Thursday, August 31, 2006

My Trip To Dillon

Hey, y'all!

Seems like I've been tripping all over the place, but have been landing in some places worthy of my writing (and your reading). This time, let me take you to Dillon, Colorado.

Nestled in Summit County, at an altitude of over 9,000 feet, Dillon is where my father resides during the summer months. And that idea is a no-brainer considering he lives in Waco, Texas the rest of the year... (In case you forgot, Waco in the summer time is the equivalent of sitting in your car with all the windows rolled up in the middle of July... practically anywhere... like... Waco... this is going nowhere)

ANYWAY, I went there to visit him and to do lots of cool outdoorsy type activities, mostly hiking, golfing, and one 35 mile bike ride.

As for the golfing, it was fun... even though I only golf about once or twice a year. Good news is because of the altitude, the air is thinner. Thinner air means there is less resistance to your ball in flight, and if you can get your ball off of the ground (I have a 50-60% chance of that) it'll fly about 15-20% farther! Unfortunately the thinness of air does nothing for your putting game, so I found that putting towards the closest sand trap was a more reasonable goal. Still, it's embarrassing when you can't putt your ball into a 250 square foot pit of sand.
Here is some of the Keystone Ranch course, one that I attempted to play. At least you can take solace in the beautiful mountains and scenery as you continuously strike the ball 30 feet at a time, all the while pretending not to hear the heartless laughter of all the woodland creatures.
Here I am about to send the ball hurtling into orbit... and by hurtling to orbit I mean probably running it into the grass to the point where it fails to pass the ladies' tee box. Then I have to crawl with my pants down around my ankles to retrieve the ball while my father and his friends put out their cigarettes on my butt...

Just kidding, usually they just poke me with sticks and call me "Nancy." I love hangin' with the guys.

Okay, enough about golf... How about something more exciting? Like walking... er... hiking! I've always been a fan of hiking. Something about walking up hill for a long time just makes me giddy. Usually, at the top of your hike, you are rewarded with a fantastic view of stuff way down below you. You find a rock, sit on it, and eat some trail mix (suspiciously anytime you mix M & M's with peanuts, you get trail mix. Why? Neither of these things are indigenous to any trail I've been on...) Anyway, you sit on a rock eating candy and nuts and say "Yep, sure is a long way up." You breathe it in for awhile... then continue your torture and walk back down. And it's always a surprise when you get to the top... to see the sweeping landscape before you. This is kinda ironic, as it's been there the entire trip up, but since 95% of a hike is spent looking down at your feet while you're walking, you never see it. Think about it... next time your hiking and you happen to look up... You've basically seen "it" and can now walk back down.

In any case, I sure do love me some hiking, and my father and I went on a few this trip. Rather than waste words and words and words here, I've created a fancy little video for you to enjoy. So, sit back and watch my hikes of Dillon, Colorado... Or, if your chair doesn't have a back, and you're on a bar stool, then I suggest you not lean, unless you have strong abs. In any case, I trust you'll make the right decision concerning your equilibrium and the type of furniture you're using.... Now, the video:

Pretty neat, huh? Now for some pictures that did not make it into the video...
This tree is bendy... Yep... Really don't have much else to say about it... Bendy bendy...
Here is a picture of some type of flower I took while on a nature hike. I think I'll call it "Pom Pom Plant" or "P Cubed." Whatever it is, this photo just might get put on the fridge... makes me think I'm a real-life photographer!

Here I am about ready to start that Nature Hike I have mentioned... Notice how my back is friggin' huge (friggin' is a medical term... er... medical adjective that doctors use to describe something that is... uh, medical in nature. For example "In order to operate, Dr. Granstonen asked the nurse, Ms. Maryweathertonston, to 'bring me my friggin' forceps.' Now that you know that, you're probably wondering why I would use a medical adjective, clearly when it's out of context. Answer? I have no idea...

Anyway, under my jacket (with a hood, 'cause you never know) I had a camel pack on. For those of you unaware, a camel back is a backpack with a built in canteen, or bladder, inside of it. It also has a long plastic tube that comes out the top, so when your hiking, cycling, or tailgating, you just reach around, grab the hose, and hydrate. Sounds like a smart idea, no?

Sort of... See, the Nature Hike was something my step mother Trudi does with a group of people every week. She has become quite adept at naming high altitude flora, such as the Geranium sanguineum, or the Erigeron concinnus... where I tend to name the same plants "Henry Kissinger" and "Wanda Sikes." In any case, you'd never think you'd run into Henry and Wanda together, let alone in full bloom. Wait, I was talking about the camel pack, wasn't I? Right...

So, this Nature Hike was the last one of the season, and everyone had brought a snack to share. The plan was to hike for a bit, then find a spot and eat snacks. So, we did... And, believe me, there were good snacks (although, there was no trail mix... Interesting). So, what did yours truly bring? Well, Trudi decided to bring wine. So we filled up the camel pack with 3 liters of white wine. Then we stuck a tupperware container full of Kahula soaked brownies in the zipper portion of the camel pack. Although it seems heavy, it really wasn't since the pack is designed to fit snugly against your back. Anyway, once we sat down, Trudi whipped out some cups (Oh, I was carrying cups too...) and started pouring wine. So, here we were, at the top of our hike eating liquor soaked brownies and washing them down with a jug of white wine. Don't remember the hike back down... say... where'd this tattoo come from?

So, my father and I decide to go on a bike ride from Dillon to Breckenridge. One way was about 17 miles, and about a 500 foot elevation change (up going towards Breck). I decided to go on Google Earth to see just how long of a bike ride it was... I give you Illustration A:
After we got there, a burger was certainly in order (sorry, no pictures of food this trip). Funny thing was that after riding up hill for about 2 and a half hours, my legs felt fine. I wasn't huffin' and puffin'. No, all in all I felt fine... except that my butt was killing me! Holy cow let me tell you, I have always been aware that I don't have a lot of junk in my trunk know what I'm sayin'? Still, my butt hurt... a lot. Ha ha, jokes on me, cause now we are going to ride back to Dillon! At least the first leg was nothing but down hill (That long straight-ish line that goes south of the lake along the Snake River) so I could stand up a bit and coast. Still, by the time I got back to the house, my legs hurt a little, and my butt (which I took off and wore as a helmet) was throbbing... Yeah, that's a word picture isn't it? Throbbing butt... say it with me... throbbing butt... good...

Along the way back, I did stop and take one picture... I feel it was worth taking... Ever see those life sized bronze statues?
No caption needed...

Oh, and I did stop and take a picture along the way up too...

I mean, how often do you get to see that many bear carvings? Only once in a lifetime, my friend.

So, after a day long bike ride you'd figure the smart thing to do would be to rest the next day... Not me, nor my father... Because the next day we hiked Mt. Quandary. You saw some of it in the video, but let me remind you that the trail head started at 11,000ish feet and ended well over 14,300 feet. The trail was a little over 3 miles long each way, and since most of it was above the treeline (somewhere around 12,000 feet where the trees cannot grow) there wasn't anything to hike on but huge boulders and closer to the top, smaller rocks.
This picture was taken on our descent, probably just under 14,000 feet. Blow up the picture, and you can really gauge how high we are (see this hiker ahead?) Wanna know where the trail head is? Blow up the picture and spot the hiker in blue? Draw your mouse above him and just to the right you'll see a clearing with what looks like a lake. See the road to the left of the lake, and where it makes a left into the trees? About a quarter mile from there was the trail head.

Oh, and of course, when one plans ahead for a six mile hike, at least this one... you'd think part of the planning would be that camel pack (filled with water...) wouldn't you? Well, you should have told me, and we would have brought it. Did bring some Trail Mix though!

And that pretty much encompasses my trip to Dillon... to close, here are some pictures...

I know, it's juvenile, which is why I like it... Still, if I were a business owner, I would consider a few things here:
  • Who would eat donkey balls? Soaked in chocolate or not... they're balls.
  • Speaking of chocolate, if we are being literal about the balls, are we being metaphorical about the chocolate?
  • Look how happy the donkey in the picture is... He has conquered gravity by standing on his hine legs and seems to have mastered the art of snowboarding... but at what cost?
  • While you're there, try sucking on a "Donkey Ball" cigar... a big, brown cigar...

Poor guy... If only he had been drawn with toes that matched is tentacle like fingers, he'd probably have never slipped in the first place!

That's all I got... Y'all keep in touch!

Your pal,

Michael Lamendola

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