Eat, Pray, ACFT?

Today, I got home at about 1400 because it snowed. On Sunday, it's supposed to jump up to 70 degrees.

I guess I've experienced Colorado!

Since I've last posted, a lot has happened. My smallpox vaccine site has healed! This means, if you want to go swimming while it's snowing, you can invite me without it being a bioterrorism incident. I often think about the PV2 that got vaccinated next to me and received the brief with me. I wonder if his experience here is the same as mine: staff duty shifts, no swimming, and night TOC shift work (working 1600 - 0200)…

Since I've been working nights, it has been hard to get into a workout groove. Most of that is over, though, so I will be able to get back on track to becoming my best self but also on passing and exceeding the ACFT.

The good news is that they have made a lot of changes to it. One of those being making it job-specific for passing standards. Right now, my understanding is that I am actually at the lowest level. LTs in artillery are still expected to pass the hardest measure, but the second you become a captain, down to moderate! Of course, I don't want to scrape by, but it's a huge difference in mindset when you're lifting to stay employed versus lifting to better yourself.

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I am a bit out of shape though because Matt and I signed up for a 10k ruck march ‘for fun’ and tbh, it killed me. I used to pride myself on being a pretty good ruck marcher, especially for my size but this ruck, not only did I do it a bit slowly (16 min mile pace), I got a massive blood blister. This is a wake-up call.

It hasn't been bad, though, overall.

There's always something to do. On one of our weekends, we went to the Garden of the Gods. I had been there for about a year or so beforehand. That was when I visited Matt while stationed at Fort Polk. That time, my nose bled, and when I spoke, I would get out of breath due to Altitude Sickness.

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This time around, we were at the Garden of the Gods for a FOLK ART FESTIVAL.

I feel like you know you're not a tourist somewhere when you can do the side attractions without feeling like it's taking away from the main event.

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While there, I bought a tremendous handmade witch broom from Frog Hollow Brooms. The lady selling them kept trying to tell me how handy they were for cleaning as if I wasn't going to use it to pretend like I'm from Little Witch Academia.

We also got to try a lot of food trucks, which, for some reason, is a big thing in Colorado Springs. About three minutes from my house, they even have a weekly food truck round-up from me.

Some of the noteworthy vendors were Camp Coffee Co and Pastamore By Donna

One of the food trucks we tried had Kahlua pork soooo… I've found my groove here.

I'm also a massive foodie in general, and besides food trucks, we had a chance to eat out at other places. The two standout places, though, are Fat Sully's and Cogstone Brewing.

Pizza from Cogstone Brewing. Don’t mind the chili flakes… that’s my weird touch. Pictured is the Pumpkin Ale.

Pizza from Cogstone Brewing. Don’t mind the chili flakes… that’s my weird touch. Pictured is the Pumpkin Ale.

Now that I live in a cold climate, I've decided to become Autumn Incarnate and make up for all the autumns I've missed throughout my life in Arizona and Fort Polk. At Cogstone Brewing, not only do they have pizza, they have a Pumpkin beer that I kid you not, tastes just like a PSL.

This pizza is from Fat Sully’s. Again, ignore the chili flakes. This place literally everything was great. I think they serve the best chicken wings I’ve ever had?

This pizza is from Fat Sully’s. Again, ignore the chili flakes. This place literally everything was great. I think they serve the best chicken wings I’ve ever had?

It was heaven.

It didn't taste weird either, like how sometimes chocolate stouts kind of miss the mark because it feels too much like chocolate, where you get grossed out. Does anyone know what I'm talking about?

I also have gotten the chance to hang out with some friends that are stationed here that I met in FA CCC. It's been great having what is essentially a premade safety net where I can still have someone to talk to and someone I can text when I am having a bad day or have a funny meme to share. At Polk, I went with only two others who were sent to Geronimo and continuously out in the field. I hung out with one at a fair and tagged them in a post, and within 20 seconds, his wife called him to yell at him. It was pretty lonely when I first started at Polk. I never spoke to him again, and he's getting out of the Army. At Carson, I feel the complete opposite. I feel like I do have work friends right now. Hopefully, I can bridge the gap with a few to make some lifelong friendships. Time will tell.

Overall, I still have a lot more exploring to do in Colorado and the surrounding areas. Hopefully, some friends from other places come and visit me so I can continue looking at things through tourist's eyes.

Boulder, CO, Bees, and Bountiful Coffee?

It is time for Halloween and Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I’m so committed to the PSL though that I drink Chai Lattes year-round which to me have the same essence as PSLs and it’s really no difference. That said, I’m trying to avoid Starbucks for a few reasons. The first being I like the taste of black espresso more than regular coffee, and since we now own an espresso machine thanks to our wedding registry, it’s the cheapest option. Plus, I am one of those intense people who think grinding beans is relaxing. The second reason is now that I am blessed to live in a fantastic city like Colorado Springs; I want to try coffee places that are unique to the local area.

The most Colorado Springs moment happened to Matt and me when we picked a random shop to visit… it ended up being a coffee shop located in a strip mall church called HearthStone Native Coffee. Google maps arrived us, and it was a relatively empty parking lot, and if we were in Stranger Things, maybe this would be where the Demogorgon gathers all the brainwashed humans. We were committed though and called asking if we had the directions right. It turns out we had to walk inside the church, and there was the coffee shop… it turns out the coffee was delicious! Amazing actually. No one even tried to ask us to attend the church either, and I respected that.

Colorado Springs has a weird aura to it in the Army since it’s a hotbed for different religious groups. Just google all the various problems the Air Force Academy has run into with being a little too forceful on the spiritual front. I can’t say I’ve experienced anything negative yet though since I’ve been here. Sure, there’s churches everywhere and coffee shops in churches, but that’s fine and isn’t that different from driving to Houston from Fort Polk and seeing the mega-churches along the freeway.

I bring this up because this weekend we decided to head up to Boulder, CO, which was only an hour an a half away from ‘the Springs.’ Since it was so close, I wondered if it would be similar to Denver and Colorado Springs. It was wildly different! But in a good way! I haven’t met a place in Colorado I haven’t enjoyed yet, but Boulder was like a quiet Denver, and since it was so close to a university, it had a more casual and young vibe than the former two cities. You weren’t going to stumble into any coffee shops supporting churches. Instead, Boulder had a store representing I think every international hiking brand in the world, I kid you not.

Even a brick and mortar fjallraven which sells more than just backpacks… they also do free in house tailoring.

But enough about that… I DID MY FIRST REAL HIKE IN COLORADO!

We went to a trail called the Royal Arch, which was only 3 miles but was rated as hard on Alltrails.

Spoiler: It was hard.

My butt still is sore.

Afterward, I inhaled two restaurants worth of sushi (we had to go to two different restaurants because I became hungry after we left the first) and then I also had three beers and a chicken BLT.

Being motivated, we also stopped by the REI labor day sale and got some gear in preparation for hiking a 14er! Walking those are definitely on my Colorado bucket list, and even though this three-miler killed me, it just made me even more excited to hike. I think Pikes Peak will be one of our first, but I recently learned that there’s a shuttle that can pick you up from the summit so if we are drastically under-prepared and tired, we have an escape plan. Of course, the last thing I want to be is under-prepared at that elevation so the preparations will continue. Hopefully, we will be able to tackle them soon though I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s next year that we get down into the nitty-gritty.

Some other noteworthy adventures we were able to to this long weekend was to do mead tasting at Savannah Bee Company which had a store on Pearl Street in Boulder.

I had no idea what mead was until this moment.

I kind of vaguely knew it was mentioned in things like Game of Thrones and maybe like my medieval theology class in college? But it’s one of those things I never dived into or worried about in the English language.

I guess it’s just alcohol made with honey and thus, it’s pretty old.

The mead tastings had a lot of unique flavors. We ended up buying the “Peachin’ to the Choir” flavor, which had the lowest alcohol content, which is most likely why I enjoyed it since it didn’t overwhelm my palette with alcohol.

They had a champagne infused one, but that seemed to be asking for trouble.

I do not know why I love bees so much. The whole store was poppin’ with women similar to my age, and I can’t understand why bees are cool and fun and cute right now, but I am on board with it. Reminded me of our Denver trip where my hotel’s gimmick was to have beehives on the rooftop, and they used the bees to make the shampoo and conditioner for the rooms and the onsite spa.

B*!@$es love bees.

Matt surprised me one night as well by scheduling as for a cooking class by Food Lab!

I was pretty surprised by how much fun we both had. We both agreed that cooking classes are fun mostly because the hard part (measuring out and gathering all the ingredients) is done by someone else.

It did make me realize though that I would enjoy a more in-depth and serious class on cooking, especially since most of the books I’ve been reading this year are food-related, but this was an excellent introduction. The Chef went over different ways to cut food whether that was only using one slit to cut a bell pepper entirely, getting the garlic casings off, why to remove the outside layer of an onion, and of course different ways to hold a knife while cutting for safety and ease.

We ended up making a scallop and fish dish and were paired up with another couple too. They also had a bar to sip on drinks while you were cooking.

I will be going back to Boulder. I probably don’t need to spend the night there anymore, maybe just a day trip or a quick one-night camping trip, but it was a great place to be. I think I like Boulder more than Denver, are those fighting words???

Next week I will be more integrated into my work and job, so hopefully, I will have more to report on the Army front.

Me looking the most Colorado I’ve ever looked outside of the hotel we stayed at, The Boulderado.

Moving on from Ft. Sill

I’ve officially made it to Fort Carson! I’m sitting in a real house with a couch and bed instead of an apartment with neither of those.

It’s been a good time since the last time I posted: I went to Austin, TX (because who knows when I’ll be in Texas next); I did some last-minute adventures around FT Sill; I graduated FA CCC; I drove ten hours with my cat.

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In Austin, Matt and I celebrated the fourth of July weekend by watching fireworks from the rooftop of the library. It sounds lame, but it had unrestricted views of the show, BBQ, and alcohol soooo what could be bad? We ended up kayaking a bit and even checked out the Museum of the Weird which had a man who could conduct electricity through his body. I don’t know how to say it more exciting than factual because it was wild. I believe it was real. If you touched a light-bulb to him, it lit up! When touching him, it felt like brushing up against a light electric fence.

Arguably weirder though was the Yeti Cooler Flagship Store. We noticed a lot of crowds and wondered how all these people could be spending the 300 dollars to own a little cooler. It’s then we realized that half of the store was a bar and after getting a drink, you could sit on the various coolers around the store and enjoy it.

It was so…. Upper-middle-class millennial culture in one spot. It’s hard to explain, but Matt and I were truly blown away by how absurd it all was.

I guess that’s Austin for you?

The Tuesday following Austin, I had my final exam in FA CCC.

My section in FA CCC

My section in FA CCC

It was a four-hour essay based test. We got to use open notes and open publications though so I just had to write fast to get the information on paper but finding and knowing the material wasn’t hard. I guess that’s one thing that’s funny about the Army - you can figure out 98 percent of your job if you can find the right publication, so I guess it was a good test in that sense. Overall, I am not sure how vital CCC was for my development. I do think I needed something since I needed to learn the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP and for non-Army people, it’s this step action drill you use at BN and above to figure out how you want to do an operation). I do feel like it could’ve been condensed or taught online, but I am happy I got to meet so many new people and see my peers. When you’re at a unit, there aren’t many people of your same rank. To be with 14 in my squad alone and then 51 in the class, that was a good time! Also, getting to meet so many many people was a great chance to network and learn a bit of stuff that happened outside of Polk.

I am super excited to start working at a unit again. Right now, the rumor is that I will be going to a SBCT here at Carson. For artillery, I’ll be working with the same piece I worked on as an XO at Polk, the M777. The people I’m supporting won’t be light infantry though; it’ll be the heavy world.

I’m glad I can get the other side of the Army spectrum.

On the domestic front, I’m happy to be living with Matt again and to have a real house. It’s fun to own a home and to have a yard! I didn’t realize I was such a yard person until I got one. I like to sit on my patio and dig holes and plant things if I want without worrying about lease agreements and other people. One con that we have already run into is WALLPAPER. Usually, on shows like TLC where people buy houses, I judge people who say they don’t like a home because of the wall color. Surely you could fix it later! I scream at the TV. Well, after removing a room of wallpaper and having two more rooms left to remove, I completely understand.

Also, I will never buy wallpaper in my life, no matter how cute, and easy Anthropologie makes it look.

First Time in Denver

This long weekend, my whole body broke out into mild hives because I am apparently allergic to good times like full body massages.

Also, never trust your husband when you both agree to go to the couples massage naked, and then you take off your robe, and you realize that you are the only one naked. That being said, when I screamed at my masseuse at a top tier spa, “please don’t panic, I am naked under the sheets!”, that she probably didn’t care until that moment.

Of course, I had a blast. My next spa treatment probably won’t be for a long time though, and it will be a facial instead…first world problems.

This four day was incredible though. We decided to go a bit more boujee than usual because plane tickets out of OKC are WILDLY less expensive than traveling out of Alexandria, LA. Also, since we went to Denver, Matt just had to drive up and experienced more of a staycation.

Once I get to Colorado, we want to do a lot more staycations like stay in Boulder or even stay in a nice hotel in the Springs. One of my primary goals is to do one 14er, if not multiple of them.

The hotel we stayed at was The Brown Palace, which their selling point is being super old. It honestly reminded me of the way Disneyland’s Hollywood Tower of Terror looked just with fewer people standing around in line, no screaming, and no spiderwebs. It had that old-timey-rich vibe which I wasn’t mad about. It also had multiple restaurants, and the spa we went to was in our lobby. Another selling point of the hotel was its proximity to Sixteenth Street, which is just a long street where only one free bus takes you along to all the shopping and eating you could want. This street would not be complete with a few cannabis stores, but besides that, it actually looked very similar to Universal Studio’s City Walk…there was even a Coyote Ugly.

Maybe I am just craving theme parks?

Sixteenth Street is where I got to meet up with a few of my high school friends that live in Boulder. We had lunch together at Otra Vez (which was only meh) and went to an excellent and inexpensive brewery (Rock Bottom Brewery - I highly recommend!).

Meeting up with them, Shannon and Megan, was a lot of fun. We caught up, which is a code-word for ‘discussed our jobs and gossiped about everyone from high school based on FB and Instagram creeping.’

After saying bye to them, Matt and I focused the rest of our trip on food.

At one point we asked the concierge for recommendations, and he actually pointed us to a cool place I didn’t know about: Cholon. This place allowed you to either pick seating at the counter or the dining room. We selected the counter, and it is literally overlooking the kitchen. We got to watch hot prep and then the final plating stages. Cold prep was hidden away, but hot food prep is arguably the most fun to watch…though we were literally so close that I was sweating every time someone ordered fried rice due to proximity to the open flame.

We also had to try tea at the hotel…

The only people that go to tea though are bridal parties and then children who are three years old, but I still enjoyed my champagne, scones, and fancy sandwiches. I would do it again. I wrote down that it was Matt’s birthday on the reservation (his birthday is May 18, so I wasn’t lying) and the classical piano man played happy birthday, and Matt got a cupcake.

A bit more classy then Texas Roadhouse where they just shake silverware in cups.

If anyone wants to go to tea though, feel free to invite me because that is my jam.

On our last full day, we went to the best steak place I’ve ever been to.

Everything was absolutely delicious. It’s called Guard and Grace, and it has another location in Houston which is kind of too bad since I like feeling cool at discovering new places, but kind of awesome since there are more places I can experience this excellent steak at.

I didn’t take any photos because we dug in and ate too fast.

Besides eating, we did manage to do one cultural thing, which was to go to the art museum. A large section of it was still under construction though, but military get in free! We didn’t know that until we got up to the desk, so that was a pleasant surprise. The art was an exciting mix of contemporary and historical. I liked it so much that I think I will be back for my next Denver trip. I guess I really feel like I’ve done that sixteenth street/downtown Denver area though and can branch out a bit more next time.