Peak to Peak Highway: A Colorado Mini-Road Trip

Since I’m leaving for Korea on Thursday (tickets bought!), I thought it would be a great idea to spend some time in the mountains of Colorado. I chose to drive the Peak to Peak scenic byway, or at least part of it. I started out in Louisville and drove down to Boulder, where construction is in London-level high grade. I cannot believe how much everything has changed since I graduated in 2010.

img_4982

Please note that whenever the pictures were taken from the car, I’m at a stoplight or pulled over. Be safe, folks!

I went up Highway 119 from Boulder (also known as Canyon Blvd.) to Nederland, where I stopped for a bagel with egg at a local cafe.  It was great. Then I headed up the 72 toward Estes Park.

img_4987

On the way I decided to stop at Brainard Lake. I walked around the man made lake at 10,000 ft up, with beautiful skies and clear weather. It was low, but that’s normal at this point in the season.

The fall foliage is coming up nicely in the mountains, where it’s been getting down to the 30sF at night (near to 0C). The road was lined with beautiful Aspens and pines, and I wish I could have bottled the scent of the air. It smells so nice, and also familiar.

img_5044

I remember doing the Peak to Peak several times as a child with my parents. It’s really accessible and easy driving, so if you didn’t grow up in Colorado, you’ll be just fine. In snow season, just go slowly and make sure you have good tires.

img_5006img_5038

Soon it was time for Longs Peak to make its appearance.

img_5061

The picture doesn’t do it justice at all. Dang. It was breathtaking in person.

I’m really happy that I got to spend so much time this year in beautiful natural places, from Iceland to Colorado. On Thursday, we’ll be leaving for South Korea! It’s another move abroad, and a move back to a very big city. We’ll be living in Busan, in the south of the country. There are mountains and beaches there. Should be good, but it won’t be like our summer in Iceland or this Colorado drive.

img_5065img_5068

I love this place. I hit a little bit of traffic in road construction zones, but it wasn’t a big delay at all. Once on the main road in Estes Park, there was a ton of traffic. I was lucky enough to find a free parking space in the Spruce lot past the main tourist zone.

I went to the Inkwell cafe, along the river walk. The Prickly Pear soda (made with cactus fruit) was especially good. I got a caramel apple as a treat and went down the road to Longmont.

img_5071img_5073

The drive takes you through Lyons, CO, which was subject to some of the worst flooding in 2013. That was the night before I left to move to the UK, and my room was flooded a little. Many of my friends in the area lost everything and had to move away, and you can certainly still see damage in Lyons and the whole canyon.

img_5082

After meeting up at 300 Suns brewery didn’t quite work out, I drove home on Highway 287 along the plains. It was so beautiful to see the sunset from the road over the mountains I drove through all day!

img_5090

Remember to always seek out travel experiences, even in the places you call ‘home!’ I know people who’ve lived in Colorado their whole lives on the Front Range and have never been to this part of the mountains. This is a cheap and gorgeous route that almost anyone could easily do. Get out there!

International Cuisine Weekend: Chile

I made this yesterday, but ran out of time to post it. Cazuela is a famous Chilean soup that I ate almost every day while living in Patagonia in 2011. It is flexible and warming when it starts to get chilly (nudge nudge).

This one was adapted a little bit and I didn’t have any corn, so I left that part out.

img_4976

I made the veggie stock with scraps from the Italia day. It’s a favourite thing of mine to do, and it makes me feel like I’ve used all parts of the animal/vegetable to make food. I often have a sealed box filled with scraps and bones in my freezer, ready to go. Bone broth is a big deal these days, but I’ve been making it for years!

Yesterday was Chile, and today will be China!

First, to the mountains.

How I’m Really Feeling

Things are hard. They’ve been hard for a long time.

I work, hard. I was sick this week for days on end, the culmination of several weeks of clinging colds and illnesses that were only vaguely there. Then Monday night. The worst cramps I’ve suffered since I had to go home from school in Mr. Lemke’s 8th Grade Maths class, coupled with a fever and aches. I laid awake all night next to my husband (I sound so grown up!), and worried until dawn that maybe it wasn’t just a cold. Maybe it was PID, or meningitis. Or pneumonia. Or some other thing I could die of.

Needless to say, it was a cold. I’m recovering. My fever broke on Tuesday night.

And so here it is. I’m 28 now, and I’ve been having some hard times. I think it’s fairly safe to say that I am not alone in this. I’ve sure been listening to enough old Mumford and Sons (not that new, Coldplay-ripoff junk) to convince myself. You are not alone in this. You are not alone in this.

Yes, it’s been a long time and a hard one for my ‘Millennial’ generation. I commented this morning that I never felt the true weight of songs like ‘Don’t Stop Believin” and ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ until I started working so damn hard. This is the first week since I moved to China that I didn’t work more than 40 hours. Considering that I was slated to go to yet another unpaid training for five hours this morning, I count having a cold as a minor victory.

But this is the way it is. And I’m kind of freaking out about it, if I’m honest.

My laptop is broken. My earphones are broken (third time since arriving in April). I can’t seem to feed myself and my husband enough with the precious little time outside work left to me each day. I can’t keep our house sparkling clean. I have to commute about an hour to work and an hour home. I live in a city of 25-35 million (depending on who you ask). All my clothes have holes in them. We don’t really have many friends in Shanghai, nearly seven months in. The people that I tried genuinely to escape from the US have followed me here and force me to reign myself in daily, and to play my cards close to my chest. Play ’em close, Coleen….that’s what’s gotten you this far.

I have a paltry raise for the large increase in work from being in a ‘senior’ position. Nevermind that I am much more junior to most folks in my office, having been here less than a year. But this is the way for my generation, and for my brother, too.

Be generally competent, and they’ll make you a manager in four months or less.

It’s fine. We’re plotting our escape. Something amazing and radical. Something that the other teachers at our schools will never be able to understand, but which just might make them a little jealous.

And for now, I can cold brew my morning coffee and filter it myself. I sound like such a hipster, but I’m genuinely trying not to spend more than £6 on a bag of instant Nescafe shite. It might be milder, and hopefully it’ll be stronger. One of many tiny sacrifices for this life on the road.