Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Part two: And cue the mountains!

After FLYING the next thing on my fairly short list of things to do in the Denver area was to see mountains!  I was fairly ignorant of the whole geography set up and I kept looking forward in the airplane hoping to catch a glimpse of them.  Turns OUT that you do not see the mountains from the airplane and when it is somewhat hazy in the distance, you don't see them until you are driving on the freeway heading towards the city!!  <INSERT THE MAD-ART-TEACHER SHRIEKS, POINTING AND CLAPPING!!>  It was very exciting to see them in the distance for the first time and even more exciting to get closer and closer and eventually get up into them.  I was excited to say the least!  

Snow on the mountains!!

But let's back it up a second.  We got ourselves shuttled from the airport to Alamo for the car that I rented and I do appreciate the fact that the nice man behind the counter recommended a full size car to take up into said mountains.  It was a very nice car and very comfortable for each of us to drive.  I really liked the company, they were efficient and awesome. Definitely would recommend Alamo for car renting.  Anyway, we were heading to Golden where the motel was located somewhat close to my friend Lori, who was next on my short list of things to do. 

When we got to the motel, turns out their computer was down, so there was no checking in at that particular moment.  Hmm.  But they were very accommodating and we dropped the majority of the stuff into a safe room and then went on to get some dinner at Whole Foods.  While eating, we had a discussion about what to do that evening, it was only like 6:00.  NATURALLY, we decided that driving to a mountain type situation was the thing to do.  So we headed up, somewhat blindly, to Lookout Mountain where there was supposed to be a good view spot or two.  And some trails for hiking but that would come at a later time.  

I have to thank map lady on my phone for guiding us all over the area- she rocks and got us everywhere we needed to be.  Even when there isn't cell phone service there is map lady.  I feel now like I should have named her something more creative!  I always wanted to say Siri, but she isn't.  So Map lady it was.

Throne of stone!

Lookout Mountain was wonderful and we again gasped and pointed and (well most of it was me) clapped when we got to see, in the distance, SNOW CAPPED MOUNTAINS PEOPLE!!!!!!  Obviously that was our first time seeing them and we were so excited.  Or at least I certainly was.  Anyway, we walked around a little up there and looked and wondered what all these different land forms were, and saw some towns and just generally had a lot of fun looking.  The drives were always an adventure as well.  It's a wonder we really never got turned around.  Well, we did go the wrong way once or twice, but it was immediately rectified by either us or Map Lady.  

Driving towards Golden Gate Canyon Park I believe

This was a somewhat nervous Mad-Art Teacher


The next day we were on our way early in the morning to hike on a mountain, which if you are keeping track is another thing I have on my list.  To be honest the list was like this:

                                          1.  fly
                                          2.  hike in the mountains
                                          3.  eat all the ethnic/awesome food possible
                                          4.  see Lori

Anything else was just gravy.  Like getting to the museum and finding the most outstanding cookie shop on the face of the earth and hanging out in downtown Denver on Friday morning.... so....
                                         5. Whatever else we can fit in

Part of the hiking trail at Golden Gate Canyon Park

This definitely was how we #HaveAnAdventure 

Hiking was fantastic, though I had a bit of a headache almost the entire time I was out and about.  I am sure it was from the altitude, as was our marked inability to have any stamina whatsoever, which was sort of mortifying.  After all, I had spent 3 hours kayaking and another 3 hour stint biking during the week prior, not to mention my typical 1.5 hour walks..... so I guess it would take more getting used to.  

The drives were so fun

Scenes from GGCP

Regardless it was a great experience.  We drove up to Golden Gate Canyon Park on Wednesday morning.  It was our second choice, the place we really wanted to go to was closed so they could shore up the road (yikes) .....  so that was actually good I think.  First of all, our first experience driving up was pretty rocking.  We really enjoyed every bit of these trips- I can't even begin to explain the excitement that was contained in that pretty white car.  You would swear we were 10 year olds.  Isn't that the way everyone should experience new things tho???  With the thrill of the new in full enjoyment mode??  I think so, and I am not ashamed of the number of times I clapped or said "This is so awesome!".  That would be probably be about 500.

Hiking up in GGCP was a real joy.  It was not an easy hike, there were lots of rocks and roots and some steep climbs and descents.  We had heard from multiple people that we should make sure we had lots of water and we did!  And we stopped a lot because - gasp....wheeze....altitude.  The weather there was really nice, not super warm, but still sunny and certainly warmer than Northern Wisconsin.  

That afternoon we went into the city, but that is for another post, but after we got rained out we needed to do something else.  7 pm was too early to sit in our rooms.  We drove over to a place near the motel- might be called Apex Open Space Park.  I can't remember for sure.  If I didn't check in on Facebook, then I don't necessarily remember which place was which.....  AND I didn't check in there because we were trying to get a walk in before it started to rain again.....  which it did start to rain, but we did pretty well getting back to the car before an actual drenching happened.

From a  Lookout Mountain Trail
Our next hike was on Lookout Mountain again, but this time we were following trails on the other side, which began near the grave of Buffalo Bill.  Yeah, we paid our respects without paying money to get into it.  :)  We had other things to do.  It was another great time, and it was much easier than being up 9,000 ft.  Well, sort of.  Lol.  We finished a little earlier than planned and I for one was intrigued with a land feature that I saw from above.  It was this flat thing that looked like a shaved off mountain.  It is actually called a Tabletop, which makes sense when you look at it.  We drove over there and parked and decided to walk up to the top.  We weren't able to stay long as I needed to go see Lori, but we got up there and then walked down.  THAT, boys and girls, was one long steep ascent.  So glad we were up there tho, and then on the way down we got to pet lots of puppies who were walking with their owners.  YAY!

North Tabletop Mountain- I believe the entrance was on the other side
After my visit with Lori, it was our plan to drive up to mountains, and that is what we did.  It was phenomenal.  We decided to go up to Berthoud's Pass, which is off of Hwy 70.  The drive was amazing, the Trailhead was amazing, the view was amazing..... and then we got to see a waterfall/cascades as well so YaY for us!  We also patronized a very cool ice cream spot, which was also worth the stop.  I am totally skirting the whole food subject, as that will also be another post!  :)
Words escape me when I try to describe looking out at the grandeur that is the Rocky Mountains....

The Cascades a little way down the mountain

Some of the snow in the Park

Such beautiful scenes

Our last sojourn into hiking was not exactly a mountain, but it was Red Rocks and it is an impressive location.  We hiked around the amphitheater and got up into it as well.  It was so beautiful.  Again words escape me.  By this time we were tired from all the walking around and hiking and stairs.... but it was a perfect way to finish off a visit to Golden.  

The Amphitheater and some of the people who walk the stairs 

I only wish that I had been able to stay longer- I bet a good solid 7 days would be a good start.  

I have found more than my share of joy reveling in those mountains!  

Monday, June 29, 2015

Part one: FLYING BABY!

I have now discovered that I do indeed like to fly.  Now I had no particular fear that I would hate it, I only worried that I would be freaked out if I couldn't move my feet ie: will I be claustrophobic.  So, yeah, I enjoyed the whole experience.
At MSP! 

Nervous much?

Taking off

So we were booked on Spirit airlines- and while the reviews of this airline were somewhat mixed (one called it "Break your Spirit" airlines, which cracks me up even yet) but it was the cheapest price so that was that.  Now a few little things- both flights were delayed because poor old Spirit is apparently the uncool second cousin airline who gets bumped off the tarmac at times.  But they were delayed less than an hour, so that was all good.  Second, some of those people are hilarious!  The guy who did the announcing at the Minneapolis Airport was FUNNY,  MAN!! He had a cute little spiel that I enjoyed both times I heard it.  The people on the airplane gave their best shot at humor as well- one mentioned the six hour flight when the captain had just said it was an hour and 50 min.  Lol, and then she said for those of you who were paying attention, the flight is actually only 2 hours.  And then we did airplane yoga on the way back- I have good feelings about this airline in a nostalgic sort of way- my first time:  funny, what more could you ask for I guess.

Our pretty airplane in Denver
Crop Circles and not quite patterns

Speaking of airports, which I was  moment ago, I went through two of them.  And while the Denver airport was perfectly fine (and the gateway to an amazing 4 days of mountains) the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport is pretty darn awesome.  It was like a shopping mall inside the Minnesota airport, and it was bright and clean and very well organized.  Denver, while not hideous, is not particularly bright and was not nearly as appealing.  But whatever.  The cool thing about Denver is that we got sniffed by a drug dog and didn't have to have too much to do in the security line.  Anyway, other than sitting at the respective airports for a plenty long time, it was a fairly positive experience.

Fly through the clouds
Flying under a contrail

Rivers below

Those of you who know me well, know that this sort of thing rings my little ole bell.  I had SUCH a good time.  It was enjoyable getting to the airport, and walking through and seeing all this stuff.  I hadn't been in an airport since I was a young girl and we went to pick up my uncle John at O'Hare who knows when.  The 60's is my best guess.  I barely remember that.  Anywho, my enjoyment was enhanced by the fact that my travel partner, the Mad-English teacher loves doing stuff like this as much as I do.  We were like giddy children in the tram on the way to the actual terminals.  IN FACT, I have been accused of being like a little kid when I talk about this trip, an accusation I will not deny. I was so excited and nervous when I was sitting there waiting for the plane to taxi.  Yeah the whole thing from take off to watching the ground get farther away and chewing gum and having my ears pop..... was plain old awesome.  It was so nice to have a travel buddy who could tell me when things were normal and perfectly fine.  As you can imagine, I had my face plastered to the window almost the whole way, looking at the patchwork patterns down below, seeing the winding rivers, the little tiny towns dotting the landscape, the grid of roads and the circles made from the use of irrigators in farm country.  The visual experience was so rich and satisfying and hit all of the right notes for me.  I absolutely am craving to see other parts of the country for the air.  Ah yes.

More clouds

Almost to the Twin Cities at dusk

OH WOW and the freaking CLOUDS!!!!  The CLOUDS were spectacular.  You may know that I do like clouds and now I really HAVE seen them from all sides now.  On the way home we flew right THROUGH a cloud and on the way to Denver we flew under another jet's contrail.  That was AWESOME!!!  LOL, if you were with me now, you would see that I am grinning from ear to ear.  My eyes were probably as big as saucers- the clouds are probably the most memorable part of the whole thing.  

Who knew I could write a whole post about flying, eh??  I could seriously go on and on about this, but most of you have done this already, so y'all probably think I'm a nut case, but I don't care!  :)  It was one of my most memorable life experiences.  (Another will take place in a post to follow!) I kept thinking about how much this is stepping out of my actual comfort zone and was so satisfied to know that it was such a right thing to do.  It just makes doing things that scare you a little bit become something you actually begin to seek out.  So many things I could say about this, but I will defer for now.  So, here are a bunch of flying pictures- I really had to stop myself from shooting a hundred of them so I could actually watch and look and experience the view.  See the shapes and colors and mostly the fact that there was no real pattern- it was a somewhat organized random that I loved.  sigh.  It was just awesome.  

And one joy that I will never forget!

Ready to go!!  I'm so glad that I had such a helpful travel buddy too.

If you look close there is the tiny little shadow of the plane!

Recovery time

Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that I had a glorious time in Denver.  I loved flying, I took lots of pictures, I met up with a good friend and met a virtual friend, I climbed every mountain..... oh wait, maybe not.  But I climbed on a couple of them, and hit up a museum and generally had the best time.  We CRAMMED every minute full!!  I would not have it any other way!
I have not even opened my cameras yet.  I have a bunch of pictures in there that need some editing, but I do have my phone photos.  They are pretty good, so for this post those are the ones that will do for an overview.

The last couple days have been recovery days.  On Friday, we put in a full day of stuff, from hiking and doing stairs at Red Rocks (oh my goodness my legs were tired by then) to walking downtown Denver to walking and sitting at the airport. Our flight was delayed about 50 min. so we got into Minneapolis about 8:30 and home about 1.  Naturally falling asleep was an issue after all that, and I was up until after 2:30.  So, I was sort of a happy zombie all day on Saturday.

Clouds during the flight back, I think over South Dakota

I really was happy in spite of being sore and tired and groggy.  I was awash in the glow of a fantastic trip that had almost no down side to it, but I barely knew what to do with myself.  Of course the MA was very happy to see me and I made him sit down and look at all my FaceBook pictures.  Between mowing and fixing his mother's garage and attempting to get into the garden with all the rain, he wasn't home much apparently.  Well, I suppose he was working all week as well!  I did manage to get all my things put away, and some laundry done..... sheets changed, towels and table cloth all replaced.... dishes.....  all low stress chores.  I was incapable as a rule of even finishing a sentence.  
Red Rocks hiking trail
Sunday morning I slept in to almost 8!!  Hold the phone and tell Grandma to sit DOWN!  That doesn't happen very often.  I slept so hard my neck hurt from not moving more than twice during the night.  Today I feel much more rested and normal.  I realized ON VACATION that I forgot to do my requisitions (aka: ordering supplies and paint, lots of paint)  for work, so guess what I did yesterday!?!  Bleh.  And I got my elementary orders virtually done when I realized that I had used a 2013 catalogue!!!!!  AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH.  Oh well, so I had to redo mostly the prices for the entire order, and actually had to change a few catalogue numbers.  Major suckage there.  So 5 hours later I was done with that.

Falls at Berthaud Pass 

So, today I am sort of a girl without a plan.  And that is just fine.  I will do a little cleaning upstairs for my company coming next week and I will do some weeding as well.  Beyond that I have photo editing to do.  And in light of the fantastic meal I had at Ali Baba, I want to make some tabuleh today, if I get the energy to drive to the store to get parsley.  
Panorama Point, near Reverend's Ridge

Enjoy these few photos and know that there are more to come.  I will also be sending one or two to Channel 9 if you are one of those folks who watch for my pictures on tv.  :)  That is such a weird thing to say, but its true.
Happy Hikers

Have a lovely Monday, be a joy giver and hopefully you will enjoy the photos here and those to come.  
Lookout Mountain

Panorama Point

Crop circles!  :)