After spending Christmas Day with family and overindulging in an all-day marathon of Italian cooking, we were anxious to get out and stretch our legs. The forecast called for an afternoon snowstorm, so early this morning we ventured to Longs Peak Trailhead and set out on an easy hike to Eugenia Mine. This trail is located about nine miles south of Estes Park on Highway 7. The trail was only lightly populated with hikers. The thick snow allowed us to study animal tracks along the route. The trail to the abandoned mine is 1.4 miles and is only a slight elevation gain of about 1,000 feet. Upon reaching the mine we were met by two Gray Jays that we’re especially playful, first allowing us to take pictures at close range and finally landing on my outreached hand. This was a fun and easy hike.
We spent the morning of Christmas Eve on the Gem Lake Trail located outside of Estes Park. The hike to Gem Lake is an intermediate 1.7 miles from the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead. The trail was well populated and the spirit was festive and light. Hikers encouraged each other in a variety of dialects and wished Merry Christmases to each other in passing. A light snow briefly dusted us upon our arrival to Gem Lake, which was frozen solid. Gaggles of hikers played on the ice and posed for photos. We took refuge on a rock, rested and hydrated by eating snow. The uphill segment took a total of 75 minutes while the downhill return took about 60.
Earlier this month I deactivated my Facebook and Twitter accounts. There are both personal and global reasons for my decision, and I don’t have anything particularly interesting to say on the topic other than I don’t miss those services and you can no longer find me there. This space will continue to be my online home, as it has been since 2005. I hope you’ll come see me.
I recently visited my hometown of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. I haven’t been back nearly enough. Some things haven’t changed. Other things have changed a lot. I got to spend time with a few people who were deeply influential to me while growing up. I took Lauren to see some of my childhood homes, and we saw a Lyle Lovett show at the Virginia Theater. Incidentally, we ran into Lovett at the Austin Airport while leaving for Champaign. He spoke with us for a few moments and seemed as stunned as we were that we were all on our way to the same show. Everything you’ve ever heard about him is true.
I made a point to rent an airplane and go flying. Urbana’s Frasca Field is where my dad bought me a plane ride when I was nine or ten years old. It was a cosmic experience for me. I got checked out in a Cessna 172 at Central Illinois Aviation, and the next day took Lauren for an aerial tour of the area. We went out over endless miles of corn and soybean, then turned in and did an aerial tour of the campus and cities.
Later, we took in the University of Illinois homecoming game against Purdue. We walked through West Side Park on several evenings, and I caught myself missing this place.