Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sometimes it doesn't pay to be an optimist

So, we started this day in Roanoke, Virginia, expecting to fly to Philadelphia then on to Manchester, England.  Unfortunately, when Rudolph landed in Roanoke, his nose wouldn't light.  As a result, US Air decided our best option was to jump on the flight south to Charlotte, NC, then to Frankfurt, Germany, and then back west to Manchester.  It only added a few hours to the trip...something like nine.  I learned why this flight was $200 per seat cheaper than the British free beer and wine.

Of course, always optimistic, for seventeen hours I wait expectantly for the best frankfurter in the world, which I'm sure I'm going to get when I arrive in Frankfurt.

Thankfully, I found the Virgin convenience store, where the Paulaner was €3 cheaper than in the restaurant that robbed me and gave me this hot dog and potato salad in return.

McAfee's Knob - Catawba, VA

Probably the most-photographed point on the southern Appalachain Trail - so I had to hike up this hill, hang the camera in a pine tree, and get one picture.  As it was pushing 95 degrees F on the day of the walk, I went alone...except for the black snake that crossed the trail in front of me.

Cascades Trail - a quintessential Virginia trail - Pembroke, VA

The Cascades Trail in Pembroke, VA - just between Blacksburg and Roanoke - offers a combination of the quintessential Virginia creekside hike and a short, easy trail.  At only four miles round-trip, with a deep, cold swimming hole at the trail's end, this is one of the best summer hikes to be had in the area.  You're sure to run in to numerous college students from Virginia Tech.

Look at the pictures below - stunning!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kentucky Derby Museum, Louisville, KY

OK, so we're not big race fans and we don't wear fancy hats, but when in Louisville, we have to go see the Kentucky Derby Horse Museum.

Mother and son got a bit competitive on the virtual horse race game!  Son thinks he can sit down and ride his superior video game skills to victory, while Mum gets up on her high horse.

Who do you think wins?  Check out the screen below for the answer.

No hard feelings, they rode together later in the tour!
Son dons his silks for the next race....

Next stop, the Kentucky Horse Park, the heart of Kentucky horse country...

Pilgrimage to the tombs of Man O' War and Secretariat complete...more to come tomorrow!

Buckhead Mountain Grill on the banks of the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky

What a view!  Fantastic selection of draft beers, and great chicken pot pie!

St. Louis - the Gateway Arch!

We arrived in Kansas City after an 11 hour drive and one stop for fried chicken.  It was Cinco de Mayo.  KC was a raging party when we arrived, with lots of people who can't dance dancing in the streets.  I'm not a big fan of Kansas City at this point.  It was pretty embarrassing.

After sleeping off the long drive, we piled back into the truck for another four hour road trip, and headed straight to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.  Check out the toe nails on this horse!

After being stripped of numerous weapons while entering the Gateway Arch National Monument, we slipped into the coffin for the ferris-wheel ride up to the top.

After we climbed out of the coffin and into the mausoleum at the top of the Arch, here are the views:

Looking straight down like Percy Jackson in Rick Riordan's book...

...and looking towards the baseball stadium....

The most important thing about the Arch - it is a memorial to our hero, Thomas Jefferson, who had the foresight to purchase all of the land west of the Mississippi in the Louisiana Purchase.  

In 1789, he said "no generation can contract debts greater than may be paid during the course of its own existence."  Remember that line, it is going to become more important in the next few years (or next few months if you are Greek, Spanish, or Portuguese)!

JD's Chicken - Hays, Kansas

We're in Kansas!  Who'dve thunk that we would find off-the-charts fried chicken in the state that whisked Dorothy off to Oz?  Look at this!

Wow, that is one amazing three-piece fried chicken dinner, with mashed potatoes and baked beans.  Look below, and you will see the Fried Chicken Livers, with the same peppery mashed potatoes and cole slaw.

So much for healthy eating, but since we drove hundreds of miles, I figure that counts as exercise?

Recent food reviews

For those of you who follow my food reviews, I've been too busy having fun to post to the blog...but if you're curious as to our food escapades, check out my nom-de-plume on Yelp, Hugh Akston:

Wildflowers of Utah

As we race across the "fly-over" states and avoid spending any money in Illinois, home of the nation's most idiotic gun laws (how's that working for you Chicago?) and most corrupt politicians (funny how those two go together), here are some pictures of the wildflowers of Utah to keep you entertained.

OK, the last two are impostors from Colorado...the lack of red dirt gives it away, I know!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hiking Avon and Minturn - Backpacking Grouse Mountain and Meadow Mountain

With the wife firmly esconced in the Westin Riverfront, the son and I were able to sneak off for a bit of backpacking.  We had tried this in other locations, but leaving her alone in the tent, taking community showers with truck drivers, and eating at the local diner didn't go over well.  Finally, we had the right combination of location and accommodation!

Unfortunately for me, Steam was offering a free multiplayer weekend for online gamers on Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, so our son awoke hours before dawn and played for free before our departure.  This had immediate negative consequences.

At least we didn't miss the trail sign, and since he was carrying the food, he had no choice but to persevere.  However, we did a lot of this on the way uphill.

Time for the daily game, can you spot the grouse?

Between the devastation wrought by the Pine Bark Beetle here in Colorado and the recent high winter winds, the trail got increasingly more difficult, especially when carrying packs.

It was fun at first...

...but pretty soon, the West Grouse Creek Trail became a bit ridiculous.

So we back-tracked and after wandering a bit, we settled on to the Meadow Mountain trail.  It was lower down, free of fallen pines, and offered wide-open meadows and stands of aspen for the hammocks!

Our view looking north from the campsite...

...and our campsite looked like this the night before,

and this in the morning light.

At around 10,000 feet, our son stayed warm and toasty in his hi-tech sleeping bag in the "mother ship" to the left, while I, after stuffing the jungle hammock with leaves for insulation, was still looking for the feeling in my toes four hours after getting up.  Note the ice on the logs crossing the bubbling brook next to our campsite.

I regained feeling in my digits shortly after consuming this buffalo burger, fries, and onion rings at the Route 6 Cafe on the way back to the hot tub at the Westin