Does climbing a mountain justify stuffing your face?

I think it does.

Well, it’s my last full day in Boulder. I have to say that I’ve throughly enjoyed this trip – Boulder turned out to be much more interesting than I anticipated, though I think I can also safely say that we’ve pretty much experienced every touristy thing this town has to offer in about a week. I think I might quickly get bored of living here (no offence to the Boulderites) but it’s been a fun visit.

We went for a really gorgeous hike on Sunday. The sun was testing its strength and sending down some 35 degree rays, but a combination of wind, altitude and waterfalls kept us cool on the trail up. We went to Roosevelt National Park and hiked the Hessie trailhead up to Lost Lake, which turned out to be much more of an uphill climb than we were expecting. It soon became very clear that we were climbing a mountain, but the scenery was amazing. I felt like I had wandered into the Sound of Music, and I kept expecting Julie Andrews to come trilling out from behind a nearby bush. My host was awesome and took a ton of photos, which meant I didn’t have to lug my camera and still have stuff to show for it!

The hike made me feel less lazy, though in fairness even if we were home I probably would have failed at going to the gym, given all the late evenings and early mornings we’ve been keeping. The food has been great though, which contributes to the whole feeling-lazy thing. We’ve had amazing French, Mediterranean, Nepalese…I commend Boulder on their eats. Nom. I’m going to tell myself that they’re all vacation calories, which are equivalent to birthday calories, sadness calories and post-and-pre-exam calories: they mean nothing. (You know, I really should be a skeleton with the amount of non-calories I consume).

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“Going to Boulder? Is that a really special rock?”

That’s what my friend said to me right before I left. I mean, as cool as it would be spending a week cuddling up to some interestingly shaped rock, that’s not quite what I meant when I was telling her about this trip.

I’ve been in Boulder for a few days now (I’ll be here until mid next week) and we’ve been pretty busy cramming in both work and play. My time zone is kind of off, so I think I’m accumulating a bit of a sleep debt as I’ll go to bed late and then wake up early to go to the office, but it’s still been pretty fun. I like visiting new places, and Boulder has a very interesting vibe. It seems pretty small, and I kind of get the feeling that you could run out of things to do relatively quickly, but overall it’s very cute. The word that comes to mind is hipster, but in a good way.

We’ve been at the office for most of the weekdays (which has also been really interesting, because it’s so different from the main office back in California) but the weeknights we’ve been going out for dinner with the team here. So far, the food (which had to be mentioned, because I’m an obsessive) has been great. The lunches at the office are delicious, and when you’re having first world problems that consist of being too late to lunch to try the fried rattlesnake, you know life is too good to you. We’ve gone for¬†Ethiopian, continental and pizza so far. Nomming is definitely occurring.

We’ve also explored the downtown area of Boulder, Pearl Street, quite a bit – it’s not too large so it’s easy to walk from one end to the other, but there’s lots of interesting little stores and restaurants along it. Tons of bars, but it’s a university town so that’s understandable. So far we’ve stopped at some bookstores, an art store or two, and a tea store. It’s interesting how the street changes depending on the time of day – for example, at night there’s lots of people wandering around going for dinner and such, but today during the day the amount of buskers and street performers was astounding. It was literally a different person every ten meters or so.

Boulder’s surrounded by mountains (hence the name, I suppose) so yesterday night we drove up to Chautauqua Park/Mountain/Area I can’t remember the name of and walked around a bit. The views at the top were gorgeous! My host took lots of pictures so I got to be lazy and just meander around.

Today we checked out a meadery and brewery and took tours of their facilities. I must say, it’s annoying not being 21 here, especially since I’m legal at home. It’s not that I have a raging urge to go out or anything, but I think I’ve gotten used to having the option and now it’s like someone took away the favourite toy I’ve had for two years. But the tours were cool – did you know that to make a dessert honey wine, they use 800 pounds of honey? That’s roughly seven Shannons. It’s ridiculous.

Why I love American grocery stores

I went grocery shopping this morning. Sounds like a pretty mundane, ordinary way to spend your Saturday morning, right? Not that fun? Wrong! (Or at least wrong if you’re anything like me).

During the school year at home, I’m not in charge of the groceries so I usually make do with whatever shows up in my fridge or cabinet. Admittedly, I don’t need too much food here because I eat my weekday dinners at Google, but weekends are a time for me to wander aimlessly through the aisles of Trader Joe’s and happily indulge in the illusion that it’s wise for me to fill up my fridge. When I’m talking about grocery shopping, though, I’m really talking about Trader Joe’s and Sprouts and Whole Foods – all of the kind of hippy places that we don’t have at home. Reasons I love these places include:

  • The variety of things you can get, including items that you wouldn’t normally think of. One of my favourite purchases from today was coconut oil, which made my squash DELICIOUS. Which also leads me to my second point:
  • It’s reasonably priced. I’m not saying we don’t have a lot of these foods at home, but they tend to be way more expensive. Case in point: Greek yogurt. I’m addicted to the stuff. At home there’s maybe one or two kinds that cost twice as much as normal yogurt, but here I’m confronted by shelves and shelves of cheap probiotic goodness.
  • It’s easy to find healthy options! I really do try to keep an eye on what I eat and not ingest too many heart-threatening things, and there’s always tons of options that let me feel better about what I’m eating and enjoy it at the same time.
  • Last, and this is kind of a silly reason, but the stores are pretty. Er. Yeah. I’m a girl, alright? The labels are all so cheery. I love it.

Anyways, I actually really enjoyed picking up food and my foray to the farmer’s market afterwards. It’s definitely a first world problem, but sometimes I wish I had more opportunities to cook.

I fit this all in my backpack and biked back. Be impressed.

I did make an amazing dinner for myself, though. My mom’s been advocating going wheat-free for a month now, and really pushing me to try it. (She read this book about how we’re all going to die because we eat wheat. Er, maybe not that extreme. But it’s something to do with how wheat is genetically modified and making us fat). She keeps on telling me how much better it’ll be for me, etc, etc. Anyways, I’m a little skeptical, but I’ve decided I’m going to give it a chance and cut out wheat from my diet. I’m not going to be uber strict: if I’m going out on the weekend and I order a bowl of pasta, it won’t be the end of the world. But in my everyday meals, I’ll be veering away from wheat and eating corn, quinoa, rice, that sort of thing. The hardest part will be bread, because it’s one of my favourite things. To try and stick to this rule, I bought quinoa linguine – and was amazed and happy when it tastes exactly like normal pasta! I also got to eat the squash I bought at the farmer’s market. Yum.

Squash and Salmon Pasta (serves 1)

Ingredients:

  • Two small yellow squash (by small, I mean a couple of inches), cut into rounds
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt
  • 1 small pack of smoked salmon
  • Pasta of your choice (I used quinoa linguine)
  • Marinara sauce

Directions:

  1. Set water to boil, add some salt, and cook pasta to al dente.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, add some coconut oil to a pan (probably about a tablespoon). Add squash and a sprinkle of salt. Saute until the squash is tender – about five minutes or so.
  3. Add marinara sauce, smoked salmon, and drained pasta to your squash. Stir them all together and inhale when it’s all piping hot and delicious.

My favourite part about this was the flavour of the coconut oil and how the smoked salmon added a hit of saltiness. So good.

I also got to try out a restaurant on Thursday called the Boiling Crab, where they basically plunk your food in a bag on the table and you eat with your hands. It’s all seafood – crab, shrimp, clams…it was absolutely delicious and absolutely cavelike.

Wow, this has been a very food-related post. Hope you’re all hungry now!

So You Think You Can Dance should be renamed “Feel awed and inadequate.”

Seriously. I’m a big So You Think You Can Dance fan, and I just finished watching their Atlanta auditions, and now I am sitting here thinking about how I was whining today about my legs being tired. These people are INSANE. They have muscles where I didn’t even know muscles existed! If I had a quarter of their muscle definition I’d consider myself ripped. (Shows how high my aspirations are, huh?) I am so amazed at some of the talent on the show, though – there are some people who really are extremely gifted (and have impossibly flexible legs that go on for about a million miles). I find it really interesting that SYTYCD Canada had one really amazing season, and then it flopped. We pretty much exhausted all of our dancers in one season. Big cheers for my giant country with a tiny population.

I’ve been really exhausted all day for some reason. I think I didn’t sleep that much on the weekend, and I’ve been pretty busy the last few days and it’s starting to catch up with me, so I’ll probably be passing out once I finish writing this. I had a pretty good weekend – I made dinner with my girls on Saturday night, which was nice, and Sunday I went to Santa Cruz with some of the other interns in my office. I forgot how busy of a beach it is, but it’s fun, though the boardwalk is super overpriced so we didn’t go on any of the rides.

This is only a few of them, but one of my favourite parts about Santa Cruz is the sea lions. There’s this part off the dock where there’s this huge crowd of them, and they just lie around and yelp at the people who come to gawk. They’re really loud, too – you can hear them all the way from the other end of the beach. It was a beautiful day though and I had a good time walking the beach, swimming and just generally hanging out. Any time I’m in the sun, I’m generally pretty happy.

I’m starting to get excited about my trip to Boulder next week – work is flying me out to the Google office there to work for a week! I’ve never been to that area, so I think it’ll be a really cool experience (really, it’s a vacation within a vacation, who am I kidding…) Tons of stuff to do before then, though, so it’s simultaneously exciting and stressful. I really am about to pass out, though, so it’s time for me to hit the sheets.