Wednesday: Travel and Adventure: The Fog of Summer

Hello all! I apologize for missing Monday–the haze of the Denver County Fair just completely overwhelmed me. We had a great time, though! I hope some of you got to see our fashion show!

This weekend we had some great adventures–especially on Sunday morning, from about 12am to 4am. We took a brief nap and then got up to watch the meteor shower, Perseid. We saw about 43 meteors from 3am-4am. It was totally worth driving out into the middle of nowhere and having a picnic on the hood of the car. We got some cool pictures, but I left them at home, so I’ll have to post them next week.

Since we’re fast approaching the end of the summer, you should know that August is a blue moon month. The Farmer’s Almanac is a bit up in the air about what officially counts, but since there are two full moons in August, I’d say that counts. I recommend planning a Once in a Blue Moon party–I know I intend to have some fun with corny astronomy games and themed drinks.

As for the rest of the summer, if you’re looking for something pleasant to do in the evenings, check out Film on the Rocks. Movies at Red Rocks, not bad. There’s a big musical festival this Saturday at Casselmans, benefiting the families of the Aurora Victims.

I expect we’ll see a bunch of corn mazes and such cropping up soon. In the mean time, my own personal little adventure will be prepping my garden to become a home made greenhouse.

Keep cool and stay green!

 

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Wednesday: Travel and Adventure!

This weekend (starting on Friday) will mark a new adventure for our rowdy crew–I’ll be in the dunk tank at the Denver County Fair, and we’ll also be auctioning picnic baskets and performing some musical numbers on stage. Well, the group will be singing. I’ll save you all that travesty from me.

I’m not a huge fan of the term “staycation,” but it’s worth exploring the travel options from around the Denver Metro Area, since it’s hot outside and we all want to enjoy what’s left of the summer. If you’re interested in getting around the Victorian way, try renting a bicycle from Denver B-Cycle. As of this posting it’s only $20 for a 7-day rental, which is definitely worth it. Cruise around town in style and enjoy what Denver has to offer. Boulder also participates in the program.

A good place to test out that bike: Washington park. Or better yet, Cheesman park. Just don’t ride on this Saturday–walk or run over to Cheesman and join Jamie, Aubri and me with Team Starbucks on the Aids Walk Colorado! Aubri is going to help us walk for the cure and show people that it isn’t over!

One of my favorite places to spend a lazy summer afternoon is the South Platte River Trail, downtown along the river. I usually cut across the park and over to Union Station, and the pictures are worth the walk. If you go on Sunday all the downtown meters are free, but if you park on 15th past the general businesses (like Savory Spice Shop, mmm) the street parking is free all the time. Just don’t park in the REI lot, unless you’re looking for mountaineering gear.

Finally, a free day to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is coming up on Sunday! Gather up your adventurers and wander the halls of myth and legend… or just ask at the front desk for a guide to the gnomes of the museum. You won’t regret the silly scavenger hunt.

Monday: Relationships: Reflections

We were at the Steamfitter’s Ball last night and ran into many people who have been satellites in my life for years. One such encounter occurred between an older friend and one who has only known me for a couple of years. The first friend is someone I’ve known since 2003ish. The second one has only known me in my relationship with Jamie. It was an interesting encounter because the first friend was one of the first women I ever acknowledged having a crush on (to myself). Nothing came of it, and we’re still friends. But of course, the conversation started some reminiscing.

Back at that time I was a clumsy but incurable flirt, and that aspect of my personality is probably something that attracted Jamie to me. Fortunately, she recognizes that the persona I put forth to flirt with people is not threatening to our relationship–I would never act on it, and don’t even notice other people most of the time. When I was younger, and playing escort to a number of young women, I never imagined that I’d be where we are now–married to the woman of my dreams and raising a beautiful daughter together in a house we picked to suit us.

I was also struck recently by an episode of Glee, ironically. We’re a little behind on catching up with episodes, and just watched the last episode of Season 3. Kurt referred to his experiences with Blaine as “Lesbian bed death.” He was referring to the lack of spontaneity in their relationship, and the fact that Blaine appeared to be avoiding him. In the end, it turned out that Blaine’s distance was due to insecurities. He was afraid he was losing Kurt, so he distanced himself.

Jamie and I went through a similar phase, and it was one that baffled me. For the year or so before we conceived she was often unresponsive, and I felt that I was doing most of the work to keep intimacy in our relationship. I confronted her about it–probably less gently than I should have–and discovered that she was feeling insecure about her body and herself. She had gained some weight and was more sensitive about it than I realized. We were also living in an unfortunate house and we’d been trying to conceive unsuccessfully, so she was feeling very vulnerable. I had no idea before we talked about it.

I wish I could say I immediately started a long campaign to encourage and inspire her. Or that my renewed attentions transformed her back into her confident, sexy self. But my awareness of her concerns did help me understand why frustration was building between us. I went out of my way to compliment her more. A compliment kept to yourself does no one any good. And it can only help your relationship–especially your intimacy–to let your partner know how sexy they are to you.

Jamie lost a couple pounds (literally, a couple) and we changed some routines and conceived. Accomplishing that dream of hers seriously improved her confidence (and so did losing 70lb in the 9 months after the baby was born, only 50 of which had been baby gain). Things are certainly better. But I’m in the habit of dropping compliments now (Jamie would say I still don’t compliment her often enough), and that’s good for both of us. The moral of my story? Talk about intimacy, and not just in the bedroom. It will ultimately improve your partnership to communicate.

Friday: Steampunk World: A busy week!

Hello steamy darlings! It looks like we have a very busy week in the world. This weekend alone, the Steamfitter’s Ball featuring Pandora Celtica, Hydrogen Skyline, and Abney Park will be in town. Tickets are $15, but AnomalyCon is giving away a pair. If you like their Facebook Page and share the page by midnight Sunday morning you’ll be entered to win. Tickets to AnomalyCon are only $20 still for the weekend, don’t miss it!

Next weekend, August 10-12, will be the Denver County Fair. The Colorado Steampunks and all affiliates are really taking over the Geek pavilion this year! At 1PM on Friday on the Fashion stage Luminous Thread will be putting on a showcase of musical and performance talent as a teaser-trailer for their upcoming season of Steampunk cabaret, opera and Day of the Dead fun. The Colorado Steampunks are hosting a Steampunk Fashion extravaganza at 8PM on the fashion stage. At 1PM on Saturday, at the Gazebo, Luminous Thread and the Colorado Steampunks will be hosting our second annual Steampunk Picnic Auction. All proceeds go to Inventing Earth and Luminous Thread to fund the season! There will also be wandering lunch buskers all weekend–have a great lunch for an awesome cause!

Luminous Thread will also be hosting the “Unsinkable Molly Brown” dunk tank, and yours truly will be taking a spin. Here’s your chance to “Dunk a ‘Punk” to fund community music theater!

Tor.com has lots of great events for August featured on its website, check it out!

So what events would you like to see? Rumor has it that there will be a very fancy themed tea coming up at the end of August…

Wednesday: Travel and Adventure: Mount Fuji

Today, I want to do a bit of a review of the climb of Mt Fuji.
First of all, if you plan on climbing the mountain with a baby on your back, my best advice is, don’t.
My second best advice is to use a heavy duty backpack carrier that has capacity for other supplies, bring a blanket to wrap the baby in, and make sure they are completely sheltered from any wind. They won’t be exerting themselves and their legs and feet WILL get cold.

A few facts you can find anywhere, but I will throw them in here anyway. Mount Fuji is about 3776 meters (12,388 feet) high, and most commonly ascended from Kawaguchiko 5th Station, which is at 2300 meters (7545 feet). So it’s roughly a 5000ft elevation gain over the course of a 6.5 kilometer (4 mile) hike. So that means lots of times where you are literally scrambling over rocks and pulling yourself over things. Someone with a great balance could probably climb most of the way without touching the ground with their hands, but not in the dark.

We did a night climb, so like many foreigners who have heard it’s a good idea, we showed up at the 5th station around 9pm and started our climb around 9:30pm. Our intention was actually to start earlier, but we missed the first bus from Shinjuku station and had to wait for the next one. The easiest way, by far, to get to the 5th Station is by the highway bus from Shinjuku, but it will cost you about 5,200 yen each way. The ride is about 2.5 hours and it’s easy enough to nap on the bus. There are also lockers both at the 5th Station and at Shinjuku, so you can stash your gear and get it after the climb. The 5th station stores are only open from 9-9, though, so be aware. If you climb in the dark make sure you check the signs and take the right trail, too!

The most important thing is to take a lot of water. I recommend hidration packs, at least 2L per person. We ran out right before the top and had to buy water–for 500 yen per 16oz bottle! Needless to say, we were hurting on the way down. Also pack in at least a lunch, but some high energy snacks are recommended. Food is very expensive on the mountain, and generally terrible. A 6oz cup of hot coffee will run you 400 yen. At the time of our trip, the exchange rate was 79jpy per dollar, so a 400 yen cup of coffee was $5.

Since we climbed in the dark we took flashlights. However, the night was clear and the moon was half full, so we soon turned off the flashlights and did much better using our dark-adjusted eyes. Getting flashed by random headlamps sucked, though. As the night progressed, we saw more and more people on the trail.

Our traveling group consisted of my sister–a 19-year-old who is slightly overweight and not very active, who had pneumonia and had just finished the antibiotics. My wife, Jamie–a 25-year-old who is in pretty good shape but also not very active. And me, a 26-year-old who is in the best shape of the group but doesn’t typically run up the side of a mountain in the dark.

Getting Ready at the Station

The climb was very difficult. However, it was a perfectly clear night, so we were never cold until we stopped moving. I took off my long sleeves and hiked in just my tshirt for most of the climb. With the backpack, the baby and all the food/extra layers I was carrying, I had about 40lb of extra weight on my back. That’s 33% of my body weight.

Normally the climb from our station takes about 5-7 hours. We did not stay in a mountain hut. We climbed from 9:30PM until about 3:45AM, when Adriel and Jamie called for a rest. We stopped at the 8.5 station (which is just above the 8th station and about 75% of the way up) to watch the sun rise. We left about 4:45, after taking lots of pictures like this one:
The real reason it's called "The Land of the Rising Sun"

The rest of the climb from the 8.5 station, past the old 8th station and up to the very summit took us about 2.5 more hours. We made it to the tori gate that marks “basically the top” a little before 8. Adriel had a hard time because she didn’t eat her breakfast at 4am and was starting to feel sick. All told, not including the brief rests for food etc, we probably took about 9 hours on the climb up.

The descent was the worst. The trail is slick and steep, there’s mud and lava rock everywhere, and the clouds rolled in early and made it cold and misty the whole way down. Since I had the baby there was no way I was going to run down the mountain. The descent took us about 5 hours, leaving just after 9, but we stopped frequently for breaks. No one was able to take the baby from me, so my back was starting to ache from the extra weight. Aubri was asleep almost all the way up and much of the way down. In the end, though, we made it down–and it was totally worth the trip! There’s no way to explain the sense of accomplishment of making it up to the top. You just have to experience it for yourself.