41 Years, 59 Miles

Yesterday was my 41st birthday, so I biked 59 miles.

I got this crazy idea from my friend Burt, who, since turning 50, has set and followed a goal for himself: each birthday he runs 100 minus his age in years, in miles. So I thought, if he can do this as running, I will try it biking.

59 miles

59 miles

I left at 9 am and got back around 3. I decided to head west to Boulder and then north to re-explore some country roads I used to enjoy when I’d bike from my former house in north Boulder. I saw approximately 64 cows, 33 horses, a dozen random unidentified farm animals, 11 rabbits, 43 prairie dogs, 8 squirrels, 2 dead snakes, 1 snake skin, 2 dead birds, 159 live birds/ducks/geese. Around halfway I found myself in Longmont debating about where to get lunch and just standing there I somehow managed to fall off my bike, getting sidewalk rash on my knee and injuring my middle finger. (I’m hoping it’s not broken, if it turns out it is then there’ll be one more bird to speak of…) Anyhow, this is called “making memories“; it was Memorial Day, after all. I added these fresh right-side ailments to my already bruised right foot (where I dropped something on it Saturday) and sore right wrist (fell hard on it snowboarding last week).

A description of this ride would not be complete without mentioning the weather. At the start of the day there was fog and a cool mugginess, which turned to general cloudiness with hints of sunshine. Then when I was enjoying the beautiful but unsheltered St. Vrain Greenway Trail southeast of Longmont, somehow it started hailing and raining. Pea-sized hail falling at 45 degree angles eventually results in one or two hitting your face and this stings a little. I was glad to have a helmet. Heading south from there on County Line Road I noticed a bank of clouds black as night to the east. The image of a man suspended on his bike in the Wizard of Oz briefly came to mind. But, then the sun came out. However, I wished the hail would come back when the 30 mph winds kicked up. This meant my last 8 miles were entirely uphill even on the downhill, being sandblasted and tossed around unpredictably. I was glad to have a helmet.

Typical Colorado weather? Probably. I do like the drama and variety… just not the wind!

In spite of little planning for this ride, I was at about 58 miles when I got back to my apartment so only had to do a little extra tooling around to reach 59. See my route.

I know what you’re thinking: this girl knows how to party on her birthday, huh?

Well, I do find life isn’t complete without both yin and yang. It so happened that someone I know was having a birthday party in the afternoon, at a stunning house in north Boulder with sweeping views, great food and drink, even a dancing violinist and various other activities. His birthday was actually last week but I thanked him graciously for having a party to celebrate. Then 2 of my good friends took me out to dinner + dessert for a bit more of a personal celebration. So I had an all-around great day!

Oh, and on my drive back home I added a coyote to my wildlife sightings. 🙂

Japan’s Devastation

Some headlines, facts, estimates and other phrases found online 4 days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Sad times. Help if you can. Be grateful for what you have.

Sendai Devastation. Photo by Beacon Radio.

Sendai Devastation

  • An 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami have crippled Japan
  • USGS upgraded to 9.0-magnitude, occurred on Friday, March 11, 2011 at 2:46 PM at epicenter, 130 km (80 miles) E of Sendai, Honshu, Japan
  • In pictures: Mounting shock
  • The landscape of parts of Japan looks like the aftermath of World War Two


  • at least 10,000 people are believed to have died
  • “There was 30 minutes’ warning”
  • the wave sheared house after house off at the foundation, leaving only concrete bases and wood floors scoured eerily spotless by the rushing water
  • Japan Begins To Dig For Dead Amid Nuclear Crisis
  • 2,000 Bodies Found On Miyagi Coast
  • No one to rescue in Natori
  • Japanese finding more tsunami victims; survivors face deprivation
  • In Sendai, long lines of quiet desperation
  • “I don’t know if it’s good that I survived”
  • Body bags run short in ‘overwhelmed’ nation
  • 300,000 homeless bed down without electricity
  • Millions face a fourth night of fear following Friday’s quake, tsunami and resulting nuclear emergency
  • Freezing temperatures are expected to exacerbate the hardships for Japan’s quake survivors


  • The fuel rods in all three of the most troubled Japanese nuclear reactors appear to be melting
  • A third explosion in four days rocked the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant
  • Engineer: Nuclear Plant Not Designed To Withstand Quakes/Tsunamis
  • 17 U.S. Military Personnel Test Positive For Radiation
  • German Airline Screening Japanese Flights For Radiation
  • Germany, Switzerland Suspend Nuclear Plant Approvals
  • Japan accident dims odds of U.S. nuclear revival
  • Ultimate impact of damage to Japan nuclear reactors still unknown
  • Chernobyl Outcome Unlikely
  • Risk of radiation reaching U.S. said to be remote
  • According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), there are no signs of fuel melting at Japan’s nuclear plant
  • Fearmongers go into their own meltdown: ..the Western media’s obsession with what is happening there is seriously overblown and reveals more about us and our fears than it does about the reality on the ground in Japan.


  • the most powerful measured seismic event in Japan’s history
  • the fifth most powerful to hit the world in the past century
  • more than 160 aftershocks in the first 24 hours — 141 measuring 5.0-magnitude or more
  • preceded by a series of large foreshocks over the previous two days, 4 earthquakes greater than magnitude 6
  • the quake caused a rift 19 miles below the sea floor that stretched about 250 miles long and 100 miles wide
    tectonic plates slipped 59 feet (18 meters)
  • coastlines moved up to 8 feet
  • the quake also shifted the earth’s axis by 4 inches, shortened the day by 1.6 microseconds, and sank Japan downward (by about two feet?)
  • some waves reached six miles (10 kilometers) inland
  • 30-foot walls of water
  • the tsunami’s waves necessitated life-saving evacuations as far away as Chile

USGS | CNN | Huffington Post | BBC | MSNBC | LA Times | New York Times | Washington Post | Yahoo | The Australian | Fox News | Seattle Times | CNET

Making Memories

Picture it: December 31, 2007. Drive up to Big Bear (approx. elevation 6,750 feet) from my home in Simi Valley, CA (elevation 800 feet) to visit my cousin Tracy and her family.

Tracy: you want to go snowshoeing up at Snow Summit and watch the New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade?

Repeating History at the New Year's Eve 2010 Torchlight Parade

Little did I realize that Tracy’s idea of “snowshoeing” is trudging straight up the ski slope about halfway up the mountain. And fast, because we’re running a little bit behind.

Effortless for her, sure, but my lungs don’t adjust well to elevation when I live at 800 feet. Hence I don’t fare so well, gasping, sputtering, muttering, grumbling, cursing…

Somewhere during this drudgery she tells me to think of it this way: I won’t forget this, she is “making memories”.

How poignant. How true. I will never forget. How can I, when my lungs still have scars with her initials carved into them. And I am glad for that, because, yes, it is one of my fondest and most memorable memories. That’s the good stuff. Thanks, Tracy.

I think I’ll be a bit more prepared this time though, living at mile-high. So, you’ll have to find something else this time. Bring it on!!

Breathing New Life

I’m finally getting settled in my new apartment after a week or so of moving. It’s one of those big multi-unit places with all the amenities, and it’s brand-spanking new to boot. Too new, almost: my address is not even on Google Maps nor in many organizations’ databases yet, so I’m having trouble changing it and ordering stuff online. The place is named Prana, supposedly this is Sanskrit for ‘life force, or vital energy, particularly, the breath’… sounds more like Boulder than Lafayette, but in any event it feels like a good place to reboot one’s life. When I say the name of course people are more likely to think of the omnivorous South American jungle fish that is rumored to end lives rather than positive new beginnings.

I picked Halloween to start moving. I guess I figured that since I wasn’t participating in any spooky activities this year that embarking on my transition from an 8 year relationship would be an appropriately scary thing to do on this day. I decided to just keep packing/loading/unloading my pickup truck over the next week or two until I was done. At first I speculated that it would take me about 10 trips driving over. Then upon reconsidering the mountain of boxes and things accumulating, I thought, well, maybe more like 20. But I was underestimating the carrying capacity of my Tacoma, and my original estimate was pretty close. Unloading was fun, only 38 steps up to my 3rd floor apartment. After a few of these climbs in succession in mile-high air while straining under heavy loads I was left gasping for breath and questioning my insanity.

There’s still some odds and ends to go but here’s the stats and some fun facts:

  • 9 full truckloads
  • about 120 schleps up the stairs
  • I was amazed to calculate that this is only about a half-mile in elevation gain. I’ve done so much more than this backpacking, but I can attest that it really is much easier carrying things strapped to your back than cantilevering them out in front of you with your arms.
  • Lifesaver: the back brace I purchased at RiteAid on the first day
  • Worst moment: after a week of this I was shattered and needed a few days off
  • Best moments: the view from the top – from the Flatirons north to Long’s Peak and beyond
  • Most challenging: wrestling an entertainment center and a queen size mattress (albeit not at the same time) up the 2 flights of stairs
  • Surprise: the black widow spider I found clinging to a lane float in the pool… these gals loved to periodically colonize the garage in California but I never saw one in Colorado before
  • Most relaxing: soaking in the hot tub after a few rough days of moving
  • Little moment of pride: successfully backing my truck into the tight garage for the first time, at 3 am on a Saturday morning no less
  • Big moment of pride: I moved everything myself. Girl Power!

Honestly… do I really think I need this much stuff? Too many hobbies? (probably) Pack rat? (maybe a little) Bit of both? (undoubtedly) But, I did throw out and/or not keep a lot of stuff. And this small apartment actually isn’t looking too cluttered (except maybe the walk-in closet). Plus there’s a pile of leftover furniture to sell or give away back at the house. Nevertheless I think I may still have some more work worth doing on the letting-go department.

As it turned out, moving was really good exercise. And strangely every now and then I do find myself using one of those things I’ve been lugging around from place to place but haven’t used in over 10 years.