If there’s one thing to take away from having explored the entire Peak-to-Peak highway in Colorado, it’s that there is plenty of culture to be found among the mountain folk. But it’s a culture of the more simple kind- one that exists among log houses and winding dirt paths; and where just about everyone gives a wave as you pass by.

This vibe feels especially good when complimented by the scent of pine and a cool breeze. For me it was the ultimate escape from the daily grind.


Choosing to bicycle this 60 mile stretch of road from Black Hawk to Estes Park went from grueling to downright exhausting during the first evening. Our uphill progress was slow yet steady as we came up from the foothills of Golden (just west of Denver) to our camp within Golden Gate Canyon state park. It was a gain of about 3,000 vertical feet over the course of 20 miles, but it put us within a reasonable distance of the highway. Under the full moon, my buddy Nick and I slept exceedingly well.


We awoke rested and ready to take on the full day of riding ahead of us. Rollinsville was just a small jaunt away, but they lacked a public restroom or running water for us to refill with, so on we went to Nederland.


The road got steep again as we climbed past Ned and towards Ward, but the glimpses at Mount Audubon made us hopeful. Upon cresting the hill, two rewards were bestowed upon us- a full view of the snowy Indian Peaks mountain range, and a winding downhill that went on for miles.


Following our blissful descent was the small town of Ferncliff, and what we soon deemed to be “the land of the Inns”. There were a handful of houses-turned-bed-and-breakfasts on the road to Allenspark, and then came the full on Cabins and Hotel-esque Inns.


Upon exiting the town we came across a very bizarre sight- a large sign adorning a cabin chalet that said “Coming Soon! XXX Porn Gallery”. It seemed so blatantly out of place that we thought maybe it was a joke. But everything about it seemed real.


Further down the road, nearing Wild Basin, horse stables became the dominant theme. It now seemed that with each new turn came a different sign advertising horseback rides along the mountainous trails-- and then there was Longs Peak.


Longs is a behemoth of a mountain- rising to fourteen thousand feet, it has claimed a number of lives due to its technical ascent routes. The eastern headwall is a massive vertical rock face, and just looking at it can convey the amount of respect it demands from those who wish to climb it. On this particular day we were quite glad we weren’t up there climbing, as a very ominous thunderstorm had moved in and was about to engulf the summit.


As we rode into the storm the rain went from a light drizzle to a dense sleet, and we opted for a timeout in the small town of Meeker Park. There we chatted with a convenience store clerk (who doubled as the cook), and got a further glimpse into the mountain lifestyle. It seemed that gas prices had already taken affect on a number of businesses along the peak-to-peak, but there was enough local traffic to keep this particular store afloat; although the clerk couldn’t say the same for some of the other more tourist-dependent places in the area.


When it looked as though the rains had subsided some we got back on our saddles and headed out for Estes Park. Though now that the roads were soaked, we decided to take our time on the downhills, much to the dismay of the drivers who got stuck behind us.


In Estes we stopped at what we thought was a public picnic area to heat up some pasta to refuel our emptied stomachs. Just as soon as I had out the stove however, a man on an ATV rode up to us and told us to leave. Apparently we were in the Marys Lake RV Park, and this guy thought we were deliberately trespassing. As we were packing up to go, he went off to his compound, only to send over an even angrier guy who cursed and threatened us. We humbly apologized and told him we’d be on our way, but he just didn’t seem to grasp the idea that this was a harmless mistake.


As we rode into town where we hoped to find some public picnic tables, I couldn’t help but lament over the fact that we’d encountered these two irate people among all the other friendly and helpful ones. Not wanting to let it spoil our trip, I decided that an RV Park was probably one of the first places to feel the hit of the gas hikes, so perhaps it was for economic reasons that they showed so much animosity.


Once we could finally finish cooking our meal in peace things began to run smoothly again. In fact things went so smooth that we decided to keep on trucking to Fort Collins where we’d have a hot tub and beds awaiting us. These thoughts kept us going for the next 40 miles as we screamed down the Big Thompson Canyon road, cruised into Loveland and then shot north to Nick’s friend’s place on the south end of Fort Collins.


After a full-fledged dinner followed by a soak we were desperately ready to crash, but as I was falling asleep I remember thinking back on the hundred miles we had just ridden, and couldn’t help but smile. The day had treated us well despite its minor setbacks, and I had a new found appreciate for the mountain communities.

The media's been having a field day tracking the rate of home mortgage foreclosures. Gasoline and diesel fuel prices are the highest in U.S. history. The worry-worts and fearmongers are having a holiday.

I tend to ignore short-term economic hiccups and focus on the long term. In other words, "what goes up must come down," or vice-versa.

However, a letter from Jean-Marie Eveillard, one of the most brilliant mutual fund managers today, caused me a great deal of concern. Now, the individuals I mention above who've nothing better to do than worry have said things similar to what Eveillard said to his shareholders in a letter dated May, 2008:

This is the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Now, of course, Mr. Eveillard made it clear that the problems in the U.S. and financial world markets are certainly not as great as they were during the Great Depression. However, he did make it clear that it's time to pay the piper. In other words, after a 25-year credit boom, the cherry on the top of which is the sub-prime mortgage situation, we're in for some significant fiscal bad news. Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, the New York Times reported today, are teetering on the edge of needing rescue by the government.

Eveillard, a brilliant economist, goes on to say:

The lesson here is the monetary authorities should have paid attention to the writings in the 1930s of the Austrian School of Economics pointing to the financial excesses of the 1920s as the leading cause of the Great Depression.

Never one to cry over spilt milk, Eveillard cited the extremely long-term decline in equity prices in Japan as an example that we could be worse off than we are.

His outlook is that we'll have to turn to emerging, volatile, unpredictable markets in India and Asia. Investment in gold as a generator of profit is no longer that; it's insurance against what he calls "extreme outcomes."

One of Eveillard's funds, First Eagle's Global Fund, has a track record of >15% annual earnings over the life of the fund. Even this superb long-term, low-risk investment is falling prey to market volatility. Just when we turned around from a loss position in the third quarter, fourth quarter predictions are that we will endure a loss for 2008; the first time the fund's shown a loss since 1990. This from a fund that yielded 18.17% on average over the last five years. Well, I guess what goes up must indeed come down.

It's time for belt-tightening. I'm struggling with the fear of the unknown. I hate it.

At first I considered posting this under Daddy, but knowing that personal posts are usually posted under daylogs, I decided to post it here. As such, then, this is my first daylog, and may quite possibly remain my only one for the foreseeable future.

My son, Callum, was born on 19th October, 2004. DemBones commented in the catbox that "Your firstborn was promised to me, Berek" - this always made me grin. I didn't daylog this event, or my earlier marriage to Elke, who originally came from Stuttgart, Germany - daylogs never really seemed to be my forte in e2 - I prefer short, factual nodes, and often spend a while researching them. Although I have not noded very often recently, I have always appreciated this place's sense of community and support, so I thought I'd bare my soul to you today.

The relationship between Elke and I cooled markedly following Callum's birth - he'd been born by Caesarian, breastfeeding was difficult, and we both found rearing a new baby tough going. Anyway, things started going downhill, and we separated last September. That was an emotional weekend for everyone, especially Callum.

Since then, we've been keen to make sure I have plenty of contact with Callum, and I've had him every weekend, and sometimes longer at holidays. I get a lot of support from my Mum and Dad, and we try and do lots of fun things with him. He's actually blossomed under the new regime, once he got used to the routine, I think partly because the atmosphere between Elke and I isn't so tense, and of course we're not together in the same house with him, anyway. We get lots more smiles from him these days, and he's generally a happier child. Of course, he's getting older too, and benefitting from his nursery classes. He loves swimming, softplay, throwing stones in the water at Arran, playing with his toys, trains, oh, and Daddy, most of all. His face lights up when he sees me come to pick him up from Elke, and he really enjoys his weekends with me and his grandparents. We try to let him mix with my nieces and my cousin's kids whenever we can, to help him grow socially.

It's been tiring for me, working full-time and commuting through the week, then devoting most of my weekend to him, but it's lovely to see him grow up, and the love and affection he shows me and my parents. Anyway, that's all for now, I may update you all on how things are going periodically.

PS: It's a happy coincidence that this is softlinked to The Cat in the Hat by William Shakespeare - The Cat In The Hat is one of Callum's favourite books - he knows it by heart!

I still haven't made any sort of decision. I do have a wicked long pros and cons list for staying in location one and one for upgrading to location two.

I didn't sleep very well night before last, tossing and turning. Felt like I was contemplating divorce.

Yesterday morning I brought the job description with all my notes on it and put it on the desk in front of my boss's boss (my previous boss). I told her I was asked to apply. If it is what I really want to do she'll give the highest recommendation. But she would rather I stay.

Boss poked his head into my office yesterday afternoon. "Can I get you a soda? Bet they won't offer to get you a soda over there", he jokes. And then he stays to tell me his own experiences with knots in the stomach over a job switch which he did just six months prior to become my boss. "It's not easy giving up the comfortable and going into the unknown. You just have to decide what is best for you and go with that. Don't worry about us, just focus on you. Where do you want to be five years from now? ten? You'll know what to do when you can sleep again"

Didn't sleep very well last night.

the list grows longer

maybe tomorrow I'll reach some decision

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