Things I miss about Colorado: views of the mountains, cool temperatures (it's been 106 at home today), hiking, slower pace of life.
Things I missed while we were on vacation: vegetables!!!
I've already been to the store. I bought parsnips, okra, butternut squash, kohlrabi, turnip greens, asparagus, and Swiss chard. I never realized how few vegetables are served in restaurants until this vacation. Salad is plentiful - that's good. Broccoli is available, as are onions. But when restaurants say "vegetables" they mostly seem to mean potatoes, corn, and rice.
Salad bars seem to offer lots of choices, but even they aren't ideal. Between avoids like kidney beans, cucumbers, & alfalfa sprouts, fad foods like pasta salads, and "dessert salads" like banana pudding; I feel like I'm walking through a mine field.
I remember when cafeterias served a huge variety of vegetables, but cafeterias are out of style these days. It wasn't many years ago that "home style" restaurants were popular and served dinners that included 2 or 3 vegetables from a long list of choices. One of that type restaurant is still near our home, but none were open in Estes Park. Chinese restaurants serve lots of vegetables, but MSG is always a threat and our son is extremely sensitive.
So as much as I miss the mountains, I'm glad to be back in my own kitchen preparing beneficial vegetables.
I also missed swimming laps. It will be really good to get back in the pool - especially on these hot August days.
Today was a long travel day. We walked around the rim and down into the crater of the volcano at Capulin National Monument. The 1.5 mile trail was a good way to stretch our legs, and experience geography at the same time.
As I fixed lunch on the fly, I commented that I had bought fewer chips and cookies than ever before on a vacation. I left home with one bag of chips. When it was gone, I bought another bag, but it was still half full as we traveled home. The same was true with cookies. The cheese cake was the only dessert any of us had at a restaurant. Nonetheless my husband and kids only ate a bag and a half of cookies in a week. "I can remember when you guys would put away a whole bag of chips during a movie," I teased. "I can remember other vacations when I was at the store buying cookies every other day. What happened?"
My son said that I made sandwiches different this year. In the past when I gave him and his dad the same amount of meat, he was still hungry so he filled up on chips. This year I piled the meat on his sandwich, and it satisfied him. I realized I had still been at the store every other day but instead of cookies and chips, I had been buying fruit! Everyone had been happy snacking on cherries, dried fruit, nuts, protein bars and carrots.
We stopped at Arbys to pick up dinner. This wasn't anyone's first choice, but it was the only thing available at the time we were hungry. I got a side salad and a regular roast beef sandwich, discarding the bun as usual. The salad was a wonderful surprise: lots of mixed greens and other vegetables. Frankly, it was better than the salads in some of the expensive restaurants. My son was happy with one of the giant roast beef sandwiches. My daughter also got a salad. My husband spent a lot of time looking for something good for Type A, and settled on a turkey sandwich. Then he upgraded to a value meal with curly spicy fries. A couple of hours later he muttered, "Drat that diet." I asked what was the matter. "Now that you have me on that diet, I can't eat bad foods without feeling it," he said. "I have heart burn from those fries. They never used to bother me before this diet." I said, "It's not that the diet makes you feel bad. It's that you were used to a low level of feeling bad all the time. Now, you're used to feeling better. So you notice when you eat something that doesn't agree with you." It was a revelation.
When my son said, "Mom, let's get up early and run that trail you found." I thought to myself, "It's almost 4 miles! I haven't run more than 2 miles in 20 years." But I set the alarm, and the two of us got up early this morning to run. We ran side by side until we got to the trail head, then he took off, while I kept my own steady pace. The trail went through a bird sanctuary, down below the dam, and back along the other side of the lake. It was a beautiful morning with great views of the Front Range. I ran the entire trail except for the long hill coming up from below the dam. I'm estimating I ran at least 3 miles. My son doubled back to meet me after he finished the trail, so he ran at least 4.
I wanted real food when we got back to our motel. I fixed lunch for myself (tuna and English peas out of the picnic box) while the rest of the family had breakfast. We spent the morning in the national park, our son climbing rocks, and our daughter taking pictures.
We met our friend for dinner in Colorado Springs at Giuseppe's, a restaurant in the old train station. I ordered grilled salmon with salad and steamed vegetables, and shared with my daughter. This was the first meat or fish she has had since we left home. She has eaten lots of legumes and lots of salad, plus rice and pasta. She had a soy shake every morning, and soy protein bars for snacks. She takes the Type A diet fairly seriously, and made good decisions overall on this vacation. Salmon is her favorite fish, so even though it was the most expensive meal I ordered on the trip, it seemed like a good choice.
Indeed the salmon was excellent. The salad was good; there were a few other greens mixed in with the iceberg lettuce. The steamed vegetables, however, were the same winter mix that I buy frozen in the grocery store. I ate the carrots and broccoli, but picked out the cauliflower and gave it to my husband. For the price of the dinner, I had expected better than frozen carrots and broccoli.
Yesterday I went through with what I call â€˜weather head,' a fullness that I occasionally feel when the outside barometer goes up while the inside barometer in my head is still heading down, or vice versa. Better this morning.
Great day in the office. Eight office calls, several featuring favorite patients who I have tended to for literally decades. What a delight it is to grow old with a good patient! To see their children mature and develop; to see the lines and wrinkles and gray hairs develop on their faces and they on mine.
Dinner tonight will be at my brother's place. He and his wife have a delightful little one-year-old son, Alex.
Ally-Boy, as his proud godfather prefers to call him (as opposed to Andy-Boy, a brand of broccoli) is a true child of the â€˜info-toy' generation. By this I mean the battery-operated, push-button, stimulus-response and â€˜educational' device toys everybody gives kids nowadays.
Now at age one, Alex thinks everything that looks like a button should produce some sort of computer voice, light or music tone when he pushes it. How insulted he gets when his best effort to twiddle a knob or dial on an unplugged radio or push a knot or whirl pattern in a piece of furniture is repaid with stony indifference!
On my way out to my office (which sits behind my garage) Martha passed me a news article from the NY Times about a man who is suing the estate of Robert Atkins and the company that promotes his dietary products.
A group with the improbably highfalutin name â€˜Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine' (PCRM) but who are actually a veganism and animal rights support group is actively assisting the plaintiff. The lawsuit seems more of a publicity stunt and is not surprising, since the PCRM has maintained an â€˜Atkins-watch' website for several years now, where people can report adverse reactions to the use of animal products in their diet.
Apparently Mr. Jody Gorran, a wealthy manufacturer of solar panels and swimming pools, and who ate quite a bit of cheese and cheesecake while on the Atkins Diet, had his cholesterol increase from a rather low 146 to a potentially hazardous 230. This resulted, he claims, in a 99% blockage in one of his coronary arteries, requiring angioplasty.
From what the article said, most law experts do not believe the lawsuit would get anywhere, and even the plaintiff said he contacted the PCRM â€˜because they are familiar with publicity.'
So I guess this is where the Great American Diet Debate eventually winds up.
Not that I believe for a second that this will end matters. In fact, I'm certain that the heavy-handed manner of the PCRM will eventually boomerang badly, since they in turn leave themselves open to litigation from any ex-vegan who goes on to develop cancer or some other ailment supposedly prevented by their vegan diet.
Blades cut in two directions.
But who knows? If one-year-olds can eventually adjust to their lack of results in expert knob twiddling and button-pushing, then perhaps there is hope for Mr. Gorran and the PCRM.
My son has run the past couple of nights. Since he was a baby he has showed this Type O characteristic. He needs lots of exercise, especially after a rainy afternoon like we had yesterday. I was interested in running with him last night, but my husband really discouraged it. He was right. My son would have quickly outpaced me and left me in the dark.
I knew that our vacation activity for today was a mostly sedentary train ride, so I set the alarm for 30 minutes early and ran this morning. I started toward downtown Estes Park, but spotted a trail along the Big Thompson River, and turned onto it. What a lovely run! The air was cool and the other people out early walking their dogs and running were friendly. I was pleased that the altitude didn't bother me at all. There was one hill, where I had to slow to a walk, but other than that I ran my regular pace. I don't know how far I ran, probably close to the 2 miles I run at home. On the way back to our motel, I passed a trail junction for a 3.75 mile loop around Lake Estes. My son wants to run that tomorrow morning.
We rode the historic Georgetown Loop train with a long time friend who lives south of Denver. Afterwards we ate at Mama Sannino's Italian Restaurant in Denver. Everyone was ordering pasta. I chose an Italian sandwich with thin sliced beef covered in grilled peppers, onions and Mariana sauce. I put the bun in the bread basket where it was quickly gobbled up by others. I was feeling proud of myself that I had found such a delicious Type O meal in a restaurant full of wheatâ€¦then our friend ordered cheesecake for everyone. I could have protested; I could have called the waiter back and said, "None for me;" but I didn't.