Friday, July 31, 2015

Trials on the Trail

I woke up early this morning to make sausage and eggs for the boys before they took off for their trip. We were trying to cramp as many calories down them as possible as Joe has lost 4 lbs and Travis has lost 5 lbs on this ride so far. 

We saw the boys off at the Gold Hill Trailhead for the beginning of their Segment 7, but not before taking some artsy fartsy shots with my camera. There was less groaning this time. As I think they were more focused on the climb ahead of them today. Of the 13 mile ride ahead of them in this portion, 8 of the miles were a 3674 foot climb. With a final reward at the end, losing all of that height in just 4 downhill miles into Copper Mountain.

The girls and I were then off to Walmart and to the gas station before heading to Copper Mountain. For us it was only a 12 min drive, but we knew it would take them the better half of 5-6 hours. We settled in at Copper Mountain. I found a great little place to park with free electric, so I plugged in my laptops and got to work loading students into their curriculum. The kids climbed all over the Copper Mountain Resort boulders and Kristin was debating a run. 

We got a call from the gents saying Joey was in a bad spot with his current shoes. This we knew, but this hiking a bike up much of the 8 miles was making things much worse. They asked us to look up the shoes that Travis was wearing, the Pearl Izumi X-Alps Enduro. The plan was to overnight them into Leadville where we would camp for the night. While I was scouring the internet for the shoes, which I only knew by sight, Kristin called the Leadville post office to get their shipping address and their blessing to send the shoes without owning a PO Box. I found the shoes, but the problem was, that the gal at Leadville said they things do not get shipped to Leadville over night. Then it dawned on us that 30 mins away was the Pearl Izumi Outlet store we were at days before. Kristin called the store and they in fact did have the shoe in stock. But we were only 90% certain that was the correct shoe, with no confirmation from Travis. We thought this was enough, and Kristin made the drive. 

We followed the guys throughout the day on the spot device. You can follow them too using this link:
The boys came rolling in around 3:30 PM for a late lunch and a new pair of shoes. Joe was over the moon to see the shoes with much more padding at the heel and the ability to bend in the middle for the climbing portions. Turns out he climbed the last three miles of the ride in only his socks because the old shoes hurt his feet so bad.

Due to the latenesss in the afternoon and the lack of ability to camp within the first 5 miles of the next segment, we brought the boys back to camp with us and will drop them at the trailhead for Segment 8 in the morning.

Kristin leaves early tomorrow to head back home to take care of a few things for her clients. She will be gone until the meet-up in Silverton late next week. So tonight we pack the boys' bags ready for another couple of days alone on the mountain, bring Joe's extra supplies into my van, and rest by the camp fire.

Tomorrow we wish Kristin a safe travel home, to my readers, if you will say a prayer for her trip I would be grateful. We also hope the the new shoes will do their part in the hiking sections that it ease Joey's pains. Please say a prayer for him as well? And for the overall trip into Leadville for the guys.
Climbing up 10 Mile Mountain

Panoramic of the top of 10 Mile
Joe drinking from a creek

Riding the ridge

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Zero Day

After much consideration and conversation last night, the gents decided to take a zero day today. This means zero miles logged toward the goal.

There are some blisters and soreness, but otherwise the men have been in wild amazement of the sights they have seen.

On this zero day, we decided to sleep in until about 7AM (I am a morning person). Grabbed some Starbucks across the street, ate some of my Homemade Banana Nut Muffins, these are made with Nancy Edwards recipe and do not last long when I make them. They are pretty darn good.

We came back to the hotel for a little swim and a little laundry. As promised, the Tide Pods review: Wow! Now, Kristin used two Tide Pods but the washer was very large. She washed all of her clothes, Joey's clothes, and Trav's clothes. Trav removed his bicycle shorts from the dryer, smelled the nastiest place he could think of, and took a big whiff.
He said "they smell great!
Now, I did not go behind him to double check the smells, I took his word for it, but he was NOT being sarcastic.

I sat in the hotel room and worked for the better half of the day. We took a late lunch break at a local pizzeria called Peppino's. The food was great. While Trav ordered, Tatum and I ran into a little boutique shop looking for a belt, as my pants are fitting more lose today...trying to win this weight loss challenge...eating pizza, I know.
The little shop was owned by a lady and her husband. They were from Tibet and all of the wares in the store were handmade and beautiful. I was so excited to talk with her about her experiences as it's a place Trav and I have on the bucket list. She told Tatum all about the pieces and the prayer flags and how they are used. We purchased a necklace and a set of prayer flags.

We came back to the hotel and Travis took the girls for a little more swimming. I got quite a bit of work done during the family nap time.

Dinner was out at this Mexican restaurant, slowest service ever...but had a great dessert across the street. The frozen yogurt establishment was much like the ones you see back home in OK, but this place charged by the cup size and not the weight. We all grabbed cups of yogurt with toppings and Jolene grabbed a cup filled to the brim with nothing but candy toppings.

It was a great family day together. Tomorrow we wake up and make the boys breakfast before they take off for Segment 7 of their journey. Kristin and I will move on to Copper Mountain where we will fix the boys sandwiches for lunch and then they/we will be on our own until Leadville 2 days later.

In touch again tomorrow, but in the meantime, here are a couple pics from the day.
Girls playing videos games while doing laundry

Family selfie after lunch (wearing the necklace) Thanks for the Selfie Stick DC.

Elevation is King - Guest Blog by Travis Barnes

We met up with the boys around 8PM at the end of the trail for Segment 6. It was an insanely emotional day for us, but  will tell my version of account another time. Let me introduce to you Travis Barnes, my husband and my kids hero. This is his account of the last three days. 

The first three days of our Colorado Trail experience are behind us. It’s amazing what can happen in three days. We rolled into Breckenridge today behaving like we’d been gone for weeks, but time is relative as we now know miles are. That’s right, miles are relative. The 500 mile distance of this ride is not impressive. When we left for this trip we could ride 75 miles on the mountain bike with 27 lbs of gear with little problem, then do it again the next day. That being said, the past 3 days have been the hardest riding I have ever experienced in my life. On day two we took a bypass into a town and I was able to text Erin. I told her among other things that, “this is HARD.” Erin knows me better than anyone and she became ultra concerned. I never say things are hard. Out here, miles make no difference, as they do in Oklahoma. Elevation is king. Literally in one day we experienced a two mile section that took us over an hour and a half. This effort led us to a downhill section where we covered 5 miles in 20 minutes. My hope is that when this is over, the miles traveled is not what is emphasized. Elevation is king. What kind of elevation did we climb? What did we descend?

The trails have been phenomenal - the best mountainbiking anywhere. These climbs that are so hard and devastating always lead to a reward that make you forget your toils in seconds. The views from the top are indescribable; but also inphotographable and invideoable. Taking a picture only disappoints because it's not what you are actually seeing. That is part of what makes the climb worth it - you can't see this without actually standing there. The second reward is the downhill biking to follow. The trails are so well maintained, we were absolutely flying. We had to start noticing the braking bumps in the trail and braking earlier because we were missing turns and flying off the trail. At one point I shared the trail with a bird for a brief moment. I startled it and it took flight in direction of the trail. It stayed two feet in front of my bike for a solid 3-4 seconds. Really cool.

In just three days time we have noticed certain nuances of the trail. There are two breeds out here; the day travelers and the thru travelers. We can all spot each other with no problems. If I come across a day traveler, I can assume they are on a “work out” and not in the mood for much else. If I come across a thru traveler, it is expected to stop and share trail stories and adventures for a short time. Thru travelers are never in a hurry, and they are genuinely interested in what you are doing. The work out crew is not far detached from every day life and have too much on their mind to be concerned with the geared up hippies.

I say all of this with the wisdom of the 3 day pro. You’d be right if you said in response that there is no such thing. You’d be right. We are just trying to figure this out. I just hope my lungs and legs figure out this altitude and do it quickly. As it turns out, to ride the Colorado Trail you will have to ride over mountains. As two Oklahoman’s trying to accomplish this, there was no way we could prepare. We have to figure it out in the next few days and adapt.

I can say that finishing this three days was a life experience in itself. That moment when we rolled into Breckenridge from seemingly the middle of nowhere and to see Erin and my girls was absolutely fantastic. As terrifically difficult as I expect this trail to be, I’m confident that the hard part has been done; we have started it.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Working out West

Day two from the SAGgin wagon was quit intense. It was my first official work day on the trip and it was a busy one. I spent from 7AM until 4PM working in the van for the most part and pacing my half acre camp spot while on the phone (trying to get those steps in anywhere I can).

The boys are on their day two had a fairly long road ride today. They rode segments 4 and 5 today which took them through a great deal of the devastated forestry area destroyed by the 2002 Haymen Wildfires. They ate in a small Diner in the town of Jefferson where they had cell service long enough to check in to let us know things were great, but hard. I think they were mostly worried about how their women were doing with the "roughing it". The finish ed the day by passing through Lost Creek Wilderness and Kenosha Pass. If you are interested in following them too, you can us the link provided here -

While I was working and the boys were playing, my girls, Tate and Jo, made friends with three other little girls and did exactly what they do best...make a fort. They picked flowers for a solid hour making the floor mats for the entrance. I hardly have the heart to let them know we are moving on tomorrow.

After the work day I clocked out and went from a run with my mate Kristin. Let me tell you, running at 674 feet above sea level (home) and running at 9,000 feet above sea level is quite different. My three miles was littered with jaunts of walking...erhm...picture taking lookout points. 

3 miles is tough stuff
This is an Osprey nest looking through a telescope

We found a Rec Center in the town of Silverthorne that offered day passes so we loaded up the kids and went there to swim and shower. This recreational center was redesigned last year and was newly outfitted with the most amazing of CurlyQ slides. We all hit the slide first and it did not disappoint. We also used the hot tub, sauna and Kristin and I ran a few AquaLaps. Tate bounced between all of the different activities the pool had to offer while Jo stayed at the super duper #amazeballs CurlyQ slide. She must have gone down it 57 times. 

After showering, we found ourselves at the local brewery for a patio dinner and craft root beer. Which - patio dining?  In Silverthorne?  We got cold. Not complaining a bit, but these temps are crazy (see photo of Jo below rocking a root beer and Kristin's jacket we dug out of the car.) Did a little more shopping for camping goodies and groceries, then had to play Tetris to fit two new coolers, one large tote, groceries for six, all the SAG supplies, four people, and a partridge in a pear tree into one crossover SUV.  Kristin's mad we didn't take a picture - she needs photographic evidence for a larger vehicle.

Tomorrow we will meet our gents at the end of their segment 6 of the Colorado Trail. Cannot wait to see them, but smelling them is a different story. #smellyalater. I'll post an honest review of Tide Pods after washing the first round of CT duds. Signing off now at the end of day two. Good night. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Forgive My Granola Ways

I do have so much still to say about education, but for the next three weeks I am dedicating this blog to the Colorado Trail. I am still in the process of EducatingMe, but for the time being it will be over the ins and outs of the Colorado Trail. My husband will guest blog from time to time over this period as he is actually the one riding the trail. I (and my two daughters) however, am the SAG (Support and Gear) vehicle for the next three weeks. My friend Kristin is with us for two of the three weeks. She is the wife of Trav's riding partner Joey.

In an effort to EducateMe, I will be trying my hands at documenting this 500+ miles excursion that begins just south of Denver and ends in Durango, CO. This trail follows the Continental Divide alongside some of the most beautiful lakes and river passes. Travis and his friend Joe will experience eight mountain ranges winding up above the tree line at elevations topping out around 13,271 feet.

He and Joe have been training  and planning for this trip for nearly a year. And it began today.

Of course having my super duper camera I purchased for documentary purposes, I left it behind at the hotel. I was able to get what I could with my iPhone this day.  I scrambled to get shot after shot and take after take until they cursed me and told me they were ready to start already. We took a few last shots in front of the trailhead sign, said a prayer for safety over the boys and us gals driving the SAG vehicle and then they were out of sight.

It was kind of an emotional departure.  My children were already missing their dad (before the first down stroke of the petal). As I watched them move off around the corner, I couldn't help to feel a burst of emotion for this start to journey that has been a year in the making. For those of you that need it spelled out here, no tears fell from they eyes, but they DID swell up there.

We meet them again in a few days between Frisco and Breckenridge. We decided after the Denver Zoo parking lot made us re-evaluate the day, that we would make our way toward the vicinity of this meet-up. We went to the Outlets at Silverthorne for an afternoon of shopping. That is what the SAG vehicle is all about right? #RoughingIt

After the shops closed down, we decided to make our way toward a camp sight for the night. After throwing a dart to select one, we set up shop at this lovely campground called Heaton Bay. People - it was amazing. Views to die for and hiking for days.

Alright, rundown for the kids have been wearing dollar store mustaches for two full days...they won't come off. So tonight I will work to get them removed while watching Sandlot with my girls inside the back of the van.

Oops - I forgot to mention, I was roughing it. I bought a 2015 Ford Transit van last December. We have outfitted it with a couch we built into the back. The back-rest of said couch lifts to to make a bunkbed. There are shelving units in the back for my baskets filled with cooking supplies, groceries, clothes and coffeemaker. Oh and a 32in TV hangs on the wall with X-Box hooked up. Oh, and port-a-potty in the back. Home away from home for the next three weeks.

Here are a few shots from today.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Twitter Twerker?

Tell me the truth, did the word twerker get you to click on this post?

In the social media world, I would say one reaps what they sow. I would say that this is especially true of my Twitter account. I decided right away, that I would only use Twitter for my professional development as a teacher and educator. Occasionally I will throw in a picture of my children to remind the world (and myself for the matter) that I am a real person and that I do have a life outside of the Twittersphere.

I passed 300 followers this year when I co-hosted the TEDed chat back in February. It was very exciting to me at the time as I never thought anyone would really care what I have to say. Also, I keep my Facebook page pretty light on friends too. I know its a novel idea, but I really only have my friends and family on there. I know people with 1000's of friends, and I'm like really? But I digress...

At the GAFESummit, I was close to hovering around 375 followers. I was sitting in the keynote of opening day and James Sanders said something so amazing and simple, that I decided to take a picture of his slide, and make a post of it on The Twitters. Well ya'll, it was my most popular post to date. Before this tweet, I was a 20 retweet queen, no more, always less. :-) But this tweet:

This tweet became the biggest tweet I have now made to date. The power of this tweet was insane. I got an immediate 30 likes and 30 retweets, but then Maggie Bolado @mrsbolado picked up this tweet and blasted it out to her world. Friends, it has 492 retweets and 467 favorites. I got a notification for every one of those tweets and favs. EVERY ONE. I loved it. It wasn't even my words, but they were so powerful to so many people. I still get retweets on this one from over 30 days ago. And it made the rounds into #AussieChat one week. I now sit around 450 followers. That's the power of Twitter.

Then, this got me thinking. So many of us feel this way. This is how teachers are supposed to feel. It made me realize that in my small world, the core of us are always learning more and trying to get better. Does this core represent a larger picture? Or is there a small number of us keeping the torch lit for the rest of the educators in our building/district? How do we get more educators spending their free time getting better?
Do you/did you set goals for this year. Did you meet your goals last year? Do you still have your passion? Can you find it again? Specifically, what are you doing to get better? Do you turn to Twitter for professional development?

For the record, I have gone to GAFESummit, Engage OK, RechargeOK is on the calendar for this month. I have set goals that were tweeked from last year's short comings. Specifically, look for more chances to praise my amazing team. Guys, that is not lip service, they are truly the best and most dedicated group of people. But I rarely let them know that.