilization so we could do some additional adventure planning.  Casey had never been white water rafting, so we had to fix that.

We went with Clear Creek Rafting Co. on a half-day trip through class III and IV rapids.

We went with Clear Creek Rafting Co. on a half-day trip through class III and IV rapids.

Casey and I managed to get front row seats for the second half of the trip.  Invigorating stuff!

Casey and I managed to get front row seats for the second half of the trip. Invigorating stuff!

We dogged some buffalo burgers at Backcountry Brewery in Frisco afterwards.

We dogged some buffalo burgers at Backcountry Brewery in Frisco afterwards.

After lunch, we decided to drive up to Mount Evans.  I had never heard of it, but it’s the highest paved road in North America.  It opened in 1931.  The original plan was to link three 14,000-foot peaks, as part of a Peak to Peak Highway system, but it proved too ambitious.  So, from the comfort of a car, we got to ascend from 7540 ft to just under 14,130 ft in about 45 minutes.  The brochure was full of fascinating facts, like:

*Every 1000 ft gained in the mountains is equivalent to traveling 600 miles north in latitude

*Temperatures drop 3.5-5 degrees F for every 1000 ft of elevation gained.  The average summer daytime temp is around 42 at the top of the road, and it can snow any day

*The sun is 5% stronger every 1000 ft of elevation gained

*The Alpine zone is the treeless land above 11,500 ft.  During the 8 months of alpine winter, most animals hibernate or head down the mountain.  Even the wildflowers have special adaptations; the leaves of Alpine Avens contain anthocyanin, an antifreeze-like pigment that converts sunlight to heat

*The Mount Goliath Natural Area (11,540′) contains Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine, wich are the oldest single living organism on earth, capable of living for thousands of years

Our first stop was Summit Lake Park.  It's the highest park in the Denver Mountain Park system.  The environment mirrors the arctic.  Luckily, we had our rain jackets in the car.

Our first stop was Summit Lake Park. It’s the highest park in the Denver Mountain Park system. The environment mirrors the arctic. Luckily, we had our rain jackets in the car.

 

We made it to the top!  We took the trail from the parking lot, and we could see most of the Continental Divide.

We made it to the top! We took the trail from the parking lot, and we could see most of the Continental Divide.

 

I was tickled by the mountain goats.

I was tickled by the mountain goats.

The views from the top were mind-blowing.  We also checked out the highest observatory in North America.  There used to be a restaurant called the Crest House, but it burned down in 1979.  We walked around the ruins.  I hope they bring it back.  What a place for a cup of coffee!

The views from the top were mind-blowing. We also checked out the highest observatory in North America. There used to be a restaurant called the Crest House, but it burned down in 1979. We walked around the ruins. I hope they bring it back. What a place for a cup of coffee!

One of my friends saying bye as we made our way back down the mountain.

One of my friends saying bye as we made our way back down the mountain.

The next morning we did a fitness class on Stand Up Paddleboards.  This was a first for me.  I made it until about the last 2 minutes of class before falling in.

The next morning we did a fitness class on Stand Up Paddleboards. This was a first for me. I made it until about the last 2 minutes of class before falling in.

That afternoon, we went to the Denver Botanic Gardens, where a Chihuly exhibit was going on. He's known for his glass work and the installation was seamlessly throughout the gardens.

That afternoon, we went to the Denver Botanic Gardens, where a Chihuly exhibit was going on. He’s known for his glass work and the installation was seamlessly throughout the gardens.

We finished out the day by lounging at the roof top pool, riding the Denver equivalent of Citibikes, having a delicious dinner at Root Down and drinks at Linger.

We finished out the day by lounging at the roof top pool, riding the Denver equivalent of Citibikes, having a delicious dinner at Root Down and drinks at Linger.

We packed a lot into 4 days.  I can’t wait to do it again.  The losers at Frontier Airlines wouldn’t let me on my flight Friday morning, but there was no way I was going to miss this:

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June Highlights

Early in the month, I headed down to FL to visit with my folks.  My aunt and uncle were there as well.

We went out on the Pastime Princess for a day of fishing.

We went out on the Pastime Princess for a day of fishing.

Uncle Rog did the best.  Here is he with a keeper snapper.

Uncle Rog did the best. Here is he with a keeper snapper.

Collecting our bounty.  We had enough for a fine feast.

Collecting our bounty. We had enough for a fine feast.

One of the more exciting aspects of the trip was Uncle Rog's new boat.  Here we are in the intracoastal.

One of the more exciting aspects of the trip was Uncle Rog’s new boat. Here we are in the intracoastal.

I did my first dives in this region of Florida with Sea Dogs.  We did two different wreck dives about 10 miles offshore.  The visibility was only about 40 feet (I’m spoiled), but I did see my first goliath grouper.  I also saw some giant cobia, a few turtles and a sting ray.  Two other divers were spearfishing and they brought in some beautiful flounder.  I forgot the GoPro, so stay tuned for future dives there.

One weekend Noah and I went out on a head boat off of Captree State Park.

One weekend Noah and I went out on a head boat off of Captree State Park.

I caught a goofy looking thing called a stargazer.  We had to buy our fish for dinner that night.

I caught a goofy looking thing called a stargazer. We had to buy our fish for dinner that night.

It was a very boat-y month.  I went to SUNY Maritime Academy and got my safe powerboat handling certificate.

It was a very boat-y month. I went to SUNY Maritime Academy and got my safe powerboat handling certificate. I now have an anchor on my driver’s license!

We trained on 18-20 ft. center console boats.  The docking practice was particularly useful and the high speed maneuvers were quite fun.  The 10 year old in the class (pictured here) made me feel like less of a badass.

We trained on 18-20 ft. center console boats. The docking practice was particularly useful and the high speed maneuvers were quite fun. The 10 year old in the class (pictured here) made me feel like less of a badass.

One night we went on a dinner cruise in the East River called the Water Table.

One night we went on a dinner cruise in the East River called the Water Table.

The Revolution is a 62' yard patrol boat that was built in 1944.  It was used by the Navy to teach seamanship.  It has also served as a fire boat and as a ferry boat in Boston.

The Revolution is a 62′ yard patrol boat that was built in 1944. It was used by the Navy to teach seamanship. It has also served as a fire boat and as a ferry boat in Boston.

In addition to drinks and dinner, we went on a 2.5 hour cruise.

In addition to drinks and dinner, we went on a 2.5 hour cruise.

It's always nice to see where you live from the water.

It’s always nice to see where you live from the water.

A lovely early summer evening.

A lovely early summer evening.

Eager to keep our boating fresh, we took the ferry to Atlantic Highlands and rented a boat one day.

Eager to keep our boating fresh, we took the ferry to Atlantic Highlands and rented a boat for the day.

Another day when we'd be buying our dinner instead of catching it.

Another day when we’d be buying our dinner instead of catching it.

Always fun getting these guys off the hook.

Always fun getting these guys off the hook.

Our ride back to the city.  This ferry will always be one of our favorites.  Super fast, great views and they sell beer.

Our ride back to the city. This ferry will always be one of our favorites. Super fast, great views and they sell beer.

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Bridesmaid Detail Memorial Day 2014

May saw the girls back together again, to celebrate Sarah’s wedding.  We’d be in our old stomping grounds, in the Finger Lakes.

Noah and I headed up a few days early to visit with our buddies.

Noah and I headed up a few days early to visit with our buddies.

The action kicked off Friday night with a rehearsal dinner.  The weather was fairly ominous during the day, but ended up clearing.

The action kicked off Friday night with a rehearsal dinner. The weather was fairly ominous during the day, but ended up clearing.

We had our own little photo session since the light was so eerie.

We had our own little photo session since the light was so eerie.

After practicing our positions in the processional, we sat down for a meal.

After practicing our positions in the processional, we sat down for a meal.

Casey and Carroll anxiously watching the speeches at the evening's welcome party.  We were next up.

Casey and Carroll anxiously watching the speeches at the evening’s welcome party. We were next up.

We nailed our speech.  I know this because it was mentioned multiple times throughout the weekend, including during the ceremony.  If I can find a video of our delivery, I will post it.

We started bright and early on Saturday morning with a yoga class, before moving on to the primping stage.

We got the full treatment, including air brush make up.

We got the full treatment, including air brush make up.

We got ready in a house right on the lake, with great views.

We got ready in a house right on the lake, with great views.

We got the party started back in our room, with a little Champagne.

We got the party started back in our room, with a little Champagne (and some dirty jokes).

Backdrop for the big day.

Backdrop for the big day.

Don't we clean up nicely?  Yes, I am wearing clothes.

Don’t we clean up nicely? Yes, I am wearing clothes.

If you’re interested in checking out the professional photos of the event, click here.

Things definitely got silly as the night progressed.

Things definitely got silly as the night progressed.

On our way back to the city, we tricked our friend Scott into stopping at The Farmland Animal Park.  Always trying to broaden his horizons, we convinced him to do some animal feeding.

It was quite a successful weekend.

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Other Yucatán Highlights

While a good many hours were spent underwater, we did some other cool stuff during our stay in Quintana Roo.  One afternoon, we went to the ruins at Tulum.

I had in my head that this place would look like Chichen Itza.  It did not.  They had chosen quite a beautiful setting, however.

I had in my head that this place would look like Chichen Itza. It did not. They had chosen quite a beautiful setting, however.

There were lizards all over the place.  Sometimes they were cooperative photo subjects and other times, not so much.

There were lizards all over the place. Sometimes they were cooperative photo subjects and other times, not so much.

I loved the beach at Akumal.

I loved the beach at Akumal.

It's possible I was delirious from the ice cream; some of the best I've ever had.  Visit Lucy's Kitchen!

It’s possible I was delirious from the ice cream; some of the best I’ve ever had. Visit Lucy’s Kitchen!

The above water winner would certainly be Punta Laguna, a monkey preserve in the jungle about 40 minutes from Tulum.

Our visit began with a hike searching for spider monkeys.

Our visit began with a hike searching for spider monkeys.

The spider monkeys weren’t the only ones to see.  Listen to this video and see if you can tell who is the guide and who is the howler monkey.

We then took a canoe ride in a lagoon.

We then took a canoe ride in a lagoon.

The harness I’m wearing was in preparation for our zip line tour.

We had very charming guides.

We had very charming guides.

Punta Laguna has its own cenote, which was our next stop after the zip line rides. As you’ll notice, the entrance is rather exciting:

The contents of the cenote were even more exciting, however.  Watch Joel free dive with some human skulls.

We participated in a traditional Mayan cleansing ceremony.  Here I am with the local hooch.

We participated in a traditional Mayan cleansing ceremony. Here I am with the local hooch.

What I liked most about our visit was how relaxed it was.  No waivers and no warnings.  You’re wearing flip-flops and we’re gonna traipse through the jungle to search for monkeys?  No problem.  Why am I putting this harness on?  Oh, because you’re going to send me across a lagoon a hundred feet in the air.  Did you bring a mask to look for human skulls after repelling down into a sinkhole?  Excellent.

Tourist activities in foreign countries are the best.

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Cenotes 5/12/14-5/18/14

Joel and JJ, two friends I met on the Nautilus Explorer, were planning to dive some cenotes and I tagged along.  JJ lives in Playa del Carmen, and when he’s not out at sea, he helps run the Dos Ojos Scuba Shop.

Cenotes are sinkholes, or pits, formed from collapsed limestone bedrock, and they’re all over the Yucatán Peninsula.  Mostly comprised of groundwater, they also have ground-filtered rain water mixed in.  On occasion, if the aquifer is deep enough, some salt water may be in the mix.  Where the salt and fresh waters mix, there is a change of density, and this creates a halocline.  The refraction of light changes between waters of different densities and this creates a whirling, blurry effect.  Experiencing a halocline while diving is pretty badass.  The visibility in these things can exceed 300 feet because there is very little particulate matter.  I had a few experiences where I felt as if I was walking through a forest as opposed to diving.

The Yucatán has no rivers and few lakes, so the cenotes have held a sacred and practical place in the hearts of many, since Mayan times.  All sorts of things have been found in the centoes, from animal bones to pottery to jewelry to human skulls.  Oh, and there are stalactites and stalagmites.  If all of this weren’t enough, on some dives, you can pop up in the middle of the jungle and hear birds and see bats.  The start of the dives tend to be a little unusual, too.  We would pile into JJ’s truck and go bumping along dirt roads to get to the sites we wanted.  We would gear up at tables and make our way to the entrance.  Often, there would be a resident dog who would come by for a belly rub.  Sometimes, the entrance would be so steep, there would be a pulley system to raise and lower the tanks.  At times, there would be a “leap of faith” (more on this later).

Cenote diving has its own set of protocols and techniques.  Lights and good buoyancy control are a given, but we also used a modified kick so we wouldn’t stir up any sediment.  Cave/cavern diving is not for everyone, but I was in very good hands and never once felt confined or anxious.  In fact, I had the opposite reaction; these were some of the most peaceful dives I have ever done.

Our itinerary:

5/13/14: Chac Mool

1. Kukulkan
2. Little Brother

5/14/14: Jardin del Eden

1. Ponderosa
2. Tajma Ha

5/15/14: Dos Ojos

1. The Pit
2. Barbie Line
3. Bat Cave

5/16/14

1. Dream Gate or Sa-Ac-Tun
2. Pet Cemetery

I made a slideshow of some of my favorite stills from the trip.

 

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Divemaster Internship St. Maarten 3/16-4/26/14

As the ski season was coming to a close, I decided that I wanted to keep pushing my dive skills.  I called Luciana at Ocean Explorers to see about getting my dive master certification and she suggested an internship.

In exchange for my PADI certification, I would work at the shop.

In exchange for my PADI certification, I would work at the shop.

I stayed in a studio efficiency within walking distance of the dive shop.  I picked up some decorating tips during my stay.

I stayed in a studio efficiency within walking distance of the dive shop. I picked up some decorating tips during my stay.

Because I wanted to save time and money (and eat healthy), I would cook enough food on my day off to last the whole week.

Because I wanted to save time and money (and eat healthy), I would cook enough food on my day off to last the whole week.

As the week progressed, the combinations would become more interesting; i.e. combine whatever's left in the fridge and put a fried egg on it.

As the week progressed, the combinations would become more interesting; i.e. combine whatever’s left in the fridge and put a fried egg on it.

I am not a morning person, but for my time in St. Maarten, I pretended to be one.  Six days a week I was at the shop by 6:45 am.  It was busy season for them and most days we had multiple boats going out twice a day.  Similar to running a restaurant, more often than not, the work in a dive shop is not glamorous.  Sure, I was in the water most days, but I was also cleaning the toilet and lugging tanks around.  For my certification, I had to assist with various PADI classes, such as Discover Scuba Diving, map a dive site, compose an Emergency Action Plan, complete several swimming exercises, demonstrate multiple surface and underwater diving skills, and pass a written exam.

When I wasn't at the shop, I would be brushing up on my fish id skills or preparing for my PADI exam.

When I wasn’t at the shop, I would be brushing up on my fish id skills or preparing for my PADI exam.

One Saturday night, we had a party.  A shot of most of the crew.  Brazil, Portugal, Ireland, Canada, England and the US are represented.

One Saturday night, we had a party. A shot of most of the crew. Brazil, Portugal, Ireland, Canada, England and the US are represented.

The last week I was there, I was joined by Noah and my folks.  Here we are on a sunset sail.

The last week I was there, I was joined by Noah and my folks. Here we are on a sunset sail.

A big thank you to Lu and Jef and the OEX crew.  See you soon!

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Hittin’ the Slopes Feb. 5-24, 2014

A week later I was back on the road for the best ski season of my entire life.  I skied 17 days straight, with full cooperation from Mother Nature (one exception noted below).

My first stop was to see Casey in Golden.  I got in Wednesday night and decided to ski by myself on Thursday at Loveland.  It was close to her house, I had never been before, and it had an impressive vertical drop.  It was also freaking freezing.  I’ve never called it quits early out on the slopes, but that day the temps with the wind chill dipped down into the -20s.

Casey took Friday off from work and we headed to Carroll's in Breckenridge.  Getting Casey out on the slopes is no small feat.

Casey took Friday off from work and we headed to Carroll’s in Breckenridge. Getting Casey out on the slopes is no small feat.

I'm standing out on Carroll's porch.  The snow had been coming down and it did not stop.

I’m standing out on Carroll’s porch. The snow had been coming down and it did not stop.

Saturday morning we did some yoga and then Carroll gave me a ride to meet up with some family who had rented a place in Avon for the following week.

There were fields of pow to be had.

There were fields of pow to be had.

We split our week between Vail and Beaver Creek.

We split our week between Vail and Beaver Creek.

This video is a little nauseating.  The wrist mount for the go pro is not the way to go for skiing.  The guy in yellow is my cousin, Pete.

We worked hard for these apres ski beers.

We worked hard for these apres ski beers.

When the week for the family ended, I headed back east to Breck.

I took advantage of the free bus to the slopes and was amused by the graffiti.

I took advantage of the free bus to the slopes and was amused by the graffiti.

Shortly after arriving back in Breck, I was joined by Mike and Noah.

Shortly after arriving back in Breck, I was joined by Mike and Noah.

We got in a couple good days at Breck and then headed to our favorite spot: Snowbird.

We got in a couple good days at Breck and then headed to our favorite spot: Snowbird.

Noah enjoying the view and the pow at the Bird.

Noah enjoying the view and the pow at the Bird.

I could get used to this much skiing.

 

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