28 August 2012

Oh, Utah

We wended our way through Wyoming and it was windy and wide-open, with striated bluffs sometimes rising out of the scrub brush. The crossing into Utah brought abrupt elevation changes, towering peaks, and rivers. Why did no one ever tell me this state was so beautiful? We met up with Joh and headed down to Salt Lake City for a potluck in the park with friends. The beach volleyball courts beckoned and I grudgingly played for the first time, and loved it, and went to bed with dusty feet.

The next morning Joh took us hiking in stunning Wasatch National Forest, where even a moderate walk yields the most grandiose views. Then we sated our mountainous appetites with huge burgers at the only pub in Samak (the tiny hamlet of non-Mormons who left Kamas and spelled their new town backwards). Joh then had to work but I wasn't finished with this landscape. A bit of sheer Facebook serendipity landed me in the capable hands of a local mechanic/bike racer, who showed me a tantalizing sampling of what Park City had to offer. I struggled a little but wheezed less than expected at seven to nine thousand feet.


Gotta love how worthless pictures are at conveying scenery
I usually try to put new trails in context by comparing them to old, but analogies failed me now. No trails I'd ridden were like these; twisty, steep, sometimes rocky or rooty (but usually at polite perpendiculars), covered in an inch of fine moon dust, but most noticeably graced always by a majestic vacuum--the sweeping valley and heartbreaking massifs that kept snagging my eyes and ripping me asunder. There's no doubt it was the most beautiful place I'd ever been. I didn't even try to take a picture. The sun set and we finished riding in the dark. So, Utah. Never mind the wicked winters, the snobs and the Mormons, the 4% ABV beer. I love it.
Oh yeah, we also played on the salt flats

Colorado Continued (now with pictures!)

I thought Boulder was beautiful, until I saw Lyons with its panorama of rocky red outcroppings and the towering presence of Long's Peak in the backdrop. I went for a ride with the Oskar Blues marketing director's awesome girlfriend Marily, who took me skittering over dusty pointy rocks and slabs and swooping down loose berms. We finished the ride in short order to catch the racers as they sprinted through Lyons--we baked on the roof of the Oskar Blues RV with the other "VIPs", fit friendly women and photographers. In a town of less than 2000 people I think every citizen showed up to watch the pros blaze by.
Picture Rock, where everyone takes a picture
Ella and I are both introverts and this trip has involved prolonged pleasantries with new people every night, and yet we're not worn out; it's energizing spending time with so many interesting, involved, generous people. I feel I must have a serious karmic deficit going by now and must be sure to treat any and all travelers in a most welcoming manner. 
The view from Royal Arch
Post-mozzarella in Boulder
Samples at Celestial 

27 August 2012

Day Seven

Utah is the bestest. So far. More later when I have real internet (tomorrow, at the end of the road) and when Ella makes pictures happen since I've taken a grand total of two. For now let's just say this road trip has been fun, easy, and enjoyable. Much to my surprise, I wish I could stretch it for at least another week. This is one hell of a country, and all my friends scattered across it are amazing.

25 August 2012

Day Five

i'm doing my best not to fall in love with boulder but it's pretty hard. the us pro cycling challenge is finishing just outside of town today and almost a hundred thousand people with their shaved legs and hammer gel t-shirts have crowded into the city.

ella and i stumbled upon the celestial seasonings plant yesterday and were greeted by myriad delicious samples and an interesting factory tour. the best part was the mint room, a cavernous storeroom with double thick walls to lock in the intoxicating smell.

then we went for a casual hike on the outskirts of town that became THE BEST HIKE EVER. seriously. flatirons + royal arch at the chautauqua state park. do it. glorious.

my long time friend annie and her man took us out and showed us the joys of boulder happy hour--half price food and drinks every evening. i woke up with a mile-high hangover but was cheered by the prospect of a ride today in lyons. terribly exciting.

23 August 2012

Day Three

leaving brevard was even harder than anticipated, reducing me multiple times to a tearful child. but then i managed to fit all my worldly goods in the trunk of the rubasu with no trouble at all, and i picked up my traveling companion and as we embarked i could feel the weight of sadness slowly lifting. i'm looking forward, not back, at least for the time being.

we are crossing the country in a leisurely fashion. we are wowing everyone with our bizarre ability to find everything without the use of a GPS or smartphone. we are eating flatbreads and hummus and tomatoes in the shadow of the gateway arch in st louis. we are talking to lots of people about their grown-up jobs and how much they loathe them, and we are thinking perhaps deferring real life has been a good decision after all. we are pleasantly surprised with the midwest thusfar, but we are leaving now from kansas city and not at all excited about today's drive to denver.

15 August 2012


Each barrier to the western venture has crumbled in such a timely and convenient fashion that if one were so inclined, one might say it was meant to be.

I was nervous about driving by myself because I have less than awesome car endurance.

Then wonderful Ella agreed to come along, and immediately bought her plane ticket home to prove that she meant it.

I was weighed down by the inconvenience of home-hunting three thousand miles away, in the land of expensive rent.

Then I got a (temporary) job at a place that provides free meals and housing. Go check it out, it looks BEYOND awesome: http://www.stanfordsierra.com/

I was stumped by the trip itself: how does one spend seven days making a four day trip, without blowing too much money and while optimizing fun? Spontaneity is all well and good but part of me rebels against it.

Then the itinerary fell into place with uncanny ease:
-Nashville, to visit Ella's glamorous friend Alex
-Kansas City, crashing at Alex's folks' house
-Denver, with my grandparents, and day trips to Oskar Blues (and riding with the beer bros!) and Frisco (riding with the Graingers)
-Park City and some good solid time with the Tuttle!
-haul ass to the Bay Area, bid Ella a fond farewell, and spend a week hanging out with my west coast family before starting the job at Fallen Leaf Lake

It's all coming up roses, for real. Now if only Brevard (and the woods, and my friends, and my boy, and his dog) would stop being so wonderful...