Friday, July 11, 2008

still alive

We drove to Colorado last week for my good buddy's wedding. We took two and a half days going and coming back, camping at night. The scenery was amazing. I realized there are views and then there are vistas, the latter being much more grand and awesome.

The first evening we stopped to eat in an Idahoan town where we encountered a sign saying and I paraphrase "don't like McCain? Remember he's the only man standing between America and Barack Hussein Obama" I nearly puked. We kept driving to the next town where I was happy to be served by two long haired kids at the Subway.

When we stopped for the night we cooked on our new wood gas stove. This is my favorite new toy. Instead of propane or white gas, this simple and easy to use stove can burn any kind of dry twig or pinecone. Can you say energy independence? yes indeed. We used it the whole trip and it performed remarkably well, boiling water in just a few minutes. Get your own at

I'm kind of obsessed with this stove and have acquired another new toy, a pair of the best hand pruners in the world, Felcos (not cheap), to chop small twigs and branches into short pieces, ideal for woodgas stove fuel. We had a large branch fall off of one tree and I pruned some apple branches cause they were drooping too low and chopped it all up which I have drying in the yard. It should be enough fuel for about 100 uses of the stove.

wind turbines in WY

So the second night we stopped at Steamboat Springs, CO which was a neat town. Like most Colorado ski resort towns it is bursting at the seams with new development and money pouring in, but it was still kind of charming. We had a bomb breakfast at a place called Winona's and hit the road.

The wedding was in a town called Manitou Springs, just outside of Colorado Springs. Our friends had a pre wedding bbq which was fun and we climbed up a ridge to watch the fireworks. Manitou is a great little town and if I had to live there I don't think you'd hear me complaining too much. The wedding the next day was short and sweet, the bride was rolled up to the outdoor gazebo/small amphitheater site in a beautifully refurbished rickshaw, which was a real touch of class, imo. The party afterward was awesome, great food, great beer and an amazing band called Grassitup kept us dancing till the place shut down.

So the next day we had to hightail it back home. It was exciting driving over the mountain passes in intermittent thunderstorms. We had a great sandwich at a place in Gunnison, CO. Then while driving through an area of western Colorado picked up a radio station playing Rachmaninoff's piano concerto #2 which blew me away with how well the music matched the scenery. That night we drove into Utah, found a campground up in hills away from the road, burned a fire just to get rid of some idiot's throwing their dog food on the ground in bear country, got up early and skedaddled.

We were soon out of Utah and into Nevada on the loneliest highway 50. Its pretty cool to be the only people on a road for minutes on end. And if you stop, the silence can be breathtaking. So after a few gambling stops in some really old school casinos, and actually ending up slightly ahead, we made it to Oregon. Again, it was getting late and we needed to find a spot to camp, when lo and behold we came upon Crystal Crane hot springs. Its a privately owned and operated hot springs with cabins and RVs and tent camping. The stars were amazing that night especially while soaking in a warm desert spring.

We made it home the next day. It was funny to feel like we were back home when we were still in Bend. But we know the town and the area and everything is relative right? I mean normally, Bend is a long drive away, but after driving for two days straight, it then seems like a quick jaunt over the pass. Yesterday we had to go to Portland for my wife's fingerprinting appointment for citizenship and it felt like nothing to drive up there and back. Well, I'm not planning on any more long road trips anytime soon, but its funny how perspective changes.

FYI, the highest gas prices we saw were something like $4.69 and the cheapest were actually in Manitou at $3.86.