Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Colorado Trip

It's been a pretty fantastic week away in Colorado!
BF and I got tickets to fly out early on Tuesday, and we packed excitedly for an easy and relaxing sport climbing trip (no huge hikes in, no carrying a million pounds of traditional gear in the backcountry).  I may have underestimated that hiking in part...
We arrived and drove immediately up into the mountains.  By the end of the day, we were climbing up by Independence Pass at 10,000 ft up!  There was some incredible views, fantastic climbing, and a very nice kick in the pants during the hike up that I'm not in cardio shape at all.  Kind of a tough reminder on day 1 of a trip.
I even had time to monkey around a bit before we looked for a place to park the van for the night.
Did I forget to mention that? :)
Because we signed up for the "Compact Car or Equivalent", we scored a mini van from the car rental place for crazy cheap!  This meant that when it rained every afternoon- sometimes a full blown thunderstorm- we had a great place to spend the night without completely soaking our gear!
Mornings were spent making coffee next to a stream at a completely abandoned pullout, or watching it rain from the trunk as we relaxed, read, played games, and waited for good weather.
With nice sun in the morning and afternoon rain and thunderstorms, it was a little weird weather-wise, but it was still fantastic climbing!
I got to have great views from every perch.
Evenings were usually spent at a local place, looking where we were going to climb the next day and enjoying local ciders and food. 
And even on days that it rained the whole time, we still went hiking!
One morning, we were camped near Carbondale, Colorado, on a very very back dirt/clay road.  We got in late, parked the van, unrolled our sleeping bags in the back, and woke up to sprinkling on and off on the roof.
We made a quick breakfast before deciding to do the short 2-mile hike in to where the climbing cliff was to at least check it out!
We found an amazing place, but the rain was soaking the entire top of the headwall, making it impossible to climb.  
That didn't mean I didn't at least play around a bit at the bottom of the cliff for awhile! :)
The only unfortunate part was that on the hike back, I finally had to come to the realization that my 7-year old raincoat, a long and faithful partner in my adventures, was no longer waterproof.  At ALL.  I kept up my good spirits, because all you can do is laugh in the rain and wonder if it's better to keep a soaking wet raincoat ON or just take it off?  
We also tried to climb near the Aspen ski area, but the rain had different ideas.  
We hiked straight uphill for over a half an hour (oh my GOD am I out of cardio shape), took another half hour scootching around side to side on the hill trying to find the silly climbing area, and then right when we found it, we felt sprinkles.  Down the path we went- doing that in the rain wouldn't have been fun.  The moment we got in the van it began to downpour.  Talk about the nick of time!
After spending most of our time in the mountains, we drove to the front range for the weekend to spend time with my cousin, Seth, who lives in Denver.
His adorable little miniature husky Easton joined us for the last few days at the crag.  I promise he's not crazy, he's just so excited rubbing his face against my leg that he only looks a little crazy. :)
Not very many of my family members show interest in climbing, so it was really cool to get Seth on the rock and trying out a brand new sport.  He was a champ, trying everything we put him on and giving it his all.  He burned out his forearms and fingers, got scraped and bloody, and passed out both nights immediately after dinner when we got home. 
I think he enjoyed it. :)
I wish I had more and better pictures of the actual climbing, but when you have two people when climbing ropes, it's a little tough.  Someone is always climbing and belaying, which means you get little to no pictures.  
Well, unless you're super bored while belaying and like taking selfies and pictures of rocks and your feet... :)
I'll have to work on that for my next climbing trip!
We got partially caught up in the Delta debacle on our way home, but after waking up at 3:30 to catch a plane, hurry up returning the rental, hurry up through checking a bag and security, then waiting for our delayed flight, it was really good to get home yesterday afternoon and relax with my kittens.
I have about a week before school starts, and hopefully I'll get in one more quick backpacking trip before then.  
I mean, what's the point of being a teacher if you can't make complete and full use of your summer vacation? :)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

FO: Teacher Cowl

I finally found time to take a couple of pictures of my teacher cowl.  While I finished it back in June, it disappeared during the move and only recently resurfaced!
Friends, I present to you my Teacher Cowl.  Sorry for the not-great pictures- the bright sun was making it hard to focus.

Pattern: Honey Cowl by Antonia Shankland
Yarn: Quince & Co. Owl Tweet in colorway 362, Nuuk
Needles: Size 5 bamboo circulars
Timeframe: April 4-June 16

Mods: Cast on 160 stitches instead of what the pattern called for.
Worst Part: Losing the cowl in the craziness of moving and worrying that I might not find it again...
Best Part: The yarn!  I love the tweed.  I might have to knit a sweater out of this delicious stuff in the future...

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Coldplay, Dancing, and Knitting

I think I pack my summers even more full than my school year.  I should probably work on that... :)
BF and I went to Chicago last weekend to see Coldplay for possibly one of the coolest concerts I've ever seen.  
We did the cheesy walking around Chicago and walking around Millennium Park (the bean picture didn't turn out) and the day after the concert, we walked around the Lincoln Park Zoo for a few hours in 90 degree hot.  Super fun as long as there's a lot of water. :)
The concert itself was mildly epic.  
When we got to soldier field, it was like the heavens had opened up and the angels were crying upon the earth.  There was thunder and lightening and it almost seemed as though we weren't going to see the concert.  The jumbo-tron kept showing the radar with Chicago under a big blob of red.  There was a spot of clear, and then there was an even bigger spot of red and yellow after it.  
A little over an hour after the concert was supposed to begin, it finally started to clear up a little.  The rain stopped and the sky stilled, as if we were in the eye of the hurricane.  In a way, we kind of were.
A big announcement came over the loudspeaker:
"Please move to your assigned seat as soon as possible; Coldplay will be taking the stage."
They skipped the two opening acts and were going to try to fit Coldplay in between the storms!

I wouldn't say that I'm the biggest Coldplay fan in the world, but I knew 3/4 of the songs they played over the next two hours, and in a sold-out stadium with 60,000 people was an incredible experience.
Even more incredible was that as they started to wrap it up, it started drizzling and lightly raining again.  The main singer finished the song, then said to the crowd,
"We've been told we have to evacuate the stadium due to inclement weather approaching.  But how about one more song?"
The crowd roared their approval, and as the band played the skies opened up again and started pouring.  The jumbo-tron showed rain pouring down as the band kept rocking on, and the entire stadium rocked with people dancing and singing in the rain.
Again, probably the coolest band experience ever. :)
After coming back from Chicago, I finally had a handful of days at home for the first time since I moved in to my new apartment.  My kittens were incredibly happy to see me, and I spent the time unpacking the last of my boxes, working on the upcoming school semester (I can't believe it's less than a month away), and organizing my apartment and figuring out where stuff is.
I taught my last dance classes for the summer, and went down to the lakewalk to watch an incredible group of ladies perform for the tourists!

I was lucky enough to be invited up with them to do a little sham-sham-shimmy.  Who can turn down an experience like that?

One of my best friends, Juliet, came and visited me for an evening as well, where we walked along Duluth's boardwalk, stopping in at a couple places to grab a drink, and enjoyed each other's company before she ran off to the BWCAW.

Last night, my friend Alex and I went to probably one of the last midnight Harry Potter openings for the new play.  We played games, got points for our houses playing trivia, and picked up the newest book.  I finished it this morning, and I really enjoyed it! :)
I'm finally making some headway on knitting now that I'm moved in and have a little more time.

I'm almost to the thumb on a pair of flamingo mittens that I'm making for my Sister-in-Law, Kendra (boy it feels cool to type that title!).
My traveling knit is going quite a bit faster due to all the car time I've had lately, and it's the knit I'm going to bring when I go to Colorado on Tuesday with the BF for a climbing trip!  I'm finally making myself the Stockholm Cowl after making it as gifts twice before.  I've wanted to make it for some time, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Even better- I'm using an ombre-gradient from Wonderland Yarns!  It's knitting up like a dream, and I can't wait to finish.  It's going to be reeeeally big...
Hopefully I'll be able to post an almost-finished cowl after my next trip. :)
Time to go pack...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Summer: Halfway Point

The funniest thing about summer is that I always expect it to be relaxing, chill, a time to hang out and enjoy friends and family and days where I can do absolutely nothing.
While there has definitely been hang out time, my summer has been anything but chill. :)

Dance finished with a bang as 6 of the studio seniors graduated, to much celebration, tears, and excitement for the next chapter!  I'm incredibly sad to see these amazing ladies leave, but I know they're going to do amazing things!  After that, I jumped right into auditions for next year's tap lines.  I have 5 tap competition lines next year.  It's going to be another crazy year in dance, it looks like!

After a rather harrowing experience with a new roommate's dog attacking poor little Albert, I ended up having to move in very quick fashion over the 4th of July weekend.

My new place is a little spendy, but I'm on my own for the first time, and my place is amazing!
It's the 3rd floor of an old school Duluth mansion, and it's all hardwood floors, great views, and super old school architecture and character.

The kittens have been incredibly happy here as well!

I even had time to run down to enjoy the 4th of July festivities at my aunt's house after moving with cousins.  Huzzah!
In between moving, it's been tons of wedding stuff!  My brother got married 2 weekends ago up here in Duluth at Spirit Mountain, so the weeks leading up to the festivities were full of showers, parties, and fun!

We had a bachelorette party weekend camping with all the bridesmaids and a bunch of Kendra's friends.  SO much fun- we did a wine tasting, shirt tie-dying, games, singing, campfire, cooking, and lots of laughing.  A few weeks later:

Kendra became my sister-in-law!

I was proud to stand by her side as one of the Bridesmaids as she and my brother got married.  My family is now officially a little bigger, and I couldn't be happier about it!

BF and I have been doing a fair bit of family time and trips, both together and apart.  It's been fun, though I'm almost looking forward to a weekend when we have nothing going on and can relax together.
It doesn't help that I keep planning more trips... :)
The last part of this past week I ran off to Lander, Wyoming for the International Climber's Festival.

It was fantastic, and I got to spend time with 3 other amazing ladies.

We climbed mostly at Wild Iris, and I have to say I absolutely loved the sport climbing there.  It was a little powerful, but the view was incredible, the company was amazing, and even the weather cooperated with good temperatures.

I love going on all-lady climber trips, and this one was particularly fantastic.  We all decided that we'll have to go back again for the festival next year!
I have a day or two at home before I head out again this weekend, this time to Chicago to see Coldplay with the BF (he spoils me a bit).  All this travel means that I've been able to get a bit of knitting in, which I'll have to share next post!
I'll try to be a little better this summer to post things, but as you can see, I've been busy getting out and doing cool things... :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A Week Away: Florida Edition

After a whirlwind week away in Florida, I feel refreshed, energized, and a little bit tanner. :)

BF & I got to head right to the beach when we got there- here we are at Bahia Honda National Park.  Got in some snorkeling and sun right away!

We went diving out of Islamorada (south of Key Largo) with my amazing friend Tony.  It was BF's first time diving after 15 years, but he was a champ getting back in the water right away!

I think the weirdest thing for me when diving in Florida is that I didn't have to wear an addition 20 pounds of drysuit.  All you do is hook your BC up to a tank and a regulator and you're off!  It made my checks feel incomplete.  The water was so warm, in fact, that I didn't even have to wear a wetsuit for some of my dives!  Just a long-sleeve and cutoffs to protect against the crazy sun!  No wonder everyone likes diving in Florida so much...

My friend Tony took us out fishing on his boat between dive trips!  I caught quite a few fish, and even though we didn't keep any, it was still a ton of fun!  It was great to get the "locals" tour from him, from fishing to boating to food.

Our second day of diving included a 100-ft dive to a wreck called the "Eagle".  My mind was blown by the amount of wildlife we saw around the wreck!  It was covered in coral, and the number of fish hanging out and swimming around was incredible!

We definitely made sure to get in some beach time as well- it is Florida, after all!

Lots of waves, boogie boarding, and relaxing to be had.  Being on the beach was an amazing way to relax, unwind, and be able to let go of my crazy and (slightly) stressful year.

It was also great to be able to spend a bunch of time with my parents!  I haven't been able to really hang out with them for an extended period of time since my cousin got married before Christmas, so we made sure to pack in the bike rides, games, and laughs.

One thing I have to relinquish is that Pictionary got rather stressful and competitive at times...

All in all it was an amazing week of fun, and I'm so happy that I went down to visit!  Pretty cool that BF decided to tag along on the ride... though really, can you blame him? ;)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Why, Hello!

It's been awhile.
It's not you, it's me. ;)
Wow, did the end of the year get insane for me.  I had two weekends in a row of dance competitions, and then the following weekend was full of grading before finals week at my college.  I've been pretty much living at either school or the dance studio, and got occasional bits of climbing in to keep me sane and keep me myself (though not really enough to stay as in-shape as I'd like).
Luckily, all that time at the dance studio paid off.
I couldn't be more proud of my dancers.

They have received amazing scores, and more importantly, they all danced their hearts out and left it all onstage.  They were excited, respectful and polite, helped boost each other up, and were exactly the amazing types of girls that I couldn't be more proud of.

It's always a weird juxtaposition at this time of the dance season- I'm going to be partly relieved when our final special showing is done this weekend and I have a little more time to myself, but I'm also going to be really sad to see some of these dances conclude.

Luckily, the recital is still a month away, so there's a couple more performances of my big groups!

As you can see, my little Revolting Children are psyched. :)
Other news- remember that crash I was in a couple of months ago?  My college has Auto Body as one of their tech certifications, so I brought the truck in for students to use as part of their final project!

It's really cool that we have this service for the employees.  As a bonus, I got to see parts of the process happen right in front of me!
I've been so busy with school and dance, I haven't really had a lot of time to myself.  I usually have been getting home 4 nights a week around 9 to start grading (or sometimes knit one row before falling asleep, exhausted), or occasionally eat a super late dinner while watching an episode of The Walking Dead (finally started it and I'm only on Season 3).
After competitions concluded after the first weekend in May, I made sure to schedule in some outside time for myself as the weather finally starts to turn up here in the north.

BF and I went to Sawmill dome up in Tettagouche State Park for a full day of trying really hard, really sharp, and really fun climbs.  I'm definitely out of shape after not being able to climb regularly for what feels like the second half of the winter, but every time I get out it motivates me even more to get back in the gym.

This weekend was even better- BF and I got to see The Book of Mormon at the Orpheum, which was my second time seeing the show and his first musical in years!  We both really enjoyed it, and it made for a great date night.  Best part- we even started trying to figure out which shows we wanted to see that are coming next season!
Yesterday we went to Willow River State Park to climb up a really steep cave right next to a waterfall.

(My friend Anthea working on a 5.12 called Couch Potato)
It was full of trying hard and hanging out with a great Minneapolis climbing crew.
I even managed to get up a tougher climb called Natural Selection- a mid 5.12 that wasn't too hard, just super overhung (see picture above for how steep the cave is). :)

As you can see, I cut my feet a couple of times and still managed to hang out tight, though I definitely got my butt kicked by the end.  Guess I'll just have to start doing more core workouts... :)
I haven't gotten a lot of knitting done over the past few months, but I did manage to finish a couple of presents.  Now that school is done and dance is beginning to wind down, I'll hopefully be able to share a lot more of my projects and update at least weekly.
Next week I'll truly get a vacation as BF & I head down to Florida to visit my parents.  It'll be a week of diving, beaches, margaritas, crocodiles, and some relaxing time.  Stay tuned, or check out my instagram for much more frequent updates!
Later this week- knitting projects finished in the last couple of months (hint- not many).
I hope you've all been fantastic.
I'll keep you updated more now that things are chilling out a little.  :)