Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Coming Home

Couer d'Alene, ID

Coeur d'Alene had a very cool feel to it. With the lake right by it's quaint downtown and a beach running for a nice stretch from downtown to the local college, it made for not only a great place to relax and read (and enjoy almost perfect weather), but also to swim and run as well. And the volleyball courts they had there were running fairly competitive pickup games non-stop the whole time I was there. However, for some reason or another, I couldn't seem to get more than a 60 second conversation out of anyone in the town. Everyone was outwardly friendly, but I got the feeling that if you weren't from their quaint little town they didn't really care to make your acquaintance. So after a couple days spent swimming, running, and reading on the beach, as well as racing a small, local triathlon, I had no more to do than to move on.

Couer d'Alene has this great lakefront beach to hang out at that is right by downtown.

Jackson Hole, WY

While staying with my cousin in Jackson Hole, I discovered there was in fact more to do than National Parks and uber expensive restaurants and tourist shopping. Lucky me happened to be there right when the county fair showed up! And, let me tell ya, this was no disappointment. Without delving too far into stereotypes, I imagine county fairs and the carnies that run them must be fairly similar nationwide, which of course makes for entertaining people watching experiences. But the rickety rides, with the promise of an adrenaline rush not just from the ride itself but the feeling you get that it could break at any second and cause catastrophic consequences, are what really make fairs so much fun.We had a blast riding the Zipper. A rough machine that spun you vertically with a surprising variety of speed and unpredictability that made it not only tough to keep dinner down but also your face slamming into the same bars you held onto with a death grip. Apparently, at 6'0 I was too short to make proper use of the padding above to stop your head in case you get caught not paying attention or can't hold tight enough. That's not all this fair had though. It was thoroughly complete with rodeos and, even better, figure 8 racing. Figure 8 racing for those who have not seen it before, involves a bunch of stripped down old cars running around a figure 8 course for a specified time. The ones that advance to the next round are the top 2 or 3 with the most laps. Or, as is usually the case, the top 2 or 3 still running...

You can see here how you can get some good car smashing action whenever a driver wants to be aggressive. We even saw one catch on fire right in front of us.

It's a heck of a lot of fun to pick your car and see it get crashed out for awhile on the first turn and then come back in the end to outlast all of your friends' cars or simply cheer for that one driver that no matter how badly he is out of it, he never gives up.

Boulder, CO

After a week spent hanging out with my cousin and her roommates in Jackson Hole and taking day trips up to the Tetons and Yellowstone, it was now time to head back towards Oklahoma. It seemed forever since I'd raced or trained with the good people of OK and it was time to change that. So I took off from Jackson on another one of their beautiful 70 degree days and headed south and east towards Colorado. However, that being a long drive for one day, I found this area to stop off for a nice, free camping spot.

This was sunrise at the Vedauwoo rock formations just past Laramie, WY,
right off of I-80. There is a park here that costs money to enter, however,
if you just drive past the entrance down the dirt road (Vedauwoo Glen Rd)
 you will see free camping spots all over.

And then it was off to Boulder, CO, to meet up with my old acquaintance, Danger Carrie, and get some last bit of quality altitude training before heading back down to sea level and the ridiculous heat and humidity that is Oklahoma. Boulder, was quite the place, to say the least. Out of all the places I had visited, it was by far the easiest and safest place to bike around that I'd seen. Trails and bike routes seemed to be everywhere, not to mention the beautiful path that went along the creek, right by downtown and the University, which contained both off-road trails for running and on-road paths for biking or running. But perhaps the most striking thing about the town was how laid back, friendly, and approachable everyone was. It seemed like you could strike up a conversation at random with almost anyone in any place and it would likely turn out to be a good one. Though I found much of the Northwest to be like this, it was much much more so here. And it even, oddly enough, had a very impressive slew of street performers in it's downtown Pearl District.
 This snake on the shoulder was not the new style, but another of Boulder's excellent street performers.

One night after coming home I even saw my 2nd fire in a week! Luckily, only the
papers pinned to the kiosk burned and so it quickly fizzled out.

 There are several great hikes around Boulder and one of the most popular
is the beautifully shaped Flatirons.

 This spot was actually easier than it looks to get up to and down from,
and a great little nook to eat lunch at

It's one heck of a view from the top of the Flatirons.

The Long Road Home

I couldn't, of course, head home without stopping off in Colorado Springs again to see my good buddy, Tom. And boy was I glad I did, as he sent along another three excellent Belgium brews, that, of course, are not available in the States. However, after that, it was a long drive with not much in between.

But that didn't stop from finding a nice spot in very small Bucklin, KS, to eat lunch along the way.

Several hour later I was back in Oklahoma City again, and, for the first time in a while, stuck in traffic, since there were 3 separate wrecks up ahead on just the stretch of highway I was on, not to mention the other highways around. Luckily though I was able to navigate around it well, but it was a nice little reminder of how bad the drivers in Oklahoma are (OKC is consistently ranked on top 10 dangerous cities for driving lists). It was also, as usual, well over 100 degrees Farenheit, making it swelteringly hot for someone no longer adjusted to the heat. Despite all that, though, it was good to be back home again and in a place where I could comfortably regroup and plan for the next leg of my journey. Up next, I will travel up to the east coast and back down for the fall and after that, who knows, so stay tuned for more of Journey's adventures!

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