One rainy Yosemite adventure

This past weekend, Cobalt and I embarked on an epic day trip to Yosemite National Park. Over the past year, we’ve been to five other national parks and monuments and we thought we could sneak one more in before 2016 ends. Plus my family and I used to go to Yosemite National Park every summer when I was growing up and I was itching to get back.

Having spent at least a week in Yosemite when I went with my family, I had to do some careful planning for our short day trip. It helped that a lot of the stuff that I enjoyed seeing in the summer (Glacier Point, Tuolumne Meadows, etc.) is not open in the winter so I had a shorter list of things to choose from.

It’s about a 3.5 hour drive from here so we left at 7:30 a.m. to make sure we would have time to spend in the park. Our first stop: Yosemite Valley. It’s often super overcrowded in the summer but there’s a good reason for it. It’s simply spectacular to be surrounded on all sides by huge slabs of rock, rushing water, and impressive waterfalls. Cobalt is not one for crowds so I figured that by going to the valley in December, he’d still get to see the awesomeness without being surrounded by people. It was kind of a dreary day — rainy and cold — but there were still quite a few people in the valley. We headed to the Happy Isles trail head to go see Vernal Falls. You can’t drive to the trail head so we had to park the car and hike in. We got a little lost of our way to the trail head and wandered around the Happy Isles for a bit but it paid off because we saw a deer family! Here is a picture of the buck. I think this might be the best deer picture I have ever taken. Enjoy:

I love how regal he looks…

We eventually found the trail head and wandered up the short trail to the footbridge below Vernal Falls. It’s a nice trail, with amazing views of the river crashing around below and waterfalls sneaking down the walls of the valley. In the summer, I enjoy hiking past the footbridge via the Mist Trail to the top of Vernal Falls but it is closed in the winter (mist = ice = slippery!) and we had a lot of other stuff to see! So we headed back down the trail to the car where we had a quick lunch before heading back to see the rest of the valley.

The rain was starting to come down harder by this point but that didn’t stop our fellow tourists from having fun on the valley floor. We had to stop to take pictures of the Yosemite Falls because I loved seeing the people playing in the snow through the mist. There was so much going on! People were taking Christmas pictures in Santa hats or throwing snowballs at each other. Some people were even getting out sleds to slide around the icy snow.

The upper Yosemite fall sits above the mist on the valley floor.

After touring the rest of the valley mostly by car, we set off towards Wawona, which is on the southern edge of the park. To get there, you head up out of the Valley through a long tunnel. Right before you leave the valley, there is a “Tunnel View” parking area where you can get one last glimpse of the entire valley. It was a family tradition to stop and take a picture so Cobalt and I stopped and asked a family to take our picture.

The mist covered up the valley minutes after this picture was taken.

It was pouring and starting to get dark by the time we reached Wawona but I had one required stop left. My family used to stay in Wawona when we visited Yosemite and we loved hiking the Chilnualna Falls trail. It’s about a 10 minute hike to the lower fall so we parked at the trail head and ran up the trail. It was incredible! We usually go in August, which is when the water is at a pretty low point but the fall was just gushing this weekend. Forget the rain, Cobalt and I got majorly misted as we scuttled down toward the fall. It was so great to see an old family favorite again. Can’t wait to come back here with my whole family one day (hopefully soon!).

Let’s get some humans in that photo.

How are you? What are you up to? This week, I have to report at the American Geophysical Union’s national conference. Should be fun but also scary!

Whale you needn’t

A few weeks ago, Cobalt and I went whale watching with my classmate, whom we will call Mercury on this blog, in the Monterey Bay, courtesy of Sanctuary Cruises.

It was definitely an adventure. First of all, we were supposed to go watch whales on Saturday but we drove all the way out there and they canceled the trip because it was too windy. We made a quick call to get on the Sunday whale adventure and then then we went to brunch with the Sanctuary Cruises boat captain and naturalist. The food was delicious and we had a really neat conversation.

On Sunday, we tried again. The winds had died down so we headed out to the bay in search of whales. Although the Monterey Bay pretty much always has some sort of whale-related activity going on, we went at sort of an awkward time. The humpbacks that spend their spring, summer, and fall feeding in the bay were on their way south for the winter and the gray whales that pass through the bay in early winter were just starting to arrive. We hoped to see some straggler humpbacks or earlybird gray whales and we were not disappointed (as my picture at the top hints).

Not long after getting into the bay, we saw humpback spouts! They were huge. Humpbacks take a few breaths of air before diving deep into the ocean for about 5 minutes. Then they surface and start the whole process over again. Our whale-watching trip turned into a waiting game. When the whales were up, we took a bunch of pictures, hoping to get shots of the spouts or the tails (like the one at the top). Then the whales would dive and we sat around, letting the waves rock the boat back and forth (note: not a great feeling) until the whales decided to surface again.

Once when we found the whales, they were surrounded by hundreds of long-beaked common dolphins. Seriously, the ocean was suddenly churning with dolphins everywhere. They swam toward us and played around the boat. So fun and such a new version of photography.

Photographing dolphins is one of those “shoot first, look later” types of experiences. Just set up your camera to have a pretty fast shutter speed, make sure it is on continuous shooting mode, and then go. Click click click click click click click click. The more pictures you take, the more likely you had a shot of a dolphin above the water. I think I took at least 1,000 pictures while on the boat (a feat normally reserved for weddings). Something else I struggled with: Do I use the zoom lens zoomed in or not? Zooming in meant that I got a fairly high resolution picture of a dolphin but it also decreased the likelihood of actually having a dolphin swim in the field of view when I took the picture. I kind of did a combination: zoom in… no dolphins… zoom out… ALL THE DOLPHINS…zoom in…

Baby dolphin! :D

Mercury and Cobalt tried other approaches. Cobalt recorded videos, both with our GoPro and with his cell phone, and Mercury had a point and shoot camera and her iPhone. I think they both got some pretty nice shots/videos at the end of the day. Basically I think the lesson here is take a lot of pictures/really long videos with whatever device you have and plan to do some editing later. :)

Taking pictures of humpbacks was a bit easier because there were only two of them and they hung out together. As soon as we saw the spouts, we knew to point our cameras in their direction and take a bunch of pictures in a row with the hope that they would flip their tails at us when they headed back down into the water. At one point, both whales dove together and gave us a beautiful view of the two tails diving in sync and I am pretty sure almost everyone on the boat missed the shot (whyyyyyyy) because we were just recovering after the dolphin extravaganza and hadn’t quite gotten back into humpback mode. There was a collective sigh of amazement/exasperation as the tails disappeared beneath the water together.

All in all it was a fun adventure, though after multiple attempts at taking pictures of humpbacks, drifting aimlessly for 5-10 minutes, then taking more pictures of humpbacks, etc, we all started to get a little seasick. But it was still a rewarding experience and I can’t wait to go out in the spring when maybe we can see some other whales (and maybe orcas?!?!??).

Here are some more fun pictures below:

Hey! How’d this bird get in here?! Though it’s kind of a cool shot… The birds were having a field day with the dolphins. I think they were hoping to get a snack of whatever the dolphins were eating.
The benefit of having a fast shutter speed: even if you miss the dolphin (see the stripes underwater at the bottom right?), you still get cool splash photos.
We saw a lot of sea lions out there too but I liked this picture the best. I just love the sea lion in the water next to the buoy: “Uh guys? Is there room on there for one more?”

One last note about the pictures: if you’re going to go whale watching, don’t spend the whole time behind your camera of choice. Look up every once in a while and really notice how neat these animals are. It’s a pretty cool experience. :)

On the school front: whew. I can’t believe it’s been 10 weeks since I wrote in here. It feels like it’s been a year. This is one intense program. I learned a lot about writing through my classes and my newspaper internship. I also learned a lot about photography at the internship. I even learned how to use Canon DSLRs! I still prefer my Nikon, mainly because my fingers know exactly what to do to change all my settings.

If you’re interested in seeing what I was working on for the past 10 weeks, feel free to check out my writing portfolio. There are a few assignments that are still to come but whew. I did a lot! :)

I know I say this in almost every post but I really miss this blog and I really miss photography when I get too stressed out to go exploring. I’m really going to try to make more time for pictures during the next quarter. I’ll try to post more on here too, maybe with less words when I’m especially stressed.

What have you been up to?

And it’s June!

Hellllooooo everyone. Sorry I’ve been away forever. Part of it was lab/work but part of it was that I had been away for so long, it was hard to get back into it. Every time something cool happened to me, I thought “Oh ho! I should post this on my blog!” and then I thought “… but it’s not Tuesday and that is my day of posting and I just remembered I have this super important thing to do right now that may or may not actually be important but I have to do it right now and I’m lazy and I’ll just post something about it next Tuesday…” Well guess what – it’s Wednesday and I’m posting! Plus it’s summer and there are a lot of crazy things happening so I kind of have no excuse to post anymore.

So I thought I’d post a list today of some exciting things and then we’ll pick one of them for next week.

  • The Bolder Boulder is an annual 10K here in Boulder on Memorial Day. This year, Cobalt spend the spring getting in shape and then ran the whole thing in under an hour. Whoa! Call me impressed.
  • A dose of Science Policy, please! At the end of April, I got the opportunity to go to Washington DC to spend a day on Capitol Hill talking to the kind representatives and senators (read: mostly their staff members) from Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri about funding for NIH. The NIH, or National Institutes of Health, funds biomedical research and it (and its basic research friend, the National Science Foundation) gave me the funding to attend grad school, which was extremely useful. During my trip to the Hill, I got to be a scientist who knew statistics like 1) how many jobs the NIH funds in the Congressperson’s state/district and 2) how much money we spend to treat vicious diseases vs. how much we spend to do research on how to cure them. It was an amazing and inspiring experience and I loved every second of it. We young scientists were paired with Biochemistry faculty members from around the country. My faculty member and I had a Fitbit battle all day (lots of walking between House and Senate office buildings). I totally won but it might be because he was crazy tall and because I was in a suit with a skirt and had to take at least two steps for every one of his. Anyway, there’s clearly a lot to talk about here so I will post more on this in future posts.

    Potassium with Boulder’s representative, Jared Polis
  • Add to that a strong dose of Science Communication! Since the last time I wrote, I officially accepted a position in the UCSC Science Communication program for the fall! So Cobalt and I are moving to CA this September and I am (finally) gonna be a banana slug! I am excited and terrified all at the same time but I think it’s going to be a fun adventure. P.S. If any of y’all know anything about housing in the Santa Cruz area, any advice would be greatly appreciated! Stay tuned for fun updates coming from here soon!
  • Exploration part 1 (of ??)! Because Cobalt and I are escaping from Colorado this fall, we decided that we really need to make this last summer count and explore the whole state/area before we go. For those of you who don’t know, while Colorado is pretty nice year round (depending on your fondness for random snow storms any time between September and May), summer in Colorado is amazing. Our first adventure took place last week – we went down to NM to see some of our friends/Cobalt’s family and then headed up into southern CO to see Mesa Verde, Durango, and Telluride. Turns out that that part of Colorado is beautiful! Cobalt and I took the most ridiculous route back to maximize seeing prettiness. It was amazing. More posts on this soon too!

    Cobalt and I had fun taking pictures of Mesa Verde’s Cliff Palace through the lens of a viewfinder.
  • I started getting a monthly subscription to Scrawlr Box, which is an art supply box that comes from the UK. It’s awesome (and well worth the money)! Every month, I get cool pens/pencils/etc and a “Scrawlr Challenge,” which challenges to me actually use all my new stuff to create something! The challenges so far have been “Spontaneity” (which included tea to paint with!), “Manga Yourself” (which included a Gelly Roll pen woooo 7th grade!), and “Write ScrawlrBox” (which has been by far the most challenging for me but also the most fun). It’s been really inspiring and great for me to flex my creativity a little bit.

    This is the result of my “Write ScrawlerBox” Challenge. Let me know if you want to see the results of the other challenges (warning, there is definitely a shark theme).

Soooo what’s going on with you guys? Anything amazing lately? What trips do you have planned for this summer? What did you do for Memorial Day? Any of those things up there sound like something you want to learn more about? Vote for what I talk about first in the comments!

Hawaii behind the lens

Never fear science readers… I have some ideas for a new post (think – what kinds of jobs can scientists have?!) coming soon. But for today, let’s put science on hold and talk about something else I am passionate about – photography! I miss my photo blog! The end of the year is coming up really soon and I have been thinking back about everything that happened this year. One really cool part of this year was that Cobalt and I got to go to Hawaii with my family for my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary! My aunt and uncle live there so we stayed with them for a lot of our trip, which was really awesome because I haven’t seen them since I was in high school (or even younger?!). Plus I got to hang out with my cousin, whom I also haven’t seen in forever. Yay family!

My family at my aunt’s and uncle’s farm shortly after we arrived. That’s a pretty good looking family if I do say so myself!

Anyway – so we were in Hawaii surrounded by so much stuff to photograph. Really it was kind of overwhelming for the photographer in me. Part of me just wanted to experience everything not from behind the lens of a camera and part of me wanted to take a picture of everything so I wouldn’t forget it. Also, it was the first time I’d pulled out the DSLR in a while (So sad…) so there was a lot of remembering what to do under various lighting conditions. It was also fun to challenge myself to take unique photos. A photographer once told me that all photographers need to find their own style so I like to take these opportunities to figure out what my photography style is. Today I thought I’d share some of my favorite DSLR pictures with you from our trip.

Some creatures of Hawaii

I really like how this picture turned out even though it was really overexposed. I think it looks a bit like a painting. Look at that happy bee!
In Hawaii, you learn to look closely to find those little geckos hiding in plain sight. This little guy was chilling on the farm.
At one point we went to a park and there were stray cats everywhere! I wanted to take them all home but Tarantula probably wouldn’t be very happy with me… Anyway, I really like the lighting in this picture. I think there was a streetlight or something else orange going on to the left of me and this kitteh?

Playing with lights

You can’t visit Hawaii and not talk about volcanos! This used to be a full lava pool a few months before we got there but by then the lava had flowed elsewhere and all that was left was this creepy glow…
See? Creepy glow!
More fun with lights. This is my sister and my shark Scrarmpl in a lava tube. I like the lighting… it’s so weird and orange. Plus my sis and Scrarmpl look happy.

Plants

Baby fern!
Did you know that orchids have what looks like baby manatees in them?!
See for yourselves! It’s a manatee surrounded by a heart! <3!

That’s all for today but never fear! There are tons of pictures left for me to share with you! We did so much in Hawaii that this first post barely scratches the surface (clearly… as there are no pictures of food in here!)! Be prepared to see more Hawaii sprinkled into my posts soon! Plus Cobalt and I also went to Germany so there will be some Germany pictures sneaking into the mix too!

Now it’s your turn!
What did you guys think of that post? What is your favorite picture? Have you been to Hawaii? Did you like it? What was your favorite part? Where did you go on vacation this year? What are you doing for the holidays? So many questions…

Tolerance vs. Acceptance and more

Hey everyone!

We have a lot to talk about today so let’s get started!

  1. France
    What to say?! My heart broke when I first heard the news and I’ve continued to feel uneasy about this situation since then. I’m so sad that this keeps happening – with the few crazy members of a culture wreaking havoc on so many people they don’t know. It breaks my heart to see a city that I love filled with terror. Plus I am sad about all the other places are being attacked and no one is talking about them. It also breaks my heart seeing people younger than me committing suicide to hurt other people. And finally, I worry about the anti-Islam backlash this attack is going to cause… Be careful with your blame everyone… :-/
  2. Science!
    For all of you who got excited about my post last week, yay! I am so excited too! I got a lot of comments concerning “who to trust?” considering anyone (including yours truly) can talk about science on the internet these days. Also I got a great question about what types of jobs we scientists can get these days (excellent question and super relevant to me as I am on the market for a specific type of job that may or may not exist right now). Finally, I had some general comments about what it feels like to talk about science with people who “get it.” I can’t wait to address all of these questions and comments. Soon… >_<
  3. Tolerance vs. Acceptance

    Last week, I spoke on a panel of Tolerance vs. Acceptance on the CU campus. I think it turned out really well! The room was packed! The first part of the panel was to ask our audience to discuss the definitions of tolerance vs. acceptance and we found that it was much easier to define tolerance over acceptance. I talked about how “tolerance” to me means being acknowledged but not being invited to “the party” that everyone else is talking about/attending. We decided that acceptance would then be being invited to the party and asked to dance! I talked about how I was at a loss about what to do with feeling accepted – I can’t figure out how how I got there. I don’t understand that I can just be accepted as I am. Clearly I had to have done something “right” to make people like me? Then everyone else started sharing their own personal stories about what acceptance looks like to them. It came down to opening up and being authentic with each other as well as being curious about people’s lives. So we practiced these in small groups! I feel much more closer to my fellow panel members after that and I hope everyone else in the audience feels closer to their group members now too! I think it was a pretty successful panel. I’ve heard a lot of really interesting stories about what it feels like to be an undergrad/grad student, postdoc, faculty, or staff on CU’s campus and excellent personal examples of what tolerance vs. acceptance looks like in general. The stories have continued over the course of this week and I hope people keep talking about this issue!
    Speaking of this panel – I will be on the radio this morning at 8:35 am (it looks like you can stream it live or listen to an mp3 recording on that website) talking about this panel and the new seminar series I helped start at CU. Check it out!
  4. Snow!
    I turned 30 last week!!! How does this happen?! Anyway, to celebrate my birthday and the fact that we had an unusually warm weekend, Cobalt and I went to Golden Gate State Park and ended up doing a 3 mile hike around in the snow. I injured my knees this past summer and have been not allowed to do any exercise besides walking for the past few months. It felt pretty good to be able to play a little in the snow with minor knee pain. I’m slowly getting better…

Now it’s your turn: What’s the weather like for you? I think everything is shifted back a month for us – nice October weather goin’ on for us in Colorado… not so great for people who like to ski though. Also – tell me your definitions of tolerance vs. acceptance or give me an example of what it feels like to be tolerated vs. accepted!

Did you forget to vote?!

Someone should probably inform Tarantula that cats can’t vote before she freaks out any more about forgetting…

Greetings blog friends! It’s your long lost Potassium here to take another shot at this whole “blogging” thing. It’s been waaaaaay too long and I really miss it! I especially miss taking really neat pictures and sharing them with you. This weekend, I spent two hours a bit looking at all my blog posts for the past five years and it made me sad that I haven’t posted anything recently. Some of those posts are really cool (at least I think so) and I think having this blog here really helped me channel my creativity and inspired me to work on my photography and blogging skills!

Sooooo let’s start it back up again! I know what you’re thinking. I said that before and then look what happened……. but seriously. I want to try again. Plus it’s November, which is famous for NaNoWriMo and such, so I should challenge myself to write blog posts instead of writing a novel. We’ll start off slow with one post a week just to try to ease me back into the swing of things. Woooo. I pick Tuesday. Done.

Next step. What to talk about?! So much has happened since I last wrote in here! Cobalt and I went on vacation to Hawaii with my family to see my uncle’s and aunt’s sweet farm! We also went to Germany for Esther’s and Felix’s wedding! I co-taught not one but two biotechnology summer camp courses for high school students. I co-founded a new seminar series at CU that focuses on retention of underrepresented students and postdocs at CU by providing new networking and mentorship opportunities. You probably can see updates about that on my Twitter feed —–> (since that seems to be the only thing I seem to tweet about). Oh oh! And the big one! What the heck am I doing with my life now that I finally have my PhD? Well wouldn’t we all like to know? Let’s figure that one out together, shall we?

Now it’s your turn! What have you been up to?! Did you go on cool vacations this summer? New jobs? New other stuff?! Tell me everything!

P.S. It’s election day. Go vote.

P.P.S. It’s also my mom’s birthday! Yay happy day, Mom! :D

How to write and defend your PhD thesis in 2 months

  1. Start working from home. It’s lonely but it allows you to have whatever writing schedule you need every day and keeps you from distracting yourself by hanging out with your labmates. Only go to lab for mandatory meetings with your advisor or to get information out of your lab notebooks.
  2. Teach your labmates all your lab jobs (editing websites, taking over the lab safety and hazardous waste removal jobs, etc) for you while you are out. They will do them so beautifully and without asking very many questions. For this, you are forever grateful.
  3. Sometimes working from home means going to a coffeeshop and drinking a cappuccino while working. Your advisor agrees to meet you at the coffeeshop so you don’t have to go all the way into lab to meet with her. Also sometimes your labmates will join you.
  4. Work every day for 1.5 months straight, taking breaks when you need them but never taking a break that lasts for an entire day.
  5. Get on an antidepressant that reminds you to eat and sleep on a semi regular basis despite all the anxiety and stress you constantly feel. As soon as you defend, you can get off of it but for now, it’s necessary.
  6. Go home to California for a week and write feverishly at the desk you used to do your homework at in high school. Your parents will make you tasty food, force you to take breaks when you need them, and cheer you on. Plus one or both of them will stay up late every night playing on their tablets while you write so you won’t be as lonely.

    You and Gustav making weird faces on a tiny plane heading home…
  7. Exercise at least a little every day. It helps break up the monotony and the lamity of sitting at a desk all day and it reminds you that you are a human – not a writing machine. Soccer, swimming, running, and biking work pretty well. Take Cobalt on your exercise adventures if he’s around.
    One of your exercise breaks includes going to see the aspens change color with Titanium and her mom. So pretty… you could have stayed there all day. You tried to but Titanium and her mom said you had to go back to work…

    While you were looking for pretty aspens, you also found this cute little puff…
  8. Attend two of your friends’ weddings. Weddings let you take a break from your stress bubble and remind you that you are surrounded by wonderful people. :)
    One of the weddings you attend is at the Denver Botanic Gardens during the Chihuly glass exhibit. Having gone to undergrad in Tacoma, Washington, you can recognize a Chihuly piece anywhere but you still find it beautiful in this setting…

    One of your favorites is this boat. You even come back after the wedding to photograph it all lit up at night.
  9. Let Cobalt take you to a movie sometimes. It’s nice to do stuff with just Cobalt even though you are a stress ball.
  10. Go to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta with Cobalt, your sister in law, niece, and nephew because it’s great to spend time with people you love and also because the balloons are majestic and awesome to photograph.
    You go on opening weekend and it is packed! But it is a perfect day for balloons so the sky is also packed!
    You and your family get there early (~6 am) to see the first balloons go up. Included is this Wicked balloon, which you think is pretty neat because you are going to see Wicked later that day.

    You are among the first people to ever witness the Yoda balloon, which was unveiled this day.
  11. Learn how to use Adobe Illustrator in 3 days (your skills expand drastically when you NEED to make Figures)
  12. Go suit shopping with your friends the day you turn in your thesis. This is great because you get to shop for fancy adult clothes in celebration of turning in something epic and also you really need a suit for your defense talk…

    Here you are super nervous because your defense is the next day. At least the suit looks great!
  13. Go to your favorite undergrad conference to recruit new graduate students to CU even though you defend your thesis in a week. You’re stressed out, yes, but the students’ excitement to go to graduate school and learn is inspiring. Plus you have really cool conversations with your fellow recruiters, your sister (who is recruiting for her school), and some of your friends that you haven’t seen in forever (who are recruiting for their schools!)

    Look at you and your fellow CU grad students at the SACNAS 2014 conference, recruiting new grad students for your school! You look like a freak, but at least your friends look good. :)
  14. Be prepared to reanalyze your data at least 4 times while writing and then again right after you defend.
  15. Surprise your advisor by finishing everything on time even when she thought that “no one” could do everything in that short amount of time.
  16. Present your research to your family and friends with only one minor technical glitch that is easily solved. Do not lose your composure over the glitch or over the whole situation because your presentation turned out awesome and you really know your stuff!
  17. Shake hands with your committee faculty after your defense because you’re a doctor now! Yes, it feels weird and anticlimactic now but just keep smiling and it will slowly feel more and more real! Congratulations! Now it’s time to figure out what’s next…

PS – Is it obvious that you just read Neil Patrick Harris’ Choose Your Own Adventure Autobiography?

One haunted anniversary

Hey all! How are your weeks going? I am having crazy times trying to move (long story – maybe I’ll write about it later when it’s all over with :p) and also working on analyzing my FINAL DATA SETS for this paper I am trying to get submitted so I can finally write my freakin’ thesis and get the hell out of grad school!

Anyway, I thought that today I would share some pictures from Cobalt’s and my fun 2nd wedding anniversary trip! So this year has been pretty sad for the two of us – I mean we get along great still but a lot of really lame things happened during our second year of marriage. So we decided that we deserved to have a bit of fun for our anniversary.

So! Have you seen The Shining? You knowwwww REDRUM and All work and no play make Jack a dull boy, etc etc etc. Well the Overlook Hotel was based off of this hotel in Estes Park, CO (~an hour away from Boulder) called The Stanley Hotel. Cobalt and I have always wanted to stay there but then we found out that they had a “ghost adventure package.” This package includes a guaranteed room on the haunted 4th floor of the main hotel, a K2 meter (to hunt for ghosts), two glow in the dark squishy ghosts, AND two REDRUM mugs! :D Plus there was only one room left for our anniversary! It was perfect! We took it!

So we drove on up to Estes Park on our anniversary and checked into our lovely haunted room and got all of our fun haunted toys (the ghosts turned out to be a lot of fun to play with once it got dark)! We explored the hotel a little and then went into Estes Park for dinner at this place called The Dunraven Inn. We couldn’t decide if we wanted steak or pasta and The Dunraven Inn specialized in both! Score! Then we headed to the bar in the Stanley Hotel which has a ridiculous amount of different whiskeys. They are listed in “The Whiskey Bible” and the shots of whiskey range from a few dollars to over $300! Cobalt was in whiskey heaven and ended up trying this super fancy Buffalo Trace whiskey (it wasn’t the $300 a shot one). It was a pretty good evening. I highly recommend checking out the Stanley Hotel if you’re ever in Colorado (also visiting me and Cobalt… duh… :)). We still need to go back and go on a ghost tour! :D

Below are some more pictures from our adventures! Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we captured any ghosts in our pictures though… Bummer…

View from the front of the hotel
Hotel at night!
The meter is going crazy! It found a ghost!!!!
Oh wait… it’s just a glow in the dark squishy ghost…..

In other unrelated news:

  • Check out this kitty that I was catsitting this weekend. Look at that belly….
  • We just bought tickets to go to one of my best friend from college’s wedding in September! I am SO excited that we are going to get to go! Also in the same trip, we are going to be able to see some of my friends from my old lab here (yes I had to change labs in the middle of my PhD program…. another story for another day) and I get to go home for a week so my parents can spoil me while I write my thesis… (hint hint) :D
  • I am really sad about Robin Williams’ death.

Let’s just look at balloons…

Hey everyone! It’s me again! I’m filled with all sorts of conflicting emotions right now (such as 1) Cobalt and I just celebrated our 2 year wedding anniversary=yay!!!, 2) Cobalt and I are getting screwed over by our apartment complex and might not really have anywhere to live in 9 days=bad!, 3) I set my date to defend my thesis (October 24th) so I can finally get my PhD = YAY but also SO MUCH WORK = :-/?). So instead of talking about all these various things, I am going to post pictures of balloons.

A few weeks ago, Cobalt and I wondered how many helium balloons it would take to make my stuffed sharks fly. We decided to buy 20 balloons and see which animals would be able to fly with that amount. Turns out – stuffed sharks are heavy! But tiny Micro Squishable dinosaurs are light! So Sir Chandler “Cornflakes” Montgomery III got to go on a fun adventure – see below!

Sir Chandler and the balloons!
Looking out over Boulder!
We had Chandler tied to Cobalt so he couldn’t escape… Here they are looking particularly epic.
Cobalt wanted this picture taken. It looks like they’re having an important conversation.

That was fun! Can we do it again?!
Gustav is too fat to fly… :( Any guesses on how many more balloons we would have needed to make Gustav fly?

Yay! Balloons! Are you feeling better because I totally am… Okay back to reality for me… More posts coming soon!

The search for baby geese!

This past Sunday was National Camera Day so I took my DSLR and my faithful camera buddy – the one and only micro Squishable T rex Sir Chandler “Cornflakes” Montgomery III – on a bike ride to the park by my house on a mission: find baby geese.

A few months ago, Cobalt and I were on a run in this same park when we came across the following sign:

and then were promptly chased down the path by one aggressive hissing goose!

It’s been a while now so Sir Chandler and I decided to see if we could find some baby geese! Sounds like a great way to spend National Camera Day!

We got to the park and set out looking for clues…

Sir Chandler found a feather! We must be on the right track!

We finally found them in the lake. Turns out that I kind of missed the “baby” goose phase and now the little guys are starting the awkward preteen goose phase… Still, they were really cute to photograph so I sat in the grass taking pictures.

The geese started swimming in my direction. Not wanting to make the parents mad at me, I retreated to a safe distance as the geese got out of the lake and started chillin’ in the patch of grass I had just been sitting in. Also I took some more pictures!

Ahhhhhhhhhh I love their awkward teenage puff feathers!!!

Anyway, I had a lot of fun photographing these guys. I had to be quick and quiet. I also wanted to make sure I gave the geese a nice distance between me and them – both out of respect and also fear of goose attacks (I am secretly scared of geese – too many close calls with my childhood friend’s crazy goose!).

Apparently my adventures with baby fowl were just starting because yesterday as I walked to the store, I saw a mom duck and her baby ducklings in the creek by my house! The baby ducklings were sooooo small and soft and puffy looking. I just wanted to hug them! Instead, I went home and got my camera. I am not sure the picture below accurately captures how adorably cuddly these baby ducks were but I didn’t want to get any closer to them – I think I was stressing the mom out as it was! Still! Look how tiny! And puff!

TINY BEAKS

How are you guys doing now that you’ve had a cuteness dose for the day? Seriously, I am so happy that I saw those baby duckys yesterday – trying to finish grad school is hard and seeing adorable baby ducks put me in a way better mood…