Category Archives: Friends and Family

Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race 2011

First, you should know that less than a year ago, neither I nor any of my friends rode mountain bikes.   And you should know that the Leadville 100 is perhaps the most “epic” mountain bike race in the U.S.  Lance Armstrong won it a couple of years back.  It’s a 100 miles, and it starts at 10,000 ft. elevation.  And when I tried to ride just a portion of the course, there was a five-mile stretch during which I crashed (hard) three separate times (to say nothing of the thin-air climbs up bumpy trails).

There’s a lottery to get in, and Shane and Ned wound up getting “slots” in this year’s race; for better or worse (almost certainly better), I didn’t.   They trained like crazy, especially Ned, who spent about six consecutive weekends in Colorado (ask him about the oxygen tent over his bed in Houston – no kidding).  They both rocked it!  At least I got to tag along, drive the chase car and take pictures.

Oh:  And it all took place on my birthday.  So I got a nice present from the gang — a Payday (candybar).  Long story.

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The Parkers in the Virgin Islands

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I got to spend ten days or so in the Virgin Islands with my sister’s family (Jana and Bill Parker, and their ‘kids’ Tyler, Caitlin (in pink dress) and Grace.  We stayed on St. Thomas and then St. Johnr.  In the middle, we took a sailboat trip to Jost Van Dyke (one of the British Virgin Islands, which gave the Parker clan a chance to get a real stamp in their newly-minted passports).

These few pictures surely don’t do the place justice, but since most of our activities were water-based and my camera isn’t waterproof, there weren’t many pictures except for a few on the sailboat trip and an impromptu photo shoot the final night’s trip to dinner.  The stranger is Captain “Hollywood” Joe, who owned the sailboat.

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Colorado Multisport Week

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Ned’s spending a couple of weeks in Colorado — mostly riding bikes and training for the Leadville race in August.  I joined him for about five days.  Day 1 we hiked Bear Mountain near Boulder (and saw a mother bear with 2 cubs at a distance of about 40-50 yards).  Seeing a mother bear up that close sure is thought-provoking; it made me think:  “I wonder if I can outrun Ned in an all-out short sprint?”  Day 2 we rafted the Arkansas River near Royal Gorge.  The rest of the days we mostly scouted and mountain-biked part of the course of the Leadville 100, and even did a kayak tour of Lake Dillon on the way back to the airport.

Royal Gorge is a suspension bridge about 1000 ft above the Colorado River.  Ned was dubious as we approached — scoffing a bit that so much touristy enterprise had sprung up around something that, he said, “frankly doesn’t seem like it’s all that impressive.”  Ha.  About five minutes later, as we actually drove onto the bridge, he stopped the car dead in its tracks — voice nervously giddy and spewing expletives.  Suffice it to say that he was impressed.  This was the funniest moment of the trip.

Forgive some of the mediocre photography — this is mostly pocket camera stuff.

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Oregon — JB and Joyce’s 50th Anniversary

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I love this story.  In 1961, my dad was “pipelining” (i.e., working on a crew burying pipeline pipe) in Oregon.  My then-teenaged mother hopped in a car with her soon-to-be mother-in-law (and sisters-in-law) and they all headed out for Oregon.  In my mom’s suitcase was the wedding dress she had sewn herself.  And the rest is history.

Anniversary parties aren’t exactly my Mom and Dad’s “style.”  So instead, we (JB, Joyce, Jana and Jeff) went to Oregon on the week of their 50th anniversary.  We visited the church where they got married, their first apartment (the white building with green doors and roof), and the beach where they spent their Fourth-of-July honeymoon.  We even found the pipeline.

I also posted a few great old pictures from that period in 1961 — the pipeliners’ honeymoon.  The pinup girl is my newlywed mom.  A few of the pictures show my grandpa, Joe Cotner (in the overalls) and my great-uncle Bill, all pipeliners in that era.

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Alaska with Joyce and J.B.

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My first post-retirement priority was to take a trip with my Mom and Dad.  Most Alaska tourists apparently spend their time on cruise ships.  I had raised this option with my Dad.  Predictably, his response to the cruise ship idea included a good bit of profantity and the word “prison.”  So we flew to Anchorage in mid-June, rented an SUV, and for two weeks traveled the majority of the relatively-few roads that exist in that section of Alaska.

Along the way, we chartered a small boat for a private glacier cruise, took a horseback ride in the Kenai peninsula, took a ‘flightseeing’ plane trip to McKinley (including a landing on the Glacier), and spent a day on those terrible old school buses that are the only way to actually go into Denali National Park.

If you get off the tourist-beaten path, you can really have the place to yourself.  One day, for example, we drove into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park — the largest national park in U.S. at 13 million acres.  There are only two roads in, so we picked one and drove 2 hours, which was as far as you could go in a vehicle.  In that time, we saw maybe one or two other cars of sightseers.  Meanwhile, most of the visitors to Alaska were sharing a boat with 2,000 other tourists, or at best sharing bus with 40.  I think my Dad was right.

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