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How do you like the new design? Click through if you’re using a blog reader. I still plan on adding more to the sidebar, but the heart of the new look is there.

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Colorado: Rocky Mountain National Park

Continuing on our drive up the mountain, taking Trail Ridge Road across Rocky Mountain National Park…. We turned a curve and saw a small handful of cars stopped along the road. Usually when that happens it would be because there was wildlife of some kind – deer or elk or even just a marmot, so visitors would hang out of their car window to take photos.

But, as we turned the curve of the road, I didn’t see any reason there would be cars stopped.

Turns out I was just looking in the wrong place.

This group of elk were RIGHT by the road. As in 15′ feet away from the road. As in, the lip of the road hid them because they were so close to it.

CRAZY AWESOME!

Obviously Andrew pulled off the road a little bit ahead of where all the other cars were and we crossed the (little 2-lane) highway to get a bit of a closer look:

Rocky Mountain National Park elk

Look at that. LOOK HOW CLOSE THEY WERE.

SO gorgeous! Just calmly scratching their backs with their antlers and ignoring us (and the other 20+ people who were stopping too).

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After just a few minutes, we started walking back to the car. No need to be part of spooking any wild elk. Right as we were leaving, a ranger pulled up. We saw him make everyone else scatter. Not surprising, considering how close these elk were to the road. I can’t imagine the park wants visitors to mess with them.

Not too much farther up Trail Ridge Road was the peak elevation (12,183 feet ! ), and then just on the downhill side was the Alpine Visitor Center – where we stopped for bathroom, water and my National Parks Passport stamp!

Rocky Mountain National Park Alpine Visitor Center Rocky Mountain National Park tundra

The boys were itching for a real hike, and we noticed a trailhead just across the road from the Visitor Center parking lot. Hiking!! Crossed and started walking through the tundra …

Rocky Mountain National Park tundra trail

But, first let’s stop for some photos (thanks Kevin!) …. Andrew and I need current photos of us on all our adventures. OBVIOUSLY.

Rocky Mountain National Park tundra trail

But, then, we walked a little farther and realized we didn’t want to hike THIS trail. First of all, since it’s in the tundra, you could see it for yards and yards and yards. No trees, no corners, no mystery.

But second, we were all feeling the elevation by then. Headaches galore.

Back in the car to drive back down the mountain.

Rocky Mountain National Park tundra trail

Rocky Mountain National Park is gorgeous. Period. Anywhere you look. Even the busy, crowded parts are popular for a reason.

Andrew drove us down back through the treeline, past a few overlooks, all through trees and loveliness.

About halfway down, we found another trailhead – I believe this is at Lake Irene – and got out for a proper hike.

Rocky Mountain National Park hiking

This was a super easy hike, almost all level, mostly shaded, and obviously beautiful. It’s just a small loop, and it maybe took us 30 minutes or so.

We were all still feeling a little bit of the effects of elevation, but overall this hike was fantastic.

Rocky Mountain National Park hiking

(I kind of love that the boys both wore orange shirts this day)

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Then back in the car down the mountain. …  I don’t know if we were all just hungry for lunch or just didn’t see any likely spots, but we basically drove the entire rest of Trail Ridge Road without stopping again.

We drove past this far western section of the park – Kawuneeche Valley – that was supposed to be the best place to see moose … but alas. None. It was starting to rain a little when we got there too.

(Notice all the dead trees from Mountain Pine Beetle)

Rocky Mountain National Park

And then all of a sudden we found ourselves exiting the park! That’s it. We were done. We drove through the entire park. Our choices were to drive that same road back through the park, to another section of the park or to Estes Park and home …. But between elevation headaches, car sickness, and just wanting to see something new, we decided to press on.

Lunch in Grand Lake, then using our iPhones to figure out how to get home through a part of the state Kevin had not yet had a reason to visit.

(spoiler: it was gorgeous)

Tomorrow: Our afternoon drive home through Colorado in the rain. It was actually pretty awesome

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Colorado: Rocky Mountain National Park

Thursday we visited Rocky Mountain National Park – Andrew’s first time ever, and my first time in at least 20 years!!

I love National Parks! Not *quite* as much as my friend Kam* does, but we definitely want to visit all of them and I’ve got the National Parks Passport and all!

Kevin’s apartment is about 45 minutes away from the Estes Park entrance, so we decided to leave early-ish so we could get in a full day at the park. Since all our plans for the week in Colorado were tentative, I wasn’t sure if we would be coming back at all.

Left Boulder ~8:45a or so and got through the gates of Rocky Mountain National Park at about 9:30a. $20 for a 7-day pass (deal) so we could easily come back later.

Rocky Mountain National Park 2013 pricing

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about. From Wikipedia:

Rocky Mountain National Park is a national park located in the north-central region of the U.S. state of Colorado. It features majestic mountain views, mountain lakes, a variety of wildlife, varied climates and environments—from wooded forests to mountain tundra—and easy access to back-country trails and campsites. The park is located northwest of Boulder, Colorado, in the Rockies, and includes the Continental Divide and the headwaters of the Colorado River.

Andrew likes to drive. Which is good because this park is A) pretty big and B ) includes long stretches of drives.

We brought a bunch of CDs, but ended up listening to Earth most of the time in Rocky Mountain National Park. Not only is it instrumental music, but it has this deep bass that really makes you feel more connected to the mountain range.

Rocky Mountain National Park Rocky Mountain National Park Rocky Mountain National Park

I have a couple National Parks guide books (thanks mom!) so we had a rough idea of what we wanted to do during our day in the park. You have a ways to drive before reaching anything. We came to the first inner section, turned right, and that basically decided the rest of our day!

After a few miles we turned around a curve and found this little parking lot, and a short pathway to cross the street and have a sweet lookout over the park.

Rocky Mountain National Park

our first wildlife sighting!!

Rocky Mountain National Park Rocky Mountain National Park

heaven’s above it was gorgeous… Can you even imagine being among the first groups of white people to see this and report back?

Rocky Mountain National Park Rocky Mountain National Park - Andrew Schubert, Amy T Schubert

The park’s peaks in the distance…

Rocky Mountain National Park peaks

This little peak was right next to the parking lot. Kevin dubbed it “Bran’s Folly” … or “Fally”. Get it? SUCH nerds.

Rocky Mountain National Park Rocky Mountain National Park

We hopped back in the car and started driving farther up the mountain. Eventually, after consulting the map, I realized that we were on the one (1, single, uno) road that went all the way across the park. Trail Ridge Road – the road that would take us all the way up the the highest elevation, above the treeline, and help us truly experience the Rocky Mountains that this park was named for. Check out a map here

Rocky Mountain National Park - Trail Ridge Road

We stopped at another lookout partway up. Really we were looking for trails to hike, but we were in the wrong part of the park for that.

Rocky Mountain National Park - Trail Ridge Road Rocky Mountain National Park - Trail Ridge Road

After awhile (30 or 40 minutes) we found ourselves above the treeline

trail ridge road tundra

Trail Ridge Road:

Whether they begin their journey at Estes Park or Grand Lake, Trail Ridge Road travelers climb some 4,000 feet in a matter of minutes. The changes that occur en route are fascinating to observe. A drive that may begin in montane forests of aspen and ponderosa pine soon enters thick subalpine forests of fir and spruce. At treeline, the last stunted, wind-battered trees yield to the alpine tundra.

Up on that windswept alpine world, conditions resemble those found in the Canadian or Alaskan Arctic. It’s normally windy and 20 to 30 degrees colder than Estes Park or Grand Lake. The sun beats down with high- ultraviolet intensity. The vistas, best enjoyed from one of several marked road pullovers, are extravagant, sweeping north to Wyoming, east across the Front Range cities and Great Plains, south and west into the heart of the Rockies.

But for all its harshness, the Trail Ridge tundra is a place of vibrant life and vivid colors. Pikas, marmots, ptarmigans and bighorn sheep are commonly seen. About 200 species of tiny alpine plants hug the ground. Despite a growing season that may last just 40 days, many bloom exuberantly, adorning the green summer tundra with swatches of yellow, red, pink, blue, purple and white. All are seen from the Tundra World Nature Trail, a half-hour walk beginning near the parking area at Rock Cut.

Yup – that’s snow in July.

Right about here is where we started to feel the elevation. Slight headaches, for sure. We brought snacks with us and ate grapes and granola bars and banana chips in the car while we just watched the scenery…

trail ridge road tundra mountain peak trail ridge road tundra

Second wildlife sighting! Elk in the grass off the road….

This photo is zoomed in – they were about20 or 30 yards away….

trail ridge road tundra elk

We stopped at a second tiny little trailhead in the tundra. It started right off the road and just went 100 or 150 yards into the mountain and stopped. The idea, I assume, was to allow visitors to see the tundra landscape a bit more up close … but not actually affect it very much.

It’s just as well. We were already at about 12,000 feet? (I think it’s the Tundra Communities Trail on this map)

trail ridge road tundra trail

I mean, let’s be honest. It doesn’t *look* like a whole, lot, right? Mountain peaks and scraggly ground cover. But let’s be honest – when else are you really going to get to experience the world at that elevation? Few and far between. And for most visitors, never again.

trail ridge road tundra trail ridge road tundra

Still a bit more drive to go before the highest elevation … but that post is tomorrow.

Have you ever been to Rocky Mountain National Park?

*I think I am full-on going to copy Kam’s National Parks page idea

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Colorado: dinner at home with Sam

Wednesday night – our first day in Colorado – Kevin’s girlfriend Sam invited us over for dinner at home. So sweet of her, since she hadn’t met us yet and apparently usually makes herself pasta (which Kevin told her I don’t eat). So, after we went hiking in Boulder, we drove south to Denver where Sam lives.

But first a stop at the grocery and liquor stores (ice cream and beer) where I noticed the back of Kevin’s car:

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Sam is living in this house in Denver that she is helping fix up in exchange for rent/space. But her roommate/landlord/boss was out of town so we had the house to ourselves. It’s in this cute old neighborhood in Denver ….

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Just us and NINE animals : 3 chickens, Kevin’s dog Muppet, Sam’s dog ‘Mo (Guillerrmo), 2 birds (parakeets?) and her roommates 2 dogs.CO4  003

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We like Sam. She’s super cute and sweet and really interesting :)

Although I felt ENORMOUS the entire week we were hanging out ….. she’s about HALF my size.

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For our dinner at home Sam made:

  • roasted chicken
  • steamed asparagus
  • roasted potatoes
  • green salad

CO4  007… and she made Kevin carve.

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We tried to eat outside, but there were WAY too many flies (probably attracted there by the chicken coop).

Too bad, because it was gorgeous there.

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After dinner – right around sunset – we walked a mile or so over to a local dog park with Muppet and Mo. Gorgeous night, those dogs are both so sweet.

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Fun night in – it was really nice getting to meet Sam in such a low-key way.

Tomorrow: Andrew’s first time at Rocky Mountain National Park

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Colorado: hiking in Boulder

Wednesday afternoon in Colorado, Kevin drove us around Boulder, showed us his school and we went up into the mountains to the west of the city.

Our first longer stop was at (I think) Walker Ranch where we hiked a short loop. Maybe a mile?

But it was lovely …

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There were a TON of dead trees.

Everywhere we look were trees felled by beetle kill. SO so sad. Mountain pine beetles are destroying millions of acres.

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You can see in the photo above a little … straight ahead of the boys was the road. The actual trail crossed the road and went around a MUCH bigger loop (7 miles, I think), but we were running out of time and it was hot so we just turned left at the road and walked up hill (steep, hot) back to the parking lot where we started.

Next, Kevin wanted to show us more around that neighborhood on the top of the hill. There are little pockets of residential streets. It reminded me a little of where my grandmother used to live in Prescott, right up against a national forest.

Finally, we drove all the way around to the far side of (I think) the Gross Resevoir…. Turns out Andrew LOVES dams. I had no idea…

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It’s pretty gorgeous there. We saw a couple guys fishing and there’s this little picnic area.

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Muppet had fun too :)

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Finally it was time to go … . we drove all the way back around the lake/reservoir, down back the mountain and toward Denver where Kevin’s girlfriend lives.

That post next week!

Do you love dams as much as Andrew? Any to recommend we visit?

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Colorado: introduction to Boulder

Wednesday morning we woke up in my brother’s guest room.

His apartment is actually a converted basement. The house he lives in has 1 rental unit as the main level of the house, and then Kevin’s rental unit is below. It’s 2 bedrooms, with his own private access through the 2-car garage down stairs to his living room.

So because it’s the basement, all the windows are kind of small and high up, so we were able to sleep in without a ton of morning light. Kind of the best set up for a guest room.

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Since I quit my day job, I’ve been waking up early early early and having a couple hours to myself to work, and our trip to Colorado was no different. This first morning I woke up around 8a and no one else showed their face for hours.

But since it was vacation, I just read a novel instead of work :)

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Figured out Kevin’s coffee pot by myself :)

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Kevin got up around 10a or so …

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Because Kevin’s apartment is built in the basement, the dimensions of all the rooms are a *little* awkward. The kitchen and the living room are both really long and narrow. The bathroom is ENORMOUS. Bigger than the bedrooms, I think.

But he has a washer and dryer, which I’m sure is nice for him.

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But, for whatever reason, the shower and toilet are on this ….. stage? Platform? What would you call it?

You all should go visit Kevin just to experience sitting on a throne-like toilet. Bizarre!

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….and I finally went to wake up Andrew around noon. I’m telling you, it was DARK in that room!

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lunch, watching a show, letting Andrew wake up.

It’s nice to ease into your vacation. I love spending trips GOING, with lots of plans and seeing all the things and all. But Andrew likes downtime.

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The only definite plans we had were to go over to Kevin’s girlfriend’s house for dinner, but until then … you know. Whatever.

So Kevin showed us Boulder! We drove by his school and he told us about going to school there and the town a little bit.

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We drove up Flagstaff road, which took us up into the mountains above Boulder.

Boulder is on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains, so looking over the city you can just see straight east to the Great Plains and the middle of the country with little to no obstruction.

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Kevin goes hiking all the time – you can’t NOT if you live in Boulder – so he showed us a couple spots.

Muppet is a sweet dog and pretty good off the leash, so it was fun to go with her ….

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This was really just a short little walk off the road!CO2  016

So lovely. God bless America.

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Next: We went on a longer hike in these mountains that you’ll love.

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Colorado: full-day road trip

When I was growing up, my parents took Kevin and I on a real vacation pretty much every year. A week away in some place new, seeing National Parks or historical buildings or something. At the time it was kind of annoying (I had to give up doing a play every summer for this week away with my – ugh – FAMILY)…. But now I realize I was super lucky to be able to travel every year.

Andrew and I haven’t been on a trip *every* year, but we are on our way to hitting that mark.

This year, we visited my brother in Colorado. We haven’t visited him since 2006 when he lived in Monterey, CA and that was only for a couple days.

Now he’s going to school in Boulder, Colorado, but will only be there a little bit longer so we knew we had to go soon.

The original plan was to do a 2 week trip and include a road trip to visit all the fantastic National Parks in Utah on the way to Colorado, but we had to adjust our plans because Andrew’s time off is had to change.

But we still got a full week, including a drive from L.A. to Boulder, Colorado.

Andrew got home REALLY late the night before, but we still got up at 3:30am to pack the car and left a little after 5am. To drive ALL THE WAY to Colorado.

Just over 1000 miles, hopefully around 16 hours.

From our house through Las Vegas, through a tiny corner of Arizona, then turning north into Utah and East again to Colorado….

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I went back to sleep a little bit after we left so I could have the energy to take over the wheel when Andrew was ready to rest.

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We packed a TON of snacks and water bottles for the trip, I started reading Game of Thrones and slept on and off throughout the morning.

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Big thick books are the perfect thing for a road trip through the desert. The stretch of drive up until Colorado was kinda boring and VERY hot.

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Andrew took his shirt off to avoid getting a (worse) farmer’s tan.

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We got to Las Vegas right around rush hour (~9a) which was unfortunate timing.

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Over the whole day, we hit a high of 108 degrees! Bleck.

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I ended up taking Andrew’s shirt and hanging it in the window to protect myself from the sun. It was HOT and sunny and I could feel my shoulders getting burnt.

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We stopped not long after this for food in Mesquite, NV. And it was SO HOT. Oh my word so hot.

After lunch, after getting gas, after leaving Nevada, the scenery finally started to get interesting.

We hit the Virgin River and drove through this canyon …. Andrew was just BLOWN away! :)

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After this bit, we drove through the northwest corner of Arizona (where all the mountains reminded us of the Grand Canyon) and north into Utah.

There were some mountains and some desert, but after an hour or so we got here ….  mountains and rain and lovely green:

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We drove through quite a bit of rain. Which was SO nice after hitting 108 degrees. I think we got down to 70 degrees or so in this part of Utah.

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stopped again for gas around Salina, UT.

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Next big turn was to get onto the 15 East to start heading toward Colorado. We drove over some mountains, hit more intense rain (and actually hydro-planed a little) and were definitely slowed down a bit on our trip.

It was still gorgeous ….

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Once we got into Colorado, we stopped at Grand Junction for dinner …. and then from there it was just a few more hours until Boulder.

Only an hour or so of daylight for me to read still….

And this whole time Andrew is declining my offer to drive. Right about this 5/6ths point I think he decided he needed to do the whole drive himself. Because he’s crazy, obviously.

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Entering the bit of the southern Rockies we drove through to get to Boulder ….

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I wish we had gotten to this part of the trip earlier in the day so the photos were lighter.

The stretch of drive along the White River National Forest was just THE MOST gorgeous.

Andrew wants to go back just to do the drive. The freeway takes you along the river, but the east-bound and the west-bound parts of the freeway are built on different planes. We were driving all the way down in the canyon, RIGHT along the river, but the west-bound lane was on a platform high above us. Kind of amazing. I couldn’t get a good photo because it was dark so you should just go yourself.

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We drove through Vail (dark dark dark) and other mountain towns, through several tunnels, and up quite a bit of elevation over the full day.

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At a temperature low, I think we got as low as 50 degrees or so – almost a 60 degree range in a single day! Road trips are crazy :)

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Andrew started to get a little loopy near the end. He was SO TIRED, but insisted on driving the whole way himself.

We FINALLY got to Kevin’s house after midnight.

It took us around 18 hours, I think….. Partly because of the rain delay, we lost an hour in the time zones, and we ended up stopping quite a bit so Andrew could stretch his legs, wake up a little and take a break.

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(our first time seeing Kevin’s apartment)

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We went to bed basically immediately after getting there. Poor Andrew. He had maybe 3 hours of sleep the night before and then insisted on driving the WHOLE way. But now he can say that he drove 1030 miles in one day. His next attempt is a straight-through drive to Austin, TX (21 hours). Because he’s crazy.

But, honestly, Andrew says the drive to and from Colorado was his favorite part of the whole trip. He definitely wants to do it again, and he already told his parents they should do the drive too :)

Next: Our first day in Boulder.

What is the farthest you’ve ever driven in 1 day?

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What I’m doing in September

30 Days of Lists creative challenge

30-Days-of-Lists-Header

30 Days of Lists is starting SUNDAY (!!)! Are you ready? Are you joining us?

Not everyone can make a mini scrapbook every week or an art journal page every night. 30 Days of Lists is our encouragement and challenge to you that you CAN journal just something every day — even something as small as a list.

Onward and Upward online workshop

onward and upward

Onward and Upward is a 9-week online workshop that will help you get out of your rut and take things to the next level.

Registration opens for email list subscribers next week. See more details here

Andrew’s site redesign

Andrew SchubertI installed a very very basic redesign on Andrew’s freelance site in anticipation of the new together PANGEA single coming out. But we still have some work to do.

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We now have manual lawnmower

The day before we left for Colorado for a week, Andrew worked ALL DAY. All day. And I had been asking him and asking him nagging him to mow the lawn before we left. Not because I care particularly, but because our HOA cares. It needed to be mowed like nobody’s business AND we were going out of town.

Finally at 6p or so, I texted Andrew and (gently) reminded him that if he didn’t leave work soon he wasn’t going to have enough daylight to mow the lawn! So, he rushed home. changed into a grubby t-shirt and went to do his duty as man of the house.

And OF COURSE the mower wouldn’t start.

And OF COURSE, we didn’t have time to figure out why.

SO we left for Colorado with a very long front lawn.

And we came home from Colorado and still couldn’t start the mower.

2 months went by without mowing the lawn (I wish I had a picture, it looked so long and luxurious)….. and finally Andrew decided that this was the perfect reason to use his birthday gift cards and get us a manual mower!!

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He had been wanting one since we bought the house. We figure it will be quieter (so we can mow early in the morning and not disturb neighbors), it will be easier for me to use and Andrew thinks it will be almost like a work out :)

Of course, it’s not meant to be used with crazy long grass, so the first cut was actually 2 or 3 passes and it still looks patchy.

And (I think) having the grass so long for so many weeks meant that the dirt underneath never really dried out and a lot of our grass died from being overwatered.

He also got an edger and some other lawn toys to clean up the lawn to look really nice. It’s a constant battle. And doesn’t even include all the raking and tree-trimming that really should be done.

And then the weekend AFTER he got all these new tools, he started talking to friends about how much it costs to hire a gardener :)

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in life at home, Schubert HQ

Living with cats

I feel like you all should be grateful I don’t post about the cats more than I do.

But they literally are a big part of our every single day. From the moment I wake up until I go to bed.

Here’s just a glimpse …..

Living with cats means:

learning to use a laptop without your actual lap

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finding food in strange places

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letting bugs into your house on purpose

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keeping one eye on the kitchen counter at all times

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accepting that you will never again have nice things

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keeping garbage around for their toys

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not getting to loll about in bed in the morning (without being pestered)

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never being alone. Ever.

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We still love them :)

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Summer sleeping

You guys. It is HOT in our house.

It’s 2 stories (heat rises), and the sun beats down on the back of the house in the afternoon.

Our bedroom is by far the hottest room in the house – which is extremely inconvenient since we always spend at least 8 hours/day in there, right?

Last summer I think we had a couple electric bills north of $150 for the month. Not great, considering our bills in the winter are less than $50. This summer I was bound and determined to save some of that money.

Just in order to get our bedroom cool enough to fall asleep, we were putting the AC down to 71 or so. Yea. $EXPENSIVE$

Of course, keep in mind that last summer we didn’t have any window treatments on any of our windows. AND I was getting home at midnight, so we often didn’t turn down the AC until *right* before we went to bed – so it would need to be on HIGH to make any difference.

This summer, we’ve got thick curtains that hopefully are helping hold in cold air AND reflect sun/heat. PLUS, since I quit and I’m home during the day, I can go upstairs to open the window around sunset to help cool the room earlier.

But even with all of that, some nights it’s just way too hot.

So instead I’ve been sleeping downstairs:

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Our downstairs stays cooler anyway, and there is virtually ZERO direct sunlight in our living room, so that room always stays the coolest.

Plus our couch is pretty fantastic and just about the size of a twin bed.

So all the nights that Andrew is recording over night and doesn’t come home til 5, 6, 7am, I just sleep downstairs.

In fact, between the new floor fan we got for downstairs (we love it) and opening the front window, it can be a little chilly in the mornings.

I love it.

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…. and our last electric bill was HALF of what it was last year at this time.

Plan for next summer?

We’re going to get another new floor fan and we’d like to get a futon for Andrew’s office before next summer.

He’s using the downstairs room for his office (which is a whole other story since the last you all heard, that was the guest room). It’s about halfway set up, so we’re hoping by next summer we’ll be able to get a futon for he or I to sleep on when it gets too hot. And then it can also double as another guest room if needed.

Do you guys have any smart tips for keeping a house cool? Particularly 2 stories?

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in life at home

together PANGEA snakedog single

For the last several years, Andrew has been working on and off with his friends, the band together PANGEA (formerly Pangea) to make a record. What started out as a because-we-can project has recently become for real legit.

The album that Andrew produced and recorded is now being put out by Harvest Records, a Capitol Records label. The single is called Snakedog and you can read a review here.

That’s right, I said PRODUCED!! The first single came out yesterday, and Andrew now has his very first Producing credit.

I mean, in reality, he’s been “producing” for years. Every album he records, Andrew gives a little bit of guidance, a little input here and there that a ‘proper’ producer would do.

So exciting that his first official producing credit is on a major label!

I could not be more proud of him! We did a little site redesign for him (see Andrew’s audio engineering site here) in anticipation of this record coming out.

Sidenote: Even if I didn’t know these guys, I really like the album artwork.

If you’re interested, you can listen to the song here streaming from Soundcloud.

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