Sunday, November 28, 2010

B17 Bomber Site

A hike to history. Big history that could also be explored. Almost exactly 67 years ago (October 18, 1943) a B-17 from the Lowry Air force Base crashed on Stormy Peaks. A night training mission that was never completed, started in Rapid City S.D., and stopped when the plane was unable to clear the 12,148 summit. It took two days to carry the eight bodies down from the mountain. Left behind were the remains of the plane that many have made their way to explore.

As I strolled along the crash site I looked at the different metal parts, wondering where on the plane it once was. Parts of the engine, wheels and body of the plane could be identified. My curiosity had me wondering what these eight men were talking about. Maybe the holiday season, and if they would get to go home for Christmas or Thanksgiving, maybe even both. Maybe some had young kids and were sharing funny stories.

Finding the hike is not exactly clear cut. My Uncle, even with his topographical map, my mom with detailed directions, and both with an impeccable sense of direction had us a little astray…however we did take some detours trying to arrive to “gate check” sooner. I would suggest following directions to a T, even if you think you can hook up with trail the way mountain men do.

The hike is about 5 miles each way. There are no signs pointing to the B17 crash site. Start at the Pingree Park campus at the Stormy Peaks Trailhead, follow the signs to Twin Lakes and then follow the stone arrows. How nice of someone to set up the stone arrows, and how rude of my uncle to switch them to point the other way! Jokes jokes…seriously. Trust the arrows. And trust me, that this will be one the most unforgettable hikes you will ever take.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fit for Fire 5K

Exactly three weeks into November, time to grab the warm weather clothes and fire up the engines to support the Denver Fire Department, and the Denver Fire Fighters Burn Foundation. Today marked the Fit for Fire 5k around Wash Park. And fit was the word for the fire fighters that participated in a fun run with the kids after in their full on fire suits. Hot stuff. (Also in reference to the fireman calendar…whoo wee!)
Most all kids grow up admiring Fireman. They community support, get involved with schools, and are many people’s heroes. I might be past the elementary and middle school age, but to see the twinkle in the eyes of these little kids when they shake the hand of a firefighter is fabulous, and reminds me of when I shared the same light in my eye at the age. Still do today, especially as you learn what it actually means to risk your life.
And how great that the Burn Foundation can take some pain out of something as damaging as fire. It’s hard to think of anything as painful and severe as to what some burn victims endure. A slight burn from the oven has me in a hizzy, I can’t imagine the road to recovery.
Something as simple as running as 5K will hopefully allocate more resources, support and education to help the healing and goodness of such a wonderful non profit. Fire away!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Festival Frenzy ends

The festival frenzy is now over. Tallying up the ballots last night proves the audiences were generally ranking films in the “excellent” and “very good” quality. And the festival overall, would fit right in that category for me.

Screenings, exciting parties and receptions are all extraordinary, even when you are running on a mere four hours of sleep from night to night. The Late Night Lounge is another primary reason! You tell yourself, I am going to head in and out. But then you meet someone who shares your passion and production, and you keep treading the night. Until, what, the sun is already saying hello once again.

The energy and people of the festival keep you going. When you are about to catch yourself in a yawn, someone somehow will always inject the energy shot. Fascinating filmmakers, some of whom empty their own pockets to send out a message. A passionate staff that truly values the Denver Film Society and would never see this just as work. And benefactors and patrons who value and promote film in Colorado. I would start it all over tomorrow again if I could, and you betcha I am already gearing up for the 34th Starz Denver Film Festival.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A trip to the Greens (Golfing)

You know how people say to do something once a day that scares you? Well, I took that advice and went golfing. The day started on the driving range, and things seemed to go smooth enough. Time to hit the par three. Which I agreed to, thinking it was three holes. Well, nine holes later, I was wondering, what the heck? I could barely get that ball to go two feet, or straight. It was a rough day.

I thought by putting this off until snow is usually covering the ground, I could once again put this off until next year. I know I don’t have the golfing blood in me. And golfers would agree. I made divots and I struck out.

But really, lets be honest. I am glad I went. It doesn’t matter that I don’t foresee myself ever owning my own set of golf clubs, checkered pants, and fancy for golfing only shoes. And the more I golfed, the more I realized, it didn’t matter that I was in the foreign weed traps, sand, and playing I-Spy for my ball all day. I had fun. I learned to laugh at myself, even when others were laughing “with” me.

And best of all…I hear practice makes perfect. So I am going to keep at this. And I am giving you a fair warning. If you are driving near a par three and a ball flies past your car, maybe I improved my drive (not aim) and please feel free to look over and wave! Ill hit you with my best-shot…fire away!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ouzel Lake

Google Searched “Great hikes in Estes Park.” I was led to Calypso Cascades. And I couldn’t wait until my feet did the same. After a drive through Allenspark, must be a very desirable place to live because there is a spring there…free drinking water for all. But with a population of only about 500 people, that wouldn’t be so hard to do. You probably don’t even have to wait in line. After seeing most of the town, a few restaurants, a post office, we were ready to get wild!

We headed to the Wild Basin area. If you are anywhere in the Rocky Mountain National Park, you are set to have one of the best hikes, views and times. Waterfalls draw me in, not literally luckily. So when I read we would be walking along a stream to a waterfall, I clicked that red X on the internet page, no need to look any further.

The plan was set. Hike to Calypso Cascades, out and back, about four miles roundtrip. But then there was a wooden carved sign telling us if we kept going another mile we would be to Ouzel Falls. Done! And then would you look at that…another wooden sign, two more miles and we would be to Ouzel Lake. By golly, how could you not keep trekking? A snowy ridge was ahead and a couple coming down the trail warned us…but sometimes you have to experience it for yourself.

Keeping our heads down to avoid wind burn and snow in our eyes, it was a debatable decision to turn around. Shoes soaked from water puddles, I was getting the chills, and they were multiplying, but I couldn’t lose control….or focus! A wooden sign sang to me, and etched out the words “Ouzel Lake .5 miles.” Ohh ya we had this. The falls were great, the trails clear and people friendly while we were in the timber…but I stepped into something different at Ouzel Lake. A postcard. The serenity of it even took the chills out of my feet. A ten mile hike worth every snow covered step.

And another wooden sign…Bluebird Lake only 1.5 miles away?! Do we dare! Luckily there was a wise man that was also enjoying the hike, and talked us out of it due to the conditions. Summer is not so far away…and Bluebird Lake will be better enjoyed then.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Starz Denver Film Festival Opening Night

And it was dashing. Toasting Aaron Eckhart at the Four Seasons Hotel before the red carpet awaited him for the debut of a film he stars in with Nicole Kidman, "Rabbit Hole," will be a memory I have forever. The film uncovers the journey of a couple struggling to get back in the routine of life after the death of their four year old son. An emotional film with many comedic breaks, leaves no question why Eckhart recieved an excllence in acting award from the Starz Denver Film Festival. He makes you laugh, he makes you cry, and in despite of it all, gives you a sense of comfort that despite loosing someone you are closest to, it will somehow, somewhere down the road be OK.

I was unsure about seeing such a heavy film, especially before something as exciting as the opening night party for the SDFF 33rd year. Tears and party favors don't always coincide with one another. But there was a renewed sense by the end of the film that brought everyone inside the Ellie Caulkins Opera House just a little bit closer.

The crowd gathered for the kick of the 12 day event that will showcase over 200 films from around the country. The Seawell Ballroom was decorated extravagantly, the dancing was on, and the cheers'ing continued. So I will raise my glass for what's going to continue to highlight the film industry in the heart of Denver. Let's get it started in here!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thai Bistro Littleton, Red Bean Ice Cream

Have you ever ordered something that scared you? How about something like red bean ice cream? I suppose it sounds better than green bean ice cream. As I looked at the dessert menu at Thai Bistro in Littleton, Colorado, I wanted something that I hadn’t had before…typical. I have tried green tea ice cream, mango sherbet, and who hasn’t caved and tried a fried banana. (If you haven’t, tell me your will power secrets…see the comment section below ☺)
We spooned the red bean ice cream. Red tint and all. It’s a vanilla based ice cream, made with adzuki beans. These beans traveled all the way from Asia to sweeten up my smile.
I liked it. I mean once you’ve tried vanilla, chocolate, and cake batter ice cream, its only time to graduate onto something a little more authentic. Don’t ya think?
And these beans are known for their healing properties, and the amount of vitamins and nutrients in store…we’ve got magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, B Vitamins, …when’s the last time you saw that on your Dryers label? And it gets sweeter; the beans are high in potassium, low in sodium and help reduce blood pressure. And high in protein and low in fat. So what are you waiting for, get those red beans churning in the ice cream machine…there are plenty of recipes on line.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Broker Restaurant Denver

When you are at a restaurant like the Broker in Denver CO, you don’t want to be rushed. This is a sit down and take your time kind of place. Because we were in a hurry to make a show, our friendly waitress told us to relax, she would talk to the chef and we would even have time for the caramel cheesecake!

Ok, we took her advice and situated ourselves into the old bank teller’s booth. Yes, we were eating in a bank and even walked through two vaults (one that weighs 23 tons) on the way to our table. But this bank wont have customers knocking on your door needing to open up a new checking account to score that sweet new flip cam. DEAL! Opened in 1907 and was later transformed into the Broker Restaurant.

Much of the inside is still even in the original state…like the sign on the bar that reads, “Prices will be delayed 15 minutes,” in reference to the stock market. You will even notice the phone jacks and call switches to notify the security guards when a teller needed to exit. My favorite was the molding and artwork in one of the conference rooms, now that’s craftsmanship.

What a treat (even sweeter than the caramel cheesecake) for anyone to get to walk into a restaurant and be taken back to the early 1900’s. Can you imagine being one of the tellers, bankers or security guards that worked here, and to come back and see it today? They might even sit down and enjoy the delicious Broker Shrimp Bowl, one of the Broker traditions. A whopping bowl of complimentary shrimp.

Our dinner was soon wheeled out, oh I felt so fancy. My water was never left empty and no server ever walked by our table without a warm smile. And I forgot to mention, I will take ANYONE there on there birthday. (SHHH…Dinner is always free on your birthday!) That beats a cheesy happy birthday song and a slice of cake.

The meal looked like it belonged on a postcard; work was put into the presentation. Wanting to enjoy every bite in the historic interior I was pretty bummed out when I had to ask for a box, and another box to put the cheesecake into. But music to my ears! The manager of the restaurant asked if he could hold the desert and our dinner and we could come back after the show.

It turns out when your situation may look like a bit of a disappointment it could really be disguised as a surprise. Back to the Broker after the show. The real treat was in the tour the manager took us on. To see the old elevator shaft, the wine cellar in the basement, historic pictures of the original bank and the old conference rooms made the night spectacular. We were treated like royal highnesses and are just ordinary people that enjoyed an extraordinary restaurant for the history and service and delicious cuisine.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Denver Gorilla Run

Let me hear your best gorilla grunt! WhooWhooWhooo!! The Mountain Conservation Fund deserves all of our best gorilla grunts, as yesterday marked the seventh gorilla run. A run where the costumes speak for the cause.
There were more people in gorilla suits than there are mountain gorillas. The estimate of silverback gorillas- 740. Estimate of runners 1,030. The gorillas took through the streets of Denver, starting and ending at the Wynkoop Brewing Company. Passersby always take a double take…when else do you see such a furry sight? Awareness definitely caught on.
This year I was not behind my gorilla suit to run the 4.6 miles, but behind my camera to capture the story of such an important and inspirational organization.
When the fund was started there were about 150 mountain gorillas left in the entire world. Now there are an estimated 740, and with the gorilla-sized hearts of the staff, the number will surely keep growing.
Of course, it’s always a major thanks to everyone all furred out for the fun.
The spirit of these gorillas will make you go ape. Wearing full on gorilla suits you sweat for the precious mountain gorillas. Most every gorilla has gone bananas, dressed as the Flintstones, Baton Twirlers, and Mardi Gras Gorillas.
I expect you will be out there next year as well to save your closest relative, gorillas