Monday, July 23, 2018

Rocky Mountain High

I had an absolutely amazing trip to Colorado. I'll cover the marathon in a separate post, this is about the rest of the trip. And there are a ton of pictures. Taking in wild trips like this is my favorite part of the 50 state marathon challenge, it really is an incredible way to see the country. This was my first time to Colorado and my first time in the Rockies, but it will not be my last. I left Colorado with a bigger bucket list than I had when I started this trip. I started with a flight at 6 am, so I had to arrive at the airport at 4:30. Nobody should be awake at 4:30 am.

The Backpack

in the Denver airport
Evil Genius wanted to go with me but she's afraid to fly so I had to take her backpack like she was able to join me. I took a cab out to get the rental car place then headed south towards Colorado Springs. My favorite way to explore new places is by car, so to me just driving around trying to see what I can see is tons of fun. I got into Denver about 10:30 local time, and my first stop was Garden of the Gods outside CSprings. My jaw spent most of the drive down there on the floor. The red rock formations were incredible. I wanted to find a parking spot and hike for a bit, and get lunch at the restaurant there but was unable to find a spot to park.

At a scenic rest stop on the way to colorado springs

red rock formations

This one was the size of a football field
There are a shitload of mexican restaurants in Colorado. I found some amazing tacos in csprings, then headed back up north through Denver and up to Estes Park. EP is a small town northwest of Denver, higher into the mountains.

Estes Park is amazing. Everything else I saw was around a highway. But EP has one high mountain pass where you have to go through another small town to get there. I could see the mountains in the distance, then when I got there I saw snow covered peaks in the distance, then an actual big mountain appeared behind it (kind of intimidating). EP has the Stanley hotel - where they filmed The Shining. It's just a cool small mountain town with an incredibly laid back touristy vibe. And craft beers. I found Rock Cut Brewery the night before the marathon, which was a huge mistake. It has one of the best beer lineups I've ever found anywhere in the country.

My happy place

A cold mountain stream

Chuck Norris saving kittens on the side of a van

Downtown Estes Park with the Stanley hotel in the background

I got a selfie with the Stanley
Sunday morning was the marathon, afterwards I made my way down to Boulder where I found the Pearl Street Mall. It was really cool just walking around downtown like that! I also wanted to hike the flatirons while in Boulder but it just didn't happen.

I found another great brewery in Westminster after I got checked into the hotel. Also found a dispensary. ;)

Monday I decided to head up the road to Cheyenne Wyoming. The drive up there was jaw dropping. Getting into the high plains and the sky just opens up into something incredible.

That's a buffalo on the hill

Woolly mammoth skeleton in the welcome center!

I'm in!!
Cheyenne is the state capital. Granted, Wyoming has a population less than Raleigh, but the capital seemed like a ghost town. I found the state capitol building, but it was under construction. made for an awkward selfie. I got lunch in Cheyenne and went back to Westminster. Eventually I turned in the rental car and got an uber into downtown Denver.

The ghost town state capital. This was 11 am on a monday!

Found the capitol building!

an 8' cowboy boot! The wild west is real in WY

The sky is very big out there
Wyoming was incredible. Honestly Wyoming and Montana wasn't very high on my 50 state list, I wasn't excited about going there over, say, Portland Oregon or the Maine coast. But once I got on the road I was totally blown away. I can't wait to fly into Jackson WY and see the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. Gimme more Wyoming!

Monday night I got to go see my NY Mets play at the Colorado Rockies. I'll take a Mets game any way I can get in there. I had dinner in downtown Denver at a local brewery then made my way to Coors Field. Of course, I had to have a Coors Light in Coors field.

Coors field!

Side view of the jumbo tron. Even the stadium had incredible views

Nimmo started the game with an inside the park home run!

Check out that sky
You could see lightning from far away. I left after 7 innings because of the rain, but they did play the rest of the game. I love going to major league baseball games, and this one did not disappoint. The first batter was Nimmo and he led off with an inside the park home run! There were lots of other homes, Jacob DeGrom pitched a gem, and the Mets won big. I picked up Rockies gear for Kelley and the kids, then got an uber back to the hotel.

One last uber to the airport tuesday morning and I was back in Raleigh before I was really awake. Colorado was absolutely amazing. The people were great, there is a serious craft beer culture, the mountains are beautiful. WHEN I go back (there's not an IF there), I want to hike the flatirons, get on top of a 14'er, and explore farther west. The farther west you go the prettier it gets. I barely got up into the mountains. I would love to spend more time in Estes Park, then go further west from there. This was an amazing trip and I can't wait to get back.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Family Update - more transitions

The first transition is actually something I simply forgot to mention last post. I traded in my sporty Audi convertible for another Volvo. Something feels wrong about that, but the Volvo is really nice.

Goodbye convertible, hello Volvo
The TT was really nice while I had it. The scary part about the Volvo is that it's the same model as Kelley's car, but one year newer and has 96k fewer miles on it. So when Ella starts driving in a couple of years, likely she will get Kelley's car and Kelley will take this one, then I can go back to another convertible. And I'm trying not to freak out about Ella driving in only a couple of years.

The kids both had their birthdays this year! I am so proud of the young women they are quickly growing into. These early teenage and preteen years are shaping their adult personalities and habits. It's fascinating for me to watch them develop like this.

Me with my youngest Evil Genius

Happy with her puppet

Ella the Eldest
This means they are both about ready to get back to middle school. ugh! Crazy times!

One funny thing - Kelley never transitions. She rolls with the seasons and never changes a bit. it's wild and I love it (and her)