Sunday, October 11, 2009


This is a fun time to live in Denver - The Rockies are in the playoffs (I attended the wildcard-clinching day game vs. the Milwaukee Brewers with my co-workers - I love my job!) and the Broncos are looking strong, going 4-0 into today's game and exceeding everyone's preseason expectations - including mine. Further, as expatriate Gators, Julia and I were excited to watch a healthy-looking Tim Tebow and his Florida team beat LSU this weekend, their toughest opponent so far, to continue their undefeated record.

Also quite exciting, for me, is that I joined a new band (see cheesy photo left). I had played guitar and bass in various bands since high school, but since moving to Denver almost three years ago, I haven't played in anything consistent. As a musician, it's hard to go without a band for a prolonged time, so I was particularly psyched to get an email from our friend Cynthia (who is another Denver-dwelling Gator) asking if I was interested in playing bass in a new punk rock band. After playing with these women for one practice, I was impressed with their musical focus as well their fun, supportive attitudes - I'll post further news as we get gigs.

Julia is still working hard on her Master's thesis, while spearheading various projects at her corporate job. While I am working on a big project at work too, I simply can't complain when I look at her work and school load.

We are looking forward to a Christmas trip to Vail with some good friends, where we will rent a big house for a week; just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the ski lifts. It contains a hot tub and fire place, as well as comfy beds and an inviting, cozy communal area. The snow should be great, and the crowds should be manageable at that time of year. Other than that trip, we have plans to return to Gainesville, FL to see the big Gator game vs. Florda State in November. It should be a ton of fun - my first live UF Football game - and a chance to see our Florida friends and family!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Iceland! – check.

Drake and I LOVED Iceland - the people, the culture, the food, the music, and most importantly, the land.

Iceland, by far, has some of the most geologically interesting land I have ever seen. Immense, inland glaciers are sprinkled throughout the island and volcanoes are the ruling force encountered over ever knoll. Driving around southwest Iceland was an experience just unto itself. Highways cut through miles and miles of lava fields covered in green moss only to deliver us into miles of jutting grassland. Puffing peaks in the horizon is a common backdrop.

We took a beautiful hike up to Mt. Esja, one of the more popular volcanic mountain ranges. I was most impressed with the lichen-covered rocks.

Every day offered so many highlights, but my two favorite were Pingvellir and Landmannalaugar. Pingvillir is where the original parliament started. But it is also the place of the Mid-Atlantic ridge where the North American tectonic plates meets the Eurasian one. I felt as if I were standing at the inception point of the world as we know it.

Landmannalaugar is a region near Hekla, one of the more active volcanoes. It could have taken us days to cover that diverse region, so we only took a few hours to hike one section of it and boy was it worth it. The ground is made up of black lava stones so light you sink a bit when trekking through it. The plant life looks as though it belongs undersea. We made our way atop one mound to look across an expanse of gigantic rock clusters (probably rhyolite). If it weren’t for the occasionally squawking bird and grazing sheep I could have completely lost touch with earth – that’s how alien it is.

Other highlights were: Gullfoss the iconic, tiered waterfall with a rainbow; Geysir, the geyser for which all geysers are named and is also larger than Old Faithful; and Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa known to cure psoriasis with its unique mineral-rich makeup.

Oh, and I heart Reykjavik. The personalities are a pleasant dichotomy of political cynicism and pioneering fervor; much like their architecture. One of the four TV channels there is a 24-hour Christian, evangelism channel with the likes of Billy Graham and crew. Ironic since the majority of citizens consider themselves atheist and the prime minister is the first openly gay head of government.

We ate the rotten shark, we drank the Brennivin, we danced our way through the Runtur. Takk fyrir Island.

We uploaded the entire PHOTO album here. Just a warning, there are about 400! I think I deleted about 200 that were just sheep. We dug the sheep.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Emkos' Summer Thus Far

I apologize for not updating this blog as often as we'd like. Julia, as ever, is maddeningly busy getting her Master's degree while working a full-time job. I am also balancing my work with a variety of outside activities, but mine tend to be things like beer-in-hand kickball and training co-workers for Man vs. Food competitions. I continue to be amazed that my resourceful wife can excel with her Sisyphean schedule, while remaining her vibrant and fun self, but I guess that's why I married her :).

Above, you can see us attending a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater, one of the Colorado's most beautiful outdoor treasures. As a teenager, I marveled at U2's legendary concert at this venue, and now as an adult I can go see a show there any time. Being grown up does have its advantages! We have seen one of our favorite shows of all time there - Arcade Fire with LCD Soundsystem - and this year we saw a pounding and eclectic electronica-themed lineup, including Paul Oakenfold and Disco Biscuits. It had amazing energy and was hands-down one of the most electrifying shows I've attended, which we were privileged to see with some of our great Denver friends.

We also had a fun-filled July 4th weekend in Aspen and Snowmass, CO, home of probably the most friendly and kind people we have ever met in our travels. During our dinner at Brunelleschi's Pizza, our waiter encouraged us to take some beers - on the house - outside to watch the city's beautiful fireworks display. We and our friends never ceased to be amazed at the trust and hospitality the locals bestowed on us, and it was the perfect place to celebrate our pride in this country, with nights of board games and bar crawls and days of immersing ourselves in expansive mountain country.

We hope all of you reading this are having a great summer too. While it's never easy being as busy as we are, it always helps to know we have our amazing friends and family, not to mention the beautiful Colorado backdrop and blue skies, to cheer us up on even the most stressful days.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Go Rockies! It's Great to be a Denverite

The Colorado Rockies have won 17 out of their last 18 games, an exhilarating, jaw-dropping streak that even beats their miraculous 2007 run going into the playoffs. So it's a bit befuddling, the day after their latest victory - trouncing the talented LA Angels 11-1 - to see such a dismissive piece on the Rockies on ESPN.

Truly the Rockies have never seemed to get respect as a baseball town on the national stage. Even in 2007 their amazing October and World series appearance was viewed largely as a fluke. But I think that's fine.

The mountain West is generally overlooked in national news coverage, movies, and television, which often act as if all the excitement in America occurs exclusively on one coast or the other. But who needs the attention? One of the reasons Julia and I moved to Denver is that it seemed like such an overlooked gem. Maybe we should count our blessings and be content that, for now, the hype and spotlight keep passing a mile over our heads.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Downtown Action

I was walking toward my gym downtown today, when I saw a formidable police cordon spanning at least two blocks surrounding the Denver Post building. Police yelled - rather viciously - at any bikers or pedestrians that got near the building (they put up yellow police tape around the building shortly after I took the picture to the left). I asked a police officer on the next block what was going on, but he refused to answer, saying only "Trust me, you don't want to be near that building."

What a mystery! After I returned to the office, I found an article in the Denver Post that likely explained this crazy scene. Apparently there was a bank robbery and suspected backpack bomb just blocks away from my office.

A Night Out - Bobby Lee!

Julia and I went on a date night this weekend to see Bobby Lee, of MadTV and Harold and Kumar fame, do his raunchy stand up comedy at the Improv. We speculated on whether he'd strip down to his skivvies (as he is wont to do), and as you can see from my camera phone picture, Bobby did not disappoint. The poor guy on the chair blushed through a comically aggressive lap dance while his niece watched from the audience.

As expected, Bobby Lee was hilarious; and we decided we should make it a point to check out more live stand up acts. Tons of great comedians come to Denver (Stapleton is just minutes from our neighborhood) and great deals can be had. This show was just $20 per ticket; not bad for a date night!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Old Friends from Florida

This post is a bit late, but I wanted to update our blog with photos from our friends Todd and Bethany's visit to Denver in April. My photos are posted in four parts, and Julia's (better) photos are on her site. We had a great time sampling a myriad of Colorado microbrews (our friends are quite the beer aficionados, and Todd taught us quite a bit about beer appreciation), watching the Rockies slog through a loss in the rain, hiking in mountain lion-infested snowy trails, and merrily touring historic Denver government institutions, among other adventures. Todd and I also nerded out over far too many hours at the Denver zoo, to the annoyance of our wives. It was a treat to have our good friends use their vacation time to visit us in our new home - thanks again guys!