Denver! 

Oh Denver, you are interesting. I think Brenna and I saw more of outside Denver than actually Denver. And that’s ok! 

Let’s start at the beginning. I left Omaha for Denver at 9am. Things were going great. 

After Car Henge I was on my way (an hour late) to grab Brenna from the airport. It’s ok. I let her know that I’d be late She’d had quite the adventure getting to the airport and said I was lucky to be picking someone up. 

A little over an hour outside of Denver and I get a flat. 

  Amazingly I didn’t flip out. I got on the phone with AAA while I started to pull all they stuff out I needed to change my tire. Turns out that the previous owner took the jack and the key I needed to unlock my wheel from my car. So I was shit out of luck. There was this nice man named Tracy from Wisconsin who stopped to help me. He was going out to hike the Continental Divide for two months. We chatted while a few officers stopped to see if they could help and we waited for AAA.

Jimmy from AAA came and decided that I needed be towed to the shop. He didn’t have the key to my wheel and there might be a tire there. 

It turns out that I hit some metal and it sliced my tire big time. . The nice shop owner stayed open late to replace my tire and gave me a key to my rims and a bill for $140 for a new tire. Finally I was on my way to pickup Brenna 3 hours late.  

I had planned for us to stay at this hostel. All the hostels were expensive but this one, and when I read the Google reviews while waiting for my car I found out that this place was terrifying. Brenna and I talked  it out and decided to just walk in and check it out. As we got out of the car and were cat called by some vagrants outside the place we turned around and immediately started lookin for hotels. 

Then my car battery died and we had to call AAA again.  L.O.L.

 
I’m really getting my money’s worth on that membership cost. 

On our way to the hotel  I went the wrong way twice down two different roads because they were not clearly marked. That started the hashtag #nononowrongway

Finally Brenna and I settled in at a motel on the north side of town and had a good sleep. This was only after I figured out that we missed our New Belgium tour on Friday because I thought it was Saturday but we decided to go up on Saturday anyway. 

Fort Collins

I loved Fort Collins! We had brunch at Snooze where I had the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had.  

 Then we checked into our hotel after exploring a bit. The elevator almost killed us so we took the stairs. Hotels are fun…

We went up to New Belgium. My co-worker’s husband hooked us up with merchandise, free beers, and a tour. Our tour guide, Marie was great and so was the atmosphere. If you’re ever in Denver, take the hour drive up to New Belgium and check it out. After our tour we walked through town and stopped at a new distillery call Mobb. The whiskey was good but the gin tasted like an ashtray. I did like the pretzels and mustard we had. Then Brenna and I walked (stumbled) through town checking out breweries. Finally made our way back to our hotel later in the evening.  

 Golden! 

The next day Brenna and I went to Golden while we waited for our hotel to be ready in Denver. We walked around and really like the town. It seemed a bit touristy but it was a good distraction from Denver. We had lunch at a biker bar and then got on our way to the Ramada/Super 8 that we booked solely for the shuttle to downtown.  

 Denver!

We went I the hotel pool while we waited for our room. Once in our room we realized that it was a smoking room at one time and they failed at cleaning it to get the smell out. We planned on catching the shuttle down to the city for dinner. It was supposed to come in the jour. we stopped by the from t desk to let them know we wanted to take the shuttle. Brenna and j waited and waited and finally the van shows up and the thing empties like a clown Carr full of kids. Apparently the hotel worker went and picked up her kids and their friends for a giant pool party. They all went inside and Brenna and I waited another 5 minutes before we started to walk.  We went and met Brenna’s friend Nathan downtown for dinner. We came up on a Chalk art festival and realized that we really hadn’t explored Denver proper at all. We are at Euclid for diner. It was really good. Nathan talked about things we should do in Monday before we headed out. After dinner Nathan took us toRio Grande for margaritas. They were the best margaritas I have ever had. And they were strong! So strong you could only have 3 Brenna got a little drunk and I just got tired. Something about elevation takes it out of you. 

Red Rocks

The next day we headed out to Red Rocks for a walk/hike. It was really beautiful and perfect for trail running. At one point in the trail we walked in a circle. Brenna and I were real confused about how to get the hell out of the trail. Finally we followed these people out.  

 After leaving Red Rocks I had to use the restroom and we missed the exit for the gas station. Next thing I know we are in the highway and the nearest bathroom was in the exit to Wild Buffalo Bill Cody’s gravesite and Museum on Lookout Mountain. I struggled with being excited about this little piece of history because I had to go to the bathroom so bad. We wound around roads for what seemed like 12 hrs until we came upon a park by his grave.  I found a latrine and did the thing you’re supposed to do in the place. 

Brenna saw a path that was to the historic site. We hiked it over,  saw the grave and went into the musuem.  

 Back to Denver to try out C Squared Cidery. The cider was so good and so was the food. I had the pickled eggs and chicharonnes. Brenna had a burger and duck fat fries. Check this place out if you’re ever in Denver. Food and drink were good!  We tried to go to another Cidery and winery but both were closed so we headed to Boulder  where we were planning to meet up with our friend Sam who was coming into town.  

 Boulder 

We had beers at Boulder Brewing while we waited. Soon we found out that flights were delayed so we decided to get on the road in a thunder storms. It sucked. There was thunder, lightning and hail that pelted my car. 

It took forever to get home. I won’t lie driving through the Rocky Mountains was beautiful. I loved every bit of it. However, I did not enjoy being so tired when we were near Salt Lake that I was hallucinating seeing things in the road. 

Finally 9 hrs later and one almost fall asleep at the wheel we were in Salt Lake! I was so happy to lay my head down on Brenna’s couch. 

 

West is Far.

I’m pretty sure I’m 2,000 miles into this trip. I’m also sure I’m gonna need an oil change by the time I get to San Diego. The West is far, guys. And for those of you who have road tripped with me, you know I struggle real hard at staying awake and generally being aware. While the struggle to stay awake has been absent, I’ve really had to hone in on my driving skills this trip. So far I’ve only suffered one flat and a dead battery, but we will get into that later.

I left Indy on Thursday, June 2nd at 10am. After going back to my house twice to get things I had forgotten, I got on the road to Omaha.

 My buddy Nate was so kind to let me crash at his place on my way out to Denver. I’m gonna be real honest with you. There isn’t much to see on your way to Omaha. It’s basically flat. Real flat and farmy. I was not totally impressed.

  
On my way out there I did stop at President Herbert Hoover’s childhood home. I did not go into his presidential library, but I did take the opportunity to walk around the little town and go in his house. It was neat.

After that little adventure I drove onto Omaha. I got there about 7pm and kind of just expected to chill out. Nate had other plans. He wanted to go out. I agreed. Who was I to tell my host, “no”. So, we had dinner and some beers, reminiced about bear fights, took a few shots, and called it a night around midnight. I had a full day of driving to do the next day. I had no intention of feeling like I had drank my face off the night before. Also I had this weird intention of drying out a bit on this trip. I’ve been extremely social lately between beautiful weather, the Indy 500 and school ending. My liver and kidneys could use a vacation. Heads up, they haven’t had that vacation yet.

  
 Nate gave me some ideas of things to see on my way to Denver. One of them was Car Henge. Some guy wanted to replicate Stone Henge in Alliance, Nebraska. He didn’t have any large slabs of rocks so he used a bunch of Ford cars. I’m not gonna lie, it was a pretty good replica. That little road side attraction did take me out of the way and made me late to pick up Brenna at the airport….

  
I sent Brenna a text that said, “Don’t hate me, I will be late picking you up.” Little did I know that I would be super late. Once I got on I76 in Colorado and about an hour outside of Denver I got a flat. To my amazement I didn’t freak out. I had gotten a AAA membership the day before I left, so I felt oddly comfortable about his hiccup. While I was on the side of the highway trying to get through to AAA, a older man, Terry from Wisconsin who was on his way to hike the Continental Divide stopped to help me. As we went through all the tools that were in my trunk and his, and pulled out the donut and all that jazz, we realized that 1. I had no jack (thanks, previous owner) and 2. I had lug nuts that locked my rims on my car. (Is any of this making sense?). So, none of the thingys that pull the lug nuts off my wheels would fit. I needed a key that was missing (thanks again, previous owner. You suck!). Soon Terry, two state troopers, and myself were trying to problem solve as I waited for AAA. AAA Jimmy showed up and decided he couldn’t do anything and I had to be towed to his shop where he had a key and maybe even a tire (!). I was towed. I got a new $140 tire and the owner of the shop gifted me a key for my rims. Now all I needed was a jack and I’d be good to go in emergencies.

  
Finally, 4 hours late, I was on my way to pick up Brenna from the airport.

This concludes the first leg of the trip. The Denver Adventure is up next!

By Yourself?

It starts with someone asking, “what are you doing this summer?” and ends with them asking, “By yourself?!”. The conversation is filled with disbelief, surprise, and probably some envy on their end. I totally get it.

Tomorrow I take a roadtrip across the country, by myself. Don’t worry, I’ve got friends and family along the way. What started as a trip out to the Bay Area to get away from the midwest humidity and hang out with family for a few weeks turned into a 7 week road trip out west. I like simplicity, but this is far from it.

At first I was just trying to get my trusty road bike out to the west coast. I couldn’t think of anything better than riding my bike through Redwoods, Yosemite, and to the beach. Maybe taking weekend trips up to northern California and down to San Diego. I could have flown my bike. But that would have been too easy. So I have ultimately decided to drive it.  Driving through cities I’ve never been (Denver) and returning to cities with friends in them (Salk Lake). I couldn’t not stop. I also couldn’t ignore that I was near all these national parks I have wanted to see all my life. How could I ignore them?! I can’t. So trips were planned-ish. (this is a little fly by the seat of my pants…) And then it evolved into a big trip to lots of places, to see lots of things, and visit lots of people.  I’m excited and nervous all the same. And that’s good. Really good.

While the 6,000 miles I expect to cover seems large, they are welcomed. This spring hasn’t been extremely kind to me. I think that this adventure will allow me a much needed escape from reality, an opportunity to recenter myself, and most of all, do the thing you’re supposed to do in the place.

So, you’re wondering what’s on tap for this trip? Well, check it out.

Omaha (a stay over on my way to Denver)

Denver (Hi, Brenna!)

Salt Lake City (Hi, KC, Mike, Brenna (again!))

Grand Teton

Yellowstone

Bay Area (Hi, Anne, Abe, Ky, and Lila!)

Yosemite

Redwoods

LA?

San Diego (Hi, Little Anne!)

Grand Canyon: North and South Rims

Flagstaff (Hey Sam and Chris!)

Albaqueque and Santa Fe

Dallas (Hi, Moretsky’s, Kelly and Kluempers!)

Memphis

Nashville (Hi, Anna and hopefully Beachy, Chris, and Justin!)

Home…in Indiana

So, you want to follow along on this crazy trip? I’ve got my bike, some minimal camping gear, and a bunch of maps and brochures from AAA.  I’m sure it will be literally and figuratively filled with bumps in the road, amazing adventures, lots of laughs, and a little soul searching. Come along for the ride. It should be interesting

 

Plitvice Lake National Park

In between Zadar and Zagreb we spent a night outside the National Park in a bed and breakfast. It was a nice change from sharing rooms with multiple strangers and no air conditioning.

We woke up early to get into the park as soon as it opened. We chose the F route which was the “best” route and started our hike.

The trails in the morning were relatively uncrowded but got crowded as the day went on. We were up hill and down hill, staring at waterfalls, daring one another to push one in, and staring straight into the bottom if the lakes. The lakes are special because of their mineral content. The water is super clear because algae and most plants can’t grow. It’s really beautiful. So, I could sit here and talk about walking, but I’m just going to start the pictures (that’s what you want to see anyway).

20130730-120507.jpg

20130730-120524.jpg

20130730-120539.jpg

20130730-120639.jpg

20130730-120918.jpg

20130730-120930.jpg

If you eve go to Croatia, you have to go here. This is honestly one of the most beautiful places I’ve been.

Split, Zadar, and Zagreb

Split, Zadar, and Zagreb were the last three cities we went to in Croatia. My friend from home flew into Split the same day that we ferried from Hvar. We met her at the hostel and did a bit of exploring that night. We didn’t wander too far, but we saw some traditional Croatian dancing on our walk. The city was pretty cool, but definitely touristy. The next day, Jessie and I woke up early with intentions to ride bikes in the park. We woke up early, took the 20 minute walk to the park and found NO BIKES! Zero. None. So we walked. And walked. And Jessie for her feet into the Adriatic for the first time.

20130726-084946.jpg.

That afternoon we took a bus to the national park (more on that later).

Zadar. Oh Zadar and its beautiful sea organ. We didn’t spend much time there. As soon as we got in, we went to the store and bought two bottles of wine, bread, Pag cheese, and an assortment of meat. We found a wonderful spot at the sea organ and ate our dinner, drank wine and chatted.

20130726-085330.jpg

20130726-085341.jpg

20130726-085406.jpg

Jeremy had to get up early to catch a flight so we called it around midnight. Jessie and I woke up early in search of bikes to ride around. We found them!

20130726-085541.jpg we rode around for a while and then tried to find Kirsten at the “sandy beach”. Jessie finally got to go swimming in the Adriatic and I got some sun. It was a good day.

Zagreb. Jessie and I had planned to spend only the evening there. We were supposed to catch a train to Budapest at 10am the following morning. On our mission to explore Zagreb , which is a wonderful city by the way, we ended up staying out until sunrise…

20130726-090112.jpg To no surprise to anyone, we missed our train. Whoops. After a minor melt down/freak out, the hostel people offered me a beer at 11am to make me feel better. While it did make me feel better, I spent the better part of the day napping on their couch.

20130726-090137.jpg

We did finally wander the city.

20130726-090213.jpg

The next morning Jessie and I caught our hellacious train to Budapest.

Croatia is easily my favorite country on this trip. I had a blast.

Hvar…what a ride!

We skipped Korcula and stayed some extra days in Dubrovnik. So, when we finally made it to Hvar we were ready to party.

We spent the first night having dinner and checking out some of the bar scene. I think it may have been a little over our heads and we were downright exhausted, so we called it a night.

The next day we woke up and rented this monster of a boat. It had 5 horsepower and no ladder to get in it.

20130724-083258.jpg

20130724-083309.jpg

We also got a cooler, rafts, beers and lunch to help us through our journey through the Adriatic on a dingy. Oh! Another thing… The whole transaction was sketchy. The guy made me pay secretly, we signed nothing and put down no deposits. We could have sunk the dingy and walked swam away from it and nothing could have been done about it.

We had a great time on the boat. We found a little cove to swim in for a while

20130724-083550.jpg

20130724-083603.jpg

We left the cove because we were running out of beer and needed more. We trekked over to the island bar. Although kind of pricey, it was totally worth it.

20130724-083721.jpg

20130724-083742.jpg

We had mojitos and bought some beers for the rest of our “sailing” adventure. We headed over to another cove and made our late lunch of torn bread, cheese and salami.

20130724-083941.jpg we floated for a while and Kirsten and I swam over to some boats with American flags. They were not impressed. We decided to head back after that. We had all drank our weight in sea water (you thought I was going to say alcohol), and were ready to be out of the sun.

That night we ordered pizza and drank wine on our hostel terrace.

20130724-084208.jpgwe had to catch a mid-day ferry to split the next day.

About that ferry… Turns out that you have to book them a day ahead of time! We didn’t do that. So, we had to steal a cab from people that almost got Kirsten punched and booked it to the ferry over on the other side of the island. We are lucky we made it.

Hvar is pretty great. If you ever want to go, bring your wallet, sunscreen and be ready to party.

Dubrovnik – The Pearl of the Adriatic

Our first stop in Croatia was Dubrovnik. It’s old town is a walled city. We got in mid-day from the earliest flight anyone has ever taken with a hangover from Rome. Our hostel was up the “Spanish Steps”. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it with the green monster in my neck and the 90 degree heat.

20130720-075210.jpg (taken at night… I was too tired to take the pic at the time)

We had planned on kayaking the city walls that afternoon, but my travel buddy desperately needed sleep and I can always do with a good walk. So, we parted ways and I explored the city. When I got back, we booked our day trip to Mostar, Bosnia and our kayaking tour.

Bosnia, well at least Mostar is beautiful.

20130720-075519.jpg and we has cevapcici or also known as “meat fingers” for lunch.

20130720-075638.jpg
We walked around the shops, almost went in the historical stuff and then headed back to Dubrovnik. Our driver was pretty determined to get back by 7. I don’t think I have ever pulled my seatbelt so tight. I thought we were going to go flying off the cliff and that would be the end of our trip. We didn’t and it wasn’t. When we got back, my friend Jeremy had arrived from Chicago. We cleaned up a bit and headed out for dinner.

20130720-080256.jpg black risotto might be my new favorite thing. Then we went for drinks at the Irish pub.

20130720-080443.jpg
Although we had a great time getting drinks, it may have been smarted to take it easy considering we had a day long kayaking your the next day. (I can’t pull up the pics. Sorry!)
Kayaking was a blast! Although it was a solid 7 hours, we got to go in some caves and arches. We also learned about Croatian history.

20130720-082207.jpg
The next day we got a late start to walking the city walls. It was so got and so crowded, but the views were amazing.

20130720-084652.jpg

We added a night to our reservation because we needed more time to actually see the city. Jeremy and I did a beach day. We got some fierce sun while Kirsten was in Montenegro. That was our last day in Dubrovnik. I went on the cable car tour up to the top of the mountain. It was so cool to see the while city and the war museum.

20130720-091257.jpg

Dubrovnik is a wonderful city despite all the steps. I’d love to go back!