My Colorado Bucket List Revisited

I think every blogger I follow has written a "2013 year in review" post. I was considering hopping on that bandwagon, but the first four or so months of my year consisted primarily of working and writing my thesis. Life didn't really become blog-worthy until I packed up and moved to Colorado (give or take). And since I'm now no longer there, it's about time to revisit my Colorado bucket list and see how I did! So here, have an "August-December 2013 in review" post!

1. Go ice skating at the World Arena. Check! This was actually one of the final things I did before moving out, and it was a totally last second decision. I'd meant to meet up with Kristina there, but due to a miscommunication I ended up going alone. I thought it'd be weird, just me and the parents with their small children, but it wasn't. It was so. much. fun. I'd forgotten why I used to love skating so much! And in honor of the holidays, public skating was held on "the big ice," where the Colorado College hockey team plays. So, like, in the arena. Freaking cool!

2. Go to a concert at Red Rocks. Check! Ingrid and I saw OneRepublic and Sara Bareilles back in August (omg). My pictures from the concert suck, since we were up in the nosebleeds due to general admission tickets and horrendous traffic, but the venue was gorgeous and the show was awesome.

3. Visit each Colorado Springs-based NGB. I didn't do this one like I'd meant to. I did, however, get some of them...

...and drove by several others (figure skating, hockey, and triathlon). And we can add volleyball, fencing, archery and table tennis to that, as that building is where I went to work every day. So that's not too bad. I think I'll give myself half a check.

4. Visit Denver. I didn't get to go to a Rockies or Avalanche game, but I did go to Denver, and I did tour the stadium the Broncos play in. So I think that deserves a check!

5. See the University of Wisconsin women's hockey team play in Vail. Heck yeah, this one gets a check! I was a mere feet from Mark Johnson, and it was awesome!

6. Hold an Olympic gold medal. It didn't happen the way I thought it would, but this gets a check three times over! Boom.

7. Go to a brewery. Took the plunge and spent an afternoon touring the Coors brewery (and didn't even hate the beer I tried). Check!

8. Tour the Celestial Tea factory. Alas, didn't get to this one. It's kind of a hike from Colorado Springs, and I just got lazy. But you know what? It's not going anywhere. Assuming I get back to Colorado eventually, I can swing by whenever I decide to.

I'm pretty proud of my 6.5/8! I thought I'd be pretty bad at this, considering I still have a sticky note saved to my desktop of several things to do before I leave London. Seriously. That, however, I think was me subconsciously giving myself a reason to go back. But Colorado? Pretty confident I'll get back there. Y'know, one day.

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year's Eve! Catch you all in 2014!

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Meet Me In St. Louis

Happy holidays from Terre Haute, Indiana!

Two days into the trek from Colorado to New York and dad, girl and car are all holding up pretty well. Buzz is probably in the best shape, actually; who would've thought my 18-year-old car would get almost 30 miles per gallon and be running like a champ after four state lines and over a thousand miles? Go figure. He was made for the open road!

While the reason for this trip is kind of a bummer, it's been really cool getting to see the heartland of America for the first time. It's a different world in here. And I decided to take this opportunity to add another Olympic stadium to the list!

It may not look like much of a stadium -- 'cause, uh, it's really not -- but St. Louis hosted the Olympics here back in 1904. They were the first Olympics ever held in the western hemisphere, the third modern Olympics ever. And now the stadium is a part of Washington University in St. Louis. Kind of cool!

The field itself was closed, since it's a college campus smack in the middle of winter break, but we did a lap around the perimeter to see what we could see. It didn't hurt that I'd just been driving for four and a half hours and my legs could use a stretch. And that it was probably around 60 degrees outside. And that the campus is gorgeous!

It's kind of interesting that the Olympics were held in this little thing in 1904, yet a mere 32 years later they were held in this monstrosity.

The Olympics were a hot mess in 1904, having barely survived the debacle that was Paris 1900. But I say this completely seriously: blame Hitler! (Also, I think my Olympic sites list can be renamed, "Darci visits places in her blue coat." Sheesh.)

So Francis Field isn't what I'd call an attraction, but I'm really glad I got to experience a bit of the first chapter of American Olympic history. Three American Olympic cities down, four to go!

But first... let's just get home.
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Signing Off From Colorado Springs

A few years ago, right after my first close-but-no-cigar situation with regards to getting an internship out here, an episode of Castle aired about the murder of an Olympic hopeful swimmer. The night before he was killed, he'd broken up with his high school girlfriend. When they brought her in for questioning she told them about it and howled, "Like suddenly I was a distraction! Suddenly I wasn't good enough for Colorado Springs!" At the time, that line was a reminder of what I hadn't accomplished.

That episode was on TV yesterday. I watched it as I took a break from packing up my room at the very same place that girl was crying about. Considering this is the last blog post I'll write from inside the Olympic Training Center, potentially ever, I appreciate the eerie timing. Now that line is a reminder of what I have accomplished, which is pretty cool.

But I hate lasts. I hate leaving. I hate goodbyes that hang. Not "bye, but I'll see you in a few months!" but "uh, I'll see you again sometime in the future, probably, right? Maybe...?" And that's what this is. You'd think I'd be better at this by now. I've figured out how to get some sort of closure on a chapter of my life before ending it, but does anyone know how to make it, y'know, hurt less?

It's always the little things that sneak up and make me nostalgic out of nowhere. Of course I'll miss the beautiful views of the mountains, living with an awesome built-in network of other interns, unlimited swipes into the dining hall, walking around the OTC and thinking about who has trained here in the past, the fact that it's acceptable to be friendly to strangers, and of course my amazing internship.

But I know I'm also going to miss things like waving at the security guards as I pull into the OTC. I got my parking pass back before my internship was extended, so it expired on August 31... and when I got extended, I never got another one. The security guards already knew me and my car, so nobody looks at the date on my pass. I'm actually weirdly proud that I managed to never need a new one. I'm going to miss seeing my name on the mail board. I'm going to miss needing to take a running leap to get up onto my bed. I'm going to miss microwaving water to make tea in the lounge. I'm going to miss my classic rock radio station, the one that was playing in my car the very first time I turned it on. I'm going to miss knowing Charlie is approaching my cubicle because I hear the telltale sound of him dribbling his volleyball. And shoot, I might have to start getting coffee from McDonald's just to keep those styrofoam cups in my life.

Why? WHY? Does anyone else get so hopelessly attached to places and the familiarity that goes along with with your life in them? I've always been like this, and I think that quote up there sums it up. I like the way things are, and I know they'll never be quite the same from this moment forward. In the past that's always ended up being a good thing. Here's hoping that trend continues.

And with that, it's time for me to check out.

Colorado Springs, it's been real. Thanks for seven months I'll never forget.

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Secret Santa + Other Babblings

This post has been waiting in the wings for almost a week now. I was trying so, so hard to make something significant of it, make it relevant in some way, but I couldn't figure anything out.

I've seen at least a few bloggers write about how they'd unfortunately been getting away from posts they liked to write in lieu of posts that are easy. Instead of writing thoughtful stuff, they'd been doing more and more outfit posts and link roundup posts because they're simpler to put together. Confession: I have the opposite problem. I feel like everything I write has to be something that someone out there will care about reading, especially since I post everything to my personal Facebook and Twitter where I'm followed by family, friends, former coworkers, potential employers, etc. It makes me uncomfortable posting something that I don't feel took any work. I link this blog on my resume, for crying out loud! Everything should be long and insightful and well-crafted, right?!

But then I thought... heck, this is my blog, I'm not Shakespeare, and this has been a week of major life changes. My internship ended, I've been saying goodbye to over a dozen intern friends who I won't be seeing again for the foreseeable future, and in three days I move out of the OTC and begin a 27-hour drive home, where I get to live as an unemployed college graduate. Between trying to spend a last few moments with everyone and mourning the loss of my awesome internship, blogging has been low on the priority list.

So I have some more interesting posts planned out for the coming weeks (and plenty of time to write 'em in), but for right now: Secret Santa! A little un-relevant holiday cheer never hurt anyone, right? ;)

Kym over at Travel Babbles hosted a sort of social media Secret Santa link-up. It's like any other Secret Santa except, y'know, you might not know the person, and all you have to go by is her blog. Daunting, but fun! I bought for Christina at Route Bliss and received a gift from Jenn at Life Begins with J.

Jenn hit the nail on the head! Three sparkly photo albums -- I've been meaning to start printing out my photos for ages and, hello, glitter is the best -- and a giant journal. Seriously, there are 340 pages in that sucker, and it's the size of a textbook! It's perfect motivation to be all writer-y in my newfound endless stretches of free time. :) Thank you, Jenn!

(Also, before I wrap this up: if anyone has any tips on how to survive a days-long road trip through middle America in the dead of winter, lay 'em on me, 'cause I need all the wisdom I can get!)

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Thoughts On Being A "Fan"

Well, I was supposed to have a really cool post published today. But then the cool thing said cool post was supposed to be about got postponed, leaving me utterly post-less (and really annoyed). So what's a blogger to do? Write about something cool that happened a year ago that's sort of relevant to what I was going to write about, of course!

A year ago -- almost exactly to the day, actually -- I met RA Dickey. This was back when he was still a New York Met (*sniffle*), and he did a meet-and-greet photo session at the M&M Store in NYC. (Odd, yes, but I wasn't about to question it.) That was in the afternoon, and that morning I'd been planning on going into the city anyway, to see a free Pentatonix show (which was fab, and I got to meet them afterwards too, so basically it was the best. But I digress).

They are the awesomest. And I told Kirstie I like her blazer. :P

By the time the Pentatonix thing ended, it was well into the chunk of time that RA was supposed to be meeting and greeting. So I hightailed it from Grand Central Station to Times Square by foot -- 'cause the subway would take too long! -- and arrived at the M&M Store, out of breath, to see... nothing.

*sad trombone*

I knew it'd be a close call, but I thought I'd at least be able to make it right at the tail end! I was seriously bummed but figured I might as well take a lap around the store, just in case. So I went up the escalator to the second floor and saw the little area all set up, but still nothing. I meandered around the store a little bit, not willing to give up yet because something felt kind of fishy. And then I turned a corner and there he was; RA Dickey, with a handful of store employees, picking out gifts for his kids.

Note to everyone out there: if you ever want to feel like your stomach dissolved, run into your favorite athlete unexpectedly.

So I scrambled away (because I wanted to meet him, but OH GOD what if he saw me?!?!?! #logic) and noticed a line forming, so I hopped on at the end. It turned out that the meet-and-greet hadn't even started yet, and that I was one of the first dozen or so people there. So the line in front of me dwindled quickly, and suddenly it was my turn, and I was walking up to RA Dickey and shaking his hand.

"I'm such a huge fan of yours," I said.  (Super eloquent, right?)

He smiled, looking genuinely happy. "It means so much to me to hear you say that."

Thrilled with the state of my life, I went to stand beside his throne (seriously) to prepare for the picture and couldn't help telling him, "I might actually cry if you get traded."

He laughed in that flattered, embarrassed sort of way, we smiled for the camera, and I thanked him and scurried away.

But then, plot twist! The camera was supposed to send the pictures directly to a computer so they could be printed and put into a festive, pre-autographed frame. When I went over to get mine, there'd been some sort of malfunction, and several pictures hadn't loaded onto the computer. The employees were trying to figure out the situation and explain it to those involved, and that's when RA spoke up.

He pointed at me. "Did she get her picture?"

No, no I hadn't. Oh darn, I had to stand next to him again and get it redone!

This picture gives me such a case of the warm-fuzzies. :)

A week later he was a Toronto Blue Jay, and I actually did cry when he was traded.

So why the heck am I blathering on about this, you ask?

Well, because I hate that being considered a fan of someone or something has such a negative connotation. Not all of us scream and cry and beg our favorites to marry us, and hearing about the fan that threw herself at Ryan Lochte and injured him absolutely disgusted me. Seriously, are you KIDDING me?! Some of us are perfectly rational human beings and simply want to meet a favorite athlete to thank them. I don't understand the whole hero-worship thing. Whenever I've met someone famous, my first thought is always about how, oh yeah, they're just a regular person. They put their pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else. So as excited as I may be, I pretend I don't have butterflies, wipe my sweaty palms on my pants and act like I would around any other human being.

I collect experiences, not autographs. Honestly, autographs mean nothing to me. What do you even do with an autograph? The frame in which my picture was given to me has RA's autograph on it, and I don't think I've thought about it since that day. Even pictures are kind of take-it-or-leave it. They can go missing or be deleted, after all. But I'll always treasure the experience of telling him how much he meant to this Mets fan, and getting to see that he actually is as wonderful in person as you'd expect him to be. Those 15 seconds mean a whole heck of a lot more than a scribble on a piece of paper.

So sure, call me a fan, but let's not be under any delusions as to what that means. I work in sports, I'm a rational person, and I may be a fan of the Mets, but I probably also hate them more than you do.

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9 Awesome Olympic Stadiums

Stadiums. I like 'em.

I toured the Denver Broncos' stadium several weeks ago and it reminded me how great they are. There's something incredibly cool about being in a massive space like that when it's empty, and something even cooler about being free to roam around in it. I'm also kind of a sucker for interesting design and architecture. And history. And, y'know, sports.

I've been lucky enough to tour several stadiums, wander freely through several others, and then there was that chunk of time I could see the London 2012 Olympic Stadium from my bedroom window. And with several of my favorite Olympic stadiums being in the news recently I figured, hey, perfect time to make a list! (Side note: How come there's no comprehensive list of every Olympic stadium? Googling every stadium back to the '40s is freakishly tedious, let me tell you. I limited this list to traditional "Olympic stadiums" only because, if I widened the net to include all venues, I'd still be slogging through search results.)

I was lucky enough to go to Munich with two friends who indulged my desire to visit Olympic Park (which happened to be a great way to cheer up after visiting the Dachau concentration camp, incidentally). I didn't know much about the stadium before we went, but at first glimpse I fell head-over-heels in love. Look at that architecture! Hello, gorgeous! *drools*

Munich was contemplating bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics, but that motion was just voted down. I'm a little bit depressed. The whole of Munich's Olympic Park is an A+ example of legacy done right, and between 1972's crazy awesome stadium and the crazy awesome design scheme... so much potential for 2022. Alas.

If I could only visit one stadium ever in my life, it would be the Bird's Nest in Beijing. Look at that sucker! It's BEAUTIFUL! Apparently it's not being used much anymore, which is awful because I will be devastated if it falls into total disrepair. But thankfully there's going to be an aerial ski jumping competition there (HELP, I want to go see that so badly!), so fingers crossed this means good things for its future.

This Games may have been put on by the Nazis, but if there's one sort of positive thing that can be said about the Nazis it's that they dressed to impress (so to speak). All Nazi architecture remaining in Berlin is absolutely monstrous and jaw-dropping (and mildly terrifying), and this stadium all but forces you stop and stare. It's very classically Olympic, aside from the modern renovations inside, and you can tell just by looking at it that something important happened there.

It was also just really cool to be in the stadium in which Jesse Owens did his thing... even though at this point my tailbone hurt so badly I could hardly sit down. But that was a story for another post.

Okay, so, this stadium is something of a joke. It wasn't finished until 1988, and it wasn't fully paid for until 2006. Keep in mind, the Montreal Olympics were held in 1976. Its nickname was "The Big O," which people then changed to "The Big Owe" for obvious reasons. Heh. That being said, there's something about it that I like. It's very weird and futuristic, but it gets major points for originality. It's one of those stadiums that really sticks out in my mind.

The Athens stadium makes me sad because it's basically gone to ruin. I guess that's what we get for giving the Olympics to a country that's broke. But like I said before, I'm a sucker for interesting architecture, and this is definitely one of the most unique I've seen. Now, to make it to Greece before the state of its venues rivals that of Sarajevo's...

It looks like a palace. I'm kind of confused, but hell if this isn't one of the more impressive sport venues I've ever seen. Very fitting for the home of the most important sporting event in the world!

This is cool in the same vein as the Barcelona stadium. It feels very impressive, like the Roman emperor should be sitting over there, looking out at a stadium full of tens of thousands of his citizens. But of course, it wouldn't be America in the '80s without some tacky neon colors! Oddly enough, I like that they incorporated the color & design scheme into the stadium itself. It made it their own and inseparable from the event it was built for.

As someone who generally likes things to by symmetrical, I find it strange that I like this stadium. Some of the other venues built for this Olympics were significantly cooler, but it's pretty neat that this one is simple yet very, very different. It's like someone tried to blow it over but only succeeded in shifting everything to one side. Can't wait to see it renovated for reuse in 2020!

Again, I'm not sure where my symmetrical preference went. But again, it's a very regular stadium with just a slight quirk to make it unique. Architects don't have to go all Bird's Nest to create something interesting!

Time to start (er, continue?) scraping together my pennies so I can eventually venture so see all of 'em! Caitlyn over at Olympic Wanderings has been to all but one on this list, plus a ton more. I have the biggest crush on her life.

What do you think of my picks? (Feel free to laugh at the Big Owe. I wouldn't blame you.)

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