Sunday, December 7, 2014

Shelf That Idea

There are a lot of perks of living in a small space. One is that I really can't gather too much stuff. At some point you can't keep bringing things in without also getting rid of things. Of course, when Christmas season rolls around, it can get a little frustrating not having anywhere to hide gifts without displacing other things - sometimes to the middle of a floor or a counter top, which really disrupts the peaceful mind of a "a place for everything and everything behind closed doors" believer like me. 


Which is why it's also a bit surprising that I decided to go with the open shelf look in the kitchen. But the kitchen is - befitting this 901 square foot house - quite small and enclosed. And when the bulky cabinets sit about a foot above the only workable counter space, it's an issue. 

So I came up with the idea, my man executed, and we now have a kitchen that feels much more open. Plus, we have plenty of space to work on the counter. It looks amazing and is so much more functional. 

Still much to do. Paint the cabinets that still exist - both below and on other walls. And I unfortunately (or not) mentioned a way for us to redo the wall of nothing but cabinets, and we're now both really excited about that. Guess we're just going to take it one wall at a time.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Why I Said Yes

Why I Said Yes - Part One

A wise friend once said to me, after hearing me say I'd never get married again, "Oh yes you will. You don't know what a real marriage is. Once you meet someone who shows you that, you'll get remarried."

I'm smart enough to know that there are people wiser than I am, so I admitted that maybe she was right {without shedding my normal, skeptical attitude, of course, because that's how I roll}.

Let me explain why, at that point, I was saying "never again."

I thought, with my first marriage, that I'd done most things right. I was living what most would consider a good, moral lifestyle. I met that guy in an online Christian chat room. We didn't live anywhere near each other, but we talked on the phone constantly for a month and a half. I heard about his good days and bad days and how he reacted to each. He told me about his family, his job, his hobbies. It sure sounded like he had a lot of the things that were on my list of "the ideal guy." By the time I flew to meet him, I was sure I knew him well enough to say yes when he asked. Plus, I prayed about everything. Plus, we didn't have sex before we got married. Doesn't all of that qualify as "doing most things right?"

We married after only a few months, and even fewer of those were spent living in the same area. Though I was convinced I knew him, I really didn't. I didn't know that even though he liked to read, to him that meant standing at his computer every day when he got home. I didn't know that our definitions of being a Christian didn't mesh on certain important levels (I thought it was more important to just live it. He was often really-not-nice to people over the phone (which, when you're trying to offer remote tech support, happened a lot), then excuse his behavior with, "I'm sorry. I'm a Christian. I really shouldn't be acting that way. Please forgive me.")

Of course there were many things I wouldn't know until we'd been married a while. For instance, once we had kids his take on watching them was that I was the caretaker and, on his watch, he was the babysitter. It took a while to learn that his definition of a Biblical wife was a woman who agreed with him on everything or be branded "unsubmissive." Eventually I stopped sharing things with him because it was easier than him talking at me until early morning hours until I agreed with him.

In his defense, I will never say he was the only reason our marriage failed. I was half of that partnership. I could have done things differently. I could have insisted on more counseling. I could have tried to tell him more often that I was dying inside. But I guess that for all the times that I did say something and it fell of deaf ears, I eventually gave up - years into and years before the end of our marriage. Instead, I kept quiet and kept praying. That things would get better. That I would learn to respect him. That he'd come home in a good mood from work each evening so things would go smoothly until bedtime.

Eventually, fourteen or so years into our marriage, when I was done and finally told him so, we went to counseling again. After listening to us for just one session the counselor said to him, "You know, there isn't just one form of emotional abuse. There's the kind where people yell and scream at each other. But there's also the kind where people make others feel like they're non-existent, non-valued human beings. What you guys have is not a real marriage."

Another person, a friend and a pastor that my husband-at-the-time called to try to talk some sense into me, said, "Your husband is the most legalistic man I've ever spoken to. I don't know how your marriage is going to make it."

There are a lot of people who never agreed with my divorce. I lost friends because of it. Friends who accused me of "listening to Satan" and who said, "I thought you were stronger than that."

I don't think some people realize how strong you have to be to get divorced. Or how bad things must be. It isn't the easy way out.

People didn't understand that I just couldn't live like that any longer. Not being a person. Not being respected. Not being happy. Living with someone I felt was the complete opposite of who I think a person should be. Being in an emotionally unhealthy place {and having had been there for years}.

Those people also hadn't talked to some of the people I had, who stayed in their marriages because it was the Biblical thing to do, and were now in their 50s or 60s and still miserable. In fact, I have one older friend who has made the choice to remain unhappily married. When I visited with her a few years ago she talked about how miserable she was in her marriage. When she visited again about a year ago, she told me what a better place she was in than that previous time we'd seen each other. "So you're happy?" I paraphrased. Her reply was, "Oh, no. I wouldn't ever say I'm happy."

I'm sorry, but I don't think that's Biblical, either. Don't misunderstand me and think I'm saying that being unhappy is grounds for divorce, but I don't believe God is going to reward anyone based on a "you were this ___ miserable for this ___ long, so your reward is exponentially this ___" system.

Why I Said Yes - Part II

I should know by now never to say never. My list of "I-said-never-and-then-it-happened"s is quite long.

But that's such a great thing! Among the list of things I never would have experienced if my nevers had happened:
* I would never have had my two amazing boys that are crazy and funny and adventurous.
* I never would have made some of the great friends I have.
* I never would have traveled to India.

And if THOSE things had never happened, well, it's a chain-reaction, isn't it? If those things had not made me who I am and led me to where I was, the things that I'm doing and experiencing now might never have happened.

* I might still be in an unhappy marriage.
* I might still be bored out of my mind at home.
* I probably never would have ended up back in Colorado.
* I never would have met some of the great people I've met.
* I might never have traveled to Spain and Morocco. 

Most importantly, I never would have met the man who changed one of my most important "nevers": the one we're talking about - the one where I said I'd never marry again.

Well, I'm still not married, so I guess technically...

But that's just a formality at this point.

So what did he do to change my never?

Mostly, he showed me that not all relationships or people are the same.
*Until I met him, I thought married people fought all the time.
They don't.
*Until I met him, I thought losing respect for someone you spent a lot of time with was an unavoidable natural erosion.
It isn't.
*Until I met him, I thought all men wanted to take control of their women.
They don't. Some have a lot of respect for us. This one won't even let me clean the bathroom because I am the only woman in a house full of boys who are the ones who make the mess in the bathroom.
*Until I met him, I thought love scenes from romantic movies were all scripted and void of reality.
They aren't. They happen often. Sometimes in my kitchen.
*Until I met him, I thought everyone had flaws that you just learned to put up with.
Guess what? Some people actually don't have things about them that bother you.
*Until I met him, I thought people really really needed breaks from each other.
They don't. We don't. I look forward to every single evening and weekend with him.

But I've also learned it's extremely important to spend a lot of authentic time with a significant other so you can really learn who they are.
So secondly, he showed me that he is the type of person I value.
*He is kind and compassionate and understanding.
*He is competent in so many areas.
*He is funny.
*He is solid.
*He communicates extremely well.
*He is just the right mix of emotional and cerebral.
*He treats everyone with respect.
*He is smart.
*He's pretty much every good quality and none of the bad ones.

I know that sounds like a fairy tale. I know that sounds like I'm "in love" and am still in that "honeymoon phase" where my lover can do no wrong. But I can tell you that isn't correct. Because this time I've done everything "wrong" {according to some ways of thinking} in order to make sure this is right. I've been living with this man for over a year now, because I really don't subscribe to that way of thinking anymore. I'd rather be true to who I am. I'd rather be sure. And I'm telling you, there's nothing I'd change about this man, nothing I'd delete. His background has made him who he is, and I love what he brings to my life.

I have one final story. It's not really one I like to think about, but to me it was a turning point, and therefore important. A few years ago I took a summer climbing trip with a then-friend. It was the morning of July 4th, so there was no one on the roads. We were heading somewhere new to climb. Driving through Boulder, there was a young woman in her car, turning left, slightly in our lane. Rather than moving over to the right lane and just going around her {remember how I said there was no one on the roads that morning?} this man stopped his truck, rolled down his window, and started screaming and swearing at her, as well as honking his horn intermittently. I was incredibly embarrassed to be in his vehicle. We had no idea why she was where she was. True, she shouldn't have been in our lane. But had her car stopped unexpectedly? Had she thought she could make it before we got there, then realized she couldn't, and stopped without realizing she was in our lane? Was she transporting a sick animal or fragile plants and taking things too slowly? I have no idea. But I was horrified that someone would treat someone else that way. That woman was a soul, a spirit, a fellow human being.

It made such an impression because all I could think after that was that I needed to be with someone who, in that kind of situation, would have gotten out of our vehicle to see if she needed help.

This man I've met and fallen in love with is that type of person.

In a conversation with a friend a couple weeks ago, I told her about how my man respects me, cherishes me, treats me and others well. How I would follow him to the ends of the earth because he is the kind of man I can trust that far. How even though he doesn't go around proclaiming his beliefs, he lives them. "And that," she said, "makes this union more holy than your first one."


And that is why, when he asked, I said yes.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Just Go

Sometimes, when people are important, you must go be with them.

It is not the first time I've made that decision, nor will it be the last. Because it is always so worth it. 

Yes, sometimes the cost of an airplane ticket is a factor. Yes, sometimes there are scheduling conflicts. But those are hurdles that can be overcome, because "sometimes" is the key word here.

What can't be overcome is the regret of not going. 

I decided to fly to Texas two weekends ago, to hang out with one of my closest friends. It was a quick, two-day trip, but we hadn't seen each other in a couple years, so it was time.

Unfortunately, we didn't take any pictures together, but that's OK. We have some from last time we were together. 

And yesterday I got home from another whirlwind weekend - this time in Minnesota. My favorite aunt turned 80 on Friday, and while we didn't make it in time to see her that day (our plane got in at 9:00pm that evening), we drove the last two hours on Saturday morning and got to hang out with her and my cousins for 25 hours (minus sleeping time).

We drove up the north shore of Lake Superior for the day, ate lunch together, walked around an old lighthouse, talked about how much we all love Minnesota lakes, and had wine in the evening. The next morning we took a very short walk (short, because Minnesota in November is no joke), and had bacon and eggs for breakfast before setting out for the airport again. 

I adore this side of my family.

I AM planning to stay home next weekend... :-)

Sunday, October 19, 2014


So. There's been a bit of a saga going on over here for a number of months now. Some sagas take time, you know? It's not much of a saga in the sense of anything really happening. More of a saga in terms of what could happen.

It probably started over a year ago, when my man started questioning the property line in the back of my house. Having been a first-time-single buyer, I didn't question my realtor, who said the fence in the back was my property line. And I assumed the title company had done their job. Ok, let's be honest. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a title company until this saga started unfolding.

It's not like it hadn't been brought up before, the strangeness of my backyard, that is. A few people said, "Wow, your back yard sure is tiny." Or wondering why there were a few stone steps with a fence right down the middle, so I have half and the neighbors have half. I just shook my head and said, "I don't know why it's that way. It just is." But my man knows a lot about a lot, and he was more adamant with his questioning.

 (Fence right through the steps)

At one point we even approached the neighbor. Not with any questions, but actually to ask if we could buy a portion of their property from them. There is a piece behind my house, on my foundation level, that we were thinking we could use to build an addition. Before the words were even fully out, the neighbor said no, and his wife said, "Then where would my dogs go to the bathroom?" So we just exchanged small talk about the neighborhood for a few more minutes, and he mentioned this addition he'd built a number of years ago.

 (The roof of his addition centimeters from my fence)

Because things like this aren't the biggest priority when there's just a "hmmmm?" in your head, it took us a few months to make the rounds to the Manitou Springs city offices and both the city and regional buildings in Colorado Springs. We didn't even really know what we were looking for at first, but we got copies of paperwork detailing my and the neighbor's lots, and found out that he'd never pulled any permits for either his addition or his garage. Nor, for that matter, the A/C unit he was currently installing.

We looked at my ILC, which is not a formal survey, not admissible in court, and done in 2005. We called the company that had completed it and asked about it. They didn't own the original, so they couldn't give that to us (and the company that does own the original is out of business, so we were out of luck there), but the man we spoke to did send us an electronic copy of ours, with arrows pointing to all of the areas that aren't on the original - they had been drawn onto mine. Then they sent a guy out to look at our property, as we were thinking about getting a survey done. However, this is Manitou (= lots of crazy property issues), and surveys are expensive. Like $3,000 to $5,000 dollars expensive. I dropped that idea pretty quickly.

But we did go to our city planner's office with the ILC. Which, I forgot to mention, actually has my neighbor's house plotted on it, OVER my lot line. Yep, his addition looked like it was not only on my property, but someone had actually drawn it in on my document. The planner called them into his office, but without a proper survey, there really was nothing he could do.

It was some time in here that I saw the neighbor outside, and asked him again about the addition. I didn't say much, but told him I was wondering about the property line in the back. He then denied ever having built the addition.

With nothing else to do now on my own, I filed a claim against my title company (by now it had been explained to me what one was and what their job was - to make sure there were no issues like this prior to purchase). Oh, I also forgot to mention that I'd called the previous owner as well. It took a month for her to call me back, but when we spoke, she told me she didn't know anything about the property lines in the back of the house. See why this was a long, ongoing, something-could-happen-but-isn't-happening saga?

Back to the title company. I sent them pictures of my/the neighbor's property. I told them about his addition. I told them about the ILC. I sent them copies of the one I have, as well as the one that was sent to us with all the arrows on it. And, again after a couple months of silence (for the most part), someone there obviously decided there was enough of a question that a survey needed to be done. A man was out here for a few hours last Thursday completing that.

And while he wouldn't say much once he was done ("I don't want to create bad blood between neighbors"), it was quite clear from his chuckling that my fence is not actually my lot line. All he said was, "Your neighbor is going to have some problems."

So now we know. But at the same time, what do we know? Only definitively that his addition was built on my property. I still don't know:
*What the title company's responsibility is to rectify anything. They didn't do their job, and I, therefore, bought a property with incorrect property lines. Do they pay me something? Do they pay for legal representation? No clue.
* Does my neighbor need to give me property-tax money, since he's using part of my property?
*Will he be able to stay on that land? What kind of rights does he have if he's been on it, undisputed, for X number of years?
*Or will he have to tear his addition down? Or will he have to give me a chunk of his property as an alternative to doing that?
*Will he now have to have that addition (and garage?) inspected and brought up to code because neither were ever permitted in the first place?
*Does he have squatter's rights, and then am I just s.o.l? Would we have to have new property lines drawn up , then?

See? Again, nothing really happening, but sort of happening. And something definitely will. The only thing I'm pretty sure about is that it won't happen quickly.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Labor Day Weekend Activities.

We went to the Balloon Classic, a tradition in the Springs for almost 40 years. They say this will be the last time the balloons launch here, so we're so glad they lifted off. Two years ago we tried to go, and it was too windy, so the balloons just sat there on the ground. I've really wanted to share this part of my childhood with my own kids, so I was so thankful the weather was calm.

Then on Sunday we drove to Alamosa, stayed in a fun hotel, and went to the Great Sand Dunes Nat'l Park on Monday morning. All in celebration of the oldest's birthday. Yeah, I'm now mom to a teenager. Not sure when that happened (except the obvious answer of 7:05 this morning).

We were up at 6:00, driving to the dunes by 7:00, climbing by 8:00. It started out cool, but soon we were carrying our sweatshirts and sweating.

We took one picture of all our shadows, but we were just standing there. "Pretend to walk!" I said. This was the result.

Josiah loved climbing the highest parts of some dunes. However, he and his brother both stopped short of the highest dune, Star Dune, while Ariel and I trudged on.

Throwing sand is a must.

Atop Star Dune.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


I was called to the principal's office today.

He had finally gone through all the TCAP scores from last spring.

He started out with, "I know you had a pretty rough year last year..."

Uh oh. What's coming?

"But I couldn't wait until Friday to share this with you. All those parents who gave you such a hard time... Here is your vindication."

And he put the printout in front of me.

And although I don't yet have a copy of it, so I can't tell you exactly what the results were, I rocked it. For reading, writing, and math, I only had two or three students not make a year's worth of growth. I had about half make a year, and some make two.

"I knew instinctively that this was going to happen before it did... But I want you to know that there's no way you can chalk this up to 'relationships with kids.' This is instruction. This is good instruction. If everyone did this, our school would be in the top 10 percent. This is phenomenal."


People don't use that word very often.

Lately I've been contemplating my career. I really enjoy what I do. I've always felt that I was good at it.  Two years ago I was working at a school that was on a probationary period due to low test scores. We brought that school up to Performance Level. I left after that year, so I don't know how those students did specifically, but because fifth grade is such a pivotal year for testing, I knew I'd taught those kiddos well.

Today I got my proof.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Before and Afters - Outdoor Spaces

One of the things I really wanted to change about my house when I moved in was the two dirt patches which adorned both sides of the stairs up to the front porch (see the lovely top picture, below). So we headed to Home Depot one day to get some ideas. Ideas only. But as we were walking into HD we passed a pallet of pavers (see the bottom photo, below) that had been used and returned. So they had some glue on them, but they were also only $50. For the entire pallet. We originally passed it up and headed to the garden department. For ideas. Until A said, "You know, if you're thinking about those, we need to go back and get them. Now. Or someone else will." You know the end of the story. What you don't know is that the $50 dollar pallet was over 3,000 lbs. of pavers and, as we later calculated, worth over $500. I have some flowers on order, so I can't fill the beds yet, but look at the improvement!

 The entire porch got an overhaul, and probably cost about as much as those pavers. I painted the loveseat a darker brown and covered those hideous cushions with covers I found at the thrift store. Also from the thrift store are the bamboo vases, the curtain, and the few items you can see on the wall on the right in the top right photo. The hanging planters are from Ikea and the teal table is a recent sale find from World Market.
(I feel like I'm going to cave in on myself, looking at these two pictures (above). I really don't know how they ended up tilted in opposite directions like that, but I'm too lazy to do anything about it).

Finally, a quick shot of what the upper deck looks like as well. Quite different from when I bought the place. Of course, summer and full, green trees help a bit, too. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Over the Crux

My man and I headed to my favorite climbing locale last week. Finally, for the first time since we started climbing outside a couple months ago, I felt good. I don't know what was previously going on, but every time I'd climb something (except for a run up Montezuma's Tower in the Garden a couple weeks ago) I was terrified on every single route I started up. But on this day I finally felt on top of my game again, even though I'd not climbed anything yet. It was just a feeling I had - partly because I was sick of feeling freaked out for no good reason and had given myself a good pep talk. 

After leading a climb I'd done many times, I scouted around for a couple others we could do. We headed toward the right side of the rock face and found one that Mountain Project said was a 5.9. I looked at it, said, "I can do that," and started roping up. I noticed that halfway up there was a bail-biner - a carebiner someone had left there because they couldn't finish the route for some reason.

When I got to that point, I understood why the previous climber had bailed. It was definitely the crux of the climb. Mountain Project said there was an undercling, but after looking at it, I knew there was no way I could hold onto what was there. It's happened before, me climbing a route differently than intended. I'm sure others do it, too. I hung there at the bolt the previous climber had bailed on and looked and looked at the next move. My man was holding me tight (at my request), while I maneuvered my feet over and over, trying to find the perfect stance. After probably six or seven "attempts" (still being held taut), I called, "Give me slack, give me slack!" And then I was up. I don't even really know how it happened. It was like my body decided my brain was a hindrance, took over for a few seconds, and completed it with sheer physicality. Without really consciously realizing what was happening, I was over the crux. And yes, definitely back on top of my game.

While I have no idea why I'd been so freaked out about climbing for so long, what really concerned me was that I was and I didn't know if the feeling was permanent. I'd actually even debated whether or not I should climb anymore (when it comes down to it, I'm too stubborn to give up, though). Glad I kept at it, because there are other things in life that scare me, and it's a good lesson learned - if I just keep trying, at some point I'll be over the crux without hardly realizing how I did it.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fur and a Tail

My man and I have hiked the last couple days around town. The first evening we headed into William's Canyon. It's not open to the public, but there were only two of us. We're not really "the public" are we? It's amazing what that canyon looks like now, after all the flooding down there this summer. I shouldn't really say we hiked it. Rather, we walked to it from my house and then we boulder hopped to the point where the trail breaks from the old Cave of the Winds exit road.

Yesterday evening after work, I thought I'd show my man the old Ute trail, a relatively obscure one that seems very remote and untraveled. We only hiked up about 40 minutes, then turned around. On our way back down, we decided to explore a different exit option. It's always a risk to do so, but we were so close to town we figured we could get back to the car no matter where we came out.

The trail, at first, started out wide, and looked like a vehicle had even driven that part of it before. It wasn't long, though, before it really was a trail, following the ridge of a hill. Not something to be done in snowy conditions, because it would be hard to recover from a slip off either side. Not something to be done in summer, because it was extremely rocky - perfect for snakes.

We kept the original trail to our right, and when the one we were on veered to the left, we decided to head downhill to the right to see if we could get down the hill and back onto the "real" trail. The hillside was a bit steep, and sometimes we had to hold onto the abundant spiky small trees to help us down. We were not far from some really steep cliffs to our left, so we headed right to find a gully that emptied onto a not-so-steep part of the hill down to the trail. We found one. It was full of more of those spiky trees, but we picked our way through them, held onto rocks on either side of us, and lowered ourselves down over the steeper areas. Really, this wasn't dangerous or anything, just a little more effort than some descents. "An adventure," my man called it.

So here we were, surrounded by craggy rocks, almost to the hill that we could take to the trail at the bottom. I went first. I grabbed some rocks and jumped to the ground, right in front of small cave. At the same time, I thought I heard a man's voice. I looked down toward the trail, but no one was there. I didn't think anything else of it at the time. Maybe, for some reason, I scraped something or what have you, and it made a sound like something someone would say. I started walking down the hill, and turned back after a few steps to wait for my man.

As he started coming down over the hole, he said, "Babe, you keep going. I'm going to find a different way down." "What?" I said. "Why?" "Just keep walking, ok?" When I questioned him again, he said, "There's something in that hole. I'm going to find a different way down. You just get to the trail." He headed back up the rocks, and I headed down, my heart beating a bit faster than normal.

That was some of the scariest moments I can remember, in that regard. I didn't know what he'd seen, I was out in the open, and he was getting farther away from me as we moved in opposite directions. I didn't know if something was going to start hunting me. Perfect timing, as it was dusk by this time.

Well, obviously all's well. He found another way down and we met up on the trail - with whatever it was staying in its hole. When he reached me I asked what he'd seen. "I don't know what it was," he said. "All I saw was fur and a tail." And the male sound I thought I'd heard? Probably the animal growling at me when I jumped down right in front of it. We're figuring it was a coyote, but there's no way we're going back to find out.

So, lessons learned this time out? No more rocky crags on a hillside that no human has come down in probably years. And the adventure my man mentioned earlier on our descent? "Maybe a little less adventure," he commented once we were back at the car. Yes. Perhaps.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ouray 2014

 On Friday my man and I took off for Ouray, Colorado, home of one of the ice climbing meccas of the U.S. Seriously. People are jealous of what is practically in our backyard. Even if it's a backyard that takes 5 hours to get to.

We met up with a crazy bunch of people there, many of whom I'd climbed with last year. We had two condos rented for the fourteen of us. Above is the view from the condos.

It was Ariel's first time on ice. First time climbing outdoors at all. He followed in my footsteps in that regard, as my first time climbing outdoors was also on ice in Ouray, three years ago.

Did I mention Ouray also has some amazing vistas?

He had, however, rappelled before, when he worked for the fire department years ago. So at least I was ok with him rapping into our first climbs, which were in the New Funtier area of the ice park. 

We had amazing weather. If I'd had a t-shirt on, I'd've worn it. Most of the time I just climbed in my long underwear top. It was so warm, there was a lot of dripping water. I've been there when it was freezing cold, and it's not fun. So while the heat is nice, when you go to climb ice, you kind of want it to stay there. 

Some of our group: Nathan, Tommy, Chad, Me, Norm, Ariel, and Erik. 
 Not pictured: John, Jonathan, Sarah, Dan, Jason, Valerie, Stephanie.

It was Stephanie's first time, too. 

 Jonathan broke his neck a few months ago, and was up climbing.

Sarah was given a 15% chance of living two months ago, and was also up climbing.

 And while it's nowhere near that serious, I did something to my back the morning we started out, and could barely walk all weekend. But I didn't go all that way to not climb. So I loosened my back as much as possible with the short walk in and then ignored the pain all day.

As I type, I've got some pain meds working their magic, and I'm sure I'll be fine in a few days.

Ice tools. 

Erik rapping in. 

Ariel giving someone a ride. 

 Nathan's got some interesting belay positions going on...

 Ariel was a natural. He climbed like he'd done it many times before. On our drive there he'd said, "I don't know why people drive all this way to climb on ice. I didn't even know you could drive this long and still be in Colorado!" I think he gets it now (although whether he comes to love climbing like I do remains to be seen).

My first year climbing, three years ago, I got hit on the shoulder with a chunk of ice that the guy I was climbing with knocked loose. This is how big I imagine it to be. I never did actually see it, but it rendered my arm useless for quite a while.

Below, some of our group are climbing up out of an area called South Park. 

 Time to chill.

Lesson Learned: Drive "all that way" to climb. We're some lucky people!