Sunday, March 25, 2007

We have a niece!

We flew out to NJ in March to make up for the trip that was cancelled due to the blizzard last Christmas. While we missed seeing Ma and Pa Ferg and all the New York decorations the first go around, it was ok because now we got to meet our brand new niece Ella for the first time.


Ella was only three weeks old but she's already a big, healthy young lady. We spent most of our time hanging out with Mom and Dad and marvelling at this cute as a button and incredibly needy little creature. It was interesting to witness first time parents learning how read the different cries of their child and trying different soothing tactics. I should've taken notes!

Russ and Ella
Mom and kiddo

Steve and I left the new family to stretch our legs in New York for a day. It was so nice to walk around this great city without an agenda and just enjoy being a part of the scene. We ate brunch at a lovely French cafe and then explored the myriad of neighborhoods on foot. Along the way I heard gun shots and turned to Steve with wide-eyed panic. Are you kidding me? I thought this only happened in the movies! Turns out I was right, as they had closed down 7th Ave to film part of the next Bourne movie (Borne Ultimatum, perhaps?). We watched as a stunt drive peeled out in a little sports car and again shots fired in the distance. Ah, it makes me nostalgic for LA. But of course, not wanting to look like tourists, we walked on.

Grand Central Station

We passed through Grand Central Station, then tried to go into the Crysler Building but it wasn't open to the general public. That's too bad; I like it far better than the Empire State Building. As we walked on the swarm of tourists became thicker and thicker, and soon we found ourselves at Rockefeller Center. It really is a beautiful center, and I love the art deco flavor. On a whim we tried to go on the NBC Studio tour but it was completely full. That's too bad, I really would love to see the set of The Office.

At Rockefeller Center
Golden Boy threatens the skaters below
Rockefeller Center

Apparently Ella missed us while we were gone, because she was screaming for her Aunt and Uncle. Or maybe she was just screaming...she's got a great set of pipes.

Enrique!  Por que???

Oh, the humanity! You're a great kid, Ella, we can't wait to see you again soon.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Roughing It

Ahoy kiddos, welcome to another edition of Weekend Warrior. Last fall we decided to book three spots in one of the popular 10th Mountain Division huts for an overnight trip in the Colorado high country. My mom was slated to join us, but it didn't quite work out so she passed the torch on to one of our co-workers who happily obliged.

It was a nice, gentle snowshoe into the hut in the Vail Valley, and oh what a hut! After tramping around New Zealand we had geared our expectations toward a solid shelter with a table and benchs, a steel counter for setting up a camp stove, and a wood burning stove for warmth. At Jay's Hut we found a plush mountain cabin complete with electricity, private rooms with beds, hot and cold running water, an oven, flush toilets, and a shower.

Jay's Hut

Upstairs in Jay's Hut One of Jay's bedrooms

Getting cozy by the fire Not really, but what do you expect?

Awesome icicles from the roof of the adjacent hut

Not exactly a hard core winter experience, but I do have to say that it was nice to enjoy grilled pork tenderloin with pan fried potatoes for dinner. Then we sipped hot chocolate and Baileys after a brief steam in the sauna.

One of the three Shrine Mountain Huts

Since it was such a brief trip to the hut, we wisely brought a plastic sled and an inflatable tube for afternoon merry-making. It was a great time, but since we had removed our snowshoes for the sledding it was exhausting trying to get back up the hill to the start of the run. The snow was so deep in spots that our feet would punch through seemingly bottomless drifts, leaving us struggling to free our engulfed limbs. Not only that but our sled had a death wish in the form of trees and stumps, and would bend its will until we veered into the path of danger. The next day we found a longer hill with no trees and left our snowshoes on our feet to maximize our childish glee.

Tubing near our hut Hip deep snow doesn't deter the faithful

DSC_0024 Jeremy picks up speed

We all got faces full of snow, but only Jeremy continued to wear his proudly. Good on ya mate.

Go big or go home!

In the end, a fun first trip to one of the back country huts, and certainly more pampered that we were expecting. We have another trip planned to a different hut in a couple of weeks that's sure to be a bit more challenging on all levels. Stay tuned for the next edition of...

Getting ready to head back