Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Returning to the Mile High

While we continue to promise “more posts,” we’re realizing that we really can’t live up to that. Our internet access is truly few and far between and (as you may have read about) we do awesome shit all day long and don’t want to slow down to sit on the internet. But alas, we’ve arrived at Ben’s Aunt Laurie and Uncle Gar’s wonderful abode in Littleton, Colorado (and you guessed it, they got them interwebs). So I get to catch all you loyal (and demanding) readers up on the events of weeks past.

First off, we must apologize for foolishly leaving out one of our most dedicated readers - Mr. Arnold Wihtol of Palo Alto, CA. On our drive back to the Bay Area from Big Sur, Kate's grandpa welcomed us into his home with open arms, fresh cherries, cold beverages, Latvian vocab lessons, and a grizzly beard rivaling Ben and Tommy's. We only wish we could have stayed longer. Thanks for everything!

After leaving San Diego, we arrived in Joshua Tree with Sir Daniel "Sneezebird" of Cohen and set out for a one night out-and-back trip to MARS! Joshua Tree is truly specatcular and if you haven't been, I highly recommend it. We did an awesome loop hike called the Panorama Loop, so as you can imagine, the views were simply divine. The silhouettes of the wacky Joshua Trees (not actually trees mind you, they're closely related to the yucca cactus) at sunrise and sunset were a personal favorite. But the weekend ended (a little too quickly) and Danny had to head back to LA to get his grown man on.

Fortunately, we're all still unemployed and got to head out to VEGAS on Monday instead of to a desk job (I'm takin shots at you Danny mostly cause your job sounds sweet). But Vegas, now that's a town, man. We paid, I repeat, paid for a room on the strip at the Imperial Palace. It was momentous for us, as that was our first, only, and last time paying for lodging on the trip. So we showered and proceded to acquaint ourselves with 1.75L of Black Velvet whiskey. Unfortunately, Kate hit it off with Mr. Velvet and he snatched her away from Paul for the evening. Kate decided to stay in for the night, but the Bros were set on the free drinks at the blackjack tables. We all took out too much money from the ATM and hit the tables.

Ben was off to a quick start and got to ride out his fuzzy night with stacks of chips in front of him. That is, until he started picking up his cards (I think because he had trouble reading them, this is a serious faux pas) and spilled a drink on the table. If you're wondering, that's a quick way to get red flagged. Ben quietly took his chips and cashed out, up about 100 dollars, and on top of the world. Tommy also had some good luck, by way of hitting Black Jack two or three successive times and came out with about 40 dollars he had never seen before! But, we can't all win. Towards the end of the evening Paul was down nearly $80 until Mr. Velvet and his friend Free Drink convinced Paul to put down $25 dollars on the last hand. With a King-Four (terrible) the dealer gave Paul advice to Stay. And with tears of fear (and momentarily joy), the dealer busted and Paul scraped back up to a manageable loss on the evening.

The next day was our slowest of the trip. But, slow is relative for us. We headed back west, ("But I thought you guys were headed east now?") to check out DEATH VALLEY. Now, we headed west because we did really want to see this crazy geological valley and hit the lowest spot in the United States, but we also had a piece of great news that we're about to share with you readers. A fifth person had agreed to fly into Las Vegas the following day to join our road trip and D.E.A.R.T. (drop everything and road trip). As much fun as we had in Vegas, we couldn't spend another full day there. We kicked it in the scalding-hot Death Valley before the arrival of our new roommate, companion, chef extraordinaire, fellow CC grad, and best friend, Miss Andrea Christine Graeter!! You heard it here first ladies and gentlemen.

We left Death Valley, picked up Annie in Vegas, and promptly left the scene before Paul could lose any more money. We spent the night in Dixie National Forest and began a backpacking trip into Zion Canyon National Park. If you're ever there, forget the crowded Angel's Landing, and hit up Cable Mountain. This place had the best view of the canyon and some great history to it. After getting nice and dirty on our trip, we got lucky and realized that it was the Zion Canyon Music Festival that night, catered by Zion Canyon Brewing and some sweet bluegrass music. Ben killed it with the grassy Zion ladies, and with a little more time would have no doubt, sealed. the. deal. But alas, we had to find a place to lay our tarp and spend the night.

The next day we drove over to another canyon, (the theme of the week) Bryce Canyon National Park. We hiked around the rim of the canyon before descending into the ridiculous hoodoos and seeing Thor's Hammer. That place is truly another planet. If you're an aspiring astronaut, go there. We drove late that evening to let Paul play tour guide of Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument. (Paul spent last spring break in Escalante with Sneezebird, Lyle, and Kraus).

The goal was to complete the elusive slot canyon EGYPT 3, a four mile winding 127 Hours-esque slot. With no rain in the forecast, we twisted, turned, squeezed, slid around and got really, really dirty. But I'm pretty sure we'd all agree it was worth it, even though Kate, Annie, and Ben all took some silly spills into some pretty stagnant mud/water pools.

The next day, we trekked to the grandest of all canyons. You guessed it, (and I kinda gave it away) The Grand Canyon. We were determined not to leave without making it all the way down to the Colorado River and seeing the floor of the Grand Canyon. But, I guess a lot of people are interested in doing so. We had to wait around a few days, (I know, it was just terrible) to get the backcountry permit to camp down in the canyon. But 14 miles and about 6,000 feet later, we made it to the bottom, celebrated Rosh Hashanah, and climbed out.

In the same day, we attempted the 8+ hour drive to Moab, but clearly didn't make it. Fortunately we found some National Forest to spend the night. As fate would have it, we realized we were about 5 miles from Natural Bridges National Monument. And so we check out the Bridges before hitting Moab to see Arches National Park. We saw the window arches, hiked to Delicate Arch at sunset, grabbed some beers at Moab Brewing Co and camped at Gold Bar, the "CC entrance to Utah".

After a wild, wonderful, and Police Free (a feat for travelers with out-of-state liscence plates) time in Utah we headed to Colorful Colorado. After a quick pitstop for burritos at Los Jilbertos in Grand Junction, we made it to Aspen to see the changing colors at the Maroon Bells.

We had planned on doing arguably the best hike in Colorado, the Four Pass Loop, but with rain in the forecast for the next five days, we reluctantly moved on. We stopped in Leadville, the highest town in the U.S. at 10,152 ft and went to some awesome thrift stores and the one of a kind Melanzana outdoor store where Paul and Kate each bought highly coveted hoodies. After another brief stop in Idaho Springs to get some hot-sauce at Two Brothers Deli, we made it to Littleton where Aunt Laurie greeted us with open arms (not really, she hosed us off outside).

We were pointed towards the showers and laundry before delicious appetizers, beers, and upon request, a wonderful chicken recipe that had left our mouths watering from months before when we met up with Aunt Laurie for the first time at the lake house in Minnesota. We have a special award given to Laurie, as she is the first person on the road trip that we have seen twice, about a month in and with about a month to go.

After dinner we headed uptown Denver to meet with a gaggle of CC graduates. Shout out Denali Johnson, (who got 36 freaking points from the Baltimore defense to beat Paulito in fantasy football this week to put him at a gentleman's 0-12 on the year), Britt Landis, Joe Wood (CFAB), Aaron Bandler, and Lizzy Stephan (who comes in at a close second to Aunt Laurie, seeing us in both Brooklyn and Denver.) It was weird seeing two different people, for the second time, both on the same day! The jazz club we hit up was sweet, equipped with buck fity PBRs.

Today we're headed up to Longmont, Boulder, and Fort Collins to hit an assortment of Oskar Blues, Left Hand, Boulder, and Odell's Breweries. We'll let ya know.

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