Day Eight:

Decided that I should probably make use of the fitness center at the hotel. I was a bit nervous about it since my last run had me hobbling back home. I’m not sure what I did to my right ankle after my ten mile run in Philadelphia in early May, but running was out of the question for awhile. As a result, my training for the Bryce Canyon half marathon was derailed. Luckily I was able to switch over to the 5K race for July 12th. Even with that, though, it needs some preparation. So my pain free 2.5 miles on the treadmill was much appreciated. I guess I earned my half of the blueberry waffle.

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Debra and I set out for Denver cruising along I-70 going 80mph. The nicest part of driving through Kansas is the incredibly vast sky. Other than that, and a few cool windmills, there isn’t much to see.

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As soon as we pulled up to Jackie’s apartment building, Debra got a call from some friends from home who moved out here. Within ten minutes we were back out the door and driving across the city. Call it a coincidence, or serendipity, but where Debra was getting dropped off was directly next to my favorite ice cream shop in Denver. (Raspberry sorbet and ginger/pineapple vegan ice cream. Yum.)

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Upon returning, I decided that instead of trying to find something to do for the Fourth of July, I would import Mexican food from the restaurant that Jackie is always raving about, organize my belongings, put on a load of laundry, and read. Seemed fitting for a day celebrating freedom.

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Day Nine:

We got an early start to the day. Traveled about an hour north of Denver to the city of Ft. Collins. Grabbed breakfast at Snooze, which happens to be tied for my favorite breakfast place ever. One may order a “flight” of pancakes. We decided on strawberry malted, blueberry streusel with cheese filling, and the lime, coconut, and chocolate pancake of the day. As my friend from work stated after visiting Snooze last year, the pancakes are dessert disguised as breakfast.

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After breakfast, we strolled through the town. Debra and I were both intrigued by the gemology store. She picked up a souvenier, and I purchased a tiny raw diamond crystal about the size of a grain of salt. (Take that, Arkansas!) We drove over to the New Belgium “Mothership”, and met up with a friend of Debra’s. Truth be told, Rob went to Kings Park and was a seventh grader when I began my teaching career there. We shared stories and discussed various adventures. It was truly a nice time.

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In the afternoon, we traveled on to Boulder to grab lunch at the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, which was built in Tajikstan and shipped piece by piece to be reassembled on site. It has a very nice atmosphere. While in Boulder, we walked through the farmer’s market & the plethora of unique shops on the pedestrian mall.

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Our final stop was at Red Rocks Ampitheater. Having been there several times over the past few years, I knew I wanted to see another show. With little time here, our options were going to be limited. Luckily for us, one of the headliners happened to be a band that Debra has seen before and enjoys listening to. Umphree McGee’s and two other bands performed in what is arguably the greatest outdoor venue in the world. The combination of music, awesome rock formations, people watching, and cool breezes made for a perfect evening. The bands were not necessarily my style or scene, but put on a highly entertaining & dance inducing show. For those who enjoy live music, seeing a show at Red Rocks is a must. The Denver region is so accessible, and a show could easily be a part of a long weekend in town.

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Day Ten:

Completed a 2.66 mile run through City Park. It is true what they say about Denver. The air is rare when one is a mile above sea level.

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The Butterfly Pavilion is just a few miles northwest of Denver. We spent a few hours there looking at and photographing invertebrates as they fluttered by. The photos taken on my Nikon came out much better than the ones posted here. Afterwards, we stopped at a music store and picked up a few new albums for the road ahead.

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Our final adventure in the Denver area involved meeting up with our aunt and uncle. It has become such a nice tradition to see them once every year or so. No matter where we go, or what we do, we always seem to enjoy the moments together. This afternoon had us touring a whiskey distillery right in the heart of Denver, then heading to my favorite restaurant in the area. Perhaps next year I’ll be able to reach for the bill a bit faster. Well played, Paula. Well played.

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Final Thoughts:
Several people have already told me that they are eating vicariously through some of the food photos. I know that they may seem out of place when compared with landscape photographs. I have found that when on such long trips, the meals provide excitement and anticipation, whether from a restaurant or prepared by yourself. I spent many summers working for a tour company and witnessed how food made some of the worries vanish from the faces of teens who absolutely had no interest in camping out west, especially when they helped prepare the meal. For those enjoying the food photos, they will certainly continue. For those who don’t, scroll down more quickly when you approach one.

Jackie was kind and allowed Debra and me to crash at her apartment while she was out of town for the weekend. She has such a cool apartment. Throughout her home, there are dozens of hands. Some are wood, some plastic, some ceramic. I’ve always found them fascinating, and have even helped her collection expand. My favorite aspect of her apartment, however, is no bigger than a sheet of paper. Take a look…

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The last sight seen in the comfort of home before joining the busy world should always be this motivating. I plan on keeping my eyes peeled for my own daily affirmation plaque for my new home. (Something tells me Portland will be a good place to look.)

Each day so far on this trip has been a really good day. I’ve enjoyed spending quality time with Debra, and will be sad when she departs in a few days. I enjoyed spending the time with Geoff and Paula last night. I’ve enjoyed meeting new people and learning interesting things about them and their lives. I’ve enjoyed going to several new destinations, and the excitement of many new locations ahead of me. Honestly, the last week or two before departing should have taken every ounce of energy from me. Moving out of my apartment, closing up the classroom operations, packing for 59 days on the road. Yet, I somehow remained calm and relaxed. Perhaps Jackie’s sign was somewhere in my subconscious reminding me not to worry. Every day is going to have a really good portion, even through terrible times. Trying to find them and appreciate them is the real skill. It’s something that I have been trying very hard at working on in the past year or so. For those who know me well, and see me on a regular basis, know that I try to see the humor (and hopefully good) in almost everything. (Poor Rose, Amanda, & Eileen at school. Such close classroom proximity must have its moments, at times.)

So as Debra and I make our way towards Utah in a few hours, I’m preparing for a really good day. I hope you will, too. Wherever you may be…

6 thoughts

  1. Looks like you are doing well and having a ton of fun! Glad to hear you are running with less pain! Those pancakes looked delicious! Miss you and can’t wait to hear more about your adventures. 😊

  2. Love the butterfly pics Greg!
    And did you know that I have that exact plaque in my classroom? 🙂
    Happy travels! Can’t wait to read more.

  3. Thanks for this awesome synopsis of your trip, it is generous of you to share it with us!
    Thanks especially for Jackie’s positive sign – I need it before going back to work and leaving the little guy.
    Keep the great pics and thoughtful words coming 🙂

  4. Great pics! I am enjoying the food pics (with the descriptions), so keep them coming!
    Your pics of Nashville reminded me of my trip there, and your visit to Colorado made me add that destination to my list.
    Looking forward to the next post…

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