My parents came up to Lancaster Friday night and did an incredible amount of yardwork. Our internet signal had been down since the trees got leaves, so we cut down the worst offender. We also moved what felt like a gazillion tons of fill dirt and put it in areas of the yard that need grass seed. We cleaned out the flower beds, put down compost and peat moss and planted impatients, vinca, irises, day lilies, salvia, hostas, and some daffodil and tulip bulbs for next spring. We need to put mulch down soon. Our yard is well on its way to not looking like the redneck house on the block and for that (and all their hard work) I am very very grateful. I'll post some pictures once it starts looking a little less "freshly" planted.

In case you'd rather not read my novel, photos are at the bottom.

Day One (Saturday):
7:00am: We leave from Iowa City.
9:00am: We spend a good half hour driving around Des Moines attempting to locate a Starbucks that is still in operation. The GPS enjoys finding ones that have been shut down.
1:00pm: Mike learns that Nebraska, like "The Onion" atlas suggests, really is America's Roadblock.
4:00pm (we're on Mountain Time now): we cross the border into Colorado...which looks an awful lot like Nebraska. Mike starts wondering why he hasn't seen any roaming buffalo or deer or antelope at play. I go back to sleep.
5:00pm: I spot the mountains. Mike thinks I'm crazy.
6:00pm: We arrive in Fort Collins. Brendan and Loki are there to greet us. We go to Stonehouse Grill for dinner. Our waiter has apparently smoked a pound of marijuana prior to serving our table and keeps forgetting what we ordered, what the restaurant has to offer, and whether or not they have beer on tap. It's graduation weekend in Fort Collins and the place is overrun with girls looking like they might be heading out to work on the corner after their graduation party. We decide staring at our food is the safest bet.

Day Two (Sunday):
Due to the time zone change and the fact that I generally get out of bed around 6:00, I wake up at an ungodly hour, especially on vacation. Brendan has to work until 3:00 today so we spend the day running errands, spending money at REI, and wandering around Fort Collins. That evening we decide to hike up to the Horsetooth Rock Formation. Lambeau discovers that there are deer in Colorado. Deer he needs to eat. Or at least scream at. We reach Horsetooth at sunset and scale the rock formation. The dogs can climb sheer rock faces. It is fairly impressive. The view is beautiful. We head back down, and walk the last half hour or so in the dark. I manage to twist my ankle twice.

Day Three (Monday):
It's brewery tour day! First things first...a HUGE breakfast at Lucile's Creole Cafe ( . I have trout. Mike has shrimp and spinach. I don't remember what Brendan had, but it involved really tasty potatoes. We all near food-coma status. Instead, we decide to get on bikes and ride around to two of Fort Collins three breweries (New Belgium is closed on Mondays and a bit of a madhouse when it is open anyway). The forecast is predicted to get near 90, but we make the not-so-intelligent decision to bring the dogs with us. We visit Odells first ( Mike thinks their IPA is one of the best he's ever had. I'm a fan of the Cutthroat Porter. Next up is Fort Collins Brewery. I seriously enjoy the Kidd Lager, since it contains smoked malt and tastes like campfire. Mike just likes beer. We get up to head back to Brendan's and Bodi starts limping and shows absolutely no interest in running 6 miles in 90 degree weather. Brendan rides back to the house to get the car while Mike and I stay at the brewery and have another beer.

Day Four: Tuesday
Mountains! We head for Denver Tuesday morning to pick up Brendan's girlfriend Sonya and then hit the road toward Leadville. I am totally entertained by "runaway truck ramps" and all of the signs directed at truckers in the mountains "Are your brakes cool?" "You're not done yet!". We get about an hour outside of Denver and realize that something is wrong with the car. Whenever we head up a "hill" (mountain), it goes up to 6500 RPMs and the battery refuses to kick in and assist. After fifteen minutes of very tense driving we decide we'd better stop. We pull into a Ford dealership in Silverthorne, drop the car off, load everyone into Sonya's car and find a place to eat lunch. A couple hours later we are informed that something-or-other is wrong with the car. They can fix it, but it won't be until tomorrow. ARGH! Oh well, we're on vacation. We rent a Ford Focus (you know, a real camping-style vehicle) manage to fit everything in both tiny cars and keep going. An hour or so later we pull into the San Isabel National Forest, and after driving around for a while (and basically off-roading...which is way fun in a Focus) we locate a fantastic campsite. It is right next to a creek, totally isolated, and surrounded by know...if you like that sort of thing. We get camp set up, wander around the area, pop a few beers and generally enjoy ourselves.

Day Five: Wednesday
We spend the day exploring the forest. Mike, Brendan, Sonya and Loki take a very vertical hike. I attempt it, but the altitude gets to me so Bodi and I take a nice long walk along the road. We also discover some of the most amazing beaver dams I have ever seen. Eventually we drive back to Silverthorne and pick up the car. We are immediately $485 poorer. However, it is working again and you get pretty awesome gas mileage in a hybrid when you're going down a mountain.

Day Six: Thursday
The weather isn't looking spectacular, but we decide a hike is definitely called for today. Unfortunately, the GPS is in an ornery mood and thinks a practical joke is in order. It takes us on what is effectively a boulder field. We can't go more than 3 miles an hour, but are incredibly glad we've got the 4 wheel drive vehicle back. Fourteen gazillion hours later we arrive at the trailhead and head up to an unnamed peak. It is cool, misty, and a little drizzly. Perfect hiking weather. By the time we near the peak, however, it is sleeting. Mike and I are really glad we packed our raincoats - Brendan and Sonya aren't so prepared. By the time we get back to the trailhead we're all freezing. We drive back to Leadville and stop at the Leadville Hostel ( which is possible the nicest one on the planet. They sell incredibly hot showers for $3. It may be the best shower I've ever taken. Warm and dry we all feel a little more like humans. The hostel owner tries to tempt us with a warm, dry room. Since we're not entirely sure our tents haven't been washed away into the creek, it is rather tempting. We tell her that in the event our tents are sitting in a puddle, we'll be back and ask her for dinner suggestions. On her recommendation, we go to the Tennessee Pass Cafe ( The food is ridiculous. Brendan eats most of a pizza by himself - it is that good. We arrive back at the campsite and are happy to find our tents intact and dry (at least on the inside). It's still raining so there isn't a lot we can do other than go to sleep.

Day Seven: Friday
We'd hoped to do a fourteener today, but since we can't see the end of our campsite road, let alone the mountains because of the fog, it is pretty much a lost cause. We pack up and head back to Fort Collins.

Day Eight: Saturday
It's time for Lucile's and brewery tour round two. The weather is rainy, even in Fort Collins, but bikes still seem like the best option. Dogs, however, do not. We attempt New Belgium first, but their free tasting is so popular that we can't even get in the door, so its back to Odells and Fort Collins. A friend of Brendan's from college joins us. I'm not very happy about having to leave tomorrow, and attempt to convince Mike we should just stay in Fort Collins and have someone ship Gatsby to us.

Day Nine: Sunday
Boo. Time to head home. The ride isn't all that bad this time because I sleep for almost the entire 12 hours. I occasionally wake up and ask Mike if he wants me to drive, but apparently he trusts himself rather than a half-conscious wife. We pull into Iowa City around 11:00pm and pass out.

Day Ten: Monday (Memorial Day)
We get back to Lancaster around 9:00am. Mike unloads the car. I take a nap.

Hiking Horsetooth

Brewery TourSan Isabel National Forest

My lovely friends Sarah and Joe Short are expecting their first child (currently known as "the bug") on December 18th! I can't wait to meet the little one and spoil him or her rotten!


My cousin Kim graduated from the University of Iowa AND got married this spring. Here are a few pics from a celebratory dinner my parents hosted a few weeks ago.

It isn't my fault! Our internet has been down for three weeks - basically since the trees got leaves and blocked the wireless signal. We cut down the worst offender yesterday but it still isn't all of the time. Plus, there was that little trip to Colorado in there. So I'm playing catch up. Here are some photos from my birthday party at L'Etoile in March.

Yay presents!

Julie & Sarah
Lorie & Jeff (Julie's parents)

Sarah & Joe

Mike & Brad