Get a JobWhen I decided to move to Denver, I knew it was a leap of faith. More so than any other time in life, I trusted that somehow things would work out. In the past few weeks, things have truly started coming together... so much so that I almost feel like I'm just nervously waiting for them to fall apart.
The week before our trip, my job search luck suddenly changed and I found myself with three interviews scheduled for jobs in Denver the next week. C was gracious enough to reroute our trip to include a stop in at Denver to give me the chance to interview. The first interview went so well I was able to cancel the others because I got the job! I'm so excited to return to the classroom - I'll be teaching Kindergarten at a charter school that happens to be around 10 minutes from my apartment! The school is going through a major change and a ton of hard work lies ahead, but I am anxious to meet the staff and start work... on Monday!
Fort Collins, CO
Since we stopped at Denver for my job interviews, C and I took a side trip up to Fort Collins. Any town that values bicycles and microbreweries like this town is a town fine by me. We stopped in for some beers and burgers, took a stroll around town center, and had a lovely afternoon break at the city park.
We also visited New Belgium Brewery (Fat Tire) and thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon!
We set off to start our camping adventure only to find out the tent poles were still at my parents house in Dallas... so I got a new tent! It was the happiest of mistakes because I couldn't love my new tent more. I can't wait to take it on lots of adventures!
Aspen is beautiful - a very quaint (albeit rich) feel to the town with flowers at every step and dogs strolling about all around.
We hiked up Ute Mountain which overlooks Aspen in the valley below.
Then we headed over to the Maroon Bells - one of the most photographed sights in Colorado.
It was breathtaking. The valley was covered in lovely wildflowers. We hiked around the lake and bottom of the bells, then hiked around behind them to a hidden lake!
We came back later and make dinner picnic style at the lake. Easily the prettiest picnic I've ever had.
The Braille & Discovery Trails were made to allow blind and physically disabled people to enjoy nature. They really focused on experiencing the trail using all the senses, and enjoying nature in a broad but basic sort of way. There were tons of factoids, tips, and tidbits along the way.
The Braille Trail encouraged sighted people to close their eyes, grab the rope and experience hiking as a blind person would. C and I really enjoyed it!
Then we headed to Independence - an abandoned mining town.
Fun Fact - the town was abandoned during a particularly harsh winter that cut off supplies. In order to survive, the villagers broke down their homes, made skis out of the wood, climbed up the mountain and skied down to Aspen!
We decided that our last day in Aspen would be town day! We had some showers (yay!) and strolled around the farmers market. Best part: we saw the most amazing street magician!!!
Seriously - mind blown. I can't even figure out where to start to come up with a theory as to how he did his tricks. Amazing! We spent the rest of the day drinking on porches and hanging out with locals.
The contrasting scenery of the desert was startling. Such a different kind of beauty. And so hot. Hot.
We stayed at Dead Horse Point State Park that is part of the Canyonlands. The vast canyon was a perfect place to watch the sunset.
Then we dropped off Sally at the dog campground for the night and headed over to the Arches National Park.
This is Landscape Arch - fun fact: the longest natural arch! The length of a football field!!!
We learned this in a Ranger session we attended and I was absurdly excited by it... shocked, I exclaimed "NO WAY!" - far beyond the general "oh neat" from the rest of the crowd. haha
The arches are created by the different types of rock mixed with salt deposited by the ocean (when it was over Utah), moisture from the rain, wind, and general erosion. I love learning about the way nature works - makes it even more impressive how it all comes together over millions of years to create these beautiful structures for us to enjoy. At some point, almost all arches start of as "fins" like this:
We spent the day exploring the arches and going on the trails. We did all but one of the trails... lots of arches!
(I'm the tiny thing jumping in the middle)
We hiked up to Delicate Arch for sunset, disappointed a bit by the cloudy sky only to see a this brilliant moon on our decent back to the car. It was magnificant.
Side note: we ate lunch at Eklecticafe - dog friendly covered patio, fresh ingredients, lovely staff - go there if you are in Moab!
And a note on the kindness of strangers: it had started storming while we were out and one of our campsite neighbors closed our rain fly for us and took in our chairs etc. so our stuff wouldn't get soaked. A beautiful reminder that the simple acts we do for others can make such a huge difference to their days.
Ridgway State Park
We headed back over to Colorado for our last night of camping. I'll admit, while the desert was beautiful and had awe inspiring arches, I was happy to come back to the mountain and Colorado! We had wanted to make s'mores since day 1, but rain and fire bans had prevented us from doing so until our last night! It was such a perfect conclusion to our camp life on the trip! Sooooo delicious.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
C's parents joined us for our final stop on the trip! They generously put us up in a hotel which was such a delight after camping.
We all went on a crazy cool hike - 2000 vertical feet in less than a mile, 80% grade, unmaintained trail that follows a rock slide down into the canyon.
To treat ourselves after we went to Horsefly Brewing Company. Yummy burgers, micro-brews, and a relaxed patio made for a delightful meal.
We went back to the park to attend a ranger session on astronomy - SO cool! I learned so many factoids and loved seeing the night sky full with literally thousands of stars, constellations, shooting stars, and our galaxy... light pollution is legit and it is taking away our ability to see our magnificent sky. We even got to look through telescopes at other galaxies, stars, etc. The next day we ran into the same astronomer and watch explosions coming off the sun!
The next morning we went to another ranger session on geology. We learned about the absolutely rare conditions that needed to occur in order for the canyon to be formed... which like the arches only makes it more magnificent a sight. This is a picture of the "painted wall" where you can see some of the different types of rock woven through the canyon walls. Thanks to Ranger Zach, I can tell you all about the different types of rock, the rock cycle, and how it all came to be!
Yes, this program by the park is intended for children, but we completed our 14-page packet to perfection, and met with Ranger Zach and got our official Ranger badges! You're all so proud, I know.
Norman has been my home for six years of my life. It will always hold a very significant place in my heart, full of memories. In college, Norman went beyond the place I lived and truly embodied the world "home" and when I left NYC, it was the perfect place to come back to and reset. Many of my best memories are either in this town or with people associated with this town. Here are some of the sweet folks (blurried with excitement and jumping) who came out to the house for one last night of fun:
From the people to campus to shops and restaurants, I will truly miss you, Norman.
Sunday: Drove home
Sunday: Move to Denver
Monday: Start work
That is one crazy week!