After Portland I made my way down to northern California.
The Redwood National Park was on my to-do list. I really thought it would be a “Mona Lisa” type stop. You go, you see it, you verify that it is actually there, it looks like everything you have seen in school and on TV, and then you move on. But the redwoods are different. They are more like a Vatican stop. The size and scale of the trees will have you scratching your head and keep you looking up.
I swear that these trees are where the Wild Things live. You can drive your car into the groves and it is amazing how a vehicle is soon dwarfed in size compared to the trees. The 12” thick bark has allowed these trees to survive through fires, drought, disease etc. Pictures don’t do them justice and you will have to go to see them. Easily in the top 10 coolest things I have ever seen in my life.
After the Redwoods I headed East to a town called Redding to fish the Upper Sacramento River. This is one of California’s famous trout streams, so I couldn’t say no to that!
I got to The Fly Shop and talked to a guide there. I told him I wanted to fish and that I was sleeping in my car…so where should I go. The next lines were priceless:
Well, you will want to head north on I5. When you see the exit for Gibson, check your odometer and watch for one mile. After a mile the guard rail will end. When it ends, pull over. You will see an opening in the trees. Drive down that. You will see a flat area where you can camp, but then you can drive down further and be closer to the river.
Mmmmmk, sounds crystal clear to me. I fished Sunday evening in the 100 degree heat and didn’t really do that well. Caught a couple of small fish, but nothing to brag about. Monday I got up and fished before heading into San Fran. I didn’t have my hopes up, but I donned my waders and headed into the slick stream. After about 30 minutes I got into the best fish of the trip…and I didn’t have my phone on me to take a picture. Please just take my word for it that it was a gorgeous 17” rainbow. That fish totally made it worth making the trek to the Upper Sac!
After fishing I jumped in my car to go to San Francisco to see the city and my friend Katheryn Redmond. Just for the record, California is a MASSIVE state. It takes forever to get anywhere…then you add in some traffic and it takes even longer.
I got into San Fran before Katheryn got off work so I went to a park by her house to get a view of the city. I thought to myself, “well, that is a nice view” and admired all the people taking pictures. It wasn’t till later that I found out it was actually a famous spot where the “Painted Ladies” houses were.
I had my bike and was warned not to move my car because having a parking spot around the city was like finding gold.
I toured the city on bike and absolutely loved it. Great feature of an Android phone is Google Maps with the bike turn by turn directions. Amazing when you have no idea how to navigate a new city and which streets are bike friendlier than others.
So, I feel like I did most of the touristy things: Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, China Town, Ghirardelli Square (let down) and other stuff. The one thing I didn’t do was go to Alcatraz. I didn’t want to do it alone because I knew I wouldn’t give it the attention it deserves. I need to go to a place like that with someone who will make me stop and read all of the signs.
That brings me current again. I am heading down to LA today. Another 7 hour haul. After LA I begin to head east to return to Denver.
This will be a quick post with mainly pictures. I am in Portland right now at Claire’s house (thanks again Claire!) and about to head south to California and the Redwood National Park…and whatever fishing is around there.
Since the last post I met up with Mickey in Missoula and went with he and Nicole to a place called Rock Creek. Everyone I have since talked to has responded with “isn’t it a great place”. It seems so good that everyone wants to keep it a secret. Nice healthy fish, great scenery, and nobody around.
Dinner- A ranger told us to keep three brown trout. Okay!
After fishing Rock Creek I skipped through smokey Idaho and went to Oregon.
I stopped in Maupin, OR and fished the Deschutes.
Gorgeous highway 26 and Mt. Hood in the background. Prettiest stretch of road yet.
Once in Portland I did a number of touristy things. I biked around town which was a great way to experience the city. So cool seeing so many cyclists. The only other place I have been to with more bikes is Amsterdam.
I checked out the Forest State Park, Voodoo donuts, and Powell’s City of books. Powell’s is the nations largest independent book store. To be honest, the place was overwhelming for me, even in the fly fishing section.
Last night Claire and I met up with Christie Costello and Zach owens and went and watched the Swifts. These are little birds that sleep each night in a chimney at a school. Everyone congregates and sits on a hill to watch them go through their routine of flying above the chimney and then all diving in at once. At first I thought it was crazy, but it was really something to be seen. A great, local, Portlander’s thing to do. I felt super fortunate to be with people who knew about this.
That get’s me to one last thing… I have some great friends in great places doing great things. I really am lucky to have all of these (and you reading this!) in my life.
To pick up where I left off, Gina, Michelle, Paul and I went to Yellowstone on Friday. I drove up early and Paul asked if I could catch fish for dinner, so that was my day’s goal.
I arrived at the South gate and then proceeded to the first visitors center where I picked up my fishing permit for the park. I was welcomed in by a coyote walking on the side of the road. He escorted me for about a ¼ mile.
The park really is spectacular. It was amazing to see the short pine trees amidst the tall burned lodge poll pines from the 1988 fire. The only thing that weirded me out about the park is the balance of wildlife and humans. It is pretty bizarre to see bison, elk, bear, and other forest critters having their glamour shots taken from the roadside by tons of tourists who are entirely way too close…not to mention they park their cars on the road and cause a traffic jam.
The nearest place to fish and keep by the Maidson Camprgound where we was the Gibbon River (the Madison and Firehole are catch and release and fly fishing only). The Gibbon was nice, but the fish were small. I fished for about 4 hours and caught probably 30 fish. However, I only had 4 that were respectable to eat…and they were a side dish at that. I got back to camp and I think everyone really enjoyed eating fresh fish in the park.
The next day we headed out to do some touristy things. AKA OLD FAITHFUL.
We met in the football stadium sized parking lot and grabbed some things for lunch. We sat down at the viewing area and had a great spread of rice and beans, chips, chocolate, and marshmallows. (thanks Michelle and Paul!). I would love to say that Old Faithful was one of the coolest things I have ever seen, but I would compare it to the Mona Lisa. Here is the thing about these amazing things that you absolutely have to see as a tourist… they look exactly like what you have read, heard, seen on TV throughout the years. Really you just go to say “Yep, it is still here.”
I think the highlight of the park is a spot that really does not get the recognition it deserves. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is stunning (didn’t see a sign about this…but it has to be where the park/river gets the name). Walls colored yellows, oranges and white by volcanic activity were chiseled by the Yellowstone river that takes two falls (Apparently the lower falls are a bigger drop than Niagra Falls) as it heads…North? Yeah, a river flows North. It still hurts my head thinking about that. I would love to see those falls pumping during the spring run-off. I am sure it would be even more amazing.
After seeing the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, the four of us went for a beer at a nearby lodge and then Gina, Michelle and Paul took off to go back to the Teton Science School near Jackson.
I headed to my campsite and quickly went to bed. I was into some great REM sleep when I heard a thud on my window. I freaked out and opened my eyes to a light. Thank God. My first thought was “Oh crap, BEAR”. It was a friendly park ranger at 12:50 in the morning telling me that my bear canister couldn’t be outside…it had to be in a bear box (nowhere in sight) or in my car (I know it was 12:50 in the morning, but that still doesn’t make a ton of sense to me…do I really want the food next to me in the car?). I shuffled out of my bag, moved the food and went back to sleep with my adrenaline level through the roof.
I woke up the next morning and headed towards Sula, Montana to meet up with another one of my Regis roommates, Nicole Hupp. After an stressful night of sleep I woke up at 7 and just wanted to get the heck out of Dodge. I headed out for the West gate.
That would have been sweet…if I had actually made the correct turn and headed west. Instead I turned out of the camp site and headed straight north. You would think that out of all of the times I looked in my rear view mirror I would have seen the N in the top right hand corner. I have noticed that on this road trip that 20-30 miles is no big deal. It actually ended up working out because heading out of the north gate spit me out onto highway 89 that follows the Yellowstone River.
I pulled into the first fly shop I saw in Livingston, Montana and picked up my license and a couple local suggested flies. I headed out to the river in town and started getting into some great fish. It was nice to have some bigger fish on the line. I had fished the Snake, Gibbon, Madison, and Firehole and had yet to catch anything of decent size on those famous rivers. The Yellowstone quickly started producing nice 12-15 inch fish. By the end of the morning my arm was tired from all of the fish I had caught.
I hopped back in the car and then headed towards Sula. There are some serious fires out here and the smoke is bad. Smokey the Bear would not be happy. In Idaho there is the Mustang complex fire that has joined with several other fires to become the largest fire in Idaho history and 3rd largest in US history. I am sitting inside right now and it looks foggy outside, almost like it is humid and about to rain, but it is really just smoke. I am constantly stuffed up in the nose. I am starting to think that I may have to drive through Idaho as quickly as possible.
Now for some fish porn:
So that brings me up to date for now. Nicole made an amazing breakFEAST of bacon, eggs, and cinnamon rolls. I just did a load of laundry and now I am ready again to go fishing and see Mickey tonight in Missoula!
Eight hours after waking up in Denver I arrived in Jackson.
As soon as I got into town I grabbed my bike, took a tour, went to a fly shop and dodged Asian tourists. I got a license and some bigger flies and headed out to fish the Snake River.
I went to a spot just outside of town and was able to get into a few Snake River Cutthroats quick. Everything I have caught so far has been about 8-12”. I had one big one that was 16” + but he got away…it wouldn’t be fishing if I caught them all, right?
These National Parks (Grand Teton National Park and I am sure Yellowstone) are a little overwhelming with the numbers of tourists. It is a strange mixture. On one hand you are all around to visit nature, but on the other hand…it’s a lot of people.
It was entertaining yesterday being on the Snake as history float trips would pass by me. The guide would shout out, “Now here on your right is a fly fisherman. As you can see he is fishing a dry fly because… blah blah blah”. I decided I should get a kickback for being a new and interesting talking point on the river trip. After the 5th boat passed by I started to play it up. I did manage to catch fish while two of the boats passed by. I look forward to being in somebody’s photo collection that will be uploaded to Facebook.
I know many people were concerned with where I would be sleeping at night. So far it has been pretty deluxe! I am staying in my friend Gina Graziano’s cabin at the Teton Science School. So don’t worry, I am sleeping in a bed and getting some pretty good food from the school as well! (not how I thought the trip was going to go haha).
Montana. Home of “A River Runs Through It”, big skies, and two of my favorite people is where I was fortunate enough to be last weekend. I am on a good stretch right now making it to 5 States in 4 weekends.
I caught a last minute deal on United for $200 RT from Denver to Missoula. I booked it on a Wednesday and was en route on Friday. On my flight out, I sat next to a gentleman with whom we identified and solved the airline industry’s problems. After being delayed in Denver for an hour, I boarded my flight. I sat down, and looked up and saw Newt Gingrich. I am a democrat, but I decided it was too funny not to take a picture with him. (For the record, he was in the boarding group after me).
I sauntered into the Missoula “International” airport. I really think the forest service was hired to decorate the terminal. You walk off the plane and are surrounded by mounts of elk, deer, moose, and other large mammals. The barage of advertising for fly fishing was an indicator that I had landed in the right place.
The next day we were up at 6 to head to the Lochsa River for a rafting trip. My friend Mickey is a guide and was able to get me on his boat for a full day. This was my third rafting trip and the ride down an Idaho river (it is about an hour drive out of Missoula) was much different than what I had done in Colorado. The biggest difference is that there aren’t as many boulders, so it is…at least in my head, a safer trip. Lewis and Clark Rafting Company was a great outfit. They really provided a good time for everyone. I didn’t see one person who was (visibly) scared or worried because of their guide. I am sure they were nervous about the white water!
After our day on the water, everyone cracked open a celebratory PBR on the bus ride back to the shop.
Sunday was for fishing. “in my family, there is no clear line between religion and fly fishing”. We had heard that the West Fork of the Bitterroot was fishing great. Mickey, Nicole and I went to a fly shop and talked with the locals about what to get. When they pointed to the size flies we should use, I almost laughed. Size 3 and 4 salmon flies were what was for dinner. These flies dwarfed any cute flies I had from Colorado. That, along with my 3X leader made me think/hope we would be getting into some big fish.
We drove about two hours out of Missoula to the “West Fork” (thanks University of Montana for letting Nicole use the truck!). This was Mickey and Nicoles first times fly fishing. I love teaching people how to do things I love, and they picked it up very fast.
After a quick casting lesson at a pull out, we were on the river. I felt a little bad because the tips I had given Mickey and Nicole before hitting the water quickly seemed useless. Because of the salmon flies, fish were hanging out in deep, swift water. They weren’t in the pockets and riffles that I would normally target.
Once I realized that and made some adjustments, we started getting hits. The first fish I caught was the one below. That is one of the largest Rainbows I have ever caught in my life. My little 5/6 weight was almost maxed out.
Mickey and Nicole really seemed to be enjoying the new challenge and thrill of fly fishing. A moment that I will never forget is heading home through the valley, sitting three across on the bench of the truck, telling stories and laughing as the sun finally begins to fade behind the Bitterroot Mountains.
Spontaneous trips like that are what keep me feeling refreshed. I know it takes money to do things like this, but if you keep your eyes open you can find good deals out there to capitalize on. For me, friends and experiences are what makes a couple hundred dollars worth it. I will never forget this weekend, and I hope that you can have one like mine sometime down the road.
This is a subject that people shouldn’t have to think about, but do. What happens when your flight is delayed/canceled or the only time you can get to the airport is 24 hours before your flight? Call it a slumber party, occupy movement or home, but you have found yourself in the situation where you have an entire night to spend at the airport.
Here are the things I did on my last trip.
1. Travel with your PPM. Make sure you have PPM (pillow, plugs, and mask) before you leave the house, just in case. If you don’t have noise canceling headphones, use ear plugs. Use them on the plane as well, you will be shocked at how loud the white noise of an airplane is.
2. Find your spot. Look for a quiet, out of the way spot to sleep. At cold weather airports look for carpet. Warmer airports look for tile. This will help with keeping warm or waking up sweaty while you sleep.
3. Be strategic. As far as being pick pocketed while sleeping, be smart about it. I am a side sleeper, so I place my wallet in the pocket that my hip is on. This way it will be difficult to pick pocket you while you catch some Z’s. If you have a money belt, this would be an ok time to use it (I still think they are weird).
4. Cuddle up! Bear hug your belongings and wrap your arms through the straps. This way someone can’t simply grab your bag and run.
5. Set an alarm! Don’t sleep through your flight, you are at the airport for a reason.
I hope this helps, and I hope that you never have to do this. I will be honest, it is not that fun. Cleaners will come by, you will squirm to find a better position, but make the best of what you have.
Take advantage of any perks that your company will provide.
If you are staying in a “cheap” hotel find out what amenities they have. Example: it might be better to stay in a place $20 more expensive if it has a shuttle. Also, don’t feel bad about asking for a room away from the elevator or ice machine.
Check in with Facebook to see if any friends or family will be in town.
Being alone at night can stink. If number three doesn’t work, then get on Twitter and do a search for keywords like “tonight” “join us” “come to” and narrow down the search by location by entering near:Denver (or whatever city you are in). Yelp can also help to get a feel for what is around and what is good.
Depending on how much free time you will have, know what sites you will want to get to prior to your arrival.
Worried about working out? Try wandering by foot. If you need to go somewhere take some extra time and walk the one or two miles to get there. It really doesn’t take that long… and you can save your company a cab fare.
I would talk about luggage/security and all of that, but there are plenty of blogs out there for you to search on that.
Also, I will fly Southwest over anyone right now because they are almost always on time or early and have a sense of humor. Before we took off one of the flight attendants said that they have a computer that can tell that there were still 4 cell phones on (completely sarcastic), sure enough a guy gets up out of his seat while the flight attendants are going through their safety brief to get into the overhead bin and turn off his phone. He was apologetic and I don’t think he ever realized that they don’t have a computer that can detect how many cell phones are operating on a plane…wait, they don’t right?
Wow, a total drop off from blogging. Not OK. My last post was from when I was in Italy. You add in a little family, no Wi-Fi, and all of a sudden you get no updates from me…Until now.
I have a list of post ideas, but I am going to start with the most recent and fresh in my mind trip.
Fly Fishing on the Dream Stream
My life indoors in a cubicle at the office is measured the same way as the heat gauge in a car. For a long amount of time I can come into the office, be inside for 8 hours a day, and my reading can come out completely neutral. But at some tipping point, I begin to lose it and the needle starts to go past the red line. When this happens, I need to do something, and do it fast!
Last week I looked down at my feet in the cubicle and realized that I needed to get out. I asked around if anyone wanted to go fishing/camping but everyone was busy, out of town, or unavailable. I told myself I wanted to go anyway, so I loaded up my rusting, sometimes reliable, 175,000 mile 1992 Honda Accord (the Green Puma from here on out) and headed down to the Dream Stream.
The Dream Stream is a section of the South Platte River between Spinney Mountain Reservoir and 11 Mile Reservoir. This is a gold medal fishery and can produce some very large fish. The river is in a large valley and very different than most fly fishing in the mountains of Colorado. When standing in the knee high, almost prairie like grasses in the valley, there are times where you cannot even see the stream it is so flat.
It can be frustrating trying to figure out a new body of water. Personally, I have never really been good at fishing large streams. I am much better in small mountain streams or rivers with ample structure and large changes in altitude. The dream streams features were big bends in the river and the occasional rock. Quickly you will figure out that the places where the water hits a bend and slows down is the structure.
I whacked the water all afternoon and had no success. It wasn’t until I was in the office after the trip that I talked to someone who said “It is one of those places that you have to fish either really early, or in the evening.” I could have used that advice before I went out, but oh well, now you know.
Demoralized from getting skunked in 3.5 hours of fishing and not even seeing a fish, I headed back to the car to eat dinner: a leftover hamburger from the night before, some chips I found in my trunk, and some craisins. I met a guy in the parking lot who, apparently “Had been killing it all day!” Not exactly the phrase you want to hear when you have been trying as hard as you could for 3 hours with no results. We gave each other the obligatory banter of how the day was going, where you were from, and…what you are using.
Now, most of the time I hate asking this question because I want to figure it out for myself. However, I have an exception, and that is saved for the first time onto new water. So I played this card and figured out what he was using. Switched some things around, and went back to the water at around 7 pm. I made it to a bend and saw a fish rise. I caught my second wind and became extremely focused. I made a cast and my indicator went down within seconds of the line hitting the water.
I set the hook on a fish that jumped out of the water and showed its whole body to me. The scene was like something out of a classic L.L. Bean catalogue sunset. It may have only been for a second, but the purple and pink light reflecting off the fish and the water was an image that I will never forget. It was at that moment that I truly felt like I had done the right thing by driving 2.5 hours by myself to get outside.
After that fish a small pod of trout began sipping flies on the surface. Having achieved a small victory in my head, I decided to abandon the nymph I was using to catch the first fish, and throw on a pale morning dun dry fly. There is nothing more satisfying to me than presenting a dry fly delicately on the water so that a trout thinks it just landed and is vulnerable. I caught another fish just before it got dark and that was that.
I went back to my car, drove off to a national forest road, and slept in the back for the night. Nothing sexy or glamorous about this type of “camping”, but it gets the job done and it is cheap and easy. I fished the next morning with no luck. I got back in the car and simply enjoyed the car ride back to Denver. There is something stunning about driving through the mountains. It has a way of recharging the soul. It never gets old, and I never want to take it for granted.
Firenze was a nice stop on our way to Siena. We were able to watch the Champions League final with some locals over a pizza and vino della casa. We got some sleep and were ready for some light sight seeing in Florence. Gus and I had both been there, and were ready to move. We did get some great gelato from a gelateria called “Grom”. If you get the chance the crema di grom is great!
After our gelati on the steps of the Duomo we headed to the train for Siena. This was/ is Gus’ favorite city, so I was hoping for a good time. We ended up getting lucky and booking a great hostel in Siena. Casa di Antonella is about a 5-10 minute walk to all of the major sites, we had our own room with a balcony, great breakfasts, and all for €25 a night.
Fabrizio, the owner, was excellent in every way. He makes sure everything is clean, makes an impressive breakfast spread, and gave us excellent recommendations for where to eat.
We met a group of 4 Aussies that checked in and quickly became friends. Per Fabrizio’s recommendation we ended up at a small osteria. It was excellent. I had pici which is a local thick spaghetti. The best part, we all ate excellent pasta, had 2 liters of wine, and bread, and the total per person was €8!
Once we finished we grabbed a bottle of wine and went to il Campo. This is the large open space where we could hang out and admire the giant tower, locals, and enjoy each others company. It was a great night with great people.
Again I can not describe how fun it is to meet new people and in a matter of hours be good friends enjoying a local Italian meal and a glass of wine. People make these trips and I am looking forward to meeting more friends!
Traveling with Gus has turned out to be, not just fun, but tons of fun. We have had some great laughs in some great places. We somehow seem to be able to stumble upon some awesome travel experiences.
Th first notable one was stumbling into a little flour mill that baked its own rye bread in Salzburg. It was a little side door that everyone was skipping…most go to the water wheel to see the wheel in action, but that is where it ends for them. We were able to get a taste of what the monks in Salzburg produced 600 years ago. And they were eating pretty good!
Next we stepped off the overnight train and into the Venezia train station. Once we secured our bags in lockers for the day we exited the station. A couple of middle-aged American tourists, husband and wife, stopped us and asked if we were students. We said yes, and they asked if we would like their water bus passes that were good till 1:15. We gladly accepted and took the free passes for our tour of the grand canal. Things were looking better than the sleepless overnight train we had just come off of.
(#traveltip if you want to save some $€¥£, bring a smartphone or itouch so you can download apps. You can get free walking tours of cities!) We listened to our tour on the iTouch and prepped our minds for Venice.
We got off the water-bus and stepped into Piazza San Marco. We checked our backpack (#traveltip you can skip the line if you check your bag.) and headed inside the church. We had both been here before, but we had both forgotten a lot (sorry parents, it’s true). We both forgot there were 5,000 sq ft of mosaic on the ceiling, but the biggest thing we never remembered was the gold and jewel encrusted ___ that sat behind the altar. We had to pay an extra €2 to see it, but I think we would both agree it is one of the most impressive things either of us have seen in our lives. The number of rubies, pearls, saphires; the amount of gold and time put into this piece made our jaws drop.
We shook our heads and moved on. We got our student passes for our entry into il Museo Correr and the Doge’s Palace. We began to get hungry and the Correr Museum probably didn’t get as much attention as it deserves because of that.
We went on the hunt for lunch and ended up in a cafe for pizza and vino. If there has been one thing I have been excited for on this trip, it is this combination. Pizza and wine are two things that are so simple, yet can blow your culinary mind. And the best part, my pizza was only €6 #winning (if you don’t know that reference then Google “sheen winning”…I know there are people reading this who need pop-culture tutoring).
After lunch we made our way to the Doge’s Palace. After going through this palace, you begin to see that Venice was at the center of the world, and they knew it/showed it. I have decided that if I ever have an office, i want a big fireplace and a fresco. Well, maybe some print outs will have to hang in my cubicle for now. A guy can have dreams though, right?
We walked through one impressive room and Gus made the comment “will I see anything that can compare to this on my trip?”
I responded with “the Louvre, St Peters, Sistine Chapel, etc”
… but then we walked into the Grand Council room. One of the largest rooms in Europe to this date. It answered Gus’ question easily, “absolutely”.
We headed out into the heat and tourists to head back to the train station. We had two options and one hour. Option A. was to take the water-bus back to the train station like we came. However, that would cost us €6,50.
Being the stubborn young guys we are, we pulled out a map and decided that if we didn’t get lost, we would get there in about 30 minutes by walking. This, luckily, turned put to be a great idea because we were able to see the calmer, quieter side of Venezia. We twisted our way through the canals, took the Rialto bridge over the Grand Canal, took some more twists, took a right and ended up at the train station with 10 minutes to spare.
We picked up our bags, boarded, and that is why this post is so long. We are about 30 minutes outside of Firenze and I am so excited to watch the Champions League final tonight in Italy! (check the times in the US because this is a game with hype like a Yankees v. Red Sox world series).
Context: sitting in the crowded YoHo hostel kitchen eating pasta with fellow travelers.
"Gus, are you backpacking?"
"No, well I mean I do have a backpack"
"So you are backpacking…"
-light goes off in Gus’ head-
"ahhhhh so this is what it means to backpack through Europe. I was wondering where people camped"
I arrived in Salzburg to meet Gus Maxwell to begin our travels.
The goal of our day was to hike the Untersberg. Because The Sound Of Music is on in the background, I have time to really expand on today’s journey.
We woke up this morning and went to the open air market. We knew we were going to have a full day of hiking, so we picked up supplies. This turned out to be a quarter of a loaf of a very dense loaf of bread, a couple thick slices of cheese, a chunk of dried pork, and some apples.
The food looked good, so we tried to figure out how to get to the trail head. We asked a tour service and a guy named Steve from Idaho Springs and he pointed us in the right direction… Bus #22. We got on the bus and both Gus and I had a feeling we were going the wrong way. So we jumped ship.
We went into a tobacco shop and the woman in there gave us her advice… bus #25. We hopped back on the train and immediately felt more comfortable.
We arrived at the base of the Untersberg where the tram takes people up to the top. It is pretty impressive looking at the sheer rock faces that make up the Untersberg. We went to the ticket counter and asked the guy behind the counter where the trailhead was. He looked straight at our Chacos and said that we should not go, that it required hiking boots and what were wearing was for the beach. With that, I smiled and asked which bus we needed to take to get to the trailhead. We hopped on bus #35 to get to the trail head.
3 busses later we made it to the trail. We knew this was going to be a tough hike because it was only 3 K. and was supposed to take 3 hours. That is a little under 2 miles. So it was going to be a straight up hike.
What we thought came true. It was slow going and our struggles getting on the right bus put us on the trail at noon, just in time for the full heat of the day. The next problem we realized was that we each only had a liter of water.
Trekking in the Alps was truly spectacular. We quickly realized that the locals thought we were nuts. They had trekking poles, we did not. They had their shirts of, ours were on. And finally, we were two young guys hiking the Untersberg in sandals. The trail was steep, but people have been hiking this for hundreds of years. The trail was well maintained and any steep parts had been reinforced, so we really didn’t have any issues in our Chacos.
The issue that we thought would be a problem started nagging on me. We were having to pace ourselves on our water intake. I was really upset with myself because I had left my first aid kit with iodine tablets at the hostel.
We hiked for a little over an hour and came to a copper pipe with a tub that was pouring out water out of the mountain. There were cups on the side of it and were elated that we had some water. I had never drank straight from a mountain, and we rolled the dice a little bit, but apparently it worked out (no gut and butt issues!)
We continued up and got to the narrow part of the hike that gains the ridge and gets you to the backside of the mountain to push for the summit. The ridge was very narrow, about a yard wide, but there was a metal rope strung along this part to hold onto as well. The drop was a couple thousand feet straight down. (i am listening to the sound of music and Maria said she just loves playing on the Untersberg…it is hard for me to believe this! I dont think you can just.casually play there). I am not going to lie, I was nervous. Nerves are good, right? But Gus and I were hiking a narrow ridge in Chacos. Once we got into the grove of it we plowed forward and got it done.
We climbed the ridge and made it to the top where the tram drops people off in about 3 hours. It was a good hike, but there was a little more to go from the tram station. We trudged on and finally made it to the top. We took our pictures and then got off the summit because storms were rolling in.
We wanted to take tram down to avoid the pain in our knees and the long decent. We got to the ticket and asked for 2 student tickets. He asked if we were students in Salzburg, and with our Denver ids on the table, said no. He said we.would have to pay full price. We had about €17 and change… not enough for the €11 each. He felt bad apparently and gave us the €7.50 student rate.
So a couple of lucky breaks and we made it to the top and down safely. Probably a little sketchy at times, and I would do things differently if we did it again, but now it has made a great story!
Ohhhhhh Munich. I had a great time traveling by myself here.
A couple of strategies that can really act as a catalyst for meeting people.
Book a hostel that is active. Some “hostels” are just an apartment, so the social scene will be non existent.
Stick out your hand. Say hello and get into a group conversation. This way you can find people you would actually want to hang out with and can weed out the crazy ones.
Take a “free” walking tour. I was weary of these, but I did my first one and got a lot more out of the visit. The other benefit, you know every person in your group speaks English.
I got lucky in one regard on the hostel in Munich. I went down to the lobby that evening, I stuck out my hand in an English speaking conversation and shook the hand of a tour guide. He was off hours just hanging out talking to some of the people that were on his tour earlier that night.
I got to know him. Ozzie who was born in the Bahamas, lived in 5 countries and 5 states, recently gave his 2,400 tour in his 9 th year as a guide. It was amazing to hear him talk about any random history question. He was talking about patterns in history, a similar idea Professor Harrington at Regis University had taught me in economics. At the end of the evening I told him, “you should be a professor” he said, “i am”.
It’s amazing how many “professors” I have met on my travels and throughout life. I just want to take a moment to let all the professors in my life how grateful I am to have heard the words they professed. Real life learning sticks for a lot longer. I think we are all professors and I can only hope that one day I will be wise enough to pass on some information to someone else.
Yes I ate a bratwurst, drank liters of beer in the beer halls and gardens, saw people wearing their laderhosen (spelling?), and roamed the city sights. My favorite moments are with the people I meet and share those experiences with. It is absolutely insane that in 48 hours I was able to form deep relationships and friendships with people from all around the world. Thank god for Facebook to keep everyone connected! (add ‘n tag)
It finally hit me that I was in Germany when I got to Kassel and Imannhausen. I can not thank the Moeglings enough for their hospitality. They showed me a great time from the start to finish of my time.
I arrived on Friday and we went to Hunn. Muenden. This is a touristy spot for Germans, and it was easy to see why. Picture “german” architecture, a small town, beautiful weather, quaint small shops, and a couple of rivers that run through it…that is Hunn Muenden.
Eating on trips may be, other than meeting new people, one of my favorite parts of traveling. Meats, cheese, good bread, great beer…its awesome.
It was fun having Julian around to show me places, play kicker (foosball) and go on a steep hike to the castle that overlooks Kassel.
En route to Kassel. I was more than ready to leave the EU Financial capital. My train was delayed a little bit, but nothing to complain about. Also, this would be more enjoyable if I had a beer like many of the people on this train. Yes, 10:30 is a little early for a casual drink, but when in Rome right?
When I boarded wagen 1 and got to platz 86 there was a family of 5 in my seat and had sprawled out in the whole room. (how they got in and set up is a feat of German engineering I think). So now I am sitting on the floor in-between trains with a few other displaced travelers. This ride is only 1.5 hours, so I don’t have a problem with this.
It’s good to be on a train trying to listen I really don’t understand at all. So far the weather has been good. Yesterday I was walking around, saw a thunder head forming and ran back to the hostel just in time. So far that has been the only bit of rain. Not too shabby. I haven’t looked at the forecast, but it is clear skies for now.
I really wish I had more to write about for this train ride, but Frankfurt was really just lackluster. I did buy a riesling last night for a couple of € which was nice. You can’t beat cheap wine in Europe!
I tried to write the blog and post it later… #fail.
I am ready to get the heck out of Frankfurt. At this point I am just waiting to leave for Kassel. I am excited to see the Moeglings and where they live. Max has apparently given them some things to do and try (his favorite sausage and his favorite pizza place). I don’t really know what to expect, but that is fun!
Tonight epitomised what I love about travel. I was unfamiliar with my surroundings, wandered around a new town, and met some awesome people from Canada and Germany. Spending an evening around a few drinks and a few new friends is priceless.
On the road and in the air again! The first leg of my trip was to New York to see the Ritschl side of my family. I flight into Newark and it went pretty quick courtesy of DirectTV and being able to watch the FA Cup Live (Man. City vs Stoke… I won’t spoil the ending).
When I got in the first stop we made was to Wine Library. If you guys know me you know I am, what my boss Tom likes to call, a diciple of Gary Vaynerchuk. I had been in contact with Kristen Murphy (aka @KMurph) and she said she would show me around. I think my Aunt Karen, Uncle Carlo, and cousin Emily were a little bit skeptical of going to a seemingly random Liquor Store in Jersey.
From the outside Wine Library is an unassuming, plain white building. However, the fact that they had parking lot attendants should have been foreshadowing for what was to come. As soon as we walked in the door we were greated with a tasting. We took a quick right and we were in the cheese and gourmet foods section.
After the cheese we met Kristen who gave us the grand tour of Wine Library. She took us all around the two levels of the place, but there were two places she took us that were really impressive. The first one was the exclusive cellar that holds some of the most collectable bottles Wine Library has. Their most expensive… $3,999.99. Yes, for one bottle of wine. The awesome thing about this cellar was the marble used in the floor. It is from Bordeaux and you can see how the juice from the grapes made purple streaks through the marble. NERDY and AWESOME.
The other cool spot we got to see was the 3rd floor where all of the shipping operations take place, but also where Gary V. taped WineLibraryTv and now DailyGrape. It was pretty awesome, and I was in awe. We bought a few bottles and made our way to our next stop… SpinNYC.
Spin was pretty cool. It is a huge ping pong club/bar. Think billiards hall…but with ping pong tables. I was impressed. There were people there that we pretty good, but then there were also others there who were just knocking the ball around for fun. It is an interesting concept, and I am curious if Denver would take to it.