Sunday, August 4, 2013

Up and Around and Back Again! [NM & CO]

32 days. 32 crazy days full of adventure, of pushing limits, of exploring new places, of living life to the fullest. 32 days alongside my mister with no expectations other than to get in there. Our summer was cut in half because of grad school commitments, but we made up for that once we were able to hit the road.

We finished up a course in the History and Philosophy of Education on June 26 and were on the road by 9AM on the 27th. There was no holding us back. We had places to be (well, not really, but the idea of taking seven days to make it to Nebraska as opposed to one was too much to ask for) and sights that we wanted to see on our way there.

Our road trip began with a visit to Aztec Ruins National Monument in northern New Mexico. We learned that these ruins are neither of the Aztec persuasion, nor are they considered ruins by the Puebloan people or the Navajo who later inhabited the area. Rather, they are a home to the spirits of those who once lived there. Shortly thereafter we crossed the state line and said good-bye to New Mexico and hello to colorful Colorado.
Aztec Ruins National Monument

We buzzed through Durango and picked up a couple of things at the visitor center (and checked to make sure we weren't going to encounter any road closures due to fire) before heading north to Silverton. The sights were amazing - forests and water seem to be in abundance as soon as you leave New Mexico and we soaked it in. 

At one mountain pass we couldn't take it any longer and climbed out of the car to enjoy an overlook. That overlook led us to a trail, which led us to an exploration of trails leading up Engineer Mountain, through wildflowers taller than Chris, and eventually into afternoon thunderstorms. Having spent plenty of time in storms, we decided to turn around when we saw our first bolt of lightning in the distance and got in some trail running on our way back to the car.
Tarah Running
Chris Running (This one is especially great if you zoom in!)

We made it off of the mountain safely and then drove into Silverton. We wandered around town and checked out the train depot before heading into the national forest for some free camping. We ended day one of 32 with cans of beans and some bread followed by a sunset hike up to a high meadow lake. We crossed over rivers, found ourselves embraced in a warm red light that covered the mountain after the sun went down, and eventually found our way back to our trusty tent.
Red-tinted Skies in Colorado

The next morning we worked our way north on the million dollar highway between Silverton and Ouray. It was incredible (especially at 7AM when hardly anyone was on the road). We stopped at a small pullout before Ouray and were blessed with the sight of a majestic waterfall that we didn't even know that we had crossed over. A little further down the road we pulled over for good to try our hand at high altitude hiking on the Bear Creek National Scenic Trail.
Rim Hiking on Bear Creek Trail
Rock Hopping on Bear Creek Trail
We picked our way through shale fields as we made a quick ascent, and then we kept right on climbing. I pushed as hard as I could and still my feet did not want to leave the ground. As we wound our way along cliffside trails we were granted more views of the previously mentioned waterfall, the river that it came from, and the mountain streams that fed into that river. We passed old mining camps, rock hopped across some streams, encountered a porcupine eating lunch, and continued climbing until we lost the trail about a mile before coming out at Engineer Pass. Feeling exhausted, I did not have the energy to search for the trail and so we turned around and made our way down. Each step was remarkably easier than the previous and it felt like a weight was being lifted off of my shoulders (or lungs, rather). 
Grizzly Bear Mine (Bear Creek Trail)
After returning to the car we drove through Ouray and made our way further north to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. We drove around the canyon rim and admired the beauty of nature. We paid for a night of camping in the park so that we could get an early start on a hike down into the canyon. The next morning we got our early start, but the descent freaked me out a little (okay, a lot), so we turned back and did a more moderate hike on top of the canyon before heading east toward Grand Junction and Colorado National Monument.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
We were unsure of what to expect of Colorado National Monument, but we were pleasantly surprised. From the forests of the Rocky Mountains we found ourselves thrust back into our desert landscape. The red rocks had me in awe, and then I realized that we live amongst the same types of formations. We hiked the old monument road, the serpent trail, which was once one of the curviest roads in the United States. We drove along the park road and observed a canyon that was vastly different from that which we had been at in the morning. Instead of dark striated rock, we had a painted desert of rich reds, golds, and oranges in front of us. Monuments reached for the sky and we roasted under the sun. That night we hiked to the base of one of the monuments and camped out under the stars (and a couple of climbers that had begun their ascent of the monument at dusk). With the exception of some noisy night hikers that came through the trail junction in the middle of the night, we had a peaceful desert sleep.
Our Camp Was Surrounded By Monuments
The following morning we drove east to Boulder where we got some much needed sibling time. We stayed with Sarah and James for a couple of nights and spent our time in town exploring trails, eating good food, and observing the oddities that exist on Pearl Street. We made it to Chataqua Municipal Park where we climbed Green Mountain (a goal of Chris's for the summer trip) and did a little more trail running.
Wildflowers Were Abundant 
Our Colorado visit ended with a trip to Red Rocks Amphitheater and Dinosaur Ridge. Both places were incredible for different reasons. We hiked around, took in the sights, and learned a little more about the geological and archeological history of the area. In the early afternoon we had to call our short stay to an end and we drove north into Nebraska where the next phase of our summer adventure took place.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Moab's Red Hot 55K

Last weekend, Tarah and I took advantage of a semi-long weekend (no classes on Monday, but parent/teacher conferences) to head up to Moab for some racing and hiking. We would have preferred to be in sunny Florida or Nicaragua for the weekend, but Moab was still a great escape.
We made the four and a half hour drive on Friday after school and got to our super nice hotel (no really) about 9:00. The race didn't begin until 8:00 the next morning, but I needed to pick up my packet closer to 6:45 so we were up early by most people's standards, but for us it meant sleeping in about an hour later than normal. So after a delicious hot breakfast at the hotel we headed to the trailhead and race start just outside of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.
While we were waiting around for the start we met a couple from Colorado and chatted them up for a bit and Tarah ended up hiking with the Maggie in Arches while us guys "raced" (well, Daniel raced to seventh place, I survived). 
The race started and I had again positioned myself way too far back in the pack. As we started our ascent up the the mesa I quickly passed people and settled into a nice pace. The weather was perfect and the course was beautiful. I cruised along the trails at a nice clip until the second aid station at around 13 miles. I hit the half marathon point in a little over 2 hours, shooting for a sub-six finishing time and then my race fell apart.
My shin/IT band/knee hadn't been feeling great leading up to the race, but I had rested and I felt great for the first third of the race, but the last 20+ miles were horrible. Every other step was excruciating, it felt like someone was putting a knife in my knee. On any terrain that was flat or downhill I couldn't manage much more than a hobbling shuffle, however anytime the course went up hill my leg didn't bother me and I could climb like a champ. At the first onset of the pain I tried some yoga breathing to try and alleviate the discomfort and that seemed to help, though it may have just been that I focusing so much on my controlled breathing that I wasn't focussing as much on the pain. I stopped a few times to massage my calf and shin and do some stretching (I'm sure some runners were shocked to come around a corner and see me standing on one foot hugging my leg into my chest), but it was all to no avail.
I contemplated dropping, but I didn't have anything better to do than hike in a truly incredible setting, so I soldiered on. At about a marathon, we hit a rolling section of trail and I yo-yoed with few runners blowing past them on the climbs and getting passed on the descents. Every time someone huffed and puffed past me I wanted to shout "But I'm not even tired, and my legs feel great, I just can't bend my knee." It was really frustrating to be passed by runners that I knew I was better than, but I knew it wasn't meant to be that day. Perhaps February just isn't my month for ultras.
With about a mile to go I finished the final climb of the day and a course marshall, trying to be optimistic, told me it was all downhill to the finish and I cringed. I ended up passing at least one other runner in that section and was meet by Tarah a few hundred feet from the finish line. About seven and half hours after I started I crossed the finish line.
We hung out at the finish for awards, I ate some soup, drank some cola, and talked to Dakota a bit about the race he's directing in the San Juan Mountains. We caught a shuttle to the car, went back to the hotel to clean up a bit, ate delicious pizza and calzones at Eddie McStiff's, and then relaxed in the hot tub with about ten barely supervised kiddos.
The next day I ate a huge breakfast (eggs, gourmet salsa, hash browns, sausage gravy, bacon, sausage, french toast,  and hot chocolate - seriously, when in Moab stay at Aarchway Inn), Tarah ate a good breakfast and we headed to Arches National Park for a little hiking. The area around Gallup is pretty beautiful, but Moab is absolutely gorgeous. We hiked around in Devil's Garden and I decided to do my hiking barefoot, despite the freezing temperatures and snowy/icy trails. Other than a few areas of sharp, crusty ice the walk was great, and the expressions on people's faces and their comments when they thought we were out of earshot were awesome. We ended up taking the primitive trail back from Double O Arch and Tarah got her cardio workout in on some fear-inducing sections. On one particularly sketchy spot that Tarah had thankfully already traversed, I did a semi-controlled fall/slide on the slick rock down to the trail about twenty below. If Tarah had been behind me, we probably would have had to call in a helicopter to get us since we had another super sketchy section behind us. I came out unscathed and we finished our adventure as the trails were starting to fill up.
We're looking forward to getting back to Moab during the first part of our spring break in April before heading to the mountains outside of ABQ for another ultra.

The view at the start

Finishing up

Trailhead and trail guardians

Barefootin' it

Probably the second most famous arch in the park - Landscape Arch

Fair warning

Feeling great going up
At Black Arch overlook

The primitive trail

Heading back to the car

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

twenty twelve running recap

Last year I set a goal of running 300+ hours from January 1 to December 31, but unfortunately I didn't come anywhere close to that number. Apparently moving to a new country, becoming a teacher and starting graduate school take a lot of time and energy.
Despite not logging as many hours as I had hoped, I logged a bunch of very awesome hours, in a bunch very awesome places, with a bunch of very awesome people.

In 2012, I ran in the jungles of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, I climbed (and descended) two volcanoes on Isla Ometepe, I ran to and from a not so nearby village in the campo to raise funds for disaster relief, I ran to the highest point of Costa Rica (12,533 ft.) (and some other nearby peaks), I ran a 50 miler in our tico county two days before saying hasta luego al pais y nuestos amigos, I ran in the deserts of New Mexico, the forests of North Carolina, and the streets of my home town, I ran in Rocky Mountain National Park, I ran "A Real Mountain Race" put on by a legend, I ran into the pages of TrailRunner magazine, I ran my first half-marathon(s), I ran on roads, I ran on "roads," I ran on trails, I ran on "trails," I ran in cow pastures, I ran in brutal heat, I ran in freezing temperatures, I ran in sun, rain, and snow, I ran at dawn and at dusk, I ran with Ticos, Nicas y gringos, I ran with new friends and old friends, I ran with my wife, I ran alone.

In 2013, I don't have a long-term goal, but I want to complete my first hundred mile race, and quite possibly a 24 hour run, I want to traverse Petrified Forest National Park, I want to run up and down the highest point in Gallup (~3 miles with 900' of climb) in under 30 minutes (36:39 is my current best), I want to continue to explore new places and meet new people.

Running in the High Desert

One week later

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Book Blog

2012 was an interesting one for books. The year started with some great reads in both English and Spanish and then surprisingly our free reading time became almost non-existant as books for grad school were thrown at us as well as all of the delightful stories that get put into the mix as elementary school teachers. We did squeeze out a few pleasurable reads after the school year began, but the book consumption rates that we enjoyed while living in Costa Rica are no longer.        

Chris threw himself at Vonnegut whenever he had a spare moment and we perused the bookshelves at Goodwill to pick up anything that wasn't already in our collection. That being said, his favorite read of the year was not by Vonnegut but instead by McDougall. His number one for 2012 was Born to Run.

In my attempt to escape from our grad school readings I got sucked into The Hunger Games after our professor let me borrow them. I also revisited numerous old favorites and found some treasures on our own bookshelves that had been rescued from numerous yard sales over the summer and then forgotten about. My favorite read of the year though came from the Peace Corps library - Worldwalk topped my list in 2012.

A summary of what was read: 

Non-fiction: 13 (Chris - 12, Tarah - 9)
Spanish: 11 (Chris - 5, Tarah - 9)
Fiction (English only): 26 (Chris - 15, Tarah - 17)
Total Books Read: 50 (Chris - 32, Tarah - 35)   

And the list:

                         The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven - Alexie (C&T)
Lorna Doone - Blackmore (T)
Educational Foundations** - Canestrati (C&T)
Maggie, Una Chica de la Calle* - Crane (T&C)
Catching Fire - Collins (T)
The Hunger Games - Collins (T)
Mockingjay - Collins (T)
The Witches - Dahl (T)
El Dia de la Venganza* - Daniels (T)
Robinson Crusoe - Defoe (C&T)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Díaz (C&T)
Captivating** - Eldridge (T)
El Gran Gatsby* - Fitzgerald (C&T)
First on the Rope - Frison-Roche (C)
Hoja de Aire* - Gutierrez (C)
A Farewell to Arms - Hemingway (C)
The Murder Room - James (T)
The Dharma Bums - Kerouac (C&T)
Fear and Trembling - Kierkegaard (C)
Prodigal Summer - Kingsolver (T)
Where Men Win Glory **- Krakauer (C&T)
A Sand County Almanac** - Leopold (C&T)
Mere Christianity** - Lewis (T&C)
Call of the Wild - London (C)
Young Men and Fire** - Maclean (C)
Siempre dama de honor* - Marsh (T)
Dynamic Social Studies for the Constructivist Classroom** - Maxim (T&C)
Atrapados en el Ayer* - McCusker (T)
Born to Run** - McDougall (T&C)
Un Magnate Aventurero* - McMahon (T)
Moby Dick - Melville (C)
Worldwalk** - Newman (C&T)
Cuentos de amor, de locura y de muerte* - Quiroga (C)
Limon Blues* - Rossi (T)
The Catcher in the Rye - Salinger (C&T)
The Bookseller of Kabul** - Seierstad (T&C)
Juevos Verdes con Jamon* - Seuss (C&T)
The Confusion - Stephenson (T)
Quicksilver - Stephenson (T)
Tormenta Silenciosa* - Stevens (T)
Ana Karenina - Tolstoy (T)
Language Arts: Patterns of Practice** - Tompkins (T&C)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Twain (C&T)
The Indian Frontier of the American West 1846-1890** - Utley (C)
Breakfast of Champions - Vonnegut Jr. (C&T)
Cat's Cradle - Vonnegut (C) 
Deadeye Dick - Vonnegut (C)
God Bless You Mr. Rosewater - Vonnegut (C) 
Hocus Pocus - Vonnegut (C)
Teaching in the Real World** - Zukergood (C&T)
* Spanish
** Nonfiction

Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012

It's hard to believe that another year will come to a close in just a few short hours. It is always a joy to review what the year has brought our way and this year has been no different. It has been a year of adventure and of big life changes. If you haven't had the chance to follow the blog much this past year, here is a quick recap for you:

We started 2012 in the heart of wilderness, visiting Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula in southern Costa Rica. We took advantage of Costa Rica's "summer vacation" and spent three days adventuring with our friend Kevin. We saw more wild animals than we could have dreamed of (some in very close proximity, such as the peccaries that started grunting when they felt that we were too close) and experienced true beauty.

The remainder of January went as we came to expect during our time in Costa Rica. Days were filled with camp and kids, just the way we liked it. We were also blessed with a visit from our country director who brought along not one, but two amazing Almond Joy cakes for us to share with our campers and our host family. Our friend Billy was also able to make it out for a piece which was wonderful since we bid on the cake after his apartment sadly burned in late 2011.

February was another month of adventure. We started the month by wrapping up summer camps and preparing for the new school year. Then the real adventures began. February took us to Nicaragua for Chris' first 100K race and brought us a delightful visit from Chris' sister Sarah and her friend Molly. We relished the month and couldn't believe how much we crammed into a mere 28 days.

Our trip to Nicaragua was absolutely amazing and we are saddened that we will not be able to go back and join the Fuego y Agua crew for their 2013 event. Not only was the race a phenomenal event, but the island culture and the people of Nicaragua were incredible. We met some amazing people from both Nicaragua and the United States. We formed bonds with people that also share a love for the island and the event and are fortunate that technology allows us to stay in contact with them still.

Our visit from Sarah was another highlight of our month and our two years of service. It was wonderful to be able to share our Peace Corps life with her and to take her to some of our favorite places in the country. We went to Cahuita, our favorite Caribbean town, on a chocolate tour and hiking through the rainforest. We only wish that the visit had lasted longer.

February also marked the beginning of the end for us in Costa Rica. We had our Close of Service conference and started to make plans for our return to the United States.

To say March was an experience doesn't do all that happened justice. We had our final town festival, moved across town, completed the CRUSA grant, and had visits from our friends Matt and Lisa.

It was wonderful to wrap up the CRUSA grant and see improvements made to the colegio. It also meant one less headache for Chris as he no longer needed to worry about spending the money that our community had been presented as a result of his grant writing work.

April was pretty crazy for us. We had a mission group come into town without a translator so we filled our free time helping the two groups communicate. We also took advantage of the situation to meet some incredible people from our community that we hadn't yet gotten to know. It's amazing how in such a small place there were still people that we didn't know at the end of our service. It was wonderful to build those relationships.

In addition we spent some time with great friends over Semana Santa and really took advantage of the little bit of time that we had left in country. When Semana Santa came to a close we took a trip to one of Costa Rica's indigenous communities, Cerere, to celebrate Día del Libro. We met more amazing people and were blessed with several days with other volunteers that we had come to know during our service and celebrate everyone's successes.

May was our final month in Costa Rica. The month that we thought would never arrive. It was a hard one, full of goodbyes and project wrap ups. We held on to our story hour with kindergarten and preschool for as long as possible, went on spur of the moment trips with friends, packed our bags and embraced our family at the end of it all. It was a life changing month for us in many ways. We ended our Costa Rican experience and stepped into our New Mexican life.

June was a time of settling. We moved into our apartment on the fifth after spending a week at our friend Emily's place here in Gallup. We explored our new community and then flew across the country to North Carolina so that we could pack up our belongings and move our life our west. 

July was another crazy month. We welcomed our newest niece to the world, celebrated the marriage of our sister Sarah and explored the Omaha Zoo. We also explored some National Parks and Monuments, Chris ran a "real mountain race" and we pretty much made sure that we didn't have any time before the school year started. It was wonderful!

As you can see, once we returned to the US life didn't slow down. August was no different. Things just kept getting piled on top of one another as we began our new teaching careers. We also started our grad school experience. Life, in a way, came to a screaming halt while the world started spinning faster.

We were blessed with a three day weekend during September which meant that we spent some time with friends! We went rock climbing and hiking which were just about absent during August. We did some trail running and Chris even ran a race. It was nice to have a breather thrown into our new lifestyle.

Fall, what a beautiful thing! Even here in the desert colors change a little bit and the nights get cooler. The days may have been hot as can be, but we enjoyed the changing of seasons for the first time in several years. I (Tarah) even got to experience fall at its finest as my best friend got married in North Carolina during peak leaf season. It was wonderful to have a small break from school and go back east for the wedding and some quick family time.

Here in Gallup we get a whole week off to celebrate Thanksgiving. It was a much needed break from the fast paced lifestyle that we have been leading here. No teaching, no grad school. It was time to breathe. We took some us time and rented a cabin in the woods, ate some wonderful food and did some hiking. Then it was back home for more lesson planning and work on final grad school projects. 


Am I cheating by summing up December without an official December blog? Too bad if it is, because here it comes. We started the month at the Red Rock Balloon Festival. We saw beautiful hot air balloons rise over the desert and Chris ran up to the top of Pyramid Rock a couple of times to get the full experience. Then the month of craziness fell upon us. We wrapped up our first semester of grad school, our first semester of teaching and survived the excitement that comes when you put a group of children together in a small space the weeks leading up to Christmas. We took a trip up to Nebraska to celebrate Christmas with family (whoever said that the first Christmas after Peace Corps was the best was pretty much right). We traveled further east and saw friends and more family. 


All in all it was a pretty spectacular year. I read a quote today by Brad Paisley, "Tomorrow is the first blank page in a 365 page book. Write a good one," that I think sums up our 2012. I think that we wrote a pretty good book this past year. I hope that the coming year is as fruitful and exciting.

Happy New Year everyone - take a moment to reflect on this past year and set a goal to have an even better coming year!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Red Rock Balloon Festival

Every year, Red Rock State Park, just outside of Gallup, hosts an annual hot air balloon festival. Nearly one hundred balloonists come to the area to show off their beautiful balloons and the park is filled with even more colors than those abundant in the desert. We were fortunate enough to spend Saturday morning at the park and experience this sight to be seen.

Pyramid Rock
The moon stayed out all morning!
Chris took an alternative route to enjoying the experience. He decided to run. We got to the park shortly after 7AM and he took off, running up Pyramid Rock. He passed me on his way down, in search of information about the Pyramid Rock Run - another event that is a part of the balloon festival. He ran around and eventually found the start of the race. It was a noncompetitive run through the park, ending with the ascent and descent of Pyramid Rock. While he was out running around and finding his way to the top of the peak once again, I settled in at the top of Pyramid Rock to enjoy the sights.

Chris on his first descent from Pyramid Rock
Hoodoos in the sunrise
The balloons were obstructed by the ridge that surrounds the flight field and so gradually the tops of balloons appeared as they were filled. At first just one or two balloons crested the ridge, and then they came by the tens and twenties. For nearly an hour I reveled in the ascension. The balloons were varied in color, shape, and size. Humpty Dumpty took off in the sky, followed by a large recycling bag, a dead cat, a Kachina doll, Tweety Bird, and Ronald McDonald. Those were the ones that I could pick out from a distance. Other balloons had the outline of the state of New Mexico on them, I saw the famous ReMax balloon (perhaps only famous if your parents work with realtors all of the time), and others with incredible design features. It was a morning well spent.

The first balloons of the morning
They keep on coming...
and keep on coming!
While watching the balloons take off, a group of friends arrived at the top of the peak to also enjoy the sights. We left together (after Chris had made it to the top once more) and then went out to enjoy a fabulous brunch in town. It was a wonderful start to the weekend. You should come check it out sometime - it's well worth it!

A close up of the beautiful balloons
Chris, arriving at Pyramid for the second time

November 2012

With fall quickly coming to an end, we experienced our first snowfall in over two years this November. It was beautiful and we only wish that the fluffy white stuff would have stayed around a little longer. Chris took advantage of the empty streets and went for a long run, I stayed home and baked. It was wonderful. That night Gallup hosted its monthly Arts Crawl and so we braved the cold to check out the work of some local artists. There weren't many people out, which was a shame, because as always there were some incredible pieces out on display.

The rest of the month progressed quickly, as all of them seem to do these days. The only difference was that with the celebration of Thanksgiving, we had a week off from school (both as teachers and as students). It was a chance to get caught up on a lot of work and we were able to squeeze in a little relaxing as well!

The Friday evening before Thanksgiving we treated ourselves to a weekend (overnight) away. About an hour southeast of us lays the town of Ramah, home to El Morro National Monument and more importantly, El Morro Cafe and Cabins. We took advantage of their $100 dinner and cabin special and enjoyed an incredible meal of sesame seed encrusted tuna, mango chutney, stuffed winter squash, and homemade rice pilaf as well as a night in one of the cozy cabins. It was some of the most delicious food that we have eaten in a while. The owner is a wonderful man that shared with us the private trails that climb the mesa behind the cabins and so we got up early the next morning and enjoyed a nice hike before breakfast. 

The trail was still snowy in places and we passed by a 1500 year old Alligator Juniper tree. The trail ended at an old fire tower that was once run by the National Forest Service. We climbed to the top and enjoyed a mountain view in the distance. On our way back for breakfast we explored rocky outcroppings that gave an unobstructed view of New Mexico's natural beauty. With cold feet and rumbling stomachs we returned to the cafe for more wonderful food before heading to El Malpais National Monument, about 15 miles further east.

1500 year old Alligator Juniper

A close up of the Alligator Juniper's bark

"Visitors are requested not to climb" - Oops!

The rock outcropping that we explored the top of
The monument is a vast spread of land that protects the natural beauty that was left after several volcanic explosions thousands of years ago. There are different types of lava flow and numerous caves. While the caves are currently closed due to White Nose Syndrome, we were able to enjoy the trails and check out one of the volcanic cinder cones. Our hike took us to El Calderon, which is believed to have formed 115,000 years ago. Today the cone contains a small forest, but you can imagine what it may have looked like in its active days. We left the cone, sliding down red cinders until we returned to our trail back to the car. It was a wonderful experience and we cannot wait until we have time to go back and explore the area further.
Our red cinder path
The rest of our break, as I mentioned, was mostly filled with work. We took a break on Thanksgiving and ran a turkey trot to help raise funds for the local shelter, Care 66. The race followed a short loop through downtown (three times) and returned to the shelter where we were served fruit and hot chocolate. We waited for our limbs to thaw and then Chris received his first place ribbon. We came home and spent the day relaxing and eating, not turkey but stuffed portabello sandwiches. They were pretty amazing - who says you need to eat turkey on Thanksgiving?

And now we find ourselves in the month of December and only three weeks remaining until Christmas. 2012 is winding down quickly and we are still unsure as to where the year has gone. Just over six months ago we were sweating away in Costa Rica and now we are preparing for the winter chill that will engulf Gallup through March or April.