Land’s End, Colorado

If you drive East from Grand Junction towards Denver for roughly…30 minutes? 20? you hit an exit from the highway which leads you towards the Grand Mesa.

The Mesa is the largest flat-topped mountain in the world, full of pretty much any outdoor recreational activity you can think of.

And if you drive up the Grand Mesa for another 20 minutes or so, you pass through a teeny tiny town, pass by turn-offs for other little towns, pass the local ski resort (Powderhorn), and eventually reach the top.*

Now, drive along the road until you see a sign pointing off to your right, onto a dirt road. This sign says “Land’s End.”

Then follow this road for another 15 minutes or so and you’ll come to this.

 

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It’s like you’re at the end of the world

(hence, Land’s End)

The whole drive takes something between and hour and an hour and a half, and even if you just go to Land’s End, it’s definitely worth it.

The views are stunning.

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And there are little chipmunk-type creatures who are completely used to being fed by humans. Seriously, bring food or else you’ll feel terrible for not feeding them from the amount of begging they do.

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And there’s a cool shelter that was built in the 30s and sold stuff to tourists in the 40s and 50s. Way back in the 30s this was an established viewpoint!

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And lastly, on your way back you can stop at these cabins, which (along with plaques set along side them) show how the ranchers used to live up in the mountains. Let me tell you, those cabins are tiny for the amount of people they fit in there….

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Logistics: About an hour to 90 minute ride from Grand Junction.

The beginning 1/3 of the road from the Mesa to Land’s End is dirt. So make sure you have a car that can deal with that!

And lastly, pack warmly! It’s always a good 15 (F) degrees cooler up there at least.

 

*And if you’re like me and happen to be sick with a cold, this will involve lots of painful popping of your ears.

PotW: Grand Junction, Colorado

Hah! Bet you thought you’d be hearing about Prague and Greece, non?

Well, I actually have some posts to get through with Colorado, first, but I promise we’ll get back to the more exotic stuff (whaa? how can you say GJ isn’t exotic??).  I have a lot of posts to write, and not a lot of time to do them (my friends will tell you, I am dreading starting on this behemoth of a trip. SO MANY THINGS HAPPENED, GUYS)

So wish me luck! But until then, here are some photos for you.

The first and second highlighting how much of a desert I live in, the third and fourth of a lovely dinner on a summer evening, and the fifth? Well, lawn ornament of Madonna + Amr’can flag? Only in America.

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10 Awesome Links to Make Your Friday Better

 

Nice, France

Woot! I’m back in the states and about to go to the NW tomorrow. I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE NW. Check in with you later :)

Iconic photos, behind the scenes.

A great quote.

Beyond the Gender Binary, a comic.

The story of the world’s tallest woman.

16 surprising things about raising kids in China (or, in general, 16 surprising things about living in China)

Another one of those “history in color” things. They look so cool.

A cute anniversary idea (doesn’t hurt that they’re swedish-fitness-model-good-looking)

Excellent entertaining tips

How to keep from flashing the world while cycling in a skirt.

Why we want to squeeze cute things.

Btw, a good number of these links came from Cup of Jo this week. Just want to credit where it’s due :)

Yr.no

Want a reliable* website with detailed weather reports including visual and numerical calculations of rainfall, could cover, temperature, air pressure, wind direction and wind speed?

Well, look no further. You’ve come to the right place.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: The Norwegians.

Or specifically, http://www.yr.no/

Who knew they could do weather so well?

*Ok, reliable as any website like this can be. But seriously, they do a bang-up job – at least for Europe!

The Pros and Cons of an eReader, and Why You Should Own One

After now having owned and extensively traveled with an eReader (a Nook, to be specific) for over a year, I decided to share my thoughts on the matter.*

So here’s my list of pros and cons, and ultimately why you should get one, but maybe only if you spend time abroad.

Pros:

Portability. Ok, this is kind of the obvious one, but my god I can’t say how lovely it is to have 50 books in one small easy-to-carry device. I remember vacations early on in life when I’d have 3 Dragonriders of Pern behemoths weighing down my bag. And earlier this year I tackled Infinite Jest in both real and then electronic form…much easier on a Nook, let me tell you. Also, travel-bonus, you can download travel guides!

Access to English books. I read a lot of interesting in books in my two years in Prague…and by interesting I mean mismatched, eclectic leftovers from other expats because buying English books abroad is ex-pen-sive. Soo many 2nd-book-in-the-series options on my Prague shelf. But with an eReader and having the ability to download books from my US library?? That is so awesome! Not to mention buy them if I want via online. And I may have heard tell of people who illegally torrent their books…but of course I would never do that.

Ability to hide what you’re reading. Embarrassed by that teen fantasy series? No problem! No one will know, unless they look reaaaallly closely on the subway. And that’s just intrusive. Not that I ever had this problem, either, of course.    …    Also, another travel-bonus, less people will know you’re reading a guidebook when it’s on your Nook. 100 points for not looking like a tourist!

You can look up words. I actually found myself going to physically press down on a word on a paper page so I could look it up as if I was using an eReader. It was a weird feeling. But with an eReader you so quickly get used to being able to look up any word, right then and there. And I miss that with real books.

Light built in. Obviously his only works if yours does have light built in, but it is so handy to be able to read in hostels or just in your bed without needing to turn on a light or bother anyone else.

Cons:

It’s not a real book. (Actually, that’s the entire con list, but at least there’re parts involved.)

You miss your real books. You feel…less wholesome? somehow? reading from something electronic. As if you’re really cheating on good-real-things with this too-slick snake-oil salesman of technology.

It’s not social. One part of reading books that is so cool is that you can spot them on the subway, on a coffee table of a friend’s house, and in someone’s hand and go “oh! Do you like that book? I’ve been meaning to read that” or “Oh man I love that book. Tell me you like it.” I missed that, a lot. Reading from an eReader is kind of isolating. It’s hard to share books (unless your friend also happens to have a Kindle or Nook, etc.), and you never know what other books other people are reading – for those moments of community or just for new ideas. Or if you’re abroad, for what language they speak :) That was always a fun game, “guess the nationality,” and it’s fun to be *possibly* confirmed by their reading language.

It’s expensive. You worry about it. If a book gets stolen, oh well, but if your Nook gets stolen….it’s painful. Plus, while traveling especially (because that’s when I use mine), you have to worry about the elements. In fact, I just tend to bring an extra real book for  a beach vacation, because who wants to worry about sand, heat, water, and theft when you’re enjoying the ocean?

Verdict?

You don’t really need one if you’re just at home, but for travel (minus the beach), it’s beyond compare. You never have to worry about balancing the books you’ll go through vs the weight you can pack, and if you get bored with a book? No problem! Just switch to a different book. You have like 50 in there.

Oh, and side note, I do recommend having an actual, separate eReader vs just using a tablet when you travel. You’re less afraid of them being stolen (since they’re cheaper), you can read them in the sun like any other book, and they’re wayyyy easier on the eyes in general.

*because you all realllly care :D

Where Do You Sit on an Airplane?

I think I might have mentioned this before, but I always have a ritual as to where I sit on planes.

On short little flights I always take the window (not over the wing) so I can see the landscape and clouds below me.

The desert moonscape of Western Colorado…

On longer flights I always take the aisle so I can easily get to the bathroom and stretch out my legs (and annoy every steward, I’m sure…sorry guys. I can’t help that plane seats in economy are SO SMALL).

And middle seats of any kind? I avoid them like the plague they are.

Worst of all worlds.

Where do you guys sit in planes? Am I crazy to be so exact about this?

PotW: A Look at Greece (and Serbia)

 

If ever there was a lucky trip, it was this one. Perfect weather (including a smog-free Athens)? Check. Amazing Couchsurfing host, hostels, and fellow travelers? Check. Getting great food recommendations and stumbling across fabulous restaurants? Check. Missing the bus but then hitchhiking back smoothly across Crete? Check. Perfect beaches on every island? Check. Getting to run back through airport security to find my e-reader right where I forgot it in the middle of the airport? Check. No missed connections and only one small plane delay? Check.

So, basically, it was fabulous. Greece is fabulous.

I can’t wait to go back.

I now have to spend hours sifting through photos and writing posts (oh the numerous posts).

But since that’s not going to happen until I’m on the plane home, here’s a small taste.

One of Athens, one of Santorini, two of Rethymno, one of Belgrade.

Happy Monday!

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Why We Leave (via Tickets to)

Sorry guys – no links today! I’m still in Greece and decided to not take my computer with me, making gathering cool sites difficult :) Instead, here’s a post from before. A post that I’ve been reminded of lately. Because lately, it feels very, very true.

 

An expat friend (one who moved to Japan about a year ago) posted this blog called “Tickets To” on facebook.

It’s a cool concept. Expats from many different countries are part of it and post thoughts from their lives. Kinda like a matador network (ie, travel-writing blog) except, well, less extremely slick/polished and more focused on living abroad vs just traveling.

I haven’t checked it out as much as I’d like, but here’s an article to get you started that I’ve come across and liked.

It’s nice to see something written that’s exploring why us expats are expats..

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