Thursday, June 27, 2013


So, one thing we figured out on our vacation to Colorado is that I would fit better on a women's specific bike. We looked around a little while on vacation but didn't see anything for me. J is also looking for a new bike, but had something more specific in mind. I was just looking to see what was out there.

Before we left on our trip, we had seen a nice looking Felt bike at one of our local bike shops. Once we got back from vacation, we headed back to that same shop, hoping to get more info on a bike for J. The bike I had seen before was still there. It wasn't like anything I could find online, even on the Felt website.

So I asked about it.

Turns out it's a 2011 model that just never sold. Felt doesn't even make the ZW6 anymore.

World, meet Honey.

Honey, meet the world.
I've been on 3 rides on her, and so far, I'm in love. The seat is made to fit a woman's butt, and mine doesn't get as sore on rides. The handle bars are set for a more upright position, and are just a bit smaller and closer than men's bikes. I don't even mind the little bits of orange on her.

I did already have my first crash. On Sunday, J got me to go on my first group ride with the Team Army Fort Bliss Cycling. It was all guys, and all faster than me. They said they would set a "slow" pace of 16 to 18 mph. Ha! Well, I managed to keep up for a good chunk of the ride. J made sure to stick with me and not leave me behind. After a rest at the shoppette, I really started falling behind.

The group leader fell back to make sure we didn't lose our way and finished the ride with us. We came up to a stop sign, and instead of coasting through, the two guys suddenly unclipped and stopped. Well I unclipped, got my foot on the ground, and managed to keep going until the rest of me was on the ground. Turns out there was an MP that they saw and I didn't. That MP did come over and make sure I OK, which I was. Just a little road rash on my knee and a couple scratch's on Honey's brake lever. I have some white enamel paint that should take care of her. I'm healing up just fine.

Doing that fast ride, which really pushed me and left my legs like jello, prepped me for Tuesday morning. We did a group ride with J's Brigade Commander (and his wife) who just got a new road bike. It was a much slower pace and I was glad for it. No trouble keeping up, and I felt better on the bridges than I usually do. I think only part of that is due to Honey's smoother shifting. 

Home Sweet Colorado

Ok, almost caught up with all my blogging! Time to talk about our summer vacation.

J and I spent a week and a half in Durango, CO and the surrounding area. We went there last summer and loved it, but really decided to go back this year when J signed up for the Death Ride Tour. We headed up to Durango on a Monday, checked in to hotel downtown, and headed out for dinner and a walk.

Now, if you know either one of us, you know that we love Colorado. We both have family there and we plan to settle down there, someday. We don't know where yet, but somewhere in Colorado will be our home. So of course heading to the mountains around Durango was exciting for us.

Also exciting was finally convincing my husband that our vacations don't have to be planned out to the last detail. Some of the details surrounding the Death Ride we couldn't plan, because we didn't know, but the rest of it I left pretty open, too. J needed to ride and acclimate, and I wanted to relax. We managed to do a little of both most days.

We did a couple rides together, which slowed J down and kept him from overdoing it, and spent one morning on our own (he rode, I ran). The afternoons were lazy ones spent napping, strolling around downtown, or checking out the local bike shops. Durango is a fun little town. We had thought about getting out on the river in kayaks, but decided we were too tired.

at the memorial for Baker's Bridge
Come Friday, we had to head up to Silverton to get ready for the Death Ride. If you haven't been there, Silverton is tiny. There isn't much to it at all, and the Death Riders had taken over the whole town. They had a big pasta dinner at one of the hotels, but the rest of the town shuts down early, so we didn't have much choice but to get to bed and get ready for the start the next day.

I was in charge of taking pictures with J's camera. Sometimes I wonder why he even bothers. I'm not a good photographer (apparently my sister took all those skills from the gene pool). Even with J's fancy camera, it took me all 3 days to get some really good shots. But I snapped pics of everything I could think of, and tried to get some of J.

pretty view, and faded hair

Everyone took off from downtown Silverton. I got a coffee, checked out of the motel, gassed up the Jeep, then headed along the same route. I passed J, so I knew it was OK to stop at a pull-out along the mountain road and get an action shot.

Then I scooted on into the next town to check into our next hotel. I got lucky and our room was already clean, so I was able to check in early. Then it was out to get myself some lunch and wait for J to show up. This became my pattern for the next few days.

Telluride was a fun little town, for the whole day we were there. It was gorgeous. They were prepping for Ride The Rockies to start the next day, so this was yet another little mountain town overrun with cyclists. I hopped on my own bike and rode around a bit to watch for J. When he did make it into town, I promptly lost him again, until he called me on someone else's phone (his died) to tell me where he was. We were lucky to be checked in already, so J could clean up right away and we could get some food in him.

A section of downtown was blocked off for the RTR party, so we wandered over there and found some grub. And some bike shops. And a great view.

main street of Telluride

We ate dinner at Brown Dog Pizza, and it was awesome. If you are ever in Telluride, I recommend it.

The next day was another ride, another early start, and another day of me following along in the Jeep. (I did go for a run along the river in the morning before taking off.) But this day had not just the 300 Death Riders, but allllllllllll the RTR riders as well. The trip from Telluride to Durango is only 111 miles, but it took me quite a bit to drive it. I wasn't able to stop anywhere and get action shots. I don't even know when I passed J.

I made it into Durango before our room was ready (same hotel as before) so I just parked and walked around a bit. J knew how to get to where we were staying, so I wasn't as worried as in Telluride. As J arrived in town, our room was finished and we got to go in and clean up. Again, it was an afternoon of food, rest, walk, and more food.

Monday was the last day of the ride, when most of the riders waited for the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to take off before starting.

here she comes!
They took a back road for the first part of the ride, then joined up on the main highway. I shot ahead to Silverton and was too early to check in, again. So I wandered back to one of the water stations and waited for J.

just keep pedaling!

I made it down to the finish area and didn't have to wait too long for J to show up. They had a BBQ set up, so we just ate there and watched the other riders come in. It was relaxing and nice weather. We later discovered that the brewery we ate at last year had shut down, so we found another place to eat dinner at, and headed to bed. Like I said before, Silverton shuts down early.

We didn't head home right away, but took a whole day to lounge around in the hot springs pools up in Ouray, Co. We lounged, soaked, and got a little sunburnt, but had a great time before heading back home.

You can read all about the ride from J's point of view over at his blog, Pensive Perspiration.

All that travel crammed into not much time left us both pretty worn out. It's nice to be home and not worry about going anywhere anytime soon. I'm sure pup likes it, even though he enjoys his kennel time. He's a very family oriented little guy.

So there you have it: the whirlwind recap of our vacation. And I'm just about caught up with my blogging. 

Scaredy Pup

Had to share this little story from today.

We live on an Army base. It is not uncommon to hear some Artillery booms from time to time. Nothing super close, nothing real loud, even the airplanes from the nearby airport are louder, but we do hear them.

There were some artillery booms this morning while Rembrandt was outside. I don't know what was different about today, but something scared the pup. He desperately pawed at the door to come in, and would only go back outside when I made him come out with me. His tail stayed down between his legs.

So I brought him back in, but he could still hear the booms, and was still getting scared. The crazy pup climbed into my lap. Well, first he tried climbing up from under my TV tray, which wasn't about to work, so he finally went around it. He knows he's not allowed on the furniture, but he was all the way up in my lap. All 60 pounds of him. He kept trying to get his whole body curled up in my lap, but he's just too big! I finally got him to sit next to me for a bit, but he trembled the whole time.

When I'd had enough (which wasn't long), I made him get down and grabbed his blanket. I wrapped it around him and tried to soothe him. He sat still, but left a puddle of drool on the floor. I had to leave for an FRG thing, and Rem thought he would just come with me.

It took a wrap in the blanket and some more soothing talk about how safe he was at home to get him to stay in place so I could leave. He didn't even want his usual cucumber chunk.

So I left and went about my morning. I was out for about 3 hours. Came home, and everything is just fine. He did save his cucumber chunk in his food bowl until I got home, then happily gobbled it up. Now it's time for his lunchtime nap, which is followed up with an afternoon nap. He naps a lot in the heat.

I'm still not sure what it was about today that scared him so much, but that poor guy was trembling in my lap and doing the anxious drool. I have a few scratches to show for it all, but nothing bad. Hopefully he's learned that he's safe at home.  I hope so, because our next home is more likely to have those artillery sounds more often.

Silly puppy.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Five Trails In One Weekend

Since J came home in April and started work right away, his family didn’t get a chance to see him. However, while he was gone, we got word from our old Boy Scout Troop in Kansas that a couple of our scouts had achieved the rank of Eagle. We had brought these boys into the world of Boy Scouts, bridged them over from Cubs. J was their first Scout Leader. We took them on their first Boy Scout campout and all froze our asses off.

So of course, when asked to be a part of their Eagle Court of Honor, we couldn’t say no. The timing worked well, since J would be home and get to see his family. It was a fast trip, fly out Friday and fly home Sunday. We squeezed in as much as we could. It just so happened that the Five Trails Half Marathon was happening that same weekend. I couldn't say no. 

Friday afternoon, we flew in and got our rental car. We stopped in Weston, Missouri on our way to his folks’ and bought some wine at one of our favorite wineries, Pirtle. Getting in to town, we said Hi to his dad and changed into running clothes. Yes, we flew there and went for a run. I was slow and tired and felt miserable. I was starting to worry about Sunday. J’s mom was home by the time we finished our run, so we showered and all had dinner.

hanging out
Saturday morning, we had brunch with the whole family: mom, dad, brother, and sister-in-law. Then we headed to Lawrence, where we used to live. We appreciate this town much more now that we don’t live there, but moving away was probably one of the best things we could do for ourselves. More on that another time.

We met my good friend Justin downtown and picked up some sandwiches to take back to his place. His wife and brand new baby were at home, so we ate lunch there. I, of course, was dealing with a cold, so I didn’t get to hold the precious little girl. And she was precious. Just adorable.  (No, this does not mean I want one.) I had started a quilt a couple years ago when Justin and Jessica got married, but it took me a long time to finish. It was nice to finally give them the finished product.

finally finished!
We headed over to the church where the Scouts meet. J changed into his dress blues and we helped make sure everything was ready. It was great to see our Scout friends again. The Court of Honor was fun and brought back many good memories. We had a great time catching up with old friends and celebrating the achievements of these young men.  We took ourselves out to a nice dinner downtown that evening, and stopped at a great coffee shop, The Java Break, before heading back to the folks’ place.

Sunday morning came early. We got up and got ourselves some oatmeal for breakfast. The real stuff, not instant. J’s mom drove us over to the middle school where we would start and finish. We checked in, got our packets, and hung out. They had the school cafeteria open for all of us, which is lucky since it started raining. J had a visor with him, but I hadn’t brought anything. My mother-in-law is always prepared, and had some hats out in her car, so she let me wear one to keep the rain out of my eyes.

with mom before the run
The race started in the rain, but I felt good. J paced with me for the whole run, which is fun until he tries to be all motivational and just makes me angry.  He’s still learning. But we appreciated the cool rain once we started moving, and took the first and biggest hill better than I had expected. The run itself was fun and hilly and exhausting, but what really made it a great race was Dora. She would hop in her car and drive up ahead on the route, get out, and cheer us on from her new spot. She was there when we turned a corner, cheering, snapping photos, and making us laugh. And she was there at the finish, waiting with her camera.

J's smiling, I'm exhausted
It wasn’t the greatest half marathon I’ve ever run, but considering that I was running with a cold/sinus infection on a hilly route, I’m proud of it. It was fun to run in the rain, even though it made for some blistered feet. We went home after the run, downed some water, and just lay on the soft carpet in Dora’s craft room.

Once we were recovered, we cleaned up and headed to J’s little brother’s house. Our sister-in-law cooked a big dish of lasagna for us, and we gobbled it up. We were definitely hungry after the run, and the lasagna was wonderful. We visited, snuggled with some kitties, watched a movie, and headed back home.

Think we’re done? Not quite! Dora took Monday morning off and we went downtown to the local bike shop. It didn’t have any brands we were interested in, but it was fun to look around, and they have a coffee bar inside. We wandered around downtown and ended up buying a couple small things that fit in the suitcases.

It was finally time to come home-home. We said goodbye and headed to the airport. The flight home was pretty easy, nothing big. We made it home in time to head to the kennel and pick up the pup, and come home as a little family.

As fun as that weekend was, it was packed to the brim. It’s nice to come home to my pup and cat and just take it easy for a couple days.  Not that I took it too easy, since I was then getting prepped for the Colorado trip. That’s another post. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Goddaughter, Or, My Weekend At Krystal's

Y’all have heard me talk about Misty. She’s my BFF. Like, if we were sexually attracted to each other, we’d be married. Instead, we each fell in love with someone else, but got matching tattoos to make our friendship permanent.

Misty currently lives on the east coast. That’s hella far from El Paso. She also has a baby girl that just turned 1, Sophie, my niece and goddaughter. She’s an amazing little girl. Being so hella far apart, I don’t get to see them often. I did fly out and spend a couple weeks with them when Sophie was just 3 months old.

Misty has a big family. She’s the youngest of 6 and has multiple stepsiblings.  She has more family than I could ever keep track of. However, her oldest sister, Krystal, is also my friend. Krystal’s 3 daughters call me Aunt.

Well, Krystal had gone back to college and graduated just this May. Misty and Sophie were flying out for it. Krystal, by the way, lives in the same state as I currently do. Actually within a day’s drive. So, with Misty and Soph so close, how could I not go see them?

I drove out on a Saturday. Misty had flown in a couple days before. I got in just a little before the graduation, so I met everyone at the college. It was great to see everyone again, and actually meet Krystal’s husband for the first time. (He’s a cool guy.)

We went out to eat after graduation and got all caught up. I hadn’t seen Krystal or the girls in quite a while. The rest of the weekend was pretty chill. Krystal and I dyed Misty’s hair. We watched some movies. We talked. A lot.

I headed back home Sunday. It was a fast weekend, but definitely worth it. I’ll take every chance to see them. Sophie is an amazing little girl. I was more excited about Misty having a baby that I would be for myself. It helps that I love being an aunt.

I don’t know when I will get to see them again, but we are going to do some facetime/skype dates. I want that little girl to know who I am. I want her to be a big part of my life. I hope I can be a huge part of hers. 

Fan + Girl = Me

My name is Charla and I am a fangirl.

J and I went to the Phoenix Comicon for the second year in a row. We weren’t really planning on going this year until John Barrowman announced that he would be going (that’s Captain Jack Harkness for those of you not in the know). I was super excited, so J said yes. 

We drove to Phoenix, AZ on Friday and checked into our hotel. We actually stayed at one of the main hotels this year since it was just a block from the convention center. The room was nice, on the 17th floor.  While checking in, we actually saw John Barrowman arrive. OH.MY. GOD. My heart pounded, I think I started bouncing and I snapped a quick pic with my phone.

oh heavens

Squee!! I realized I really am a fangirl. I got super excited just to see him. No, I did not have the guts to walk up and say hi. He looked a little tired from his trip and I thought of how much I just wanted to get to my room. J said I was having an anxiety attack. But he was standing right there!!

We changed into our costumes before heading over to check in and get our badges. Yes, we wore costumes for the con. J was the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) in more of his current (season 7) costume, and I was the 10th Doctor (David Tennant).

our versions of Eleven and Ten, minus Eleven's hair 
just me, and my blue hair
We got our badges, and started walking through the vendor booths. We got through a small section when we realized we had just gotten started. The exhibitor hall was expanded from last year. I’m not sure we even made it halfway before leaving to hit a show.

Turns out we didn’t do that show. The line was gigantic and went down a stairwell and I started to get a bit panicky. I don’t handle large groups of people in small spaces well. (That’s an understatement.) So we went to a panel instead, and it was kinda fun.  Then back to our room to crash for the night.

Day two was not in costume. We thought we might change into them later, but it was rather hot for suits.  Plus, I’m not enough of a fangirl to have my photo op done in my Tenth costume, and J didn’t want his costume in his, either. We wandered a little, and then it was time to line up for my photo.  I got in line about half an hour early, but that was smart. The lines get pretty long.

Photo ops at the comicon are not a simple thing. You have to have your printed barcode or the ticket you purchased that day. You stand in line in the hallway until they are ready for your group in the main room. You then file into a corral and slowly shuffle along until you get to the front. Lots of waiting for the person(s) you’re getting  your photo with to get there and for them to get all set up. Finally, the line moves and you get to the front. They have numbered bins where you can dump the stuff you don’t want on you in your photo, and you get a matching number ticket. They have a mirror hanging up, fix yourself up before going in.

You turn the corner and can see the photo ops in front of you taking place. They really rush everyone through. You’re told beforehand that there are no personal pics, no questions, just get your photo taken and get out. They push you through, you pose, smile, photo taken, then leave. That fast. All of 30 seconds.

My excitement level started building once I got in line. I was lucky enough to be in front of a nice lady who was fun to talk to. She was dressed as the Fourth Doctor, and since we were in line for a Dr. Who photo op, we talked Who. Her daughter, a natural redhead, put on a wedding dress to be Donna in her first appearance.

The closer we got to the front of the line, the more my excitement built. By the time I got to the mirror, I was quite literally bouncing with every step. And then, it was my turn. I took my place and the great, handsome, awesome, funny, talented, wonderful John Barrowman stood behind me, wrapped his arms around me, and we smiled for the camera.


All I could say was quick thank you before I had to move out for the next person. Leaving wasn’t just a bouncing step, but actually bouncing out of there. I think I actually squee’d. I got my purse from the bin and immediately grabbed my phone to text J. All I said was, “He hugged me!!!” The adrenaline levels stayed high for a few hours, and got a big boost when I went to grab my photo. Seeing the print brought the rush back.
I have no words
J’s photo op was in the afternoon, so we did lunch and some shopping before he had to get in line. I would have gotten my photo autographed, would have gladly spent the $40 on it, but the line was so long, I would have spent all afternoon in line. Ugh. I had my photo, and I was happy.

He's right over there! 
We did a little shopping that day as well. I got a t-shirt I had seen last year, when stock was running low and they were out of my size. I snagged it right away. It’s the awesome sauce.

The Flight Of The Penguin
We also got a little something for our future nephew, who has yet to make his grand entrance. He can wait a while and finish baking. We’re fine with that.

Sunday was our final day. We looked into some local bike shops, but the one we really wanted to go to wasn’t open on Sundays. We wandered around the comicon for a while and looked for anything we might have missed before hitting the road.

There’s your brief summary. Now, here’s why I go. Not only do I get the chance to meet someone I greatly admire, but I’m surrounded by people who are on the same or a higher geek level. I’m surrounded by geeks and geekiness. It’s some of the best people watching there is. Even better than the airport, because you see people who dress as they wish they could, instead of how they think they should. Awkwardness abounds, and is accepted.

We won’t be here for next year’s Phoenix Comicon, but I will definitely be checking for others near me. I’m hooked.

Especially if John Barrowman shows up.