Our Everyday Adventures

We are not adventurers by choice but by fate – Van Gogh

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Season of Change

Post by:  Jake
9/16/12

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!

 

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Cycle Touring Ireland

Post by:  Jake
6/31/12

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.

 

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Trip of a Lifetime

Post by:  Jake
6/19/12

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

 

 

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San Rafael Swell ~ Utah ~ Slot Canyons

Post by:  Jake
6/9/12

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.

 

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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.

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Making it Happen – Ireland Bike Tour 2012

Post by: Jake
3/4/12

Last May I wrote an article titled “How to Have an Adventure – 10 Tips on Planning Your Next Getaway”. It’s more or less a collection of common sense advice on how to “make it happen”.  There always seems to be countless excuses that delay our big goals and bucket list adventures; and that list was wrote to help eliminate a few of the big ones like, “We can’t afford it” and “We just don’t have the time”.  As I was writing the article last year I became inspired to start planning something big.  I figured we too had the same list of excuses, mainly money and time; but I should be able to follow the list of tips and plan something epic.  And so it began!

When we started planning the next big adventure Veronica and I were in the heat of training for a triathlon, and were really enjoying the road biking component of the trainings.  So, why not do a cycle tour adventure?  It slows down your traveling pace, removes the windshield, and really puts you right into the local culture.  How better to instantly be thrown into the local scene then with a flat tire, bent rim or broken chain?

So, we decided to do a cycle tour, but where to go?  Immediately I started dreaming about cycling across the Alps, through Austria and Switzerland, and down into the valleys of Germany.  How romantic right?  Until I started thinking about getting WAY off the beaten path and asking locals for directions, or for a lift to a local bike shop to buy some spare parts.  The language barrier may become an issue, and while we had plenty of time to wait before we could begin our new adventure, I wasn’t about to sit down and learn German.   So, my gaze started shifting west, to the little island countries of the United Kingdom and Ireland.  Gently sloped terrain, beautiful sea coasts, tightly packed towns and villages, and best of all: everyone speaks English!  Initially we planned on touring through part of Ireland, then taking a ferry and touring through parts of Scotland, but now we are simply planning on seeing more of Ireland.

So with the adventure and destination set, money saved up, and time off from work secured, the only thing left to do was purchase airline tickets.  Last Tuesday, we bit the bullet and pulled the trigger on purchasing tickets.  Apparently, through doing some research, we learned that if you have a choice, the best time to fly is on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, (to avoid weekend, and some commuter Monday/Friday travelers) and if you can, purchase your tickets on a Tuesday afternoon.  It’s not totally fool proof, but for some reason, “on the average” that’s when flights are cheapest each week.

Well, that’s it.  We’re headed to Ireland over the last week of June and first week of July this summer.  We’ll be spending roughly 17 days touring through a large chunk of Ireland.  While there’s still loads of planning left to do and gear to secure before we leave; we hope you’ll stick around and vicariously adventure with us!  Over the next few months, we’ll post several updates on how the plans are progressing; and if you have any suggestions or ideas, as always we’re all ears!!!

 

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The Harsh Reality of Adventure Sports

Post by:  Veronica
2/28/12

Jake and I love to play in the outdoors – snow or shine.  And although we have had many amazing adventures over the past few years, the numerous avalanche fatalities, hiking accidents and animal attacks this year have been a constant reminder of the inherent dangers of backcountry adventures.

So although I am no expert on ‘adventure safety’ here are some things I keep in mind in hopes of ensuring safe homecomings after any outdoor play date.

Invest in good equipment – Jake is a serious gear-head.  If you have a question on outdoor or technical gear he is your man.  And like true technology early-adaptors (not the people that just want to have the new i-Toy just because it’s new and “cool”) Jake’s love of gear stems from a passion to see innovation developed with a purpose.  How does this new piece of equipment make my life easier and/or how does it make my adventures safer?  When you plan your outdoor adventures do your research on your equipment and make good investments based on features such as durability and safety.  If it looks good – consider it a bonus, not your primary purchasing point.

Know your abilities – And the abilities of those with you.  Many adventures involve multi-level company – even when just Jake and I go out, our abilities can vary.  It’s important to be in tune with your physical abilities and plan your trips accordingly.  Knowing what you can and can’t do can also help prevent potentially dangerous situations.  Sure one or all of you may have to skip out on something epic, but at least you will all make it home.

Know your environment – If you are venturing to a new place, take time in your planning process to know the terrain, possible weather, potential animal encounters and any recent incidents in the area.  With this information you’ll be able to pack and prepare accordingly.

Make the safety list and check it twice – If you are an avid outdoor enthusiast, then many of these things are second nature.  But whether you’re an expert or just getting into a new outdoor sport, simple safety precautions can be overlooked.  Did you tell someone exactly when and where you are going and when they can expect to hear from you upon your return?  Did you pack all the necessary equipment?  Bear spray, first aid kit, ect., ect.?  Having a mental safety list is great – taking the time to build a real one is even better.

Trust your instincts…and channel your mother’s if you can – Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t do anything that wouldn’t make your mother proud?” Consider this a similar bit of advice.  Use sound judgment when playing in the outdoors and trust your gut feeling if it warns of danger.

Obviously this is not a fool-proof, get out of jail free pass for outdoor adventures.  But I do think it’s important that those of us who play in the elements to take some time periodically to remember the dangers that exist and take the necessary precautions to ensure an amazing and safe experience.  If anyone has any other specific safety tips, I’d love to hear them!

 

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2012 International Snow Sculpture Championships

Post by:  Jake
1/29/12

Surreal.  The one word I would choose to describe the 2012 International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckinridge this weekend.  Although we didn’t have a chance to see the sculptures taking shape throughout the previous week, we did get to see the masterpieces just moments after the competition ended and judging began on Saturday.  For the past 22-years teams of 5 people from around the world have assembled at Breckinridge’s Riverwalk Center to carve artistic masterpieces out of a solid 20-ton block of snow.   This year, the 15 teams came from 12 different countries: Australia, Canada, Spain, China, Finland, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Estonia, Mexico, Switzerland, and the USA (Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, and Wisconsin).

The event happens at the same time each year with a week of construction and a week of viewing.  This year, viewing will continue till Sunday Feb. 5th at 11:00p.m. at which time they will disappear.  If you can make it this year, do!  The sculptures are incredible.  Plenty of cold weather have made the conditions ideal for sculpting, and the teams have really outdone themselves this year!

 

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Buena Vista, CO – A Climbers Dream

Post by:  Jake
12/13/11

Traditionally, rock climbing is a spring through fall sport.  It’s tough to grip the rock when it’s covered in snow and ice, but even if you could find clean rock your hands get so cold they become useless stumps.  At least, that’s been my winter climbing experiences.  Yesterday, a couple new friends and I made the quick 20-mile drive south from Leadville to the sleepy (at least in Winter) community of Buena Vista, Colorado.  What we found was endless rock climbing routes.  As far as the eye could see in every direction, granite spires break up the horizon like skyscrapers in Manhattan.  Tower after tower of clean, hard granite.  A comfortable 30 degrees Fahrenheit in Leadville, Buena Vista was an even more comfortable +40.  Barely a flake of snow was present, while Leadville was blanketed with nearly a foot.  The southerly exposed rock faces were warm and dry.  Several routes later in the day we made our way to the summit of Turtle Rock and sat in awe at what our eyes gazed, literally thousands upon thousands of climbing routes on hundreds of spires; most of which lie within an easy drive and approach with any kind of vehicle.  Best of all, we only saw about 5 people the whole day and only 2 of them were climbing (the other 3 were mountain biking).

When Veronica and I moved to Leadville I was excited about the quick 4-hour drive from Moab as that meant warm weather and mountain biking and climbing during the winter.  Now, after adventuring in Buena Vista for the day, I’m super psyched and just had to share about its awesomeness!  If you’ve got cabin fever this winter, make the trip to BV.

 

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How to Beat the Crowds

Post by:  Jake
11/20/11

Veronica and I hit the slopes for the first time today.  As we approached Arapahoe Basin ski area, we crested a hill and saw parking lot after parking lot completely jammed full!  Our spirits sank and we almost turned around to drive home; thinking surely we can find something better to do today then just standing in lift lines all day.  We’ve heard that Colorado ski hills are notoriously packed with people (especially the closer to Denver ya get) but this seemed a little insane. I mean, there were only 6 runs and 3 lifts open! That meant, full parking lots + 6 runs & 3 lifts = LONG lift lines.   We went ahead and parked, telling ourselves we just wanted to do a couple runs, and since we had season passes it’s not like we’re wasting money on lift tags…besides, we were already there.

Strapping on our skis, we skated over to the massive lift line and the wait began.  Luckily it was a turbo speed quad lift, so the line didn’t take all that long really, but it was a line none the less as opposed to most of the Montana ski hills we were used to.  Our first run down was great.   A little shaky at first, our muscle memory came right back and by the time we reached the bottom we were skiing like we remembered.  And as we rounded the last corner there it was, the massive lift line again.  Being as we were just two people, I looked around for another couple to jump in line with to fill the quad lift; and that’s when it hit me.  The old trick of splitting up and waiting in the “singles” line used to fill the gaps to keep the lifts full.

We gave eachother a smile and hopped in the singles line.  Within a couple minutes we were sitting on the lift rocketting towards the summit. Run after run after run.  The snow was nice despite being predominately man made; but the best part of the day was realizing we could beat the crowds.  My greatest fear of skiing in Colorado was put at ease.  Even on the busiest days we’ll be able to put down a lot of runs.   It’s going to be a great season!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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