Pulling into Denver in early October, we had generally left the mountains and wilderness behind and moved on to the major cities of the southwest, Texas, and now the swampy bayou of the gulf coast.
We spent our final day in Denver sampling some of Colorado's finest brews and then feasted on chili-lime acorn squash, baked brie, and white chocolate dipped strawberries made by our hostess with the mostess, Denali Johnson. YUMMMM. Ben missed out on this delicious meal, but apparently had a grand ol' time with his camp buddy, Ryan Schillinberg, in Fort Collins. We met up later with CC homie Laura Turner and a William's alum, Trey "treybombs" Pendeary.
Four to five hours of sleep later... we headed west *for possibly the last time* for our last hurrah in Colorado's Rocky Mountains. Several hours and three thousand feet later we had summited our first 14ers of the trip (and Tommy's 1st ever!) Grays and Torreys Peaks. For those tuning in from outside of Colorado... fourteener is the term used for a mountain exceeding 14,000 feet above sea level. Major thanks to the enthusiastic man who gave us a lift up the road to the trailhead and snapped these photos of us. Somehow in our 6am delirium we forgot to bring the camera, but thankfully he posted them on 14ers.com!
Grays Peak - 14,278 ft.
On our way south to Colorado Springs, we stopped at the CC ski bum favorite, Dorothys, for buffalo tamales with red chili in true southwest fashion. Arriving at the CC campus, Paul's fabulous former boss and best friend, Lynnette, treated us to yummy sandwiches - Thanks! Fully wiped from our busy day, we ventured to the dollar theater for a good laugh at Horrible Bosses and then met some friends at Front Range Barbecue for bluegrass and local brews.
The next few days at Colorado College were spent making scrumptious tortilla soup at Lily McCoy's humble abode, thrifting at the ARC, visiting with old friends, and frequenting our favorite spots in Colorado Springs. Luckily Ben made it down to the Springs in time to join Kate and Annie for the Manitou Springs Incline - the strenuous 3/4 of a mile hike that extends 2000 ft. up the base of Pike's Peak.
Be weary of the false summit...
But alas, the college fun had to end as the road trip continued south down I-25. As it was Yom Kippur, Ben found a temple in New Mexico to observe Yom Kippur and the rest of the gang flocked to the Jemez Hot Springs outside Santa Fe for a good soak.
Cold Beers, Hot Springs
That night we met up with Silver Spring's finest - Tina Termini - who's getting her PhD in Albuquerque. Exhausted, we all kicked it at home and reminisced of the "good 'ol days." Trying to pack everything in, we woke up at five to find a sweet perch on top of the town to get a view of the Balloon Festival at dawn. As you can imagine, it was magical.
Just a few of the 1400 balloons...
Intimidated by our 11 hour drive to Dallas, the gang hit the road. We stopped at eccentric America's Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo, Tx and finally made use of the spray-paint can we had been lugging around the country. For the night we crashed at Copper Breaks State Park and cooked steak pad thai for dinner! The next day we finished our drive to Dallas and arrived to a delicious Tex-Mex dinner with Paul's cousin, Amy Goins, her husband Nate, and awesome kids Baylor, Rinner, and Parke. We were all pumped for what tomorrow had to bring - The Texas State Fair. We can't even begin to convey how many amazing things come together at the Cotton Bowl.
Deep-fried EVERYTHING (snickers, pumpkin pie, frito pies, bread pudding, etc...), friends, family, rides (yes Rinner, rides!), smiles, laughs, and cheap beers made this day a highlight of our trip.
Thanks for showing us around Amy!
We hit the road after the fair to see more of the Goins family in Austin, Tx. Paul's aunt Sandy and uncle Jon welcomed us in and even grilled us burgers at 10:30 (way past our bed-time). The next morning, we woke up ready to tour Austin. With stomachs full of Austin's customary breakfast tacos, we hit the town with lots of recommendations. We caught Mr. Cam Savage on his lunch break from work, who sent us down to Barton Springs. Its three bucks and an awesome place to spend an afternoon. They've dammed up a natural spring into a huge swimming pool equipped with a diving board and hidden underwater caves!
After soaking up some sun, we hit the Whole Foods headquarters for about 3.5 laps of free samples. We walked the hip strip of South Congress Street before heading over to Lake Austin to spend the night with Cam, on his 23rd birthday (don't worry, he's still accepting belated gifts). Ben, Paul, and Tommy all got wakeboarding lessons before Cam got up and literally did laps, circles, flips, and spins around us. We finally (after being in Texas a few days now) got some kick-ass BARBECUE at the County Line restaurant. Being Cam's birthday and all, we had a couple drinks, fraternized and all participated in some mischief before a late night crash landing into the pillow.
We all woke feeling just dandy (especially Tommy)! While we saw Texas in all its glory at the fair, this day was a pretty close second. We were headed to the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Tx (Yes, thats where they make the Box of Bocks). Paul and Ben did the tasting for the group, as a few of us (Tommy) weren't up for anymore Shiner. After Paul and Ben's share of malted water with hops, we hit the road for Blue Bell Creameries (because we all scream for ice cream).
Graeters > Blue Bell?
Heiress Graeter came out swingin' with some stumper questions, but for the most part, we crushed their delicious ice cream and enjoyed the scene. Upon entering Houston, Tommy demanded we pay a visit to his part-time lover, Boris the school bus. (If you haven't heard him talk about Boris, you're probably the only one. Feel free to ask Mr. Hester yourself.)
Boris - in all her camouflage glory
After consuming only beer and ice cream all day, we gladly arrived for dinner at the third Goins stop in Houston. Paul's cousin Eric, his wife Becca, and kids Cooper and Zoe dined us out by their pool and Cooper gave us a high-octane tour of their beautiful house. That night we went out to a bar, AvantGarden, to meet up with Patrick Moreno-Covington, a 2011 CC Grad, and Ben's friend from Tulane and Houston native, Zoe.
We woke up the next morning to Sesame street and got a great idea for Tommy's Halloween costume. But, with some more driving ahead of us, we hit the road to New Orleans. Upon arrival, Annie met up with her boo, heart-throb Rob Glassman for dinner. The three of us headed to Tulane underage favorite, The Boot for 3 for 1 Happy hour drinks. We were met by CC alums Lauren Sinnott and Jimmy Singer before making it to Paul's favorite spot in New Orleans, Frenchman St for those who love live music. Big New Orleans shout out to Hank "Henry the" Mann for driving us around town and hooking us up at his pizza joint with a house pie and a couple comp. beers. New Orleans has been good to us. The Spotted Cat, BMC, the Palms, the Boot, Saturn Bar, FandM's, La Nuit, Snake and Jakes, Kingpin. We've hit some bars.
If you're ever in Nola, take a break from drinking, grab a po-boy, and head to Audubon ("the fly", specifically) for a scenic view of the Mississippi.
Also, don't miss the tree of many names - tree of life, dylan tree, giving tree, etc - right around the corner.
Oh yeah, we couldn't rob you guys of this one......