Archive for June, 2011

Guess where we are?

Posted in Road Trip with tags on June 30, 2011 by Running Around America

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Manhattan, Kansas

Posted in Road Trip with tags , , , , on June 28, 2011 by Running Around America

After more driving in the plains we decided to stay one night each in Kansas City and St Louis, so we are in Kansas still, eating. And we are so American. And Manhattan, Kansas is a surprisingly awesome town.

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Moab Woahab

Posted in Road Trip with tags , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2011 by Running Around America

Our mission was Arches National Park right outside of Moab, Utah, because since we got our annual national park pass for $80 back in the Tetons and we’ve wanted to makes sure we’ve seen enough national parks to make it worth it.  What I’ve been noticing is that a lot of the time, the national parks aren’t all that.  We’re driving through local routes and areas, not just major highways like some tourists, and most of the time the surrounding area, up to 100 miles, has the same as the park scenery if not better because there aren’t tons of RV’s and tourists around. Arches wasn’t that different.  The scenery was super pretty, but the whole area outside of the park was similar.  It didn’t have a lot of arches outside the park, but at Arches, an arch need only be three feet wide to be considered an arch.  So it was a little bit of a let down.

It was still a very nice drive.  One other thing that is pretty annoying is that every national park we’ve been to, we can’t take smalldog outside of the car.  So that really limits the fun we can have, because generally it’s too hot for the dog in the car.  They let old people all over the parks, why can’t my smalldog go! 

After driving around the Arches area, and seeing the most famous arch at the park (which looks a lot different when you don’t have a telephoto lens to make it look a lot larger than it is.  If you squint really hard, you can see it in the picture.  Looks a lot different than this), we found out the campsite was full.  We drove outside of the park, right next to the Colorado River, and found the best campsite in the whole universe.  Right on the river, with a  huge canyon wall across the river, it really was amazing.  And not too many people there.  We didn’t even have to use the rain fly for once because it’s so dry and warm in Utah.  The stars were pretty awesome.

Driving to Moab and away towards Colorado had some pretty spectacular scenery.  Even though we still hadn’t finished our audiobook, I still noticed the scenery, so that’s saying a lot.

We were going to stop in Denver for lunch, but decided to hightail it allllll the way to Kansas to make up some time.  Also, In Colorado we had about two and a half hours of traffic jams because of road works on the major highway that goes through the state.  So I got kind of mad at Colorado.  I’ve also started to get a little scenery oblivious.  I had enough of giant mountains with conifers for a while, and our tiny car was not having fun climbing 10,000 ft mountains daily.  About 20 minutes outside of Denver, we were right back in the Great Plains area, with absolutely nothing around.

We’re here in Colby, Kansas, which is a super agricultural town.  Tomorrow, off to St. Louis, with a stop in Kansas City for some amazing B-B-Q.  I’m very excited to get to the south, I have been speaking in a southern accent for ages.  I can’t wait to try it out, and see the eyerolls!

 

Also – it seems that after we left Utah, the espresso shacks disappeared too.  AND I AM VERY SAD.  I eyed all the exits just to make sure I didn’t miss one, and there were none to be found.  I am very sad.

Salt Like City. What?

Posted in Road Trip, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on June 28, 2011 by Running Around America

We arrived at Salt Lake City after a huge drive where we went over valleys and mountains and I was completely oblivious to same because of AUDIOBOOKS!  BEST INVENTION EVER.  The drive might have been ten minutes.  It was that good.

Anyway – we arrived in Salt Lake City, or SLC late on a Saturday night, and I was confounded by all the people driving around with hip hop music blaring, out for a good time.  Wasn’t this a super weird city where everyone is Mormon and they hate fun?

The next morning I dragged us to the Mormon Temple in the middle of the City, and then to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir church.  We were questioned by two sets of “sisters” who are lady Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints missionaries.  And they were all foreign.  Some were nice, some a bit obtuse.  But the grounds are very pretty.  And I didn’t get to hear the choir, but the building was nice.  We walked in the BLAZING heat around the place – it’s huge.  The blocks are way longer than normal blocks, and the city is super confusing and pretty empty by city standards.  There were a lot of interesting people there though, I didn’t think so many hipster types would live out there, but from conversations it’s a popular city to move to.  The mountains are a pretty spectacular setting too, I think it was one of the more dramatic cities I’ve been to so far.  The mountains were clear and unobstructed.

We found an awesome farmers market, and got stuff for a picnic.  We had to spend most of the day in the shade as it was so dry and hot, and when it cooled down a little bit, we decided to see what the Utah liquor laws were all about.

The first bar we went to told us that the law is that any beers on draft have to be 3.2 alchohol by volume.  That means all beers like Guinness, Budweiser etc, make a special brew for Utah.  It’s not just watered down, it’s specially made.  Despite this, there are a lot of beers on tap.  And they all generally taste pretty weak and watery.  Some are good, but they leave a lot to be desired.  What is so odd is that at the same bar, you can get a “full strength beer” in a bottle.  SO WHAT IS THE POINT WITH THE DRAFT LAW THING?!  It makes no sense.  Also – the beers that everyone drinks, they are not just normal pints.  Generally, they drink liters!! As in, takes two hands to drink this mug litre.  I guess they make up for weak beer by  drinking huge quantities of it. Weird.

We accidentally found the most awesome dive bar in the city, and as husband does, made friends on the pool table.  Husband is probably the best pool player in the universe, and the poor, unsuspecting people on the tables never see it coming. 

It was a good day in Salt Lake City  – I still don’t know what to think about it!  One the one hand, it’s pretty religious, and then on the other, it’s super liberal.  It’s an interesting place though, and definitely worth visiting.  There’s lots of outdoor areas and hiking and skiing right there too.  If you’re in to that.

Off to Moab, Utah!

Portland is like Brooklyn, lots of hipsters.

Posted in Road Trip with tags , , , , on June 27, 2011 by Running Around America

We arrived into Portland in the evening and quickly set out exploring. Our hotel, though pretty bare bones and sketchy, was super cheap and downtown so that made for good wanderage.

We went to the industrial district, which was most definitely not industrial, and looked at the bagillion awesome hipster bars. We settled on one that was in a cheesy seventies hotel done up hipster like, and the Meat Puppets were playing there! But since I don’t like the Meat Puppets, or fun, we didn’t go to the show.

The next morning bright and early we walked across the river with smalldog to go to Voodoo Donuts, which apparently is famous. BUT IT WAS GOING THROUGH RENOVATIONS.  AND WAS NOT OPEN.  SO I RECEIVED NO DONUTS.  NOT FUN.

I moped, but then right around the corner was Stumptown coffee! I love their coffee and was able to get the cold brew in a bottle! I was happy again. There are a lot of people who may or may by be homeless in Portland, but on a whole they seem way less crazy than in San Fransisco.  There were a lot milling around Stumptown, but they didn’t ask for money, so I’m not sure if they were homeless or that is the style these days.  In Portland.

We wandered alllll over the place and I still have no idea how to orient myself in the city. It is confusing with its grid-like ness.  Luckily, we found the brewery for Rogue Ales, a big favorite.  Smalldog had some fun there, as I’m sure you’ve seen earlier in the blog.  So did I.

For lunch, we went to the best food cart known to man. Built to grill. There are tons of foodtrucks there, and I am sure everyone thinks their favorite is the best, but I am confident in my assessment. And the guy behind it is going to try to open one in NYC!  They didn’t do grill food, but Italian food. And my gnocchi was so good.  I wish I was eating it for lunch every day.

We crossed another scary bridge and dropped smalldog off and hopped right on the MAX, the light rail system in the city. I think this was husband’s favorite part because he loves public transportation. A lot.  We have a public transit systems of the world book.  I am not kidding.  So does my dad.  Who am I surrounding myself with!?  Also, the Max was free! Well, where we where coming from and going was free. It was pretty awesome.

We managed to not figure out the easiest public transport system in the world, even with the studying of public transit systems of the world maps that are far more difficult, so we got off and had to wall quite a bit. I was getting tired and cranky, and then, like a beacon in the light, we found a bourbon bar! And it was happy hour!! Once more for effect: BOURBON BAR AT HAPPY HOUR. We manage to make eighteen new best friends there, have some expertly made drinks and Mac n Cheese with pulled pork! With so many great bars and restaurants it may be lame that we stayed in one all night, but it was that cool. We also got lots more travel tips.  And then, on the way home, I found a dog that looked like a lion.  And it was the nicest dog ever.  I hope smalldog can’t read, but the only reason I didn’t put the other dog in the car was because he was probably bigger than our car.  But he was so awesome.  I was sad to leave him.

We took FREE PUBLIC TRANSPORT HOME and readied ourselves for the twelve-hour trip to Salt Lake City the next day. I downloaded an audiobook of The Help to get us through.

I could definitely like in Portland, the weather is very Ireland-y but the people and bars and FREE TRANSPORT make it pretty fun.

Next stop, Salt Lake City!!  After tons of driving!

Beach and Beach, WA and OR

Posted in Road Trip, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 24, 2011 by Running Around America

We left Port Townsend and found a lovely campsite on a spit on the pacific ocean.  The next morning, we thought we’d be awesome and do some ornithology.  We have some friends who are junior ornithologists and we thought we’d make them jealous by going on this lovely five-mile hike on a spit that promised to have tons of crazy water birds, such as puffins and other fun birds.  Unfortunately all I saw were lots of “Western Gulls” and a Common Muir.  Look it up!  The beach was lovely, as was the campsite, and from there we checked out Olympic National Park, and the Ho Rainforest.  It wasn’t the type of rainforest with sloths though:(  But it had an amazing lake that was super crystal clear.  Crescent Lake. We drove down the coast on 101 and found a great campsite at Nehalm State Park on the beach.  We loved the beach so much was stayed an extra day to relax.  It was nice to have the sun and an empty sunbathing area.  It was perfect.  The next day we headed to Willamette Valley in Oregon, where we tasted amazing Pinot Noir, and the dog ran away.  Wahoo.  Then, it was off to Portland.  I’m sure you’ve all seen the pictures of smalldog in Portland, post to follow!

Well…

Posted in Road Trip on June 23, 2011 by Running Around America

Perhaps smalldog loves Portland too much, he just can’t control himself.

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