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Archive for the ‘Road Trip to NOLA’ Category

We waved goodbye to the beautiful mountain vistas in Salt Lake City on Easter morning, heading East to Colorado via Wyoming. The drive went smoothly given the holiday non-traffic and Gabi’s awesome “Under a Utah Sky” mix CD. We passed Park City, and were entertained by more cool rock formations, wind mills and big skies full of fluffy white clouds all around us.  Our Easter meal was a turkey and cheese footlong from Subway in Wamsutter, Wyoming (population 68).

Driving through Wyoming

Driving through Wyoming

Windmills in Wyoming

Windmills in Wyoming

More windmills in Wyoming... they are HUGE!

More windmills in Wyoming... they are HUGE!

We had a wonderful dinner at Uncle Chris & Aunt Dianne’s in Berthoud.  It was great to catch up with Toby (a real cowboy now!), Jenny & Matt.

We slept wonderfully!
We enjoyed the cool antique things around the house, including the beautiful quilt with all the state flowers embroidered all over it.

We started Monday with fresh coffee and Dianne’s nice fluffy pancakes (the opposite of Syrah’s pre-skiing pancakes on Saturday at Gabi’s!)

Uncle Chris took us for an awesome hike in Rocky Mtn National Park up to Cub Lake. We saw tons of elk (bucks and cows) and had a nice calm picnic.

Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

elk-2-estes

In Rocky Mtn National Park

In Rocky Mtn National Park

View of Pikes Peak (?) in Rocky Mtn Natl Park

View of Longs Peak (?) in Rocky Mtn Natl Park

We met up with Jenny and Dianne for apres hike drinks at Henry’s in cute little Loveland. Then they sent us on our merry way.

We found Uncle Al in Greely and chowed down at Ambrosia Asian Bistro, mmmm.

We stayed the night with Ashley, Phenwa and Desmond in Boulder.

Desmond the dog!

Desmond the dog!

Climbing in Eldorado Springs

Beautiful rock at Eldorado Springs

Beautiful rock at Eldorado Springs

Timbo climbing at Eldorado Springs

Timbo climbing at Eldorado Springs

Ashley took us to get a tour of the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory! Our favorite part was the MINT ROOM… very strong menthol in there feels like it penetrating your skin and burning your eyeballs!

Outside the Celestial Seasonings factory - not allowed to take pictures inside :(

Outside the Celestial Seasonings factory - not allowed to take pictures inside 😦

Ashley & Syrah in the gift shop after the tour, don't they look pretty with those hairnets on?!

Ashley & Syrah in the gift shop after the tour, don't they look pretty with those hairnets on?!

Dinner at Cuba Cuba in Denver with Ashley; Mat, Justin, Ryan, Eva Merkow; Lindsay; Jennifer & Julie Hong….

Cousin Eva

Cousin Eva

We stayed at Ashleys one more night and woke up early.  Destination: Long Lake Minnesota.  This chapter of the Road Trip is closed.  Next Chapter:  California!!!

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Driving into Salt Lake City

Driving into Salt Lake City

We arrived into Salt Lake City in time for dinner with Gabi. It was great to catch up with her over a delicious dinner at the artsy, witty and environmentally conscience Squatters Brewery, which pleased us all. [See our posting on http://thefreshdish.wordpress.com for photos and more on Squatters].

Yum! Squatters is a delicious and eco-friendly establishment!

Yum! Squatters is a delicious and eco-friendly establishment!

On Friday we biked downtown to get a free tour of the LDS Mormon Temple square and tabernacle. The two of us were lucky enough to have two “sisters” as our own guides through the visitor center and chapel. One sister is from Sacramento and the other is from England. We took advantage of their special attention and got many of our questions answered. We learned of the three main differences between the LDS church and other sects of Christianity, but we can only remember one of them now: 1) Mormon prophets are living on Earth now.
We also learned that after you die your given the chance to convert so you can go to heaven.  I sure am relieved!  Just in case they right, everyone else still gets in that didn’t convert while alive.  Phew! What a safety net!  Syrah’s favorite part of the tour was the bounty of flowers all over the beautifully kept grounds within Temple Square.

Inside the Mormon visitors center

Inside the Mormon visitors center

A view of the Mormon Temple

A view of the Mormon Temple

Pretty flowers in the gardens at Temple Square

Pretty flowers in the gardens at Temple Square

Andy Walter joined us for dinner on Friday night at Gabi’s where we enjoyed here amazing sausage-and-red-pepper-pasta, salad, wine and, thanks to Andy, various cheeses and Crumb Brother’s bread from a local market. Yum!

We had an epic skiing adventure at Alta on Saturday!  Coming from Louisiana, we weren’t prepared for skiing at all. Andy and Gabi took care of us, outfitting us, helping us with gear, etc. Luckily it was Spring Festival and Demo Day. Between the four of us, we enjoyed demo-ing Volkyl, Roxy, Icelandic, Blizzzard, and Line brand skis. Some were better than others. Syrah noticed that she “felt totally out of the skiing scene”-recognizing neither the size or shape of the skis nor the plastic credit-card shaped lift tickets. She still remembered how to ski however.

It stormed in the middle of the day and Collins Lift was closed due to Lightning at the 10,000 foot summit. We waited out the storm in the classic “Gold Miners Daughter” Bar, then skiied sicky-poo-pow off the Yellow Trail until our legs felt like they didnt work anymore! See the video below of Syrah skiing on our last run of the day (trail unknown).

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We headed North-East from Sedona, passing through the amazing Navajo Nation Indian Reservation on routes 89, 160 and 163. The unique landscapes and rock formations did not end through Monument Valley and into the Moab area.

Moab. It was nice except for the obscene amount of 4- wheeling vehicles everywhere

Moab. It was nice except for the obscene amount of 4- wheeling vehicles everywhere

Highlights included: sleeping in our tent under a near-full moon at a highway turnoff near Kayenta, Arizona (the wind was howling and seemed like we’d blow away); passing the surprisingly small “somewhat notorious” Mexican Hat formation that looks like sombrero- it was made famous in a fake ad for clear lycra in the Rock & Ice climbing magazine*; breakfast burritos at a cafe near Navajo Twin Rocks in Bluff, Utah. The town of Moab was not as we’d expected – cute cafes and sports shops dotted the main street, but the place seemed to be over run with huge Jeeps and off road mobiles!

Driving....

Driving....

Driving near Moab

Driving near Moab

We took highway 70 West until Salina, then headed North on 89 toward Maple Canyon for some great climbing.

*We learned this from Tim Toula’s Book entitled Rock and Road.

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Near Moroni, Utah

Near Moroni, Utah

Arriving in Moroni, the town closest to Maple Canyon, we found the weather to be less than pleasant for climbing. When it started hailing, we decided that these conditions coupled with our less than ideal night’s rest the night before (on the side of the road on Navajo Reservation land with an intense wind storm!) necessitated a motel stay.  Moroni’s Elk Creek Inn was comfortable and we appreciated the laundry facilities and make-your-own-waffle station in the morning.

We set off to see Maple Canyon and make sure it wasn’t too cold and wet to climb.

Snowy Maple Canyon!

Snowy Maple Canyon!

It turns out that the night before about 6 inches of snow fell into Maple Canyon.  Near the entrance to the canyon, there wasn’t a single flake around.  Its amazing what 50′ in elevation can do!  I guess we’ll have to climb here next time.  It was worth a visit to see the conglomerate cliffs!

Composite rock at Maple Canyon

Composite rock at Maple Canyon

Next we headed North on route 15 to the Amercian Fork Canyon, home of the Timpanogos Cave National Monument. This spot is a famous sport climbing destination.  It also happens to be a beautiful canyon.  This place, although dry at the entrance, fell victim to the spring snowfall.  Strike 2!  Ah well, we had a picnic.

Off to Salt Lake City.

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Sedona

Sedona

Pretty red rocks in Sedona!

Pretty red rocks in Sedona!

Oak Creek Canyon lies just north of Sedona on Arizona 89A south of Flagstaff in the Coconino National Forest.  There is a vista overlook that is very popular among passing through tourists.  Its the type of place that you stop at for 15 minutes, take a look over the edge, get back into your car, and continue on.  It just so happens that this particular vista overlook, overlooks a canyon with a 80 to 100 foot basalt cliff along the top.  The basalt has formed into beautiful dihedrals, aretes, and cracks off all sizes.  The basalt is easy on the hands, and grippy on the feet.  The oak Creek Canyon Vista climbing is a major gem for the traveling climber, especially if soft sandstone and hard grades aren’t you and your partners thing.

Driving into Sedona

Driving into Sedona

The climbing underneath the overlook is closed due to tourists dropping stuff and falling over while taking pictures of climbing.  I can totally understand.  This place is a zoo.  Cathedral Ledge overlook usually has one or two people at the top, but Oak Creek overlook had about 30 when Syrah and I visited on a mid-week day.  A little bird told us that after they close the gates at 5:30pm, you can sneak in and climb.

View from the top of the climb

View from the top of the climb

First, we climbed a wonderful 5.6 double crack system called Duck Soup.  This is the first 5.6 that I’ve climbed that required hand jams and stemming.  Not only that, but while stemming, your jamming above to move up the stem!  on a 5.6!  We both really enjoyed that one.  I did it a couple times with some variations.  One variation I did was climbing the crack to the right without following the obvious weakness to the left.  This was a lot harder, and incredibly fun!

The next climb we did was right next to Duck Soup.  It was called Burnt Buns.  A 5.8 dihedral and face climb.  After getting through a couple blocky face moves, the climb falls into a perfect dihedral with a finger crack at the joint.  The locks were not straight forward, and I bet if my fingers were the size of Syrah’s it would have been easy locks the whole way.  The second to last move is an exposed, desperate step.  After finishing the climb, I had Syrah lower me down so I could do it again!  I’m in love with basalt now.

Burnt Buns

Burnt Buns

Tim rapelling down off Oak Creek Canyon Vista cliff

Tim rapelling down off Oak Creek Canyon Vista cliff

We went for a rad hike at Wilsons Mountain! Here are some pictures…..

View from top of Wilson Mountain. Highly recommended hike!

View from top of Wilson Mountain. Highly recommended hike!

Another from top of Wilson Mtn

Another from top of Wilson Mtn

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We pushed through the rest of New Mexico and into Arizona, stopping at a nice tourist center in Willcox (we have been making a habit of this, Syrah likes the free maps, literature, etc). We got a super cool CD to listen to that guided us from Wilcox down I-10 for about an hour or so. It told the history of Senor Coronando exploring in the 1500’s, vignettes of feuds with Native Americans, all about the military base, the Buffalo Soldiers (9th & 10th Cavalries) and geological history too. We really enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone driving through. (Click here to get the CD for free).

Texas Canyon boulders along the "How the West was fun" scenic route

Texas Canyon boulders along the "How the West was fun" scenic route

Driving through heavy winds, we pushed Tucson and Phoenix, all the way to Desert Mountain in Scottsdale. Dave greeted us at the gate and grilled up some special Soy Vey teriyaki chicken for us too. Yum!

Hanging with Dave in Desert Mountain (we're working on packing the car here)

Hanging with Dave in Desert Mountain (we're working on packing the car here)

We did errands on 2 wheels (each) instead of the usual 4. We needed to get climbing guides for Arizona and Utah as well as any maps we might need.  Click here to see the 48 mile ride we took through Scottsdale: Scottsdale Arizona

Here are some of the beautiful things we saw along the way. We love how the highways have artistic decor, no boring old walls and medians in AZ!

Cactus flowers on the side of the road
The highways are all decorated differently - really cool!

cool-cactus

Thanks Dave for your hospitality, see you in a few months.

Off to magical Sedona.

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We exited route 10 to tour a ghost town touted to be one of the best just 2 miles south of Lordsburg, New Mexico. The town sounded cool to us because it changed its name from Mexican Springs to Pyramid Station to Grant to Ralston City and finally Shakespeare after the Shakespeare Mining Company.  Unfortunately we found out when we pulled up that the town is privately-owned and only open for scheduled tours. So we just peeked in but didn’t get to see the general store, hotel, post office, etc.

Outside Shakespeare Ghost Town near Lordsburg, New Mexico

Outside Shakespeare Ghost Town near Lordsburg, New Mexico

We ate burritos for lunch at Don Juan’s Burritos and Mexican Food in Lordsburg. We had plenty of lunch supplies in the car but just couldn’t resist the tempting signs off the highway exit luring us in (“Fast, Fresh, Made Daily” and “World Famous”). Syrah had never eaten Mexican food so close to Mexico so we had to try it.  Additionally, the menu had a ridiculous amount of typos on it and we hypothesized that number of typos could be directly proportional to the quality of the food.

We had to stop

We had to stop

Tim chowing down

Tim chowing down

We ordered a carnitas burrito and a vegetarian burrito with beans, rice, cheese, pico de gallo and guacamole. We shared a sweet cinnamony horchata to wash it down. It was $11 for everything. Although we found the food to be very tasty and satisfying, it was not the best burrito meal ever. Sorry Don Juans, Anna’s Taqueria (Boston area) and Felipe’s (Harvard Square) beat you in taste and overall quality anyday. We guess it doesn’t really matter how you spell “cobonation” or “smoother” or how close you are to the border, the food will satisfy as long as the ingredients are fresh and the recipes are authentic (as Tim says: “Made by real Mexicans”).

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