travel

A KARIBBEAN VACAYSEAN

In June I was honored to be apart of the – hands down – best wedding I have ever been to and possibly the best wedding that’s ever happened. Yes, Karie is possibly the most laid back bride ever to have existed, which does lend its part to a fun and laid back soiree, but the camaraderie and love found in everyone present is simply unmatched.

Rarely anymore – I feel – families and friends come together at a wedding not just to celebrate and support, but also to play a personal role in the process of the festivities. With Karie and Sean’s wedding you saw love on display as those who support them entirely lent their hands in scavenging for perfect florals, cleaning up the grounds so not a leaf was misplaced, or even just making sure hydration was happening and good tunes were playing overhead. It felt so inclusive and so special to be a part of.

Karie is not the person to post an album of wedding photos to any sort of social media platform, and as always this blog serves as visual documentation of special moments in my life, so I’m posting some of my favorite selects that she shared – taken by our incredibly talented friend, John Hook.

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Red Woods & Red Wine | Part 1

For as many wonderful weekend trips Matt and I get to experience here in Colorado, we had never been on a vacation just he and I. Like, a real: “we’re going to buy plane tickets and plan lodging and create an itinerary and we can do whatever our hearts desire because it’s just you and I, boo” type trip. But we amended this over Labor Day with a trip we’re affectionately referring to as Red Woods | Red Wine 2014.

As a team, Matt and I have a tendency (dare I say… talent?) for cramming as much as we can into as little a time frame as possible. And this weekend was no different. We had four days total, and determined the fairest way to prioritize our activities was to allot two days to each person. 2 days given to Matt to plan, and 2 days for me. We flew in to California, and to kick things off we headed north, close to the Oregon border, where we trekked into the Redwoods and spent the days among the giants.

Redwoods Road TripWe got in late Thursday night, and by the time we rented a car and got on the road it was after 9 p.m. … and we still had a 6 hour drive ahead of us. Matt being the gentleman he is (well, more like… Matt knowing what a monster I am when I don’t sleep), he let me grab some road trip rest while he pounded an XL Mountain Dew and put the pedal to the metal all night long. When I woke up, we were driving along the northern California coast, through the early morning fog. It was quite the treat to be greeted by the lush landscape.

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We hadn’t expected to be driving along so close to the shore, so despite some chilly early-morning temperature, we were compelled to pull over and run up to the water. It also provided the less-than-perfect opportunity to change into our hiking gear for the day, which involved Matt stripping down to his skimpies on the side of the road as traffic whooshed by. I kept my goodies to myself and changed in the car.

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IMG_2345IMG_2348Upon arriving at the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park we were so excited that we jumped out of the car and took pictures inside the first tree we saw. You’ll notice I hadn’t even tied my shoes before hopping inside.

IMG_2390 IMG_2420 IMG_2427 IMG_2465I realize there are a lot of pictures of trees here. Having experienced them, I find them incredible and worth sharing, but I’ll spare you of ALL the bark-based photography, and just include my favorites. On our first hike of the day we ran into the Boy Scout Tree, a massive behemoth of  a tree in an old growth forest, just off the main path. We tried our best to demonstrate just how large and daunting the size of this guy was, but it just doesn’t do it as much justice as being there… which is something I can say about all of these.

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I guess to put it somewhat into perspective, Matt’s about 6’2″ and his wing span is… whatever the wing span of a 6’2″ dude is.

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I give everyone permission to make fun of Matt for his sad faces and “dejected middle schooler” appearance in each of these photos. In his defense, he was really overwhelmed with the awesomeness we encountered. And this… was just the first part of the first day. Matt had planned wisely.

From Telluride to Denver | Ophir Pass

Back to Telluride this year for the Bluegrass Festival. Amazing times ensued. The Punch Brothers (who cover Reptillia here… and I like it) and Andrew Bird were fantastic and totally killed it (as expected).

Everything about the Telluride Bluegrass Festival is wonderful: an incredible, surreal location (upon arrival, my friend John appropriately asked, “Is this real life?”), a gorgeous town, great music, a relaxing and community-oriented crowd, and this year, a wonderful group of friends to share the experience with.

Props to Matt, Ryan and DDoll for waking up early to participate in the tent rush to secure us a prime spot for the day that allowed us to lay back and relax with an unobstructed view of the stage. Lazy Days Telluride.jpg Telluride Bluegrass Festival Jumping in Telluride.jpg Telluride Post-Bluegrass.jpg Totally stole a couple of these from Danielle (who documents her Colorado adventures here). Thanks for capturing some of these Telluride moments, DD Mack. :)

As we embarked on the ride home Sunday we decided to forego the direct route and take a scenic pass home.

The ride started smoothly in the town of Ophir (population 113)… but as we headed up the Ophir Pass, the narrow roads and loose rock (we’re talking… should this loose rock give out we will surely plummet to our deaths) was a little too much for me to handle. #whiteknuckles #lastrites #keepthecarontheroad

Props #2 to Ryan for keeping his cool and getting us through the pass without falling off the road. I owe you one. Telluride Pass Telluride Ride Home Okay… this might not look scary, but I swear it was really steep off the side and it felt like we were really close to the side. Fortunately there were pretty things to look at that semi-distracted me. Semi. Okay maybe I’m just being dramatic.Long Way Down Telluride Drive Home The View Below (above) The town of Ophir in the valley below. (below) Reaching the top of the Ophir Pass. Ophir Pass Cross on Ophir Pass Creek on Ophir Pass (below) A view of the road through the canyon. Shot of the Road on Ophir Pass Ryan and D on Ophir Matt & I on Ophir Pass We were rewarded with our efforts to get through the pass by a surprise mega-waterfall. We stopped to catch our collective breath and unclench our buttcheeks… and take touristy photos.

I can’t say I will revisit Ophir Pass any time soon, but I CAN say I’ve checked it off my list and, retrospectively, it was awesome.

To New Orleans for Jazzfest

I love New Orleans. A lot. Not because of Bourbon Street, hurricanes, and days on days of no sleep and overconsumption. But because of the music, the architecture, the history, and the food. My god, the food. In April, Matt was scheduled to work in New Orleans on the same weekend as Jazzfest. I grabbed on to his coattails and held on for dear life. And, as usual, it was wonderful. New Orleans, you never disappoint.

I want to first share this great shot Matt took of the St. Louis Cathedral. If you don’t follow this kid on Instagram yet, it’s probably time you do. M3 has a way of capturing great moments – like this sunset on our first night. #respect

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Because Matt spent the days workingworkingworking, I hit the streets by my lonesome and just spent time wandering around seeing all the things. First I grabbed a Cuban sandwich from the Counter Market & Deli – it was… amazing, but apparently the Counter has since closed it’s doors. Sad. I traveled down to the river to eat, take in several street performances, watch the barges sail by, and get (of course) a sunburn.

Fortunately when the weekend came Matt and I were able to explore together. There are so many unanticipated details in New Orleans – I always make sure I look down every alleyway – you never know when you’ll see a quaint garden cafe or historic oasis in the most unlikely place. And a rule of thumb; when in New Orleans, always look up.

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Journey to the SaaS Model - outline - 6.23.14Our hotel was a short walk from the French Market, which we visited several times for breakfast from the farmer’s market, fresh juice (sometimes with a little added adult spirit love), po’boys and general time wasting.

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By the time Jazzfest came we were so exhausted that we posted up in a grassy field with a bowl of quail gumbo and dozed off to sleep. That said, it’s worth noting that Robert Plant was the one providing us with the lullabys and drifting in and out of sleep to the voice of a legend (who surprisingly sang a myriad of Led Zeppelin songs) was a special experience and absolutely made the day.

On our final day we made sure Matt got the full “first time in New Orleans” experience – gorging on beignets (another first for M3, one that I’m certain he enjoyed), paying our respects to Marie Laveau at the Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 (Matt left his XXXs but I was too scared), washing the voodoo juju off at the Old Ursuline Convent, and stopping into the Avenue Pub for one final cheers to a fantastic visit to one of my favorite cities.

Warning: this is about to get touristy. 

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It’s said… one can write an X (although I think most write three X’s) on Marie Laveau’s tomb, knock on it, turn around three times, make a wish, and it will come true. Apparently it’s also not a bad idea to leave something as tribute to really push your wish through. Deep-seeded Catholic guilt and superstition kept me from partaking – I regret this. Next time. See Matt’s process and tribute below:

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What we left at Marie Laveau's Grave

I’ll let you know if the wish comes through, but somehow I don’t think Laveau will pay much attention to a 25 cent request.

Although it was a bit off the beaten path (in Uptown), the Avenue Pub was well worth the visit. Consistently rated one of the top beer bars nationwide, Avenue Pub deserves far more of my attention the next time I am in. Which I sincerely hope is much sooner than later.

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Exhausted, the tourists return home.

Frozen Dead Guy Days | Nederland

Every March in Nederland, Colorado, the most bizarre festival takes place: the Frozen Dead Guy Days.

As the legend goes, for the last 25 years a man (affectionately referred to as Grandpa Bredo) has been cryogenically frozen in a Tuff Shed in Nederland, awaiting the technology to be reanimated and return to life on Earth. The legend is long, interesting, and dramatic. If you’re interested, you can read about it here.

That said, every year Nederland celebrates this frozen celebrity by throwing Frozen Dead Guy Days – a giant, dead guy-themed party in what’s otherwise a quite mountain town. Matt and I headed up this year and will return to do it right next year. We missed most of the action – arriving much later than anticipated – but still witnessed the rowdy crowd, frozen turkey bowling, and enjoyed a beer or two at Very Nice Brewing Company.

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As seen at Frozen Dead Guy Days – March, 2014 – Nederland, Colorado.

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Note to self: next year, wear a costume. And water resistant shoes.

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Mount Massive & Mountain Goats

April and May this year were on the chilly side, and June was downright rainy. It’s an understatement to say the weather this summer has been off, and between wet weekends and some knee problems for Matteo, our summer hiking season is off to a late start. We hope to remedy that this weekend, with an aim to climb Mt. Elbert in the Sawatch Range on Friday.

The last 14er we conquered was also in the Sawatch Range: Mt. Massive. The peak of Mt. Massive actually overlooked Mt. Elbert, and if the views from Elbert – which I believe is the highest 14er peak in Colorado – are anything like Mt. Massive’s, then we have a reason to climb.

Massive was the last 14er we did last year in late August, and despite an early start we didn’t reach above tree line levels until after the early afternoon clouds began rolling in. Fortunately, they were something to look at.

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Unfortunately, they had the ability to throw us off completely on how close to the peak we actually were. Several breaks ensued.

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Mt. Massive is the second highest 14er, and the trail begins in the lush San Isabel National Forest. The trail is 8 miles round trip (climbing from the trailhead at 10,500 feet to the peak at 14,421 feet), and the first 1.25 miles you wander through bushes along a river through a peaceful forest. A scenic start to an all around scenic hike.

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The obligatory photo at the peak.

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This hike was a little unique compared to other 14ers I’ve done – specifically due to the amount of wildlife we encountered along the trail.

While resting and refueling at the peak I noticed that we were being approached by a mountain goat – I’m guessing it was a nanny lady-goat from the horn size, but what do I know – and her baby. Listen, I know pretty much all wildlife Hulks out when they have babies around, and I have to say, upon seeing these two bounding up the peak like it was no big deal and approaching us without fear, I was more than a little nervous. I mean, look how tiny the baby is.

Some folks from out of state were on the peak with us, and actually started moving toward the pair – which I tried to express wasn’t a great idea. They got the picture when momma goat juked at them full-speed as Matt and I cautiously were backing away. But not before we got a few pictures to document this special encounter.

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I never cease to be amazed at the things we get to do with our weekends in Colorado. Although incredibly unconditioned and starting my hiking season well into the year, the prospect of gorgeous views and encounters like this will hopefully propel me to the peak this weekend. God speed to myself and my fellow out-of-shape adventurers.

End of Summer at State Bridge

The end of the summer came and went, then the end of the year, then came a new job and here we are. I have a few backlogged posts of things we’ve seen and experienced, and I’ll be sharing them here over the next week or so.

Each summer Matt and I try to dedicate at least one weekend to a State Bridge getaway. Camping in State Bridge is different from our normal camping weekends where we try to find remote, quiet places to relax. Instead, we find ourselves in a mini tent city in a valley cut in two by the Colorado River and train tracks.

State Bridge is a small, scenic amphitheater, but during the day campers & concert-goers spend their time paddle boarding down the river and participating in yoga classes provided by the venue. It’s a guaranteed fantastic time if you can brave the crowds and chalk it up to a week of community – and it’s an especially good time if you catch a weekend with clear, dry skies.

And the drive to State Bridge, in Bond, Colorado, is pretty spectacular in itself.

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To State Bridge

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Welcome to the commune. It’s party time, but don’t be a litter pig, friends.

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This year, we wrapped up our summer in State Bridge at an Infamous Stringdusters show. Looking forward to this year’s lineup and more time in the State Bridge sanctuary.