Sep 2011
02

Denver Broncos Kickoff Kid!

I’ve talked before about how we are connected to football through my father-in-law. He was a great fan, and played the game in college. He almost played professionally, but a terrible accident cut that short.

He would have been blown away by what his grandson experienced last weekend.

Broncos_07

Red Robin Burgers and the Denver Broncos invited us to be on the sidelines for their “Kickoff Kid” program during the August 27th pre-season game.

Sidelines as in SIDELINES.

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We stayed there the whole game, the only non-staff to do so.

It was surreal.

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Declan was tasked with running out on the field every time the Broncos had a kickoff – he had to pick up the tee, salute the appropriate goal, and run back off as soon as possible.

Because the GAME WAS STILL GOING ON, PEOPLE!

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I have never done sports photography but it was fun to try my hand at it for a night.

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Even more fun to watch my kid do THIS:

And hang out with THESE GUYS:

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And to think about my father-in-law loving every minute of it.

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P.S. In case you are wondering, we played the Seattle Seahawks. The same night these guys moved to Seattle.

P.P.S. Those last two dudes are hall-of-famer Karl Mecklenburg and wide receiver Eddie Royal. Both were incredibly nice, and Eddie even jumped off the bench and gave Declan his game gloves when he saw him wearing the #19 jersey.

P.P.P.S. We’ll probably watch football more often now. Seeing as Declan can’t stop talking about that night.

P.P.P.P.S. I think it’s pretty obvious, but Red Robin and the Broncos provided this opportunity for us. But they didn’t make me gush on and on. That was all me.

P.P.P.P.P.S. The rest of my photos are here.

P.P.P.P.P.P.S. DOES YOUR COLORADO KID WANT TO BE A KICKOFF KID?

The Red Robin Facebook page will collect entries from 8/29/11 to 9/18/11. Winning kids must be Colorado residents, age 6-12.

Aug 2011
15

Black Mountain Ranch: Summer Vacation at a Real Colorado Dude Ranch

We promise ourselves every year that we will spend more time in our home state of Colorado. Seriously, dudes. I am lucky to live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. But we’re always so busy running everywhere else, we never get to enjoy our back yard.

Until Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch invited us up. They are an easy 2.5 hour drive from Denver (halfway between Vail and Steamboat Springs, Colorado), so we knew this was one adventure we couldn’t pass up.

We arrived and fell right into cowboy land.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch sepia boys at fence

Black Mountain Ranch is family-run, and they made us feel like family right away. Many of the staff already knew our names, and I could tell it wasn’t just because our friend Andrew Hyde was there working with them… they treated all the guests that way.

We were lucky that several friends from Denver were visiting at the same time, especially Julie’s family – which brought built-in playmates since our kids have know each other for years.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch girl horses fence

I highly suggest trying the multiple family approach at BMR – the kids were able to run off and play together in a safe environment – but still exploring things they have never done before… like feeding goats at dinnertime!

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch feeding goats

And making friends with horses.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch girl fence horse

And singing YMCA in the saloon.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch singing bar saloon

Oh wait. That was me.

In the morning, we were all ready to ride horses, and the ranch has a “Boot Library” that you can borrow from in case you don’t have your own. Boots. Not horses. (Trust me, I don’t have either.)

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch andrew hyde boots

And then we were UP UP UP on horses for the first time in our lives! WAY HIGH UP. This photo was taken of Declan about 30 seconds before I broke my finger in 2 places.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch boy horse

Yeah, no joke. My ridiculous health mishaps followed me to the ranch. So yup, I broke my finger. Getting on a horse. But I was just doing what they show in the movies! Jumping up there, all enthusiastic! Swinging my leg over! Being rowdy! And almost falling off the other side.

Thank heaven Ryan from BMR was there to catch me – or I would have pulled some crazy Wile E. Coyote move right on my head. Instead I grabbed the saddle and jammed my pinky, which yes, broke it in two places. I am cursed, I tell you.

But I am proud that I toughed it out. WE WENT ON OUR DAMN RIDE, DAMMIT.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch group horse ride

Through the woods.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch woods horse ride

Straight up the side of the mountain.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch bugfrog man horse petting

Out along a ridge.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch horse ride ridge

Marveling the horsemanship of our wrangler, Molly.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch wrangler horse ride ridge

For probably the most spectacular view of my life.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch vista view mountain mountains horses

Colorado is awesome, y’all.

After a long day out in the sun (WEAR SUNSCREEN)… all the guests were invited up to Nowell’s house for a cocktail party. And they aren’t kidding with this cocktail party business. We went from dusty to fancy in about 15 minutes flat. Gorgeous house, gorgeous views, gorgeous food.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch cocktail party dinner

It gave Bryan time to rekindle his relationship with CJ, Julie’s second child. The two of them have long had their own special thing.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch hug

We made it back to the ranch in time to watch the horses being released to the pasture.

Wow.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch horses running

Double wow.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch horses running

Triple wow.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch horse running

Now I know why Ree takes so many photos on her ranch.

I also turned around, didn’t change any settings on the camera, and caught what maybe is my favorite photo ever.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch fence man photographer dust magic horses

That’s our friend Michael Cummings, an amazing photographer who was also at the ranch this summer. I used that picture in my photography session at Evo this year because it says so many things to me. First, magic happens when you just shoot. And also that photography is social – Michael and I were having a blast out there in the mud taking photos of the horses and each other. As evidenced by…

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch man holding horseshoe

Plus, other friends were out in the field with us…

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch andrew hyde man eating grass

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch petting horses

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch woman smiling

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch friends spotted horse

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch bugfrog man smile

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch woman walking horses

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch man smile sunset

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch feeding spotted horse

Yeah. That was fun.

But there’s more.

The ranch has this special dog named Riley. I actually think Riley needs to be on their web site. Listed as “entertainment.” See, Riley likes fire. A LOT. Like, in a crazy crazy crazy obsessive way. He waits, watches the fire outside the saloon ALL NIGHT LONG. Sometimes he will snap at the ash that spits out, but honestly – I could have taken this same photo at any time over a 4 hour period.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch Riley dog fire

It would have looked like this.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch Riley dog fire

Or this.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch Riley dog fire

Poor Riley.

Meanwhile – I got to see everyone dance! Fancy-like!

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch line dance dancing

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch line dance dancing

And in lines!

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch line dance dancing

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch line dance dancing

This is where I talk about how I am more of a dark-concert or indie-club kind of dancer girl. And how I hide behind the camera to avoid organized dancing. Unless we’re recreating Grease or Thriller or something. Then I might be convinced. After a few beers.

But wait!

Guess what we did the next morning???

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch horse coral

My booty (and finger) didn’t agree with me, but I was totally ready to get back on Newt, my assigned horse for our time at Black Mountain.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch horse riding

Bryan was pretty partial to his horse, Dice, too. Julie was just trying to get reception.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch bugfrog smile man horse

Guess what ELSE we did that day?

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch rope roping

I am surprised I have any clear photos. Because watching city folk learning to rope cattle is HILARIOUS. Trust me on this one.

But, Black Mountain Ranch does this every Saturday, to allow guests to round up the baby calves and give them electrolytes. So, win-win. Cowboy roping fun for the visitors and healthy stuff for the babies.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch corral rope roping

Bryan roped two, but this was the only pic I have of any of it. He is disappointed I can’t make an animated gif for him of his heroics.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch cow corral rope roping

I almost have enough to show you the whole process for Howard, another guest that week.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch cow corral rope roping

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch cow corral rope roping

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch

Including when the calf shook Howard off and he landed face-down in the dirt.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch cow corral rope roping

And there I was, in the middle of it all, with my camera, and broken pinky.

WHAT WAS I THINKING???

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch cow corral rope roping

I’ll tell you what I am thinking.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch was an amazing, extraordinary, memorable, INCREDIBLY FUN weekend for all of us.

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All my Flickr photos from our dude ranch experience are here.

Thanks again to Black Mountain Ranch for having us visit! Please visit their brand new (awesome) web site or like them on Facebook. Really, really great people.

Jun 2011
16

Get CLEARed for Father’s Day

I kinda drive Bryan crazy with this thing I do. Well, many things, really, but this one thing I do when waiting in lines.

I sway.

But not just leisurely back and forth like I’m mindlessly dreaming of piña coladas on the beach… I sway with determination. Feet planted apart, hip jerk, hip jerk… back and forth like Julia Child beating some eggs into submission. Not that I would now about that really, since I don’t ever cook. Maybe it’s more like Erkel trying to dance. But FIERCE. Either way, I think I usually look like I am about to kill someone.

Point being, I don’t like waiting in lines.

Especially annoying lines.

Like those at the airport.

I mean no disrespect to our fellow man, but … (because, of course, when someone starts a sentence like that, loads of disrespect to follow) … you people are lousy travelers.

WHY are you chatting it up with the TSA officers checking your boarding pass? WHY are you not ready to move when the line moves? WHY do you get in the “expert traveler” line with your four kids? WHY do you not know about the liquids rules by now? WHY are you on your cell phone when you should be paying attention? WHY do you keep trying to get your fingernail clippers on the plane? WHY do you not take your belt off while waiting in line for 20 minutes? WHY do you wear shoes with intricate laces to the airport?

The shoes, people. THE SHOES!!!

WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY?

I know most people don’t fly as often as I do, but how many of the gajillion people in the airport have NEVER flown? I would maybe give that ONE PERSON A DAY who is a newbie to the airport some slack, but the rest of you?

I repeat, WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY?

It makes me stare longingly at the CLEAR line every single time I fly. You know, the line where you are pre-screened and you zoom past all the people I mentioned above? (Because I know none of YOU are those people I mentioned above.)

So, when CLEAR told me about their Father’s Day promotion, I was excited to check it out, and share it with you.

In honor of Father’s Day, CLEAR is launching their Share Your Story tab on Facebook. Now through Father’s Day, you can share personal travel stories and adventures and get a free family plan upgrade where you can bring your family or partner with you through the CLEAR lane!

Hopefully *I* won’t be the one you discuss there. That annoyingly crazy lady behind you in line who won’t stop swaying in the oddly fanatical way.

P.S. If you are flying out of Denver or Orlando on Sunday, the CLEAR lanes will be giving away free ties. CUTE!