31. August 2014 · Comments Off on Colorado Discoveries 41: Four Corners Monument · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Four Corners Monument is a very *short* stop off U.S. 160, at…well…the junction of four states.

You can’t drive between southwestern Colorado and New Mexico/Arizona without stopping briefly at the Four Corners Monument.

The monument is operated by the Navajo Nation. Since we were in the Navajo Nation. We paid an entry fee of $5 per person to enter the monument area, and what I saw was quite surprising. Not in a good or bad way, I simply didn’t know what to expect. More »


An archeologist’s dream park. At the Spruce Tree House at Mesa Verde National Park.

This post is about the first of the four national parks we visited on our southwest vacation. We tried to jam this visit in during our drive to the Grand Canyon, and it was admittedly a really tight fit.

We spent about 3 hours in the park, but it could easily be turned into a 1-2 day visit. There was a lot we elected not to see.

Mesa Verde National Park is only about 35 miles west of Durango on U.S. Route 160. We got a nice early start from our hotel in Durango and reached the park before 8am. Once you exit west from Durango, the Rocky Mountains begin to disappear in the rearview mirror and you are left with the buttes and mesas that are characteristic of the American Southwest.

After a few minutes at the visitor’s center, it was a slow climb up into the mesas to get to the Spruce Tree House cliff dwellings. This area of the park is only about halfway through; there is quite a bit more to see, but in the interest of time we told ourselves “We’ll come back here one day.” More »

31. August 2014 · Comments Off on Colorado Discoveries 39: Bar D Chuckwagon Suppers, Durango, CO · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , ,

The Bar D Ranch is about 10 miles north of Durango and is a fun, family friendly activity.

After our ride on the Durango & Silverton, we headed about 10 miles north of Durango (much of which was along the train route) to visit the Bar D Ranch.

These types of ranches are popular tourist attractions throughout the southwest. There are several in Colorado, including the Flying W Ranch right here in Colorado Springs. Our family had never done something like this, so it was a completely new experience.

More »

30. August 2014 · Comments Off on Colorado Discoveries 38: The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,

Did I mention I love our camera? This is the money shot here…and we were glad we were towards the end of the train so we could get these views of the locomotive.

Dave had been telling me about the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for many years. Okay, perhaps over 20 years. It was the highlight of a Colorado trip he had taken as a teenager, and he was excited for a chance to share the experience with the boys and me. So we made sure to include this on our southwestern vacation.

In the summertime, it’s important to get the tickets well ahead of time. I visited my local installation tickets and tours office at the Air Force Academy and received discounted tickets about 4 weeks in advance. I also made sure to secure nearby hotel reservations. On a whim I made the family a reservation at a cowboy supper show for fun. I’ll write about the Bar D after this post. More »

30. August 2014 · Comments Off on Colorado Discoveries 37: Driving from Colorado Springs to Durango · Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. 550: The Million Dollar Highway

I guess it’s high time I start writing about our family’s southwest summer vacation. After all, we left for the vacation exactly two months ago.

As usual with my lapses in writing, real life started to get in the way. I really truly want to write about these adventures while everything was still fresh in my mind. Here’s hoping it still is.

We took a week at the end of June and beginning of July and headed west. There were several places we wanted to visit on the trip and it was tough to prioritize things. We were able to visit four national parks, see several great sights on our drives, and even ride on a tourist railroad. More »

23. August 2014 · Comments Off on Colorado Discoveries 36: The Color Fun Fest in Colorado Springs · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

Color Fun Fest: Before and After. Like other runs of this type, the Color Fun Fest brings the elements of the ancient Hindu spring festival of Holi. Photo credit: Herb Keyser.

Last weekend I had the chance to participate in my first “color run.”

“Oh! Which one? The Color Run? Run or Dye? Color Me Rad? The Graffiti Run?”

No, none of those. I had the chance to participate in the Color Fun Fest 5K on its stop in Colorado Springs.

The event markets itself as a family-friendly combination of the ancient Hindu Holi festival with heavy electronica music. During Holi, which is traditionally celebrated near the vernal equinox, friends and families celebrate love and good friendship. One of the Holi traditions is tossing of colored powders.

You will feel this energy during the Color Fun Fest. Participants run a 5K race while having colored cornstarch tossed at them approximately every mile. It’s a relatively new event making its way around the U.S., and I think once it works out some growing pains, it has the potential to be a successful running event series. Read on for details about my family’s experience. More »

19. August 2014 · Comments Off on First Day of School: 2014 Edition · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,
Happy First Day of School!

Happy First Day of School!

This week my sons started 4th and 6th grades. Both boys are very excited to be back in school.

We’ve taken an incredible leap with Jacob’s school situation: we “choiced” him into a school other than the “neighborhood school” in our district. He’s now attending the school district’s STEM-focused middle and high school. I meant a(nother) new school coupled with the paradigm shift of a middle school schedule (9 different teachers!). It seems like a lot to pile on him, but he’s taking it like a champ. So far he’s really enjoying the middle school lifestyle and seems to be handling all the new information — things like block schedules, locker combinations to memorize, and dressing out for PE — really well. He is making some friends in his math class, and is looking forward to joining the Chess Club and trying out (yes, you read that right, trying out) for the Science Olympiad.

Timmy was thrilled to be reunited with several of his 3rd grade friends in his 4th grade class. His new teacher puts an emphasis on keeping a class blog (WHOO!) that includes individual miniblogs that her students can write. It’s password protected, which I think is great when involving such young kids. I explained to Timmy that this is where he and his friends can “publish” the Adventure Time, Pokemòn, and Regular Show fan fiction they spent all their spare time writing. He is so excited about this coming year.

As for me, I’m doing well enough with my classes. I have 77 cadets in 4 sections of calculus, and it’s been a pleasure getting to know them.

05. August 2014 · Comments Off on I’m a Working Mom Again… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

Image: Air Force Times

Okay, some of you knew about this, but many of you didn’t. I am currently on full time Reserve orders to teach differential calculus at the AF Academy. I will be in front of my first classroom of cadets a week from tomorrow. I am working at least the entire fall semester, and I’ve been asked if I could help out this spring also, but I won’t know about the spring until we know more about the FY15 budget.

So I’m back in uniform, this time able to commute to work like a normal person. It’s quite nice. I’m pleased as punch to have this chance to help out the Academy’s math department, which recently had a mass exodus of instructors who could take advantage of early retirement and other professional growth opportunities. More »