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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

Boulder Day: A New Holiday

To celebrate being back in Boulder, the land of my birth, I went with my parents to have the most Boulderite day ever on Wednesday! We rolled on our Patchouli oil, put on our Birkenstock sandals, and headed out in the cool rainy May weather.

Our stops for the day:

  • Chautauqua Dining Hall, where I order a brie pizza and 7 Chakra herbal tisane
  • McClintock Trail, to survey the damage from the 2013 thousand-year flood
  • The Trident Cafe on Pearl Street, for Puerh Tea and a look at second hand books
  • Piece, Love, and Chocolate for locally-made truffles
  • Redstone Meadery for free tasters and mead to bring home for our fire ceremony on Saturday
  • Whole Foods’ flagship store on East Pearl Street, for dinner fixings

Boulder really has changed a lot in recent years. Even since I graduated in 2010 from CU-Boulder, buildings are going up all over and places I used to love are no more. I had a sense, walking around in the Trident, that it might not be here when I come back next. It might move on to its next incarnation. Secondhand books might be going away soon, as even a Neo-Luddite like me now has a Kindle.

Boulder changes, and it doesn’t. It’s good to go sample while I’m here!

Short Survey Results: Passports, Travel, and Immigration

It’s always interesting to me to talk about travel.

As someone who makes travelling a lifestyle, I find it fascinating to hear the opinions of others on the subject and the impressions that they gather on the road. Sometimes the conversations go better, sometimes worse. The other day I had someone bring up the supposed ‘No-Go’ Zones in England for non-Muslims, the product of this divvy asshat’s Fox News tirade. I had to draw on all my powers of English reserve gathered in sixteen months to set the record straight (“With all due respect, no.”).

It was a good reminder that it’s difficult to approach common ground on travel and living abroad, especially when the perceptions here in Boulderiorfieldville, CO are influenced mostly by what happens to hit the news. For my part, living in a ‘highly Islamised’ area of East London was never once uncomfortable. In fact, I miss the Halal butcher desperately. Where else can I get frying steak for £1 a kg? Of course, if one never travels one never gets exposed to the realities than underpin the narrative shown on cable news.

I wanted to get some data about travel. The myth is that about 15% of Americans hold a valid passport at any given time. Americans are known worldwide for not travelling, and if they do take any time to do so at all, for not leaving the US. In fact, the percentage is much higher, approaching 50% (based on the numbers crunched here). There are still pockets of low passport use, like West Virginia (~19%) and Mississippi (~18%).

I devised a short survey to spot check the official numbers (discussion below) and added a question about emigrating/immigrating to another country. I put it up on Reddit’s Sample Size section, which allows surveys like this to get more exposure and participants. The answers were a little surprising!

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Results

  • Respondents: 79
  • US Citizens: 59
Survey Participants' Nationality

Survey Participants’ Nationality

  • Total passport holders (valid): 64 (81%)
  • US passport Holders: 50 (84.7%)
Participants by number of trips abroad per year

Participants by number of trips abroad per year

  • Total planning to immigrate into a new country: 32 (40.5%)
  • US planning to immigrate elsewhere: 21 (35.5%) 
  • Non-US citizens, planning to immigrate: 9 (45%)
  • Most common income range of participants (mode): $75,000+
Destinations for travel, US Participants

Destinations for travel, Total Participants

  • Travel by continent (total continents marked = 112):
    • North America: 31 total, 24 USA
    • South America: 8 total, 8 USA
    • Africa: 4 total, 2 USA
    • Europe: 46 total, 32 USA
    • Asia: 16 total, 9 USA
    • Oceania: 4 total, 2 USA
    • Middle East: 3 total, 3 USA
Percentage destinations for trips abroad, US Participants

Percentage destinations for trips abroad, US Participants

  • Most common range of trips per year (mode): 0 times (29 total, 26 USA)
  • Percentage of total participants who take no trips abroad each year: 36.7%
  • Percentage of US participants who take no trips abroad each year: 44%
    • Of US citizens with valid passport: 20%

      Percentages for Trips Abroad

      Percentages for Trips Abroad (total)

Those are some shockingly high numbers for valid passports. The US State Department estimates that 46% of the US population has a valid passport. This cross-section (admittedly a particular one, being drawn from Reddit) has almost double that percentage. Higher than any one state in the US, and much higher than the Colorado average (47%).

I was surprised at the high number of participants planning on immigration! Especially for the US, in my experience I don’t believe I’ve met another person who wants to move abroad permanently. Good to know at least in this group of people, I’m not alone. 35.5% is a really high number for US citizens planning on emigrating, contradicting my personal experiences. But then, that’s precisely why one does a survey, right?

Things got more interesting when I asked for specific details on travelling abroad. It appears that most US participants with a valid passport take at least one trip abroad every year, but a high ratio of Americans surveyed take no trips abroad (44%). This could be contributing to the ‘American=No Passport’ myth.

This is obviously not a fully scientific study, and is probably flawed in several ways. One such way is the apparently high income average that was self-reported here. I have no way to know whether any of that is accurate. It’s the internet. Likely, people are making some of it up. Especially the six ‘students’ claiming $75,000+ a year. But then, maybe they were counting their whole family’s income. In addition, the sample size of those from outside the USA is tiny (20), so it’s not likely that the stats correlate in the general population.

This was a great little survey. What do you think of the results? Do they seem accurate, based on your experiences?

Click here if you’d like to add yourself to the survey. I’d love to get some more data to share!