Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I know that there is a tagline for Austin, Texas - "Keep Austin Weird," but have they been to Pearl Street in Boulder on a Saturday night? I have been to Boulder several times, but this time it made what happened at the New Belgium Brewery look mild. All I can say is - drum circle and a funky aroma (an aroma that was also present in our hotel)....makes for good people watching. We saw a gang of people on tricked out bigwheels, street performers with fire and unicycles, violins, pianos, and interesting interpretive dancing. It was a fun experience, but now we are headed home and driving through our beloved Kansas once more. We are contemplating a "Marcus" drive which involves driving 24 hours because we miss our bed so much, but we'll have to see what we can do. This trip has been an amazing experience. We have seen things that we never dreamed we would see, and I feel priveledged that we did. We have gained a new appreciation for the many landscapes of the U.S., and in the coming years we hope to explore more. What will be next? San Fran? Portland? Seatle? Alaska? Key West? New Orleans? Vegas? Or, should we think internationally? We have wanderlust. I wish I came up with this phrase, but I didn't. All I know know is that we have it. We love going to places where no one knows us. It's only then that you truly have the space to be fully yourself because no one knows you enough to pigeon hole you. I believe travel helps you to explore your many facets. I love it, and we have enjoyed rubbertramping across the U.S. In the words of Ozzy, "Mama, I'm coming home."
Posted by Jackie O at 2:44 PM
Monday, July 12, 2010
It has been a while since I've had cell phone and internet service, but I am back! I don't think I have ever felt more in the middle of no where than my time in Wyoming. I must say, I've enjoyed it. After we left the ranch, we headed up to Yellowstone. It was very busy up there!! There were tons of traffic jams around the park due to a bear, elk, or bison sighting. Some of the highlights from Yellowstone were: West Thumb gysers, Old Faithful, Lake Yellowstone, Grand Prismatic Springs, stanging on the edge of the lower falls at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and also coming out of the cabin in the morning to see a bison 50 yards away grazing. Bison were everwhere! One day we were stuck in a traffic jam and realized it was because a bison was walking in the middle of the road, yeah, I could have touched it, but didn't want to get gored. We definitely learned a lot (I know we are nerdy teachers). About 1/3 of the trees in Yellowstone were burned in 1988 due to a fire, and you can still see some of the effects. In addition, there is a rampant beetle plague that is effecting the conifers throughout Wyoming. It was pretty sad to see so many dead trees:( We also had a "it's a small world" incident. Evan was talking to a lady at the front desk, and she mentioned she was from Maryland.....and her ex-husband lived n Severna Park (where Evan is from)......and one of her good friends worked at the church that Evan attended in high school. The Grand Tetons were a nice change of pace. It was far less crowded, and unbelievably gorgeous! The cool thing about the Tetons is that there are no foothills. So, it's like "bam" mountains! We started of with a yummy dinner and a huckleberry (a big thing out there) margarita in the Jackson Lake Lodge with an amazing view of the Tetons from the 50ft. high windows. The cabins that we stayed in at both Yellowstone and the Tetons, were well, rustic. They were built in the 1920s and not much was changed since then. It was a fun experience, but I'm not ready to go pioneer or anything. The next day we drove around the park and went to Mormon Row which is the sight of one of hte most famous pictures of the Tetons. We will post pictures, I promise it just takes forever with the mobile broadband. In closing, I have a random phenomenom Evan and I have been contemplating. Why did we see so many temporary tags on cars in Wyoming? There were tons! Is there a big car sale that we should know about? Are rental companies now using these tags now? Was there a big car heist? All in all, Wyoming gets two thumbs up. The people are tough as nails, and you have to be to live through their winters and stand up against that wind.
Posted by Jackie O at 2:11 PM
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
On our last day in Estes Park, we went up Trail Ridge Road which is the highest continuous highway in the US. The road is inside the Rocky Mountain National Park, and it is a wonderful place to spot wildlife. We were fortunate enuogh to come across a big herd of male elk which was amazing! After our time in Estes Park, we drove to Tie Siding, Wyoming home of the Wiles's ranch. Once we hit Wyoming the landscape opened up and the wind picked up. You can see for miles and miles. After getting settled and getting a good meal in us (Carol is the best cook in the world), we headed to see the fireworks. Evan and I told the Wiles that we were praying that we would see a moose. The Wiles told us that it's not the best time to see moose, but we were still hopefully. Sure enough on our way to the fireworks, we saw not one, not two but three moose. How about that? First we saw the bull and then further down the road we saw mama and baby. It was amazing!!! After that wonderful experience, we were off to the fireworks in the middle of no where. I was not really sure what to expect. Are they little fireworks? Are we driving into Laramie the nearest town at 25 miles away? Nay, nay these were BIG fireworks set off by crazy cowboys on the ranch....awesome combination. The fireworks were purchased at one of the few buildings in town, the post office. As dusk turned to dark, all I could see of these pyrotechnic cowboys was their outines, which reminded me of the Marlboro man. It was truly an experience, especially the finale. Apparently some of the fireworks were faced towards the crowd by accident, oops. Evan and I ran for cover and made it out unscathed. The next day we went horseback riding on the ranch horses. I rode Joker, fitting eh, and Evan rode Red. Evan did an amzing job for his first time on a horse, and I was pretty proud of myself after controlling my somewhat competetive horse. We finished the evening with a ranch potluck and got to know the wonderful people of this beautiful place. We are truly a part of nature here.
Posted by Jackie O at 1:29 PM
Sunday, July 4, 2010
There is nothing like the ride into Estes Park. You go from about 5,000 ft. to over 7,000 ft. (8,000 ft. at the YMCA of the Rockies where we stayed www.ymcarockies.org) in about 45 minutes. The mountains that seemed faint and distant in Fort Collins soon feel like you can reach out and touch them up here. The trip transformed at this point. We are slipping out of modern conveniences, and into a simpler way of life. There are no TVs, no cell phone reception, and wildlife everywhere. Once you check in you receive warning about not leaving food out or lodge doors open because of the bears (which reminds me I need to go get a bear bell). I was fortunate to spend an entire summer here in 2003. Although renovations have taken place all around the grounds of the YMCA, I still get the same feeling of awe. I'm confident that this place is a piece of heaven. This morning Evan and I woke up and had a fantastic breakfast, followed by some time reading while gazing out to the snow capped Rockies. Then we parted ways - Evan went mountain biking and I went to the glorious craft shop. I chose to do a little tie-dying and then picked up some beads for future jewelry projects. Later in the day we went horseback riding and explored more of downtown Estes. The air is so sweet (and thin) up here!
Posted by Jackie O at 1:31 PM
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Drink lots of water. This altitude can be a doozey. The majestic Rockies make dealing with dehydration, headaches, dry skin, nose bleeds, and extreme gas (no joke) a fair trade. I received advice years ago when I attended Colorado LT. The advice was in order to help your body acclimate to the altitude (5,000 feet), drink lots of water – something like your body weight in water. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea. Ah, Fort Collins, Colorado. Fort Collins is a college town much like our beloved Blacksburg but bigger and higher. My high school buddy, Katy, did some postgraduate work at CSU and she had a bunch of food suggestions. I’m still singing her praises!!! I’ll share the goods with you in case your travels take you to Fort Collins in the future. 1. Walrus Ice cream – homemade frozen goodness 2. Coopersmith Pub – all beers are made there. Do the bullet sampler, and do not skip the green chili beer 3. Rio Grande – well known margaritas, not the best I’ve ever had but the most potent! There is a 3 per customer limit! 4. Pickle Barrel – didn’t get a chance to go here but apparently good sandwiches 5. Lucille’s- Best. Breakfast. Ever. Beignets and other canjun scrumptions. 6. New Belgium Brewery tasting/ tour- very cool, extremely friendly and awesome staff. Speaking of New Belgium Brewery...Evan and I stopped by to possibly do a tour, and we soon realized that the tours book up 2 weeks in advance. Upon arriving, Evan and I being the cheesy tourists, were taking a picture of the sign when I was in enticed by a groovy 80s tune coming from a red corvette. Just about as soon as I looked up, BAM!, a bicyclist and a car collide. The cyclist pops right up and is ok, but everyone watching was in more shock than the cyclist, partly because his posse was dressed to impress, or something. One of his friends had on tighty whities, only tighty whities. Actually there were some cartoons on this guy’s skivvies (who knew they made those in adult sizes), but I decided not to look to hard to try to figure out what was going on. Shockingly, he was not allowed in the brewery as there were small children and families inside (small children: brewery, I know there is a lot going on in this story). This all happened in about a minute. Gotta love Colorado!
Posted by Jackie O at 8:46 AM
Friday, July 2, 2010
Kansas. This state deserves a post all to itself. I had heard all about how huge and flat it is, and it is true. What I was not expecting though was the beauty in it all. We stopped in Kansas City for some grub, and then got a late start on Kansas. In the dark we could not fully appreciate the great flatness or enormous windmills, but after spending a night in Hays we saw Kansas in all of its glory in the morning. The long flat ride through Kansas made the ride into Colorado even sweeter. Colorado starts off as a continuation of the flatness of Kansas, but then in the distance you see interesting cloud patterns that hover above the horizon. As we neared Denver and the altitude gradually increased, the clouds parted and there they were…..the majestic Rockies. If you have not seen the Rockies, come immediately if not sooner. Awe-inspiring. Huge. God’s playground.
Posted by Jackie O at 8:38 PM