Devil’s Kitchen, Grand Junction, CO

So, in Western CO’s Grand Junction/Grand Valley, you have the Grand Mesa to the East (as mentioned before, full of about any and every outdoor activity you can think of), the Bookcliffs to the north (with excellent hiking if you’re not afraid of heights…I tried hiking it once – couldn’t deal with the drop-offs), and the Monument to the south.

Now the Mesa is all green and lush (for the desert) and full of lakes and such. The Monument, however?

You might as well be at Arches.

In other words, we’re back to the true desert. The cactus, the lizards, the scrubs, the towering red sandstone rocks.

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This desert is extraordinarily close to town (about 15 min from the center), and full of numerous hiking and biking trails.

And I had barely ever explored them*

I had never even gone on the little hike called Devil’s Kitchen – a staple for every 2nd and 4th and 6th grade field trip in the Valley.

So, when a friend was visiting the Valley for possibly the last time in a long long while, we impulsively cut short our monument drive/picnic and started out on the trail.

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…and it lasted all of 30 minutes. So that’s why they take the kiddos out here.

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But it’s a really fun hike. Gorgeous views of the desert and Monument, all leading to a short blood-pumping climb up to a collection of massive red rocks. The “kitchen” itself.

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You can climb all over the rocks and hike around, then leisurely start the 30 minutes back, taking your time and chatting along the way.

A fun little outdoor excursion, and good way to show off the nature around the town :) IMG_31241 IMG_31311

Logistics:

It costs $5 (?) to enter the Monument if you don’t already have a ____ pass. So combine maybe a hike and a tour of the Monument in one day? You can also buy a year-long pass for ___.

As always with hiking in the desert, remember to bring lots of water and sunscreen, never drink all your water, and go early if it’s the summertime to avoid the heat. The park opens at __ and closes at __.

 

*I know, I shame my fellow Coloradans.

 

6 Awesome Links to Make Your Friday Better

First Lights in Valensole – France

Hey hey! I’m off to Seattle today – have a good weekend, y’all!

Have you heard of Trypophobia? From what I gather it’s up for debate whether it’s a real thing, but ughhh I can see why people have it. Holy JESUS that stuff is just unpleasant.

This is cool – an artist recreates his childhood drawings.

A bare-minimums packing list. Any late-summer travel going on in your life? Here you are! (NB: I did not follow this list in any way for my current trip…but I blame the fact that I’m going to a wedding.)

I might hate the original, but Weird Al does a pretty good job

This is a little old, but enjoy the GoT 3 min recap.

And WOAH. Look at this robot. Kinda…comforting? (because it plugs into our childhood pixar nostalgia) and kinda terrifying? (because OMG robot overlords/NSA capabilities)

And in further technology, here’s something for all you lovers out there…

What’s a hipster?

Once, when doing an ethnographic study on Stumptown Coffee, I had to define what a hipster was. To be honest, it was kind of a failure – I just didn’t have the theoretical background to do so when I was a sophomore.

But I found this video recently which says exactly what I think about “hipsters.” It talks about what they are, why they get such a bad rap, and why maybe, just maybe, they don’t deserve it.

Check it out :)

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?