Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Vegetarian Taco Soup

I love soup.  My friend recently shared this recipe with me and it's become one of my favorites!

Vegetarian Taco Soup

1 packet taco seasoning
1 packet dry ranch dressing
1 small can green chiles
2 cans petite diced tomatoes
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans
1 can Ranch Style Beans
1 can corn (no-salt added)
1 can white or golden hominy
fresh cilantro

Combine all in a large pot (all cans, except the garbanzo beans, added without being drained) and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Add water, salt, and pepper to taste.  Add chopped cilantro before serving.  

Oh, it's so good!! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Birthday Reflection

I had a birthday earlier this week.  It comes at a point in my life when I thought I would have accomplished a lot more than I have.  I'm really disappointed in my self.  

Thankfully, the misery that is now called work has shocked me into doing something about this.  I'm working on my own writing again, with a deadline in my head.  I have to do this; writing is my dream.  

But real life is a bitch, what can I say.  After working for eight hours a day, being away from home for nine, I'm exhausted when I get home - and have to work out and eat dinner before I can even think of doing something else.  The are not, literally, enough hours in the day. 

After the craziness of last year - getting married and all that entails - I thought this year would be quiet.  Not so.  It's not a bad thing, I like everything that we've done this year...  But I could use some occasional quiet time.

Maybe there will be a few quiet weeks in November.  Maybe.  Before Thanksgiving, another cruise, and Christmas.  Oy.  I mean, yay!  But....oy.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Dovekeepers

Last night, I finished reading The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman.  It tells the tale of the last Jewish stronghold during the Jewish Revolt against Rome in 73 A.D., from the perspective of four remarkable women.  Here's what I wrote on Goodreads:

I knew of the story of Masada, the last Jewish fortress to fall to the Romans in 73 A.D.  I had read the historian, Josephus, tell the tale of the Jewish Revolt.  But Alice Hoffman gives life to this story, in a truly beautiful way.  By telling it through the eyes of four women, those who were viewed as outsiders, Hoffman is able to capture the emotional tale of those who lived, literally, through hell without ever losing faith.  This is a captivating tale and I, as a historian and religious scholar, would recommend it to anyone with an interest in history, Rome, Judaism, or great historical fiction.

As much as I loved this book, I'm slightly annoyed that Hoffman wrote the story of Masada before I could!  The Jewish historian, Josephus, is filled with great material for historical fiction. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hike to Sky Pond

The highlight of the trip, and the thing that scared me most about the trip, was the hike to Sky Pond, in which we have to scramble up the side of a waterfall.  Oy.

This is a 10-mile hike.  Five miles, each way.  We began at 7:45am; it was about 35 degrees.  The first thing you see, as you hike up and up, is Alberta Falls.  Most people turn around here.  

Three miles away from the trailhead, you get to The Loch.  More people stop here; there's supposedly great fishing here.  On the way back, we saw quite a few fishermen. 

We stopped here for a rest and snack. 

For another mile you hike up some switchbacks amidst towering trees.  Water is always nearby and the beautiful sound of a rushing creek is always with you.

Then you get above the treeline.  And you see these stone steps.  The go up....and up.

Then you see some water coming down the trail.  The side of the supposed dry waterfall is filled with a small amount of water.  I almost turned around.  No joke.  The joke here is the sign (look carefully) that says Sky Pond, up there.  

I got up it....after watching a group of seven 60-year-olds....but I was shaking at the top.  And here, you're greeted with Lake of Glass.  Very pretty.

After a .5 mile hike around this lake, you get to Sky Pond.  

The so-called Cathedral Spires are very nice.

The view of The Loch is very nice!

And then it's time to leave.  Five miles downhill.  My knees never hurt....and they were about to give out by the end of this hike.  Every part of my body hurt.  But we made it.  And it was worth it.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sprague and Bierstadt

Recounting Colorado, still....

We hiked - well, walked - around Sprague Lake for the views of the mountains.  Thankfully, the sun came out for good pictures.

Next, we hiked up to Bierstadt Lake.  Now, this was a hike.  Straight up the side of an aspen filled mountain.  The views of the valley and mountains were incredible.

Eleven switchbacks (45 minutes and 1.2 miles) later, we arrived at the lake.  It was gorgeous!  The mountains looked better here than at Sprague.  

We sat and had a snack.

Then we heard thunder.  Clouds were fast approaching.  We put on our rain gear and headed out.  You never want to be on top of a mountain - exposed, as the highest object - during a storm.  So, we practically ran down the crazy, steep trail.  What took us 45 minutes to climb to us 15 minutes to descend.  Whew!  

Down at the entrance of the park, the storm brought snow to the valley....but only that one valley.  It was so strange.  Back at our lodge, there was no snow, only rain.  Ah, Colorado in the fall!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hike to Emerald Lake

We decided to hike the trail to Emerald Lake again, just like last time, in honor of our engagement along the way (the first time) at Dream Lake.  The day was a bit overcast, making for so-so pictures, but it was still a great day.  This hike is about 4 miles round-trip.  

Nymph Lake is still full of lilipads!

Dream Lake - ah, such a good memory here!

While resting at the final stop, Emerald Lake, a very strange fog started rolling in from the mountains above.  When the wind also picked up, we decided it was time to head back.  Weird!

It was a good day.  This hike isn't too strenuous once you get past the initial elevation gain.  It's also one of the more popular hikes, meaning there are lots of people along the trail.  Including screaming babies.  Note to parents: kids who can not yet talk may not find it fun riding on your bike in 40 degree weather for 3 hours.  Do us all a favor and leave them at home - or wait until they can walk themselves up and down the mountain!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Around Estes Park

While we were in Colorado, the Rocky Mountain peaks got their first snow of the season.  It was so neat to see the Continental Divide with snow....and without.

Fall means that it's elk mating season, so there were tons of elk in the park and in Estes.

On a day when we saw rain in the morning and overcast skies later in the day, we took an afternoon hike into the hills behind the lodge.  We were rewarded with great views of Estes and Lake Estes.

The two days we lost to rain were actually a good thing.  We were forced to relax - something that's always difficult for us to do!  It also meant I could take it easy while my cold waged on.  Ugh.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

Estes Park, Take 2

Our next stop in Colorado, and our home for the next six nights was Estes Park.  This is where we stayed last time (in 2010) - the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. 

Our hotel/cabin was in the shadow of Castle Mountain.

The lovely Fall River flows through the property of the hotel.  We loved - LOVED! - sitting by the river.  We don't have many of these in Texas.

Estes Park is beautiful in the fall!

And no picture tour of Estes would be complete without the Stanley Hotel.

I loved our time here.  The air is so crisp and clean....   This time of year, Estes sees high temps in the mid-upper 60s and lows in the lower 40s/upper 30s.  Nice!  We made a fire in the cabin and I was in heaven!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Red Rock

Our first stop on our Colorado vacation was Colorado Springs.  A friend of Mr. Higgins' lives there so we spent a few nights catching up with him and touring the town.  He took us to Red Rock Canyon Open Spaces.

I loved the red rocks and trails!

It was good to get out and hike after a long day in the car.

This is an old quarry.  How cool! 

The views of Garden of the Gods and Manitou Springs were gorgeous!

All in all, we hiked 4.5 miles.  We got our high altitude hiking legs adjusted and it felt really good.  The bad news: I was fighting a cold.  Ugh! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Home Again

I'm back!  How is it that a week of vacation goes by so fast?!  Not fair!

Pictures are still in the process of being sorted and organized but I'll be sharing some later this week.  I will say this: we were in Rocky Mountain National Park during the peak of the fall foliage and it was stunning to see!  

Despite me getting sick (ugh - head cold!) and two days of rain, we managed to do all the hikes we had planned.  I think we hiked about 17 miles total.  Whew!  

I look forward to telling you all about it this week, as I head back to work and real life.