The Colorado Effect

We all know how powerful The Zarse Effect is but a few weeks ago I discovered just how strong The Colorado Effect is.

The original plan was to go to Colorado with Nate and Andrea this July, but as you might know a different continent called our name.  Despite missing a thrilling whitewater rafting trip and an “electrifying” 14er ascent, we had a pretty good time ourselves on our European adventure.  But now it was time for our turn.

We begin our trip with a visit to the Fat Tire Brewery.  These guys did it right.  We left that tour about 4 beers deep.  Not really sure how they make beer, but we had a good time none the less…After a quick cool down period in the psychedelic bus we are good for our next adventure.

How about a little haunted corn maze action?  Sign me up.  You can also sign me up for the sunset we saw on the way there.

Off to Red Rocks for a little mountain biking.  This was a blast.  I haven’t ever really gone mountain biking before.  I love it.  This trail kicked my butt.  At one point I stated that if I made it the entire trail with out vomiting I would consider it a success.   Well victory was mine…..barely.  The grueling ascent at a mile high was a test for my respiratory and muscular systems.  The decent however was a test for my testicular system.  Man did I love flying down the mountain, white knuckled, trees a blur, balls to the wall, fully alive.  Life does not get much better than some good adrenaline pumping speed,  surrounded by beauty, and good friends.  Got to love it.

Next on the list was a little camping at Cheeseman Canyon.  Some good ol’ fashioned beefy mac and cheese, cheesy veggies, smores, a good campfire, put it all in a scenic paradise and I am not sure what else you could want.  Oh yeah.  How about a little fly fishing.  Ok.  Done.  Grant introduced me to this terrific new Colorado pass time.  Extremely difficult, crazy frustrating, ridiculous amounts of untangling really small fishing wire, but you really can’t beat standing in the middle of a stream in beautiful Colorado no matter what you are doing.  Even if those darn trout swim right up to your bait, stare at it, and say to you, naahh I’m good.

That is right, good times to be had by all.  Colorado boasted her impressive allure on me for sure.  I do love this place.  It is filled with beauty, adventure, excitement, and just about every adventurous hobby you can think of.  It attracts me like a moth to a flame.   Maybe one day The Colorado Effect can include The Zarse Effect but that day is not today, probably won’t be tomorrow either.  That is because Colorado is missing a few things:  My wife (that is enough right there), DFD, The Village, Matt Chandler, Russells, Porters, Dischers, Trahans, Treadwells, Pirtles, V-Heys, Sudans, and multiple others of the like.  These are things which I am not ready to trade for the allure of Colorado.  Not yet.  The Dallas Effect is stronger than one might think.

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DFD Adventures

Welcome to the wonderful world of South Dallas.  These wonderful citizen occupying the lower half of our city never cease to amaze me.  Always there for me when I need a good laugh.  The latest scene involves this fine young gentleman.  Apparently he was…..well he must have been trying to….he probably just lost his…..yeah I have got no idea what this guy is trying to accomplish.  Driving back to the station from a run one of the guys spotted a peculiar object hanging from the power lines.  We drive around to take a look.  Sure enough we pull upon this interesting sight.  As my Lieutenant snaps a picture of the strange spectacle my driver tells the guy to get down from there.  Well as you might imagine this guy’s a few inches short of a foot.  As he swings towards his ladder he pushes it off the pole and it falls away leaving him dangling from the wire by two hands.  As he hangs there like some kind of spider monkey, I quickly run over and put the ladder back against the pole and Mr. Brilliant scanters on down.  Oh yeah, saving lives right and left here in the big D.  Although experiences like this make you think twice about Darwin and all his theories about survival of the fittest, natural selection, and the like.  Oh well.  Another South Dallasite saved from the depths of stupidity…….for today.

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Plan B

For our country’s annual celebration of “I don’t feel like working” day Steph and I decided that a trip to our old alma mater was due.  I still have a few friends that have stuck around good ol Fayetteville, so we made a trip up there to see them.  It wasn’t long before we fell right back into the good times of awesome college antics.  I have a buddy, Parish, who was and still is my partner in crime when it comes to doing awesome exciting adventures.  It took us all of an hour after arriving before we had our entertainment for the weekend all mapped out.

Yes, it is stuff like this that makes hanging out with Parrish so awesome.  There is something special that happens when the two of us get together, that something is awesomeness.

So believe it or not this was actually plan B.  Plan A began with this video.  After I saw this I could literally not stop thinking about it for a week.  Unfortunately we came to the conclusion that we did not have the location, money, and resources to make Plan A happen in the time allotted.  Not to worry, I am confident that I will make it happen.  So we had to settle on Plan B, a boat powered rope swing.  As you can tell by our diagram we had thought of everything.  It was going to be epic.  In the end, despite thinking of everything, certain laws of physics got the best of us, so we never really perfected the awesomeness that was Plan B, but we had a blast giving it a shot.

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The Zarse Effect Continues

And we’re back. Sorry for the delay in posts. After 28 posts in 25 days The Zarse Effect needed a little break. I hope everyone enjoyed the posts, I enjoyed bringing all of you along with us in the form of the written word. The trip was a huge success. A month of no work, all play. We got to see the world. Saw all of the sites. Managed to find us a little piece of heaven here on earth. The trip was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. That is meant in both the figurative and the literal sense. After running the numbers and figuring out the final tab for our little expedition, the chances are good that the Zarse’s will not be traveling to Europe anytime in the near future. Even though we had a terrific time overseas it is good to be back home. We really do have a good set up here. I have some great friends, a great job, and even though it pains me to say it, a decent city.

So as we get back into the swing of things The Zarse Effect will continue on with us. However, after such an action packed, fun filled, intriguing month, with plenty to write about, I find the transition to real life brings with it a little writers block. Not to fret though. Nothing can hold The Zarse Effect down for long. We have some good stuff coming up. A little city league softball, the Dallas Fire Department never lets me down when it comes to a good story, and who knows, a finical opinion or two might find its way into The Zarse Effect. We will see. So for all of those readers that found their way here because of the allure of a European adventure. Stay a little. Put your email address in the little box on the right ——-> stay tuned and see what the effect of the Zarse has to offer.

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Rome Day 3

Rome Day 3

With one more day left in the ancient city we have just one thing left on our list of things to see. Despite my wife’s fears of the boogie man, we head off to the country with the highest crime rate in the world. The Vatican City.

Our tour guide yesterday, Luke, was able to sell us on getting his tour of the Vatican City. We enjoyed his tour of the Roman Forum yesterday so we were looking forward to his tour today. I was not really thinking that another art museum would be all that enthralling so I was relying on our super interesting tour guide Luke to keep me entertained. We show up a little before 0900 when we were supposed to meet up. We get paid up and set up with the ear phones and gear. Around 0920 we see Luke come sauntering up the street, dark sunglasses on, looking down, a little out of it. I give him a friendly, “morning”. Luke mumbles something in a almost painful tone. Steph and I joke for a while that we think Luke had a little too much to drink last night. When it comes time for our tour to start Luke tells us that there is a change and we will be going with the other group today, he has to go home. Hilarious. Steph and I laugh and argue who was the first one to call it.

So we join up with Michael’s group. It is huge. There are probably 35 people in our group. In order to hear the guide we are given a little receiver box and earphones so we can hear what he is saying into his microphone. I have seen these contraptions on all kinds of tourists over the past month. These people are walking around the cities, ear phones in, nose in a book, usually in some sort of herd. I almost expect some sheep dogs to come running up behind them, snapping at their legs, herding them to this monument or that one. Well when it comes time for me to dawn this iconic tourist contraption I am not too excited to join the sheep. I do my best to hide my inevitable touristic perception. I go all CIA on them and run the cord through my shirt.

Oh well. Onward with the madness. As we walk around the Vatican museum I come to two conclusions. One of them is this. I have figured out that, despite a few variables, the amount I enjoy an activity is directly inversely proportional to the number of people in the vicinity of the said activity. With this formula in effect it was safe to say that I did not care too much for the Vatican museum. The entire four hours we were crammed into these rooms and hallways with tons of other people. Constantly bumping into, and navigating around swarms of people. This was just not my thing. The second conclusion that I came to is this. I do not think any of the paintings that we saw were too terribly impressive. You art lovers out there go ahead and gasp now but I just don’t get it. I could be wrong here but I think that before the 20th century all the artists actually tried to paint their pictures very accurately with detail. They didn’t do a bad job. Did much better than I could ever do, but not to the quality that I would expect considering their rock star status. In my ever so unbiased opinion I think my grandpa is a better painter and sculptor than any of the artists that I have seen on this trip. Granted my grandpa is a very talented artist, but I don’t see the pope coming to him paying him 10 million dollars to hang upside down from a ceiling for four years. Like I said, I don’t really get it.

So there we are, shuffling our way through the art rooms and I forget to take any pictures. Sorry for those of you who just really wanted to see some old paintings. The one time that I did remember to take some pictures is when all the security people told us that no pictures were allowed in the Sistine Chapel. I knew I needed to sneak a few in. Due to the lack of flash they did not turn out to well though.

We wrap up the Vatican tour, make it back to the hotel to get Steph some new batteries, then head out for our last meal abroad. We got a recommendation for a pizza place from our tour guide so we checked it out. It was a hike but was worth it when I noticed there were no tourists eating here. It was decent pizza. I still like BJ’s and Mazzio’s better, but it was the best Italian pizza we had eaten yet. With our meal complete and our European experience effectively over, we notice a sticker on the window of the pizza joint that just makes both of us smile.

That is what I am talking about. With 27 days spent away from the wonderful U S of A I am personally ready to get back. I love my country and my life in the wonderful state of Texas. Rome, you are old and a lot of cool stuff happened here a long time ago, but I live in Dallas and I am going home.

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Rome Day 2

Rome Day 2 starts off with a list of “must sees”. The usual suspects are all on the list. The Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Paul, and Peter’s prison, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the spanish steps. Plenty of really old places guaranteed to be filled to the brim with fellow tourists. We begin our journey with the Colosseum.

We opted for the guide which turned out to be a complete waste of time and money. They bait and switched us. The really friendly, nice, outgoing guy who spoke great English signed us up for the tour then dropped us off with our actual tour guide. This fine professional did not seem to know English very well, and she definitely could not speak it very well. I understood very little she had to say. After a while of trying, I finally gave up and began to just read the signs that they had up everywhere. Getting past the bad tour guide and the mass of people (both difficult tasks for me to do) I actually enjoyed the Colosseum. Pretty cool to think about how long this big stadium has been here and that people actually fought to the death just a few feet from where I stood. Walking around this big arena made me wonder. In 2000 years will people be paying for bad tours and walking around a big “football” stadium, learning about how Jerry Jones once upon a time built the largest TV screen of the time? Will people think it was so bizarre that 100,000 people used to cram in there to watch people throw around a pig stomach? If you really think about it, not a whole lot has changed in two millennia.

Next on the list for the day is the Roman Forum.

This is basically just a giant archeological dig site where all the ancient Roman ruins are. This place was the center of Rome back in the height of their empire. Included in the price of our Colosseum tour was a tour of this place. Lucky for us we got a different tour guide. This guy was much better. British guy with a sense of humor. He made the hot afternoon in a hole filled with really old rocks…. bearably pleasant. Apparently, to go along with all of these really old rocks, there is a story. Tour guide Luke told us these stories in a very entertaining way. It was cool to hear all that world history that I so quickly ignored in my 6th grade history class.

Next in line for team Zarse is the Mammertine prison. This is supposedly where Peter and Paul were imprisoned. This place was something else. It was neat to see the prison but the company running the tour was beyond weird. They put together this “spiritual journey” audio guide thing that was so cheesy it was hard to keep a straight face around the tour people. Beyond being cheesy it bordered on being straight heresy. The worship of Peter in this place is just sad to see. One thing I need a little clarity on. When we went to the prison they said that Peter and Paul both stayed in this prison and that Peter converted and baptized jailors here. They say that there was a miracle in that a spring came up from the cell and produced the water they used to baptize the jailors. I, unfortunately, am a little hazy on some of my bible history. I went and tried to find this story in the bible and was unable to find it anywhere. I was unable to find a place in the bible where Peter converted jailors. I was able to find where Paul converted jailors. That however could not have been in this jail. This jail we visited had no prison doors. Just a hole in the ground where they put the prisoners in. Acts 16 says there was an earthquake that shook the doors off the cell. Here there is no cell, and no doors. Can’t be the same story. Maybe I am missing the right passage. If anyone knows more on the subject let me know.

Next we make a quick stop at the Pantheon. Here is what we know about the Pantheon. It is a large building. It has a dome at the top. This dome has a hole in the top of it. It probably has some sort of Roman historical significance. That is about it.

Moving along we head over to the Trevi Fountain. The deal with this place is that if you throw a coin into the fountain you will fall in love. Why is it that if you throw a coin in you will fall in love? Well because that is what happened in the movie silly. Good thing I skipped the gelato vender before we got here because it would have been awkward if I spent my last coins on ice cream instead of falling in love with my wife. But alas I did not buy the ice cream, so Steph and I could throw the coin in and be in love. Whew. Close one. But does it still work if I chucked mine so hard it hit that statue guy in the forehead?

The last tourist attraction for the day is this place called The Spanish Steps. The deal with these. They are a bunch of steps which lead down to the mecca of shopping. We are told that this is the best place in the world to buy Armani, Gucci, Louis Vutton, Dulce Cabana. Apparently it is also the best place in the world to buy little tiny Colosseums, cooking aprons with Michelangelo’s David statue on the front, and kids squishy toys.

We finish up the night with a little Italian cuisine. Tonight we decide to go all out and eat like the Italians do. We each ordered our own first course of pasta, then second course of meat, then we shared a dessert. We each get a pretty decent portion of pasta for the first course. I am not sure I am going to be able to eat more than that. Then comes the second course. Due to the fact that we have been eating so much pasta recently my wife has been craving some protein, so she orders a steak. When this thing comes out I start laughing out loud. It is huge. The waiter said it was 350 grams. I am pretty sure that is about 12 or 13 ounces. It took up her whole plate. Then, as I watch in amazement, my wife, bite by bite, puts the whole thing away. Talk about a craving for meat, it was impressive.

With the tourist juices flowing freely we head over to the Vatican tomorrow. With one more day of Europe left I would love to write a little piece about how we have felt about the trip as a whole, and how much we are looking forward to seeing all of you fine people. Unfortunately one month straight of running around the globe leaves one pretty tired. Another night perhaps. Stay tuned.

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Rome Day 1

After our long, swelteringly hot, slumber-less night we find ourselves tired, groggy, and a little out of it. What to do when when you are in such deprived physical state? The only intelligent option that I could think of was to go and shoot some stuff. Yeah, lets go fling some long pointy sticks at stuff really fast. Joking aside, after our breakfast we discovered that archery was one of the activities that our little B&B offered. Considering you don’t need to use your knees much in this sport it seemed like a better idea for Steph’s knee than mountain biking. Off to the range we went.

Steph and I both taught archery for a minute or two back in our Kanakuk days so we considered ourselves somewhat of an expert in this endeavor. “Knock an arrow” “strike a pose” “clear down the line” “release”. Our Kanakuk safety habits came right back to us. Between the two of us we had a good time playing Robin Hood of Tuscany. Steph hit the target a few times, I managed to make contact a time or two. I even bested the instructor guy when he shot the last quiver with me. I would say that I am now ready, as Stephanie stated, “to bow us some meat”.

With our archery skills down it appears as if we just need some computer hacking skills and nun chuck skills and we will be set. We decide it is time to say goodbye to Tuscany and head off for our final destination, Roma. With our final train ride behind us we arrive in the ancient city.

Rome was not too kind to us this afternoon. One last time we embark on our traditional entrance to a foreign country. We step foot off the train and then have to figure out how to get to our destination. This has been my least favorite part of the trip. A lot of walking around with your pack. A lot of asking people for help, most of who look at you as if you are either mentally handicapped or are a much far inferior life form than themselves. A lot of stairs. A lot more walking, all of this while carrying a months worth of supplies on your back. A lot of attempting to read a language that you don’t know more than two words to. A lot of keeping your hands on your pockets, constantly checking to make sure you didn’t get pick pocketed. A lot of the patented Zarse shake of the head and wave of the hand along with an emphatic “NO” to the multiple peddlers.. A lot of subways. A lot of subway closures. A lot of bus detours. Even more walking. A lot of stops to look at the map. Crosswalks, can’t forget about the crosswalks. My lovely rule following wife can not cross a street unless it is at a crosswalk and the little walking person turns green. Walk some more. Then comes finding the hotel/hostel. The numbering system to addresses seems to be more of a guideline than a rule. Perhaps find a kind citizen/police officer to call the hotel for you and get them to come pick you up or let you in. For all these reasons and more, no matter what time of the day we get to our new home, I dump my pack on the ground and fling myself into the bed. The only thing that convinces me to get off that wonderful bed is my beautiful wife and the idea that we can’t just waste our trip lying on a bed.

This afternoon Rome had in store for us all of those things and then some. We arrive in the city around 17:00. We make it to our hotel around 20:00. My wife, in her own words, “needs some new batteries”. Due to the subway closures and our lack of understanding of exactly how we even got where we were, we decided to stay close to the hotel for the rest of the night. I found a fire station to go to and Steph found a restaurant close by. At the fire station we encounter a fire fighter that spoke no English. I was able to convey to him my goal of trading t shirts. Unfortunately he was unable to trade with me. He got me a patch and a bandana thing. I was unable to understand his Italian so I do not know why he was not able to trade shirts. This is unfortunate because I still have three shirts I need to trade and no cities left to go to. Tomorrow we will try another fire station and see if our luck is any better there. Next was the restaurant. This place was a great end to the evening. I thought the food was good but what the real refreshing part was the service. The owner of the place came and talked to us for a while. He made recommendations for us. He even gave us some complimentary dessert wine. In our travels it has been people like this that have been a breath of fresh air. People like this really make the trip for us.

We will see what tomorrow brings for us. We have quite a few things on our list that we need to see. With the subway system not really working it will be interesting to see how we will get around. Bring it on Rome!

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