Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Focus: Coca-Cola Sign

The restoration of the Coca-Cola/Angell’s Delicatessen sign (on the east wall of Coopersmith’s in Old Town) is complete, and the scaffolding will be down soon, if it’s not already. I had a chance yesterday to join Carol Tunner, project manager and retired City of Fort Collins Preservationist, for her noontime tour of the project and discussion of the historical importance of the ghost signs.

Preservation Conservator Deborah Uhl was also on hand to talk about the painstaking restoration process, which is apparently unique to Fort Collins. Other communities have chosen to either repaint their ghost signs as new or let them fade away, but Deborah and her assistant Lisa were able to maintain the historic look of the sign while helping to ensure that it will endure for years to come. (Follow the link above to read about how they did it.)

I did a short photo safari of some of our ghost signs last April, months before the work began, and I was able to see a huge difference post-restoration. Even with the scaffolding still in place, the iconic sign looks great. I'm so pleased that it got its well-deserved face-lift. In case you've forgotten, this is what it looked like before:

Mystery Photo:Last week’s photo was taken at the Tour de Fat.

Where in Fort Collins was this week’s picture of the charming bathtub (hint, hint) taken?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Warbirds Over the Rockies

I went a little out of my zone, in more ways than one, for this week’s activity. Warbirds Over the Rockies is an annual remote control aircraft event that takes place at Drake Field off Highway 14 east of Fort Collins—a stretch for me geographically. And based on the name of the event, I didn’t think it would be something I’d be all that interested in, as I’m not an aficionado of military aircraft. The only one I can readily identify is the Fokker flown by the Red Baron, and that’s just because of WWI Flying Ace Snoopy. But some friends attended last year’s event and thought it would be something my boys would enjoy. At any rate, Sunday was an absolutely beautiful day, and my family and I were ready to get out and try something new.

WOTR is hosted by the Love Air R/C Club of Loveland/Fort Collins. Now, I occasionally see remote control planes flying around the local parks. They’re small, they produce much insect-like buzzing, and, after about two minutes, I’ve seen enough. But the R/C Warbirds are another breed entirely. They’re big. Really big. Though some can be carried by one person, the larger ones are approximately the weight of a jockey and need at least two people to hoist them. The planes are fast, as in speeding-ticket-on-I-25 fast. And they’re authentic, down to the replica pilots in the cockpits. So, yeah, not your average craft store R/Cs.

The planes were admittedly very cool, but the skill of the pilots is what makes them so fun to watch. Even with multiple planes performing complicated maneuvers, I did not see so much as a single near miss. The only slight misadventures at takeoff and landing were due to the occasional gusty breeze.

The History of Military Aviation airshow was the big draw, and for good reason. The simulated air battles—complete with pyrotechnics—blew our socks off, or would have if we hadn’t been wearing flip-flops. But I was also so impressed by the obvious respect the participants and spectators have for the history behind these aircraft. Many veterans and service people were in attendance, including a WWII pilot who flew multiple missions in a full-size version of one of the RC bombers. The event truly was, as the website advertises, “a salute to the flyers, past, present and future who protected American turf and values.”

Sunday’s show was scaled back a bit and did not include the full-size flyovers of the prior two days. But we still had a ton of fun and have already made plans to return next year.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Field Trip: Trail Ridge Road

Happy Autumn, everyone! I love this time of year and hope it lingers a good long while. Last weekend, my family and I took a drive over Trail Ridge to Grand Lake and back. It was a beautiful day and reminded us how lucky we are to live in Colorado. (As an added bonus, we saw a moose.)

Have a great weekend!

Mystery Photo:
No photo last week, but the photo the week before was taken from the back patio at Coopersmith's.

This week's mystery photo is a Guess You Had to Be There. At what recent event was this picture taken?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

International Poster Exhibition

The first poster I ever hung on my wall was not art—it probably featured Care Bears or a sparkly unicorn—but the first art I ever hung on my wall was a poster. (I think it was Monet’s water lilies.) Posters are great. On the one hand, they make famous works of art (and Lamborghinis) accessible for those of us who can’t afford the real things. But over and above what we’d all recognize as the typical shopping mall offerings, original contemporary posters are a succinct and eye-catching form of artistic expression.

The Seventeenth Colorado International Invitational Poster Exhibition is currently showing at CSU’s Clara Hatton and Curfman Galleries. Since 1979, CIIPE’s purpose has been to “bring world-class contemporary poster art and artists to CSU students and the wider Fort Collins and Rocky Mountain communities.” This biennial exhibit (every two years, not twice a year; I always have to look that one up) began as the only international poster exhibition in the United States. It is still the only invitational international poster exhibition. Added in 2003, Graphic Responses is a “parallel, digital exhibition of posters,” which is also available for viewing in the Hatton Gallery. All this, and the show remains free and open to the public.

This year’s exhibition features 80 artists from 32 countries. I didn’t know before I went that half of the exhibit is located in the Curfman Gallery in the Student Center. I ran out of time and will have to go back and see those, because what I saw at the Hatton Gallery was amazing. Most of the posters there are what I’ll call “message art”—powerful visual statements about society, politics, war, the environment. Others depict the arts or fun-but-apparently-random events such as the Seattle Aquarium’s Octopus Week.

For me, the CSU Galleries are not quite as accessible as the Lincoln Center or downtown, but they are truly worth the effort. I was impressed by the variety of styles represented in the poster exhibit and amazed at how (in many cases) such simple images can be so evocative. The poster exhibit runs until October 13, and if you go, be sure to ask at the Hatton Gallery desk for the remote control so you can also view Graphic Responses. I was glad I took the time to sit on the bench and scroll through the digital images.

(One word of warning: should you feel the need to sneeze in the Hatton Gallery, be prepared for it to be the loudest, most conspicuous sneeze you’ve ever produced.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Five: My Husband Loses a Bet

(This guest post courtesy of my husband, per the terms of our football bet.)

Usually, I only bet on a sure thing. Like the sun comes up in the East, all clocks rotate clockwise, or the Cubs will never make another World Series appearance in my lifetime. But when my alma matter, the University of Northern Colorado Bears, was scheduled to play the CSU Rams, my lovely wife’s alma matter, I had to go against my gambling rules.

I always enjoy watching the Rams play. I have been watching them play at Hughes Stadium for over 30 years, since I was my eldest son’s age. Even though I didn’t particularly enjoy watching my Bears get beat, it was still a great day with my family.

I am not a Fort Collins, or even a Colorado native. I have lived here since I was 11 years old. So for the Friday Five, and to fulfill the obligation for my poor gambling decision, I am going to list the top 5 reasons Fort Collins is the best place to live.

Number 5: The Weather. Being born in Illinois and having lived in The Netherlands for 3 years, I had never seen the sun for so many days a year as when we moved here. The 300 days of sunshine here are incredible, and something I do not take for granted.

Number 4: The Parks. When our boys were very young, and even now, it is a great problem to have when you have to decide which of the ‘cool’ parks you want to go to. We even came up with their own names, different from their proper names. This is a great town for kids.

Number 3: The Local Restaurants. I am not completely opposed to a chain once and a while, but I love to support the local economy. As we get older and meet more people, we know quite a few local business owners, and I’d much rather support them. Our boys also love supporting our local restaurants, which is great.

Number 2: The People. I have met many life-long friends in Fort Collins. One very close friend I met the first month I was here and another very close friend I met in college. He was going to CSU, but I don’t hold that against him. We have neighbors who are great friends, great people. I also have met a lot of great people at work, and in the community in general. I could go with more specifics, but the people of Fort Collins are what make Fort Collins a great place to live.

And finally, the reason I love Fort Collins, why it is the best place to live, and why it will always have a special place in my heart.

Number 1: I met, fell in love with, and married the girl of my dreams who is a Fort Collins Native, and we are fortunate enough to have two amazing boys to raise in this great city! My wife is an amazing personm and I am lucky to have her and my boys in my life.

I would also like to say how much fun being part of this blog has been for the past 13 months and how proud I am of Jenny for seeing her 52 week challenge through to completion.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CSU vs. UNC Football Game

There was a lot going on around town last weekend, but in my house, it was game on. The game in question was football, specifically the first meeting between my alma mater (CSU Rams) and my husband’s alma mater (UNC Bears) since 1986.

Holy cow, 25 years. To put things in perspective, The Oprah Winfrey Show had its worldwide debut on September 8 of that year. Of course, she went on to talk to innumerable (not really; I’m just too lazy to look it up) guests about the entire catalogue of discussable subjects, which helped her build an empire that dwarfs the GDP of Iceland (or not; again, too lazy). Top Gun was the summer’s big movie, and we were all groovin’ to Bananarama’s Venus. Gas was $.89 a gallon. Shawn White was born, hopefully in exciting X-games fashion, though the winter X-games themselves wouldn’t come along until 1997.

(Yeah, I get it. I’m kind of old.)

So, this football game brought with it a certain amount of nostalgic excitement. To make things more interesting, my husband and I cooked up a little wager. If CSU won, he would owe me a Friday guest post. If UNC won, I would wear his Bears shirt to the CSU homecoming parade. Because CSU was favored by 21, I gave my husband 14 points. (Had I known then that CSU had won 16 of the 17 meetings between the two schools, I would have given him my condolences, as well. Doh!)

It was a beautiful day for football and CSU’s 30th Ag Day Celebration, and many fans were decked out in their pumpkin orange Aggie shirts. It was also my first opportunity to see the improvements outside Hughes Stadium, the first “significant upgrades” in 43 years. They really look great and make walking through the parking lot feel much less like a trek across the New Mexico desert. (For whom is the stadium named and why? Find out here .)

In an interesting bit of trivia, the game was also an alumni-coach matchup. Coach Fairchild graduated from CSU in 1981, and Coach Collins graduated from UNC in 1995. To add to the fun, a good friend made it possible for my family to have pre-game field access. We hung out there for a while, feeling all important and official as we watched players and cheerleaders warming up and the stands filling with fans. As game time neared, my boys were thrilled to be able to stand in the cloud of super-cool-special-effect-sports-fog (I have no idea what it’s really called) and cheer on the Rams as they came running out of the tunnel.

In non-rivalry situations, I do root for the Bears and hope they do well in the Big Sky Conference. But on Saturday, I was all in for the Rams. And they prevailed, with a final score of 33-14. That means I’m not wearing blue at the homecoming parade. Woo hoo! The margin of victory was smaller than the last contest 25 years ago, which CSU won 46-14, but I’ll certainly take it.

Oh, and my husband’s guest post? It’s coming soon.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Faces: Thurman "Fum" McGraw

A proclamation from Governor Hickenlooper and a Facebook page make it all official: this Saturday, CSU will celebrate its 30th Ag Day. All-around star athlete and CSU football legend Fum McGraw was instrumental in starting this long-standing tradition. After his success at CSU, he played for the Detroit Lions, was a line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and served as CSU’s athletic director. Read about him here and about his involvement in Ag Day here.

It should be a beautiful weekend for football in Fort Collins. If you can’t make it to Ag Day, at least wear orange, shout “Go Rams!" at random intervals, and try to eat something with barbecue sauce on it.

Mystery Photo:
Last week’s photo was of the Poudre River Arts Center.

Where in Fort Collins was I when I took this picture?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tour de Fat

Hello, everyone!
(Too lazy for a real post,
Hence the bad haiku.)

I rode Tour de Fat
With my husband and my sons.
It was our first time.

Thousands of riders,
On a beautiful morning,
Heading down the street.

It’s like Halloween
Without as much candy, but
Way more bicycles.

Hard to take pictures
While balancing on my bike.
Some turned out like this:

I wore crazy socks.
My boys donned fake mustaches,
One son with a wig.

My husband wore his
Chicago Bears jersey with
Number thirty-four.

(Next year we plan to
Come up with better costumes.
This year, time was short.)

Many men in drag
Riding in their miniskirts.
Jeez, that must be tough.

Santa Claus was there!
No need for flying reindeer
If you have fat tires.

Everywhere I looked
Were many happy people.
Only a few crashed.

The spectators were
As much fun as the riders.
Plus, they had breakfast.

At City Park, a
String trio played some music.
That was really cool.

A few stormtroopers
Hung out in the median
Looking Star Wars-y.

I smiled so much, I
Thought I’d have bugs in my teeth.
But no, I didn’t.

It was a great time,
This legendary event.
We’ll do it again.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Feature: Clean Air Compost

I've decided that occasionally on Fridays, I'll feature a product or service I think is cool, because if Oprah can make recommendations, so can I. Granted, it's the one and only thing she does that I can do, but, hey, a gal's gotta start somewhere. Today's featured business is the locally owned and operated Clean Air Composting Service, and I'm featuring it because I just signed up for their home composting service.

Every time I clean out my fridge and throw away a bag of goo formerly known as--well, let's go with eggplant--I feel guilty because I know I should be composting. And I also know that having a successful home compost pile is not rocket science. Throw stuff in, stir it around.... But, frankly, I just don't want to deal with it. (And the first time a snake, a mouse, or a crazed opossum jumped out at me, I would be so done.)

Thank goodness for the posse. Not only will they take care of my watermelon rinds and floppy celery, but they also accept waxed paper ice cream containers, chicken bones, dog poo, and a whole bunch of other stuff. (Check their website for details.) I think it will be a great service, and I'm looking forward to reducing the amount of trash I send to the landfill.

So take that, eco-guilt!

Mystery Photo:
Last week's picture was taken at the Melting Pot.

Where in Fort Collins was this week's picture taken?