Once a jolly swagman camped by a Billabong
Under the shade of a Coolabah tree
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

No School Like the Old School

I've decided to retire "fergsdownunder" since we are in fact, no longer Fergs Down Under. Don't despair! I'm going back to my roots and resurrecting my original blog. It doesn't have a catchy, easy to remember name like "fergsdownunder" but tough noogies. I like it and it stays. So really this party ain't breakin' up, it's just moving down the block. What are you waiting for? An invitation?

You are cordially invited to the grand re-opening of my blog:
Deep Thoughts By Fergie

* ladotyk.blogspot.com *

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Baby It's Cold Outside

Falling about me as I write this is not the first snow storm of the season, but the first storm we’ve experienced in our new home. Last night I attended a book signing by Christopher Kimball (founder of Cooks Illustrated) in Highlands Ranch and by the time I left, my car and the streets were covered in thick snow. I crept along the freeway at 30 mph and did my best to keep from sliding off the road, as so many others already had. At one point I saw hazy flashing blue lights in the distance, then slowly crawled passed two cops surveying a car that had gone belly up. I cannot tell you how glad I am that we bought our Subaru Outback with AWD. It was a nervous ride with sometimes near white-out conditions, but I arrived safely home and happy to have faced my fears of icy roads without incident. The only drama was when I nearly blew through an intersection because I couldn’t stop on a downhill slope, but luckily no one was around.

This morning there was 6.5” of snow and by the time I got home from work it was 10”. An arctic front is headed our way, so once the snow stops we’ll have temps near 0 degF (-18 degC). Brrrr! I haven’t been that cold since…, well, since the last time I lived in Colorado. There’s a kind of restrained excitement in the office as people quietly discuss how much snow may be falling in the mountains, and how soon they’ll be able to hit the slopes. It’s interesting to overhear conversations about weekend adventures: skiing to backcountry huts for an overnight trip; having to do a self arrest after falling on a dangerous slope. Very different from the conversations in LA which mainly revolve around trips to Vegas, something I never quite understood. If only I hadn’t waited too long to get the cheap ski passes!


Once at home I snuggled into comfy clothes and delighted in the winter wonderland that is our new yard. Ten inches of fresh powder made the world seem magical. I let the dogs out and we ran around like kids at Christmas. It was especially funny to watch the dogs since they were practically swimming through the chest high drifts. Molly pranced and buried her nose in the snow, Spencer did his “trot in place” dance, and I frolicked with glee. The snow here is so powdery and dry that it falls through your fingers like fine sand, and blows away with the slightest puff. When you compact it into a ball it feels like Styrofoam. We have lots of fun throwing snowballs for the dogs and watch them try to retrieve them!

Here are some photos I took over the last two days:
DSC_0239 DSC_0277
DSC_0264 DSC_0255

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Working Stiff

Sunrise from our deck

It’s been a long time since my last post but much has happened over the last month. Most importantly, we officially closed on our house! There was a wee bit’o’drama that I won’t go into here, suffice it to say that all’s well that ends well and this ended well indeed. We are absolutely loving the house, the yard, the view, the two decks, and everything in between. I love that I can’t physically throw a tennis ball from one end of the yard to the other for the dogs (though I got a new gym membership). I love that my furniture suddenly looks classier than it did at the homestead back in LA. I love that I have a basement and that I can actually park in my garage. I love that I can see the glow from the Red Rocks Amphitheater from my bedroom window. It’s quite windy here on the edge of the foothills; so much so that the walls bow from the pressure and our welcome mat keeps flying away, but it’s kind of fun. We haven’t had any snow since we moved in but I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Our breakfast nook Sunset on the Rockies

In other news, I have once again joined the ranks of the employed. I accepted a contract position to work at Lockheed Martin on the CEV program in the structures group. Steve works just down the hall from me so we are able to carpool and eat lunch together (yes I know, how cute). We are located at Lockheed’s South Park facility, which entertains me to no end. “Goin’ down to South Park…” My first day was Monday and like starting any new job, I’ve been bored. Everyone else is frantically running around trying to finish charts and models, telling me to entertain myself until after the Thanksgiving holiday when they’ll have time to get me caught up. I took their advice and did just that, entertaining myself by modeling my desk, monitor and mug. Not too shabby, eh?

My new office

Everyone please have a safe Thanksgiving this year and let’s remember the lessons of the wise Alton Brown:
Brine, don’t baste your turkey

Friday, November 24, 2006

Alice in Halloween-Land

Alice, very much in Wonderland

It worked out perfectly that while we were in LA picking up our worldly possessions to move to our new house, there should be a fantastic Halloween party at our old house. Glad to see the party pad is still kickin' (thanks Nick!). Several of us banded together for an Alice in Wonderland theme. I was assigned the Caterpillar as it was considered the most difficult costume (thanks Nick). I had to dedicate an entire checked bag on the plane to my costume!

White Rabbit and the Card Guard I like scotch!  Scotch scotch scotch!

It was a great party and everyone was on board for the festivities. We had a card guard, Tweedle-Dum, the white rabbit, Alice, the Queen of Hearts, Mad Hatter, March Hare, the Cheshire Cat, and of course, the Caterpillar. There was also an assortment of baseball players, Tinkerbell, and Ron Burgundy (among others) thrown into the mix. Thanks to everyone for a great time.

The March Hare and the Mad Hatter Taking hits of the hookah (is that a lamp...?)

And since you've been such a great audience, here's my encore: a picture of our new friend Demo, the one-eyed chihuahua!

Demo the One-Eyed Chihuahua

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I Need a Vacation


Ok, I know we just got back from the trip of a lifetime and we haven't yet earned any income to replace what we spent during the last year, but I've already found our next dream vacation destination! It turns out REI offers adventure trips to exotic places all over the world, like hiking the Inca Trail or biking across Croatia. The trip that caught my eye, however, is the 19-day Everest Classic, a trek through Nepal that begins in Kathmandu and journeys to the Mt. Everst base camp at 18,190 ft. elevation. It's rated at the highest level of difficulty of the trips that they offer and is insanely expensive, but apart from that it sounds perfect. Just listen to this typical day from the itinerary:

"Day 6 Leaving Namche Bazaar, our trek steps off the standard Base Camp trail for the next two days. We ascend up past the Syangboche airstrip (12,200) and down into the small hidden valley of Khumjung. Khumjung has the most important school and the only hospital in the Khumbu region … both were built by Sir Edmund Hillary. Crossing the valley we ascend through a rhododendron forest, traversing the beautiful southern slope of Khumbila, the holy mountain of the Sherpas. We should reach Moung La pass (12, 992’) and our camp in mid-afternoon. The setting is absolutely spectacular with the distinctive peak of Ama Dablam looming in the near background. Watch for impeyan pheasants, tahr mountain goats and possibly musk deer when walking through the forests. Trekking: 6 hours; Elevation: loss 400’, gain 2,100’.

I know that's got you jazzed up to hit the trail. Any takers out there who would care to tag along? Eh? Eh? Just go here to get the details. If you are feeling especially feisty, check out the other REI Adventure packages.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What's This? What's This? There's White Things in the Air!

My dreams have come true at last! The first snow of the season fell today and I've been insanely giddy towards all who cross my path. It began as that delicious change-of-seasons snow with wet, gargantuan flakes. It wasn't quite freezing during the day so despite the blizzardy appearance everything melted when it hit the ground. Later in the afternoon and into the evening, however, as the temperature dropped, the snow got much more powdery and began sticking. Shown below is a photo diary of my blissful day. It doesn't get much better than this.

Insanely pleased with the weather Let's get this party started

Snowy roses Care to join me for a swing?

Mind the steps My little green Prius

I bet I have to shovel this tomorrow

Friday, October 13, 2006


Neither of us has worked since last December so we should really refrain from making any unnecessary purchases. For the most part we have been well behaved. But then to alleviate boredom this afternoon we decided to stroll around REI's flagship store in Denver! I know y'all are shaking your heads and saying, "Fergs! Don't you know you can never go into REI without dropping a load of cash?" Yes, I confess it's true. But if you've never been to the Denver REI it is a treat. It occupies a historic 1901 tramway building, which has towering brick walls and exposed wood beams. Among the many "rides" in this Disneyland-of-outdoor-stores is a mountainous 45' climbing wall, a cold chamber to test winter gear, an indoor stream to play with water filters, a rocky course around the outside for testing mountain bikes, and to top it off, it sits on the banks of the Platte River so you can take a kayak to the water for a quick run! It's an awesome store.

When we walked into the store this afternoon we immediately spotted the glittering wall of snowshoes. Never mind that it's 70 degrees outside, gimme gimme! After talking to the salesman we decided on a pair that had been last year's darling, but was now heavily discounted in favor of the new models. Out we walked with his'n'hers Atlas snow shoes, into the heat of the day, leaving us to pine wistfully for traces of an Arctic blast on the horizon. I guess we'll have to buy some mountain bikes to tide us over until the snowy weather cometh, eh?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Weather Updates on the Tens

It's been interesting to live the life of the unemployed. At first I gleefully scoured corporate websites, searching for job opening and sending off my resume with glowing cover letters. But as the weeks pass with no word, ennui set in. You do a bit of soul searching and start to question whether the career path you've chosen is still your best option. This is a rare opportunity to truly evaluate my future and make changes as I see fit. Should I make an about face and train at a culinary academy? Should I volunteer with a worthwile organization and make a difference? Could I really give up all my schooling and experience to start new somewhere else? In my case, at this point, no. I love aerospace and I feel I have a lot more to learn about this exciting industry. So until I start to feel some reciprocal love from potential employers I'll keep on entertaining myself during the long hours of the day. Doing crosswords, training for a triathlon, preparing elaborate meals, shopping for new house furniture. It's all good. But hey, at least I haven't yet started injecting daytime tv into the veins to make myself comfortably numb.

Enough with the "my so called life", on to current events. Our house passed inspection with flying colors so we are one step closer to becoming legitimate Colorado residents. We are due back in LA at the end of the month to say hi to the folks out there and pick up our belongings, which have been languishing in storage since the first of the year. And we get our puppies back after 10 months of separation! This is all so exciting. To top it off, the first snow of the year is due to fall this evening (1-3") and I feel like a freakin' kid on Christmas Eve. Right now a steady cold drizzle is falling on the Front Range and I keep checking outside to see if those drops have fluffed into flakes yet. I promise to post winter wonderland photos tomorrow provided that mother nature cooperates. Looks like tonight I'll be making some hot chocolate with marshmallows.

I woke up this morning to a grey sky and dry ground. My heart is breaking.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Mi Casa es Su Casa


I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it! We made an offer on a house, and it was accepted! At last, after nine months of travelling and uncertainty we will once again be home owners. (With any luck we'll even be employed homeowners.) Steve and I have been house hunting ever since we arrived in Denver. We've spent many long nights at the computer, searching through suburban subdivisions and setting up spreadsheets to determine what we can/cannot afford. We've done virtual tours of countless homes and had fun making catty comments about the god-awful decorating styles. What we wanted was a big yard for the dogs, but a nice house for ourselves, and we didn't want to be too far from Lockheed Martin. The problem was that nice, new houses have virtually no yards and are way too huge (think Highlands Ranch). But just when all signs seemed to point to (shudder) compromise, we found "the one"! It's a lovely home in south-west Lakewood with magnificent views of the front range. It sits on .38 acres which is more than enough for our kids, Molly and Spencer. Plus it has a gas stove, so I'm set in the kitchen. What more do you need? Here are some photos of our lovely new home.

This is the view from the front. Nice curb appeal, eh? I'm so excited to have my very own porch. I'll sit out there in the late summer afternoons, whittling and yelling at kids to stay off the lawn.

Nice curb appeal

Here's the view of the house from the back yard. I know it looks humongous, but that's because the unfinished basement is a walk-out. It's really not as cavernous as it seems.

View from the back yard

We have a great deck off the family room that looks right into all the neighbor's yards. This way we can keep tabs on them while we are BBQ'ing.

We can spy on the neighbors

I saved the best for last. Isn't this view fantastic? This is what we'll get to see from the master bedroom. I can't wait for winter to come and see the hills decked out in a mantle of snow. (In case you were wondering, yes, that is a matching playhouse.)

Our very own playhouse

Sorry there are no pictures of the inside, but I think it would be prudent to wait until we move in. I don't want to get off on the wrong foot with the current owners. So there you have it! Now everyone, please come visit. Especially you Aussies, I'm dying to show you to some real mountains.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Autumn in the Rockies

Steve and I have been getting a bit of cabin fever lately as we sit around waiting for the phone to ring with jobs for us on the other end of the line. We needed to get out of the house, and fast! With summer waning, we knew that we had dwindling opportunities to play in the mountains before snow comes. After perusing our many options we decided to first hike Devil's Causeway near Steamboat Springs, then head down toward Breckenridge to climb a trio of +14,000 ft peaks.

Beautiful Colorado high country

Devil's Causeway is an interesting piece of geology where the remnants of an old volcanic area have been weathered, and now what remains is a thin ribbon of rock that has a thousand foot drop on either side. We started in the high country and followed a steady, steep trail to the top of the Causeway which was nearly 12,000 ft. Notice how the trees are stunted from the altitude.

View from the top of the Devils Causeway

At the top we had fantastic views of the surrounding Table Top Wilderness area, and the valley below that we had climbed from. It was disturbing to see hundreds of dead trees which were killed by the ruthless bark beetles, however the golden colors of autumn were brilliant against the green forest.

Crossing the Devils Causeway

At the narrowest section the Devil's Causeway is only three feet across. You stand at the top and look down a thousand feet on either side. Luckily it wasn't windy because this would have been far more treacherous. As it was I tried to look straight ahead until I got past the tricky part! Only when I was on the other side did I look down.

Falls colors along the Causeway

The rest of the trail was lovely and smooth. As I mentioned, this was the Table Top Wilderness so once we climbed to the top of the Causeway it was flat as could be. Toward the end the trail very gentlty sloped down, taking us past beautiful scenes of weathered rock and golden brush.

Fishing in the Table Top Wilderness

We were completely by ourselves until near the end where we encountered anglers in the stream. We also saw hunters in their bright orange vests, probably out hunting elk. I was so thankful Steve decided to wear his orange shirt today. I was in no mood to be mistaken for an animal and shot.

Golden aspens line the road
Aspens dotting the mountain sides Fall colors in the Colorado high country

On the way back from the Devil's Causeway we stopped our car to take photos of the beautiful quivering Aspen in their golden glory. I didn't know that the colors changed so early, but I guess up here it's hastened by the altitude and colder weather. We felt very lucky to see the trees at their peak, especially against the dark, stormy skies.

Mt. Lincoln sporting a dusting of snow

Speaking of dark and stormy skies, our plan was to drive over to the Mosquito Ranges to camp at the base of a trio of 14'ers so we could get an early start in the morning. We reached the campsite near dusk and just as we set up our tent the skies opened up into a furious thunderstorm. Steve was worried about getting struck by lightening, and we nearly decided to leave. The storm passed quickly though, the rumbles of thunder growing further in the distance. In it's wake we found the ground covered with icy sleet. Things grew calm so we ate dinner and went to sleep. Just after midnight the wind picked up and began flapping the fly of our tent. Not only was it too noisy to sleep, but a couple of gusts were so strong that they nearly snapped the poles. Inside we watched as the walls leaned over and came close to collapse. We spent a sleepless night listening for the gusts coming off the mountains and then shooting our sleeping bag-wrapped legs into the air to keep the walls supported. Every hour or so we had to unzip the tent and reach outside to restake the fly since the wind kept ripping the pegs out of the ground. The campground was at 12,000 ft. and is the highest maintained campground in the country. Because of the altitude, everytime I sat up to fix the pegs or even rolled over I could feel my heart pounding for the next few minutes. Sounds weak, eh? You try it! What a wretched night.

Snow chases us down from the mountain

In the morning we we worried about how much snow had fallen on the peak due to the storm yesterday. The wind had also not let up. We decided to not push our luck and just hike until it became too slick on the trail. But just as we were eating breakfast another dark cloud descended and fresh snow began to fall. Screw this! We give up! Lesson learned, mid-September is too late to start climbing 14ers. In face of snow and fierce wind, we turned tail and head back down the mountain to Dever where the skies we sunny and the day was warm. Despite having to turn back it was still a great trip and we are already looking forward to getting some snow shoe for the winter months!