Category Archives: new towns

Our view from Utah

We had a great time staying at the Wasatch Mountain State Park. The park is about 20 min outside of downtown Park City. Our first foray into town for a laundry run was a success. Quaint and super fancy shops, a yummy deli for lunch, and a few conversations with delightfully friendly locals.  So, as often happens with us, we look at each other and say “yeah, I could live here!”  We know that feeling will happen over and over on our trip so we move on. 


I was able, with some helpful directions from a guy in Fish Heads (a nice fly shop in Heber), to make my way to a public access on the Provo River and caught a beautiful brown trout!  As Brad put it, I knocked the stink off. It felt good. 

The next day Brad planned to ride down the WOW trail (Wasatch over Wasatch). We shuttled him to the top of the mountain. No sooner did we return to the campsite, where he would be ending his ride in an hour or so, when I looked up and saw a big black cloud heading towards the mountain top behind us!!  I knew he would be in for an exciting ride, and just hoped he would not be hit by lightening!   Indeed it was exciting, and some torrential rain briefly, but no direct lightening hits, thank goodness. 


Our last day we headed to the Utah Olympic Training Center. Such a cool place. We took the chair lift up, Kimberly and I rode back down while Brad and Virginia rode the Alpine slide!  After that, they did the zip line, tubed down the huge ski jump, and did a high ropes adventure course. Fun day!!

We departed Utah for Oregon, via two long days of driving. We were rewarded with great times in Portland. Details to follow!

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Rocky Mountain High (revisited)

So, I am already a bit behind on our updates for those interested.  I guess, ultimately, it is a good thing as we have been without internet service (except for phones) since we started out all together in Denver a week and a half ago!  I have hijacked the wifi at Heather’s house in attempt to get back on track.

Th girls and I kicked off of the #2016summeroffun trip (as Brad has dubbed it) with a shuttle from DIA to the rental car area where our chariot awaited. Brad and the dogs successfully crossed many miles from NC to CO once again to allow for an easier launch from Denver. Many thanks to the Bloomers for feeding and housing Brad and the four-legged ladies, allowing them to meet up with us ready to roll!

We headed out on 70 and turned North to reach our destination just outside of Grand Lake Village, at the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. This was our first park in 2014 as well. Our campground specialized in campers with horses so there were many for us to ohh and ahh over. We took a beautiful drive along the portion of Trail Ridge Road that we missed last time. It is always breathtaking, in more than one way!

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12,000 feet and all smiles!

The first night in our campsite we saw two large male moose (from a safe distance) grazing in the pasture next to our campsite, they were huge! The morning of day two brought momma moose and her baby into the campsite…we definitely kept a safe distance from her!

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Blurry shot of the backside of momma and baby moose…clearly I did not have my camera handy when they arrived!

Our second full day Brad and Virginia even went for a trail ride on “Jewel” and “Cowboy”, where they crossed the Colorado River on horseback! We also planned to rent a pontoon boat to take onto Grand Lake, but the weather had other plans. We decided instead to head out a day early and stop over in Steamboat. What a fun town! We had a great dinner and graced the Walmart parking lot with our shiny rig for the evening.

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Friday morning we continued west towards Dinosaur National Monument, our next stop before finally getting to our second campground at Wasatch State Park in Park City, UT.

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View from our campsite in Utah…ahhh!

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Texas in the summer…sure, why not?!

Up until the week of July fourth our summer travels had not taken us further afield than the cabin in VA or a NC beach, a stark contrast to the wanderings of last year!  Sometime in mid-June, we couldn’t take it anymore and planned a quick but super busy trip to Texas Hill Country.  I can’t say July is likely the ideal time of year to be in that region, but when the music calls…you must answer!

We combined two musical events to make the trip to Austin for five days.  All four of us went and it was a blast!  The weather was ideal, flights were without issue (miracle of miracles!), and our accommodations were just right.

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Luckily for us, as time to plan before we went was minimal, Austin, TX makes it super easy. Just drive around and you will find so many cool things to do and see!  Brad and VA had their first SUP experience on Lady Bird Lake while Kimberly and I kayaked.  Yummy food was everywhere, seriously.  Good beer, awesome local kombucha, food trucks on every corner…

Our airbnb guest house was  the perfect fit and landed us 20 minutes SW of the City in a very peaceful area.  Major plus, it was only 10 min from our new favorite brewery/pizza kitchen combo: Jester King Brewery/Farmhouse Pizza…on a working ranch, no less!!

The July 4th show at the Circuit of the America’s Amphitheater (inside a formula 1 racetrack?!) was fun, but made for a long day in the inescapable sun.  Our three favorite acts did not disappoint though, so the sunburn was worth it for sure!

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San Antonio was interesting, but I much preferred Austin.  We checked out the riverwalk and the Alamo…now we can say we have been there 😉

The icing on the cake of this trip was certainly the show at Austin City Limits Live @ Moody Theater….it was surreal having seen so many shows on TV over the years and wishing so much I was there in person.  Again, several of our favorite artists were there for a tribute concert to Waylon Jennings…it wrapped up with a finale of “Luckenbach, Texas”, sung by the likes of Willie Nelson, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Alison Kraus, Robert Earl Keen Jr, Kris Kristofferson, and the list goes on…

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Just when we thought it all couldn’t get any better, we had the opportunity to meet and speak briefly with Alison Kraus herself at the airport the following morning.  Being a fan of hers for over twenty years, it was a special moment indeed.

The trip was quick and dirty, but worth it for sure…we most certainly will be going back once the airstream is done.  Speaking of which, I think I have some new photos of that to add as well.  Happy traveling!!

 

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Roaring Fork Valley: Aspen, Snowmass, Carbondale!

This will be short and sweet in light of recent family events.

We had a wonderful time visiting with friends, Joel and Bonnie. Joel biked with brad on trails at Snowmass, we rode the gondola, enjoyed dinner at Woody Creek Tavern and explored the valley.

The campground south of Carbondale was relaxing and being a stones throw from the Crystal River was a plus.

We hope to return to this area soon for more exploring! Thank you Bonnie and Joel for making it extra special!!

I am back at home with the girls as of yesterday and brad will hopefully begin his journey back tomorrow. Thanks for enjoying the trip journal with us. We look forward to sharing more adventures in the future!!

XOXO

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Southwestern CO tour

We arrived at Mesa Verde Tuesday afternoon with a much appreciated drop in the thermometer compared to Moab.

We checked into the campground at the Park early enough to unhook and ride up to the Spruce Tree House, hit the visitors center, and visit the museum. I also bought tickets for a guided tour of Cliff Palace the following morning.

I visited this park about 15 years ago but it was great to return and share it with Brad and the girls! We ventured into Cortez for dinner and back for a nice night with the windows open!

While hooking up the next morning our 37 year old tongue power jack died on us. Fortunately we were hooked up so we could drive to an RV place in Durango to buy a new one (Merry Christmas Brad and Dani :-/). We had to miss our tour but Virginia was able to complete her 5th and final Junior Ranger program.

Durango was a lot of fun. It started off on the right foot at the RV place, where we met two lovely couples from NC! Just hearing their sweet voices made me homesick! We took it easy for a few days: swam at the campground, rode the bus up and took the train back from Silverton, fished in the Animas River, and took in local brew.

The drive from Durango to the Carbondale area was slow but beautiful. We passed through Ouray and took the scenic route up 133.20140726-133059-48659670.jpg

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Utah: We think summer is the “off-season”

Here is the list of potential titles for this post that we came up with:
Utah: Don’t waste your time 😉
Utah: Hot.
Utah: Honey, it’s a dry heat
Utah: I’ll have a pint of Polygamy Porter, please
Utah: They must market the hell out of this place in Germany!

Over the last week we bedded down in Salt Lake for a few days while Brad made a work trip to Twenty-nine Palms, CA….the only place hotter ;-). The girls and I made a trip to the hair salon, parks, took in a movie, and found a great Whole Foods.

Brad’s return flight was cancelled so he and guy from Parsons drove back to Salt Lake from Palm Springs….11 hours…..through the desert…..with a stop in Vegas for “dinner”!

The next day we loaded up, cleared out of the hotel, and headed to Moab. It’s hot there. Our campground had some shade so that was a sweet relief. I can say that the low humidity is a nice feature…as were the evening breezes.

Arches NP is really beautiful. We visited the Windows area, Balanced Rock, and took in Delicate Arch from the viewpoint. Virginia completed her fourth Junior Ranger program.

Brad rode the famed Slickrock mtn bike trail on Sunday morning…apparently he should have started a little earlier in the day! He finished up around 11:30 and was getting cooked. He took the GoPro so we watched the footage that night….of course replaying the part where he went over the handle bars into the sand wash over and over!!

That evening we picked up the off road jeep we rented for the following day. We drove back to Arches that night to watch the sunset on the rocks. Gorgeous!

Monday we spent the better part of the day in the jeep exploring back country canyons, checked out Gemini Bridges and drove down Schaffer trail in Canyonlands NP. It is very unusual to be able to off-road in a NP, but the rangers insist it is the best way to experience this place.

Today we travel to Cortez/Mesa Verde NP. Tomorrow we will explore the cliff dwellings and then head on to Durango.

We are back in Colorado now. The temperature gauge in the car reads 82 and it’s 1 in the afternoon. Ahhhh!20140715-183806-67086571.jpg

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Portland: A Sampler

We couldn’t have asked for better accommodations or tour guides! Visiting with Heather and Kris for three days was the perfect way to hit our mid-trip milestone.

We arrived Friday, walked to the “neighborhood” grocery, cooked a yummy dinner and crashed in our first non-camper accommodations in 27 days!! Saturday we headed downtown to check out the Rose Garden (roses at their peak!), stopped by REI, Powells Bookstore, Deschuetes Brewery for lunch, and Fat Tire Farm ( bike store for Brad). After a rest in the afternoon it was wings at Fire on the Mountain for dinner.

Sunday we had a less hectic schedule but still managed to visit the new Keen store/headquarters, wood fired pizza for lunch, a local stationary store, and Queen Bee for a new/replacement wallet for me! The guys checked out HUB bike bar and we stopped by laurel hurst park for some playtime. Then, it was back home for the tail end of the World Cup game.

Some good patio time and another yummy dinner were enjoyed! Heather and Kris introduced us to the game SkipBo and Virginia was the winner!

We said our goodbyes this morning and headed towards Bend. We are at the Sandy Ridge trails currently…brad is getting in some “seat time” while the girls and I hang out.

Looking forward to our upcoming week in the Bend/Sisters area!! Hoping to fish, hike, bike, and check out the breweries that have been recommended.

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Gold Fever!

We found ourselves in Idaho briefly, long enough to rest for a night and tour an old gold mine.  The Crystal Gold Mine in Kellogg, ID was mined briefly in the late 1800s and then boarded up and abandoned until it was rediscovered during road construction in the 1991!  We camped on the premises so we were the first ones in on Monday morning.

Kimberly getting the safety talk from Frank, the owner

Kimberly getting the safety talk from Frank, the owner

Kimberly did a great job of keeping her miners hat (hard hat) on the whole tour!   It was very interesting and we were able to see gold and silver in the walls!   At the back of the mine we were 900 feet below ground!!  We panned a little afterwards, but chilly temps and icy water minimized that experience.

Back on the road, we stopped in Coeur d’Alene long enough to have an awesome lunch at Fire Pizzeria…the lake there is beautiful!

 

Our attempt at a family photo in the mine ;-)

Our attempt at a family photo in the mine 😉

 

The afternoon brought a few more hours of driving as we were making our way to the Washington coast.  Similar to parts of Wyoming and Montana, there is a lot of agriculture and undeveloped land in east Washington.  We found ourselves hunkering down for the night at another truck stop in George, WA…my least favorite accommodations so far.  Dinner and a few games of Uno rounded out the evening.

Notice the size of the "shaft"...not for the claustrophobic!

Notice the size of the mine shaft…not for the claustrophobic!

Today we will be arriving at a campground (thank God!) around lunchtime near Tacoma, setting us up for a day in Seattle tomorrow.  I am looking forward to spending Kimberly’s birthday there and we plan to take the girls to the aquarium among other places.

Thursday we are headed to the Olympic Peninsula for a much needed break in travel.  We will be there for 8 days, yay!!

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Good times in Bozeman

The past three and a half days have been spent in the lovely town of Bozeman, MT.  I could definitely live here…not so much Brad though, too much snow for his taste.

Prior to arrving in town though we made a slight detour to Chico Hot Springs in Pray, MT.  I was nervous about dragging the family there, as it was just through internet resources that I learned of this place, and you never know what you’ll get with that stuff!  It was a success though.  We donned our bathing suits for the first time on the trip, I can safely say this is the palest I have ever been in June…not much sunbathing in the recent temps of CO and WY!  The “hot” pool was around 104 and the larger pool was around 90 degrees.  It felt great to soak in the minerals and the sun, despite the outside temp of 50 degrees!  We lounged and played for about 2 hours and then it was back on the road.

Ahhh...

Ahhh…

We arrived in Bozeman Thursday afternoon and found a local grocery…a great co-op, kind of like a cross between Chatham Marketplace and Whole Foods!  It was a very welcome sight after the limited fare in Yellowstone!   Dinner was Bison burgers with a fried egg on local arugula and potatoes…YUM!  Friday Brad found a local mountain biking trail…this town has plenty to choose from.  As he “crushed his soul” on an 18 mile ride with the first 9 being uphill, I hung out at the campground with the girls.  That afternoon we ventured to another local find: Spire Climbing Center.  I put both Kimberly and Virginia in harnesses and Brad belayed them as they tried out wall after wall…well, Kimberly did it a few times, and only about 8 feet high, but that was a major success in my book!  Virignia on the other hand was killing it!  For two hours she wore Brad out, even tackling some walls that were partially inverted (sloping backwards)!  It is a great place and it was fun to watch all the climbers practicing their moves.

RIMG0209Dinner at the Montana Ale House was very good, as was the break from cooking in my 20 square foot kitchen!

Saturday brought rain in the am and chilly temperatures.  I was concerned as I had booked us on a river rafting trip on the Gallatin for lunchtime.  We took care of our chores and a final grocery shopping trip before heading down towards Big Sky.  The Montana White Water Company is fantastic and I highly recommend them if you are in the area!  I opted for the “scenic float” as I was concerned that even the family-friendly Class 1-3 trip might being pushing it in the cold water temps and for a first trip for the girls.  Excellent call in hindsight!  With the river running fairly high from runoff, the scenic float had just enough excitement to have everyone smiling at the end!  Our guide Brent was super and he and Brad chatted about biking, construction, and everything else as we took in the beautiful Gallatin…part of our reach was used in the filming of A River Runs Through It.

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Brad and Kimberly waiting for the bus ride to the put in…the wetsuits were much appreciated!

Today, Father’s Day, we load up and head out once again.  We are hoping to end up somewhere between Missoula and Couer d’Alene this evening.  Planning to tour an old gold mine in the am.  I am hoping for another success in the “momma side trip” department!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads….