Paris: a Story of Love and Disappointment Part I

Due to the events of my trip to Prague and Paris back in August/September of 2011, I feel that Paris got a bum rap from me. Therefore, I am revisiting my memories with a different perspective. I do love Paris. I love the buildings. I love the hustle and bustle of a metropolis. I love how the women are dressed so wonderfully. I love the little cafes and the innumerable crepe carts, boulangeries, and brasseries. I love the Seine and hanging out on a bridge and watching it go by. I love Montmartre. I love the Louvre. And as cheesy and cliché as it is, I do love the Eiffel Tower not just as a structure but the history of it.

If you ever get the chance to go, as touristy as it sounds, you really do need to check these places out:

  • This was his humble dinning room.

    This was his humble dinning room.

    The Louvre: Amazing art. In order to not get art overload, pick the pieces you want to see most and check those out. Don’t stop too much on your way to them or else you will get seriously side tracked. Seriously. Definitely make time to see Napoleon’s apartments in the Louvre. They are stunningly not humble. This is a place you want to get to early in the morning because by 11am it’s a zoo, especially if you plan on seeing the Mona Lisa. Get up early, get a croissant and coffee to go, and get in through the mall under the Louvre to beat the line at the pyramid. Just remember: The Louvre is insanely big. You will NOT see everything in one day and if you try to, your head will explode.

  • It really is stunning in the morning.

    It really is stunning in the morning.

    The Sacré Cœur and Montmartre: Again, this is a place you want to visit in the early morning because it stunningly white and beautiful in the morning. I’ll admit that I wanted to visit this area because of the movie Amelié. Oddly, there was no man pretending to be a statue when I arrived at the top. Or Nino. Shucks. Be wary of artists drawing your portrait as you enjoy an espresso at a cafe in Montmartre: they will schiest you. Just tell them to go away because they will convince you that if you don’t like it you don’t have to pay them, which is untrue. Don’t even start downthat road. But do walk around all the quaint streets on the hill. It’s definitely magical. Except for the birds.

  • Kayakers...they are brave people in very dirty water.

    Kayakers…they are brave people in very dirty water.

    Seine/Canals: Ride a bike along them. The locals do everything from picnics, pétanque (or boules), general milling about, long walks, kayaking, and napping along the waters that flow through the city. I had the chance to take quite the nice nap with my friend Thibault next to the St Denis canal and also picnic on a bridge over the Seine one crazy evening. It was awesome to see how the city comes alive at night along the waterways.

  • Now that's a bike sharing program.

    Now that’s a bike sharing program.

    Bicycles: There is seriously no better way to get around a city and see a crap ton than on a bicycle. The first day in I did a bicycle tour with Fat Tire Bicycle Tours. It is definitely worth the €30. I was able to get a handle on how the streets worked and where everything was by biking. The rest of my stay I had a Véib’ subscription for a week. Again, the €8 to be able to ride a bike all over the city was totally worth it. Note: the first 30 minutes of riding are free. What I did to get around was ride for 20ish minutes, find a station, check it back in, then check it back out. Ta-da! Another free 30 minutes! I must say though, do NOT ride your bike on the Champ Élysées. That was pretty crazy. Oh yeah…make sure to inspect the bikes beforeyou check them out. There were quite a few that had issues.

  • Eiffel Tower: I regret not going up it. That says alot. Be a tourist. GO UP IT! Hit one of the farmers markets (they happen everyday all over the city), get a picnic together, and go hang out on the Champs de Mars (the largest public greenspace in Paris) with the Eiffel Tower and the tons of Parisians and tourists that visit this structure. Built in 1889 for the World’s Fair, it is a great example of what some smarts can do. Also, catch it at night when they turn the lights on. It’s stunningly beautiful. Fall in love with it. It’s hard not to.
    It's pretty freaking cool.

    It’s pretty freaking cool. 

     

This isn’t it for Paris, kids. This is your warm up. Part II is in the works.

Standing While Peeing

If there was anything that I wish I could do, it would be standing while peeing.

Now…don’t get me wrong. I really like being a woman. There’s alot of spiffs to my gender. I like it that guys buy me beer. I like having doors opened for me. I like multiple orgasms. I like wearing dresses.

BUT…I dislike having to hover over a toilet laden with human-processed-beer (aka pee) or the splish-splooshes from flushing. It’s pretty gross. I remember as a little girl, my mom taking me into a public bathroom and getting in the stall with me. She would tell me to never sit on the seat because I could catch something from the toilet. Then she would lift me up, put me feet on the toilet seat, keep holding me as I dropped my drawers, and then she would instruct me to squat.

Did I ever mention my mom is from Thailand?

Maybe I should decorate it...?

Maybe I should decorate it…?

So when I moved to Denver, my boyfriend at that time bought me this amazingly simple device that I just don’t use enough. It’s basically a dainty funnel so I can pee while standing. It’s awesome. There is one catch to it: I never thought I’d go through a power trip just by using it.

Seriously.

There’s something oddly empowering about not having to sit, squat, or hover in order to relieve one’s bladder. There’s the added empowerment of not having to drop your panties to pee. It’s really quite amazing the freedom that I obtained by having such a simple device. I can pee almost anywhere just like a guy!!

Don’t feel like trying to balance your 40lb backpack in order to squat out in the woods?

Feel wonky about using the port-o-potties at Burning Man?

Got the gas station bathroom blues?

Just feel like standing and peeing when you’re at home?

Then THIS is the item for you!!

I’ve heard of groups of mountaineering women who get together and have parties to decorate this wonder of the modern world. I’ve talked to women who have drilled a small hole on the back of it to attach a small carabiner so it can be easily accessible on their packs.  I’ve stood near boyfriends and peed standing up with them, as they look on with curiosity and astonishment.

From using it, I think I have a slightly better understanding why men do what they do with their junk. There’s always been a fascination for me around penises and it’s not on a sexual level. Well…there’s that too…but that’s not what I’m talking about right now. What does it feel like to have one?  To have something dangling between your legs all the time? To have sensations on the outside instead of the inside? Does it feel more comforting to have it swaying in boxers or snug in a pair of tighty whities? Does it get in the way alot? I saw something about this guy who was doing shadow puppets with his…wouldn’t that hurt or even get you aroused? Does it feel better to have warmth or cool on it? How hard is it to tuck it?

The questions go on…

But the biggest question was always: What’s it feel like to pee while standing?

Thank you Freshette for answering my question by giving me the means to experience it first hand.

P.S. I love the directions. “…with your back to the wind.”

Screen shot 2013-07-25 at 10.20.05 AM

Stop and Smell the Roses

It’s important to be able to stop and recognize defining moments in life. Even if they’re small ones. Like when the guy you really like asks if you’ll be his girlfriend and the perfect song is playing in the background. Or your best friend says something that completely turns the light on inside your head while you’re watching the sun set. Or a random stranger hands you a flower when you’re having a bad day.

We forget how amazing our lives are.

That each of us has our own movie with a soundtrack playing in the background. All you have to do is stop and recognize it. Seriously, where do you think writers get their ideas from? Alot of it is just everyday life.

So take a moment today and smell the roses.

Be in your own personal movie.

It’s hard being a Time Lord…

…or at the very least trying to be a Time Lord. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, go watch some Dr. Who. Especially the new series with David Tennant. Be still, my beating heart.

It’s been a busy life with the summer being in full swing and I realized (besides the Betasso Perserve and Jamestown posts) that you peeps hadn’t heard jack from me from about mid-May. I’m having a hard time believing I packed all of this in on top of working and normal socializing. I’ll give you the skinny on what I’ve been doing instead of writing:

Pickaxe, sledgehammer, fire and molotov cocktails later...

Pickaxe, sledgehammer, fire and molotov cocktails later…

SMASH!!! BBQ Shindig: I did give you warnings of this party. Let me tell you, it was WAY more fun than I originally expected. Friends from all different walks of life gathering to either watch or participate in demolishing a green VW Bug. We ate. We drank. We set the car on fire and threw molotov cocktails. The neighbors even came over and partied with us. Not a sign of a cop or the fire department. It was amazing to see people come together to knock out the frame so they could smash the roof completely down. Or take a door completely off that was locked in place. Or to see a friend not get even a dot of dirt on his white t-shirt though he was climbing all over the inside and outside to demolish it. It was a monumental night of destruction that felt awesome even though our bodies were aching for days later.

Apogaea: This is the regional event for people in the Burning Man community. I’d never been before and was intrigued in what this event had to offer. Due to my connections with so many people in the community, I did end up being a part of one of the planned events. I can say I was honored to be a tiny part of the Temple ceremony. If you don’t know what the Temple is….go do some research. Anyhoots, it was a welcome relief to be camping in the mountains of Colorado with friends and drinking Miller High Life, Bloody Marys, and michaladas. I think the event is somehow magically geared towards serendipity since it felt like a traveling circus that was made just for circus performers to attend. The absolute randomness that occurred in the 4 days I was there was stunning and hilarious. Did I mention that a gnome followed me home?

Done in one concert...kinda cool.

Done in one concert…kinda cool.

Devotchka and the Colorado Symphony at Red Rocks: I have two words for this performance….

Absofuckinglutely stunning.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is an amazing venue for music. It’s visually stunning with two huge rock formations on the sides of the theatre but when you add in a Colorado sunset, the lights of Denver, some shooting stars, and your favorite band playing with an orchestra…well, it just doesn’t get much better than that.

If you’ve never seen DeVotchka live, do it. They put on a really great show.

1940s and fabulous!

1940s and fabulous!

1940’s WWII Summer Ball: Travel back in time when Frank was crooning, big bands were bigger than tv, and everyone dressed to the nines. Airplanes, army vehicles and tents, a big band and huge dance floor, an old hangar bay, and the stage is set as a USO dance. This is always a good time!! This year I took it easy on getting dressed up. Just a simple summer dress. My good friend Wendi, who is the Rockabilly Fashionista, was fabulous as always donning butterflies and red. It’s always great to see the guys dressed in slacks, shirts, suspenders, and fedoras. Makes me wish they did it in real life more often! Guys: it is pretty sexy to look that kind of dapper. Just saying….

Tedx Mile High Talk: “Innovative ideas worth talking about” is definitely a true tag line. With speakers from all over Colorado presenting, it was amazing to hear what the top 20% have been up to and thinking. My favorite presentations were:

  • a 17 year old that has been making robotic arms for amputees at a fraction of the cost from his bedroom
  • a lady that works for Kaiser that said we can’t fix healthcare but that’s not how we get better healthcare anyhoots
  • a video about how we live and play in Denver (it made me weep. I love this city.)
Now that is a smooth ride...again.

Now that is a smooth ride…again.

Learning How To Fix Bicycles: Holy crap!!! Talk about feeding my tinkering needs. This has become part of my addiction for bicycles. It’s fascinating. It’s mechanical. It’s dirty and greasy and I LOVE IT!! I currently have 3 bikes in my que: an old Schwinn, an Azuki, and a crappy bike I got for $10 at a garage sale. The reason I picked up this new hobby was for my Belgium trip. If I’m going to ride a bike all over that country, I figured I should know how to fix it just in case. Never thought I’d enjoy this, but it’s almost become better than sex.

Whoa....

Whoa….

Mambajamba of Raised Bed Gardening: Now, it’s been a few years since I’ve had a garden. I think I might have gone over board. Building raised beds is not easy. Those babies are 30 inches wide with varying lengths: 2 eighteen footers, a 10, a 6 and 2 four footers. Right now, they are going CRAZY! I’m finding it hard to actually keep up with the amount of greens it’s producing which makes me slightly concerned when the rest of it is ready to be harvested. Teresa, Teresa, garden fairie, what in your garden grows? Well folks here it is: 12 tomato plants, beans, peas, carrots, beets, diakon, okra, 4 cucumber plants, one zucchini plant, onions, swiss chard, 4 chinese cabbages, spinach, kale, mixed lettuce, and a ton of herbs like 3 different basils, 3 different mints, dill, thyme, sage, parsley, cilantro, savory, chives, oregano and comfry.

Yeah. Definitely over board.

Birthdays: Two of my most fabulous friends have survived another year and get to claim it. Which meant I had 2 back to back weekends of bad behavior in Boulder since that’s where they were celebrating. We danced. We made bad jokes. We drank a poop ton of beer. My friend got his junk grabbed by someone he barely knew. There were piggy back rides. I drunk texted…someone really needs to take my phone away from me. Or make an app that prevents you from drunk texting certain people. Hmmmm….

So yeah…it’s been kind of a busy summer thus far. I’m going to try to go camping too. We’ll see how well that works on a bike. 😉

Live fiercely. Love fiercely.

The Jamestown Pancake Adventure

Yep, this bike went that fast. I poop you not.

Yep, this bike went that fast. I poop you not.

Fourth of July has never been a big holiday on my calendar. In my younger years, it was an excuse to drink a lot of beers on an extra day off from the corporate job I disliked. My friends are the only reason I go see the fireworks these days when they decide to do a cruiser ride to someplace like the Mystery Bridge or out to the mesas in Golden. Otherwise, it’s a day like any other.

Not this year.

This year I had heard that a hamlet called Jamestown, just outside of Boulder, had a pancake breakfast and a bike ride.

Oh yeah! That sounds right up my alley.

After waking up way too late for my own good, I set out that morning around 9am with the dreams of pancakes smothered in fake maple syrup still in my head. Google Maps told me I was in for a 34 mile round trip which isn’t out of the ordinary for me but the incline all the way up Lefthand and James Canyon Drives isn’t. But this is why I go bike around Boulder: it challenges me.

As much as I like to cruise the flats, I do actually enjoy it when a ride kicks my ass for a good reason.

Pancakes + beautiful scenery  = good reason

Route 36 heading North out of Boulder isn’t the most beautiful stretch of scenery but I know how fast I can go on it and since there’s always a ton of cyclists on it (especially that day) I felt pretty safe from cars screwing with me. It’s the rollercoaster road…it goes up and down. Maybe next time I’ll check out Old Stage Road like Google had suggested.

Turning onto Lefthand Canyon Drive, there were cars parked all over the shoulder of the road. Nice to know that you can start there instead of biking all the way from Boulder (if you have a car). There is a certain amount of internal giggle-fest that happens in me when I see people getting all dressed in their kits with clipless shoes and their fancy bikes. I’m not against it, but sometimes I think it’s silly. We all have to pedal to get where we want to go. If you love the journey then it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing or what you’re riding….it’s about putting your feet on the pedals and keeping the chain in rotation.

This is coming from a woman that was wearing flip flops, a short plaid skirt, a black 70’s styled loose halter top, biking gloves, and a helmet that looks like she should be riding horses. Yep. I was totally styling…especially with my most favorite bike, the beer bike, which was found in a dumpster in Boulder and brought back to life. Personally I think it’s having a much better after life with me than it’s original owner. Who the hell puts a bike in the dumpster?

According to 303Cycling News, it’s about a 3% grade up the canyon, which I can agree with. There are some steeper parts and some kinda flat areas, but overall it was a nice incline for about 8 miles. The road follows a creek which makes for some beautiful little spots to stop, catch your breath, splash in the water a bit, and keep going. Since this is a pretty popular route as it is, the attraction of pancakes seemed to bring out more cyclists. I’m not fast. At all. But it was nice to say good morning to everyone passing me and even a friendly hello to peeps I actually passed.

Jamestown has a population of 274. It’s tiny and super cute! As you enter the town, the creek is on the left and the trees hang low over road making a natural tunnel which reminded me of Spectre from the movie Big Fish. There’s a church and a general store with a park across the street. The people built up a rock wall in the creek so it would pool up and not be a swift current so the kids could enjoy it. There’s a house built on the hillside that looks like a tree house. I think if I had to choose a mountain town to live in, this might just be it.

Pancakes…I was starving!! For only $5 you can get the pancakes but for just a measly $10 you get pancakes, ham, eggs, and juice/coffee. DEAL! Though the line was pretty long, the entertainment was never ending. Kids running around, musicians on stage, and the best part is talking with the locals. I was going to try to stay for the parade at noon, but the onset of sleepiness from a full stomach was pointing me down the hill to a place that was cool, soft, and has a shower.

Believe it or not, the beer bike hit about 37mph going down the canyon. If the pancake breakfast wasn’t enough, that definitely made every mile up worth the ride.

Betasso Preserve

What do you mean, I was supposed to bring gear with me?

What do you mean, I was supposed to bring gear with me?

“Would you mind filling out a quick survey about the trail?”

“Ummm…sure. You are kind of blocking our way to the steps, so why not.”

That was at the end of my first time mountain biking on Sunday. I never thought I’d go mountain biking just because I get concerned about getting damaged. In my line of work, a damaged body potentially means no working for months.

Beyond my better judgement on Sunday, I let my friend take me out on what he said was an easy trail. Easy…right. Going up mountains is never easy especially on a bicycle. Not just any bicycle, but my old, broken down, lacking tread, dumpster diving edition Specialized that is more of a commuter bike than anything else. Top that with flip flops and a skirt and we have the classic Sassy Beer Gypsy minimalist “I don’t need no fancy gear” activity style.

Within 5 minutes on the trail, I get the same comment twice “Nice shoes…”

My thought, “Damn. I should have gotten a pedicure before heading to Boulder this weekend.” If I’m going to potentially tear off a toenail on a rock, I’d like it to at least look pretty while it’s covered in blood. Priorities.

Betasso Preserve can be reached by three different entry points. We choose (by accident) the entry on Fourmile Canyon Drive. Apparently Parks and Recs made  this new entry point about a year or so ago and named it the Fourmile Link (it’s only .8 miles long). To find the start of the link, you’ll see a little parking area on the road, then take a serious hairpin turn in the road, then there will be another little parking area (you can’t park in it, read the signs) where you’ll see the sign and the stairs that take you down. We made the entertaining journey up the mountain via the Benjamin Loop trail. Did I reach the top? Dear goodness, no. This gypsy is used to cruising the flats of Denver at 5280 not the 6200-6600 of the preserve. I did give it a pretty good run considering my apparel and the massive amount of huffing and puffing my body needed to get oxygen in.

On the overall, the trail actually was pretty easy. It’s well maintained and besides the occasional small rock formation, the trail itself was pretty level and nicely packed. It’s not very wide which means if you stop, you’re either stepping up the mountain or down the mountain to get out of the way (at least the part we did). There are trees right next to the trail which at times felt like they were only as far apart as the width of my bike.

Let me say, it was beautiful. It’s a multi-use trail which means that you should strap on your hiking flip flops and go for a walk. I’m definitely looking forward to doing it again.

Maybe with better shoes next time….

Yeah…there’s a lot more terrain for me to cover.