Saturday, November 17, 2012

Summer in Boulder!

Most of the towns and cities I've visited have at least one thing they do really well or something about them that really stands out. From microbreweries in Portland, to open water swimming in Seattle, style and architecture in Victoria, running an outdoor arboretum in Ann Arbor, bike lanes and nature center trail running in Gainesville, Times Square and Central Park in New York, Church Street in Burlington, beautiful mountains and hiking in Jackson Hole, everywhere I've been has had something wonderful to offer. But after travelling all around the country, there was one place I couldn't wait to return to. There was one place that had just about everything. Boulder.

Options for running, hiking, cycling, and swimming are almost too numerous to list. Nice, dirt or gravel trails are everywhere. Bike lanes and paths are so prevalent you can get anywhere in the city on them intuitively. Some of the best triathlon swim coaches in the world host multiple swim classes each week. And the mountains are right there for hiking and riding.

Not to mention just hanging out at the lake.
Once or twice a week, me and my roommate suited up for an early morning swim.

If you wanted to ride, you could go straight out your door and start climbing for as long as you wanted. And often through a beautiful canyon like this one going the back way up towards Estes Park

When my good buddy Trent came into town from Florida, we climbed all the way up to Brainerd Lake at over 10,300ft of elevation!

My last big ride there was 101 miles up to this beautiful area in Estes Park, and then still further up to Allenspark before descending back down to Boulder.

More beauty is only a short drive away. This was taken race morning at Evergreen Lake before biking up over 1000ft to over 8k elevation, then descending back down and climbing again on the run! Funnest sprint triathlon I've done!

The people are great here too. Not just the locals, who are very easy to talk to and befriend, but also all the visitors that come every year for triathlon and run training. One of my roommates, a professional triathlete from Brazil, introduced me to all the other athletes in town from Brazil and Argentina. They were a ton of fun to hang out and train with.

Here is the group heading to the movies!

If you wanted to see a concert, there is quite possibly the best concert venue ever at Red Rocks just outside of Denver, and only a short drive away.

 Here me and Richard (same Richard from Portland last year) are enjoying a beer in the parking lot beforehand as we get prepped to go see...

Skrillex! This was my view when I first arrived. Unbelievable!

Now all that is good, but what about the microbreweries, happy hours, night life, and good places to eat? Well that is where Boulder shines even more. Happy hours on Pearl Street are some of the best I've seen, the night life is always no cover, short lines and packed with dancers, and the microbrews from Avery and New Belgium, among others, are some of my all-time favorites.

Not to mention the smaller microbreweries like the very popular Mountain Sun. Here me and the roommates, Raul and Gene, await some very good food and beer.

That's not all. For food, the Brasserie and the Med, located right across from each other, offered amazing, super fancy food at very reasonable prices between the hours of 3 and 6:30 on weekdays. And when my buddy from out-of-town was hesitant to go into one of these fine dining establishments wearing a tank top and shorts, the host simply said, "dude, it's Boulder".

And finally, my favorite place to go, Reuben's Burger Bistro. Their selection of fine Belgium beer on tap is far and away the best I've ever seen. They have multiple beers on tap that I had ever only heard about from friends that had lived in Belgium. Not to mention a great price on a "boot" full of good German beer for happy hour!
So if you're looking for a place with great beer, good people, amazing food, beautiful mountains, and more running, biking, and hiking trails than can be found in just one summer, Boulder is definitely the place to be. I have yet to find a place (outside the California coast) that even comes close to how laid back the culture is here, and yet on the other end it is also the most active community I've come across. The combination is just, simply perfect. I can't wait to go back.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Winter on the Beach

When it got cold in Oklahoma again. The obvious choice was to head back to Florida again for the remainder of winter and early spring. Though the focus of this particular trip was triathlon training and not sightseeing, I did manage to make it to the beach a few times for some much needed R&R.

One such situation came out of the blue when a friend asked if I'd like to join him for a day trip to St. Petersburg. My next day just happened to be a rest day, so why not!

The view from the condo in St. Pete.

The inlet by the condo at dusk.

Me and Trent resting the legs in the shade.

But though that was a nice day at the beach, my main beach vacation was a weekend trip to visit some old friends from high school on the beaches in Miami and Jupiter.

Me and Phillip throwing the football on Jupiter Beach. It was definitely much less crowded than all of the others.

This restaurant in Miami allowed patrons to arrive by car or by boat. Way cool.

The lush hot tub and pool area at my buddies apartment complex was located right on the inlet seen from the last picture.

Any tropical paradise would not be complete without palm trees. Lots of palm trees.

A storm prevented us from spending all day at the beach, but the slightly cooler temps made for a great afternoon nap.

Overall, Miami seemed to be a great place to live if you were right across the street from the beach and didn't have to drive too much in the insane traffic that seemingly extends everywhere. Cost of living was surprisingly very reasonable and food and drink could be had extremely cheap through hopping from happy hour to happy hour. Be sure to look for the two for one and three for one specials.

Before leaving the state of Florida, however, I had more stop to make. Luckily, the end of my training cycle coincided with OU's sprink break and I was able to meet up with some friends in Panama City Beach for a few days.

As an extra guest, I was surprised noone had already claimed the balcony for sleeping quarters. As such, I had it all to myself.

Being Spring Break, there was an immense amount of partying going on. Not too mention the most underage drinking in any one spot on the planet at any given time. This was quite entertaining. At first...

If you wanted the beach all to yourself, however, you simply had to wait for the sun to go down (or come up). With the nightly crashing of the waves, this was likely the best sleep I've ever got.

 The PCB crew. Big thanks to them for letting my crash and hangout for a couple nights!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Best of 2011

Here it is. The long awaited, much anticipated, best of the best of my 2011 travels from the Northwest in the summer, the Northeast in the fall, and down to the Southeast for the winter. The best pictures, the most memorable places, and the coolest experiences spanning the country from coast to coast.

The adventure started in June as I headed off to the Northwest. This is the River Gorge near Taos, NM. Tough trail running, but worth it for this spectacular view.

Sunrise at the Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern CO.
The tallest of which are over 600ft high.

Hanging out at Zapata Falls, near the dunes.

The famous Manitou Springs Incline near Colorado Springs, CO. Apollo Anton Ohno's workouts at this particular area are the stuff of legend. For me, it was the most grueling 37 minute hike imaginable.

Biking around the Garden of the Gods. It was way cool to watch the pros race a time trial in this same area just a month later.

A nice, long, snow filled hike up into Rocky Mountain National Park during a Fourth of July weekend camping trip in the Roosevelt National Forest near Allenspark, CO. 

Woke up to this sunrise after stopping at the Rabbit Valley campgrounds on the border of Colorado and Utah (last stop before Utah on I70. Free)

The most scenic drive on the trip, coming from the east side of I70 down to Moab, UT. The combination of river, canyon, and mountains was breathtaking!

A traffic jam on the interstate led me here to crack open a beer and enjoy, right in the heart of Mormon country, just outside Salt Lake City.

This was a fun and dangerous shot to get in the heart of Mt Hood National Forest on a camping trip to recover from the Rev 3 Portland half-ironman.

The clouds almost opened up all the way to reveal Mt Rainer while hiking in this beautiful national park.

Gorgeous sunset in Seattle over one of their many lovely lakes. Surprisingly, Seattle was a particularly good place for open water swimming and running with all the numerous parks and lakes located throughout.

At the Parliament building in Victoria, BC. My favorite pic of the trip with me in it.

View of the Washington coast from Chuckanut road while on my 105 mile journey from Vancouver back to my car in Anacortes. Had to ride straight into a headwind the entire day.

My first taste of Montana's exquisite beauty. On my way to Glacier National Park.

Descending down into Flathead Lake in Montana.

My favorite pic from Glacier.

The best parts about Yellowstone National Park include Old Faithful.

Tons of wildlife!

Beautiful colors from all the lakes, geysers, paint pots, falls, and even canyons!

And my favorite. This snake eating a fish that my little cousin found near a stream. Way cool!

And did I mention it's another great place to ride a bike?

A Grizzly and her three cubs in the Tetons. My first bear sighting!

A young black bear seen on a hike in the Tetons a couple days later. He hung out with us for a bit until I told him to go on his way (with loud noises and arms flailing, big knife and bear spray at the ready...)

Solitude Lake in the Tetons. Completely frozen over and beautiful as ever.

View of the Tetons from afar. I found the sharp, snow capped peaks absolutely captivating.

My favorite view of my favorite mountains. This was from atop Mt Albright Peak in Grand Teton National Park. This one was a nice 17 mile hike (approx. 5000ft of climbing, most of it over the last 4 miles to the top) up to the Static Peak Divide and then a quick scramble up the peak to the right. It includes some good views of the Alaska Basin as well.

The Boulder Flatirons made for a great hike and sweet view. The town was the real experience though. Definitely had the easiest people to talk to and best layout for getting around by bike. I will be back.

The St. Louis arch from a unique angle. The start of my Northeast trip!

On the ferry ride back from Macinac Island. With no cars allowed, it made for a great place to hike or bike and if you eat sweets, I hear the fudge is delicious.

Cincinnati from the other side of the river in Kentucky. There's a Hofbrauhaus here. Not as good as the one in Munich of course, but nonetheless still awesome!

I came across these falls when I took a wrong turn somewhere in New York.

And these falls were on my way out of New York.

But these falls were by far the biggest. I'm sure you can guess where they are.

One of many nice, little picnic spots found in the Northeast. This one in upstate New York.

So many beautiful lakes, all over the entire Northeast.

Even the swamps in this area were stunningly pretty.

The view from Snowy Peak in the Adirondacks. I barely made it back before dark on this hike. Then went back out in complete darkness to make sure an older couple made it back safely.

The moment the clouds finally broke on my way back down the Algonquin Loop in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks.

Sunset over Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT. One of my favorite towns. Small and quaint with great people, plenty of stuff to do and a good, vibrant downtown.

The White Mountains of New Hampshire. An exquisite place for riding a bike or hiking. This is likely my favorite pic of the trip.

The sunrise on top of Mt Cadillac in Acadia National Park.

The first place the sun is visible in the continental US.

Biking around Acadia National Park is the way to go. Most of the park is only accessed through carriage roads which do not allow cars.

The coast of Maine. Best place, hands down, to lie around and cook dinner while reading a book. Almost every town along the coast has a beautiful little spot like this one. Not to mention getting fresh lobster from a Lobster Shack is one of the most amazing meals I've had.

Zakim Bridge in Boston. The spires on top represent the Bunker Hill Monument a few blocks away.

Beautiful spot in the Boston Commons park located downtown.

This statue of George Washington was in the perfect location at the perfect time.

Even the street signs in Boston seemed artsy.

Downtown in Providence, RI. Another very cool city.

The capitol building in Providence was spectacular at night.

Hartford, CT, didn't have much to offer, except for this park to run at (Bushnell Park) and the Mark Twain House not too far away.

My first view of NYC! On the ferry from Staten Island.

Inside of Grand Central Station.

Grand Central and the Chrysler Building in one shot.

Times Square! More amazing than I had always pictured it.

Even better. My face on a Times Square Billboard!

A castle in Central Park? Seriously? Way cool!

The Statue of Liberty at sunset from afar.

At the White House!

A gigantic teacup? Sweet! Even Winston-Salem, NC, has some unique places to see.

On my drive through the Smoky Mountains to Grandma's house!

Looking for crocs around Lake Alice at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Found one! And as it turns out, this town is a great place for winter triathlon training. Even has a pretty sweet downtown as well!

The beach in Navarre, FL was quite awesome. And another great place to run, bike, and swim!

It's always a treat when you can catch the moon out in full at sunset. Good night 2011!
Can't wait to see what 2012 has in store!