The First Day of School

Another school year is upon us! This year brings a big change: Abbie is now a middle schooler! I missed blogging about the beginning of school last year because Trish and I were honeymooning in Ireland, Italy, Thailand and Fiji. For fall activities, Abbie and Trish are leasing a horse, so they'll be doing lots of riding. Jack is inspired to learn how to program, but I can't help but think some outdoor activities will be more fun. I hope to keep him interested in programming by organizing a fall Devoxx4Kids Denver.

First Day of School 2014

Personally, I'm not quite ready to start thinking about the fall. With a 6-day rafting trip down Desolation Canyon over Labor Day weekend, we hope to squeeze the last little bit out of summer before it's over. We'll be taking both kids and driving our Syncro with its new engine.

H6 Engine Conversion by RMW Solar Panel Installed. Thanks Dad! Nicer stance with spacers

Reunited and it feels so good!

When we get back, it's time for football/tailgating season, leaves changing and the finishing of the '66 Dream Bus. With the interior getting painted soon, I believe the final push is right around the corner!

Related: The First Day of School 2007, 2010 and 2011.

Posted in General at Aug 18 2014, 04:05:34 PM MDT Add a Comment

Father's Day Weekend on The Arkansas River

I really enjoy being a father. I consider it one of my greatest responsibilities, one that has many rewards. There's nothing like hearing your son say "Dad, I'm really glad you made me go on this trip" (on our Yampa trip) or your daughter making you a Happy Father's Day book that says "you invented FUN!" Like many years in the past, we celebrated Father's Day Weekend with a camping trip.

Trish and I both invited our Dad's to join us, and they delightfully agreed. Trish transported her Dad to Denver by flying to Pennsylvania last Wednesday and road-tripping back with him. I flew my Dad in and picked him up from the airport Friday afternoon. We had a bit of road-tripping ourselves, with a drive to Fort Collins (to pick up our enhanced Syncro), then to Winter Park (to pick up our raft), then back to Denver.

Saturday morning, we packed up our sleeping bags, life jackets and border collies and drove to the Cotopaxi KOA on the Arkansas River. We arrived late afternoon, and were quickly impressed with the KOA's glamping attributes. We had an excellent riverside spot, with RV hookups for the van and a sweet concrete patio. We enjoyed a wagon ride, frisbee, fishing, and marshmallows by the fire before retiring for the night.

Dad at Cotopaxi KOA New bumpers and RV hookups Frisbee! Banjo Happiness

Crazies on the wagon ride

Nice spot to wake up Let's Go!

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Posted in General at Jun 19 2014, 08:53:10 AM MDT Add a Comment

Rafting the Yampa through Dinosaur National Monument

In January, my friend Brice sent out an email to a bunch of folks asking us to apply for a river permit lottery. He sent us links to lotteries for Dinosaur National Monument - Yampa River and Desolation Gray - Green River. There were 10 of us on the email and we all applied for both permits. In mid-February, I found out I won the Yampa permit and the trip planning began. This was a huge deal for some since they'd been trying to get this permit for 10 years.

When we got all the details worked out, we were scheduled to launch on Saturday, May 31 and take out on Wednesday, June 4. Our put-in was Deerlodge Park and take-out, Split Mountain. If you're interested, you can see a map.

Over the next four months, many emails flew between us (33 pages if printed out) and much planning ensued. We had a planning BBQ, endured a permit-award-never-sent-fiasco and I tried to back out for Abbie's 5th grade continuation ceremony. Since I was the permit holder (and had to go), the crew convinced me it was a trip of a lifetime. We left Abbie in Denver for her ceremony and took Jack with us. When we launched on May 31, we had 21 people, 8 rafts and one inflatable kayak. Of the crew, 6 were children (aged 6 - 11).

Eddy... Set... Go!

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Posted in General at Jun 11 2014, 10:30:23 PM MDT 1 Comment

Farewell to the 2013-2014 Ski Season

We took things up a notch for this year's ski season: we bought a ski bus (a.k.a. The Syncro) and rented our ski shack out for the season. Our goal was to ski all over Colorado since Abbie had free days at every resort. Personally, I racked up 28 days of skiing, Trish had similar numbers and, Abbie and Jack got between 15 and 20.

Let the VW adventures begin! We picked up the ski bus with a road trip from Sun Valley, ID to Denver. We were hoping to ski at Jackson Hole on the way home. The sub-zero temperatures quickly changed our minds and we learned about its sub-par wind resistance driving through Wyoming.

The kids and I started the season with a trip to A-Basin, followed by a day at Keystone. Then Trish and I hit Mary Jane before heading to Montana for Christmas.

Keystone Kids at Keystone Ski Bus next to a Sportmobile

Around this same time, Trish sold her Xterra and we became a one-vehicle family. The Syncro had its first (and only!) breakdown on the way to my parent's on Christmas Eve. We raced Santa Claus to The Cabin, packed in a rented sedan with two kids, two dogs and two cats. We realized afterward the car had bald tires and a broken windshield-washing system. Thank goodness the roads were dry.

The Syncro remained in Bozeman for a week while getting repairs done at Straightaway Motors. We enjoyed the beauty of Montana without it, sledding, skiing at Big Mountain and celebrating New Years with good friends in West Glacier. Taking Trish and the kids skiing in Montana was a ski-life highlight for me. As a teenager, I learned how to downhill ski at Big Mountain and it was really cool to show my family its awesomeness.

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Posted in General at May 10 2014, 12:30:54 PM MDT 1 Comment

Spring Break in Florida: Golf, Beaches and Boats!

Florida is a beautiful state, with sandy beaches, excellent fishing, fun people and a great enthusiasm for golf. When I dreamed up Trish, I knew she'd have an awesome family, but I never expected her parents to have a house on a golf course. Trish's grandma, Claire Stanley, is a legend in her own right. I've never met her, but I knew I loved her when Trish's dad first told me about her "layered shots". When I saw Claire's name listed several times on the walls of the The Country Club of Naples, a deep respect came over me. Claire picked out her house on the 17th hole (Trish's favorite number) of the Country Club in 1966, when the establishment was founded. My bus was born in 1966.

Today, Trish's parents have turned it into a golf and relaxation oasis, complete with beautiful orchid gardens, a sweet pool and Japanese decorations from the country where they first met.

As a golf enthusiast, I'm embarrassed that we've only visited her parents in Naples once before. We bought Abbie and Jack golf clubs last year for Jack's birthday, and they both like to play the game. To make up for our lack of visiting family in Florida, we took our kids on a golf vacation for this year's Spring Break.

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Posted in General at Apr 14 2014, 08:34:59 PM MDT 1 Comment

Happy Birthday Jack!

My son Jack, or "J Jackson" as he liked to be called, turns 9 years old today. In the last year, he's grown up quite a bit. He learned how to play basketball last fall, snowboard last winter and became a Webelos Scout in the spring. This summer, he learned how to ride a motorcycle and had a blast whitewater rafting with us. He did a fabulous job being my Best Son in our wedding.

This past weekend, we had a birthday party for Jack -- complete with a huge inflatable water slide. Trish and I flew in from our honeymoon 10 hours before the party started, but still managed to oversleep from jet lag. Nevertheless, we made it in time for some good fun and had a great time celebrating with the whole family and new friends from his new school. Below are a few choice pictures. The rest are on Flickr.

The Waterslide Boing! Proud Papa

Double Rainbow

Jack's favorite thing to do is play Minecraft or watch YouTube videos about it. His sister still knows how to push his buttons, but he's learning to ignore her. This is a big year for Jack as he's starting a new school and making a bunch of new friends. I know he'll do great and I look forward to helping him adapt and enjoy it. Happy Birthday Jack!

Jack on his birthday

Related: Jack's 8th, 5th, 4th, 3rd and 1st birthdays.

Posted in General at Aug 28 2013, 02:41:19 PM MDT 1 Comment

The Trifecta 2013!

The last time I pulled off a Trifecta (3 ski resorts in 3 days), it was in 2010. I hadn't met Trish yet and DU Hockey had started their we're terrible in the playoffs streak. Last weekend, I decided to go for it again, this time with fiancé and kids in tow. We originally intended to ski Friday afternoon, but Abbie had an important "Mayor Election" at school and we were unable to leave early. By the time we arrived in Winter Park, the lifts were closed.

When we drove to Steamboat on Saturday, we only intended to ski 2 days. We dressed up in our outfits and got ready for the warm, mashed-potato conditions on Steamboat's closing weekend.

We love closing weekend at Steamboat!

The conditions weren't great, so we only skied for a couple hours. Then we hung out with Trish's friends (Jenn and Todd) for the rest of the afternoon, swimming and frolicking with our kids like good parents do. On Sunday, we woke up and checked the ski report. While Steamboat did get 8" of fresh powder, Copper had 13 inches! So we packed up the car, puppies, and kids and drove 2 hours to Copper. When we arrived, we weren't disappointed. The kids were loving it and the conditions were great.

13" Powder Day at Copper!

When we stopped for lunch, I was a bit disappointed that our ski weekend was about to end. Then I checked the Winter Park forecast, was pleasantly surprised, and asked "Hey, kids - should we complete the Trifecta and skip school tomorrow?" Of course, they said "YES" and our plans were set. We did a couple more runs, listened to some good live music at the base, then headed to our mountain views in Winter Park.

Sunday night is when the fun started. I didn't call the kids in sick for school, nor did I call in sick for my current client. I simply told them both we had a unique opportunity to complete a Trifecta and the snow was too good to leave.

Monday morning we woke up to 7" of fresh powder and by the time we got to Mary Jane, it was knee-deep. The runs were unbelievable. I skied several bump runs on Mary Jane without ever hitting bottom. It snowed hard all day long and by 2pm, they'd closed Berthoud Pass. This meant we had to stay another night. Some friends were stranded, so we offered them to stay with us and we enjoyed a nice evening reminiscing about all the fluffy snow and face shots. The first photo below is the snow accumulation on Monday morning; the second is from Monday at Happy Hour.

Happy Powder Monday! The whole family took the day off to ski and it's DUMPING in Winter Park. Yeeee hawww!! Best. Monday. Ever. Snowed in with Berthoud Pass closed. This snow is just from today!

Skiing a Trifecta with my family seems like a perfect way to end the ski season. However, it's been snowing all week and I've had several powder runs since Monday. It's snowed 37 inches in the past 7 days and there's more snow in the forecast this weekend. Winter Park's Springtopia starts tomorrow. Live music, fresh powder, the Nuggets in the playoffs and a place at the base with good friends.

The fun ain't over yet! :)

Posted in General at Apr 19 2013, 10:25:09 AM MDT 1 Comment

Happy Birthday Jack!

Eight years ago today, Jack was born. Today, it's hard to even imagine him as a baby or a toddler. But then again, we all looked quite a bit different back then.

Hiking at Red Rocks Abbie and Jack on the Train

These days, Jack has his own website and prefers to spend his free moments playing with Beyblades or his new Nintendo 3DS. He started 3rd grade this year and has excellent math and reading skills, even though he's the youngest in his class. As he grows older, he's starting to like the same things I do, particularly fishing, skiing and golfing.

Last weekend, we threw a birthday party for Jack at Julie's house. He invited some of his close friends from school and had a Beyblade tournament. Fun was had by all and you couldn't wipe the smile off his face when he went home.

Let it rip!

This fall, Jack will be playing lacrosse again and might even pass up his sister in height. He sure is a handsome kid. Happy Birthday Jack!

Jack and his buddies on his 8th birthday

Related: Jack's 5th, 4th, 3rd and 1st birthdays.

Posted in General at Aug 28 2012, 12:12:46 PM MDT 2 Comments

The First Day of School

The first day of school always marks a big change for my family. We have to start getting up early, start our scouting adventures and figure out some sports to play. This year, it seemed to come faster than ever. I'm sure that had nothing to do with the fact that we were gone most of the summer.

Abbie and Jack's first day of school was yesterday and they couldn't be happier. Abbie is now a 4th grader and Jack is in the 3rd grade. Heck, they even seem to have some fashion sense!

Abbie and Jack on the First Day of School 2012

For fall activities, Abbie is doing horseback riding and Jack will be playing lacrosse at DU. Both are pumped about their sports and Abbie had her first lesson last night. She looks pretty good on a horse if you ask me.

Abbie's first horseback riding lesson

In other life news, our house is a disaster (we're halfway through getting our kitchen remodeled), our deck project is almost done and The Bus will be finished in just a few more weeks.

OK, I made that last part up - one can dream, right? ;)

Related: First Day of School 2010 and First Day of School 2007

Posted in General at Aug 16 2012, 01:01:30 PM MDT 1 Comment

School's Out for Summer!

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to document my life. I like writing technical blog posts because it allows me to save knowledge in my brain and open up space for new stuff. It's been a couple months since I wrote any tech posts, but rest assured there will be a flurry in the near future. In the meantime, I'd like to reflect on my kids and how proud I am of them.

They both finished school two weeks ago today and I made sure and played Alice Cooper's School's Out several times that day.

Loudly.

I love how the song tries to capture the "greatest three minutes of your life".

Abbie and Jack had an athletic spring; both participating in their sport of choice. Jack chose lacrosse and learned how to play some mean defense. Abbie chose basketball and scored her first hoop in a game. I think I was in 5th grade before I scored in a game, so she's one up on me. Below are their team pictures. Lookin' good kids!

Jack's loves Lacrosse Abbie loves Basketball

Jack's Lacrosse Team Abbie's Basketball Team

In addition to sports, both kids were involved with Cub/Girl Scouts and performed in the school's talent show. I guess they like to be in front of an audience. I wonder where they get that from? ;)

Posted in General at Jun 05 2012, 10:25:54 AM MDT Add a Comment