Apogaea 2011: Illuminate

Last weekend I was at Apogaea, Colorado’s regional burn. Similar to Burning Man, but just for Colorado. The website says “Apogaea is a collaborative outdoor arts and music festival held in beautiful mountains of Colorado.” Not sure that really covers it all, but it’s a start. It was my first time, and while I can agree with the above description, it was a lot of other things too. It had the art and the music – mostly electronic music, loud and entrancing until dawn – but also community, collaboration, celebration, fire (burning effigies at the end), things that light up (LEDs/EL wire/blacklights/flourescent paint and materials etc.), interesting activities (I especially liked the High Flying Aerial Acrobatics workshop, Camp Wardrobe Malfunktion was fun too), people in costumes, etc. In short, lots of different things to sink one’s teeth into.

In the days before heading off I made a Day of the Dead costume. While I’ve normally been adding my pretty little LEDs to Goodwill-hunted merchandise, this one was something I designed and made from a raw sheet of fabric, something I haven’t done in a while. Not intending to leave it unLEDed, I placed 1.8mm red LEDs in each of the eyes. The effect was so illuminating that even Facebook thought one of the skulls was a person and asked me to tag them. I was kind of rushed getting it done, no time for lining on this one, but it held up ok considering. My Rainbow Raincoat, Smolder dress and Flower Power dress also came along with me and showed their colors.

I camped with some friends I met through the Boulder Hackerspace who created the Musical Universe of Faux Fur Flowers (MUFFFs) – a sound-interactive art installation with LED strips, faux fur, bent pipes and flourescent paint. It was fun helping with assembly and take-down, and also joining the cuddle-puddle I found one night lying underneath enjoying the lights react to the music and their conversation! Here’s some videos of the MUFFFs in action: Cuddle puddle or with drums

And here’s some photos from the event:

Cool Hot Springs: Kayaking on the Colorado

This past weekend I traveled from my home near Boulder, Colorado to the Colorado River in Boulder Canyon, on the Nevada / Arizona border just below Hoover Dam.

My cousin Tracy, an expert at cramming what normal people consider “vacations” into short weekends, planned this glorious outing a couple months back, and I happily accepted her invitation to come along! There were 9 of us altogether: family and friends from California, Nevada and Colorado. Tracy arranged our trip with Desert Adventures, who did a wonderful job transporting and orienting us for our journey. We split up into 2 canoes and 5 1-person kayaks. The canoes held most of our gear and thankfully none tipped over! Here’s a brief description of our journey, followed by a galleria of photos.

Day 1, Saturday: gathered at 8:15 just east of Boulder City, launched around 9, then traveled 4 miles down-river. The launch point is just below the Hoover Dam. We explored the Sauna Cave, hot springs in Gold Strike Canyon and also some spraying in to the river, etc. Reaching where we planned to camp around 1, we ate, set up camp, walked to a hot springs with waterfall just up the canyon, ate, hung out, ate, paddled, made s’mores, with most of us going to bed before the sun went down.

Day 2, Sunday: 7 miles. We awoke to find a mouse had drowned in a cup of water we’d left sitting out. We ate (but not the mouse), packed up and set out (before 7 I think it was), paddled and enjoyed the water until about 9:30, had brunch, paddled some more, some of us took a swim along the way, the wind kicked up in late morning and there was a hellish mile-or-so long slog heading south into strong winds from the south until our take-out point at Willow Beach, where we then ate lunch, napped, lounged etc. until our pick-up at 3.

Interesting things about the trip:

  • Something about being on the water makes you want to eat all the time. Which we did. Thank you Tracy for packing such good food for us all, we really appreciated it!!
  • Hot and Cold: The water in the river is 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which is pretty cold to bare skin. In contrast, there are hot springs flowing in to the river in numerous places, some of them pretty scalding, and the air temperature was above 90 F both afternoons.
  • I don’t know if it’s always like this, but it got windy both days near noon, from the south, the direction the river was taking us. I think it canceled the current and then some. This made paddling downstream feel like paddling up hill.
  • They tell you to pee in the water instead of on land. It is hard to feel comfortable doing this after years of conditioning.

More photos on my Flickr.

P.S. Aside from the afternoon wind, this trip was delightful!

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. 🙂

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!!