Thursday, August 20, 2015

Salty Ol' Vet

As promised, and now also feels long overdue (you know, seeing as how the last 16 posts came at you quick and dirty). Here is the first of several posts that take all of the EducatingMe write-ups that happened to on the trail and tie them to education, according to me. I will take it one post at a time and milk the Colorado Trail blogs for all they are worth. ;-) This one seem most fitting as I see everyone heading back to classes this week. Hang on tight and Grammer Nazis turn your heads there are some run on sentences here, but the rant required it.

In the post about Granola Ways - I had no clue what I didn't know. We were about to embark on an epic journey with wide eyes and starry visions of what the experience would be like. Days later we would find that reality would punch us in the face. But like I said, when I wrote the post we had no clue.

Do you remember when you graduated college with that crisp piece of paper in your hands (which you don't actually get for 3 more weeks) and all those ideas? Yeah, I know the full internship is supposed to prepare you too, but let's face it, we all know that's a load too. Well, crap, with all of the certified teachers now-a-days that skipped the teaching route know because OK will now take any and all willing to give it a whirl these days...ehm...#teachershortage.

Sidenote - Thank you to the non-traditional teachers for not only coming in and giving a stir to education, but also for the fact that class sizes are not 100:1. I do not want it to sound as if in an earlier paragraph I was diggin' on ya'll. Seriously, thank you.

I shan't digress...Remember, you set up the classroom a week or so before school and then rearrange the desks...and then do it again because something just doesn't flow about it. You hang a few posters on the wall. You thought you might have bought too many until you realize the school assigned you to a room that is sandwiched in by two 15 and 20 year teachers. It looks like my grandmothers house in their classrooms. You know the type, with a million posters of Garfield (before he was digital) saying that he's hungry for more knowledge. Rugs that look well worn but really make the room cozy. Of course there are about 8 bookshelves, filled to the gild with every book you ever read in school. You walk back to your classroom look around and think...I've got to get to Target.
But then you realize with a cart full of stuff that these new items will never look worn and welcoming in your room. So you go back to your classroom all depressed and unsure how this year is going to even get started on the right foot without looking like the new guy that you already are.

Am I close at all to how you felt? Can you even remember? Well, If you couldn't tell, this - a little bit resembles - in the faintest of ways is how one...ehm...might feel. You have no clue how to prepare. You have no clue what those kids will look like. You have not clue if you can actually teach a lesson that isn't all jacked up on NSU hormones, because the first set of lesson plans you turned in to your new principal were 5 pages long, because that is what you are used to - and then he asks that next time you turn in one page - for the whole week. WHAT?!?!?

The point is, Travis trained for over a year to ride that trail, much like we trained for four years to teach that class. We speculated that altitude would be tough...but that the Oklahoma heat and humidity had to count for something. We knew that we would be working at our jobs as we went along. We knew we would be documenting the whole way. We knew things would probably get tough. But we had no clue. There was no possible way to prepare. Just like there is no possible way to fully prepare for what standing in front of the class with 35 sets of eyes with minds behind them, all looking up at you waiting to be filled with knowledge and nobody around observing to make sure you aren't totally screwing everything up.

It's not the fault of the Universities. How do you play house without actually owning a house? How can you know what it's like to have a baby having only done some babysitting before? You cannot. What you can do, is keep your eyes open. Learn from the pros around you. Beg, borrow and steal the ideas while you are learning.  Then, when you are ready and comfortable, start making it yours. Attend PD's on your own time to hone in your skills before you retire. Follow the #oklaed on the Twitters and keep your chin up. You'll be a salty ol' vet soon.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

End of the Trail - Guest blog by Travis Barnes

End of ol' Trav’s Trail….

I told Erin, if she is going to make a video or documentary out of this whole experience, it really needs to revolve around the perspective of the SAG team. For Joe and I, the story is mostly the same every day of the trip. We wake up, pack up camp, and start riding. We ride until we are nearly devastated all to be redeemed by some spectacular views or thrilling pristine downhill segment, then we find another camp spot and do it again the next day. 

One campsite along the way

We did come away with a few stories. Joe hiking his bike to the top of Ten Mile Range in his socks has to be one of the best. Everyone has great strengths that surface from time to time, I discovered Joe’s great strength is having the determination of samurai warrior. We both crashed once, Joe came away with some bruises, I came away with a good laugh. We met some interesting people on the trail, but their story was typically very similar to ours. So, overall, we will have some stories and experiences to share when we get home, but for the biggest portion what happened on the trail will stay on the trail. This isn’t like a Vegas situation; it’s not choice by either of us, there is simply no way to bring the experience, the views, or the emotions down from the mountain. I’ve tried everything. From digging deep into my inexcusably shallow vocabulary, to pictures, to videos… simply can’t bring anything down. You can bring a likeness or a vague resemblance, but really the experience stays on the mountain.

1/10 of the real view, there really is no comparison.  

 What I can say is that I’m both tremendously excited and equally as sad that it is over. I’m excited because it was very obviously time to be finished. My body had had enough, and the SAG team was increasingly becoming exhausted from the transiency of the weeks. I doubt I’m alone in the fact that my happiness is completely and directly fused with the happiness of my wife and kids. 

Within the last few days of the trip, I could feel the stress they were feeling, and I knew it was time to wrap this thing up. Also, the next to the last day was the most mentally and physically difficult day of the trip. Mentally I was at Steamworks eating a Maui Waui pizza pie - physically I was pushing my bike over one of four peaks at the end of the day as the temperature dropped and storm clouds rolled in. I was physically exhausted to the point of mental instability and the arch of my left foot felt like is was about to burst. I was pretty concerned about safely descending in this condition. On this same day while descending one of the peaks Joe was negotiating a tight switchback when he lost balance and was unable to unclip while falling high side. At the last moment is was able to unclip and fell probably 2 feet from the edge of the mountainside covered to the bottom in razor sharp rocks - it would have been a helicopter ride out of there and we wont speculate on the extent of injuries, only the certainty of them. 

So after this day, I think everyone on the adventure was ready to call it, luckily we were so close to the end that we were able to finish out the next day with metaphorically four flat tires, a busted radiator and tail pipe dragging. Even knowing how ready we all are to be finished, I can’t help but feel some deep sadness when I see my Osprey pack, still full of provisions that will not be used for who knows how long. Or my Big Agnes tent, all covered in dirt, grime and pine needles that needs aired out to be stored away for an undetermined amount of time. So at this point, I’m going to have a blast on my last day in Colorado with my family and friends, and of course, the only way to cure post-adventure depression is to begin plans for the next one! Giddy-up!

Celebratory meal at our favorite Steamworks

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Prayers Needed on the Colorado Trail

Well, I have rather enjoyed making a pretty daily post and cluing you guys into what is happening here in Colorado. I typically add pics so you can have a little eye candy with your content. But as some of you now know through Facebook, my phone was stolen from the rec center last night. I did not have my belongings locked up, so shame on me, but I had a pretty good record going of luck in this department. I have NEVER taken a lock into the gym. Guess it was 'bout time.

Anyhow, no pics from the pool last night. I also lost the pics and videos of the boys from that morning and the night before. This is frustrating on many levels. But because of the blog, I have been pulling the pics regularly and really only lost two days worth of pics. NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. I am trying hard to have a good attitude about this, because there is really nothing anyone can do...except to raise your kids to know how horrible stealing makes the victim feel. We should all steal something very near and dear to our children at a semi-young age (old enough they remember the feeling forever) so they never want to cast that feeling on anyone else.

Don't even get me started on the racket system the phone companies have going when you need a phone - like NOW. Why NOW, you ask?  Because somehow, in the midst of frantic travel planning, my number was the only one programmed into the Spot's "we need the SAG vehicle" button.  Essentially, this is the non-emergency button the boys push on the Spot when they need a pick-up.  It sends us the GPS location and we're able to find them in the middle of nowhere.  Kristin's number was supposed to be included too, but it just didn't happen.  So, I needed a phone ASAP to receive the messages about the most important pick up of all - the last one!

We are back at the park again today, and will go back to the pool again tonight, but guess who has two thumbs and will be locking her stuff up in the lockers tonight?

We will not see the boys again until tomorrow. In the meantime, we spent last night and will be staying tonight in the Walmart parking lot. Camp sights around here are...well, close to the racket of the AT&T phone rigamarole. Hotels in Durango are sitting around $237 per night for a Super 8. So we decided to keep ahold of our cash (provided no more phones are stolen) and opted to stay for free. The only downside are the parking lot lights that stay on all night. But I had previously hung blackout curtains in the van and Kristin wears the night mask so this negative really does not affect us.

The other big issue for the day...or that Colorado has now declared a state of emergency because of a disaster spill from a 95-year-old sealed mine that has been damaged and is leaking into the only real source of water for the the final three segments. We are only really learning of the devastating effects right this second as I am finding an article to link to the blog. Prayers for the boys and the other unknowing hikers and bikers. The spill happened Thursday but the EPA only reported 1/3 of the actual millions of gallons of the spill. On Saturday when the news actually broke that this had happened, we were getting ready to drop the boys off in Silverton (where the spill started).

We have no way to get ahold of the gents right now, we just pray they find another source of water over the Animas River. Problem is...the water as it sits in all of it's sludginess, looks like the pond in the backyard where Trav spent days testing his filter's capabilities. Only now it is,
samples of mercury was nearly 10 times higher than the EPA acceptable levels. Samples of beryllium and cadmium were 33 times higher, and one of the arsenic levels was more than 800 times higher.
Prayers are welcomed not only for the water, but for the last push on this epic adventure.

Monday, August 10, 2015

while EducatingMe in CO

I few lessons I would like to say I have learned....

Kids - I just bragged on them the other day to all of you. Yesterday, I could not keep them from bickering. For a while, I let the snake have it's head and chalked it up to the fact they are probably getting tired of the hustle and bustle. No matter how much I try to keep them busy, the girls are ready to be home. This trip was too long for them. And I, with little space on board, would not let them bring too many of home's amenities. They are missing their beds, their toys, their friends and their relatives.

Tiny Houses - There are all sorts of shows and books and articles about living in tiny spaces. I wanted on that bandwagon. I loved the minimalist idea. I do not need a bunch of space, I lived in a 300 sq foot apt in college and LOVED it. The tiny house movement boasts less then 300ft and I always thought that I could do it.
Well, I have done it for two weeks. Needless to say it was within 50 sq ft, but I can now affirmatively say that I am ok with my 2400 sq ft home. The kids have plenty of room to run, wrestle and roller skate down stairs. I can still cook and fold laundry in that space. We built a port-a-potty into the design of the van, but there is something to be said for 3-4 people sharing the one open to the rest of the vehicle NOT in a water closet, toilet. You must rearrange everything to get to your next activity. I sleep on the couch we built in here. I must put away all bedding and remnants of bedtime to get my day started at work. This includes my children who sleep on the floor. I cannot work in an untidy area, so all cleaning must be done first in order to be productive.
I am quite accustomed to the dishwasher, laundry room, and even the junk drawer that holds everything from leftover mints from restaurants, nail polish remover, and coupons, to extra phone cords and fish tank filters. It's not that I need "stuff" but it is certainly nice to have available the 2-3 times a year I use it. As it is, I am telling the girls we do not have the extra space for the collection of rock they want. What kind of mother am I?

Paper vs  Plastic - I wanted to be so clean and carbon footprint friendly on this trip. For several days I washed the same 6 plastic plates. I brought 6 plastic forks and washed them too until the first night I cooked in the wok. I forgot to bring cooking utensils, so we ate a little plastic that night, as it was cooked into the chicken. :-) You live you learn. We bought metal forks later that night and utensils. A week later I thought it would be a nice treat to have shells and cheese macaroni. Well, when it comes to the dishes, it sucks! The food itself cooked differently at altitude making it more sticky and then the cheese for this type of mac-n-cheese is horrible to remove when conserving water and hand-washing. It ruins the water for anything else. Maybe I should add a cooking vs non cooking.

Working on the Road - This is much harder than ever anticipated. Have you ever seen the Memes with What I Do, What My Mom Thinks I Do, What My Boss Thinks I Do...etc? Well, I feel like I must explain all the time how much I am working. Kristin too, is finding that making time for work and play is tough too.

Campsites and Ice are Ridiculous - We averaged $30 per night on campsites...times 14 starts adding up. We got hotels/motels for the nights that the gents were out for more than 2 nights. The other expense...Ice, holy guacamole. For the next trip I will purchase the Yeti. I harassed Travis to the max before we left telling him how extravagant a purchase a $300 cooler was, but we have purchased 1/3 of that cost in ice alone. I will apologize to him when I ask him if we can make that purchase when this is all over. Joey's father in law boasts ice staying in his Yeti for up to a week.

Nomads - Being nomadic is for the birds. I am pretty sure that people who live this lifestyle are not trying to haul around kids, bicycling gear, and a ton of equipment, but packing up every day or two and moving to set it all up again??? Nope, I am not cut out for that.

Kids - I know, I know. I have already put that up at the top. But I have also learned that I can put work away and fully commit to my kids for an hour or two each day. I told this to Travis this morning. When I was listing off all of these funny negatives which are probably not coming across so funny, he asked me if there was anything positive that I could report I learned. I told him yes. I was so worried about working and taking care of the boys, that when it was time to play with the kids, I wanted to be fully committed to that alone. I was in such a nasty habit of always answering emails and texts as they came through in an effort to be the best at what I do. This really keeps me from being engaged fully with my kids. Travis always does such a good job at playing with the kids, that I did not want him to feel like they were played with any less while he was on the trail. So I decided up front that I would put my phone away and really play when it was time. Know what I found?? I can still get my work done, and that sometimes people have to wait an hour or two  for my response. Know what else? I still get the same "Thank you, you're the best" when I do get to respond to them. People never expected an immediate turnaround. When they get it, they are pleasantly surprised and say thank you. when they get the answer 2 hours later...they say thank you. Nobody in life ever laid on their death bed and thought..."I wish I could have just worked a little harder".
Now I do not say this to mean that I will quit responding or even working around the clock. I do thoroughly enjoy the heck out of it. But if someone reading this does take away a piece, it will be that your kids are only young while they are young. Play with them now. Raise them and play with them and teach them now so they will act the way you want them to act later. I have been shocked and amazed at their vocabulary and imagination now that I am taking the time to be present.

As promised, a tie to education coming soon, I am just worried I might learn something else on this trip before it's over. SO you'll have to wait a few more days.

PS...Trav, I need this lift kit

Saturday, August 8, 2015

My Birthday on the Trail

It was a great day today, even if I didn't see my husband.

I am not a huge birthday person. I always forget until the week or two before that my kids have birthdays coming up. And I certinly do not go hog wild on my own birthday. Kristin, however, lives in a world with birth-months, lol. She was ready to do any and everything I wanted today to spoil the mess out of me. I however could care less. But, when in Rome...

We did wake up this morning with one thing on the mind...the hot springs in Ouray Colorado. They opened at 10AM and we were in the pool by 10:15. Two years ago when our family was in Ouray, we came to the springs and within 30 mins it started raining with lightning. They gave us three passes (Jolene was free back then) to come back and said they would always be good. I kept those passes hidden away in my room for two years. We pulled them out this morning and the four of us got in for the price of 1 child.

The springs here have different temperatures in the spring fed pool and it truly felt like a 2 hour bath. There was one section of the pool with water sitting around 80 degrees. With the high in town today around 70 and the rest of the pool around 95 degrees, this felt COLD. But in the cold part was an insane obstacle course. I asked Kristin to go and race me, but she begged no. It was too cold. I agreed, but said we had to. She again said no, and then I whipped it out. The "it's my birthday" card. It worked!! And it was a blast. Tatum later asked me to race her too, so I did. Here is a video of the two of us.

We left around 1:00PM to head further into town for lunch and a little shopping. I got the girls each a little something. It may seem like I am spoiling them, but they have been so good on this trip. We have lived in a van for over two weeks at this point. I have done a lot of work and even more moving them from one place to the next. And they have always listened, obeyed, and fallen in line as I asked. After the shopping we stopped by this chocolate shop that someone along the way suggested we must visit. Yum! Kristin got this cookie that the place called a scrap cookie. They mixed things from all of the good of the day into some dough and made the most amazing mess of heaven.

After lunch, we decided that once was not enough and we went back to the pool. It was like another 2 hour bath. Seriously, the greatest way to spend the day. After heading back to the campsite for dinner, we decided to go back into town once more for another scrap cookie. Seriously, so yummy.

The boys gave us some laundry yesterday when we took them from the LZ to the new DZ so we had to get that stuff clean before we saw them again tomorrow. Got it done, and by the time this was through, I had just enough time to write this post and go to bed. I am exhausted. Good night all. Thanks for reading. A few more pics from the day...

Friday, August 7, 2015

Journal Log - A Day in the Life.

As this trip is nearing an end, I am starting to make many connections to the World of Ed. That culminating blog post to come soon. But first an accounting of the minutes of my day.

6 AM - Wake up. Start a pot of coffee (yes I know I am roughing it, but a girl has needs). Brush my teeth. Start answering emails and solving the world's problems.

7:30AM - Rest of the van wakes up. DO not forget I am sleeping in my super duper decked out van. Ask the girls to make their own breakfast...they grab a couple of barkers and some chocolate milk. Breakfast when camping (glamping) is always that of champions. Start loading schedules.

9:30AM - the gents start their trip. We can see this through the link shared here.
Only, we realized way to late in the morning that it would not take them long to get to the LZ, so we started packing up camp. About the time we roll out of the campsite, we get the message that the boys are ready for their SAG vehicle. This was a big problem as my GPS said we were 2 hours away.

We had totally planned on being in town all day. Kristin and I were going to work from the park again and start heading out of town around 3. Because the boys said 3-4 days. Not 2 day and a partial morning. We drove the 2 hours to pick up the gents. Then we had to drive an hour back up north to catch out next highway.

1:30PM - By this time we were ready for a late lunch. We found a Pizza Hut in Gunnison that hosted a $5 pizza buffet. Joe literally ate 4 humans worth of food. It was great swapping stories with Trav and Joe. I know it's only a couple of days at a time, but it is always so great to see them.

2:00PM - Took a call from a parent about curriculum. Our school allows parents and teachers to work together to pick the best curriculum for their students. In this situation, I helped to answer more specific questions about similarities and differences between 3 offerings.

3:30PM - Drop the gents at the next DZ. It took about 30 mins to get them into different clothes, repacked, and butt buttered up. Yeah, that's right. At this point in the game their booties are not doing well. You can ask them for more details when they return...if you need more details.

4:00PM - Start our drive to Ouray. Here is the deal with driving in Colorado. There is not way to take the shortest distance between two points unless you have a high clearance 4WD vehicle. So our drive which as the crow flies was 25 miles away, was now 2 hours 49 minutes away because I did not have a 4WD van. It's super duper, but equipped for that kind of tour.

6:45 - We arrived at our camp spot at at nearly 7PM local time. Got our glamping equipment setup and put together. We are pretty darn good at the setup at this point in the game. We made dinner and started the movie Men in Black for the girls. Did I mention I used my new Chromecast the my friend Yolanda got me for my anniversary? That's right. we cast the movie up on the TV.

8PM - Back to the emails. As I got nearly no productive work accomplished today, I will be hard at it over the weekend to make up my time.

I have said it before, I will say it again...this SAGging is hard work. Here are a couple of pics I shot from the road and with our time with the boys. It was a slow pic day. More tomorrow.

“Look kids! There’s Big Ben! - Guest Blog By Kristin Ware

Yeah, I’m sagging

SAG = Support And Gear [vehicle]

Three little letters – three small words.  Supporting cyclists on a 400+ mile journey

just didn’t seem that hard.  From the beginning of this discussion, I wasn’t sure of

my plan.  When Joe first started talking about the Colorado Trail, he showed me how

the book had USPS addresses where hikers/bikers/support crew could send care

packages to pick up along the way.  This is how many portions of the Colorado Trail

or other trails (like the Pacific Crest Trail) are accomplished with solo or

unsupported riders/hikers.  The participants will mail themselves packages full of

supplies, food and fuel to help them along the next stage of the trail.


Just no.

I’m a logistics person. I plan events and communication plans for a living.  Nothing is

left to chance, if at all possible.  I want to be in control, and I want to hold everything

in my hot little hands.  Relying on the USPS to get my husband the food (and I mean

LOTS of food) he needs to make this trek?


Even as late as a month or two ago, I wasn’t sure how this would play out.  I couldn’t

imagine being away from home, the dogs and my job for three full weeks.  Not only

is this hard logistically, it’s hard financially.  Dog sitters, hotels, campsites and on-

site groceries can really add up.  Erin, as an educator with a flexible work

environment, made the decision that she was going to be a full-on SAG vehicle.  She

would take the two kids, stay all three weeks and follow the boys along the route.

This made my decisions both easier, and harder.  Should I stay with her the whole

time?  Does this make it easier for me to go home – knowing that she’d be there

when they needed her?  What does SAG really mean, anyway?

I’ll tell you – SAGging is intense.  Erin has blogged about a lot of the SAG aspects, and

she’s right. It might not be hard work, but at the very least, it’s time-intensive.

Between scouting camp sites, booking hotels (with showers!) for the group, doing

laundry, to grocery shopping and cooking meals to buying last-minute, much-

needed supplies for our husbands (mainly mine,) it takes a huge chunk out of every

day.  I was hoping this would be a relaxing vacation for me after a very busy summer

– but it’s just not the case.  I envisioned working remotely, taking naps and reading

and two-a-day hikes through the wilderness.  #NOTSOMUCH.

Being a SAG vehicle is #werk.  You shop, cook, wash and prepare for the next day, all

while worrying that you’ll be in the right place at the right time to meet your

husbands.  And, all while trying to keep up with a day job.  You check the GPS

coordinates every 10 minutes to make sure the riders aren’t lost, injured, stuck or

simply off the trail.  You look for cheap hotels, not knowing whether the guys will be

finished with Segment 14 in time to check into the hotel tonight, or tomorrow.  It

doesn’t sound that hard.  It sounds like a total Real Housewives / First World

problem.  But honestly – it’s exhausting.  Maybe it’s the worrying that wears us out

the most…

I ended up making the decision to do:

1 week Colorado

1 week Tulsa

1 week Colorado

I knew Erin would be there if the guys needed her.  And boy – did they need her.

She’s been up to bat to go hunt down a new tire for Joe after he popped one on the

trail.  She’s done his laundry, his cooking and his packing.  I owe her immensely.

Had it not been for some responsibilities at home, I wouldn’t have left.  But

adulthood called, so I left on Friday (one day late) and came back yesterday (two

days early.)  This meant writing copy for a client using talk-to-text during a 12-hour

drive.  It meant asking for more help from my in-laws, Tracy and Sara (THANKS!)

regarding the dogs, but it put me at ease.  Knowing I would be there 75 percent of

the time to run errands, buy shoes, buy athletic tape, moleskin and Band-Aids for

Joe’s feet and simply helping Erin with the logistics made me feel so much better.

The guys seem to be hitting their stride.  The current segments they’re tackling have

caused the most stress for them and for us.  But, all is well.  They are making solid

progress and taking advantage of the downhill portions.  The Spot seems to indicate

that they’ve been on their bikes more and on their feet less.  In a few days, we pick

them up in the middle of nowhere and drive them to the next segment of the trail –

also in the middle of nowhere.  Thank goodness for technology and iPhones –

otherwise they’d probably be waiting on us for days as we drove around the same

trees trying to find them.

“Look kids!  There’s Big Ben!  And Parliament…again!”

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Preparing for Silence

It was a great day hanging out with the boys on their zero day. Kristin came back into town last night. Her presence is always welcome. I have missed her over the last few days.
The gents took a zero day in preparation for the long days of no contact with the SAG vehicle.

This part of the trip reminds me of the movie Apollo 13: everyone makes it out fine, but the zero contact was stressful (to say the least.) The guys know that Segments 15-18, according to the Colorado Trail guide, are going to be some of the toughest. They are the least accessible for the SAG vehicle, the least traveled of any of the segments, and have the highest points. Tomorrow in particular, they will have a climb that goes up 668 ft in four city blocks.

Today, Travis and Joe embark on their longest trek in the back country; remote areas with no support, no extra food, no contact.  We took them out for a large breakfast and talked about the game plan. I am trying not to be ominous about this part, but I see their faces when they return after each segment. They are stoked to see that giant white van, but completely exhausted. In trying to make this documentary as we go, I am trying to get footage of any and everything. I can see in the playback from the footage, that they are as equally disquieted about the miles ahead of them.

In Apollo 13, the oxygen tank exploded and there was all sorts of experimenting and preparation going on down on the ground to keep the three astronauts safe and bring them back home. In the movie you see chaos as on the ground and the panic of those doing everything that they can with very little knowledge of the first-hand experiences. Last night we mirrored the preparation part of the story. We had packing and unpacking. Forgetting to pack enough repacking. How many calories will be consumed each meal? What's the overall weight in the packs? The confusion is great and the solutions are many, but which is the right solution for their expedition. While our boys have been preparing for this ride for over a year, there are just things that have been unexpected. They have now had a week on the trail to dial in their weights and gear, but the reality is, they have just never done this before. We/they have no clue what to expect.

They removed extra weight, traded out cups, lost extra batteries, repackaged food, and gained the ounces they needed to pack an additional days worth of food. While this experience can't compare to a disaster in space,  the movie still came to mind last night as we were gearing up. I know that like for Houston, unless something goes terribly awry, failure is not an option here either. I titled this blog post based on the silence that Houston had to endure with the men of the Apollo 13 mission upon the re-entry that was not the normal three minutes, but nearly five in this account.

The wait is probably less intense as we still have the Spot we can all follow along, but I am sure that the drama is still there.  Actually, with four girls crowded around the computer to watch their progress, the drama is definitely still there.

A SAG update to come soon. Thanks for staying tuned to our trek.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Trav's Trail Contemplations - Guest Blog by Travis Barnes

For today's post, Erin gave me complete freedom to write about anything I wanted as long as it covers our experiences on the CT. She typically uses this blog to post things she has learned, so I will do the same. Here are some things I have learned on the trail, we'll call it Trav's Trail Contemplations. They are not necessarily new ideas, usually it is just a reinforcement, or better understanding of things we have always known but rarely put into practice.

1.  Test wet gear before you travel. Joe and I both learned yesterday that our rain jackets failed to keep out rain. He also had a "dry bag" that filled with water overnight. We were a day away from SAG interaction so we got really lucky on this one, otherwise we would have been soaked for days. So we learned an all-weather shell just means wind, and "dry bag" means maybe dry, maybe wet.

Drying Things Out

2. Do not trust all friendly faces on the trail. At the top of a ridge after a really hard 2 mile hike-a-bike section we met a really fun and friendly lady who said she was a high school science teacher. She also said we were about to really enjoy the rest of the segment. She said the rest of the trail was super smooth, downhill, and fun. She also said we would come across a huge field of wild raspberries, as far as the eye could see, and that we could eat to our heart's content. After the enormous field of raspberries we would then come across an ice chest that a local lady had been stocking with ice cream bars for 10 years and thru bikers/hikers could treat themselves. As it turns out, NONE of this was true. We didn't see a single raspberry, there was no ice chest, and the rest of the trail was the toughest hiking and riding we had done on the entire trip. We actually got a good laugh out of all of this. She got us. She got us good.

3. Stop anticipating. The first few days on the trail we fought hard to keep a certain schedule. We tried to anticipate how hard the trail would be, how far we could make it, and where we would camp. This effort nearly killed us. I now make a conscious effort to leave the GPS and Databook alone unless we need to know which way to go. I try to take each mile as it comes and just be on the trail. I suppose this borrows from the ancient practice of zen that people try for decades to achieve sitting in the zazen position, but I say the true zen master is one who can truly live in the moment while also working toward a goal, keeping the past in mind. Past, present and future all at once.

Probably a Mountain Lion

Grabbing Water from the Stream

4. Mountains are only ever climbed by indians. This is actually a Bear Grylls quote that I love, but it can really be understood out here. Fighting the mountain ends in devastation. There can't be two chiefs and out here the mountain is the chief.

5. Never get complacent on continuous trail surface appraisal. The trail can go from super dark, tacky and smooth to rough, loose and sandy within seconds when descending, and if you're looking at scenery or day dreaming, you're about to get a much closer look at the trail. I took a soil sample (inglorious dismount) a couple days ago because I failed to notice that the personality of the trail had changed from grippy to slippy.

Being only half way done, I expect the trail has many more lessons to teach us. Tomorrow we start segment 15 with a 9 mile climb of 3100 feet. Giddy up!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A #yardsale for the Kids

Today was a day I did not see the boys. They are expected to come in tomorrow mid morning and Travis has already assured me he will make another post to update the world as to the things he and Joey are seeing.

But for my "day off", I took the girls back into town and back to the park we played at last night. There was some sort of outdoor festival/ craft show going on and we toured the park and each and every booth. We picked up a couple of hand puppets for the girls. and the cutest little boutique shirt for me.

By the way, Snap and Sanchez, the next time you look after our place, we may have a donkey. The girls fell in love and spent 30 mins playing with these donkeys. The girls spent another 1.5 hours playing while I sat in the park working and keeping up with where the boys were through the Spot.

The girls and I searched for a place to eat, (4 restaurants closed) due to the festival being popular enough and the town being small enough to close down for such an event. We found a fun little Mexican food establishment, grabbed a bite and then went back to the Buena Vista KOA.

I called Kristin, as I was trying to decide if the boys had it in them to finish the segment tonight. They seemed to be moving much faster over the last couple of days. Maybe it's the new Pearl Izumi shoes that Joe has that are allowing his blisters to heal. Maybe they are faster because they are actually getting acclimated to the altitude here. Either way, I am 30 minutes from the LZ and do not want to spread out my camping "stuff" if I have to gather it all back together to head their way. She assured me that staying put for $30 less for the night was the best choice.

So the girls are back on the playground, making more new "friends". The temps have been in the 60's all day today. Wore shorts, and North Face fleece. #layers

Here is a link to some bonus footage of a yard sale on the top of the mountain.

Yard Sale  =  #amazeballs crash. This one is my hubs.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Ride, Explore, and Eat Some More

I dropped the boys off at the trailhead of Mount Massive this morning. They were really looking forward to this day. The guys had what they thought was going to be a quick 21 miles because it was mostly down hill from the start. The plan was to meet me for a late lunch at the end of the trail on Segment 11 around 2PM. I would drive them into Buena Vista for a bite to eat, and then back to the trail where I would meet them in Salida in two days.

Before starting off to Buena Vista, the girls requested we drop by Turquoise Lake to see if it were really turquoise. It was not, but it WAS beautiful. We read a little out of the book of Job, threw some rocks, and then hopped in the van to meet the boys.

Well, for anyone following the Spot, you can see that the boys went off track for about 3 miles. That means that they then needed to back track for 3 miles to find the trail again.   I feel insanely helpless when I see this happening. I have no way to get ahold of them out here. As it is, I was already sitting about 20 mins from the end point of this segment so I could have internet and cell service. When dropping the boys off for Segment 3 a few days back, we ran into a lady who said that if they were ever to do something like this again, that she would purchase satellite phones. I think with the hiccup of the going off course today coupled with the fact that I did not have access to drive to the actual end point of this Segment 11, I would have to agree. IF we ever do this again, I will demand the purchase of satellite phones.

As we sat and waited on the guys to show up for lunch, or shall I say linner (by the time they arrived) the girls and I sat in the van and worked through a few workbook pages in their summer bridge books. They were bribed to finish them before we return to Oklahoma. If they finish them, they will get the $150 Jurassic World Lego set.

When we finally hooked up with the gents, we brought them into Buena Vista for a meal and an hour later we were at another trailhead and they were gone again.

I will be camping for real on my own this evening. No Kristin. No Joe. No Travis. Just me and the girls alone in the mountains. We stopped at a park on our way to the KOA and played for an hour. I spun the girls and several other park goers on this new fandangled merry-go-round. They had a blast, "making friends". We grabbed an ice cream, hit the city market, and then drove to the KOA.

I do not expect to see the guys tomorrow. But I will update anyway.

Pb Ville...Get it? Leadville

I dropped the boys back at Copper Mtn again this morning. And took my time driving back to Leadville where the boys will meet me tonight.

The very first thing before hitting the trail, we noticed that Joe's tire had a gash on the side. We (they) put in some Stan's, which is a liquid sealant for tubeless tires which closed the hole. But before leaving they asked me to find them another tire. They did not want to finish out the journey with that tire. 
I went into Frisco to a bike shop where they had a similar tire to Joe's but would only be able to order the exact tire. SO I bought the Maxxis Ardent 2.4. I bought it with hopes that when I meet up with the guys tonight they will be pleased. (He was.) 

I drove back into Leadville, where I stopped at a park to make the girls lunch. I worked as they played for a bit. We decided after about an hour to go check out our camp spot for the night. The girls love the fact that they have to put quarters into the showers for the water to turn on, I however, am not too sure about this. 
We went to another (much cleaner) park for another hour of play while I worked. My girls met two other girls that were locals and they hung out and sang together on the monkey bars for a full set. My girls are really missing their friends and cousins right now. Don't get me wrong the two can find things to do. They play really well together, but have a cousin that lives right next door that is their best friend. 
The locals were called home so my superstars and I went for a walk down main street in Leadville. I got a few ideas of items to make when I get home, including a painting and a t-shirt skirt. I will probably fail, but could not bring myself to pay tourist prices for these items. I will probably need to blog about those when the time comes, so stay tuned...

The Spot device did a great job again today keeping me informed as to where the boys were at all times. I am getting better and better at trying to figure out where the boys are on the trail. The spot has no legend, but I can check it against the Colorado Trail Handbook and can tell with in a mile or so where the boys are. Today I got a text early that the boys were ready to be picked up. I was already on my way as I thought they were still three miles off and I thought I would meet them when they got there rather than sitting in the same location all day, but they were not at the place I scoped out earlier in the day. It threw me off, but because the Spot gives GPS coordinates when they send a message, I could add the coordinates into Google Maps and saw I was 3 miles off. I was sitting at Hwy24 and Tennessee Pass. They were stopped at Hwy24 and Tennessee Pass Rd. 
It was great to see them and even better to see the Spot work with such accuracy. 

They were looking worn out at dinner, so after replacing the new tire, and grabbing some post ride details via video camera, we turned in pretty quickly. 

Tomorrow they must bi-pass the wilderness areas, so their real start back on the CT will be Segment 11. I will be excited to ask Trav to speak again about the Twin Lakes on this segment.