Messages from the March

March For Our Lives Denver | March 24th, 2018

The message to end gun violence was heard loud at clear during the “March for our Lives” rally on Saturday in Denver. The goal was not to oppose the second amendment or to take away guns. The speakers touched on mental illness, universal background checks, bullying, safety in schools, access to assault weapons and much more.

Chants that were heard throughout the march included “Show me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like!” “Vote them out!” “Enough is enough!” “Not one more!” “What do we want? Gun Control! When do we want it? Now!”

With a reported turnout of 100 thousand people, the crowd was massive and individuals from all walks of life were in attendance. There were students, parents, grandparents, teachers, democrats, republicans, veterans, immigrants, gun owners, and even dogs.


Reflection on the Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting

It’s been a tough week. I tend to shy away from writing about personal, political or religious issues but I have to say something today.

One of my best friends is an incredible high school teacher and coach in Florida. Today her campus was put on lockdown due to a threat from a student with an AR15. Not a drill, not a practice run – she was locked in a closet with 18 of her students for 2 hours. She’s also about to welcome a child of her own into this world. When she told me what happened today my heart broke and my eyes filled with tears. While I’m relieved that she’s okay and that her students are physically okay, emotionally they are not. No student, teacher or parent should ever have to experience something like this. It’s not okay that a high school student can have access to a weapon like that, or any weapon at all. It’s not okay that high school students should have to fear for their lives while trying to get an education. It’s not okay that my friend was put in a situation where she had to protect her students, and put her own life and the life of her baby in front of a potential shooter.

Here’s what she had to say about her experience:

“In all of our jobs and careers, there are “what-if” scenarios. Teaching is not an exception. 

When I began my teaching career seven years ago, questions like “What if a student enters my class below grade level proficiency?” and “What if a student’s home life interferes with their ability to focus in class?” were scenarios I knew I was likely to face. After all, I was working in a Title I school with over 95% of our student body coming from households below the poverty line. 

Today, we lived a “what-if” scenario that no child, teacher, administrator or staff member should ever have to.

Today, I looked a sixteen-year-old child in the eye and asked them to remove their belt so I could tether our classroom door shut. I asked students to flip furniture and move totes to blockade our doorway. I huddled 18 students into a storage closet, locking it behind us and slid a bookcase in front of the door to create an additional barrier between my kids and a potential threat on the outside. This was not a drill. This was not an exercise. This was the real response to a threat against our campus. 

For over two hours, I sat with my students in a storage closet reassuring them everything would be okay and waiting for the next email to come through with an update or set of instructions from my school’s leadership. 

In the wake of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, districts across the country have been on high alert as copy-cat threats have rolled in. Today, my school was one of those affected. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I know things could have been much worse. We were eventually given an all-clear by law enforcement and administration, but that doesn’t take away what these children experienced and what it has done to their sense of security. 

My “what-ifs” are no longer centered around instructional practices and classroom management. The “what-ifs” that I, as a classroom teacher, am set to consider are “What if there is an armed intruder on my campus?”, “What if my efforts are not enough to protect my students?”, and “What if my students cannot focus because they do not feel safe at school?”

This is not what education is meant to be. These should not be the thoughts and fears of our students or our teachers. 

So I ask those of you reading this to consider a few what-ifs… What if we channeled this anger and fear and didn’t allow ourselves to become distracted away from what needs to happen in regards to school safety, mental illness, and gun control? What if we pressured our lawmakers and representatives to take action and didn’t take no as an answer? What if we voted with our hearts and heads instead of with our party lines? And what if your action is the one piece missing from making a change?” 

Amanda English, Bayshore High School

Another one of my best friends has a young daughter who she’ll be sending to elementary school soon. The fact that she even has to consider whether sending her daughter to school is safe or not, is not okay.

I’m not a parent, I’m not a teacher, but I’m a proud American who can openly admit that America has a serious problem.

What do we do? I have my opinion. I’m not against guns, I have my concealed carry permit. I enjoy shooting and I can brag a little bit and say I’m a great shot. I understand that hunting is a lifestyle and many people rely on it to feed their families. I understand that some people need to protect themselves. However, my hobby is not more important than the lives of students or anyone else and I see absolutely no reason why anyone other than law enforcement and military would need an assault rifle. If I have to give up guns for the safety of others, I’m 100% okay with that. The solution to this problem is not a one-stop shop – we need to protect our babies, our friends, and family. We need to address mental illness. We need new, stricter gun laws. Everyone should have to take an educational gun safety course, pass a background check and get a mental health screening before being able to purchase a gun, have a life insurance policy attached to gun ownership so that the victims of a mass murder aren’t left paying the price – just an idea. There are things we can do, we can no longer turn a blind eye and continue on the same path when it comes to guns in this country.

I know everyone else has an opinion on this issue too. Gun control, mental illness, education, being raised right, video games – politics aside, whatever your opinion is I hope we can all agree on one thing…

Our two political parties need to drop their pride, stop trying to prove the other side wrong and meet in the middle. We need to come together as one nation undivided and WE NEED CHANGE.


What to do in Steamboat (in the winter) if You Don’t Ski

Steamboat Springs is hands down my favorite place to spend a weekend in Colorado, especially during the summer. Steamboat has it all; hiking, tubing the river, camping, mountain biking, hot springs, the rodeo, great restaurants, shopping and live music – what’s not to love. I enjoy visiting Steamboat in the winter too, even though I’m not much of a winter sports gal, which is exactly what I did this past weekend.

While my boyfriend did spend a day on the slopes, I did not. No complaining here though, I found plenty to do in Steamboat without skiing. I started my day off with a short hike on the Old Town Hot Springs walking trail with my dog followed by a big warm cup of coffee and a savory crepe at Yampy’s Coffee Crepes and Cocktails. After breakfast, I ventured along the river down to the sulfur springs to take some pictures and walk off my breakfast.


After walking all over town and checking out local shops, I searched for the best Bloody Mary in Steamboat. My search brought up three locations; Mc Knights Irish Pub, Creekside Cafe & Grill, and Four Points Lodge. I choose Mc Knights, and they weren’t lying about having a great bloody mary. It was so good I even ordered a second drink. Mc Knights was a little divey but with a great atmosphere and really friendly staff. It’s also located close to the mountain and off the main drag in town so I can see it being a popular spot for those coming off the slopes.

When I picked my boyfriend up from the mountain we went back into town for a beer and some bar food at The Tap House with our friends who were also visiting Steamboat for the weekend. They headed back to where they were staying in Frisco and we headed up to Strawberry Hot Springs, clothing optional after dark. This is such a cool experience whether you go during the day or at night, and I highly recommend you check this out if you visit Steamboat.

We normally stay in a vacation rental or rent a room at the Nordic Lodge when we visit Steamboat. However, this time we slept in our Yukon Denali XL up on a pull-off on Rabbit Ears Pass, a popular spot for snowmobilers. We got this vehicle over the summer and we’ve been slowly converting it into a camper. We removed the third-row bench seat and it fits a full-size mattress in the back. We have plenty of storage and room for the dog too! My only concern about winter car camping was the temperature. Surprisingly, it was nice and cozy in there and we didn’t freeze to death. We bundled up, ate some snacks, and watched a movie on my laptop.

SIDE NOTE – we watched the movie Bright with Will Smith on Netflix and it was awesome. Watch it!

The next day we woke up to a serious snow storm. That didn’t stop us from venturing out on a hike up to Fish Creek Falls. Fun fact; Fish Creek Falls is the waterfall on the front of the Coors beer can and bottle. Luckily the snow on the trail was packed down so we didn’t need snowshoes or Yak Trax. The waterfall was completely frozen but just as beautiful as it is flowing.


Before our drive back to Boulder Clint took a few casts on the Yampa and was able to land a nice brown trout. We made one final pit stop in Dillion at The Dillion Dam Brewery, a frequented spot for us, where we warmed up by ordering Mike’s Ale Onion Soup, highly recommended.


New Years Resolutions

2017 was an interesting year. For the United States and the rest of world, it seemed like just one bad situation after another, and as soon as we thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. Personally, 2017 came with many challenges as well. My health took me on a rollercoaster filled with doctors appointments, MRI’s and getting blood drawn more times than I can count. From vitamin deficiency to PSOC to costochondritis/chronic pain to food sensitivities to a sluggish gal bladder to migraines – I experienced it all this past year and it severely impacted my lifestyle and well-being. My 8 year long relationship also presented itself with some difficult challenges this year. However, not all of 2017 was bad. It was my first full year working as a freelancer, enjoying the benefits of working from home or from wherever I chose. I was able to travel often and visited Asheville, Oklahoma City and Sante Fe for the first time, along with countless new places in Colorado. I have a new vehicle that’s slowly but surely being converted into the ultimate adventure mobile with a full size mattress, plenty of storage, and four-wheel drive. 2018 looks promising for me!

Here are my resolutions:

  1. Hike (at least) 50 different trails. That’s at least one per week, with only two weeks off. On this list I hope to complete my first 14er!
  2. Focus on my health. With all the crazy issues I had in 2017, health is my number one priority this year. I don’t have a specific weight loss goal or anything like that – but my goal is all inclusive. This means mental, physical & emotional.
  3. Run (at least) 3 races. This past year I ran a 5k and a 10k – in 2018 I would like to run at least two 5k races and one 10k.
  4. TRAVEL! On my list so far I have Sedona, Moab, and Costa Rica. This list will grow.
  5. Write my first book. I’ve been talking about writing a book for a long time now, and I think I’ve got a few good ideas. This year… I’m finally going to get it done.

What are your resolutions?