Our Everyday Adventures is a blog dedicated to living life to the fullest. It’s one couples journey through everyday life. This blog is about taking time out of our busy schedules to enjoy the little things. It’s about finding adventures in unlikely places, and not taking anything for granted. So pull up a chair, and join Jake and Veronica on their Everyday Adventures. If you like what you see, feel free to subscribe using the link on the left hand side of the page. And if you’d like to contact the authors directly send us a note here.
As fall sets in once again my anxiety for the winter starts to peek through. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter and all the snowy activities that go with it. But, I know it will be here all too soon, and I’d like to hold onto those longer days with warm weather. I haven’t biked nearly as much as I’d hoped. I haven’t hiked quite as far as I’d planned on, and I haven’t just sat on a patch of grass while eating a slice of watermelon quite as many times as I’d like to. My subconscious knows that when winter sets in here in Leadville, that’s it for the next 7 months or so.
While fall is foreshadowing the change of weather to come, it’s also been a time for change for Veronica and I. A couple months ago we purchased our second house together. While we’ve owned the house for a couple months, we just moved in a couple weeks ago as it was being remodeled before that. Moving into any new home is always an adventure; but this house (built in the 1800’s) brought its own set of challenges and quirkiness. While there were several small adjustments we needed to make in this new house, we were fortunate to find a house with lots of updates and relatively level floors, something fairly unique in Leadville.
This fall had a little more change in store for us as well. We’ve decided to finally take the leap and get our first dog together. It seems like every person we know has a dog, and when meeting strangers they’ve asked what kind of dog we have… Not, “do you have a dog” but “What kind”. Veronica was happy to simply pick a dog by its picture; however I took the much more scientific approach and took one of those dog quizzes that match our wants in a dog to a breed. Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is the breed that came up. Gentle temperament, intelligent, active and energetic, little shedding, good with kids… Seemed like a perfect match! So, I did a little more research to see if any were at a shelter, or if anyone had a litter. The only breeder in the state lived a quick ½ hour from us and was expecting a litter within a week of us finding him. So, we took the plunge, and signed up for one of the pups. In November we’ll finally be dog owners. Any advice you might have for a couple novice dog owners would be GREATLY appreciated!
On our recent bike tour in Ireland there were a few pieces of equipment that proved invaluable. Garmin Etrex 20 with Ireland street maps. Gore-Tex pants and jackets. Waterproof bike panniers. Had we forgot anything else on our trip we would have been fine, but those three items were absolutely essential. Veronica and I each had a set of waterproof panniers. In one set we kept all our clothes, while the other set had everything else, tire change kit, extra water, food, bungee cords, bike lights, etc… I carried the Pacific Outdoor Equipment panniers and Veronica carried the Detours Georgetown panniers. Each set was waterproof, and each set retailed for about the same amount.
The Detours Georgetown panniers were by far our favorite. From the shoulder strap that allowed the bags to be carried with ease while not on the bike (quite a bit of time around train stations and airports) to the quick on/off racking mechanisms, the bags were superior in every respect. The bags seem to be ideal for a wet commute and were just a hair on the small side for a two week long bike tour. To be fair, Veronica and I only utilized rear panniers; however I would think four of these bags for one person would be more than adequate for a two week tour. It would be nice in the future to see different sizes offered, but if you’re looking for a good set of bags for your next tour or better yet, a set of bags for your commute, the Georgetown panniers won’t disappoint.
As the sixth and last stage of the GORE-TEX® Trans Rockies Run (TRR) came to a close today I thought about what I wanted to close my coverage with. LOTS of cool topics came time mind such as what “camp life” is like for an event like this; or what is it that brings some competitors back year after year while others are content to run it once and move on to other challenges and other adventures. There’s certainly dozens of inspirational personal stories I could tell, such as the couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary by running a 125 miles race together after the doctor said he would be lucky to walk again a few years ago after getting T-boned in his car. But, as the race draws to a close I’d like to reflect on just three quick questions I’ve been asked recently, 1.) What’s with all the stuffed animals on peoples packs? Do they really need the extra weight? 2.) A tow rope, really? Couldn’t you find a partner that was equal to your athleticism? 3.) Why on earth would someone pay any amount of money to get their ass kicked for a week?
Hitchhikers. The toys, trinkets, note cards, stuffed animals and other useless junk carried by racers. Useless, at least, in the mind of the observer. These hitchhikers are actually a huge morale boost to the runners. From a child’s favorite toy, to a team mascot, every hitchhiker has a story behind it. One team carried stuffed gophers to represent their home of Saskatchewan. One glance at the crazy animal on their teammates back brought a smile to each other’s faces and lightened an otherwise lousy mood. Another team carried notecards laminated and dangling off the back of their backpack, each one with an inspiring quote or word of encouragement to keep going when they felt like quitting. Whatever the story, these hitchhikers are easily considered worth their weight in gold!
Short Roping or Towing. Seeing a couple running down a dusty trail tethered to each other by a short piece of surgical tubing is quite an odd sight until you figure out its purpose. The first time I saw this I scratched my head thinking it was some sort of cruel joke or a bet gone bad. “If my team beats your team today, you guys have to run the race tied to each other tomorrow!” The tether actually serves a brilliant purpose. Relieving a small amount of effort from one team mate by utilizing some of the other teammate’s “extra” energy. It helps balance a team’s energy reserves, an important factor when racing a multi-day stage race. And instead of simply picking the strongest matched partner, it allows teammates to race together that are otherwise not equally balanced in terms of the energy equation. For more really good info on towing, and when and how to incorporate it into your team races check out this blog from Salomon Running.
$$$ WHY $$$ As you know by now, the TRR is a 6-day trail running race. It’s all inclusive: meals are provided, transportation can be arranged, tents are setup and tore down each night; really, all you need to do is show up and run. The race is run exceptionally well, but it does command a fairly steep entry fee of around $1,000 per person for the entire event. So why on earth would anyone pony up so much cash just to get their ass kicked on the trail day after day? The answer is simple, no pain no gain, and this is a heck of a good time! The comradery and sense of accomplishment achieved through this race is like none other. By the end of the race, you’ll be feeling beat down and like a million bucks at the same time. If $1,000 sounds steep, consider this: How much does a 6-day vacation cost you anywhere else? With food, lodging, transportation, entertainment, ect…? Put your mind to doing it and that’s it. Do it! Make it happen. While the experience I had this year was merely camp life, taking pictures, and posting updates, I have been extremely inspired by everyone. Biking around the course, seeing everyone start off each morning and come across the finish line grinning from ear to ear; I’m absolutely considering paying the entry fee and joining the race next year with my wife. This is coming from someone who’s only run about 3-miles on trail and is much more of a cyclist than a runner. But if someone from sea level Florida who has only the hot Everglades to train in, I sure as heck can get my butt on the trail over the next 12-months and get in good enough shape. Here’s some coverage from Stage-6 today. Enjoy!
Stage 5, 23.6 miles, 4,200 feet of elevation gain, one of the most challenging stages of the 6-day Trans Rockies Run. While a gunshot signals the start of another leg of the race for the runners, to many, that same gunshot signals the start of a turbo charged migration of gear, equipment, and personnel. While the racers are out jumping over logs, crossing streams and charging up and down mountains; a small army of volunteers is rapidly breaking down camp, the starting/finishing gates, and shuttling everything to a new base camp. It’s cliché to say this, but it’s true, the volunteers of the Trans Rockies run are the lifeblood of this race. Without them, the event certainly wouldn’t be possible.
While it would seem challenging to get people to volunteer to tear down then re-setup 200+ tents, hand out water at check stations, and pick up trash accidentally dropped on the trail; it’s actually a tough gig to land if you’re thinking of stepping up as a volunteer. While a small army is needed to keep the wheels of the race in motion, most of the volunteers commit to returning year after year after year. While they often don’t get the opportunity to run even a mile of the race, they keep coming back because of the bonds they’ve built over the years with racers and with the other volunteers. That’s just how the Trans Rockies run is. The community of racers AND volunteers is so tight, the majority of the competitors AND volunteers that I’ve met are returning race veterans. In fact, several have been doing this every year of the races 6-year history. Here’s a quick video from Stage 5 action today, including several shots of the volunteers that keep this ship from sinking! Thanks Team!!
Nearly an hour before sunrise, my alarm went off and I crawled out of my sleeping bag to find myself completely immersed in the Trans Rockies Run (TRR). Although the competitors range from full time sponsored athletes to weekend warrior trail runners, the TRR is a little Shangri La at the top of the Rockies. It’s a little slice of heaven, a chunk of nirvana. It’s what so many runners eagerly await all winter and train all summer for. There I stood, still half asleep, in line for breakfast rubbing shoulders with a brotherhood of trail runners I was only beginning to understand. Although I was joining the TRR close to half way through the six day event, every single racer I talked with cheerfully welcomed me into their clan. It didn’t matter that I had never run a marathon, and hadn’t even run a mile of the TRR, the family of trail striders was quick to take me under their wing, answer my ignorant questions, and share their passion for running.
A gunshot signaled 8:00 a.m. and the start of Stage 4. This stage consisted of 14.1 miles, and 2,900 vertical feet of elevation gain. At the end waited the promise of margaritas and fish tacos at Mango’s in Red Cliff, Colorado. Steep vertical rises, narrow single track, miles of loose cobble, and several river crossings comprised the day’s obstacles. While covering the race, I got my feet wet, both metaphorically and physically. My goal was to shadow the runners on my mountain bike. I’d take “strategic” shortcuts to cut off the pack, snap some photos, and then hop back on my bike to leap frog ahead again. Eight miles of my route would take me on an old abandoned rail line. The track was beautiful, but hard to ride as it was full of loose scree and steep drop offs. At one point a beaver dammed a nearby creek and I was forced to ride through in 2-foot water. I had already forded a fairly large creek earlier in the day, so having wet feet wasn’t new. Arriving at the finish line through the backdoor, I realized no racers had crossed yet, so I rode up to meet them. Several miles later I came to Checkpoint 3, just in time to see team La Sportiva flying around the corner, not even blinking at the checkpoint.
Nearly an hour later the bulk of the pack came pouring out of the forest with wet feet. From Checkpoint 3 a mere two mile dash downhill lay between them and the finish line at Mango’s in Red Cliff where fish tacos and a much needed cool dip in the creek awaited. Check out the video I took of today’s race here:
120-miles of trail running over 6 days. The GORE-TEX® Trans Rockies Run is a stage running race that starts in Buena Vista, Colorado and ends in Beaver Creek. 180 teams of two and 100 solo runners are currently taking on one of the most enjoyable, yet challenging trail running races in the nation.
For this year’s race, I’ve been invited to immerse myself in the Trans Rockies community of athletes and write about what I experience. I’ll be joining the race at Stage 3 of 6, and will be living with the runners over the next 4 days.
Stage run races are similar to stage bike races such as the Tour de France. Each day starts a new leg of the race. Many of the teams-of-two compete for the fastest time, and high stakes prize money ($20,000 is up for grabs this year), while other teams simply compete for new personal bests and bragging rights that they completed one of the most grueling high altitude races in the world.
Throughout the 6-day race teams will gain nearly 25,000 feet of elevation while reaching altitudes of over 12,500 feet. Stage 3 (where I will be joining the race) is a gorgeous 24.1 mile run from downtown Leadville to Camp Hale, summiting Tennessee Pass at an elevation of 10,918 feet. Total elevation gain for the day will be 2,674feet.
My hope is that you’ll enjoy this race coverage, and will be inspired to push beyond your current comfort zones. Here’s a video clip of the start of Stage 3 this morning. And other of Stage 3 action.
The Emerald Isle: a fitting name for a place that gets nearly 55-inches of rain per year, just shy of the 68+ inches that would classify it as a rainforest. Although we came expecting rain, and were content with a little moisture falling on our trip, the weather as a whole wasn’t too bad. Highs around 65, lows around 55; pretty ideal temperatures for biking considering most of the U.S. was pushing triple digits. In fact, if you can get over the rain, Ireland is setup perfectly for bike touring. In general, the topography is mild (although we did curse a few of the steep hills), the back roads have little to no traffic, the locals are extremely friendly and very bike conscious while driving (although most still think you’re mad for cycling around the country). Compared to the Western U.S., the towns are located fairly close to each other and the entire country can be biked in a few weeks fairly easily. And most importantly, EVERY community has a pub, even if they don’t have a single place that serves food. If you’re looking for something new to do, bike touring in Ireland will not disappoint.
Veronica and I landed in Dublin and took a taxi straight to the bike rental shop. With bikes under our feet, we navigated to our first nights’ accommodation; a quaint little B&B just outside of the downtown area. In fact, every night during the trip we stayed in a different town and a different B&B. B&B’s are prolific in Ireland, and while you can find hotels and hostels in bigger towns, B&B’s were often our only option. We did venture around the country with reservations which had its pros and cons. On one hand, it removed some of the spontaneity, but on the other hand, there’s no way we would have found ½ the B&Bs we stayed in without first finding them online and on more than a few occasions, every room in the B&B and sometimes the entire town was booked because of a local concert, golf tournament, or some other special event. Furthermore, being a Verizon customer in the U.S., our cell phones were useless overseas, which would have made it pretty difficult to call around for availability.
We started planning our route several months in advance, some with the help of guide books, but mostly with Google Earth. Before the trip we purchased a new model Etrex 20 (with upgradable memory card slot and color maps) and a memory chip that had every road in the UK and Ireland. From the comfort of the computer at home, we carefully planned out our cycle route to be off the beaten path. These back roads were certainly the highlight of our trip with amazing scenery and nonexistent traffic. We found ourselves cycling extra slow on these sections rather than pounding out the miles, solely so we could enjoy the journey. And when we couldn’t avoid the traffic altogether, it was fairly easy to maneuver around in traffic since many of the larger roads had bike lanes.
We traveled with a combination of bike, bus, and train, using the latter to cover sections that were farther than we wanted to bike. The Bus Eireann system was super easy to navigate. Bikes, which are charged an extra, usually arbitrary fee, go in the under carriage. You can usually fit them standing upright strapped to a pole, but you need to bring your own straps or bungee cords. And while not very cheap, it was our only option to cover long distances in a reasonable amount of time. In case you’re interested here’s our exact route from town to town: Pickup bikes in Dublin; bus to Cashel; bike to Cahir; bus to Limerick; bike to Bunratty; bike to Ennis; bike to Lisdoonvarna; bike to Kinvara; bike to Galway; bus to Donegal; bus to Letterkenny; bike to Londonderry; bike to Portrush; bike to Ballycastle; bike to Glenarm; bike to Larne; train to Belfast; train to Dublin. All in all we covered about 250 miles on bike in about 15 days.
Castles, abbey’s, historic ruins, whiskey distillery and beer brewery tours, natural wonders, gorgeous scenery; of all we did, saw, or biked past we continually get asked, “What was your favorite part of the trip?” The answer? All of it! The experience as a whole was magical. I wouldn’t have changed a second. Not even the rain, because through adversity memories that last a lifetime are created. Ten years from now, I may not remember much of the Giants Causeway, but I’ll remember the tire we changed seconds before the sky unleashed one of the most torrential downpours I’ve ever been in! Memories like that are the reason we chose to see Ireland by bike. Yes, you can see more country in less time in a car and I’m sure you’ll have a great time, but it’s a very different experience. Having traveled extensively by car, we were ready for something different – we wanted to see, feel, smell and savor the trip rather! And although there were times we wanted to push the bikes out into busy traffic or over the edge of a cliff and into the ocean, we would absolutely do it again.
All our bags are packed, we’re ready to go…. Tomorrow, Veronica and I embark on a trip of a lifetime. One of those bucket-list trips everyone dreams about. Or so we’ve been told. To us, we’re simply making it happen. We’ve scrimped and saved, and have been planning each detail for over a year. Ireland by bike. At least, that’s the simple but appropriate title of one of the many guide books we’ve used to plan for the trip. ”Cycle touring in Ireland” by Cicerone press, Lonely Planet guide to “Ireland”, Keyguide to “Ireland”, just a few more of the guide books we’ve been using for the past year to plan our “epic” journey around the Emerald Isle.
350 miles over 15 days. An average of about 23-miles per day. Very easy and very doable by most peoples standards. But what a way to see a country? Early last summer, Veronica and I mountain biked the Going-To-The-Sun road in Glacier National Park and, although we’ve been in the park dozens of times before on the very same road, this experience changed our outlook on what it takes to really “see” a place. With that fresh perspective, we started planning a cycle touring trip in Europe. We didn’t know where, how far, or how long we’d be on this journey, but we knew it was something we wanted to make happen. Over the following year we narrowed it down to Ireland, for many reasons previously disclosed here.
We’ve sorted through gear, purchased airline tickets, reserved rooms in key cities, and have even purchased a few rail connections. We’ve packed, re-packed, then re-packed a few more times to dial our equipment to only the bare necessities. I’ve purchased special computerized GPS map cards and have pre-loaded daily routes into a new Garmin GPS. And with a few other details squared away, we’re ready.
But why don’t we feel like a kid on Christmas eve then? I mean, from all we’ve been hearing, it’s a “trip of a lifetime”. And a year of planning should feel a bit more climactic shouldn’t it? Perhaps it still just doesn’t feel real yet. I am still sitting in my living room, embraced in the comforts of home. Perhaps it’s because we’ve been so pre-occupied and consumed with buying a new home? In fact, we close on the new home during our trip–a friend will be acting as our hand, signing all the legal paperwork, while we’re out having fun. (*Note to self–Buy something nice for said friend!) Whatever the reason for the lack of goosebumps and butterflies, it doesn’t change the fact that we ARE flying out of the country in the morning. We ARE renting bikes in Dublin, and we ARE going to experience what few ever have the opportunity to. We are so blessed and so thankful for everything that life has brought us. We look forward to the adventure that awaits, and adversities that lie ahead (the weatherman is calling for steady rain). It won’t all be smooth sailing, but from adversity comes growth and for that we are thankful. Our Ireland bike tour ends around July 9th, but the journey and memories will surely live on forever. We can hardly wait to post updates, photos, and stories. But till then, we’re “out of the office”. Cheers! J&V
Over Memorial Day weekend, Veronica and I organized a bunch of friends and drove out to the desert for a long weekend of hiking and rappelling. What started as a beautiful desert evening Thursday night, soon morphed into a biblical sand storm by Friday afternoon. As we hiked away from our base camp Friday morning, the weather was calm, sunny, and overall fairly uneventful. Five long miles later and deep into a slot canyon, we were struggling to stay on our feet as the wind pelted our bare legs with sand and pea gravel. Hoping that somehow the slot canyon we were hiking was simply concentrating the wind, disappointment greeted us as we turned the last narrow corner and walked into the open desert where the wind seemed equally strong, if not stronger. Immediately I felt a pit form in my stomach, knowing full well that we should have taken down our tents before leaving in the morning. Wishing for the best, but expecting the worst, we headed back to our camp to find the following: 1 tent, precariously teetering over a cliff face, held fast by a single stake and a guy line; 1 tent perfectly fine, although nearly completely filled with sand; 1 tent with 2 of the 3 poles broken and protruding through the formerly waterproof fly; and 1 tent missing entirely. Finding the missing tent a while later several hundred feet away at the bottom of a ravine, we were at a loss for words. The group simply sat around on rocks, completely demoralized, trying to figure out our next move. Move camp to a more sheltered location? Nope, the wind and blowing sand penetrated every crack of the desert equally; there was no place of refuge. The wind continued, as if blowing salt into our wounds. Staring at each other with blank, expressionless faces, we decided to throw in the towel and opt for a motel room in nearby Green River. Booking one of the last rooms in town, we threw our tents and gear into the cars and dashed to the safety of 4 solid walls and a comfortable, sand free (nearly) bed. I contemplated the hardships of the early explorers and pioneers as I relaxed in the hotel’s hot tub, jets pounding into my sore shoulders and tired muscles.
The next day we woke to winds even more intense than before. Although we certainly can claim no prizes for toughing out the storm in our tents, we also could not simply sit idle in the hotel room, through what was supposed to be an epic Utah adventure. So, we hopped in the car, and following the directions of the hotel owner, we made our way out to Sego canyon where the wind seemed slightly less intense. Ancient rock art panels and a beautiful desert canyon landscape filled our morning. During the afternoon, we set a climbing rope and rappelled through the ceiling of a natural bridge cut into the sandstone. Drop after drop, we hooted and hollered like a bunch of kids; and for a while even forgot about the intense wind.
Sunday morning, the wind had finally blown itself out and we ventured back to the San Rafael Swell to set up camp and hike to another incredible desert wonder, a massive cavernous alcove cut out of a tall sandstone cliff. Sunday afternoon, we crossed into Goblin Valley State Park to explore the giant coliseum of cartoon characters that appear to have been frozen in time, preserved into a valley of sandstone hoodoos. One step into the valley of goblins is enough to bring out anyone’s inner child. Before we knew it, we were calling out shapes of turtles, clowns, lions, tigers, and bears; all the while scrambling up and down blobs of sandstone. Back at camp, we toasted up a feast of Hobo Pies, and sat around the fire late into the night; watching embers burn into the starry night sky.
Monday morning dawned late as we were camped against an east facing cliff. Originally we had planned to simply pack up camp and drive back home; however the allure of one more “quick” hike was too strong, so we hiked out and squeezed in one last slot canyon. Driving home, the only thing any of us could think about was coming back for another adventure. With endless slot canyons to hike, ancient dwellings to explore, and shapes to pick out of the sandstone hoodoos, it’s just a matter of time till were headed back to the desert. The desert can be brutal and unforgiving; but even during the worst weather there’s always more adventures to be had.
Post by: Jake
Last year Veronica and I really got into road biking, and “accidentally” discovered one of (if not “THE”) the best bike ride in the world. We drove up to Glacier National Park for our annual July 4th weekend in Hungry Horse, Montana. Typically, we do a few day hikes in the park, and then watch some amazing fireworks in downtown Hungry Horse. Last year, however, was a mega snow year and they were still plowing the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. We happen to have our bikes so thought it might be fun to do a little road biking during a low traffic time of year. We didn’t know they allowed bikes past the road closure! After hearing this, of course we jumped at the opportunity. With plowing at 95% complete, we were able to bike most of the way towards the summit of Logan Pass. It’s a memory we’ll NEVER forget, and something I highly encourage everyone to try at least once in their life.
Going-To-The-Sun-Road Glacier National Park, Montana
I’ve been keeping an eye on the plowing at Glacier Here. and it looks like the “ideal” time to try and bike a good stretch of the Going-to-the-Sun Road will be near the End of April through around the 2nd or 3rd week of May. Check out all the plowing pictures Here. If you’re planning a trip, plan to bike on a weekend as this is what you’re looking for: “West side road crews will not be plowing on Saturday or Sunday, so there will be no hiker/biker restrictions in place this weekend on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.”
Independence Pass, Colorado
As most people in Colorado know, Independence Pass is one of the most scenic passes in the U.S. and it connects Leadville to Aspen. Every winter it’s closed due to snow, however for a couple weeks before they open the road to cars, the road is completely plowed and open to bikes! This year the road is scheduled to open to cars on May 24th, so plan accordingly and get up there for one of the most incredible experiences you’ll have on a bike!