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.

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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.

T and B Do Italy: April 13-15

B and I recently came back from a 10 day trip to Italy, and it was amazing. I hadn’t been in 20 years and B had never been … and we’d been discussing this trip for years so we FINALLY bit the bullet and did it. As I currently have it outlined, I should be able to get the trip done in five posts – four for the trip and one for the food. This is the second of those posts.

Friday, April 13:

I weirdly woke up this morning with a rash on my forearms that ended up spreading elsewhere on my body. I hoped it was just heat rash (though how *that* would have developed, I have no clue) and that it would go away in a few days.

(thankfully, it did.)

We ate breakfast at the hotel before checking out and wandering to take the metro to Milano Centrale so we could catch a train to Venice. We got to the station way earlier than we needed which meant cappuccino time (and we split a croissant).

The train trip itself was fairly uneventful. As I was without a book (boooo), I mostly just watched the scenery roll by … and it was pretty gorgeous. Got a glimpse of a lake near Verona and kind of wished I was on that side of the train so I could have gotten a picture.

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B on the train. We bought first class tickets for all our train trips – it had been recommended to us and it was totally the way to go.

We got into Venice and I was on Google maps trying to figure out where to go when we got accosted by a dude with a porter “helping” with our bags to a water taxi … when I totally actually wanted the water bus.

The ride was nice …

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Gondola as seen from the water taxi.

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Hanging out in the back.

… but it wasn’t 90 fucking euros nice. (20 for the porter who carried our bags 50 yards and 70 for the taxi. I didn’t tip the driver even though I probably should have. He can bitch to the asshole who directed us to him.) It was our one mistake on the trip and I am still kicking myself over it as you can tell. ARGH.

Once again, we were basically able to check into our hotel right away … which seemed really weird for both of us. We figured it was because we weren’t traveling during peak tourist season, but who knows, really.

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Tiny room. The cube shower was what I think of when I think of European showers – just enough room to clean yourself.

We changed clothes and then headed right back out to find food and wander around. I had major issues with Google maps and their directions finding lunch and combine that frustration along with hangry-ness and it was the first (and only!) time on the trip that we got really close to snapping at each other.

Pro tip: If you buy an international data plan and use the Google … ignore their directions. Streets change willy-nilly and trying to find street signs will just cause undue anxiety. Instead, follow the little blue dot line on the map and navigate that way. While it might seem like you’re using up ALL OF THE DATA … trust me, you aren’t. My plan gave me a gig of data and I didn’t even come close to using up half of it over this trip. Of course, I also threw it into airplane mode and used WiFi when it was available to be safe.

We eventually stumbled upon the lunch place B found on the interwebs as one of the best places to eat at … it wasn’t bad. We discovered the Ponte di Rialto during that adventure and found it crawling with tourists.

Post-lunch, we grabbed some gelato and then it was off to St. Mark’s Square.

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Down a canal.

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St. Mark’s Square.

We chose not to worry about going in.

Our next stop was all for me – the Libreria Acqua Alta. I had seen photos and I had to get some of my own. It was amazing.

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The book steps that are all over Pinterest. Bad lighting to get photos of a person on them, though, so sad day for that.

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This fire exit sign cracked me up.

From there, we kind of got turned around and ended up in a part of town we didn’t necessarily want to be in … but since Venice is so tiny, no harm no foul. We next found our way to the San Zaccaro church and its flooded crypt.

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Difficulties of being in a city that’s essentially sinking.

From there, we found our way to a gluten-free shop our friends Norm and Emily who went to Italy this past November visited. Norm asked us to pick up something as a favor for Emily’s birthday which is coming up soon, so we did that.

Then off to the hotel to chill out for a bit before venturing back out to dinner. I had read that you wanted to hit up the Rialto at sunset, so I snuck out of dinner to do so … didn’t get any good sunset shots, but I did get an evening Venice shot off the bridge.

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Saturday, April 14:

So you know how I mentioned above that I read that you wanted to hit up the Rialto at sunset? Well, I actually meant sunset AND sunrise. I’m not completely sure as to *why* that’s a recommendation, as the lighting wasn’t amazing at either … but sunrise was a fantastic time to hit up the bridge because it was EMPTY.

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Could not have gotten this shot during the day. Or at night. Or any other time.

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Okay, so the lighting wasn’t *completely* terrible at sunrise …

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Yours truly.

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Absolutely no way I could have gotten this during the day or the night prior.

Completely worth waking up for.

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Mossy steps leading into the Grand Canal. Rialto is behind me, for reference.

Our next stop was the Ponte di Chiodo – the bridge with no parapet. It is one of two bridges in Venice left that doesn’t have a handrail and, I’m not going to lie, it was a little weird walking down it.

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Completely glad we went looking for it, though.

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Street view from the bridge.

Last main thing I wanted to see in Venice seen, we popped back to the hotel to grab a few euros for a cappuccino at a cafe we saw open and then BACK to the hotel to shower, pack up, and eat breakfast.

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View from our window, looking down.

We then took the water bus we were SUPPOSED TO TAKE IN THE FIRST PLACE back to the train station.

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Seen on the ride.

Then, at the train station, it was time to sit around and wait for our train to Florence.

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I saw donuts. I totally bought one, too.

We took a different train company up to Florence – Italo as opposed to the TrenItalia Frecciarossa. Wasn’t necessarily better or worse – just different.

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We did sit next to each other though as opposed to being across from each other.

Florence, thankfully, was completely easier to navigate than Venice … although that could also be due to the map trick from above. In any case, made it to the hotel just fine … and once again, checked in right away.

Room was super nice – we got a balcony!

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Just chilling in the sunshine.

Our location was wonderful – on the banks of the Arno, just one bridge down from the Ponte Vecchio. We got settled in, I figured out how much data I had been using (I was worried after the Venice navigational nightmares), set up alerts (which is how I know I barely used any on this trip since I got no alerts) … and ended up napping. Oops.

Woke up around 3:30p and decided to wander around. We got gelato at some place B found on the interwebs as supposedly amazing (eh).

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And clearly upgraded to two flavors.

In our simple wandering, we found our way to the Plaza dell’Accademia as well as the Duomo, so it’s nice that everything is easily navigable that way as well. We went back to the hotel where B proceeded to nap and I killed the last of my nook battery. Dinner was takeaway pizza from the BEST PIZZA PLACE EVER (no, seriously, it may have surpassed T’s for me), Gusta Pizza.

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He’s so happy.

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Om nom nom.

This was one of the best moments of the trip – eating delicious, authentic pizza (owners are from Naples) on our own private balcony in Florence.

I tried to catch the sunset after dinner, but it was too hazy to be really good.

Sunday, April 15:

I woke up at 3:30a … probably due to my nap the day previous. Oops. It ended up being okay, however, as we went running pre-dawn up to the Piazzale Michelangelo to try to catch the sunrise and get views of the city.

We didn’t get a sunrise, but we did get amazing views.

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B hanging out.

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Us.

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See? Amazing views.

We also ended up chatting with some Italian locals (well, kind of – he was from Turin originally) who we’re pretty sure were still up from the night before. Heh.

Ran back to the hotel, grabbing some more euros out of an ATM along the way.

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And a shot of the Ponte Vecchio, clearly.

We ate breakfast at the hotel when we got back, showered, and wandered around, stumbling upon the Florence Half-Marathon along the way.

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We had seen signs for it in our hotel’s elevators … and I didn’t think until later to look up if they had other distances. I am not in half shape by any means, but I totally could have done the non-competitive 8K. Plus it was cheap. Dangit.

One thing B really wanted to do was to go to (Catholic) mass while we were in Italy, so we found a church with an English speaking service and went (totally my first time going to mass in like two years). We also got roped into doing the readings which was a touch awkward.

Wandered around a bit more after church and grabbed some paninis for lunch which we ate near the Duomo.

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All in all, though, it was a pretty lazy day. I was almost successful in not napping that afternoon (almost). We did find a great place for dinner and did the full three (four?) course thing and pretty much rolled out of the restaurant (more on that when I do the food blog).

On 2017

You got to see most of the year unfold here, but all in all, it was a pretty good one.

– I saw two movies in the theaters, “Hidden Figures” and “Patriot’s Day.”

– I saw two shows – “The Secret Garden” here in Denver and “Le Reve” in Las Vegas.

– I traveled fairly extensively. Grand Forks, N.D., in February. Road-tripped to Albuquerque, N.M., in March. Road-tripped to Tucson, Ariz., in April. Boston, Mass., Los Angeles, Calif., and Las Vegas, Nev. in May. Indianapolis, Ind., in July. Road-tripped to Tucson again in August, as well as flew to Minneapolis, Minn. Back to Minnesota in early September, only to get stuck and drive back home through the night. Road-tripped in September through Utah and Sacramento en route to Santa Cruz, Calif., coming back home through Las Vegas. Also went to Atlanta, Ga., that same month. Los Angeles again in October. Road-tripped to Tempe, Ariz., in November, driving back through Tucson. Las Vegas again in December, but driving there after flying to Los Angeles.

– I saw the last of B’s foursome of college friends get married (the Georgia trip).

– I saw my dad go through cancer.

– I quit my job in May.

– I gained some weight and lost a little.

– We picked up curling.

– I saw three concerts – Shinedown twice (both out of state) and Apocalyptica.

– I spent a lot of time in the mountains.

– I made a few new friends.

– I started to catch a lot of sunrises.

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Taken December 31st at Cherry Creek State Park.

All in all, once again, it was a good year with quite a bit of life changes. This next year will include a bit of the same (different travel, but probably still a lot of it, sunrises, mountains, friends), but with no more foreseeable huge life changes. Hopefully.

On Tucson in August

I went to Tucson at the beginning of the month so I could go to tri camp.

I drove down a day early, on August 2nd, so I didn’t have to rush getting to the first swim session on time.

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Driving.

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This really doesn’t do the clouds justice.

Tucson was still in monsoon season – or at least the tail end – and I experienced rain on my drive in. I don’t believe I have ever seen the desert that green – or, at the very least, have ever experienced it humid, which it was. Completely crazy. I texted my dad about it, and he said the best thing about the desert post-rain is the smell, and it did smell amazing, even by my hotel.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures during camp – my main focus was to get through it, and I did that. I did get to experience a new part of the region, though, in Sonoita and Parker Canyon Lake. The latter, about two hours southeast of Tucson, was like being in a whole other state. The saguaro? Didn’t exist down there. I felt like I saw more trees than cacti.

Post-camp, B came down so we got to spend a day together. Before I picked him up from the airport, I stopped for breakfast at Bisbee Breakfast Club.

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Menu. I had the Daredevil.

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Food.

I wanted pretty standard, so I went with pretty standard, but it was good. I’d go again to try something a bit more fancy for sure.

After I picked up B, we mostly just drove around. Neither of us wanted a crazy day (plus it was hot … that summer in the desert thing …), so it worked out. I showed him a lot of what I did in camp, which included driving where we rode at Gates Pass.

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You get a sense of how green everything is here. We even saw some blooms still on the saguaro, which is RIDICULOUS.

Besides driving around, I also wanted to bring home some green corn tamales for the family. I found a different place to try – La Mesa Tortillas – which was the smart move. Their tamales are so much better than Tucson Tamale Company (in my opinion), and their tortillas are to die for. Seriously. We bought some on a whim and it was the best decision.

We decided on a nicer dinner, so chose El Corral. I’m pretty sure I’d been there before, but it was probably somewhere back in the early 1990s, so I didn’t remember too much about it.

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We started off with their spinach artichoke dip, which had too much spinach in it to be good. Would not recommend (unless you like more of a spinach dip) or get again. For dinner, so many things looked good. Ultimately, B got their prime rib (delicious), and his baked potato was one of the best I’ve had. I got a combo, with mesquite grilled chicken (just a tad too heavy on the pepper; otherwise perfect) and their baby back ribs (cooked well; just didn’t like their BBQ sauce).

The main reason we chose them over another steakhouse we were looking at was solely for dessert. They had a mud pie on the menu, and a good, proper mud pie is hard to find.

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Not bad. Too much chocolate mousse, not enough cookie crust.

We were going to split it, but then B realized that the seasonal fruit cobbler was peach, so he ended up with that instead.

We met up with our TriSports friends Seton and Debbie after dinner at a local pub for a drink (well, B drank) as a great way to close out the trip.

The next day, a nice long drive back home with a killer sunrise.

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