Ain’t no Party like a Fresh Foam Party!

Last night I attended the launch event for New Balance’s Fresh Foam 980.  I have to say, I am not usually all about these events, having to deal with corporate folks swarming like vultures waiting for you to say something mildly positive about their product so they can immediately tweet about it, but I do love some giveaways and free loot.  I also have fallen deeply in love with my New Balance 3190s.  Not only do they feel like running on air, but they are bright yellow and hot pink.  They are the perfect complement to my Belle running outfit for the Disney Princess Half Marathon (TEN DAYS YAY!).  Obviously.  I will be revealing my carefully planned ensemble soon.  It’s going to be FAAAAAABULOUS.

My 3190s are pretty much the greatest thing since sliced bread.
My 3190s are pretty much the greatest thing since sliced bread.

So after work I headed to the New Balance store in Littleton, Colorado.  This was one of six stores selected across the country to host a promo party.  I do wish they had incorporated a bit more excitement like the shop in Chicago with their 3 mile fun run and foam pit, but it was a good event regardless.  My sales associate, Mike, was incredibly helpful.  He measured my feet, utilized a foot pressure plate to determine the pressure points in my feet, fit me for athletic inserts, and although he recommended the new Fresh Foam 980, he also recommended a few other models as well.

 

I didn’t realize before, and this could simply be a major lapse in my understanding (so forgive me if this is common knowledge), but New Balance was founded in 1906 and originally provided arch support products to police men, fire men, and laborers.  This explains why a major element of their brand is consideration of pressure points, arch support and examining the effects of a body in motion.  They didn’t actually release their first running shoe until 1938.

 

I had always poked fun at my hubby for wearing the old school New Balance shoes.  They are, after all, very collegiate, and here we are approaching 30.  But for an athletic shoe, I will never scoff again.  I love the spaciousness of the toe box, the comfort around the heel and the lightness of the shoe.  I crave a shoe that is simultaneously sturdy and lightweight, and New Balance delivers.

 

After testing out the Fresh Foam 980, I am sold.  Given the 4 millimeter drop from the heel to toe, it takes some of the work out of running.  I know that sounds highly counterintuitive and lazy on my part, but it allows you the freedom to not have to think about your feet whilst running, and keeps your feet closer to the ground.  It’s a more natural stance, and that’s a great and ingenious improvement.  I was also personally looking for a shoe that could withstand many miles without feeling weighty.  This shoe performs.  The foam is light, but shock absorbent and durable.  Of course only time will tell how the shoe wears, but I have high hopes.

 

Aren't they fabulous?  The color is purple cactus flower with neon yellow.
Aren’t they fabulous? The color is purple cactus flower with neon yellow.

The event wouldn’t be complete without a little swag, so after loading up with new socks, a running shirt, and the most glorious athletic pullover (um, hello, a zip up with a hood that has a hole for your pony tail!!), I got a free NB string backpack (can’t wait to use it for my Zumba class!), t-shirt (which actually came in size small, halleluiah), a beaker (it is the science of running, after all, although I did have to ask the significance), and a #Freshfoam marshmallow (Hahahaha!  Oh, punny!).  Overall, I was pleased with the event, the product, and the freebies!  I’ll be going back this weekend to get the hubs a new pair.  He probably never thought I would be taking him to the New Balance store, especially with such excitement.

Can't wait to wear these for the Nike Women's Half in April (ironic, I know, but oh well).
Can’t wait to wear these for the Nike Women’s Half in April (ironic, I know, but oh well).
Giant #Freshfoam marshmallow and beaker!
Giant #Freshfoam marshmallow and beaker!

A Love Letter to Denver

Well that was rough.  Not exactly how I pictured the Superbowl going for our beloved Broncos.  I very rarely watch football with any attentiveness, but yesterday was a bit like an awful traffic accident.  I couldn’t look away, no matter how horrified I was.  Thankfully, after decompressing with some coworkers this morning, I received a profound bit of perspective.  This season, regardless of how it ended, was a phenomenal season.  The Broncos played some amazing football, accumulated a record number of points, and for the most part, had some really outstanding victories.  They also played like a true team, under superb leadership, and remained humble.  This was a great year to care about football, and a great year for Denver as a city.

I am always amazed at the uniting force that sports can have on a city.  The hubs and I decided to do all of our weekend errands on Saturday, knowing that leaving the house on Sunday would very likely be a challenge.  Everywhere we went people we dressed in Broncos attire, smiling and waving with a cheer of “Go Broncos!”  What a great sensation to be united under one team, one goal.  Everyone shared this amazing sense of pride and accomplishment.  Despite the loss that ensued, that pride continues.  We may not have had a victorious team, but Denver is all the more proud for having a great season and a team worth rooting for.

I feel so blessed to be part of city, well an entire front range region really, that is so incredibly welcoming.  After having lived in Washington D.C. and the metro area, I got used to keeping my head down and not making eye contact.  I shied away from talking with people on the metro, in airports, at checkout counters simply because that isn’t what you do.  They could be crazy.  You are on a mission.  The world was so fast-paced and single-minded, that I grew to assume this was the way of the world.  Readjusting to normalcy took some time after moving to Colorado.  People smile, say hello, wave, and give a good holler, “Go Broncos!”  It’s unifying in a way that just makes you smile inside.  How refreshing.

Denver is a small city, so it’s easy to feel connected and interwoven.  Washington D.C. draws you in, but in a way that still feels somewhat isolating.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved living there.  Being a part of daily history and happenings is an unreal experience.  To be so involved in your nation, and so globally connected all at once gives you amazing perspective.  I deeply miss the National Mall, the museums and galleries, the international surroundings, the mix of nature and urban, and being at the heartbeat of America.  But in Denver, I feel more connected with American people and landscape.  It’s like building a quilt: it takes all pieces coming together to be whole.

The Flatirons in all their glory at Chautauqua in Boulder, CO.
The Flatirons in all their glory at Chautauqua in Boulder, CO.
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Mountainous views from my neighborhood south of Denver.

For being a small western city, Denver is a hub.  It’s actually hard to find a “Colorado Native,” as they so proudly call themselves.  Thankfully I married one, so I have an “in.”  This city is a cross-cultural phenomenon.  People come from all over the United States to be able to live the Colorado lifestyle.  Here I have found balance: balance with myself, with nature, with my relationships, with work, all of it.  Living here is better than the best yoga class you’ll ever go to, or so I’d imagine.  It’s still hard being away from a culture I know so well, and a lifestyle I know how to live, but every day holds a new discovery and experience, and I continually fall more in love with where I live.  Although I’d really like a snow day… seriously though, driving on ice isn’t safe for the best of drivers.

View of Denver and the mountains from CU Denver!  Gorgeous!
View of Denver and the mountains from CU Denver! Gorgeous!

I Run, Therefore I Am

Before this time last year I would have never called myself athletic (although I am sure using that term in reference to myself is still a bit on the exaggerated side), and before two and a half years ago, I wasn’t a huge fan of the outdoors.  Unless it was a beach.  I am always a fan of the beach.  Wait a second, why did I move to a land-locked state again?

I digress.  I grew up very much appreciating the great indoors and general cleanliness.  Growing up in Texas I learned early on that ladies don’t sweat.  But if we must, we glisten and glow.  Gym was merely a class I suffered through.  My summers were spent submerged in a pool, or dying of heat at band camp.  Neither particularly profound in the art of athleticism, at least in my case.  Once I moved to Colorado, I realized that the entire world is not actually one big orb of humidity, and that living 5,426 feet above sea level significantly reduces the amount of insects.  Granted I now have bears and mountain lions to contend with, but this issue is so far proving to be manageable.

Until this time last year, I would never have pegged myself as one who would someday dream of running a half marathon, let alone fly across the country just for that purpose.  I tended to scoff at those wacky runners and their 13.1 or 26.2 stickers (is it miles or kilometers, and who measures in kilometers here?).  So silly, I thought.  You aren’t running from something, or even necessarily towards something, so why are you doing it?  Hiking was about as far as I would go, and that had a very intentional purpose of seeing the natural beauty that surrounded me.  Then a switch in my brain flipped and I said to myself, “Self, let’s run the BOLDERBoulder 10K this May.  Just for funsies.  Okay? Okay.”  And that was that.

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I swear I am smiling and not grimacing… I think.

I may or may not have secretly signed up my husband.  He was thrilled.  Now he is my favorite running partner (thanks honey!), and we’ll be running the BOLDERBoulder again this year.

Since then I have acquired a love (sometimes love-hate) of running.  Being able to get outside, especially on those absolute perfect days (anywhere between 55 and 65 degrees, light breeze, sun shining) and just have an overwhelming sense of accomplishment…  There’s nothing quite like it.  I didn’t understand the concept of a runner’s high until recently.  And now it’s all I can think about during the week.  I look forward to the weekend, knowing I that all I need to do is throw on my shoes, grab my “Sea Level is for Sissies” visor (oh yeah, you want one), and go.  I will literally check the weather all week long to determine how amazing my run will be.  It doesn’t matter that I will just be running one big circle and coming straight back home.  It’s the connection to yourself, your breath, your heart, the pavement beneath your feet, and the sensation of overcoming a challenge that feels utterly phenomenal.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have days when I ask myself, “Self, why am I doing this again?”  But typically I will get one great mile in and come to my senses.

You know you want this visor.
You know you want this visor.

Recently I read an article from the Wall Street Journal, which I am sure many of you will recall, that really made me ponder my newfound love of running.  Or jogging with enthusiasm, as I like to call it.  This particular article received a lot of heat from the running community and elicited a very poignant response from Runner’s World.  I felt conflicted, because I could absolutely understand both sides of the argument.  I had so recently converted, that I distinctly remember some of the notions that Mr. Stafko expresses.  I was that person constantly wondering why any human being would want to force themselves to run for long distances, often in awful weather, for no apparent reason other than enjoyment (obviously there are health considerations involved, but these people really enjoyed it).  And now I cannot imagine not having a race to look forward to.  So all I have to say to this point is that it’s not for everyone, but until you try it, you’ll never know!

So here I am, less than a month away from my first half marathon, the Disney Princess Half Marathon to be exact. My best friend and I are in it together, and it will be the best first half marathon ever!  Mostly for the tutus… In just 3 months from now I will be joining some of my favorite ladies of all time for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon back home in DC, and yes, we will be wearing matching shirts.  Why?  Because we’re adorable like that.  To cap it off, my friend Samantha and her hubby are flying out to Colorado for the BOLDERBoulder this May.  In this I am truly honored and excited.  I am daunted just to run, but coming from sea level to a mile high is no small feat.  And she didn’t even bat an eye at the thought.  Did I mention she’s partly my running inspiration?

Don't judge me.  You know you feel the same way.
Don’t judge me. You know you feel the same way.

Long story long, I think I have found something that motivates me, challenges me, and inspires me.  Whatever your muse is, take it and run with it!

New Year, New Goals, New Me!

Where did January go? Do you ever feel like the holidays come and go quicker than you can say, “Happy Holidays!” It’s funny that as a child it’s this magical season, full of light and excitement, routine and chaos. As I have grown older, I still strive to see the holidays through the eyes of my childhood self. But that notion grows increasingly more difficult. Instead, I feel overcome by stress, worry, the need to please, and a little too much dessert. By the time January hits, you’re praying for the new year and a new outlook.
Here I find myself in 2014, really examining what’s most important, and what I can do to make myself better. I like to say that I don’t believe in “New Year’s Resolutions” simply because they sound so final. As a human being, we are prone to change, and to altering our course when necessary. I’d prefer to see these resolutions as goals. Goals sound more attainable, and something you should always incorporate into your life, rather than aspirations we hold to be finite, until we fall off the wagon three months in. Don’t get me wrong, I say all the more power to those holding true to resolutions. I just know myself, and what makes sense for me.
For 2014, I decided to make a list of these goals, just to see where I could go with them. Some are my own. Others are spurred by the wishes of friends and family that I happily adopted. This list (can you tell I like lists?) will be ever-changing, just as I am. But for now, here are some aspirations that keep me going, growing, and succeeding!
1. This goal came from my friend Ade, and although it’s not always a problem, I do think it is something worth considering: I want to stop cursing. I don’t curse like a sailor, and in fact, I don’t curse very often. But when I do, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I feel self-conscious of it. So in moving forward, I would like to stop. I don’t even want to curse in my thoughts, which may be even harder to do. So here goes!
2. Oh wine… oh cocktails… being an adult can be so much fun. While I would never call myself an alcoholic, or even a lush, there are some days when picturing a nice glass of wine just gets you through the afternoon. During the week, however, my goal is to cut back. The weekends are a time of relaxation, and typically provide more hours for sleep. Perfect for a little cocktail! So my goal is to abstain during the week, but thoughtfully enjoy my delightful concoction come the weekend.
3. I want to be a better friend, sister, daughter, and wife. This is always a goal, and it’s always something I want to strive for. In order to be the best version of myself, I need to emulate that with others. To alter this goal this year, I want to try to see myself through the eyes of others. Then I feel I will truly be able to be as good as I can be for those whom I surround myself.
4. Health and fitness have become a huge piece of my life within the past few years. It’s infectious in Colorado. If you aren’t running, biking or hiking when the weather is 50 degrees or warmer, then there’s something direly wrong, or you’ve come down with the flu. Thankfully I have amazing motivation in the form of my husband, friends and family. I will be running my first half marathon at the end of next month in Disney World with my best friend. My husband and I are training together for our second shot at the BolderBoulder 10K in May, in which two of our amazing friends will be joining us (check out The Bake N’ Burn Bombshell, she’s amazing!). I will be reunited with my favorite ladies in April for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, and I simply cannot wait to share this memory with them. On top of weekly workouts and weekend runs, the hubs and I began planning out all of our meals on a weekly basis, and have definitely increased our trips to Whole Foods. Having meals that we can accomplish, and using great ingredients to do it is such an amazing feeling. Of course we splurge every now and then (we do live in a very foody town), but knowing what you’re eating and being conscientious of what is going in your body makes a huge difference overall.
5. As an English major, the summertime was my reprieve from reading. I got to a point where the idea of picking up a book sounded awful. Now, however, all I want to do is cuddle with the pup and read a good book. I recently started reading “The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry,” by Kathleen Flinn, and she is a woman who truly followed her dreams, set meaningful goals, and accomplished them, despite hurdles along the way. It’s amazing what a good book can do to change your perspective. So here’s to you Kathleen: you wanted to conquer Le Cordon Bleu, the world’s most famous cooking school, and I want to read more books!
6. I want to travel. There’s no ifs ands or buts about it. This past year was tough, between moving, commuting a 100 miles a day, and finding a new job, there wasn’t any time. The only travel we did was for weddings (which were still pretty fantastic) or for work. And there can be quite a difference in traveling for necessity versus traveling for yourself. This year we already have two trips planned, one to the British Isles, and another locally. But in order to feel more balanced, I know that I need that occasional getaway, even if just for a long weekend.
7. Cooking is something I enjoy, and I would say I am a decent cook. But I know that I need to expand my horizons. Week nights are tough. Most couples and families have two working adults, and other weeknight obligations (not to mention traffic and commuting), which make cooking actual meals quite a challenge. My husband and I made the goal to try one new recipe for dinner at least every other week. This gives us a chance to increase our culinary repertoire, but becomes more manageable for our busy lifestyle. Thus far it’s been a success. Tonight we have homemade tomato basil soup and fancy grilled cheese sandwiches on the menu (I never said they were difficult recipes…). Mmmmm… I think my tummy’s growling.
8. I want to drink more water. Hydration is key at higher altitudes, and some days I think I go towards coffee, tea, and juices more so than water. With increased physical activity, and for the incredible effects of hydration on skin, hair, performance, and overall health, I absolutely must drink more of it. So raise your glass of deliciously cool H2O and feel all the more better for doing so.
9. So mornings can sometimes be a challenge for me. I love the morning and the prospect of starting a new day, but I also like to take my time. One big goal for this year is to give myself more time in the mornings, and be timelier in arriving to work. If it means I end the day 30 minutes earlier, so be it.
10. On that same note, I want to be a better commuter. Granted I travel 11 miles to get to work, but that can span anywhere from 25-45 minutes. I need to be more patient with other drivers, and understand that most Colorado drivers are horrific. It’s sad but true. I thought Northern Virginia was bad, but I was so wrong. I digress: be a better driver.
11. Some may call me OCD. I have said that of myself many times. But recently I have been a little lax on the organization (in my own opinion). I want to reboot my organizational skills and be more intentional about putting things away and keeping up with clutter. It’s easy to be bogged down by the unnecessary. I think a clean home, and workplace, is a mind at ease. So why not take an extra five minutes to tidy up what will save you a headache later on?

And finally…

12.  Blog more!  I love writing.  I love sharing experiences.  I love reflecting on life and what I learn along the way. Needless to say, I need to translate these passions into this perfect encapsulating art form.  So here’s to more blogging!
I could go on and on with goals that I have, with some having more weight and meaning than others. Many of my goals are personal, not work related, but I think they transfer into every facet of my life. I participated in a Wellness in the Workplace course last month, and the Circle of Wellness or Wellness Wheel truly illustrates that balance is dependent upon giving weight to those areas that are most meaningful, but not ignoring other facets of your life. It’s been an inspiration for me as I make and attain (or retain) these goals. Here’s to another year, and another chance to improve and grow!

The Long and Winding Road

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Goodbye Boulder, hello Denver!

So obviously I have been away for quite some time.  So much has happened in the past year.  I found myself meandering through jobs, moving closer to Denver, and readjusting what had become normalcy.  After moving across the country, it’s hard to move all over again two years later.  At least this move was 40 miles instead of 1,700!  After my husband completed his MBA, there wasn’t much keeping us in Boulder.  We have friends there still, and of course we loved the atmosphere and outdoors, as well as being able to walk nearly everywhere, but we always knew it was temporary.

In May we moved south of Denver, just a few miles outside the city limits.  Although I had worked in Denver previously, by not living there, I didn’t realize what a great city it is!  There’s a plethora of activities for the adventurous, foodie, and shopaholic.  Our neighborhood is quiet and welcoming, and having horse and running paths within feet from our front door is a huge plus.  Our community is small, but so accessible to Denver.  We even bought an adorable Chihuahua puppy named Rocco (more on this later, he is worth his own post), so needless to say we’ve settled in nicely.  Home ownership is a whole other issue, but the transition has been a great one.  The major challenge when we first moved was where would I work?

I spent a little over a year working for Boulder County government, after having left a five month stint with the state’s unemployment insurance program.  I am no stranger to government, in fact it’s what I know best.  I worked for the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction over two summers and paid witness to the bureaucracy and complexities of Congressional productivity.  With the county I served as a case manager and internship coordinator for a federal program designed to help low-income families find work and become self-sufficient.  It sounds like a phenomenal program, and could be for the right person.  But I quickly learned that I can’t want it more than the client, and sadly that was often the case.  The office in which I worked was phenomenal, and my team was particularly amazing and supportive.  The job itself, however, was a constant test of patience, empathy, and tough love.  Being a parent to a grown adult with children of their own is no easy task.  Wanting them to succeed more than they do is even harder.  Suffice it to say, it taught me the government cannot fix everything, as much as it would like to believe it can.

Of course this “it” derives from my own home town of Washington D.C.  The nation’s capital is truly a beast of its own, but some federal programs simply aren’t designed to work.  Throwing money at the problem isn’t actually a solution.  I don’t want to get political, but I have experienced the failures and shortcomings of some of these programs.  It’s hard to watch, and worse to be a part of.

I know now what motivates me and where I can be my best self in order to make a meaningful contribution.  I will never begrudge my government service, federal, state or local.  All of my experiences have helped me to realize where I can do the most good.  Motivating the unmotivated and trying to pacify the infuriated are not jobs for me.  But I have gained so much through all of these opportunities.
Here are some of the lessons I have learned:
  1. You cannot (easily) motivate the unmotivated.  This is a sad truth.  You can want people to discover ways to succeed until you’re blue in the face, but they have to want it.
  2. There will always be those who work harder than you, but more often than not there are more people just getting through the day.  Although frustrating, it’s best to focus on the end goal, and do your best work.
  3. It takes a very special person to work in the field of counseling and social work.  I am not one of those people.  That is okay.
  4. Call centers may be the most horrendous work environments ever.  Unemployment Insurance call centers are the absolute worst.  I pray to never be unemployed long enough to require it, because I know that I will be waiting on hold for at least 3 hours.
  5. Congressional hearings are not as exciting as they appear on (fictional) TV and movies.  C-SPAN has it right.  Iron Man isn’t prone to making flashy appearances in the Rayburn building.
  6. Having a great team to work with everyday can make any job worth going to.  These people also make it incredibly hard to leave.
  7. On that same note, having a great supervisor is the greatest gift a job can give.  I have been blessed on many occasions.
  8. Never take even the worst experience for granted.  Sometimes knowing what you don’t want to do is more important than what you want to do.
  9. Never be ashamed to keep looking, but relish the job that makes you never want to job hunt again.  Looking for employment isn’t just for you, it’s for the employer.  A good match is like a great marriage.  Mutual respect, enjoyment, happiness and trust.
I am happy to say I have found the job that I was meant to find.  I work at the University of Colorado Denver, and love coming to work, not only for my coworkers, but for the work I do.  I have a phenomenal supervisor who challenges me and allows me opportunities to learn and grow.  In this position, every day is different.  Working with students is a blessing, and helping to support their educational journeys is rewarding.  It was a long road to get here, but I am so grateful for every step of the way.

Ode to Beer

It’s always been my opinion that beer is gross.  Don’t get me wrong, I partook in a good number of college drinking games and willingly consumed watery, cloudy concoctions, but to my limited knowledge, all beer was heavy and disappointing.  Trust me, Urban Dictionary says it best: “Natty Light- an important part of every college kid’s nourishing diet. Best when consumed in excessive quantities.”  And boy was it consumed in excessive quantities.  But lo and behold, beer can be good (I did not say is good, and I think I have proved my point with Natty Light).  Little did I realize when moving to Colorado, not only would I happily drink the occasional beer, but I would suggest weekend beer tastings and brewery tours as a thrilling activity!  No wonder people are so active here, because otherwise Boulder would have the world’s highest population of beer-bellied slackers.

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“The Napa Valley of Beer,” is a title I have come to associate with the Boulder Valley region.  I kid you not, Colorado alone has 140 established microbreweries, with new craft beers being poured every day.  The Front Range, which extends from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs along the western ridge of the Colorado Rockies, is heavily populated with phenomenal microbrews, such as New Belgium, Odell’s, Avery, Boulder, Oskar Blues, and Great Divide Brewing Companies. Furthermore, Denver is the home to the Great American Beer Festival, which sold out all 49,000 tickets in 45 minutes this year.   Needless to say, beer is BIG.

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If the statistics and numbers didn’t impress me, the flavors did.  Upon moving here, I expected to see the stereotypical Bud Lite, Miller Lite, and of course a plethora of Coors to dominate the taps in a college town, but instead I encountered Hazed and Infused, Fat Tire, and Colorado Native.  What’s more, it’s cheap!  Not tasting, but costing.  How easily I can access phenomenal blends of hoppy goodness.  I’ve been on five different brewery tours between Fort Collins, Boulder and Golden, and I know the most important ingredient in beer is water (shocking, but here you actually get to taste the Rockies).  Every time friends come to visit, my first thought is which brewery to take them to.   I love the experience, I adore the people, and the delectable drafts keep me coming back for more.

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I know it seems so stereotypical talking about beer in October.  After all, I was born in Germany, and they do Oktoberfest right.  But this past weekend we took some friends from home to New Belgium. This is the largest microbrewery in Colorado, distributed to 26 states, and it all started with a guy mountain biking through Belgium.  Who doesn’t want to work in a place with a swirly slide?  Before we knew what else we would do that weekend, I quickly snatched the last available tour slot, and smiled knowing no matter what, we would have a great time.  And we did.

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Challenge Accepted

So about a year and one month ago my husband and I made the 1,700 mile journey from Bethesda, Maryland to Boulder, Colorado.  Having lived in Maryland for 13 years of my life, a major feat for any military brat, I had come to love and embrace all things preppy.  While the DC area gave me culture, style, incredible friends, a loving husband, and not to mention a place to call home, I knew it was time to leave.  Maybe it’s the meandering spirit in me, the need to travel and experience something new, but my husband and I both knew this was the time for change.  That is why, two weeks after tying the knot, we packed up our beautiful home, wished our family and friends a fond farewell, and found ourselves on highway 70 travelling west.  No really… one road… the whole time… We crossed into Pennsylvania early the morning of July 9, 2011, then continued through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and stopped for the night on the Kansas border of Kansas City.  Missouri boasted some incredible sunsets, and it was hard to believe that by the end of one day, we could already be halfway across the country.  It was that evening we discovered a little-known fact: Panera Bread Company actually started as the St. Louis Bread Company.  Who knew?

We woke early the next morning and traversed through the dreaded bore that was western Kansas.  Sorry for those who love Kansas, but we were given a very serious warning: “Be careful not to fall asleep.  You may hit something in an hour.”  I think that’s all the image you need, but to satisfy your curiousity, I have provided a perfect example of what western Kansas looks like.  Literally the entire state, besides Kansas City.  Needless to say, we were extremely thrilled once we crossed into Colorado, until we realized it was still another 2 hours until we would get to Denver.  And by the way, I am not a Kansas hater.  Most of eastern Colorado looks the same way.    Imagine my despair!  But by about 2pm on July 10, 2011, we were officially done with our journey, and mountains were in full view.

It was definitiely a sign that we had made the right decision, because on our first night, Colorado graced us with a magnificent double rainbow.  Not one, but TWO beautiful beams of radiance.  So Mr. Destiny, I am paying attention.

And yes, we could have stopped along the way to sight-see and tour, but really, isn’t moving stressful enough?  Why add seeing the world’s largest pecan to an already long day?  I kid you not.  It can be found in Brunswick, Missouri.

So now here we are, a year later, happily settled, and mostly adjusted.  Although my pearls don’t make frequent appearances, Colorado will never change the prep in me.  My new challenge is finding that perfect integration of mountain causal (which should be a style classification all its own) and perfectly prep.  It’s a challenge I eargerly accept!