Monday, June 27, 2016

the artwork of austin

i've been hearing about austin for years. especially since living in tucson, as tucson has often been compared to a young austin. but austin is it's own flavor. it's a university town, it's the capitol of texas, and it's a music haven. my favorite part though was the street art; it's everywhere!

a quick guide to austin --

eat:  you know we can't resist a good ramen place, and ramen tatsu-ya is good. another great dinner spot is launderette, a cute little spot in east austin, known for their cocktails and small plates, but if you're looking for a more relaxed eating experience though, check out east side pies. and for breakfast, don't miss biscuits + groovy, a permanent food truck located a couple miles north of UT.   

see: the bats under the congress avenue bridge! there are approximately 1.5 million bats living under the congress avenue bridge, and each night they come out a sunset to devour thousands of pounds of bugs. it's amazing! it takes about an hour for all of them to exit the bridge, and they won't return til dawn, eating their way across austin. and during the day you can hear them if you're kayaking around lady bird lake. 

do: austin is a very bike friendly town; take advantage by renting a bike from austin bcycle ($8/day). austin is also known for its pools and springs, so definitely use your trip there as an opportunity to soak up the sun and get a bit of exercise by kayaking around lady bird lake with congress avenue kayaks. if you head towards barton springs, you can still swim in the cool water without paying the entrance fee. 

sleep: via airbnb at a cute birdhouse; it's very small, but it's in a great location. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

state fair of texas

i ooze tribe pride, anyone who knows me, knows that i bleed green and gold. but the pride i have in my alma mater is nothing compared to the pride texans have for texas. they celebrate texas independence day, root for texas sports teams, know strange facts about texas, and get very offended when people bad mouth it. i know this because i married a texan.

but you can never truly understand texas until you've visited the state fair. located in the heart of dallas, it's 3 weeks of fried food, concerts, and carnival rides. and big tex is perhaps the most iconically texan thing besides the lone star. 

if you decide to visit the state fair of texas, which you most definitely should, be sure to find out what the best fried foods for the year are. there are some classics, we liked the thanksgiving dinner and the peanut butter and jelly and banana sandwich, but each year booths compete to have the best new fried creation, and they are delicious.  

Sunday, June 19, 2016

here comes the sun: an east coast road trip

last summer, we road tripped from seattle, around the olympic peninsula, into canada and back, through idaho and montana and into wyoming to visit national parks, down to utah, and finally to colorado. over those 3 weeks, we camped 14 days, showering when we could. and about 90% of the time, this is what i looked like: braids and mismatched clothes. and i could not have been happier. 

today we start this year's road trip to the east coast. to be expected: dirtbagging at its finest, humidity, and a wedding! we're pretty excited about it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

the mountains of colorado

it seems like everyone and their mother is talking about moving to colorado. the winter sports, the summer sports, the climbing, the food, the elevation, the views, the mountains. and they aren't wrong. denver and the surrounding area is a little paradise for the outdoorsy, dirtbag type. but be sure to clean up a little and check out the food too -- they've got some really good stuff! 

a quick guide to the denver area -- 

eat: after a couple of weeks of making sandwiches out of the back of our car, the denver area was a pleasant surprise; the food was diverse and amazing. our favorites included: hops and pie for delicious pizza, lucile's for a cajun breakfast, sherpa's for a tibetan treat, tengu for amazing ramen, and of course, the breweries: southern sun and cannonball creek brewery.

see: obviously the star of the show in denver is rocky mountain national park, but the denver science museum is pretty spectacular as well. be sure to check out their dinosaurs exhibit; they have a great collection! but if all you really want to do is explore rocky mountain national park, that's cool too! there are a million hikes to choose from but since it was raining with thunderstorms projected we only had time to do a little hike near bear lake, to emerald and dream lake, about a 3 mile loop. 

do: climb! denver is known for its amazing climbing, both outside and in the gyms. we did a little bouldering one day in the flatirons with some friends, which we can't recommend enough. but if it's a gym you're looking for we recommend earth treks in golden; it's spacious, has a ton of stuff to climb, and the showers are great. another fun spot is the spot bouldering gym; they have a different grading system, but that almost makes it more fun. and finally, if you're into gear, climbing, camping, or otherwise, shop at neptune mountaineering. it's a local version of rei and has some amazing stuff. 

sleep: for the true dirtbag experience camp at cold springs campground outside of golden and shower at the ymca. the ymca gives you 3 free showers!

going to dinosaur to see dinosaurs

rcg is kind of a dinosaur nut. not in a super geeky "i know everything there is to know" kind of way, but in a "i like them enough to get a tattoo" kind of way. so when i realized that our road trip was going to pass somewhat near dinosaur, utah/colorado, i made it a point to stop at dinosaur national monument to make one of his boyhood dreams come true. it was pretty badass. 

see: visit the quarry exhibit hall at the dinosaur national monument to see over 1500 fossils and one of the best allosaurus skulls ever found. while you're there, be sure to pick up one of the guides that points out which bones came from which animals; it makes the visit even more interesting. if you want to spend a little more time here check out the hiking trails, river rafting, camping, and petroglyphs. 

eat/sleep: vernal, utah is a fracking town, so i have no real recommendations on where to sleep or eat; we ate sandwiches from our supply of groceries and stayed in an unremarkable, but clean hotel. camping is hard to find in the town itself, but you can camp in dinosaur national monument if you want. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

grand teton national park

i've seen quite a few mountain ranges in my life, but the grand tetons just might take the cake. i mean, the french trappers who first saw them named them "les trois tetons", or the three breasts. what's not to like about that? plus, their jagged, gray peaks against a clear blue sky are pretty magnificent. 

a quick guide to grand teton -- 

eat: just outside of grand teton is the small ski town of jackson hole. in the winter i'm sure it's packed to the gills with skiers and snowboarders, but in the summer it's inhabited with families and lovers of outdoor adventure. and everyone was eating at teton thai. it was that good. 

see: moose!! 

do: grand teton national park is approximately 500 sq. miles of gray mountains, green valleys, and blue lakes. explore it all. there are little, easy hikes and incredibly strenuous ones; find the one that best fits your ability and time frame and get out there! we did a nice hike around string lake that was spectacular. it wasn't too long or difficult, but it had amazing views of the mountains and the lake. if you have enough time, plan a little picnic or rent a kayak and make a day of it. (fyi: it's $30 per car to visit grand teton, but if you want to visit both yellowstone and grand teton national parks, it's $50. both passes last for 7 days.)

sleep: the hostel, in jackson hole, is the perfect place to stay for those on a budget, as finding camping in grand teton is a difficult task. but the hostel has it all: lockers for your skis/snowboards, fridges to put your food in, game rooms and movies to watch, rooms with four beds, perfect for a family, and bunk rooms, for larger groups or single travelers.