Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spring Break 2017

View of Taos and Taos Pueblo from the Devisadero Loop Trail
On the Saturday morning following Saint Patrick's Day in 2017, Erin and I started our Spring Break. We had lunch with Erin's brother Nathan in Colby, KS, and spent a little time with him before leaving for Fort Collins.

Jody and Erica greeted us in Fort Collins at their new digs. We stayed in that night, had a fire in a fire pit they designed and built out of a washer drum, and played darts until late.  Sunday funday, we celebrated the 22nd birthday of Damon (Erica's son) by painting the town in this order:

  1. Bloody Marys and Brunch at Blind Pig Pub
  2. German Beer Tasting at Prost Tasting Room.
  3. Whisky Tasting at Feisty Spirits Distillery.
  4. A beer, a short nap, and several push-ups at New Belgium
  5. Scrumpy's Hard Cider Bar & Pub for some cider and a snack.
  6. Social for cocktails and small plates. 
  7. Drinks and dinner at The Mayor of Old Town

Social is a speakeasy in Fort Collins with a very cool ambiance, amazing cocktails, and delicious small plates.
On Monday morning, we ate breakfast at Jody's and drove to Lee Martinez Park where we both ran on the beautiful Poudre Trail.  That worked up an appetite for lunch, so we ate at the Colorado Room

Before skipping town we had to make a final stop at The Welsh Rabbit to get some cheeses and meats for the road and to share. The only problem with stopping there was that the bean to bar place, Nuance Chocolate, was right next door.  There was some chocolate tasting and purchasing, as well as a Theo brew and coffee blend that I took for the road. Yummy. 

We drove to WeeCasa in Lyons, CO. I didn't realize that Lyons is where the original Oscar Blues Brewery was founded. We had food and drinks there, and a last drink at the Lyons Fork which is where we probably should have had dinner.  Mike, who had an adorable Burmese Mountain dog named Brohdi, gave us a hiking recommendation and $2. He wanted us to bring him an iced coffee in the morning. That didn't happen. 

On the Button Rock Trail. Frank Price Resovoir in background. 
The hike did, however, and it was gorgeous. It was almost a 5 mile hike, and we had to pick up the pace at the end. That evening, we arrived in Taos, NM and enjoyed some corned beef and cabbage for a late St. Patrick's Day meal, and a fire in the chiminea. 

Joseph took me hiking on the Devisadero Trail Wednesday morning, which was an out and back hike of about 5 miles.  
Devisadero Trail Hike
All of us took a pretty drive to Vivac winery later for a tasting. 

On Thursday morning, Erin joined us for a hike down into the Rio Grande Gorge along the La Vista Verde.  There were several bighorn sheep spotted. 

The view at the end of La Vista Verde
How many Bighorn Sheep can you count?
That evening, it began to snow! This was good news, as I planned a ski day to the Taos Ski Valley on Friday. We went to the Love Apple for dinner and snapped a selfie before our consumption of wine and delicious food. 
The snow is really coming down! 
On Friday, I drove to Arroyo Seco, almost half way to the ski valley, to find out that there were road closures and power outages, and that the ski valley was closed. This was a big bummer. I really had looked forward to this! Instead, we enjoyed the Taos Plaza.  

Since I didn't get to ski Friday and the Taos Ski Valley had regained power and opened back up by that evening, we rearranged our plans so that instead of leaving Saturday morning, I would get a half day of skiing in and leave in the afternoon. This would mean a stop overnight before getting to Topeka, but it was worth it. 

Saturday morning, I hit the slopes. 

I took both of these routes at some point during the day. 

Skiing gives you the best views. 
Thanks to Jody & Erica, and Joseph & Trish, we enjoyed almost the entire trip without having to pay for lodging. 

We got into Hays, KS that night around 10:30 pm.  There was a lot of wildlife in eastern Colorado and western Kansas. We saw many wild horses, elk, antelope and deer, and our driver's side rear view mirror was smashed by a pheasant.
On our way home Sunday morning, we decided to stop in Lindsborg, KS, which has a big Swedish influence. I like all things Scandinavian, so it has been on the to-do list for a while.  After a coffee at the White Peacock, we had lunch at Farley's Bar and Grill. We stopped by Hemslojd for some postcards and then took a drive up to Coronado Heights before heading home.  
Erin and I at the Hemslojd, Inc in Lindsborg, KS

Erin & Pleepleus hanging out at Coronado Heights
It has been a fantastic Spring Break, but it is great to finally be home with the kitties! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Our First Tiny Home Experience

Erin and I have just stayed the night at the WeeCasa in Lyons, CO. Their claim is that they are Colorado's first Tiny Home Hotel.

Ever since we minimized and simplified our lives, Erin has been very fascinated by the Tiny Home movement. As much as I admire the idea, I have to be honest with myself in that it would be very difficult to get to this level of tiny. I had to crawl over Erin - and squash her a little in the process - to get out of bed this morning.

There was no room I could escape to in order to write. The kettle was put on 10 feet below her head.  The table I'm writing on was folded down from the wall. It behaves as extra counter space as well. You cannot be overweight and navigate around this table to different parts of the room, as the passage is very narrow.  I have already bumped into it a few times.

In order for us to live here, we would have to get rid of everything we own, and by everything, I mean about 95% of our stuff, which would essentially be everything. None of our furniture would fit in this place. We would have to be very selective in the number of dishes we could keep. There are four drawers for clothes, so most of our clothes would have to go.

You know that hobby I have of home brewing? Nope. That wouldn't happen here. The bike would have to be locked up and stored outside somewhere.

All of that being said, this place is really cool, and fits our lives in many ways. Even though I woke up with a purpose of writing, there weren't many other options. It is great for focused work. After some focused work, I will want to get outside. That will require a plan. Will I want to go for a run, or maybe just a quick walk to Lyons for some coffee?  I could go for a hike, or run up to the library in town.

We are only one night here, so as soon as Erin gets up and around, we will take a small drive to some scenic views and get in a hike starting at the Button Rock Trail head. During the hike, we can talk more about tiny home living and what it would take. I know there are designs that we could make work.

This evening, we should be taking in a sunset in Taos, NM if things go to plan.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Focusing Rhythmically

Part I: Scheduling Deep Work

I'm slowly making my way through Deep Work by Cal Newport. Although I am not yet finished, I can tell that this will be a game changer and have a significant impact on my life.  Let me fill you in on how it has changed my life in the past week.

In the Rule #1 section, Work Deeply, Newport discusses the four philosophies of working with depth. As soon as I read about the example and case study of Brian Chappell, and what Newport describes as the rhythmic philosophy of deep work scheduling, I knew I had found gold.  

Chappell was finishing up his dissertation when offered a full-time job, along with an arrival of his first child. His failed attempt at scheduling 90 minute chunks of time - the amount of time that intense focus can be sustained in a work period - in an ad hoc manner led him only to a single chapter written in his entire first year. 

This drove Brian to begin waking up at 5:30am every morning and working until 7:30.  He would then go to work totally finished with any kind of dissertation obligations for the day. This resulted in getting a chapter written every 2-3 weeks.  

It was this concept that totally resonated with me.  I admit, I am weird in the fact that I don't need an alarm to wake up this early and start working (after making a cup of joe, of course).  My morning routine has usually consisted of snoozing or slumbering restlessly later than this natural wake up time, enjoying a cup of coffee while I leisure read either the news or a book, and then having a quick bite before heading out the door.

This changed last week.

My first week of rhythmic deep work scheduling began on Tuesday, February 28th and this has lasted through today.  I've used most sessions for my own MLC Exam studying purposes, with the exception of one day last week which I used for class preparation when I got a little behind. 

These deep work sessions will continue beyond passing the MLC Exam. Studying for this exam will be replaced by working on publications, further professional and personal development, or anything else that requires intense focus. Eventually, I can see filling that time with learning a language or a musical instrument.

Part II: Nobody Really Gives a Shit

Newports 3rd rule is to quit social media. Check.

OK, so I quit for different reasons than he gives, but the deed is done. Now, after reading about the reasons he gives, I'm pretty sure I will never go back. I really appreciated and admired his analysis of what the draw to Facebook is in the first place.

Prior to Facebook, he describes, it took a lot of work to get a significant number of people to read whatever you write. Facebook created an avenue to get a lot of people to read whatever you want to blabber on about. There seems to be this code of "you like my stuff and I'll like yours."  It is highly addictive.

But here is the kicker. If/when you quit Facebook, and if you don't announce it on Facebook before doing so, nobody will notice. OK, by nobody, I mean out of the 400 Facebook friends that you have, 395 will not notice.

That is kind of a hard pill to swallow. The masses don't care what you have to write or say. If they do, that took some very hard work to get to that point, and it most assuredly did not happen on Facebook.

This has me thinking a lot about what I'm writing, and the content that I want to produce. Do I want to write something that the masses will eventually find their way to?  Do I care to reach them?  Maybe I just like writing whatever it is I like to write, and find it meaningful to reach the extremely small number of people that actually do read this.

I don't know. It does give me something to think about.