Friday, January 3, 2014

Coping Strategies for Sleeping on a Flexsteel Pullout Bed

Anyone who had ever slept on a pullout mattress can tell you that they are usually not comfortable. My personal nemesis is the Flexsteel foldout couch at my father's condo. Everything about it spells horror for someone who likes sleep. Short length. Metal crossbars in the mid-back region. Thin mattress. But I developed some rationalizations to help me through the night:

1. Remember that something designed and sold as a bed could really not be that uncomfortable.

2. Consider that much of humanity lived in an era where they slept on the ground. They nevertheless survived. (Though maybe that's why cavemen were so grumpy.)

3. Remember that Flexsteels do not turn people into ultimate evil: Hitler is not known to have ever slept on a Flexsteel.

4. Understand that even if the steel lateral bar across your mid-back does not "flex" to conform to your spine, your spine is bound to develop changes that will conform to the steel bar.

5. Never forget that if you do not sleep for a day or two, the human body will eventually simply shut down: even the Flexsteel can't deny sleep forever.

6. Millions of Flexsteels have been made and millions of purchasers could not really be all that wrong.

7. It may be a Flexsteel, but it's YOUR FLEXSTEEL.

8. The worst things in life are complicated people and the Flexsteel is inanimate and neither a person nor complicated.

9. Life is best if one lives in a wealthy country and there are very few Flexsteels in the poorest countries.

10. Sleeping on a Flexsteel is more fun than waterboarding.




Monday, September 2, 2013

Day 8: Finis

The last day of the trip was simply a drive back to Minnesota from Boulder in about 13 hours and ten minutes. Uneventful. No tickets. Everyone kept their composure. And thus the sun set on our great Colorado adventure.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Day 7: From Orthodontia to Elk and Mountain Tops

Our last day before heading home was a busy one. We started with a short visit to the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. I was particularly impressed with the Boulder Arts and Crafts Gallery. It had an incredible variety of beautiful arts and crafts for sale at reasonable prices. One of the best shops I've ever been in.

Next we dealt with an orthodontic emergency: Mary Cait had a broken band around a tooth that was causing her great pain. The kind dentist at Alpine Dentistry fixed it in a jiffy and wouldn't even charge us. Restores one's faith in one's fellow man.

We then took the tour at the Celestial Seasonings plant in north Boulder--located appropriately on Sleepytime Drive. We learned much about teas and infusions and had a great time. The stint in the Mint Room (full of raw peppermint) really cleared my sinuses!


Next we set off for Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. The park is truly impressive with the longest above-the-tree-line drive in the United States--at least that's my understanding. We walked up several hundred feet from the road near Alpine Pass where we took this photo:




Here was the panorama from that same location:



An unreliable gas gauge gave us a scare, but everything worked out fine and we saw elk on our trip around the back side of the park.



We came back through Idaho Springs, where we had a great pizza dinner at Beau Jo's, and arrived back in Boulder late in the day. Whew! 








Day 6: From Mountain Lions to Bareilles

Started the day at the Shrine Mountain Inn. Sadly, realized there was no coffee anywhere in the cabin. Went for a morning walk and saw this:


Somewhat disconcerting for a solo hiker! After a lazy morning we packed up and headed to Boulder where we are staying for two days. The girls' spirits seemed to revive with the return to civilization and a hotel.

Then off to the Red Rocks Amphitheater for a concert.



We saw Sara Bareilles and OneRepublic. Bareilles was fantastic: a great voice, musical talent, an engaging performer.



OneRepublic did not hold the girls' attention--nor mine--so we headed to our Boulder hotel before the concert ended.

We really enjoyed the venue and the concert.



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Day 5: Up to the Shrine Mountain Inn

Another diverse day. We started "down" in Aspen at a lovely hotel in the heart of the town. Here was the view from the deck of our room:


Then we had to say goodbye to Betsy and Allison, who were heading west to Moab, Utah. One of our musts on the trip was a trail ride. Aspen Wilderness Outfitters came through with a slow, but not so gentle ride up to this beautiful vista:



Our guide Wes was a pleasant chap. He took this picture of us:



Then it was off to Glenwood Springs and past Vail to an isolated cabin, "Walter" at 11,209 feet, just below the tree line. Here's a picture of "Walter":


We made a fire, 


cooked hot dogs, and then saw a beautiful sunset.


A storm rolled in after sunset and there is a gentle pitter-pat on the roof as I head off to bed.

Day 4: Independence Pass

The day started in Leadville at the Super 8 where the morning temperature was in the low 40's. This suggested to me that the temperature would not permit the whitewater rafting that we had planned. But as the day progressed it warmed up and was sunny and perfect. We rafted on the Arkansas well below Buena Vista and had a great time. Everyone scrambled up a rock and dove in the cold water--though we were assured that this is about as warm as the water gets.


Mary Cait got a Smurf tatoo in Buena Vista, Lazy Smurf. I hope she likes it in later years!

The highlight of the trip for me was the trip over Independence Pass as we headed to Aspen. Some white-knuckle driving, but mostly manageable.

When we got to the top there was a rainbow:



It was joyous to hear the girls squeal with delight: "It's so beautiful!" 


Me and my girls:


Betsy and Allison:


The hotel we stayed at in Aspen was fantastic, just off the ski slopes in town. Shenanigans at Boogie's diner capped off a fine day. 



The girls loved Aspen and were commenting that they enjoyed the trip's variety. We'll see if they're singing the same tune after tonight's rustic cabin on the top of a mountain pass!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Day 3: Into the Mountains

Headed up into the mountains today. After starting the day in Denver, met up with Betsy and Allison in Leadville. Here's M.C. in the sleeping bag bin.


Then off to Buena Vista and Allison performing Shakespeare: "Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio."


Followed by a selfie:



Da girls!




Ten Recommended Classical Recordings: A Sampler for Those New to the Classical Scene

The following is a list of classical recordings that offer a variety of classical genres: opera, symphonies, keyboard, violin concerto, solo cello, piano concerto, and oratorio. Though it is mostly mainstream with respect to the represented composers, it reflects a variety of interesting sounds.

Because the list is intended for someone who is starting to explore classical music many of the recordings are now budget issues. If you have thoughts on the list or would like to pipe in with your own, please do!

1. Mozart: The Magic Flute; Sir Colin Davis, conductor, Staatskapelle Dresden, orchestra; Rundfunkchor Leipzig, choir; Moll, Schreier, Price, Serra, Melbye, Venuti; Philips Duo, recorded in 1985, released on CD in 1994.

2. Beethoven: Symphonies No. 5 and 7, Carlos Kleiber, Wiener Philharmoniker; Deutsche Grammophon, recorded in 1975 and 1976, released on CD in 1996.

3. Bach: Keyboard Pieces, Toccata, BWV 911; Partita BWV 826; English Suite No. 2, BWV 807; Argerich; Deutsche Grammophon, recorded in 1980, released on CD in 2000.

4. Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D; Brahms: Violin Concerto in D; Jascha Heifetz; Fritz Reiner, Chicago Symphony Orchestra; RCA, recorded in 1957, released on SACD in 2005.

5. Panorama—Edvard Grieg, two discs of various piano and orchestral works; Deutsche Grammophon Panorama, recorded on various dates, released on CD in 2000.

6. Bach: Six Unaccompanied Suites for Cello; Yo-Yo Ma; Sony, recorded in 1983, released on CD in 1990.

7. Mozart: The Great Piano Concertos, Vol. I—Brendel; Sir Neville Mariner, The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields; Philips Duo, recorded in 1972-82, released on CD in 1994.

8. Handel: The Messiah; Sir Colin Davis, London Philharmonic Orchestra; Philips Duo, recorded in 1966, released on CD in 1994.

9. Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3 and Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1; Martha Argerich, Philips, recorded 1982 and 1980, released on CD in 1995.

10. Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1-4 (separate disc one); and Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 5-6 and Orchestral Suite No. 1 (separate disc two), Neville Marriner, The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields; EMI, recorded in 1985, released on CD in 2004.