Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rocky Mountain Fall (or, Lesson Learned)

Last year, when we sensed the first hints of Fall in Denver, we made a point of driving up to Kenosha Pass to see the fabled Aspens. Unfortunately, what we learned last year was that by the time you feel Fall in Denver, all the trees are barren in the mountains.

Not to be tricked again, we left the 80 degree late-September Denver heat this afternoon and headed up into the mountains for a short hike up at Kenosha Pass. And yay! for us, we timed it correctly. Behold! Fall in Colorado!

Note: This is why we travel with cold weather gear in the trunk of our car. We may have been sweating down in Denver, but we got caught in a downpour of freezing rain at 10,000 feet, shortly before this shot. Hence, my four layers of clothing and gloves.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Find a Happy Place....

I am interrupting our scheduled blog programming (I am sure there is some blogosphere word for that...) because, well, I feel like it. If you would like to see the remainder of our DNC experience-in-pictures, check it out here. I don't want to downplay what an awesome experience it was to be a part of the nomination of the first major-party African American nominee for the Presidency, or for me (Jaimy), the culmination of months of hard work and anticipation of the Convention, generally. But to some degree, that experience seems a long way from where we are right now.

Why? For a lot of reasons. Not the least of which being the fact that BECAUSE I became so invested in the Convention, I'm taking a lot of things personally right now...getting too worked up about that my husband has limited my daily political intake to The Onion, 23/6, and selected CNN articles (but never, I repeat NEVER, the comments section of those articles). There were moments during Convention Week where I considered a future in public office, but I have since realized that I don't have the stomach for it.

Although MAYBE part of the problem is the underlying anxiety quotient in our lives.

For those of you who have never taken a Bar Exam, it is a tough call what is more gut-wrenching: those last two weeks leading up to the exam itself, or the 10 weeks of waiting for results. For the first 2 weeks, I was basking in the glow of being done. Of being able to sleep in a little, finish novels, bake cookies, relax on the couch with my husband, spend time outside with Elsa.... Then, for the next 3 weeks, I kept my mind off of the topic with distractions and the occasional reminder that I studied very, very hard and I most definitely did my best -- which is all you can do, really.

And now, here I am. Something about being back in classes (I PLEDGE THAT THIS IS MY LAST SEMESTER OF CLASSES. EVER. YOU ARE ALL CHARGED WITH THE RESPONSIBILITY OF NOT LETTING ME GO BACK TO SCHOOL [unless it is to learn a foreign language]) and looking for a job (which is interesting, because no one is all too excited about hiring someone as an attorney with a 20% chance that they failed the Bar hanging out there). Throw in waiting for bar results, and ... ACK! STRESS! And with Bret suffering through work stress and "Tax Research & Writing" (2 credits for 20+ hours of effort per week....always a joy), the stress is household-wide (Elsa being stressed because we don't have enough hours in the day to get her the exercise she needs and deserves).

In times of stress, it helps to find a happy place....take a time out and enjoy a nice evening with family or friends, or remember a recent relaxing vacation....

Our most recent vacation was our First Anniversary trip to Colorado Wine Country. Back in the Spring, we came across an advertisement for a trip package where you take an Amtrak from Denver to Grand Junction, CO, land of vineyards and peach orchards and beautiful scenery. This spawned much excitement and trip planning in the Lewis household. Despite being only a 4-hour drive by car, Amtrak takes eight hours to weave through the mountains to GJ. The opportunity to enjoy the scenery, nap, read, and visit the dining car seemed worth the additional 4 hours of travel time. PLUS it would give us an excuse to rent a car...a convertible to be exact! So we booked the train tickets, the rental car, and accomodations at Two Rivers Winery & Chateau, and I spent many bar-studying breaks envisioning this lovely trip.

Finally, our departure day arrived! Unfortunately, we were welcomed at the train station by this sign:

To explain further, we arrived at the train station at 7:20 am, with our 8-hour journey scheduled to begin at 8:05 am. Being lawyers who went to a law school that focused on economic efficiency, and an LLM program that focuses on accounting, we did the math.... a four hour drive vs. an 8-hour train ride with a nearly 3-hour delay... So we hastily obtained a full refund on our train tickets, cancelled our rental car, and taxied back home, where we promptly threw our suitcases into the car and got on the road.

We arrived in Grand Junction, after a lovely drive, at around lunch time. We were greeted by scenery more beautiful than we expected. We came out of the dry canyons of the Western Slope and into a region with lush vineyards on one side and gorgeous, colorful mesas on the other. It was at this point that we decided to apply our train refund to spending an extra night in Grand Junction.

After checking in at Two Rivers, and grabbing lunch in the quaint Main Street area of Grand Junction, we began our weekend of vineyard-touring. Somewhere along the way, we found out that we serendipidously scheduled our trip to coincide with the Annual Peach Festival. Hallelujah! (Palisade, Grand Junction's neighbor and fellow vineyard hot-spot, has famously juicy and delicious peaches.)
Some shots from various vineyards in Grand Junction & Palisade:

Overall, our expectations for the weekend were blown away. The wines were delicious and affordable. The area has amazing reds (Syrah & Cab Sav), and whites (Chardonnay & Riesling), as well as dessert wines (Ice Wine at Garfield Estates). And, in typical Bret & Jaimy style, we hunted down some of the best eats in the area: most notably, Il Bistro, Bin 707, and Moulin Rouge.

AND what we hadn't realized or anticipated was that the region butts up against the Colorado National Monument. Here are some shots from the roughly 25-mile drive through the Monument:

So really, just sitting here and recounting the tale of that relaxing and wonderful weekend not so long ago has improved my disposition immensely. (By October, at this rate, I will most likely have to share with you our entire 2 week trip to Europe, complete with all 530 pictures, in order to retain my sanity.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Madame Secretary

And now, for my most awesome moment of the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

Yes, I ever-so-briefly met Madeline Albright in the hallway of the Pepsi Center. On Day 2 (speeches by Mark Warner & Senator Clinton), as we were wandering the halls, I caught a glimpse of Gov. Bill Richardson. As I was contemplating a handshake and photo-op, I witnessed him embracing the former Secretary. And while I was momentarily paralyzed by the excitement of the possibility that I might meet her (and thereby missing the fact that she was moving to continue her walk down the hall), my fellow Host-Committee-er Mattia yelled, "Madeline!," and we were able to squeeze in this photo. (Luckily, the impropriety of addressing her by her first name while chasing after her was ignored.) One of many unforgettable moments of last week! (Thanks to my travelling photographer/husband for capturing the moment!)