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- Monday, August 29, 2016:
Here are a few quick reviews to close out our two weeks in Colorado. If you're headed that way yourself and need some recommendations, I'll be glad to help!
Foot of the Mountain Motel (Boulder): Pretty views and friendly staff, but sketchy area and minimal amenities (no A/C) ( C- )
River Rock Cottages (Estes Park): Great centrally-located studio cottage with hot water and comfort for days ( A )
Fireside Inn (Breckenridge): A warm, inviting, British B&B experience in a good location ( B )
Queen Anne Bed & Breakfast (Denver): A bit far from most tourist a...
- Friday, August 26, 2016:
We're heading back to beautiful low-humidity Sterling today, so enjoy these miscellaneous pictures of our non-hiking adventures!
Saurus dinosaurs (acrobats on stilts) take over the downtown Breckenridge square.
A puppy dog hitches a ride up to the top of Quandary Peak.
We go horseback riding in Breckenridge on Lucas and Rubicon.
We enjoy a free wine and cheese Happy Hour at the Queen Anne B&B in Denver.
Annie and Mike use their brain waves to move a ball at the Nature and Science Museum.
We experiment with sour beers at the Crooked Stave Brewery in the RiNo district.
- Wednesday, August 24, 2016:
Hiking to Quandary Peak - The Dirty Details
In Monday's post, I provided a skimpy, fluffy travelogue of our trip up Quandary Peak . Today's post provides a bit more detail, for anyone interested in doing the hike themselves. Although none of the Colorado 14er peaks are EASY hikes, Quandary Peak's East Ridge is a worthwhile starting peak for anyone of reasonable fitness and good preparation. For comparison, I am a middle-aged suburban that eats fried chicken too often and runs about 12 miles per week at a jogging pace while watching bad TV shows on the basement treadmill.
6.6 miles round-trip, with 3375 ft elevation gain
Took us 2 hours for the first 2 miles (to the saddle ridge), th...
- Monday, August 22, 2016:
Hiking to Quandary Peak
Quandary Peak near Breckenridge is considered to be one of the easier "14er" mountains in Colorado (any mountain with a max elevation over 14,000 feet). It has a very simple elevation grade -- you just continuously walk uphill until you can't go any further.
We woke up at 4:30 with special parfaits from our innkeepers (since we'd be missing the breakfast portion of the B&B experience) and started the hike at 5:40. We needed flashlights for the first half hour, but the sun rose soon after.
It took us 3.5 hours to make it 3.3 miles up to the summit, an experience of endless boulder fields and low oxygen that probably nearly killed me several times while Rebecca charged ahead with...
- Friday, August 19, 2016:
Hiking to Sky Pond
Today's hike was 9.6 miles long, but felt much easier than Wednesday's hike to Black Lake. We once again got up at 5 AM to get one of the coveted parking spaces and then hiked through the boring Alberta Falls area to get to the good stuff.
We arrived at the Loch but didn't stay long, as the wind was blowing coldly down the valley.
The vistas continued to get more impressive after the Loch and we survived the rock scramble that took us up the wet rocks to the right of Timberline Falls in the picture below.
We were among the first five people to reach the terminus this morning, and Rebecca marked the territory with a yoga pose.
This time arou...
- Wednesday, August 17, 2016:
Hiking to Black Lake
We got up at 5 AM today and arrived at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead in time for sunrise and a parking spot in the rapidly filling lot.
This hike was 10.5 miles. Black Lake is one of the farther lakes from the trailhead because of segregation. Yesterday, we hiked 9.4 miles around Mount Wuh, and the night before (on our first night in Estes Park) we did 3.6 miles. In the picture below, you can see Long's Peak (the highest point in the park) in the distance, the first mountain from the left with sunlight shining on it.
We timed things well, as we were off the mountain and heading towards the car when the daily thunderstorms arrived. We had a celebratory pint at Rock Cut Brewery (a Smoked B...
- Monday, August 15, 2016:
Hello from Boulder
We flew into Denver mid-morning on Saturday and made our way up to Boulder in time for the last few minutes of the weekly Farmer's Market.
We spent the evening biking through hippies and taking a small hike up to Red Rocks in Settler's Park (not the same as the Ampitheatre), with dinner at Southern Sun and drinks at FATE ("Coffee Kolsch" sounds weird, but it's more delicious than Soon Bok Yoon).
On Sunday morning, we went to Chautauqua Park to hike the Flatiron 1/2 trail, which would take us to where the arrow points in this picture.
We made it to the top! We then did a second hike to the Royal Arch which I bailed on halfway up, in favour of taking a 1 hour nap on a larg...
- Tuesday, August 25, 2015:
EUsday Tuesday, Part IV of IV
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| Part III
| Part IV
Montreux was a bigger town than expected, with narrow European streets and a bustling, walkable feel. Still, it struck a fair balance between the over-urbanization of Munich and the pastoral setting in Grindelwald. You could walk lightly trafficked streets to get that quaint, European town feel, but the tail end of the Alps still loomed overhead, just a ways down the coast.
We debarked from the train and walked to the Hotel Tralala, a chic music-themed hotel where John Kerry once stayed in May 2015 (according to the framed letter at the front desk). Each room had a famous musician featured heavily, a...
- Tuesday, August 18, 2015:
EUsday Tuesday, Part III of IV
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| Part III
| Part IV
Owing to the great helpfulness of the German EurAide staff, we made the eight hour train ride from Munich to Grindelwald (via Austria and harried train transfers in Zurich, Bern, and Interlaken) without incident. We arrived in the town of Grindelwald around 3 PM.
Grindelwald is a highly polished tourist destination, with infinitely easy logistics and everything you need at hand. In fact, it probably would have too touristy had the entirety of the town not been dwarfed by the natural spectacle of the Alps towering overhead a few miles in any direction. Living on the East Coast, vertica...
- Tuesday, August 11, 2015:
EUsday Tuesday, Part II of IV
| Part II
| Part III
| Part IV
Our flight from Geneva to Munich was slightly delayed, but we got on the subway and made it into the city without issue, bemused by the utter lack of ticket checkers on the train. We opted for Litty's Hotel, a smaller, less expensive hotel a few blocks out of the town center nestled amongst halal restaurants and strip clubs. Normally, its lack of air conditioning would have been quaint, but we happened to visit during a heat wave, meaning that we had to choose between quiet suffocation or the echoing car horns and misanthropes on the corner that continuously amplified up to our 4th floor room in a postive feedbac...
- Tuesday, August 04, 2015:
EUsday Tuesday, Part I of IV
| Part II
| Part III
| Part IV
Tuesdays in August will be dedicated to our recent European Vacation which, unfortunately, was not won in a game of Pig in a Poke . For our first international trip since 2012, we designed a trip around Rebecca's idea to go trekking in the Alps, and added some logical cities to the mix that also allowed us to meet up with friends along the way.
Rebecca started off by flying to Geneva, Switzerland on 7/11 and then taking a shuttle to Chamonix, France. She then spent the next week and a half hiking a circuitous route around Mont Blanc (translation: Cracker Mountain) that took her through France, Swi...
- Wednesday, November 05, 2014:
Washington Travelogue, Part IV of IV
Our last full day in Washington had us exploring the environs of Lake Quinault. We started at Fletcher's Canyon, where we pulled into an eerie, secluded parking area reminiscent of all of the hiking dead ends on Kauai. The trail here was unmaintained, but passable enough for avid hikers, according to the sign-in sheet at the entrance. One group from Miami wrote that they didn't hike very far because they were worried about their car getting stolen, but nothing like that happened to us.
This trail had a more pleasant mix of ups and downs that Mount Storm King, although areas near the beginning had turned into rushing streams from recent rains -- we spent the first half hour hopping from rock to rock trying not to g...
- Tuesday, November 04, 2014:
Washington Travelogue, Part III of IV
The area around Lake Crescent was a bit more rainy than Seattle, probably by virtue of it being a temperate rain forest. Luckily, the bulk of the rain usually occurred in the morning or overnight, minimizing the impact on our outdoor times.
We woke up early on Wednesday and did a short 1/2 mile hike to Marymere falls, across bridges and up switchbacks staged for maximum spectacularity when we finally reached the overlook. We then returned to the Lodge for a hearty breakfast of breakfast meats for me and oatmeal for Rebecca. The ending of the rain storm was timed perfectly with our meal, so we hurried from breakfast to our first big hike, Mount Storm King.
After an ominous sign warning about angry wasps at...
- Wednesday, October 29, 2014:
Washington Travelogue, Part II of IV
Rain on the third morning in Seattle was a gentle tease, not unlike an interrupted cadence after a dominant pedal that fades out on the Top 40s Classical Music station before it can resolve to tonic. After huevos rancheros for breakfast, we walked back downtown and took Bill Spiedel's Underground Tour -- a lightweight historical tour of Seattle told from the tunnels beneath the city with extra emphasis on brothels, toilets, and puns. The tour was based around his history book (a typical self-published affair with overuse of ellipses, sentence fragments, and exclamation points), and provided a nice, succinct overview of Seattle's progression without the boring minutia. In a nutshell, they built too close to the water, pooped everywhere...
- Tuesday, October 28, 2014:
Washington Travelogue, Part I of IV
Apart from the non-alcoholic beverage service on our United flight, everything else was behind a paywall -- from the snacks and meals to the movie options and even the real-time map of where the plane was at any given time. Luckily, we were blessed by the newfangled "TSA Pre" lines where you don't have to remove any clothing or deconstruct your luggage to get through, followed by an uneventful, direct flight and a majestic view of Mount Rainier looming above the cloudline.
We arrived in Seattle to a mild rain and, after getting a free rental upgrade from a Toyota Yaris (or Yaris-like alternative) to a Corolla S, we drove to the nearby suburb of Des Moines for lunch with Rebecca's grandmother. Later, we experienced...
- Wednesday, July 25, 2012:
Canada Travelogue, Part III of III
At one time, it seems like Mont-Tremblant might have been three separate towns, a commercial strip along the highway with your standard gas stations and chain restaurants, an old town full of B&Bs and affordable local restaurants, and a bizarre ski resort town where a burger is $20.
Nowadays, all three sections are renamed "Mont-Tremblant", resulting in an array of unhelpful, identical highway exit signs which anxiously hope to direct lost souls towards the priciest portion. This devious Canadian trap might work if the locals at the numerous information offices weren't so friendly, disdainful of the resort, and careful to point you to the more charming areas where "the food and the prices are honest".
- Tuesday, July 24, 2012:
Canada Travelogue, Part II of III
From Quebec City, we drove back down Route 40, catching a funny episode of This Is That
(3.4MB MP3) on the radio and stopping briefly in Trois-Rivieres for a lunch of barbeque poutine. Trois-Rivieres was a quaint town, but didn't seem to have much to offer for more than a few hours of entertainment. On the other hand, they were setting up a giant pool on the boardwalk for a wakeboarding competition, and a live chess competition was in progress . Nonetheless, we were back on the road as soon as the poutine was digesting, and made it into Montreal in the late afternoon.
Montreal was definitely a more urban venue than Quebec City -- in my sheltered suburban mind, a city is characterized by graffit...
- Monday, July 23, 2012:
Canada Travelogue, Part I of III
Our trip to Canada came about because we were too busy with school and work to plan our summer vacation earlier this year. Once May rolled around, flight prices were skyrocketing and choices were slimming. A Montreal-Quebec trip turned out to be the perfect antidote, and was easily one of the best vacations we've ever taken. Plus, the Canadian dollar is slightly depressed right now, so every time I withdrew $200 CAD from my bank account, I had the bonus euphoria of seeing only $195 US removed online. Thanks Canada!
Two Wednesdays ago, we woke up at the incapacitatingly early hour of 4 AM to fly into Montreal (by way of JFK). After an uneventful flight, we hit the road for Quebec City around noon. Driving in Cana...
- Tuesday, June 05, 2012:
Travel Planning Day
It recently became apparent that no one was going to take the initiative and be our volunteer travel agent. I was averaging 62 hours of work per week in the first part of the year and Rebecca was making the ten-hour round trip between Sterling and Springfield for school every day, and the window for planning exotic locales like New Zealand gradually slipped away. Since the only alternative for adventure that didn't involve planning would have us flaunt rolls of Benjamins on the street corner until we were kidnapped and held for ransom, we finally got our asses in gear this past weekend and cobbled together our slightly-less epic yet still exotic summer vacation.
Day 1 Fly int...
- Wednesday, July 28, 2010:
Trip Day: Santa Cruz
Part III of III
Our next stop on the whirlwind tour of Northern California was Santa Cruz, home of the family of Rebecca's dad's sister, as well one of her grandmothers. Santa Cruz was blessed with unseasonably fogless days while we were there, so obviously our super power was to bring the sunlight to unexplored backwater lands, not unlike the White Man in 1492. We took in a sampling of Santa Cruz beaches at Natural Bridges, a beach covered in seaweed and a dead sea lion where everyone in bathing suits stands at the edge of the fifty degree surf, shivering, and then goes home.
We also went to Roaring Camp, where we took an overpriced steam train ride up the mountain to have a picnic lu...