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It is that time of the year again!  This date officially marks the one year anniversary of my travel blog!  In 2012 at this time, AISES National Conference was held in Anchorage, Alaska.  It was my first attendance to an AISES event ever and I competed. I wrote about my time in Alaska on this blog, from my days hiking on the glacier, to delivering research presentations, and even including my adventures north to find the Northern Lights after spending an afternoon with Sarah Palin’s sister, Heather Spruce.

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My truck.

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A stop at Carter Lake on the way through Fort Collins.

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Carter Lake.

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The countryside.

This year, the Conference is in Denver, Colorado.  As with Anchorage, it has been here before.  The ceremonies open in the morning and so I have flown out for early registration and to explore the area a bit.  I flew in to Denver International Airport and took a shuttle to Enterprise to rent a pick-up truck.  I was anxious to see some areas I’d never seen before (namely in Wyoming), but I made a quick detour for lunch in downtown Denver with a friend, Jeremy, whom I met in a very…unique situation.

Back in March, I was with my friend Andrea on San Salvador island looking for her shoes on the beach when I found a wine bottle with a piece of paper stuffed in it.  I smashed the bottle to find a note from a kid who was at the GRC base not long before we were.  He and I were both on the island for programs, both from the same region of Pennsylvania, and both going to school in Ohio.  I wrote back to him although my mom forgot to mail the letter until I was already abroad for my summer trips.  Jeremy replied via e-mail and we began chatting and added each other on Facebook.  Jeremy saw that I was going to be in Denver this month and so was he, attending the conference that was ending at the Colorado Convention Center the same time mine was about to begin.  Thus, we met for lunch.

I found a place called Paris on Platte that had a music venue side as well as a cafe side.  There was a wide variety of healthy, vegan, and ordinary foods, as well as coffees, alcoholic drinks, and desserts.  We chatted for some good time before I was ready to venture north.  I dropped him back off at his sessions and headed north out of the city, passing through Fort Collins and eventually coming to the Wyoming border.  The speed limit of 75 was definitely in my favor although the winds were strong.  I took selfies at the Wyoming state line sign and finally crossed into a state I had been longing to see for years, my self-declared favorite state ever.

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Me at the Colorado-Wyoming border.

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Cheyenne capital building.

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Coming into Nebraska from the west.

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Me and some silly cows that were eating and tripping over tumbleweed.IMG_0536

The train tracks running by Bushnell, Nebraska.

I just love the mountains and yet the solitude.  Although I began to fall in love with Colorado more than ever, I couldn’t deny that I still felt very comfortable in Wyoming.  I had wanted to go to Devil’s Tower and Jackson Hole, but I kept my driving as limited as my time and instead ventured around Cheyenne a little.  What a small town!  I decided to head east into Nebraska, never having seen the western part of the plains states before.  I was shocked by how barren the space really was, even on this side of the Plains, and I photographed the paved roads that quickly turned to dirt, the cows munching on tumbleweeds, and the trains weaving through barren towns with old, painted water towers.

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Microbrewery in Historic Cheyenne: Freedom’s Edge.

As the sun was setting, I made my way back in to Cheyenne and photographed the wheat in the bright colors.  The train tracks were shining parallel lines running the stretch of endless fields.  Traffic picked up again in Cheyenne, and I managed to park near the train station to walk past Wrangler’s to a microbrewery in Historic Cheyenne called Freedom’s Edge.  I slowly sipped on a chili IPA, loving the spice, when I met three locals who encouraged me to try the Pumpkin Ale.  I ended up getting special privileges and sitting upstairs with these three kids, Matt, Corey, and Kris.  I kept an eye on my watch and then they invited me back to Corey’s house after chatting for some time.  They had just killed an elk and showed me the work they had done in Corey’s garage.  They also shared some of their home-brewed beer and introduced me to some more friends and the five dogs running around Corey’s house.  We chatted for a little longer, then I had to say goodbye and head back to Colorado.  I have an invitation now to return for a real tour of Wyoming.  Apparently people are very into rock-climbing out here.

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Chili beer.

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My new friends photographed me by the silly sign.

I had wanted to stop in Fort Collins to see a friend on the way back in, but I was pushing my rental hours too close and decided to drive straight back.  I made it back in the nick of time and was met by my friend, Claire.  She and I used to go to Case together and play hockey in Cleveland.  She just moved to Golden this summer, leaving her job to study for a master’s at the Colorado School of Mines.  She is going to be hosting me during my stay in Colorado.  We caught up a little on the 45 minute drive back to her dorm then I finally got to lay out in her spare room and catch up on some sleep.

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