AISES, Alaska, bar, beer, Below My Feet, Boulder, brewery, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Colorado, Colorado School of Mines, Coors, Dean Brody, Denver, friends, growler, Gypsy Girl, hiking, Hopeless Wanderer, indian, indigenous cultures, inspiration, life, lyrics, memories, Mesa, mountains, Mumford & Sons, National Conference, Native American, Ohio, porter, reservations, Rockies, Rocky Mountains, solo, songs, South Table Top Mountain, Taylor Swift, travel, treacherous, world travel
And now for a lot of photos and Instagrams.
Today was a day of hiking. It began a little later than I had hoped because we were up so late the night before, but Jacob did indeed meet us at Claire’s apartment and we headed for South Table Top Mountain and the mesa. It’s hard to remember we are in the desert until you feel the intense dryness of the air. But it was in the mid 70s!
Claire and Jacob ascended the side.
Me and Jacob.
The three of us.
Jacob looks like heaven is shining on him.
A long way done for a short climb.
I did this at the Grand Canyon too…
We encountered a mad snake on the way down, his rattle shaking. Some hikers were trying to prod him off the trail with a stick. Let it be, folks! He just wants his peace. We had to warn oncoming families with children and dogs.
Driving back to Claire’s for some of my porter, we saw this scraggly fox dodging about. Animal Control searched for him later but didn’t find him.
We were on that!
Next, my friend James hit me up to tell me he was done visiting his family and could come over until he had to leave for his flight. He lives in Cleveland (we went to school together, the same place where Claire went before she got a job in Cleveland and subsequently moved west a year later), but he’s been working in Canada lately. He flies every week and decided to come home this weekend. I was very glad he came out to see us! He caught up with the three of us while we were eating lunch at a Thai place in Golden.
Us after lunch in Golden.
Jacob said goodbye and headed back towards Denver to run some errands before making his 4 hour drive home. Claire went back to school. I jumped in James’ car and we headed north a short trip to Boulder. He says he used to go there often during high school, but the times had changed and things already seemed different. He was still a great expert to have.
People walking around the busy strip.
We walked up and down a couple of times on the main stretch before deciding beer over coffee. We tried a place that seemed unfamiliar to James and sat outside with a local brew and some nachos. We met some nice people lined up around us on a side-walk facing bar table. We couldn’t stay too long because our time was running out. The air started cooling off suddenly and I wondered if it was going to spontaneously snow. We headed out before we could know.
James dropped me off at the Colorado School of Mines where Claire told me she needed to still work and gave me her car keys. I took off for Lookout Mountain.
This same mountain top boasts Buffalo Bill’s grave.
I decided to head towards the snow and turned around at the top of a mountain beyond Idaho Springs. It was dark and snowy and the stars were out. “Treacherous” (Taylor Swift) began to play on my iPhone. It was so appropriate – the same song I played last year while driving through the dark and snow in Alaska.
Two headlights shine through the sleepless night
And I will get you a-, get you alone
Your name has echoed through my mind and I just
Think you should, think you should know
That nothing safe is worth the drive and I will
Follow you, follow you home
I’ll follow you, follow you home
And who would’ve thought that song still makes me think of the same guy a whole year later? Well,… no need to go into that.
My summer song had become Gypsy Girl by Dean Brody after I felt just like a wandering, lost girl with tired feet. This site name does, after all, mean “tired feet” in French – and there’s a reason for it!
But this trip, if I had to pick my theme song from this trip… I definitely think Mumford & Sons is the most appropriate. And, although I have become a “Hopeless Wanderer”, the song that really shook me this trip while standing on the top of the world in the mountains was “Below My Feet”:
Keep the earth below my feet
For all my sweat, my blood runs weak
Let me learn from where I have been
Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn
Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn
What could be more appropriate? No classroom is better suited for learning than the outdoors, than the world. Look at all these things I have seen this summer and continue to see. And here I am, coming full-circle a year later, having witnessed the same struggles the people on the reservations face which exist in even the most remote corners of India. Like I said last year (in ‘Defining “Native America”‘) on my final night with my friends in Alaska, We are all so different and yet…exactly the same.
My flight is too early in the morning for Claire to take me. I hired a shuttle to get me at 3:30am, then we spent the evening finishing off my growler and watching YouTube videos and discussing Indian policies, the world, the folly of mankind…
I’m going to miss you, friend.
Hello, followers and stumble-uponers! As promised, I am about to start a small North American series to keep you informed, interested, and intrigued. For tonight’s entry, I’m merely going to give a run-down of how to go about striking gold in a city you visit. You would be surprised – sometimes there’s gold hidden in your own hometown! So keep in mind that there are always stones to overturn and see if you might learn a few tricks…or share your own!
RESEARCHING A CITY
Before you go to a city, you should really map out more than just the directions. This is my favorite part of trip planning, in fact. I’ve invested in (well, downloaded) the awesome app FourSquare. For those of you with FourSquare (or just the ability to search through it on the Internet), I do recommend it as a starting point. I love to make a list for every new city I visit and save places that I want to see. You can search a city or a specific radius and you can search by category or word. I’ve searched for historic landmarks, restaurants, what’s popular now, what’s usually popular, keywords like “vegetarian” or “fried green tomatoes”, etc. I’ve come across some real gold that way. Sometimes doing a Wiki search on the city will give you an idea of its history, its pride, and even its festivals – all sorts of things to keep an eye out for!
Of course, FourSquare isn’t the answer to everything. I usually double-check for a lot of photos, check-ins, and positive comments. Then I’ll back-check everything by a quick Google search. Sometimes I’ll start with a Google search and back-check on FourSquare. Having friends nearby or who have been to a city is always a great solution to find the local bests, kind of like searching for the little, hidden pubs in Ireland where you’ll get the best local craic. While searching for local, I’ve found incredible microbreweries, vegan coffee shops with live music, and even tiny barbecue vendors with the best southern sides. Your third option is to use social media yet again and send out a Facebook status or a Tweet to your friends. Using hashtags can lure in people you don’t know with a lot of hometown pride and useful information to share.
EXPLORING A CITY
Having a car (either of your own or a rental) is always nice and convenient, but, in urban settings, I generally recommend you spend at least one or two days without one. That’s how I explored most of my European cities this summer and I quickly adapted to the local public systems, including the street bike rentals. Not a lot of cities have bike rentals available like Vienna and Lido Island, Italy did for me this summer, but there is still usually some kind of alternative that is faster than walking.
Public transportation is a great way to get a feel for an area. Sometimes you’ll meet great people there, too. Sometimes you’ll meet not-so-great people. It’s all part of the feel and the experience. Even just looking around at the faces of the people gives you a sense for their lifestyles and the fashion trends of the area, if that’s something that intrigues you. I always love packing on to a 5PM Monday train and seeing the suited sardines with earbuds in and no one talking. Or an 8PM Friday train with crazy outfits and loud, shouting kids. But definitely walk; it lets you see everything from an ordinary perspective and to absorb yourself in the size of a city. And avoid getting sucked into too many touristy places or spending too much time on things you can do anywhere, like watching movies or TVs or eating at restaurant chains you have at home.
SPREADING THE WORD
After you’ve experienced a city, consider taking note of where you went, what you liked, and what you wish you could’ve done differently. That way you’ll have a note for yourself as well as solid advice to give to someone else if you ever run across that random Facebook status asking the same questions you asked a time before. Hopefully my future posts will be of use to someone in the area and maybe some locals will have some ideas to contribute!
Happy Wednesday, you’re almost there 🙂