Feats of Endurance

Big Bend is the least visited of our national parks. In 2016, it saw just 388,290 visitors, compared to the 11,312,786 who went to the most visited, Great Smoky Mountains. This is not a surprise, given its location in an almost-forgotten corner of Texas, an 8.5 hour drive from Dallas, if you speed and don’t stop to eat or gas up. The drive down is a wasteland of oil fields and abandoned towns. But don’t be deterred; the park is worth the effort it takes to get there.

What to do when you get there? You can stay in the lodge and hope to see a javelina. You can cross to Mexico, legally via the Boquillas entrance or illegally by wading across the Rio Grande. But mostly, you go to Big Bend to hike. My first day, I did a four-mile hike in the morning up the Lost Mine trail and a five-mile hike in the afternoon to the Window. The second day I did a 15 mile hike up to Emory Peak, down around the South Rim, and back to the Chisos Basin via the Laguna Meadows trail. The last morning was only a quick two-mile (if that) walk to the end of Santa Elena Canyon and back. I would have loved to spend more time lying on the banks of the Rio Grande, soaking up the sunshine before heading back to the 20-degree Boulder weather, but that 8.5 hour drive lie ahead. Continue reading →

Sanctuary 2.0: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

As of today, I have officially had a downtown Boulder address for six months. Once upon a time, I lived in a city of 12 million. Now I live in a town of 100,000. Sure, that’s ten times the size of the town I grew up in, but it is still very, very small. Unless you are a total hermit with no social or professional network at all, if you live here, expect to run into people you know. And behave yourself accordingly.

My era of “Oh hey, fancy seeing you here!” started in the worst possible way on March 25 when The Writer took me to a dinner party at his best friend’s house. As we were picking up dessert at a grocery store, a dark angel crossed our path: the ex-boyfriend of a close friend of mine. A man who is friends with my ex and whom no one likes. No one has ever liked him, even before he moved out of my friend’s house in the middle of the day without having the decency to tell her the years-long relationship was over. We jutted our chins out at each other by way of reluctant acknowledgement and continued on. His appearance was an omen of worse things to come. When we arrived at the hosts’ home, my date introduced me to his best friend first and then to his best friend’s girlfriend. And that’s when I went nearly brain dead, taking great effort to force my smile muscles to move into shape and sticking my arm out zombie-stiff to shake her hand. I was incapable of being genuine because my mind was frozen in a state of horror. The girlfriend was an intimacy coach who had held a group session that my ex and I had gone to together. A most uncomfortable four hours ensued. Continue reading →

The Portland of My 49th State

When I was young, my family took a lot of road trips up, down, and around everywhere east of the Mississippi, and even once all the way out to Montana. When I moved to Colorado, I took a lot of road trips around the western states to see everything I could before getting my master’s degree and moving back overseas. When I stuck around after graduation and found that travelling internationally from Denver was kind of a pain, I took some large pseudo-domestic trips, such as to Hawaii and Alaska. After all this travel, I found myself at the beginning of 2017 with only two states remaining to set foot in: Oregon and Idaho.

And now, there’s just Idaho. This is my somewhat-creative writing blog, but by day, I’m a technical writer and I work for an excellent and successful company. So excellent, in fact, that they picked up the tab for me to attend the Write the Docs conference, which happened to be in Portland, Oregon, this week. I have to specify Oregon because as an east-coaster, I still think of Maine first when I hear Portland, and I imagine some of you do too. I won’t go into all the details of what one learns and talks about at a technical writing conference, but if you’re curious about the career, I highly recommend Tom Johnson’s blog. He’s a tech writing guru, and he totally had groupies (including me) at the conference. Here, I’ll sum up some of the other highlights of the trip and save the show notes for my coworkers. Continue reading →

Nenagh, Ireland and the Ashley Park House (September, 2014)

While You Are There: Be romantic. Roam the grounds and imagine you are in a Bronte novel. Or maybe you should pick an Irish writer. Either way, you get the image. Enjoy the lavish breakfast spread and find out what travels your fellow sojourners are on. Take the rowboat onto the lake and pretend you are the Lady of Shalott. The only activity I wouldn’t recommend is jogging on the narrow lane. There is no shoulder and cars come whipping around those turns are rapid rates of speed that will send you diving into hedges.

Why It’s On My List: It’s another lodging post of a place I didn’t take pictures of. But do check it out here and spend a night or two if you can.

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.