IRONMAN Wisconsin Trip 2019

In which we road tripped to Madison, Wisc., so I could go race another IRONMAN.

Wednesday, September 4:

As we do, we left early on Wednesday morning.

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Sunrise leaving town.

Our hotel reservations didn’t start in Madison until Thursday, but the first day of race check-in was ALSO Thursday, and I know if I don’t want to wait in a long line, I get there the first day. So we left Wednesday and drove to Dubuque, Iowa (much like I did for my Shinedown trip back in May).

Mostly, a long boring day in the car. Thanks, head winds. But I didn’t get lost this time! We also stopped at the same Chick-fil-a in Dubuque I did back in May to get a whole bunch of chicken sandwiches with extra pickles for bike food on Sunday (go read the tri blog linked above for more on that).

Food Eaten: Breakfast: egg and oj, Starbucks, Chick-fil-a (mmm chicken egg and cheese on a biscuit). Lunch: KFC/Subway. Dinner: salad at Hy-Vee, Culver’s.

Thursday, September 5:

First things first, I realized I was missing an IM road trip tradition, so I took care of that.

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Then, it was on to Madison … with first a stop in Verona to get a cappuccino at n+1 Coffee and Beer (inside Rocket Bicycle Studio) because I really liked it last time I was in town.

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Plus we got to talk to one of the owners, Jessica, who gave B a whole bunch of good tips for coming down and spectating on Sunday, as the bike course goes by their shop twice. After coffee, we stopped at the cute little grocery store in town for a doughnut (as I remembered them being good) and a few other things (bottled water for my water bottles, apples for some fiber (mostly for B), mini Dr. Peppers for special needs) before heading off to Madison.

Our hotel room was ready when we got there (stayed at the Hilton Monona Terrace), so we got checked in, unloaded the car, and then I headed literally across the hotel sky way to the Monona Terrace Convention Center to go get checked in for my race.

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This is on the tiles outside.

After I got all checked in, I was starving, so we quick dumped off my IM crap upstairs and then headed to the Great Dane for lunch. We ate at a couple Madison “must-dos” on this trip, and the Dane was one of them.

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Overall, it wasn’t bad. We split the massive pretzel as an appetizer (B was doing his best to shove a lot of food in my face this week). I had a different type of fish sandwich (salmon) and B had a Nashville hot chicken sandwich and onion soup.

We went for a ride with a friend that afternoon and then for dinner, we decided to do another “when in Rome” and go eat at State Street Brats.

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There are fiberglass Bucky Badgers all over town. I tried to emulate him here.

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Hockey Bucky!

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We ended up doing a mini tour of cheese curds on this trip, and State Street Brats was the first place we tried. Weren’t bad. Brat was okay, too. We sort of found a part of an empty table to stand at because apparently the Green Bay Packers were playing that night and it was packed. Also packed with college kids. I’m telling you, at 36 I don’t feel old in general … unless you throw me in a bar on a college campus filled with undergrads. Then HOLY SWEET JEEBUS do I feel ancient.

Afterward, we tried a local ice cream shop that B’s ex (who is from Wisconsin) recommended in the Chocolate Shoppe.

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I had the Latte-Da. It was tasty.

Food Eaten: Breakfast: hotel, n+1, random donut. Lunch: Great Dane Brewing and Pub. Dinner: State Street Brats, Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream.

Friday, September 6:

Friday morning was taken mostly up with a practice swim, as I wanted to get in Lake Monona at least once pre-race. I also went to an athlete briefing, as, well, I was in town for a race and that was something I needed to do. I was also super happy I had checked in the day prior as the lines for that? So long.

I was planning on doing the Undie Run … but lost confidence, so B and I just did a short mile shakeout run to lunch. Lunch was sushi at Sushi Express on the UW campus as we always like eating sushi a day or two before a race. Plus it is (or at least can be) a lot lighter of a meal which was definitely needed.

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Mmmm, fish.

After lunch, a shower and then mostly chilling out starting to get my bags prepped for the next day.

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But also a picture of Lake Monona and the top of the convention center from the room we ate breakfast in every morning. I swam there.

For dinner, we met up with B’s cousin Nicole, who lives in Madison. Our first thought was the Old Fashioned … but they had like a 90 minute wait and I didn’t want to eat dinner at 8p. So, we wandered off to another place and tried the Tipsy Cow. I didn’t take pictures, but they weren’t bad. Tipsy Cow ended up being stop two on the cheese curd tour, and theirs were better than State Street’s. I ended up having some chicken caprese sandwich thingy that was actually really pretty good (if a bit heavy on the balsamic). I think B ended up doing fish fry (fish and chips) and I can’t remember what Nicole had.

Food Eaten: Breakfast: hotel, Starbucks. Lunch: Sushi Express. Dinner: Tipsy Cow.

Saturday, September 7:

The main activity this day was the Madison Farmer’s Market, which takes place around the entire square.

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Some of the gorgeous flowers on display.

We ended up getting a few things. Brandon got some apples, I bought a cucumber to just eat, and we got a large bag of 5 dozen ears of corn so I could attempt to make tamales when I got home. (Which I did. It was a disaster. Hilarious, but a disaster.) We also got a pumpkin cream cheese muffin from a vendor for my morning pastry as I wanted to get coffee from a local place that morning … which I did, in Colectivo Coffee.

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After that, back to the hotel so I could prep all of my gear bags and B could head down to his volunteer shift checking in athlete bikes.

I packed up my gear bags and took them and my bike down to get racked and placed for the next day. I ended up seeing a few friends at bike check-in, as I ended up hanging out for the rest of B’s shift. We saw our friend Loberg from out here in Colorado (and I took a picture to send to my friend Katie, who’s her coach) and then chatted with an old SMASH teammate, Taryn, post-check-in shift.

After talking with Taryn, we were both fairly ravenous, so we went off to lunch to go try the Old Fashioned again.

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Lunch was still crowded, but we were able to find an immediate seat at the bar as opposed to waiting 20-30 minutes, so that was nice.

The cheese curd tour continued (and ended), and I think they had the best of the three we tried (with points taken off as they might have been the greasiest, too).

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(I will honestly say though, I think my favorite curds are still the ones we get at the Minnesota State Fair.)

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I got this delicious heirloom tomato BLT. I have no idea what B ate.

After lunch, it was time for me to stay off my feet until dinner, so that’s what I did.

Dinner was at the Bassett Street Brunch Club, as I needed to do my usual breakfast-for-dinner. We were joined by more of B’s family – Nicole, and then his cousin Peter and his partner Emilio who drove up from Chicago.

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Inside.

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When a place makes their own doughnuts … you kinda have to get one.

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B’s chicken and doughnut (with Nicole’s savory french toast waaaaay in the background).

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My standard ol’ breakfast. Not the best I’ve had, but it did the trick.

Emilio (Thai peanut noodle something) and Peter (steak frites) did normal people food.

Food Eaten: Breakfast: hotel, Starbucks, Colectivo Coffee, random farmer’s market stall. Lunch: Old Fashioned. Dinner: Bassett Street Brunch Club.

Sunday, September 8:

Race day for me! Pretty much spent all day on the race course. Again, go to the tri blog if you’re curious.

B did a great job cheering and supporting … but I have no idea what he ate all day, so the food below is just me.

Food Eaten: Breakfast: hotel. Lunch: food on the bike. Dinner: food on the run, post-race.

Monday, September 9:

I actually slept well post-race, which doesn’t always happen for me. B actually had to poke me awake so I could go downstairs to the convention center and buy my finisher’s jacket.

Breakfast was after that, and then it was all about packing up the car to leave. And meeting my friend Jen who lives in the Springs to get the five cases of salsa she bought at the farmer’s market to transport home for her.

The rest of the day was mostly spent en route to Minnesota, as we decided to visit B’s parents since we were basically in the neighborhood.

Food Eaten: Breakfast: hotel, Starbucks. Lunch: the Ground Round. Dinner: Green Mill. Snacks: Dairy Queen (my throat hurt from so much breathing during the race; needed something to make it feel better), apps at the in-laws.

Tuesday, September 10:

We woke up super early to leave B’s parents as he wanted to try to make it back in time for bowling that night. Sooooo … that’s what we did, not even stopping for breakfast until … Owatonna, I think. Then, just a long day of pushing through with quick stops.

But we made it back for bowling.

Food Eaten: Breakfast: Starbucks. Lunch: Taco Bell (along with random car snacks. lunch kinda wasn’t really a thing). Dinner: whatever B ate at the bowling alley, whatever I scrounged up in the kitchen.

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Coeur d’Alene Trip 2019

I may have said earlier this year that I’m not traveling a lot due to Ironman training … which is still a very true statement, but this trip went along with that … as we were racing a 70.3!

Much like IMChoo three years ago, this race was picked due to time of year as well as for the opportunity to knock off a few states (Idaho and Montana). I won’t go into race details, but I will talk about this trip because we both really enjoyed it.

Tuesday, June 25

Although the race was Sunday, we left several days early in order to play a bit of tourist on the way. Our first day took us to Idaho Falls, Idaho.

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Sunrise leaving town.

We grabbed Starbucks in downtown Fort Collins and ate breakfast at some small little local place (original plan was Waffle House, but apparently the Waf in FoCo is closed …?) called the Ever Open Cafe. We’d grabbed (a very mediocre) lunch there before, and breakfast wasn’t too much better. We hopped back on 287 which took us to Wyoming where we caught up with I-80 and then took that to US-191. While on 191, we grabbed lunch at what is probably best described as a permanent food truck off the road in Pinedale, Wyo. – the Burger Barn. Too much pepper on both the burgers and the fries, but hey – eating local is awesome.

From 191 we caught up with US-89 and then to US-26 which would take us to Idaho Falls.

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We did, however, see this place in Alpine, Wyo., which cracked both of us up. An old friend from the USCHO days had Brenthoven as his handle on the message board so to see this??

We got into Idaho Falls and took the bikes out for a quick spin. Dinner was at a cute place we saw while riding, the Sandpiper Restaurant.

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That bread? To die for.

Cute place, would definitely go back. After dinner, we stopped at Chick-fil-a for bike food for Sunday (last time we’d be close to one) and then walked around this Alpine Garden thing that’s on the banks of the river.

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I also wanted to walk over to what we thought were the falls but apparently not. Oops.

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Wednesday, June 26

We didn’t wake up quite as early as hoped, but still definitely too early for hotel breakfast. We grabbed Starbucks leaving Idaho Falls and then drove to West Yellowstone, Montana, as seeing Yellowstone National Park was our agenda for the day. Since our America the Beautiful pass had expired, we quickly popped over to the park to renew that and then headed back into town for breakfast. We ate at the Running Bear Pancake House, which wasn’t too terrible (remember, we have super high breakfast standards).

Food consumed, it was park time!

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Pulled over to see a bison (buffalo?) and mostly missed it, but got this view.

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Dinosaurs and geothermal pools.

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Fountain Paint Pots.

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Good advice.

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Biscuit Basin.

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Waiting for Old Faithful.

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Faithful for us!

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Lady at the entrance gate wasn’t wrong – bison are EVERYWHERE. People were ignoring this one until they stood up. Then OMG LOOOOOOOOK.

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At this point in the day (a little after noon), there were so many people that we were ready to escape after seeing only a small fraction of the park … but the last thing I really wanted to see was the Grand Prismatic Spring … and #worthit.

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Plus we got held up by a Yellowstone traffic jam on the way out. Seriously saw probably over 100 bison. SO COOL!

After we escaped that, we stopped in town for lunch (we did have a simple snack at the park to help tide us over). We were going to try a barbecue place, but couldn’t find a server/anyone to tell us what to do (wait to be seated? seat ourselves?) … so we went a door or so down to the Canyon Street Grill for essentially a diner lunch. It did the trick. After, we grabbed a quick bit of ice cream at the City Creamery before heading out of town.

Our stop for the night (and indeed the next day or so) was Bozeman, Mont. Dinner that night was our first non-Starbucks chain stop … in Olive Garden. We didn’t feel like moving out of the hotel, so we called in an order and I made B go pick it up. It was food.

Thursday, June 27

We ate a quick breakfast at the hotel and then drove over to a local park to get a run in. Run done, it was (surprise, surprise) Starbucks time.

Today was mostly a lazy layover day in Bozeman that we scheduled in … but we did go to the Museum of the Rockies for two reasons:
1. DINOSAURS (duh)
2. free admission thanks to our DMNS membership.

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Humans would look really funny as sauropods.

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Never realized dinos grew so fast. Also: there were apparently burrowing dinosaurs. Which, if you take that modern birds descended from them, it makes sense – we do have burrowing owls.

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Well hello gorgeous.

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Triceratops skulls, from juvenile to adult.

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The museum also had a bit on early Montana history (settlers and whatnot) and also an exhibition on Genghis Khan that was pretty cool. The flow was such that you just went from exhibit to exhibit. Basically, you see everything whether you want to or not!

Lunch was cobbled together from a local grocery store, Heebs, and the rest of the afternoon was super chill. We ventured out that evening, grabbing sushi/teriyaki at Wasabi Japanese Steak House and then to Genuine Ice Cream Company downtown.

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Friday, June 28

One of my former SMASH teammates (and pro triathlete) Haley Chura lives in Bozeman and offered to swim “with” us (she’s way faster … it’s more like “share a pool with five lanes down”). I had hoped for Thursday, but Friday was when it could happen. So, we woke up early and headed to the Bozeman Swim Center where we got to swim in their gorgeous 50m pool (first time I’ve ever been in a 50m pool!). I didn’t get in much (didn’t eat prior), but it was still awesome. We talked to Haley, left to go pack up the car (and grab a small bite at the hotel), and then rejoined up with her and a few friends at the Feed.

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That’s how I like my cappuccino foam.

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After eating and chatting for a while, it was back on the road to head to Coeur d’Alene.

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The hotel was very athlete friendly.

We checked in to the race and grabbed lunch downtown at San Francisco Sourdough. Back to the hotel to digest and go for a shakeout run.

I had gotten a food suggestion from my friend Katie on Fire Pizza, but the wait there was INSANE for dinner, so we ended up at Cricket’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar which … well, it did the trick.

Saturday, June 29

At this point, the super fun part of our trip turned into race prep. We ate breakfast at the hotel and then drove down to get in a practice swim in Lake Coeur d’Alene. That lake? I miss it. So much.

We went back to the hotel to get on our bikes for one last shakeout spin.

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We stopped at Terre Coffee on our way to drop off our bikes/go to the athlete briefing. I highly recommend them – great homemade cinnamon rolls. Cappuccino was good, not great, but that cinnamon roll? So good.

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At the finish line!

Lunch was finally at Fire Pizza, and the recommendation was definitely worth it. We split a caprese salad and then each got our own pizza. I think B did a pepperoni and sausage. I did the pesto chicken with added mushrooms.

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So delicious. We saved the leftovers and ate them on our drive two days later.

Dinner was our standard breakfast-for-dinner, which we got at a local place called Elmer’s Restaurant. Sure, you can mostly find an IHOP, or Village Inn, or Denny’s anywhere, but to be able to find a local place like this? So much better, and Elmer’s did the trick. I’d recommend them, too.

Sunday, June 30

For the purposes of this story, Sunday was race day. Early wake up, breakfast at the hotel (thank you so much Hampton Inn for putting it out early for us athletes!), “lunch” eaten while on the bike and at the post-race athlete feed.

We did venture out again for dinner post-race and got burgers at Coeur d’Alene Taphouse Unchained (… I think?), which did the trick.

Monday, July 1

We got a bit of a lazy start … mostly because we were actually able to sleep and sleep well post-race. Breakfast was at the hotel and coffee was back at Terre Coffee as we met up with a friend of mine to finally be able to have the time to sit and chat. We left Betsy, grabbed more coffee at Starbucks (… one of those days), and then headed out of town with Billings, Mont., our destination for the night.

Besides snacking on all the other random food we had on us (watermelon leftover from our lunch in Bozeman, leftover pizza), lunch was a small bite at a Taco Bell in Butte. We stopped in Bozeman again to hopefully find some of the most delicious root beer known to man (Grand Teton Brewing Company’s Old Faithful Root Beer). We picked up a few cans at Genuine Ice Cream – yes, we went back. I got a root beer float – but that was the only place we got it as we called around to five different places and nothing.

Dinner was another chain in Texas Roadhouse … mostly because it was next door to our hotel in Billings and we didn’t have to venture too far.

Tuesday, July 2

We woke up decently early in Billings to be able to hit the road. As much as we loved our trip … it was time to get home.

Stopped at Starbucks for coffee (go figure) and then to Stella’s Kitchen and Bakery in downtown Billings for breakfast. B had eaten there on a layover and said they had dino pancakes … which dude.

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They were good … but the waitress made me feel like a complete idiot for ordering them. It’s not what she said (nothing), but the look that she gave me throughout my order, making me try to justify getting them. I’m sorry, but that’s rude, and made both of us never want to go back there. B had loved that place and they put a very sour taste in both our mouths.

Then it was just I-90 east to I-25 south to home (with a stop at Waffle House in Frederick for lunch).

Vegas/Tucson Adult Spring Break 2019

Thanks to Ironman training, I haven’t really traveled much this year. I’d had a couple trips tentatively penciled in (tagging along with the husband), but none managed to pan out.

Then, B and his dad were planning on going to the Wild/Knights game in Las Vegas in late March. I was thinking, hey, I want to go too … why don’t I drive down and bring the bikes? And maybe we can go to Tucson after? Well, the game didn’t pan out, but the trip did.

Thursday, March 28

Since the game didn’t work out, B decided to go up to visit his parents in Minnesota for a few days while I made the drive out to the desert. Instead of doing Denver to Las Vegas in one shot, I decided to split the drive and spend the night in Page, Ariz., hoping for Horseshoe Bend at both sunset and sunrise.

I left Denver pretty early Thursday morning and trucked on through to Fruita. My first planned stop was Colorado National Monument. I was ideally hoping to run there, but the massive death plague (… allergies? bronchitis? still a mystery …) that hit me put the kibosh on that. However, I still stopped in to see it.

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Totally worth the detour.

I also saw a sign for a Dinosaur Hill and I wasn’t not stopping there, either … so I did the small hike at the site.

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From there, I cut down at Crescent Junction/Moab in Utah and moseyed on down that way toward Page. I almost stopped at Arches, but decided to hold off.

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Driving.

I honestly don’t remember what I ended up doing for lunch this day – I think random snacks at a 7-11 somewhere – but dinner was a sushi place in Page that ended up being pretty tasty. Horseshoe Bend was ridiculously busy at sunset, but it was pretty.

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Didn’t get a picture of the dinos last time through.

Friday, March 29

Dawn at Horseshoe Bend was much better. And much quieter as things tend to be.

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After getting some photos, I headed back on the road to Las Vegas. I almost timed it perfectly to get in the same time B’s flight did, but not quite. I picked him up, we grabbed a simple and quick lunch at Chipotle, and then checked in to the Bellagio. Dinner ended up being at the buffet because we couldn’t really think of anything else and it’s an easy way to eat a lot of salad.

From there, we split up – B dropped me off at the Neon Museum, as I was FINALLY going back at night (… thinking that I’d need something to do while he was watching hockey) and he had a few errands to run.

The Neon Museum is awesome regardless of when you go, but I would suggest going both day parts, especially as they continue to restore more signs.

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I also got tickets to see Brilliant!, an art installation in the north gallery (a gallery I didn’t get to see last time I visited back in … 2014?). Brilliant! was AWESOME. In the next few photos, the lights you see are NOT restored; it just looks that way.

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Saturday, March 30

The original plan for this day was wake up, go for an early run, hang out in the spa, maybe by the pool, and gamble. A very low key, chill day.

Actual plan was a bit different. As I was still pretty sick – and coughing to the point that I was sleeping on the bathroom floor away from B so we could both get some z’s – I got forced to urgent care that morning in order for some definitive answers. I had puzzled out bronchitis with a nurse friend of ours … but urgent care people said allergies. I’m still unsure as to which it actually is/was.

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Bellagio conservatory earlier that morning.

Breakfast prior to urgent care was at Blueberry Hill off strip. Coffee post urgent care was, to no one’s surprise, at Cafe Lola.

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The cappuccino was probably the worst I’ve ever had there (booooo) but still pretty good. The pasteis de nada (Portuguese egg pastry) was delicious as always.

Post-coffee, off to pick up my medication, get a car wash, and back to the hotel. B still wanted to run, so he hit up the fitness center while I grabbed a book and hung out by the pool. He joined me after and we both decided against the spa. We ate lunch at the Pool Cafe and then decided to gamble some.

Most all gambling for me was TERRIBLE this trip, btw. After a couple good trips, I finally had another bad one. Booooooo.

Dinner was at In-N-Out, as it is.

Sunday, March 31

We left Las Vegas pretty early to get to Tucson as we had an important detour along the way. Breakfast was just crap at Starbucks, as it’s easy. And stupid.

Our detour was Grand Canyon National Park – somewhere neither of us had ever been to. We didn’t have/take the time to hike, but we will definitely be returning at some point.

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Such well traveled little dinosaurs.

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Lunch was at a KFC at some Route 66 town nearby (I forget which one) and then we continued the drive down to Tucson. Neither of us were all that hungry, so dinner was Cold Stone and french fries.

Monday, April 1

Since we were staying at the Doubletree Reid Park, we got free breakfast every day at the hotel, so that was food every day.

I think B made me do a virtual visit with another doctor this morning since I was still dying, but I don’t 100% remember.

We tried a new lunch place in Baggins Gourmet Sandwiches and it was really good. Have never tried them in Tucson before but we will definitely return. I tried running at Reid Park – got about a fifth of a mile in before hacking and dying. B continued on … but not me.

Dinner that night was an old Tucson standard – eegee’s and Lucky Wishbone.

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B wanted a bit of pool time so he did that and we both decided on a drink by the fire pit – beer for him and a glass of wine for me.

Tuesday, April 2

After breakfast at the hotel, we decided to forgo Starbucks for coffee (like we did the previous morning) and headed to Le Buzz over by Mt. Lemmon. I had hoped to get some time on the mountain this trip, but alas, that was not to be.

Post-coffee, we spent some time at Bookman’s buying books before heading to Choice Greens for salad for lunch. B got on the bike today while I attempted to blow up my giant T. rex tail pool float I bought the previous year. It took forever, but I was successful!

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I am also ridiculous, but you knew that.

After a couple hours in the pool, we headed off to dinner at our favorite Tucson Mexican food spot, Casa Molina … and ate a ridiculous amount of food. Oops.

Wednesday, April 3

Wednesday was hike around cacti day … which we are realizing needs to be way earlier in the trip. Like first night. It’s where we’re both the happiest.

The first stop of the day was at Saguaro National Park West over by Gates Pass … which we had never actually been to – we always hit up SNP East.

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We saw a snek! I’m pretty well zoomed in on this rattlesnake – they were off trail and still pretty calm. No rattling out of them!

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The desert was nicely in bloom.

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Saguaro blossom!

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Petroglyphs.

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We stopped back by the visitor’s center again after hiking to let them know about the snake and then got lunch since we were both starving. Food ended up being a lot of repeats – lunch at In-N-Out and yes, dinner was at Casa Molina again. Regrets we have? Zero.

I forget what we did most of that afternoon post-lunch – probably mostly packed – but I did want to get some sunset pictures over at SNP East so we did go do that before dinner.

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Desert skies are amazing, man.

Thursday, April 4

We were up super early to drive back home, since we’re in the time of year where Tucson/Arizona is an hour different (silly daylight saving time). Breakfast was at Waffle House since not much else is open that early.

The drive was mostly uneventful, which is nice, but we did get a killer sunrise.

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Lunch was at a Jimmy John’s in Albuquerque (that was highly obnoxious to get to) and dinner was pizza of fail when we got back home … since we didn’t have much food in the house.

*****

I would argue this was one of our worst Las Vegas and worst Tucson trips. Partially because I was sick and partially because we didn’t have the best plan going in. Or the plan got shifted so terribly because I was sick. Still, time in the desert is a good thing and I know I needed to get out of town.

Colorado State Parks Project, Part Two

I made it a goal of mine last year to visit all of the Colorado State Parks. I’m not sure if it was a combination of me wanting to just explore the state more, or give myself something to do since I was no longer working or what … but it was an awesomely fun project. This is the second of two posts on the quest.

July 13, State Forest State Park

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This one was a bit of a drive to get to and we almost got lost … but it was actually really gorgeous. And huge.

Will I return?: I definitely want to. We only did a few short hikes due to time constraints but the longer ones looked awesome. Plus there are apparently a ton of moose in this park and while we heard their calls … we saw no moose. I want to see moose!

July 19, Elkhead Reservoir State Park

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I was a little cranky at this one. This was a long day trip to hit up all five parks in the Steamboat Springs area. I got up early, stopped on the side of the road to catch the absolutely gorgeous sunrise that morning … and somehow got my first speeding ticket in a decade (and first in the state of Colorado). I was not entirely happy. I don’t speed these days! I was getting passed all the time! Oh well. Such is life.

Will I return?: Not to this one. The parks that are mostly just reservoirs/lakes (this, Harvey Gap, Jackson Lake, etc.) aren’t entirely for me right now. I don’t boat and I don’t fish. I do swim, but not all of these inspire a want for open water swimming.

July 19, Yampa River State Park

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Easy peasy to find, right off the main highway going through town.

Will I return?: No reason to, really. Unless I’m driving up there and B wants to see it.

July 19, Steamboat Lake State Park

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This and the next park were basically across the street from each other. A little buggy, but I guess that’s to be expected.

Will I return?: I was initially thinking not – really no reason to – but there’s a tri I’m tossing around doing at the end of July that will be held here so maybe?

July 19, Pearl Lake State Park

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This park was a bit confusing. Not to find, but to access what I might want to access.

Will I return:? Weirdly enough, I think I’d like to. I saw some people stand-up paddleboarding and was insanely jealous (totally something I want to learn). Also, I’m betting that park has some great hiking. I just have to find it …

July 19, Stagecoach State Park

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Final stop of the day. Needed to hike, so chose to here (even though the path I found was easy peasy). I was drooling over the roads on the drive, thinking I may need to haul my bike up to train on the rolling hills for IMoo.

Will I return?: I’d like to! This park captured me in some way and I would love to explore it some more. And obviously ride my bike on the roads outside it.

August 14, Highline Lake State Park

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Another day where the fire haze was awful. Also another day that I hit up multiple parks. But when I need to drive to the other side of the state … Highline Lake is on the western slope, probably like 8 miles from the Utah border.

Will I return?: Probably not. See: Elkhead Reservoir.

August 14, James M. Robb Colorado River State Park

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So this park actually has five “outposts” if you will, which makes sense because the Colorado River is huge. I stopped at two of them – the one in Fruita, where this photo was taken, and the Island Acres section just off I-70 (where I got evacuated thanks to a fire just off the highway).

Will I return?: Maybe, if only to hit up the other three sections. I’ve driven past one of the others, but still have yet to spot the other two …

August 14, Vega State Park

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Another park where it was totally more about the journey. The drive to Vega (on main roads) was fairly outstanding. When it came time to leave, I could go back from whence I came (and technically backtrack in direction), or go the road less traveled. I chose the latter … and ended up on bumpy, washboard dirt roads. All about the adventure, right?

I also didn’t stay long because fire haze. Air quality was shit.

Will I return?: Most likely not, no.

September 3, Trinidad Lake State Park

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Okay, technically I was first here on the first. B had a long(ish) layover in Tucson on the 2nd and you know me – I am all about the desert – so I dropped him off at the airport early in the morning and then drove on down. I hoped to try to catch the sunrise at the park, but that was not to be. Instead, I stopped again on my drive home. That drive home was a miserable rainy mess (okay, both directions were in a lot of ways) and the park was gloomy and I think the picture captured that well.

Will I return?: Probably not. Unless I find myself in Trinidad for some reason and need to run …

September 3, Lake Pueblo State Park

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Where Trinidad was gloomy and rainy, Pueblo was not. I stopped here to run and it was pretty awesome (the park, not my run). The trail system in the park actually goes all the way to downtown Pueblo which is really cool. If there is one actual main lake in Lake Pueblo State Park, I didn’t see it.

Will I return?: I would definitely consider it. I enjoyed my time here. Except for the times I’ve played hockey, probably the best time I’ve had in Pueblo.

September 14, Crawford State Park

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Another park where the drive to get there was more fun than the park itself. Although to be honest I don’t think I saw Crawford at its full glory – the water levels here looked to be pretty freaking low …

Will I return:? Doubtful. It’s way out of the way and doesn’t have a truly compelling reason for me to want to go back.

September 14, Paonia State Park

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This was the only park on my list that had a time constraint, as it’s only open May-October. One of the most gorgeous drives to get there. I also got to pull off and see a roadside waterfall on the way, so bonus points there.

Will I return?: Mostly a camping park, so probably not. Unless I start that up.

September 23, Navajo State Park

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This was one of the parks I was stressing about hitting the most as it’s not the easiest to get to (and Colorado technically shares it with New Mexico as it straddles the border). I figured it was just going to end up being one long 14-15 hour day to get there, take some pictures, and go back home. Thankfully, my wonderful husband decided to indulge me on going to Las Vegas for our anniversary trip the long way … so we got to see Navajo that way (and the next park and Mesa Verde and then Horseshoe Bend the next day …)

Will I return?: Most likely not. I don’t camp and I don’t boat and it is REALLY out of the way.

September 23, Mancos State Park

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As you can see, we decided to do a trail run in Mancos. The trail was a lot more difficult than we expected, but it was still super awesome.

Will I return?: I’d like to! I enjoyed the run and would love to hike around more. I actually passed the turn off for this park on my next parks trip, but the schedule didn’t allow for a return.

October 16, San Luis Lakes State Wildlife Area

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A.K.A. The state park that wasn’t.

San Luis Lakes is (or at least was when I first decided on this project) on the CPW site, the signs on the way to it all say “San Luis Lakes State Park” on them … but as I found out later, this has actually been changed to a state wildlife area. Oops. Whatever, I marked it off and, as you can kind of see in the background, it’s right near the Great Sand Dunes … which I visited right before.

Will I return?: As it’s not actually a state park … no. No reason to.

October 16, Lone Mesa

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Ugh, Lone Mesa. Lone Mesa is state land that hasn’t officially reached State Park designation … but since I accidentally kinda wrote it down in the bullet journal … I went off to find it. I followed the directions for it, but saw no signage. To this day I’m still not entirely sure I found it. But, as a friend commented on my insta post of the above picture, “Looks like a lonely mesa. #nailedit”.

Will I return?: If it ever freaking gets designated as an actual state park … yes. On principle.

October 17, Ridgway State Park

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I knew I would have to do an overnight trip (or two) to get parks at one point, and this was the designated trip for that. After the Lone Mesa debacle, I stayed the night just outside of Telluride (more at the ski resort, not in town) before hitting up the other two parks on the agenda. Ridgway was the first. The drive? Oh, so amazing. The park? Well, I could stop at the river or drive into the park. I just stopped at the river. Apparently I should have done both.

Will I return?: I initially thought no, but a friend says that’s her favorite state park and apparently the inside of the park is super awesome, so I’m thinking that’s a yes, I will have to go back. Honestly I’m totally cool doing that drive again so …

October 17, Sweitzer Lake State Park

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This would normally not be a park that I would be interested in (really no hiking, kinda small, really just a lake), but for some reason, it captured me. Maybe it was the tire swing at the playground. Who knows.

Will I return?: Hopefully! This lake just screamed out to me to swim in it. So I will.

October 20, John Martin Reservoir State Park

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The last of the eastern parks, this one in SE Colorado. Go to Pueblo, hang a left on 50, keep driving past La Junta and Rocky Ford to a town called Hasty. That’s where you’ll find this park. The main plus about this one (besides seeing more of the state) was that it was only a short (30-45 minutes?) detour to the state border with Oklahoma and as OK was a state I still needed to hit … I did that. Had my phone change time zones and everything.

Will I return?: I don’t boat, so probably no need.

October 20, Lathrop State Park

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At this point, I had actually had several opportunities to knock this park off (at least three), but I wanted to save it for last as it was actually Colorado’s first designated state park. I thought it would be cool to see Colorado’s first as my personal last. So I did.

Will I return?: I’d like to. B was along for this final park venture (all in all, he went to 13 with me on the actual day, and two others on different occasions) and he really liked Lathrop. I also would have liked to explore it more.

*****

This project was awesome. I got a Parks Passport too late in the project to actually get it stamped everywhere (and a good chunk of them I visited beyond visitor center hours), but I don’t need that to know that I DID IT.

The best part of the project was exploring parts of Colorado I’d never seen before. The biggest reason I would advise others to do something like this is it takes you to parts of the state you may have never seen. You’ll see farming communities, small towns.

As it was finished before Election Day … I think it influenced my vote some. Too often do we choose to vote for something that would only benefit US, without thinking of how it will impact others. There is a lot more to Colorado than just Denver/Boulder/ski resort towns. So much more. The needs of someone in Rocky Ford, or Olathe, or Julesburg, or Telluride, or Cortez, or wherever else are a lot different than what mine are here in Denver. It made me think … what helps me most while simultaneously NOT causing harm to others? A tax on x might help me, but it might cripple someone in one of those other places. Well that’s no good. A tax on y, however, might aid both. Or aid me without harming the other.

Colorado is a wonderful state, and it is so much more than just the mountains. Get out and explore it.

Colorado State Parks Project, Part One

I made it a goal of mine last year to visit all of the Colorado State Parks. I’m not sure if it was a combination of me wanting to just explore the state more, or give myself something to do since I was no longer working or what … but it was an awesomely fun project. This is the first of two posts on the quest.

January 1, Cherry Creek State Park

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CCSP is also my “home” park. It’s about a six mile bike ride away. I raced my first triathlon there. I often run and ride there. It’s also where I go and catch a lot of sunrises. I figured there was no better way than to welcome in the new year by heading over and catching the sunrise.

Will I return?: Yes. I have often, and will continue to do so.

January 3, Barr Lake State Park

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Barr Lake isn’t too far away from DIA (although it’s actually kind of an annoying drive from Denver), and I went and caught the sunrise there. Wasn’t the best place to see the actual sun rise, but if you like watching airplanes, it’s not a bad place to go.

Will I return?: I’d like to. I guess there’s a seven mile long trail that circles the lake and I think it would be great for running.

January 12, St. Vrain State Park

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Most of the early state parks I tried to catch the sunrise at … because as we know, I’m a sunrise chaser. There was too much ambient light from the businesses by the interstate to get a good one here.

Will I return?: Probably not. I know there’s camping and fishing here, but not a lot of hiking, and that’s generally what I like to do at parks.

January 17, Boyd Lake State Park

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A makeshift hockey rink had been set up on Boyd Lake, which automatically endeared myself to it.

Will I return?: … unless I can be guaranteed some outside pond hockey, probably not.

January 29, Chatfield State Park

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I have ridden my bike into Chatfield more than I have ever driven into Chatfield … but I did see some good sunrises there last year. Less than I would have liked since it’s actually probably more of a drive than it’s worth to get there from the house and half the park is (was?) under construction.

Will I return?: Most likely. I really should try to hit up a few more sunrises there. I’ll also inevitably end up there on my bike at some point again, too.

February 24, Eldorado Canyon State Park

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Terrible place to catch the sunrise. I actually didn’t explore too much here, as I went there before a morning engagement in Boulder. Also the road was snow-covered and venturing too far into the park didn’t seem like a wise idea.

Will I return?: Yes. I’d love to go back and actually explore the park some more. I meant to in the summer, but it never happened.

March 2, Cheyenne Mountain State Park

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A sunrise trip where I left my poor sick husband in bed. Not a good place to catch the sunrise, but I got to hear morning reveille at Ft. Carson which was pretty cool.

Will I return?: Yes! So many trails I’d love to explore.

March 22, Golden Gate Canyon State Park

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I so hoped to get a good sunrise shot here, but by where the lake is in the park … it didn’t work out. Which was a total bummer, too, because the sky looked awesome on my drive back down into Golden.

Will I return?: Yes! I’d actually already technically been here before. However, I still haven’t managed to go hiking here. Next time. I promise.

May 2, Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area

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Stopped by to take a photo for this one on the drive back from renewing my National Parks pass. I love this area, so it was no sacrifice on my end. Also of note: first park I didn’t attempt at sunrise.

Will I return?: Absolutely. I love Salida, and I love rafting, and I’ve been rafting on this river/in this area before. I also would love to learn how to kayak one of these days …

May 9, Lory State Park

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The above is the shot that made the Instagrams, but I had an absolutely awesome golden hour shot (literally golden toned) that I still kind of regret not using. Made an extra early trip up to essentially Fort Collins before heading to pick up B at the airport.

Will I return?: I’d love to. So many fun trails to explore …

May 17, Roxborough State Park

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This was an insanely warm day in May … and I’m sometimes terribly unprepared for hiking (I was in Birks) … but this was a fun one. One of the close parks in the Denver metro area (not too terribly far from Chatfield, actually) but one that I had somehow missed and never gone to before.

Will I return?: Yes. In fact, I went back later that summer with B and hiked the same trail. Would love to go back and do some of the more advanced trails.

May 23, Castlewood Canyon State Park

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Another park that I’ve actually been to before, but one that I always enjoy hiking around.

Will I return?: Yes. And ideally I’ll actually head to the other end of the park and hike around there instead.

June 7, Staunton State Park

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Clearly by now you notice that I ideally like hiking to water … and I do whenever possible. This was one of the shortest hikes in the park, but it was pretty.

Will I return?: I would love to, especially for some of the longer hikes.

June 14, Mueller State Park

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Lost Pond, found. I had some adventure at this park – finding an open bathroom before I even started hiking, and then finding a trail that sounded interesting … it was a morning.

Will I return?: I would like to, yes. I enjoyed the small hike I did and would love to do some longer hiking as well.

June 14, Eleven Mile State Park

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From here on out, you’ll notice that I actually hit up quite a few parks on the same day. Some are grouped closely enough (and far enough away from home) that it made more sense to just knock out a whole bunch in one day. Mueller, Eleven Mile, and Spinney Mountain made sense to hit together, though I spent the most time at Mueller.

Will I return?: Unless I feel like renting a canoe/kayak … probably not. Although I could get in some nice OWS …

June 14, Spinney Mountain State Park

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You literally had to drive through Eleven Mile to get to Spinney Mountain, so obviously those two were getting clumped together. The drive to get to all of these was pretty awesome, and on my back through to the Springs (you head out on US 24 to access these parks), I actually saw a bear run across the road, so that was cool.

Will I return?: See above for Eleven Mile. Unless the husband wants to fish … probably not.

June 23, Jackson Lake State Park

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One of two state parks in the northeast corner of the state. There aren’t many on the eastern plains, which is a shame, because I feel like it’s an under-visited (read: boring) part of Colorado. Which it’s not – well, compared to mountains, I get it – but it has its own beauty.

Will I return?: Probably not. Not only was it a pain to get to (fun adventure, but still a pain), it didn’t really have the things in it that I’m interested in (hiking, mainly).

June 24, North Sterling State Park

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In theory, I was supposed to race a tri here, but I ended up not feeling it. That definitely wasn’t the park’s fault, though.

Will I return?: I’d actually like to. Whether to try the same race again, or just to visit, I actually liked this one more than Jackson Lake. Although hopefully there will be fewer gnats swarming next time …

June 26, Sylvan Lake State Park

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The last on the list that I had visited before. Sylvan Lake is just outside of Vail and therefore somewhat accessible. I had previously visited the prior October, before the lake went under construction, and did a nice hike around it.

Will I return?: I’d like to. I’m sure there are more trails than just the one around the lake, and I’d like to find them.

July 5, Rifle Falls State Park

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For my birthday, I wanted to hit up a few more parks, and there’s a cluster of three just outside of Rifle. As I love waterfalls … that was the plan. I got to do a nice hike to the falls (although you could park at a much closer lot and just walk to them). There are also some fun little caves around the falls that were fun to explore.

Will I return?: I’d like to! This was definitely one of my favorite parks … but that could be just because I’m a sucker for waterfalls.

July 5, Harvey Gap State Park

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(forgive the fact that I’m in pretty much all of the July photos and in different outfits; #31daysofSkirtSports is a thing in my world and I did a lot of outfit changes …)

The lake here was super low, possibly because of drought, or because of usage. Or both.

Will I return?: Doubtful. Looked kind of boring and also looked like it didn’t get a lot of funding in general.

July 5, Rifle Gap State Park

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I would have actually considered swimming here had not the air quality been so bad due to fires. Also technically should have been the first park visited as you pass by its entrance prior to both Rifle Falls and Harvey Gap, but we went to the furthest park first and then worked our way back out (opposite of how I did Mueller/Eleven Mile/Spinney Mountain).

Will I return?: Probably not, but I can’t say for sure.

A Week In Vegas

I spent the first week of the new year in Las Vegas. B had an overnight there on the 31st and we were planning on being there the subsequent weekend for some college hockey … so instead of me flying in and out of LA twice and driving his car back and forth across the desert, we just decided to have me drive out and live there for a week.

(As I also wanted to get my first full week of Ironman training down, this was a much better plan.)

I left on December 30th and drove to St. George, Utah, where I spent the night at a Fairfield. And had a band-aid (or breathe right strip, or SOMETHING) in my shower. And the hotel did very little about it (disappointing, because that’s gross).

The 31st, I woke up pretty early and drove the last little bit into Las Vegas. I found a gym to swim at and then found a Target to go pay my bill at. I wanted to paint my nails, but since that’s not something you really do in a public place (smells) and I didn’t want to pay for a manicure … I just decided to do it in my car since hey, I had nothing else to do until B got in. I also read a book at the same time and that took up several hours.

At this point, I was fairly hangry, so I drove over to the MGM Grand, parked, and went into their food court and ate a Raising Cane’s knockoff that was pretty terrible. I then went back to the car to time it so I got to B’s tower at the Signature the same time he did. This worked well. Both of us were still pretty hungry, so I showered, we got changed, and we headed over to the Bellagio just to eat their buffet for New Year’s Eve (didn’t want something SUPER fancy or to fight with reservations).

As they were closing down the Strip for the festivities after we finished, we got to walk back free of crowds down the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard, which was pretty cool.

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Yay NYE!

Tub beers, and then bed after we saw the east coast ball drop.

We woke up pretty early on January 1st (not easy since the midnight fireworks definitely woke us both up). I was hoping to catch the sunrise … which I technically did, but it was crap. Our run wasn’t bad, but it was surprisingly cold for Vegas.

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The Venetian, nice and quiet and pretty.

We grabbed some coffee at Starbucks and then headed over to the Cosmopolitan for breakfast at Eggslut (and a donut at District Doughnuts).

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Fun chairs.

We didn’t have too much time back at the hotel before B had to leave, but enough time to spend some together.

He left, and I packed up and headed to Cafe Lola to get a lot of stuff done and spend a few hours. I started off with one of their amazing cappuccinos and, I forget the name of it, but some outstanding Portuguese pastry.

I stayed so long that I ended up eating lunch there, too.

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Mmm, salad.

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Newest tiny adorable dinosaur Sprout on their couch.

Sometime mid-afternoon, I headed over to the house of a pilot friend of B’s who lives in North Las Vegas, my home base for the next few days. Said friend and his wife were only around for a bit, as they have Vegas Golden Knights season tickets and there was a game that night, but one of their sons was in town for the holidays, so I hung out with him and his boyfriend (and the dog, Reggie) that night. Dinner was some insanely massive calzone from a pizza place nearby.

I woke on the 2nd much later than I would have liked, but whatever. Clearly I needed some sleep after a very stressful holiday season. I went and swam … and was very hangry during/after, so I ate brunch at a breakfast place near the house called the Cracked Egg.

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Menu.

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Foooood. Got the avocado for some green and ended up making my own avocado toast. It was pretty delicious.

I did a bike ride that afternoon and then did a lot of admin stuff at the house before venturing back out for food (and chamois cream). The drive took me over to Summerlin for the bike shop … and dinner just ended up being at a Whole Foods. I did, however, decide to try the cookie shop that was right near the Cracked Egg – Crumbl Cookies.

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They had oatmeal chocolate chip, which I was super excited about since that’s my favorite cookie and hard to find … but it had the spices of an oatmeal raisin cookie, which, IMHO, don’t belong when you swap the raisins out for the superior chocolate chips. The chocolate chip cookie was SO GOOD – definitely the best of the three I tried. The sugar cookie wasn’t bad … but too much frosting. I am barely a frosted sugar cookie person as it is, so frosting basically the same thickness of the cookie? Too much sugar.

Woke up the 3rd and kind of lazed around … so much so, that I had to scrap my original planned run location and find a park closer to McCarran so that I would be able to pick B up on time. I could see the planes landing at the park, so when I got the text from B that they were descending, I could keep an eye out for his plane (and did indeed see it). Thankfully, though, I was able to finish my run as planned and pick him up without him waiting too terribly long for me.

We went to Cafe Lola after I picked him up because he was not NOT going to have one of their cappuccinos himself. I had another of the Portuguese egg pastries and he had some of their oatmeal.

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On the swing outside.

From there, we found a much better trail and went for a ride. Grabbed a quick bite after before heading to the Bellagio (our happy home for the rest of the trip). We showered, walked over to T Mobile Arena to purchase tickets for the Ice Vegas Invitational (whole reason we planned the trip), and then met up with his cousin and his husband over at the brand new Eataly that opened up outside of Park MGM.

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Mmm, pizza.

Woke up on the 4th, ate at the buffet for breakfast (we found a package that gave us breakfast credits every day), got coffee … and I threw $40 into a slot (Heidi’s Bier Haus) and cashed out with $205. Nice morning. We then drove out to Henderson to ride some more. There’s a trail that got meh reviews due to the nature of it being pretty much right by the highway, but we thought the Union Pacific Railroad Trail was actually quite nice to ride on. Sure, quite a bit of it WAS boring, but it ended up opening up on some other trail right outside of Boulder City and it got great. Very nice way to get in 20 miles.

Got a bit hangry after that, so just grabbed food at Chick-fil-a for some calories before heading back to the Strip. Showered, grabbed a cappuccino at Cafe Gelato inside the Bellagio, lost a bit at Heidi.

Dinner pre-hockey was at In-N-Out … where we amusingly sat in the same booth we sat in back in September with our friends Blair and Jenna-Caer.

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Night at the Linq.

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Us at the game.

We skipped the first game of the night – Western Michigan vs. UConn – because all we really cared about was the Air Force/St. Lawrence game. Happily, Air Force won (and we got to see some sled hockey in intermission).

The 5th was another run day, so after another buffet breakfast, we drove back to the same park I ran in the other day. I wanted to go to the Cafe Lola pop-up shop in the Macy’s in Fashion Show, so we headed there after the run.

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Yes I’m obsessed.

Once we got back to the Bellagio, it was spa time which was vastly needed by both of us.

Afterwards, we headed down to the Vegas Golden Knights’ store to see if there was any merch for the tournament – unfortunately not.

We gambled a bit, grabbed some food, mostly stayed fairly chill.

A lot of this was because I had been feeling unsettled all day (and a bit the previous day too if we’re being honest). I finally just wondered if puking would help … and so I did that. First time I’ve thrown up in probably about six years (probably since my last concussion). It was gross, and it hurt (and I burst a blood vessel in my eyeball), but it did make me feel better, so mission success?

Dinner pre-game was at the buffet (ugh I know again) and then we got ourselves a nice treat of Ghiradelli sundaes.

Air Force unfortunately lost to Western Michigan, so our teams are currently 0-2 in championship games in tournaments in random places that we’ve traveled to. Thankfully UND doesn’t go anywhere this year for us to see them lose.

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Rainy T-Mobile reflections pre-game.

The original plan was to swim on our way out of town, but I still felt kind of crappy and I didn’t want to suction goggles over my weird eyeball … so that didn’t happen. We grabbed breakfast at Sadelle’s, a new restaurant in the Bellagio (off the conservatory, where Cafe Bellagio used to be), and then gambled a bit more before checking out. Which ended up being smart, since we both ended up winning a bit more.

We checked out, got coffee on our way out of town, stopped at Red Lobster in St. George for lunch, and drove through a lot of foggy crap to stop for the night in Grand Junction.

The drive home the next day was terrible thanks to a lot of snow (and an hour and a half to get through the tunnel), but overall, it was a nice trip to start the new year off on.

Tucson, January 2018

I seriously go to Tucson/Arizona enough at this point that I’m just titling these posts as to when I go. Which I’m pretty sure I’ve also intro’ed with before. *shrugs*

In any case … I had a serious, serious hankering for Mexican food. Not the green chile-based crap that you mostly find in Colorado. Oh no, I wanted the deliciousness I get in Tucson. As I don’t work … I felt like adventure. I was considering going on my own … but B wanted to come … so we went together.

We tried getting Hamilton tickets in the DCPA presale the morning of Monday, January 25th … but our random lottery numbers were way too far down. I also in theory had a Global Entry appointment that afternoon, but thanks to the government shutting down, that was also cancelled. So, we decided to get a bit more time in Tucson and bust out of town Monday.

Dinner was at K Bob’s in Las Vegas, N.M., and we stopped for the night in Albuquerque. Got up earlyish Tuesday morning and continued on driving. I mostly just snacked for lunch and dinner was at the glorious, wonderful Casa Molina. Cheese crisp, beer, bean burrito … and instead of a green corn tamale, I decided to try a chicken enchilada.

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It was pretty dang delicious.

After dinner, we met up with our friends Seton and Debbie for a drink at the Tucson Hop Shop … and to pick up Girl Scout cookies. Mmmm, Thin Mints.

We found out late Monday night that the government was reopening, so I called on Tuesday to try to reschedule my Global Entry appointment at DIA. Yeah, unless I wanted to walk in that day, they weren’t going to help. I got on the site to reschedule when we got to our hotel … and the next appointment in Denver? July. Not helpful. I checked Tucson … February 3. Also not particularly helpful. However, I saw a spot for Nogales (the border) … they had a ton of spots open. I picked an early spot for the next morning.

So, Wednesday morning, we woke up early, got breakfast at the hotel, stopped for coffee, and then took I-19 south out of Tucson to Nogales, Ariz., just at the border. 20 minutes later, Global Entry appointment was taken care of, easy peasy.

We stopped at Mission San Xavier del Bac on our drive back to Tucson. I’m pretty sure I’d been there before – I did have a great-aunt who was a nun, after all – but I definitely didn’t remember it. So, we stopped.

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The Mission is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona, which is pretty dang cool. It also still has Mass to this day, even as they continue to renovate it. Plus we saw a few crested saguaro on the drive, so that automatically made it worthwhile.

After, we drove back to Tucson to pick up a tote bag at a visitor’s center that I won off the @visittucson Instagram feed, Bookman’s to check out the used books, and then some In-n-Out Burger for lunch.

Afterward, we spent some relaxing time by the pool (even though Tucson was kind of cold … well … comparatively) before heading off to Saguaro National Park. We picked up a few items at the Visitor’s Center (because it’s been closed most every other time we’ve been), went for a short run, and then caught the sunset – something I’ve been trying to do for a while.

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B and saguaro.

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Crested!

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Sunset.

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Almost doesn’t look real.

Pics taken, we did our standard Tucson meal for dinner – Eegee’s (where I tried their flavor of the month – prickly pear – and it was weird), a stop at Wienerschnitzel for fries and good ketchup, and then Lucky Wishbone. I got my usual shrimp, but B actually decided to try their fried chicken:

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It was surprisingly good.

While tasty as always, I think I might actually be able to skip Lucky Wishbone next trip. And only mooch off of B’s eeg.

Headed out early the next morning and decided to do the whole drive in one day.

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New Mexico state monument as seen off a rest stop somewhere near Truth or Consequences. Have always wondered what it was for. Monument was closed. Remains a mystery.

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El Camino Family Restaurant, Socorro, N.M. (no web site). Lunch stop. Average BLT. Glad I got cheese on my fries.

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We get bored, we take selfies. Okay, I do.

Dinner to make it quick and easy was Golden Corral in Pueblo, Colo.

Short little jaunt, but always nice to head to Tucson for a visit.