Sean and Marie go to the Museum

20161112_221950420_iosWe decided it was time to finally check out the History Colorado Museum, because we both had never been there before and it’s a relatively new museum to Denver. And since the Denver Art Museum currently has special exhibits on Star Wars costumes and Venetian Renaissance art, we decided to go there, too!

The history museum was very interactive. One of my favorite parts was getting to be in a house during a dust storm in the 1930s. There was a travelling exhibit for Awkward Family Photos, which was hilarious and a really fun way to end the day.

The “Glory of Venice” exhibit at the art museum was actually very good, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that Sean enjoyed it as much as I did. They had pieces by Bellini, Titian, Carpaccio and Giorgione, among others. I’ve enjoyed Italian Renaissance art ever since my college semester in Florence, but Venetian art in particular has always stood out to me as unique and vivid.

The Star Wars exhibit had original costumes from all the movies, including the droids, storyboard drawings and some light sabers. As you might imagine, Queen Amidala’s dresses were the most impressive. There were so many of them, and most were incredibly detailed and unique. I was most struck by how different the costumes look in person compared to on camera.

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Half a day of sightseeing in San Francisco

The company I work for puts on a big annual conference each year, which I staff with my coworkers, and this year it was at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. I only had time enough to spend about 5 hours seeing the city–my first time in San Francisco!–so my coworker and I made plans to hit up the top 3 sites (in our opinion): the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, and Fisherman’s Wharf.

On the way to the bridge, our Uber driver took us down the steepest road I’ve ever been on. One moment I’m on a level street with a stunning view of the bay; however, the road appears to vanish several yards ahead. The next moment I feel like I’ve been plunged vertically as if on a roller coaster. I’d always liked seeing pictures of the streets in San Francisco, but it is quite another thing driving on them!

We lucked out with the weather, so we walked on the bridge. The views were incredible, both of the bridge and from the bridge. We could see the city, Alcatraz, and surfers on the water far below. Afterwards, we had our next Uber driver take us down Lombard Street. We had to wait in bumper to bumper traffic on a steep incline before getting to the top. I don’t know how anyone who lives in the area is able to get in or out of their garage with how narrow, steep and busy the streets are. But the architecture and landscaping certainly are beautiful.

We ended up on Pier 39, where I had clam chowder, sourdough bread and lobster 🙂  It was a great way to end the day. I’m glad I got to see some of the highlights of this city, but I can’t wait to come back some time with Sean and get to appreciate it more fully.

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Boo at the Zoo

20161022_154629969_iosOur good friends Loren and Adam are moving back to Ohio after 8 years in Denver. We got to see them one last time by going to Boo at the Zoo with them and their daughter Maggie (who was dressed as an adorable lady bug). It was such a beautiful day with all the fall leaves and the animals, and the perfect way to say goodbye.

I loved seeing all the different costumes. (I think I got a few good ideas for some of my own Halloween costumes in the future!) And I was most excited when i saw that the hippo, my favorite zoo animal, was out and about and not submerged under water like it usually is!

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Colorado aspens in the fall

Two weekends ago, we took a drive to see the fall colors in the mountains, and it was the most brilliant display of yellow aspen leaves I’ve seen yet! And we didn’t have to go very far from home to find them either. We drove out to Idaho Springs and then turned south on 103 and eventually wound our way to Evergreen. There were plenty of pullover spots to stop and take pictures. We ended our drive by grabbing a late lunch in Morrison on the way home.

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Norway!

We finally, finally got to take our trip to Norway! It sometimes felt like it would never arrive, since we bought our flights around Christmas time and slowly planned our trip over the next 8 months. We took Iceland Air to Oslo with a stop in Reykjavik. Our hotel in Oslo was a converted section of the rail station, and tried very hard to be hip. I loved the location and our view of the square below. The first day, we wandered around the Opera House, the National Gallery, and strolled down Karl Johan’s Gate. We had supper outside in the square and people-watched for a while before going to bed early. I was exhausted from not being able to sleep on the flight, but of course due to the jet lag, I still woke up at 2 a.m. awake and hungry for dinner, Denver time. That happened the first 2 nights but after that I was able to sleep through the night well.

Our second day in Oslo, we took one of those hop on/hop off double decker sightseeing buses to a bunch of the other sights around the city. First was the sculpture gardens, which was beautiful, then to the outdoor folk museum to see historic buildings like a stave church and farm houses. We walked to the nearby viking ship museum, which was very crowded, but for good reason. The ships and artifacts were very interesting to see in person. We made one last stop at the Akershus fortress, which was a big complex at the top of a hill overlooking a harbor where large cruise ships came in. That evening, since it was a Friday, our friends Harald and Ina came into the city after work from where they live in Hamar, and we went out for pizza. It was great to catch up and just chat for a few hours. Afterwards, they had to catch a short flight to Bergen, where they would meet us after we took the extra long scenic route to get there the next day.

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Day 3, we did Norway in a Nutshell, which is a series of unguided scenic train, bus and ferry routes that you pick depending on where you want to go and can go at your own pace. It took about 13 hours to get from Oslo to Bergen, which is very long if you do it all in one day (which we and most other tourists did), but it also has the most stunning scenery and is well worth it. This was the first time I’ve ever felt moved to tears by seeing something so beautiful. The mountains were so tall and steep, full of cliffs, greenery, and waterfalls–I never knew there were so many waterfalls in Norway, or in any one place in the world. And all along there would be farms halfway up the mountains, with no visible roads to show how they got there. Below I have a short video clip of the Kjossfossen waterfall, which they stopped the train to let us out to view. There was a woman to the right of the waterfall singing in a red dress, pretending to be a “huldra” from Norse mythology who lures men into the mountain to their doom. I know it’s kind of cheesy, but I really liked it!

It wasn’t until we got to the ferry that I discovered my favorite thing about Norway: the fjords! I have never seen such large bodies of water be so placid, and then to be lined with mountains, cliffs and waterfalls… it was almost too much for me to take in. The scale was always tricking my eyes, which I would realize anytime I saw a tiny kayaker along the shoreline and realized how large the fjord really was. I wish I could have spent more time on the water. I would love to come back and kayak it myself.

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After a frightening, but amazingly beautiful, bus ride up Stalheimskleiva and a train from Voss, we finally arrived at Bergen. Ina and Harald greeted us at the train station and took us to Harald’s mother’s house, where we stayed for 4 nights. His late father built the house himself (see the beautiful staircase in the photo below). We would find we really loved the Scandinavian design and decor in our friends’ parents’ homes in Bergen, as well as other places in Norway, which led to a big, inspired IKEA trip when we got home. Ina and Harald were great tour guides who drove us everywhere (thank goodness, because Bergen roads were confusing!) We got to attend a Norwegian church service, eat whale at the fish market, tour medieval buildings, hear Star Wars and Indiana Jones music played on the gigantic organ in the Bergen cathedral, take a funicular and cable car to the top of two different mountains, and see a small country church that was moved from North Dakota to Norway. When the typical rainy Bergen weather finally came, we had a board games and movie day. (Trollhunter is hilarious and even better when you watch it with Norwegians!)

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On Monday, Ina and Harald were back to work in Hamar, and we traveled to Alesund, a charming art nouveau-styled fishing town. We had amazing fish and chips, and relaxed in our hotel room, which overlooked the harbor. The next day we took a day trip to see the Geirangerfjord, which is considered to be the most scenic of all the fjords in Norway, with its large waterfalls.

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The day after we saw Geiranger, we flew back to Oslo, and spent one last day seeing the the palace and the park that surrounds it. It was probably my favorite of any city park I’ve ever been to, because of all the shade and the greenery, and the smell of all the different varieties of plants and trees they had planted there.

Before we left for Norway, a lot of people would say to me that this is a “once in a lifetime” trip, but I really hope that’s not true. I want to go back and see more of the country, more of my friends, and spend more time on the fjords.

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Summer highlights

Just wanted to share a few pictures from this summer. In some ways it feels like we’ve been really busy and yet at the same time it feels like we haven’t gotten out and done as much as we usually do. It’s been a consistently hot summer with little variation, which I cannot say I enjoy! However, we did get out and do some hiking at Mount Falcon Park, which is always beautiful. We went back to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, where we got to feed the giraffes. We went on a modern home tour which was fun and inspiring. We’ve spent time at City Park and the Science Museum. One night we got to listen to the Lockheed Martin team that built the Juno spacecraft and are managing the mission to Jupiter. And this weekend we celebrated the anniversary of Sean’s move to Denver–4 years!–by going to a cool seafood grill in Littleton called Smokin’ Fins where we had sushi and gourmet mac & cheese 🙂

 

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Visits with family

13450859_10208298001239772_143726354036211991_nWe had a busy June filled with two back-to-back road trips. We didn’t originally plan them that way, but when we received news that my grandma, Arleen Funseth, had passed away, we moved up our plans to visit North Dakota. The nine of us grandchildren were pallbearers, which is the same thing we did nineteen years ago when Grandpa Funseth died. The weekend was a good time spent with family and seeing all my relatives, as well as getting to see my niece Everly for the first time and attend her baptism. My nephew Rhett is now running all over the place, and there’s a new batch of kittens on Kyle’s farm.

We came back to Denver for a few days before heading to Arkansas to visit Sean’s family and relatives, some of whom I hadn’t met yet. The drive this time was a few hours shorter each way, but all told, both trips totaled around 54 hours in the car. It’s a good thing we both like road trips! We listened to the entire 5-part Hardcore History series on WWI, Blueprint for Armageddon. Our time in Arkansas was spent talking with family, eating great food, and driving around to take in the sights. We had homemade beef brisket, fried chicken at AQ Chicken, and ice cream at Braums. We took a drive to Devil’s Den State Park, which was very pretty, and we wished we could spend more time there. We even drove by the Duggars’ house!

Both visits felt a little too short, and I hope we’ll find ways to get more time visiting family in the future.

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New baby niece!

On May 20th, my brother Kyle and his wife Kathryn had their first child, Everly Alice Funseth. My first niece! May 20th happens to be the same day my nephew Rhett was born 2 years earlier! Rhett and Everly were even born in the same delivery room. I can’t wait to see her this summer!

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Snowstorm in the mountains

20160416_020944606_iOS_adjFor our first anniversary, we decided to try out Airbnb and rented a cabin in the mountains out by Bailey, CO. You never know what kind of weather you’re going to have in Colorado in the spring. It can be mid-70s one day and a blizzard the next. So while I was envisioning a weekend of sitting outside in the sun and driving around new areas, what really happened was that we were completely snowed in. We got over 2 feet of snow, and the guy who came to plow us a way out got stuck. He did shovel us a walking path, which we used Sunday morning to carry all our luggage down the hill to our car.

However, being stuck in a cabin in a snowstorm is not that bad. We had everything we needed: electricity, food (including a wonderful cheesecake that my friend Minnie made for us!), books, a wood stove, and a hot tub! There was a birdhouse and bird feed, and I loved seeing all the birds that came around–especially the blue jays! And the snow is pretty beautiful when you’re surrounded by pine trees. I read a lot of my book (just finished The Big Short), ate good food, watched the fire, and enjoyed the silence. It was fun to get a taste of mountain living, even if just for a few days.

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Surprise trip home!

My siblings and I had fun planning a surprise 60th birthday party for my mom recently. And the best part was that I got to be one of the surprises! I flew into Devil’s Lake, ND Friday afternoon. My sister Kari picked me up at the airport and I got to spend time with my silly little nephew Rhett at her house before we all headed over to my parents. 20160408_211836374_iOSKari had called Mom ahead of time to say, “I’m bringing over an early birthday present–and don’t make supper!” When I walked through the door, my mom’s jaw dropped to the floor and stayed there for the longest I’ve ever seen her do that! She was definitely shocked to see me there. Afterward we all went over to my grandma’s place for supper.

The surprise party was planned for the next day. Dad, Mom and I went to Grand Forks in the afternoon for some shopping and errands while Kari set up the party in a rented room at the Good Friends bar in Larimore. My dad was the mastermind in coming up with a legitimate reason for us to get Mom to a bar in Larimore: his guitar teacher was in a band that was playing there that night, and he wanted to get there early to talk to him before the show. She bought the story, but unfortunately she didn’t see the rush to get there before the show started, so she was taking her sweet old time while I tried to hurry things along. Finally we arrived at the location, where friends and family were hidden in the dark and then burst out with “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” as soon as my mom walked in the door. She was once again very shocked, and we were very relieved that we actually pulled off keeping it a secret from her.

I flew back to Denver the next day, so it was a very short stay, but I got to see so many people in such a short time! I even got to see Mary because she happened to be at her dad’s farm the night I flew in. There were lots of friends and family at the party, so it was really good to catch up with all of them. And the next time I get to North Dakota, there will be another addition to the family! Can’t wait!

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