Sunday, July 17, 2011


Sights- From Colorado to Washington
My last day in Colorado Springs was supposed to start off with a nice group ride with some very fast fellows leaving from Acacia Park in the downtown area. However, before I got to see how long I could hold on before I inevitably got dropped, my knee happened to knock my speed sensor into my wheel at a stop light, and by the time I realized what I did and fixed it, the light had turned red. And then I proceeded to get stopped at the next 10 lights, which just happened to be green for the group, at each point where I thought I was finally going to catch back up. And then they took off… so at about 25km in (where I could no longer see them) I decided to stop chasing and head back into town to find somewhere else to ride for the day. And this is what led me here.

Riding through Garden of the Gods
On our third day hanging out in Roosevelt National Forest, me and Danger Carrie decided to go check out Rocky Mountain National Park, which was just right up the road a few miles. I figured a 10 mile hike sounded about right so we got on our way to go see Ouzel Lake, supposedly just a scant 4.9 miles away… and 3 hours later, after trekking through snow, rocks, mud, streams, rivers, and losing the trail for a good while we did actually finally make it there!

 Me and Danger Carrie on our way up

 Hanging out at a waterfall

 Playing in the snow!

And finally there!

And then a storm rolled in, and with my feet already freezing cold, the race was on to get back down the mountain as quickly as possible. Thankfully, it didn’t pour on us too much and by the time we hit the trees again, it was actually quite pleasant.

Some of the better trail runs I've run into were in the “primitive” sections of Broken Arch and Windows at Arches National Park. Unfortunately there weren’t any pics from Broken Arch, which was absolutely stunning, but Windows was quite nice as well
 The view from Windows

One of the Window arches

Took the scenic route to Moab and here are some of the pics I got. This was by far the most scenic drive I’ve taken yet!

 Just one of the spectacular views of the river inside the canyons with the mountains in the background

Spectacular canyon views such as this fill the whole drive

In Mt Hood National Forest I ran over to the old Elks Lake Trailhead, crossed the river and hiked up some gnarly stuff to snap this excellent shot.

To get this picture, I'm actually standing on a log that is hanging over a very big drop.
Luckily there were some small tree branches to hang on to...

In Mt Rainier National Park, I decided to stop and run as many trails as possible so I could see as much as I could while there.

 I think this might have been a fox of some sort? He was hanging out with me for a bit.

 Reflection Lake

 One of many very cool falls areas

This shot of Mt Rainier (hidden in the clouds) was taken from the
drier Northeast side. Several people on these trails were hiking to the top.
The trip usually takes a few days and ice axes and various glacier equipment is mandatory.

In Boise, I took some time to run the Greenbelt trails along the river, and was thoroughly impressed with the off-road paths connecting to neighborhoods and weaving in and out along the river. In Seattle the many parks were absolutely gorgeous. Several even had lifeguards posted for open water swimming. I went to Green Lake park one balmy morning. Air temp was under 60, but the water temp had to be above 60, so it wasn't terrible with a wetsuit.

 It was a rainy and cold morning when I swam here, but a quick
run and coffee beforehand helped warm me up to it.

And a good tip from a lovely Starbucks lady led me to this spot at
Golden Gardens Park for a beatiful sunset.

Free Camping
On this trip I have had a goal of not paying for camping. Oftentimes, this means traveling WAY off the beaten path and likely spending more money in gas occasionally than saved on camping, however, the secluded spots and amazing views that are found thus far have made this approach definitely worth the extra time and effort required, even if it does result in the occasional overnight stay in a Walmart parking lot... I think I shall have a future blog post detailing free camping vs. fee camping once more research is done and experience gathered. For now, here are some of the views I have woken up to.

Rabbit Valley on Colorado-Utah border. Only a half-mile drive off-road to this site.
Free restrooms, picnic tables, grills, etc and I had it all to myself. 

 To get here, head past Ontario, OR on Snake River Road and once the paved road ends,
head past the fee camping and pull over on any spot by the side of the road and enjoy the
beautiful view of the Snake River.

In the lower parking lot of Paradise inside Mt Rainier National Park. It got too foggy to drive so I pulled in here to stay the night. Someone shined a flashlight inside my car, but if they saw me, they left me alone. Woke up to a clear day and this breathtaking view.

In Mt Hood National Forest, I went looking for Round lake, but the road was washed
out so I found this great secluded spot on the river by Elks Lake trailhead.
If it hadn't been so cold, I would've stayed here awhile I think.

Also of note, there is no law against "urban camping" in Seattle. I simply parked in a neighborhood next to a park that I wanted to go run or swim in the morning and camped out there. I've never seen so many cars parked by the side of the road in a town, so I'm guessing one more isn't really noticeable.


For those of you thinking my adventures have been all fun and games, I have some news for you! When I returned from Rocky Mountain National Park, I noticed some itching which was starting to spread. When I looked, I could actually see white specks hopping around! Now since I’d never experienced this, I turned to google. And everything that popped up in the search for “bugs in hair” was lice! So, I freak out, buy lice shampoo right then, wash all my clothes and bedding at a Laundromat while I’m using the lice shampoo in their bathroom, and later on down the road find a nice quiet place to shave my entire body sans head, and then vacuum out the whole car. Turns out, it was just fleas, but I sure got rid of ‘em good!

Independence Day

For the Fourth of July weekend I met up with Reed and Danger Carrie again, this time in Boulder, and we headed up towards Allenspark and off into the mountains. We finally settled into a beautiful camping spot in Roosevelt National Forest that took a very gnarly dirt road to get to. It was here, on Independence Day, that I began to realize how Independent and free I now am. Not just of my work and career path, which is now wide open for my choosing, but also of all the everyday distractions of TV, internet, and movies, and even quite significantly the feeling of pressure to workout as much as possible whenever I am off work and the weather is good. Being out in the wilderness and free from having to go back to anything really gives another meaning to one of my favorite quotes by Henry David Thoreau.
"Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind"

Though I didn’t see any fireworks, I think it was most decidedly my best Fourth of July in memory.

Slowing down

And with that feeling of Independence and freedom to go anywhere and do anything because I am, for the moment, able to more effectively utilize the time God has given me, I am finally starting to slow myself down a bit to have time to think, reflect, enjoy, and hopefully soon, create. For instance, coming out of Salt Lake City I ran into a traffic jam. However, instead of pout and let my impatience drive my blood pressure through the roof, I simply pulled off to look for something else to do. That is precisely when I noticed an amazing sunset and a big hill in the distance. Once at the top of the hill, I popped out my handy camp chair, opened my last Belgium brew from Tom, and enjoyed one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen as it set over Salt Lake with the mountains in the distance.

In Bountiful, UT, enjoying the sunset over Great Salt Lake

It did not stop there. The next day, I stopped at a nice little Idaho rest stop for not just a quick, simple breakfast, but an actual cooked one with nice fresh vegetables along with my early morning dose of Japanese green tea of course! And that afternoon I hit up a nice park in downtown Twin Falls for lunch, where I think the weather and bug situation was as close to absolutely perfect as I’ve seen. And that’s not all. When in Roosevelt National Forest, hanging out and drinking a beer with my fellow camping partners, I saw a group of runners pass. Normally, I would have let them go because I didn’t have time or I had a fairly structured workout planned. Not now! I went chasing after them and thus met some new people I likely never would have! This relaxed pace has led me to many a great conversation. Even in Seattle, the town my friend warned me did not have "nice people", the first person I met showed me around and even bought me a beer!

Next up, I look forward to meeting the great people of Canada as I take ferries up to Victoria and Vancouver with my bike.

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