Saturday, January 31, 2009


Skiing in Colorado: Awesome!

Getting to skiing in Colorado: Not nearly as awesome!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Like a dream...a powder dream:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Some Days...

Some days you eat the snow and some days the snow eats you.

We definitely feasted on Saturday.

New skis! The Reverend says it's good to go:

DA climbs:

Proof that we did see the sky:

TW checks the snow:

TW captures the one split-second of the day when I wasn't grinning:

And moving pictures (music by old HS buddie Willis Fireball):

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

One Smile

This picture tells you everything you need to know about our day on Sunday.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Nicaragua Trip 2009 - Part 3

(The Nicaragua trip is posted in three parts, this is the last, so if you're seeing this first, go back a few posts to Part 1)

Our guidebook calls Isla de Ometepe “Nicaragua’s dramatic candidate for ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’” and it’s hard to disagree. Twin volcanoes rise abruptly from the giant Lake Nicaragua to almost 5,000 feet to form the island. The peaks are perpetually sheathed in a tropical cone shaped cloud and the thick jungle fauna clings improbably to their steep slopes. Up close, it’s no less spectacular with monkeys howling in the trees, countless birds, and Indiana Jones-ish waterfalls. All of this remains relatively protected by the giant moat of the lake.

A good theme for the whole trip, really: hard to get to, but worth it when you do. Our accommodations in Ometepe were (1) a 2.5 hour taxi ride from Managua to spend the night in Rivas (2) a short taxi ride in the morning to the dock (3) a 1 hour ferry ride across the lake and (3) a 2.5 hour ride to go 20 miles of what I would call 4-wheel-driving, but they just call their main road. We were all a bit woozy when we finally got there.

For their amusement, the hostel where we stayed had a kid-biting donkey named "Fiona" to guard the swimming dock.
We spent three days mostly swimming on the dock and paddling the sit-on-top kayaks around, but also rallied to hike to a nearby waterfall.

We all enjoyed the climb, but the kids were especially thrilled by the ride to the trailhead (all nine of us standing in the back of a small pickup, ducking under branches, holding on for dear life, and unloading every so often while the driver put a rock under the rear wheels and added a little water to the radiator).

That’s the end of any type of pleasant memory for me as I was flattened by a muy fuerte stomach bug the night before we left and limped home for 2 days through a fog of nausea. Good times. I won’t complain, though, because it certainly could be worse. Like losing your lunch on the plane out of Managua like Zach did. That musta really been a drag.

Anyhoo. We’re all feeling good again now. It was an unforgettable trip and one that besides all the spectacular sights, family bonding and fun we had has also left us with a vivid perspective on our lucky circumstances in life and a profound gratitude to be back home.

Nicaragua Trip 2009 - Part 2

On Friday, for something completely different, we traveled back to Managua to catch the puddle-jumper (1.5 hour flight) to the Corn Islands.

Our destination, Little Corn Island, was still another short taxi ride and wild (bummmpy) boat ride from the airport.

“Two chunks of sand 40 miles east of Nicaragua, the Corn Islands are the Caribbean in its primal state. Beaches are empty and wet T-shirt contests won’t make landfall for another 20 years. What to do? Just wander around with a snorkel, a cerveza, and a grin.”
True words. But since the quote above was written in the Outside magazine waiting in my mailbox when I arrived home as a part of their “Affordable Caribbean” special, it won’t stay this way for long.

We infused our bodies with salt water, snorkeled off the beach, searched for beach treasures, and took to the funky Creole-Nicaraguan hybrid culture of the island for five relaxing days.

Memories of easily seeing hoards of tropical fish and sting rays while snorkeling, waking to outrageous sunrises and spending hours on a remote beach combing the sand for hermit crabs and shells highlight our time in this remote and amazing little corner of the world.

Nicaragua Trip 2009 - Part 1

I said briefly before that the trip wasn’t easy. This is true, but like many things in life it’s an extra effort that makes an experience unique and memorable. That said, the trip went as planned. We resurrected our Spanish skills and had loads of fun using them. We always got where we wanted to go and generally the food we thought we ordered showed up, but, alas, our Espanol is still so elementary that we missed a good deal of the history of Granada from our horse carriage tour guide, dissertations from our taxi drivers, and the musings of our nature “guide” on Ometepe.

We were absolutely floored by the scenery, people and lifestyle of the country. It seems as though we spent the entire fifteen days with mouths agape at a stunning view or smiling at the sights of the people merrily making their way through their seemingly very difficult life.

So, the beginning seems as good a place to start as any. Monday’s leisurely 7:30 AM start resulted in not arriving to our hotel in Granada until about 10 pm. A solid travel day. Along the way in Houston we met up with the Neumanns (Paul, Jen, Oso and Levin) and were introduced to their 18-year-old Albanian exchange student who was along for the ride, too.

The plane landed in Managua, but we didn’t see much of the City. We had pre-arranged for a taxi driver to pick us up and drive us straightaway to the Casa Caprichio Hotel in Granada where we planned to stay until Friday.

Granada is a beautiful City and was a good base camp for day trips to the nearby volcanoes. To describe it, I can’t do better than Randy Wayne White did in his book The Sharks of Lake Nicaragua: “Granada is an ancient municipality of cobble streets, open markets, marble columns, and ornate parks, everything filmed by a layer of grime and in the shadow of this Central American nation’s withering poverty.”

Highlights of our four days in Granada were day tours to Volcan Mayasa (where we inhaled smoke and toxic sulfur fumes from an active volcano and walked deeeeep into a bat cave) and Volcan Mombacho (where we opted for the adrenaline rush of the zip line canopy tour in the cloud forest).

We did a few short hours of Spanish classes. The kids endured them as good sports, but Susie and I thoroughly enjoyed our lesson.

Wandering through the streets was an enchanting experience. Every turn filled with a sea of humanity, multiple family members stacked on a bike, colonial colors and architecture and always a resigned desperation of the people just to get by. Four days seemed enough, but unfortunately it didn’t leave time to see the markets or find the best restaurants.

(See the next post for Part 2)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back in one piece

Heck_of_a_trip. It wasn't easy. But it was really cool.

More later, but here are a few of the pictures: