Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More Information You May or May Not Want to Know - #30

So, where were we? Ah, yes...

Though the Gs were early risers, they let us sleep as long as we needed Friday morning. Once both Matt and I were up & stumbling about, Mr. Gmade us a delicious breakfast (we were so spoiled!) to send us on our way. T & her mom wanted to take us to Estes Park, which was one of the most beautiful 20-minute drives I've ever taken! We got such fabulous pictures because we took T's adorable little VW convertible bug. This first shot is of The Narrows - pretty much exactly what you'd imagine from the name: sheer mountain cliffs astride a narrow, windy mountain road.

First stop was the breathtaking Stanley Hotel.

I was amazed at the landscape - it looks like it "belongs" in some Victorian seaside town. But here it is, balanced high in the Rockies, transporting you back to the turn of the 20th century. This may sound cheesy, but I felt so inspired here, all through Colorado. It's been a long time since those gears whirred in my head & creative heart; oh, that delicious itch to write! I loved this wild and open landscape - it sparks the imagination with its endless possibilities.

Enough waxing poetic. We wandered around Estes Park, poking into cute shops and enjoying the atmosphere of the mountain town before going to a delicious dinner. I texted hubby with the "warning" that I had found our next mountain getaway. It will probably be some years, but this quaint, romantic mountain town was exactly what I'd hoped for in our first anniversary. I really hope to go back some day.

The Gs had tantalized us with the possibility of seeing wild animals that day: bighorn sheep on The Narrows, and elk in Estes Park. After dinner, we wandered around with our dessert - caramel apples - and went "elk hunting." The Gs had warned us that elk will charge (as I suspected) and that many people will get too close to take pictures, etc. So we knew that when we found one, we should keep our distance! We finally found two males, so of course we had to stop & take pictures. We stopped about 75 yards away from the (very high and fast) river (the elk were on the other bank) so we felt pretty safe. Pictures at this distance were poor - too far for a steady zoom and the light was bad. Not good enough for Matt, so he wandered closer...and closer...and closer...until he was pretty much right on the bank. T and I called out words of caution, even though Mrs. G expressed doubts that the elk would cross the river...

and then the larger of the two bulls stepped into the water!

"Maattttt!" T and I called again, our voices considerably more anxious this time. Matt, likely rolling his eyes, didn't retreat. He snapped a couple more pictures but mostly stared down the elk in a moment of true oneness with nature. Or perhaps just taunting. The bull eyed us and stepped in a little further...and a little further...

but ultimately decided a scrawny white boy wasn't worth forging the river. (he so would have failed OregonTrail) *phew*

We headed home to an awesome light show - in the distance we could see a lightning storm and had a perfect view of each finger of electricity. We popped in a movie when we got back home. I'm surprised I managed to stay awake, actually! When the movie ended, however, it was definitely bedtime. We'd had a fantastic day off, but we had to hit the road again Saturday morning. Our next goal was Reno or mid-Nevada.

Stay tuned: Can you enhance your cultural art experience on a cross-country road trip? Find out in our next episode, "Van Gogh West, Young Man!"

Saturday, June 20, 2009

In which you learn MORE about me - #29

Don't ask me why I number the posts. I just like knowing how far I've come.

The other reason I've been remiss in posting (well, besides the fact that it's summer and I'm taking advantage of not thinking about lesson plans, etc.) is that I took a cross-country road trip with my brother (seen in the past post, graduating from the US Coast Guard Academy). His new station is in CA, and he needed a buddy for the road trip, so I volunteered. All in all, I was gone for about a week.

Gosh, where do I begin? I might have to do this in installments, so you're not overwhelmed.

Matt arrived on Wednesday evening. We promptly took him to a late dinner at Demos's of course. Matt was sufficiently impressed, as all our guests to Demos's are. Oh, I'm salivating just thinking about their rolls & juicy steaks now. Thankfully we managed to finagle Matt into staying the night here.

Matt and I hit the road early Thursday morning - 5:30am. I took over driving, since he had driven on his own all day Wednesday. Our goal was to hit up some friends in Colorado: Taylor is a classmate/'09 graduate of Matt's and had graciously offered us beds in which to crash. A lofty goal for our first day of driving, yes, but a late arrival and time to rest sounded better than stopping somewhere in between, paying for a hotel room, getting to CO & spending just an hour or so before hitting the road again. So, Destination: Colorado commenced Thursday morning. We had to stop in KY to get Matt's oil changed. We arrived at 8am and were back on the road at 8:45 - fantastic!

Sadly, Matt did not tell me that he intended to get pictures of all the state signs. So, when we hit KY, we were stuck behind 2 giant trucks. Lame! The same happened for IN...actually, for that one, he was eating and unprepared (hey, I tried to warn him this time). The countryside didn't seem to be much to speak of. My first photo op was this little friend:

Hooray! I was driving & Matt was asleep, so with my wrists propped on the steering wheel, this was the best I could do. Hi, Arch!

And we continued on through St. Louis (there was some crazy traffic going on there. not my favorite city by-pass, seeing as we kinda went THROUGH the city instead of skirting it)...on to the rest of the Show-Me State (Missouri, for you unknowing) and into Kansas.

If you're road-tripping, here's some valuable knowledge about that great state which inspired a band name:

OK, so I don't want to hurt Kansas's feelings, because part of my deep-seated begrudgery might stem from the fact that we had been driving a long time. And we were ready to be done (I was still driving at this point. I wanted to.). But Kansas...well, she just didn't know when to quit. Miles and miles stretched before us. One field/pasture after another.

I will say one thing: we got to see our first wind farm up close & THAT was pretty rockin. I had NO IDEA how big those turbines are. Holy smokes. Do NOT want to meet those in a dark alley late at night in Hong Kong. Oh yeah, and Kansas had some fabulous sky:

I'm still a little bummed that we didn't at least get a picture of the sign advertising the world's largest prairie dog. It was too late to stop in and see it (this is about 8:00 I think), but the sign would have been nice for posterity. So, I record it here. We could have stopped to see that AND a 6-legged steer. Yeah. Chew on THAT.

Finally, Kansas came to an end, and we were VERY happy to see the sign for Colorado. It was pretty dark at that point, so no way did a picture come out. Booo. Taylor & her family welcomed us with open arms at 12:50am (well, okay, just she & her mom were awake); they graciously let us crawl into bed and sleep to our hearts' contents Friday morning. Matt & I had already discussed taking the day off on Friday and spending some time sight-seeing with Taylor & family. BOY, am I glad we did. Colorado is a state that could make me like being land-locked. And with that, I leave you.

Next installment: Adventures in Colorado! in which we answer the question: Did or did not Matt get charged by a wild elk? Stay tuned!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Post #28 - TMI?

Post #28, In Which You Learn More About Me

Though I intend to keep this teacher/professionally focused, I do have 2 posts which will explain a bit as to why I've been absent (perhaps you'll mark it as "Excused" this way?). Besides, it's summer. Let's forget about lesson plans for a little while and enjoy the hard-earned fruits of our labor...free time & adventures!

Excuse #1 - My younger brother just graduated from US Coast Guard Academy in CT, and I spent 2 personal days and 2 *cough*sick days spending time with family and celebrating.
If a picture is worth 1000 words, then I'll leave you with more than enough for today...