Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Road trippin' and other random thoughts!

September 1st seems timely for a last-ditch effort to celebrate the final days of summer. Sadly, I can no longer enjoy those halcyon days since I've been neck-deep in meetings all week. Shew, my brain is tired! Before I fully embrace the reality that comes with the back-to-school fun and madness, I would like to wax poetic about the joys of road-tripping and exploring the 'great outdoors' during the summer months.
I know, I know, I spent plenty of time in Spain and France, so why romanticize the rest of my summer when it pales in comparison to those "grand dames"? Especially when I'm on the topic of road trips which can evoke a few negative emotions from me!

Still, there are just as many positive ones that also emerge in that murky pond that I call "memory". I believe that the trek from South Texas to Arkansas, every summer to visit my grandmother, instilled a slight appreciation for road-tripping. Not that it was a serious road trip - it took two days, but those seemed like centuries when my brothers were poking me and I was getting carsick by reading one book or another, even though I just KNEW that I'd feel pretty crappy after a while. It did have some of the elements of a good road trip, however, such as the Dairy Queen in Nacogdoches, TX and crossing over the Red River, seeing trains and then getting out of the car and smelling the pine trees.

These days, Michael and I are huge fans of roadtrips, which we frequently take with Gus and Milo (our dogs). Usually one of the main attractions is Colorado, and we've almost memorized the route from I-15 to I-70, anticipating certain curves in the road, convenience stores, rest areas, and the sun and shadows at different times of the day. With some frequency, we just blow through the entire state of Utah, oooh-ing and aaaah-ing from St. George on, but this summer, I begged Michael to stop in Moab, UT, and he acquiesced (he's great like that). Personally, I love Moab, and have visited this random outdoorsy paradise five different times now - while on a road trip of one sort or another!
I must admit that I was a bit nervous - what if Michael didn't like Moab? Would that be a total "deal-breaker" for us? What if the developers/tourists had ruined it completely? While it IS a bit more developed each time I visit, it is still clinging to a vibrantly independent spirit. One of many highlights of our short (14-hour stay) was the Apache Motel, which is not fancy at all, but John Wayne and John Ford stayed there and so did I!

We spent the night in Moab and then woke up early and headed to Arches National Park, another jewel in the Utah national parks crown. Again, I've hiked up to "Delicate Arch" at least three times in my lifetime, but I do not tire of the spectacular scenery.

Finally, back in the States, after our European sojourn, we were fortunate enough to spend a few days in Colorado and ended up on a hike at Brainard Lake. I think that we had finally recovered somewhat from jetlag and then we found ourselves with major headaches from the altitude. Despite being at 10,000 feet and enduring somewhat inclement weather, Michael and I completely enjoyed the experience! I am a total sucker for alpine meadows and wildflowers and alpine lakes. As much as I love being close to mountains here in the LA area, they don't have quite that "breathtaking" quality of the hikes in Colorado and other western states. Not to me, at least! And so, the hiking bug and travel bug continue to strike! Even though it's the beginning of the school year, I have already started to imagine the 'places we will go' next year. Hiking in Colorado is definitely on the list!


Jaya said...

Kristina, I don't think you could possibly have any recourse for grievance over time wasted - you make better use of your weekends than almost anyone I know! Isn't it amazing how much beauty there is to behold within our own borders? North America is just amazing - both Canada and the US cover every conceivable landscape and climate imaginable! That makes them awesome road-tripping places. We have 3 trips planned for next year (including one to the Yellowstone... I might be coming to you for suggestions!) already. I am SO lucky that my injury kept me off my feet for 8 months, but I cleared my last hurdle just in time to enjoy the best of the hiking season. But hey, just 2-3 more months until xcountry and snow shoes come out! For everything there is a season :)
Good luck with getting back into the swing of things - just think - you have a whole arsenal of mental escapes now!

Kristina said...

I've loved the pictures that you have posted too - definitely makes me want to explore Canada! This summer has been great for me, and stands in stark contrast to last summer. That was also an awesome summer, but the doctor had just diagnosed me with a torn ACL and scheduled me for surgery at the end of the summer (he wanted to do it ASAP, and I informed him that I had plans!). So, I was definitely in beautiful places, but I physically couldn't go and do what I wanted. Like you, I think the injury and recovery process were great for me and I now appreciate what I can do SO much more!
I do wish that I had easier access to the snow, so keep us updated on snowshoe and xcountry adventures!

Kim said...

I've been wanting to roadtrip lately! This is very inspiring :) I love this country and would love to see more of it. There are so many beautiful places, as evidenced by your pictures :) That's so cool that you can travel with teh dogs!