Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2010 Calendar Pictures

Well, we are late getting out the 2010 calendars. Nothing really unusual there.


For those of you who usually get a calendar, just be patient. It will be coming soon. If you want a sneak peek; or if you are one who does not get a calendar, but want to see the pictures, I have posted them to my public facebook page.

Follow this link

NOTE: some of the posted "small" pictures did not "make the cut" for the actual calendar, so you will not see every single one of them in the actual calendar.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Thanksgiving Pictures

We had a good Thanksgiving. The boys and I were up early, getting them fed and then making a "yeast starter" for my Blackhawk Black Ale which I actually mixed up on Black Friday. Then, we did dishes, cleaned up the kitchen, living room, and family room. When Mommy finally got up, we did the vacuuming.

The boys played together (nicely most of the time) and I watched football most of the day. Tyler and I also got in a baseball game in the backyard snow. Mommy cooked a large part of that time, but watched football and played with the boys as well.

Dinner was wonderful (as my wife always makes wonderful dinners). Poor Daddy had to do the dishes again. Finally, we got to watch the Broncos actually win!
Here is a picture of us watching football:

Friday, since I refuse to ever participate in any of the Black Friday sales, we headed up to Echo lake.
Here is a picture of us on the way up:

Connor got to try snow-shoeing for the first time. He giggled pretty much the whole time, which is very cute.
Here is a picture of Connor in his (until Friday, Tyler's) snowshoes:

We spent some time slipping and sliding on the lake. Tyler and Connor also tried to use rocks to bust through the ice. It didn't work.
Here is a picture of Daddy and the Boys on the ice:

And then, we headed down to Idaho Springs to have lunch at TommyKnocker Brew Pub.
Here is a picture of the boys hugging Mommy. Not sure what she is drinking:

And, now here we are in December. Not sure where the entire year went. Time is definitely going faster than it used to.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bottling Day

This past Sunday, my assistant brewers and I bottled our world-famous Dragon Spit Ale. In case you are interested, here are step-by-step instructions:

Step 1: Sanitize the "Bottling Bucket" and the tubing using Star-San diluted in about a gallon of water. Also, pour a little sanitizer solution into a little bowl full of bottle caps and the tip of the bottling wand. Shake up the bucket to make sure every spot of the bucket is covered. Let everything sit in sanitizer for a few minutes.

Step 2: Sanitize bottling wand and bottles by pouring Star San from bottling bucket into the bottles. I always use a combination of 1 liter bottles and 12 ounce bottles. Usually I aim for 3 liters bottles and 15 12 ounce bottles, but results can vary.


Step 3: All the bottles are filled, covered with a cap and shaken. Let them sit for awhile while placing the bottling wand and tubing onto the spigot of the full fermenter.


Step 4: Measure out priming sugar. In this case, we are going with 2 1/4 ounces.


Step 5: Boil the sugar in about 1 cup of water. Take off the heat and let cool. While the sugar water solution is cooling, pour the sanitizer from the bottles back into the gallon container to be used again.

Step 6: After the sugar / water solution has cooled, put the solution into the bottling bucket and let the beer from the fermenter drain through the bottling wand with tubing attached into the bottling bucket. IMPORTANT: MAKE SURE THE spigot of the bottling bucket is CLOSED before doing this. Don't ask how I know this is a potential issue. Let's just say that thanks to alert assistant brewers, the loss was minimal.

Step 7: Wash and re-sanitize wand. Not sure this is 100% necessary, but certainly doesn't hurt.

Step 8: Place the bottling tip on the wand and fill all the bottles. Let liquid get to the top of the bottle, and the displacement from the wand will leave the exact perfect amount of head space.


You have to let the smaller brewing assistant get his turn too. As each bottle is filled, place a top on it, but do use bottle capper until the very end.


Step 9: Attach the bottle caps to the 12 oz bottles with bottle capper.

Step 10: Place all the bottles in a Styrofoam cooler and move to the basement. Let the bottles carbonate for 2 weeks.

After 2 weeks, the bottles will move to a conditioning cooler for 2 to 4 weeks and then to the beer fridge. I should be able to drink this beer around mid-December, but will probably keep some on hand for several months.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Cowboy Playground

We rode our bikes yesterday to the "Cowboy Playground". It actually took me a little while to figure out what Tyler and Connor were talking about when they suggested that be our destination. I am not 100% sure I know how to get to this place by car. Its right along a bike path that I use a bunch, but I have never driven here. If I had to drive here for some reason, I could probably figure it out, but it would probably take me awhile.
So, in the picture above, the red thing behind Tyler is a slide that looks like a cowboy hat. The two blue mounds are knees covered in blue jeans and the brown thing sticking up on the very right hand side of the picture is a huge cowboy boot. A giant cowboy is taking a nap and he has been sleeping so long beside the Bear Creek that he is partially buried. In the picture below, we are sliding down his hat. It is a pretty cool playground.

There were apparently a lot of guys named "Daddy" there yesterday. Very confusing. When I hear "Daddy", I almost always assume someone is talking to me. I even pushed one little kid on a tire swing for 5 or 10 minutes before we realized I was the wrong "Daddy".

Usually at the playground, I am the biggest kid on the playground equipment. Yesterday was no exception, but this time there were kids (most of them seemed to be the ones with MY name) that were almost as big as me playing up there as well.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Homebrew Fool


So, this is sort of exciting: esheppy (me) is Mr. Beer's "Brewer of the Month" for November.

EricG (Mr. Beer's Señor Brewmaster and BJCP Certified Beer Judge and member of the American Brewer's Guild Alumnus and the moderator of the Mr. Beer discussion forums) wrote in his email to me, "I would personally like to thank you for all you contribute to the forum-- from your solid advice and insightful questions to your great sense of humor and passion for brewing good beer. Of course, it's nice to see that you're almost always trying something new, whether it be using grain or yeast starters! When you share these experiments, it always adds to the conversation... Anyways, the community surely wouldn't be the same without you."

When I got to EricG's email, I was shocked. Most of the Brewer's of the Month have been just completely impressive people when it come to their brewing knowledge and what great insights they share on a consistent basis. And, there are several people on the forum who I could think of off the top of my head who I think are more deserving of the honor than I. I do agree with EricG that I ask good questions and my readily apparent addiction to home brewing certainly might indicate a "passion for brewing". I do experiment quite a bit, and usually share these experiences (mostly to get advice from the experts). But, honestly, I did not expect to ever be Brewer of the Month, and certainly not this month.

If you are interested in reading the writeup, you can see it by following this link.

In other SheppyBrew news: Mr. Beer has recently updated the stats on most of their HME's and UME's. Mr. Beer's Señor Brewmaster actually told me that he had been recalculating for months and one of my posts (one of my insightful questions mentioned above) gave him the motivation to get it all done and updated. The updates for the most part went pretty far in making all my recipes much more balanced than they were before. Of course, it also pushed a couple of my more recent beers (ones I was making a concerted effort on making balanced) toward the hoppy/bitter side, so we will have to see how those turn out. Most notably, my newest version of Dragon Spit is pretty far to the hoppy side of balanced. Of course, it is still in the fermenter, so it will be awhile before I find out what it tastes like. The original version was very malty and needed bitterness, but I might have gone too far. Stay tuned for updates.

My Rocktoberfest Ale was a pretty big hit. I finished the last of them while watching game 2 of the world series. I plan to make this one of my seasonal beers and hope to have some on hand every October whether or not the Rockies are in the playoffs. The only changes I think I want for this beer are to make it a bit lighter on the color and get the carbonation up to a respectable level. Not sure exactly what I did wrong, but carbonation on this beer was pretty low and me being one of those American Beer Drinkers, I like my carbonation.

I actually tried one of my X-Mas Ales in October. I am well pleased with this beer. This is will be another seasonal regular for SheppyBrew. I think probably based on the taste test, next year I will not have to start brewing the beer so early in the year. I guess I'll have to see how these taste in December to know for sure. Other than possibly decreasing the conditioning time, I cannot think of a needed change to this beer. I do have to be extra careful on the pour of this one so that the cherries in the bottom of the bottle don't get mixed in. I wonder if I might want to try to filter some of those out from the bottling bucket next year. I wonder if I'll remember that a year from now.

I recently bottled Tommy Hawk APA. The taste test going into the bottle tells me that I added way too many flavoring hops. My intention was to recreate New Belgium Brewery's Mighty Arrow APA, but I certainly overdid the Amarillo and Cascade hops in the 20 minute boil range. Live and learn I guess (or should I say brew and learn?) I've already made changes to my recipe, but I'm not sure when I'll be able to fit this one into the schedule again.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween

Last year, I mentioned "The Other Haunted House" in my blog entry "Haunted". The picture I had on that entry was taken from my phone, and really did not do the place justice, so I took another one this year with my "HD" resolution on my camera. Actually, it is two houses next door to each other, and even with my HD resolution, I had to take two pictures to get the whole thing in. The two HD-sized pictures still did not do the houses justice, so I deleted them. Sometime you will have to come and visit around Halloween and see for yourself.

But ... here are some Halloween pictures:

We spent a good part of the day around Red Rocks ... walking around ... taking pictures ... enjoying the sunshine ... looking around.


Connor with his "Mr. Pumpkin Head" jack-o-lantern. This, really, is the best way to decorate a pumpkin as far as I am concerned. It is especially nice if you have a child you do not want to let use a knife. Both Tyler's and Connor's pumpkins were grown in our garden this year. Unfortunately, a stupid fat squirrel ate our two best pumpkins. I hate that squirrel.

Tyler and Connor went Trick-Or-Treating with his friend Brian and Brian's sister Christine this year. The 2year old little girl across the street from us also came along. Brian is Tyler's age and Christine is a couple of years older. See how Tyler towers above these kids?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Snow Day



We are in the middle of our first snow storm of the year. It is rare to get this much this early. I'll bet the ski resorts love it. I actually like it too. I have had to shovel a bunch, but it is sort of nice to have something physical to do every couple hours since I am staring at the computer all day.

Tracy worked at home yesterday and her office is closed today to "non-essential" personnel, so between the two of us, we were able to take care of the snow-bound kids pretty well yesterday. Not that I ever have problems with the kids when it is just me. It is nice to be able to know you can play man-to-man rather than zone on the kids.

I think the Phillies are going to win the world series this year. Better them than the Yankees.

Some of my "Blogs I read" over on the right hand side (for those of you who read this as a blog instead of a facebook note) are not updating. Not sure why or how to fix it. Unfortunately, two of the blogs I want most to keep updated on (my Sister's and my Dad's) are ones that are not updating. I notice that they are also not updating on each others' whereas mine seems to be on both theirs. So, it appears to be something about the blogs ... not something about my subscription to them.

Hey... little sis and father ... fix your blogs!

Don't really have anything interesting to say. Just sharing the photo.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bike Ride: Correction

I said in my last post post:

"We rode a total of just over 15 miles which makes this Tyler's longest bike ride ever."
and
"but I think 15 miles for a 7-year-old is pretty impressive."

We actually rode just over 25 miles.
It was still Tyler's longest ride ever.
I still think it is an impressive distance for a 7 year old.

But, I was wrong (and way off) saying it was 15 miles when it was actually 25.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bike Ride

This past Saturday, we went on a bike ride on the Platte River trail. At first, Tyler said he wanted to ride into Denver, but once we got on the path, he decided he wanted to go in the other direction.

It was really a nice day. We rode a total of just over 15 miles which makes this Tyler's longest bike ride ever. It is a pretty flat path, so it probably was not his most difficult ride, but I think 15 miles for a 7-year-old is pretty impressive.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wild Yeasties

R.D.W.H.A.H.B.

For those of you who do not know, that means "Relax, Don't Worry. Have A Home Brew". Those of you who do know are probably home brewers yourself.

One thing that is fascinating about brewing beer is something so damn simple has become such a science over literally thousands of years.

Every home-brewer knows the acronym "R.D.W.H.A.H.B." and yet, every home-brewer (to varying degrees) obsesses about (literally) microscopic details. Every home-brewer will tell you that you must sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. Anything that touches the beer or has a chance to touch the beer or might even be close to the same room has to be sanitized. Bacteria and wild yeasts are the enemy of beer and can produce off-tastes. There are countless other examples of ultra-precise time / temperature / and volumes that have to be just right if you pay attention to all the books and Internet forums out there.

But, quite frankly, beer is simply malted grain, water, hops, and yeast. According to Wikipedia's History of Beer article, beer dates back to 6,000 B.C. I find it hard to believe that home-brewers 8,000 years ago had any idea what micro-organisms were flying around and landing in their beer. It was not until the 1800s that Louis Pasteur discovered the role of microorganisms in the process of fermentation. In fact, on Beer Day, I mentioned the Reinheitsgebot (beer purity law). The original law did not mention yeast, because Germans in 1516 had no idea what micro-organisms were let alone what role they played in making beer.

Maybe I should mention in case you don't know that yeast is a micro-organism that eats sugars and poops alcohol. I do not think beer would be nearly as popular without the by-product created by those hungry little critters.

So, one of the most important pieces of the beer-puzzle was literally unknown for thousands and thousands of years, and amazingly, people were still able to brew beer. Amazing.

And do you know how beer brewing worked before humans knew about micro-organisms? Wild yeasts. There are millions and millions billions trillions wild yeasties flying all around us. Home brewers fear them because really, who knows what a wild yeast will do to you (and more importantly, your beer). But, truly, if these little creatures were not flying around trying to find something to ferment 8,000 years ago, no one would have discovered beer. NO ONE WOULD HAVE DISCOVERED BEER! Can you imagine? Can you?

And so, if people 8,000 years ago could brew beer without worrying about it, don't you think we should be able to? Why obsess?

R.D.W.H.A.H.B.

Tonight I brewed a beer I am calling Fools Gold. When I brewed SheppyBrew's Nugget Gold, I was hoping it would end up like Boulder Beer Company's Buffalo Gold, which I think is a very good beer. I know a couple of people with whom I've shared my home brews also like Buffalo Gold. Nugget Gold did not taste like Buffalo Gold. The HME used in Nugget Gold just seems hoppier than Buffalo Gold. Well, by going to the description of Boulder Beer Company's Buffalo Gold, I found the hops and grains that are used in the beer. So you can look on http://beer.ericshepard.com/foolsgold.htm to see how I tried to recreate the beer. It will be awhile before I am able to compare how I did. It will be fun to perfect this beer. You can be sure I sanitized and tried my very best to eliminate those wild yeasties.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

SheppyBrew Update

Most of you know that I have been brewing my own beer this year. My wonderful, generous sister is to thank as she is the one who got me a Mr. Beer kit for Christmas. To be honest, I got the kit and figured I would brew maybe a couple batches and probably go months before using it again. The only home-brew I had ever tried was a stout back in college, and I really did not like it. I'm not sure if it was a bad beer, or if I was simply so used to mass-produced watered down beer that I could not appreciate good beer at the time. But, based on that experience, I really did not think I would like home-brewed beer that much.

Boy, was I wrong. Of course, the nice thing about brewing your own beer is that you control what kind of beer you get. It takes a bit of trial and error, and you will most likely make mistakes (eg: Girly Berry; Maple Brown), but if you follow the process and stick to what you like, most likely you will end up with great beers (eg: Eric's Red; Wetta Blonde; Phat & Tyred; etc ... etc ... etc ... )

So far, if I just counted right, I have brewed 21 batches of beer. Those 21 batches have given me 16 distinctly different beers. Currently, I have 8 different types of SheppyBrew beers in my beer fridge which are theoretically drinkable right now, and 2 batches my fermentors which can be drinkable in the next couple of weeks. My batch sizes are smaller than most "real" home-brewers as the Mr. Beer fermentors hold just over 2 gallons, whereas most home-brewers do 5 gallon batches. Basically, every batch is a case of 12oz beers. But, even with my small - size batches, I have brewed over 45 gallons of beer this year, which I think is alot. Federal law allows and individual to home-brew 100 gallons a year and a household to brew 200 gallons a year. From my beer forums, I know some people who go over the 200 gallons a year limit (shhhh.... don't tell the feds) , so at least I'm not as obsessed as I could be.

My signature beer is Eric's Red, a deep- redish- amber beer with a heavenly malty, almost sweet flavor with very low bitterness. The thick creamy head on this beer is absolutely amazing. Even though this is my favorite (or at least in the top 2), it is also the one I have tinkered with the most. I have made 4 batches of Eric's Red, and each one has been a bit different. I have one that I have to bottle this weekend, which I am sure will be the best one yet. I also really like Phat & Tyred, which started out as a Fat Tire clone, but which I modified enough that it really isn't a clone anymore. It depends on my mood which one I like better and any particular day.

Out of the people with whom I have shared my beers, my Blonde beers have been the favorites. My very first beer was a simple beer recipe that came with the Christmas gift, Classic American Blonde Ale, which was a huge hit with everyone I shared it with. It was, of course, this beer that made me fall in love with the hobby, so obviously, I liked it as well, but it is not the kind of beer I want associated with SheppyBrew. It was a good beer, but not a great beer, so I followed up on a beer that beer drinkers could appreciate in which I added more body and hop flavor, Wetta Blonde, and it has been a big hit as well. Not only do others like it, but I think it is a great beer too.

My most recent beer is one I call Rocktoberfest Ale (in honor of the Rockies who just made the playoffs for only the third time in their history). This one is a deep-amber, almost dark brown with modest bitterness. It had a little higher alcohol content than most of my beers, and its dark malty flavor with the extra little alcohol kick serves well to warm you up on a cold October night while watching the baseball playoffs. Its carbonation is pretty low, which I will have to fix next year, but it is also a great beer. It is considerably darker than your typical oktoberfest lager, but I did not make it for the typical oktoberfest drinker.

So, out of my 16 different styles, I would say at least 4 will be part of my regular lineup (Eric's Red, Phat & Tyred Ale, Wetta Blonde, and Dragon Spit). I plan to always have bottles of each of these ready to drink (NOTE to self: Need to make some more Dragon Spit). At least 4 will definitely be repeated seasonable brews (Whisky Wife Wheat, Gringo Cervesa,X-Mas Ale, Rocktoberfest Ale). Whisky Wife Wheat has the potential of making the regular lineup. It is too soon to tell on Vanilla Porter and Tommy Hawk APA, but I need an APA and a Porter or Stout in the mix, so their chances are pretty good if I like them at all.

And of course, I will always be looking to try new recipes (if I can ever fit them into the schedule having just committed to at least 8 and probably 10 beers to regularly brew). I know I am going to try a DoppleBock and an Irish Stout.

If you made it this far in the blog entry without getting totally bored, you might be interested to see the artwork for my beer labels. You can check them out by going to my public facebook page.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Boys' Weekend

My wonderful, beautiful wife left us a couple of weeks ago to go to our church's women's retreat. I am not sure why women would need to retreat in general, but that is a topic for another time. The fact that my wife thought it appropriate to leave two young boys in the care of her incompetent husband is completely shocking, but again not really what this particular blog entry is about. Really, it is about nothing except sharing of a couple of pictures for those of you who tragically don't get to see the boys very often.On Saturday, we went to the zoo. We have a membership to the zoo, so any particular visit is free for us. The boys like the zoo. It was a nice day. I like to see animals. So, we went to the zoo.

We did the usual zoo stuff. We rode the carousel (I still call these merry-go-rounds, but apparently I've been referring to them incorrectly all these years). We sat on various statues around the zoo. We saw all kinds of animals... some of which even felt like cooperating with us by being somewhere we could see them ... some of them even moved around some. We ate lunch and the boys got ice cream. Tyler even got a close-up picture of the tiger yawning (pretty cool... don't you think). As you can see, tiger teeth are on the largeish size.

After the zoo, we came home and had a movie night with pizza and popcorn (Daddy even had a few beers. All in all, a very successful day ... all while our wife and mommy was off doing God-Knows-What with other women on her "retreat".

And the next day, we had to entertain ourselves AGAIN. We headed over to Golden. Nothing real special was going on in Golden. We just went to the playground and then walked along Clear Creek and played on the rocks and in the water while heading towards the Capital Grill in downtown Golden. Where the boys got ice cream again and Daddy got a beer again.

When we got home, mommy was there. She did not seem to care about my crying and gnashing of teeth from the wild, crazy kids and my attempt to control them.

It was a nice weekend.
Hopefully by the time next women's retreat comes along, I'll be able to convince Tracy not to leave her poor kids in my incapable hands.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dangers Everywhere

I live in a very dangerous neighborhood. Well, most of the neighborhood is fine, but my house can be a living terror. Something weird about the trade winds that go through attract vicious predatory creatures from all geographic regions and (in some cases) various times in history (and pre-history). Maybe there is some sort of worm hole or two that comes right out in the middle of my family room.

Pirates regularly wander through my home. Cowboys and rustlers have their gun fights in my and around my house. There have been violent battles waged in our house. Ghosts and goblins and trolls and all kinds a scary monsters have been known to appear and usually attack random, innocent fathers who are simply minding their own businesses. Batman fights crime right in the middle of my house, and often mistakes me for some sort of super-villain. Super-fast cars and trains fly through with little regard for what middle-aged father-type figures might be wandering around and in the way. We've had plane crashes, space ship crashes, alien invasions, and rabbit attacks. A couple of times, volcanoes have erupted. All, right in the middle of my home.

I have had to fight off lions, grizzly bears, wolves, Siberian tigers, vicious man-eating crocodiles, various types of dinosaurs (some of which are much more dangerous than ones ever dug up), huge saber tooth cats, piranhas as big as small human children, sharks (yes, sharks, can you imagine a shark finding his way up to the Rocky Mountain region?), snakes of poisonous varieties, snakes that squeeze and swallow whole, fire breathing dragons, non-fire breathing dragons, wizards, undead skeletons, baseball players, mutant attack monkeys, and too many other dangerous creatures to ever list them all.

And, rarely do I have to fight off just one of any of these attackers. Almost always there are two of whatever vicious animal is attacking. There is almost always one big creature and one smaller (although just as deadly) partner.

It is a miracle that I have survived all these violent attacks. You should see the bloody scars all over my body from teeth and claws and other sharp animal body parts.... or maybe on second thought, you should not see them. They are quite disturbing.

Oh, and the most frightening thing of all is a 7-year-old giant wild boy who keeps stalking me and jumping on my back. Is it any wonder that I am so jumpy? Don't even get me started on my continuous tribulations I have with Tweedle Beatles.

Isn't it amazing that I am such a well-adjusted, normal adult?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Flag Football

My son played his first flag football game last night. He is on a team with 7 other (maybe 8 other) 7 and 8 year olds through the Denver Rec Center behind our house. They play 5 on 5 against other Denver Rec Centers around the South-West side of Denver. At 5 on 5, there is a center, a quarterback, a running back, and two wide receivers.... although some of the formations use double backs and some of them use 3 wide receivers.

Over the weekend, Tyler and I had to work on the "playbook". Coach Chip told me that Tyler would probably start off at running back, so we concentrated on that position. You might think I'm kidding about the play book, and calling it a book is probably a bit of an exaggeration, but we did indeed get two pages (front and back) of plays that the kids needed to learn before last night's game. 5 running plays and 5 passing plays. I thought Tyler did a great job learning the plays, and he was excited to be working on it.

Before I get to bragging too much, let me just say, my boy is a weak quarterback. His throws neither accurately nor hard. I need to work with him on not getting rattled at the pass rush. He is not a great pass receiver either. If the ball goes right to him, he is more likely than not to catch the ball, but 7 year old quarterbacks do not generally throw the ball that accurately. At least this is the case of all the 7 and 8 year old quarterbacks I have seen so far.

There are, however, two things Tyler excels at so far. First, he is the best "tackler" on the team (in flag football, this means he does a good job getting in defensive position, and pulling the flag off the guy with the ball). The second thing he apparently is good (great) at is running with the ball.

On the South-West Scorpions' first offensive play last night, Tyler lined up at running back. The other team had scored on their first possession, which means the ball was on the 5 yard line. The coach called a "Quick 3", which basically means the running back runs to the right. Tyler got the ball and headed up field. As soon as he was past the line of scrimmage, I said to myself, and anyone else within earshot, "they are not going to catch him". And they didn't. I have to say, I was a bit surprised that he was that much faster than the other kids, but truly, none of the other kids had any kind of chance to catch him. 95 yards later (actually, the field is shorter than that, but I do not really know how much shorter ... probably more like 65 or 75 yards later), Tyler had his first touchdown.

One thing about football at this level is that every kid gets a chance to play every position, and Coach Chip did a pretty good job getting kids in and making sure pretty much all the plays were run. So, it took awhile for Tyler to get his second chance. The play was "Slash" which basically means the running back runs to the left. Once again, Tyler broke through the line of scrimmage, but this time, there was a safety back far enough to be able to get to Tyler and just barely pull Tyler's flags off. That run was only 20 or 30 yards, and very easily could have been another touchdown with a little luck.

Most of the rest of the game was uneventful for my favorite player. He got a chance to play QB once and totally got rattled by the rush. He threw the ball nowhere close to anyone. He played receiver and never was thrown to. The other team scored a couple of touchdowns, and Tyler's team scored another. Tyler played mostly safety on defense, and no one ever got past him (he was on the bench for all the other teams' scores except the first one).

So, we got to the very last play of the game and the Scorpions were down by a TD at about half field. Coach Chip had the kids run a double reverse with Tyler getting the ball at the end of the play. I am quite certain that this play was not in the playbook and I know the kids never practiced a double reverse. And, quite frankly, it was slow to develop and fooled no one on the defense, but once again, Tyler turned on the jets and simply outran everyone to (and through) the end zone.

So, the running stats on my boy were 3 carries for probably about 150 yards and 2 touchdowns.

I do not want to be one of "those" Dads (yet), but I have to say, I feel probably more pride than I should. And, quite frankly, it is going to be a little hard to have Tyler remain humble. I am sort of worried that he is going to demand the ball a little bit. I could tell towards the end of the game that he was not happy about the lack of touches he got. Of course, the goal of playing here is to have the kids learn the fundamentals and not to win. If the goal had been to win, Tyler would have gotten a bunch more running plays. And I have no problem at all how Coach Chip played the game. He basically spent most of the plays working on weaknesses, and the team will be better for it if they stay together long enough to whatever age it is that winning is the goal.

All the kids had fun, and that was the most important thing.

But, man, Tyler had a heck of a game.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mt. Falcon

I just climbed the East side of Mt. Falcon on my Mt. Bike. Most of you reading this blog do not know what that climb is like, but trust me, it is a challenging bike ride. Well, at least it is challenging for a 39 year old guy who until the past month or so has not really mountain biked for years and years. And truth-be-told, some of the rocks and erosion prevention logs were beyond my skill level (and / or fitness level), so there were spots I walked my bike.

Yes, I am an out-of-shape wimp.

Even so, I made it up in about an hour, which is not horrible for the terrain. I probably would not have been too disappointed 7 or 8 years ago when I actually did consider myself a mountain biker. If any of you out there do know the trail, you are probably saying "wow... That is pathetic!" I would not be too terribly shocked if my friend John can do the climb better on his hand-cycle. But, I have to accept the fact that for me, this was pretty good.

Now that I have made the climb, and rested, the top is much easier to ride over. I'll spend some time up here riding without my heart pounding and sucking air. Compared to what I just did, biking up here will be relaxing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rocks Win!

If you follow baseball, you probably know that the Colorado Rockies went to the world series in 2007 after an incredible winning streak to end up the regular series, which went right on into the NL playoffs.

The 2008 season brought Rockies fans back down to earth. The Rockies stunk again.

This year, it looked like another year like 2008 until the team fired the head coach. All of a sudden the Rockies are in a race again. They are winning the wild card race and not that far behind the Dodgers for the division. Let me tell you, it is pretty rare for that to be the case in August.

The giants (who were one game behind the Rockies for the wild card) came to town this past weekend. Saturday, we had a "Boys Night Out" at Coors field. So far, this year, we have had good luck going to baseball games. The Rockies have won every game we've been to in dramatic come-from-behind fashion. I think partially because of the great games that we have seen, the boys are really big Rockies fans this year. Tyler and Connor were really excited to get to go to the game.

We got there early enough to watch batting practice. We stood up on the left-field concourse and got to see some of the long bombs. Made me nervous and watchful because of the danger of flying baseballs. I think if I had the opportunity to catch a ball, I would have been busy shielding Connor rather than even making an attempt at the ball. But, it was pretty cool for the boys. It was the first time they have seen batting practice.

Eventually we got to our seats in section 205, which is the right field mezzanine. Not great seats because we could not see the entire outfield, but not really horrible seats either. And, boy did we get a show. The Rockies were down 6 to 1 in the 4th. We actually went for ice cream at the top of the 4th and got back to watch the Rockies score a couple of runs to get within 6 to 3. At this point, I was thinking that it would be great if they could come back, but maybe our great luck had worn off.

Nothing happened in the 5th. But, all of a sudden, the Rockies started hitting in the 6th. 7 runs later, including a grand-slam, the Rockies were winning 10 to 6. Even back in the days of the Blake-Street-Bombers, I do not think I've ever seen a 7 run inning by anyone, and let me tell you, Coors Field ROCKS when something like that is happening.

The game ended up 14 to 11, which made for a very late night for the boys, but going home they were pretty wired. I had no problems with a tired Connor walking back to the train at all, and Tyler just could not stop about how cool the game had been.

As I write this, the Rockies are 3 games up on the Giants for the wild card and only 3.5 games behind the Dodgers for the division lead. LA is coming to town this week, so now would be a great time to get hot. It would be awesome to see the Rockies leading the division in a few days.

It would be great to drink my Rocktoberfest Ale while watching the Rockies in the World Series this year. It could definitely happen.

video
note: when playing this video, you might want to turn down the sound on your computer. it is LOUD.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mountain Biking

Yesterday, I went mountain biking. I have been a couple times this year, but before this summer, it has been years since I've actually ridden my mountain bike on anything remotely resembling a mountain biking trail.

I went up the old standard Waterton Canyon which after about 7 miles hooks up with the Colorado Trail. Yes, Waterton Canyon is the place we take Tyler quite a bit, but we just take him on the first part of the trail.


Surprisingly enough, even though I have not been mountain biking for so long, I got up to the spot pictured above in about the amount of time it took me years ago when I actually was in Mountain Biking shape. I was tired as heck with the climb, but I got there without having to stop. I did however just head back down the trail from that point rather than doing a loop that "real" mountain bikers would have done. I hope to do the loop next week sometime.

On the way back down the canyon, I "ran into" the herd of big-horn sheep that lives in that area. It has been a real long time since I've seen them, so it was pretty amazing to come so close (they were on the trail itself). It is downright amazing that I had decided to bring the camera, because usually my luck is not that great.

Actually, the only reason I brought the camera was that I wanted to take a picture of the valley on the other side of the switchbacks (the first photo in this blog). I think that spot ranks up there with some of the most beautiful views I have seen in Colorado, and I wanted the shot to put on one of my beer labels.

Anyway, it was nice to do some mountain biking again. I need to make sure I get out some more.

Lake Wellington

This past weekend, we went camping at Wellington Lake, which is a private lake (with private campsites) down in the Pike's Peak National forest. The reason we did a private campground is that I could not find any public campgrounds anywhere close to us that were not full of reservations for the weekend. One problem we have is that we do not plan far enough in advance to get reservations in. I do not know what weekends will be open until a week or before the weekend.

Anyway, on Thursday, the boys and I drove South 285, took a left at Pine Junction, traveled to FR550 and followed it to Wellington Lake. This gave Tracy a chick-flick night, and let us get an early pick (or so we thought) of the campsites.

The office at Wellington Lake was the most disorganized business setting I have ever seen. There was one lady checking people in where clearly, she needed one or two people helping out. She asked me if we wanted something by the lake (but without trees) or a mountain campsite (with trees but away from the lake). I decided to try a lake-side campsite, and she told me what campsites were available (or what campsites she thought were available) and had me go look at them to pick ours out. She gave me a choice of 5, but as it turned out, only two of them were actually available. Apparently, it she was so overwhelmed that she was unable to cross sites off in her little book as people claimed them.

Anyway, eventually, we claimed our site. The fee structure was sort of interesting to me. Rather than charge for the campsite, we paid per person per day. Apparently, you pay the same to go into the Wellington Lake area whether or not you camp there.

Thursday night, I was certain we had made the wrong decision (by the lake or in the mountains) because the wind by the lake was horrible from about 10pm until early in the morning.


But the next day, we ate our oatmeal, and got ourselves back in the minivan to go pick up Tracy. We got back to Wellington Lake around lunch time, so we ate lunch. The weather was rainy and windy and we spent time in the tent reading or playing games or whatever, but eventually all of a sudden, the sun came out BIG TIME. Very hot in the tent, so we went back to the office to rent a canoe. Yes, we (Tyler) fished, and no we did not catch anything. Connor was very nervous about sitting in the canoe. He was pretty convinced that we would tip over.

Luckily, Friday night was not windy, and Saturday was just gorgeous.


We went on a hike named "Waterfall Trail". It turned out to be a perfect length for Connor. Nice, since we had no idea going in. There were a lot of huge rocks and cave-like formations on the hike which was really cool. The waterfall was pretty neat too (we did not get a good picture actually by the waterfall, but the picture above is by the river as it goes down).


Our neighbors left during the day and left us some extra firewood, so we had a really good camp fire that night.


The picture above is our campsite on Sunday after we packed up. It is a really pretty spot, isn't it?

Tyler goes back to school next week. I do not know where the summer has gone. I am sort of hoping for a long Indian Summer so that we can get one or two more camping trips in this year. Next year I have to do a better job planning in advance.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Second Wind Fund

Well... Tracy signed up the Colorado Shepards for a run / walk / ride for the Second Wind Fund of Metro Denver. The event is in September.

The mission of the SWFMD is to decrease the incidence of teen suicide by removing financial and social barriers to treatment for all at-risk youth. SWFMD operates in the Denver metro area; nearly 1,400 metro Denver youth have been referred to them for ongoing counseling.

Apparently, they don't only want us to appear and walk / run / ride, but also want us to help them raise money. If you feel this is a worthy charity and wish to give, you can do so using the handy / dandy widget:



You can also check out my "Fund Raising Page" by going to http://www.firstgiving.com/sheppy



I realize my target is probably pretty high especially given my lack of wealthy friends. We'll have to see how the page actually does.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Breckenridge

Well, my wife's birthday is July 3rd, and our tradition is that we always (well usually anyway) go away to some mountain town for the 4th of July weekend. This year, like last year, I intended to get started making reservations earlier, but it always seems to sneak up on me. And, like last year, I panicked and reserved a condo in Breckenridge. Breckenridge always works well because I know how to find last-minute 2 bedroom condos in Breckenridge at pretty reasonable prices (at least during the non-snow-skiing months). We are also familiar enough with Breckenridge that I do not have to investigate activities before we go.


Anyway, we ended up in Breckenridge again this year for Tracy's birthday. We spent the 4th downtown playing on the inflatable playthings they always have for kids and then watching the independence day parade. Connor and I went back to the condo for a nap before the parade was done. Not sure if I will be able to survive these mountain mini-vacations when Connor no longer takes naps, because as it turned out, I really needed the nap too.


On the 5th, we drove our bikes down to Frisco (about 15 minutes from Breckenridge) and rode along Lake Dillon. The ride was a bit more hilly than I remembered, but Tyler really did a good job on the hills. There were a couple of places he had to stop and walk up the end of a hill, but he surprised me on a most of them, making it up by himself. He also did a good job staying over to the right and even navigated a stretch that goes right by the rode pretty well. It was a good ride to a playground in Dillon where we had lunch and played on the playground equipment.


And, on the way home on the 6th, we stopped by an overlook over Lake Dillon to take a family picture over the lake. Those of you who have been in our house might remember the poster-sized photo we have of the family before Connor was born. We (or at least I) keep telling people that we should update the picture now that we have Connor, and now we finally have done the first step towards that goal. Now we just have to order a poster-sized print and there we have it.

So, we had fun in Breckenridge. The weekend flew by as they always do, and I really did not want to wake up to go to work this week. But, it was worth it, I'm sure.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Talent

My 7 year old son drew and then colored this picture. He did not trace the Blackhawks logo. He did have a printed out copy that he looked at while drawing his version. I personally think he did an awesome job, and I do not think it is because I am his father and am proud of everything he does. He really did a great job. In fact, everyone who has seen the picture in person is extremely impressed, even our new neighbor across the street who tragically is another one of those Red-Wing fans.

Honestly, his drawing talent is somewhat of a mystery. It certainly is not genetic as neither I nor my wife would have been able to do this.
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