Thursday, March 25, 2010

Castle Valley Vineyards

The luck of the penny followed me to the Castle Valley Vineyards after the Canyon Lands Half Marathon. Directly from race, back up Highway 128 fourteen miles and I was sipping on award winning wine in the Red Rock Country.

When I think Moab, I have never thought wine. Amazing how quickly that changed because Moab is also the home to the Spanish Valley Vineyards. Sandy soils and a warm growing season makes those grapes luscious. Moab produces everything from Merlot, Cabs, Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs.

More than vineyards encompass Castle Creek. There is an adventure lodge, offering horseback riding, moutanin biking, rafting. And to have a winery in the midst of it all, lucky me! Castle Creek started growing grapes in the 1970’s, and after testing the soil and grapes the first bottle was sold in 1989! And, now over twenty years later the production is rolling just as fast as the Colorado River that backs up to the winery. ..producing 6,000 gallons of wine. And it’s homegrown in every form, the topping off, labeling and boxing is all done on site.

Sampling on “Outlaw Red,” “Kid Red,” “ Lily Rose White,” I was lucky to be rehydrating, at least in my mind. And mind over matter here because I was ready to continue chasing through Moab after the winery. Rejuvination!

Arches National Park

    As my lucky penny would have it, the luck of Moab could never run out! One word…ARCHES! Wait, I take that back…two thousand words are needed because that’s the number of arches found in this adventurer’s wonderland. And it’s not just arches…it’s sand dunes, massive balancing rock structures, wildlife, plant life and other rock formations that make you want to get up and dance.
    This park stole my breath with every turn, so to put it simply, I was barley breathing the entire day, and that’s a great thing! And heck, I am still having a hard time catching it as I think back on the dramatic views, both up close and across the high dessert.
    I wanted to run wild and it just so happens, my luck hadn’t run out. A three mile roundtrip trail takes you to Delicate Arch. In honor, I started out delicately…tip toeing up…but I knew what was ahead. Feet in gear and I was off.
Stacks of rocks guide you on the correct path. About a half mile from the arch the trail becomes primitive, meaning a tad treacherous. The running resumed to a delicate walk across the rocks, that way if I fell I could sprain my ankle, gracefully. I held what little breath I had left as I nervously walked along the ledge that with one corner turns you onto an unexpected surprise!
    An unreal moment that left me searching for my balance, yes, I was that taken back by the 52 foot high arch. The sky never looked so blue in contrast to the deep colors of the arch behind it. I accepted right then, my breath would never be caught. It was time to pass the luck on. On the way out of the park I placed the penny under the makeshift arch in the visitor center. It may get swept up, but my hope is that someone else may see the luck of Moab that surrounds such a playful place

Monday, March 22, 2010

Canyonlands Half Marathon

Moab is the outdoor playground that makes adventure seekers restless at night, thinking of all the fun to be had! Committing to the Canyon Lands half marathon ensured that I would soon be swinging across the sacred land. Running down Highway 128 enclosed by the depth of canyons and running with the Colorado River, was nothing short of majestic, and I am not saying that just because I found a rusty lucky penny before the run. And you betcha that I carried that penny with me all 13.1 miles, and I think it worked!
The race could not have been smoother. 5,000 of us ready to run filled up the big yellow school busses and were taken to the start into the canyons. I tried any sort of movement to keep warm, and gripped my lucky penny tighter knowing that the sun would rise over the steep canyons soon. By the start the sun was starting to blast a big “GOOD MORNING!” 11 miles down the canyon, with a few rolling hills and we were already heading towards the Main Street of Moab.
The crowds were forming single lines on both sides of the course screaming encouraging words. I was starting to feel the burn and hearing “TWO MORE MILES, SURGE, SPRINT, GO!” increased the burn …but a young kid shot the back of my burning calf with a squirt gun and cooled me right down. Whew, was I lucky! I started to surge…too soon, yes, but the young kiddo’s high fiving keeps ya going! Even though, I am pretty sure they were trying to trick me, knowing my penny was in hand, but I wasn’t quite ready to give it up.
You could say I had formed a tight bond with that 1974 copper portrait of Abe Lincoln; he will join me at the 2011 Canyon Lands Half Marathon, will you?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Denver Art Museum

The dramatic structure of the Denver Art Museum locks in plenty of eyes, but even more are broadened by the EMRACE! exhibit inside. The slanting walls and angled edges transformed into a vivacious and colorful experience. Seventeen artists came into the Hamilton Building to pick a space to convert into their own creative playground. The result…Brilliant colors of bungee cords called me over. Ohh how I wanted to run through the neon colored cords that were taller than I was. But it always seems to be a rule that when you are at a museum, hands off! So, maybe if I cuffed them behind my back and ran threw…would that count? The adult behavior set in and I was ready to check out the next artist, when the sweetest voice said “Go for it!” And it was a security guard speaking so I was in! Finally, an exhibit was made for museum goers to explore! I pushed my way through a piece of art and did not have to be just an observer.Gnarley, Good Morning, Fantastic…are all words refugees from around the world have said about setting up shop in Denver. The words, carved in wood and foam, vary in languages from English to Arabic and are on display to compose one artist’s idea. Or, how about the artist that saw tops of liquor bottles and new that by pressing them flat and together with copper wire something magnificent could be made?Creativity, imagination and spunk are three components I was encouraged to never loose sight of.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ultimate Frisbee

Frisbee’in it up on a Friday night till 3:45 in the morning is the new big craze. The games started at 9:45 p.m., so after six hours of the Frisbee world I was distraught when the buzzer rang to tell us it was time to take it in.
So here’s how the mayhem went down. There were 100 people, ten teams, ten people on a team. Every team plays each other, and every game is fifteen minutes. The teams are organized based on experience, so you rate yourself from one to five. I was a one, meaning it doesn’t get any more beginner.
We had two fields and it most often works play fifteen, then rest fifteen. Sometimes you have a double header…WINDED!
On the breaks I tried to learn some new techniques from the 5’s…the top talent. There was a lot of insane plays, the friz was going underhand, backhand, under their leg. I was still focused on the pancake catch and basic throw.
No matter your level, you have got to come try this. Instead of catching z’s come catch the friz! Look it up on facebook Ultimate Frisbee Denver Colorado.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

PHO in Denver

Trying foods across the map has been my new kick lately. I never thought about Vietnamese food but how could Pho (pronounced FA) be left out. Waahh, pho? Lets back up.
Pho is the most common type of Vietnamese food, and is much simpler than Korean food. But who would dare pick a favorite; both are all over the delicious spectrum. The sweet and simple description of Pho is a beef noodle soup. But don’t be fooled, you can order it with chicken instead!
And it gets better, especially if you love bean sprouts as much as this kid. You can imagine my excitement when just seconds after we placed our order, a tray filled with decadent bean sprouts, basil, lime and peppers were sat on the table, along with broth, filled with either chicken or beef.
It was time to get our mix on. Pho is totally customized by the person eating it, you can add as little or as much as you want. Bean sprouts here I come, easy on the jalapeƱos.
There are of course other menu options to try, but Pho is what most people step in for. Spring rolls and rice dishes are also available and an excuse for me to make my way back! Vietnamese dishes are usually served with lots of greens, herbs, vegetables and dipping sauces. Also, we can’t forget the lime to squeeze in there for… zing!
Very fresh and natural ingredients made for a refreshing meal, and me wanting more Pho, fa sho!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Run The Republic

As I was staring at the 56 flights of stairs, I could already feel my lungs burning. Sunday 2,000 fearless souls took the soles of their shoes up 1,098 steps to run the Republic Building in Downtown Denver. The cause, to raise money for the American Lung Association. I tell you what, after finishing the stair climb, I have never been more aware of my lungs. But reaching the top of the tallest building in Denver is an accomplishment for all that participated and benefited anyone who has a tie to lung disease.

What got me to sign up was learning that the third leading cause of death in the United States is lung disease, and the deaths from lung disease are increasing at an alarming rate. Having a mother that has dealt with asthma for over ten years, I am grateful for the ALA for putting on fundraisers like this. Make sure you watch out for fundraisers that support a cause that you care about.

The Denver Biscuit Company

A-tisket-a-tasket a basket full of biscuits is exactly what I want. Finally, there is a good kind of flaky. The Denver Biscuit Company dishes up biscuits with the perfect amount of fluff, and everything you will find here is made from scratch.
It is just right for breakfast, they offer home made jams, like apple butter, you butter not miss out on that one! But if you do, or you want some protein on that biscuit, try the BLT. There is also the perfect dinner biscuit, which would be chicken pot pie.
After seriously considering every biscuit on the menu, a decision was made. HOORAH! In the Ellsworth, fried chicken that is not raining grease and is the perfect amount of crisp is placed in the middle of the buttery biscuit, with stone ground mustard, homemade pickles and honey on top. Do I need to say more? You're on your way, aren’t you? But WAIT….
The biscuits are going mobile, so I hope you can catch them! The Biscuit Bus is coming soon, so watch out for a souped up bus that will be at Farmers Markets and crusin around for those walkin' around. But if you can’t wait for that strawberry shortcake biscuit check out the Denver Biscuit Company at 3237 E. Colfax. Ok, ready, GO!

Cross Country Ski

The 2010 Winter Olympics have shut down, but it motivated me to hit the high line canal with retro cross country skis from the 70’s. I geared up in the longest and thinnest skis I have yet to see. I would like to say I glided off, but I had a lot of technique to learn before I hit the Olympic status.
Cross Country skiing is cardio, core, buns, quads, bi’s, tri’s, so basically a total body workout. As a first timer, I stuck with the traditional style. This is like walking, one leg forward, opposite arm back and pulling you forward with the poles. Only your toes are locked in so you push up on your heels for a little more momentum.
I soon started too feel like I was gliding, so I thought I could add in some speed and tricks! Too much too fast. Yes, I fell. Here are the pictures to prove that you can get knocked down, and get up and ski again.
But if I had tried to advance to the double poll or double skate I might not have been able to get back up. But I am sure glad I got down with the trails, even if I can’t cross country ski like the Olympians

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Chocolate Therapist

I discovered a much cheaper kind of therapy today. And the best part about it is the affordability, and I don’t even need an appointment! Julie Pech is a Chocolate Therapist, which makes her my new best friend. She has a shop right in downtown Littleton and I think you are crazy if you don’t go try this place out!
Julie’s start came with the book she wrote, “The Chocolate Therapist,” which simply talks about something beautiful, the health benefits of chocolate. After talking to Julie today, I walked out of the store with plenty of chocolate and no guilt accompanying it.
Turns out, if chocolate is 70 percent cocoa it is not the enemy, not even close. It is rich in antioxidants, has endorphins to increase your mood and even has magnesium which will help balance your hormones. Bring that chocolate to the table, now we are talkin’!
The chocolate you will find in her shop couldn’t be fresher. Imagine tasting chocolate that was made just seconds before it hits your palette. You want some, don’t you? I thought back to the Hershey bars I see in the store and I didn’t have cravings like I usually do. Instead, I thought about how it has been sitting on the shelf for months, maybe even a year. And the list of ingredients doesn’t even make sense. Soy Lecithin, PGPR (I have no idea what this is short for) and Vanillin…which might be close to vanilla?
I am going to start getting my chocolate where I know exactly what the ingredients are. And the recipes are fun, and make great gifts. With catchy names like berried in chocolate and blue suede shews (cashews are so sweetly mixed in) what else could you ask for?
Ok, I can think of one more thing I would ask for, and that’s the chocolate making machines in the back of the store! It’s like having an air freshener on at all times, and that aroma really puts a smile on my face ear to ear. It’s all done in house, even the packaging.
So looks like chocolate is the new breakfast of champions!