On Labor Day weekend, the hubs and I rode our bikes into Waterton Canyon. It's a 6 or 7 mile dirt rode that goes up a canyon into the foothills. As you ride along the river, there are beautiful views and usually you can see some wildlife. This year, two bear cubs have been spotted along the road. We were hoping to see those guys but no luck. We did, however, see a lot of bighorn sheep up close and personal. Love these sheep. It was just before the start of mating season, so they weren't too frisky yet. This was a mama with some of her girlfriends and kids. (Yes, I know that isn't even close to the proper wording for them.) She started chasing me up the road and kind of freaked me out. I think she knew that and was taunting me.
I love my zoom lens. It got up close and personal to some butterflies.
We rode to the top of the canyon where the resevoir is, and there were a lot of bighorn sheep hanging out at the top. Some of the big daddys!
It was beautiful at the top with the water spraying out from the resevoir. I've never been to the top before.
This guy was stunning, and then he started walking toward us so we backed off quickly.
You can see where their horns get dented from fighting each other for the females.
Overall, it was a beautiful and fun afternoon!
A few weeks ago, I did my second triathlon: Tri for the Cure in Denver. Since this was my second time doing it, I felt much better prepared. The tri is a half mile swim, 11.4 mile bike ride, and a 5k run. Yes, it's hard...and I have no clue how people do the IronMan/Olympic distances. That's just crazy town.
This year, they changed the heats and put fewer people in each heat but started the heats more often. This was such a good change. Last year in the swim, I was dodging people left and right. Surprisingly, I do not enjoy getting kicked in the face! This year was much easier since there weren't as many people in the resevoir. I cut three minutes off of my swim time from last year, and I think the amount of people in the water was a big contributor to that. I have to swim breast stroke because I can't get enough air when I swim freestyle so my time is a little slower. This year I pushed myself a lot more during the entire triathlon but especially during the swim.
The bike ride went well, but I rode slower than I did during my training rides. You don't really think about how layering these activities affects you, but it definitely does. I was tired and out of breath when I got on my bike, so it was slow going for awhile. Plus, the first half of the ride was either uphill or had a strong headwind. I have the clipless pedals on my bike, so this year I tried something new. Since my shoes are attached to my pedals, about a mile before I was done, I took my feet out of my shoes. If you have clipless shoes, you'll know how hard it is to walk/run in them. By taking my feet out of my shoes, when I dismounted, I was able to run back to the transition area much easier and faster.
My transition times were much better than last year, too. I think last year I stood around and wondered what I needed and what was going on a bit. This year I had everything laid out. My clothes were laying on the ground how I wanted to put them on, and everything was grouped together. I could grab things and go.
And the run. Ah, the run. I hate the run. For one, you're out of breath and tired. Two, your legs are crazy sore and feel like jelly after you've pedaled as hard as you could for the last 11.4 miles. Three, it's hot. It was a cooler day, but it was still hot. And the first mile (almost) is all uphill. It's brutal. I forgot to stretch before the race started, so I had to stop and stretch my legs during the run.
Here's the thing that really killed me during the run: chafing. When you get out of the water, you're wet (obviously). Then you throw shorts on over your wet swimsuit and sit on a bike for 45 minutes. Thus, no drying time. Then you hop off your bike and start running, and you're still wet. Apparently my shorts were not long enough because I had severe chafing between my legs. We're talking bleeding and scabbing chafing. Let's just say that I waddled for a week. So between the chafing and the other factors, I walked at least half of the run.
All in all, it was a good race. I love doing Tri for the Cure because it's a really friendly, fun, supportive environment. If you're interested in doing a triathlon, and you have Tri for the Cure in your city, I highly recommend it.
Here are my times. My goal was under 1 hour 50 minutes, and I almost made that. I posted my times from last year in parenthesis, and I'm proud that I beat my time in all categories.
Total time: 1:51:42 (2011 time: 2:05:41)
Swim: 17:59 (2011 time: 21:07)
First transition: 4:17 (2011 time: 7:47)
Bike: 45:33 (2011 time: 47:49)
Second transition: 2:34 (2011 time: 5:03)
Run: 41:18 (2011 time: 43:53)
Things are coming along nicely in the garden. We got a full crop of radishes, which we already harvested, the tomatoes are getting bigger, we have a lot of lettuce, and we got some good green beans...which we stuck in the fridge and forgot about. Whoops! Tonight we're going to harvest our fingerling potatoes for dinner along with a vidalia onion.
Apparently we need to eat more lettuce and kale. Stat.
Our first two
watermelon never got any bigger. So we clipped those off the vine, and now we have four other ones. These look huge, but they're about the size of a tennis ball. Hopefully they'll keep growing. We're already bigger than last year, so that's an improvement!
The jalapenos are coming along nicely.
Grow, tomatoes, grow. I want some pico de gallo!
The tomatillo plants are getting big and starting to flower...hopefully we'll see some tomatillos soon.
The sage is growing crazy, and I hardly ever use it. I gotta find some recipes quick!
Our last night in Ireland was spent in Dublin at the Clontarf Castle Hotel. While all of our hotels were pretty nice, this one took the cake. I mean, we were staying in a castle. How cool is that? It was amazing when we walked into the lobby, but when we got to our room, we were blown away. First, there was air conditioning. While Ireland was never that hot, it was warm at night and we always slept with a window open to cool off. The AC definitely was a treat. Second, there was a king size bed. Hallelujah! After sleeping in a double bed for almost two weeks, I wanted to sing. Third, there was an HD TV with some American channels. Not that we spent a lot of time watching said TV, but it was nice to have it on while we were getting ready. And yes, I realize this makes me sound incredible spoiled. That's ok. Of course, I didn't take any pictures of our room, but it was incredible. Trust me.
This is the entrance to the hotel, which was tucked away in a suburb of Dublin. I wish there was a castle tucked away in a suburb of Denver. Sigh.
The front of the hotel.
This is the view from our room.
This lovely piece of chocolate cake was delivered to our room right after we arrived, as arranged by our awesome travel agent. I was excited to take a picture of food again! The beautiful quenelle that looks like ice cream? It's not. It's straight up unsweetened whipped cream. That I took a large bite of because I didn't want it to melt. And then my eyes watered and I spit it out. That was not so pleasant but the rest of it was quite delicious.
The concierge delivered this to us, and I joked that it would put a damper on my run. He asked if I knew where to run, and I said no. He replied with I have a great easy 12k route that I'll show you down by the water. I laughed and whimpered and said he had greatly overestimated my running skills. I have never, nor do I ever plan to, run a 12k. This girl can barely do a 5k. He gave me a shortened route, and I couldn't even do that. And...he was in his 60s! I'm weak. So I ate cake because I can't run that far.
This guy greets you when you walk in....well, not literally. It's non-speaking armor. Wouldn't that freak you out??
This was taken in a little room that was tucked away with a fireplace. It looked like a great place to smoke cigars. Although I'm sure you weren't allowed, and I don't smoke.
Some (hopefully) fake dead ducks on the lobby wall.
The final pint of the trip. Tear.
We absolutely loved Ireland and are planning to go back at some point to explore the rest of the country (more of the West side and the North). If you ever have a chance to go or are considering it, I highly recommend it. The country is beautiful, and the people are wonderful. We had a wonderful time!
This is above the town of Waterville...apparently Waterville has one of the top 20 golf courses in the world, but we didn't stop. The hubs didn't have enough time to play.
I really loved taking pictures of the sheep.
This is on top of the Coomakista Pass looking down on what I think is Derrynane Beach. THey say it is one of the finest beaches in the country. Too cold for us though.
We stopped for a snack and a pint with views of the picture above. Great scenery!
The next stop was the Staigue Fort, which is thought to be over 2000 years old.
Another sheep outside the Fort.
The hubs standing on top of the Fort, trying to get me to hurry up with the picture taking.
A creek at the Fort.
The Killarney Lakes...looks like home!
The Ring of Kerry was absolutely beautiful; I'm so glad we did this. The next day we drove back to Dublin...
One of our last days in Ireland was spent driving around the Ring of Kerry. If you're ever in Ireland, I think this is a must. It's on the Western side of Ireland on a peninsula. You take in gorgeous mountain and sea views at every turn. After a little debate, we decided to drive ourselves instead of taking a bus tour. We took our time and went off the beaten path to see some cool things that we wouldn't have seen on a bus tour, but I'm sure there's things we missed by not being on the bus, too. We started in Killarney and drove the ring counter clockwise. They tell you to do this so you are driving the same direction as the busses. There are some very narrow winding roads so it's easier if you're driving the same direction as the big busses.
This was near one of the first stops we made. I loved the low clouds that were tucked behind the mountain.
This was the entrance to the Kerry Bog Village and Museum--it shows how people lived and worked in Ireland during the 18th century. It looked cool, but we didn't want to pay to go through it. You pretty much have to pay to see anything in Ireland. I hope that money is going to good use.
This is the beach at Rossbeigh. It had some very pretty views.
This is a pretty typical view of the ocean line. I love how the land is divided.
This is just outside of Kells, a little fishing village. Love the sheep!
This was one of the only goats we saw the entire trip. I figured I'd see more.
This is a cathedral in the town of Caherciveen. It's the only cathedral named after a lay person in all of Ireland. He was a famous political guy in the 19th century.
This little Spaniel was just chilling in the road on our way to Portmagee. We slowly drove by him, and he never got up. Never even flinched. Get out of the road!
Small cliffs outside of Portmagee.
What up, sheep.
The cute little town of Portmagee is in the background. Next we saw the Cliffs of Kerry
and then we continued on with the rest of the Ring.
We spent one day driving around the Ring of Kerry, which is on a western peninsula of Ireland
. The lady at the hotel said people could get around it in four hours; we managed to squeeze it into eight. One of the places we stopped was at the Cliffs of Kerry
. Now these aren't the famous Cliffs of Moher
, but those were father north and we didn't have time to get there. These ones are smaller, but they're stunning. I've never seen anything like them.
I had my zoom lens on my DSLR camera when we first walked up to them. It was really foggy/misty and the lens was zooming too much. So we walked back down to the car, I changed lenses, and went back up. I'm so glad that I did because the cloud that had been passing over us, misting, and creating poor visibility had passed. I got some better pictures, and I loved being there. I'm such an ocean girl. Apparently there are islands in the distance, and this is the only place where you can see them. Unfortunately, it was still too cloudy, so I never saw them. But, I am not sure what is so special about them, so I don't feel like I missed out too much. I've seen plenty of islands in my day.
By the way, all of these Ireland photos are unedited...because I'm lazy and don't want to spend the extra 10 minutes to edit them. Sorry.
I have about 50 other photos just like the ones above. They are absolutely stunning (the cliffs, not my photos).
These are replica beehive huts that you can find on the Dingle Peninsula. We never saw any there, but they're pretty cool. They're manmade and are supposed to be water tight. These were not. This is on my first trip up to the cliffs...see how foggy/misty it was?
Some horses on the way up to the cliffs, which you can see in the background.
I thought these ridges covered with grass were intriguing. Here comes another cloud!
One of the places several people had recommended us to travel to in Ireland was the Dingle Peninsula, but we didn't really have it on our itinerary. Fortunately we had time to sneak up there on one of our travel days. We had heard that Dingle had the best seafood in Ireland, and since the hubs is a big seafood lover, it was great that we got to make the trip. We also got to stop in a local cheese shop, which was fun for me. While it was sunny and warm further inland, it got to be cloudy and overcast on the peninsula. I imagine everything is even more beautiful when it's sunny.
This was on our drive to Dingle, just before we started heading into the mountains.
I love it when I can capture pretty good pictures from the moving car.
Did you know that Irish is a language? (And it's not Gaelic as one taxi driver told us.) I hope this didn't say anything important because there was no English translation.
A boat in the foggy Dingle Harbor.
I've never been to the Northeastern United States, but this is what I picture.
I loved this boat/bench made out of rocks. The stone on the left talks about sailors/fishermen who have lost their lives at sea. Even though it was pretty chilly here, I was amazed at the flowers. It looks like winter and feels like early spring, but they had some pretty flowers.
This was a beach on the way from Dingle to Killarney. I love the ocean...even if it's freezing cold.
Did you know there's surfing in Ireland? We were shocked.
This is the tallest mountain in Ireland, called Carrantouhill. It's 3414 feet tall. I live at a higher elevation that that. In fact, when we were in Waterford, there was a mountain rescue team that was trying to raise money in the town square. We just looked around the town and asked where the mountains were! Anyway, the next day we would drive through this range, the Macgillycuddy's Reeks. While the mountains were beautiful, I loved the ocean especially. Although that always seems to be the case with me!
One of the random things we did in Ireland was go to a wildlife park near Cork. We weren't too sure about going, but we're really happy we did. It was incredible. The wonderful thing about the park was that generally the animals weren't in cages, which made for some pretty incredible pictures. Most of the animals had small electric fences around their large "enclosures," and the various monkeys were separated from each other and the humans on islands. I'm assuming they don't like water or they would have been all over the place. This wildlife park was unlike anything we'd ever seen, and it was money well spent. I took about 300 pictures while we walked around, so here's just a few of my favorites.
There were a lot of zebras and giraffes, pretty typical for any zoo.
The zebras and giraffes had a lot of land they could roam around in, but these three were hanging out right next to each other.
The skittish animal next to my husband is called a mara, which is a South American rodent, like a guinea pig. These were wondering around the place.
There were beautiful peacocks wandering around, too.
I loved these white ducks (although my husband says they're not ducks). Whatever they are, they were absolutely beautiful.
This mama and her baby made my uterus clench. Sorry for saying uterus.
I could have spied on them all day, but we had to go to the cheetah feeding!
For the cheetah feeding, they strung these rabbit pieces on a tether that went around the enclosure. Then the cheetahs would race after the food, providing entertainment for the crowd and exercise for the cheetahs.
This one was a little lazy and wouldn't take it off the tether once he finally got the rabbit.
No. It's mine!
These were beautiful animals, and it was so fun to see them in action instead of just laying around their cage.
The kangaroos were not in any sort of cage or enclosure. We could have walked right up to them, but I've heard they can break bones when they kick you. We stayed away.
Wheee says the spider monkey.
This guy was just hanging out. For all those times you wish you had another hand...just get a tail!
This is the wild teenager having fun on the ropes. The mama and her baby are in the background.
If you're ever in Ireland, check out the wildlife park on the south end of Ireland near Cork. You won't be disappointed! There's so much to look at...just don't forget your camera!
I was done working Thursday evening, and we left Friday morning for our two-night stay in Waterford, Ireland. I was a little worried about it because I had two taxi drivers ask me why we were going to Waterford. While I wouldn't stay in Waterford again, it was nice to visit. On our way to Waterford, we stopped in Kilkenny to see the castle, which I think is one of the biggest castles in Ireland. I definitely could be wrong about that...don't quote me. We also saw a cathedral, and they both were beautiful. Kilkenny seemed like a great town, and it would have been nice to spend more time there. On our drive, we saw a lot of cattle, and everything is so green and beautiful. By the way, I told my husband to eat a lot of beef before we left because there wouldn't be any in Ireland. I was so wrong. Again.
I've also been shooting my photos in manual. Does anyone else do this? I feel like I get better control over what I want them to look like...although I have a lot of over or underexposed pictures. It's good practice though!
The streets were very narrow in downtown Kilkenny, and for people who aren't used to driving on the left side of the road...and the right side of the car...it was a little intimidating.
One of the cathedrals in Kilkenny. It was amazing. Very pretty inside and out. I love this stuff.
This is the outer entrance into the Kilkenny castle. It was absolutely beautiful...although the inside was all Victorian. Not exactly our cup of tea since we were hoping for mideval. Oh well. It was still a great sight. Definitely not something you see in the States!
These are the grounds of the castle. This rose garden with the fountain was really pretty. I think that upkeep of the grounds is just as important to the caretakers as the inside of the castle.
This is the other side of the castle grounds. It's amazing how green everything is. I can't get over how beautiful Ireland is!
This is the full view of Kilkenny Castle. The cars on the right were part of a wedding party. I cannot imagine getting married here...the pictures must be outstanding! What an amazing backdrop. I love castles, so this stop in Kilkenny was pretty incredible for me. If you're going to Ireland, you definitely should make time for Kilkenny. It's a great city. Next up...our time in Waterford and the drive to Cork.