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.

Writing Again

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Apparently, I can’t write for shit. Writing essays is a perishable skill. These last two weeks or so, we have had to turn in four different writing projects. The first one I didn’t do horribly, but it was an information memo where you are supposed to sum up information for your commander. AKA it needs to be succinct and save your commander from having to read the long paper/research you personally had to do. I am a wordy person so while I kept it at only a page, I was the opposite of concise. The next paper was a persuasive one, and we had to argue if towed artillery was still relevant in today’s fight. Today’s fight was defined as a fight that is moving away from COIN (counter-insurgency) and into multi-domain large scale combat.

Being from the world of light artillery/light infantry I argued that towed artillery is relevant.

I got smacked down on that paper.

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The next paper, a 7 pager I did in one sitting after doing research for three days, I actually feel will be okay. It was an analysis of a commander’s mission command during a specific battle. I got LTC Honeycutt during Hamburger Hill. I actually really enjoyed reading about him and found Hamburger Hill to be impressive. Plus, this paper was in the standard thesis style paper I am used to writing from college, so I didn’t have to count syllables or words the way you’re supposed to for information memos.

I did get a little frustrated this week though because one of the instructors, not mine, walked into the class and told us how company FSOs were irrelevant and that nothing in BOLC was useful for fire support.

Literally, everything I did as an FSO I used in BOLC. So, it made me feel like he was invalidating my fire support time which, while it wasn’t my favorite and was hard, I felt was successful.

I need to learn to stop being sensitive and that no one can know the path I walked. The officer who spoke to us was from Carson. This is a little nerve racking since that is where I want to go. One thing I have learned though is how much I don’t know about heavy artillery or heavy infantry.

We were talking about how to conduct a breach, and while the principles of breeching were the same between light and heavy, it was wild in the difference of scale. In heavy, they have to plan to get at least four tanks/large vehicles through at once which drastically changes how and what assets are blowing the hole. For light, we just have to make it big enough to walk some people through.

So, I’m trying to keep an open mind.

On the friend front, it’s going amazingly.

I’ve said this before, and I will repeat it, Polk sucks because with only one brigade and thus only one artillery battalion, friend selection is hard. Even if you loved every single person you met, there’s still only a small amount of people to hang out with. Here, it’s swarming with captains who just want to hang out! It’s cool getting to expand my social group and try out different things.

They also all are in pretty good shape and inspire me to get healthier and stronger. I’ve been lifting a lot more than I’ve ever lifted before in my entire life. Of course, I’m still not at the running level I was before I got injured. With the weather getting nice, I will start running again.

 

Currently Reading: Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War By Karl Marlantes

Currently Listening To: Billy Eilish

ACFT Stats:

  • 3 Rep Max Deadlift Hexbar: 150 lbs

  • Standing Power Throw: 4.8

  • Hand Release Pushups: 11

  • Sprint-Drag-Carry: 2:32

  • Leg Tuck: 1 2 Mile Run: 16:10

Back Home In Time For Summer

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Getting back to the states has been amazing. It isn't just getting to do fun things like drink alcohol, but it's getting to simply relax. My job wasn't very hard at all - I wasn't lifting heavy things or having to go without a shower - but there is something to be said about having weekends completely free. As I worked more on call and made my own hours, I still worked everyday which meant no lazing around or being unavailable. Just the thought that someone can need you at any moment is a lot more stress than you'd think. Again, I'm not saying my job was ridiculously hard, but I certainly learned to enjoy the comforts I take for granted back home.

For example, I always wore a bra to bed just in case of indirect fire. I didn't want to run and take cover with nothing under my shirt. 

Sorry if that's TMI.

Once arriving home, after a week of reverse SRP (blood work, finance paperwork, etc for Army to file), I got to go to Arizona to see my fiance, parents, and cat!

The summer was pretty simple. Visited home which included getting to see some old friends from high school like Liz, Sara, and Sam. We played through an entire deck of cards.

We also got to visit Matt's family friend in Sedona which was awesome. We had good conversation with her and got to hike during the day time.

Since we were decently close to the Grand Canyon we also stopped by there where we didn't hike but just gawked around with the rest of the tourists. Instagram is really changing the game at National Parks. I once read an article that people think it's bad as the sudden influx of people is causing the growth along paths to be stunted and that enjoyed the quiet of the great outdoors is almost impossible now... check out this NPR article. While I understand the sentiment, I think it's unfair to say that. Sure, at the Grand Canyon it's almost comical to see hundreds of girls from around the world dressed like an Urban Outfitters front page instead of hiking boots walking around on the ledges but at the same time, if they are going where visitors are allowed to go, why not? The tone of those articles are always concerning to me because it implies that you have to be special visit national parks when that's the exact opposite of what national parks are supposed to be for. While that article mentions some really bad stuff (like waste disposal problems), maybe it's a call for national parks to build up their infrastructure. Apparently at Horseshoe Bend, they've started to build a fence around the area so visitors don't fall to their deaths. Is it annoying for photos? Probably, but they're ready and if you've been to the town around Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, I'm sure you can agree that the town is in love with the tourist revenue. And again, that's okay for them to be! 

I actually plan 90 percent of my vacations with Instagram. What better why then to find what their is to see then to see what others have already proven is awesome?

Me doing Savasana/Corpse Pose to join the yoga pose Instagram trend.

Me doing Savasana/Corpse Pose to join the yoga pose Instagram trend.

While in Arizona, Matt and I also got to do a lot of wedding planning which included: seeing the venue; meeting with our DC/MC and picking all our songs (we are still stumped on first dance song, any suggestions?!?!); and meeting with the florist. We also got a timeline which means I'm just one motivated Sunday away from actually ordering the formal invitations.

It's coming sooner than I think, I have a feeling. I still need to do dress fitting and buy things like shoes...real tempted just to wear flip flops since no one will see them but at the same time my brain really wants Louboutin shoes just because I can use the event as an excuse to spend all that money... we shall see. Probably not heels though because I'm not trying to fall down in front of my entire family.

While we were traveling, I managed to get Matt to start using my camera so I can be in artsy shots too! Here is his progression: