To compliment my last writing piece on the benefits of being and traveling alone, here are some words on traveling as a pair.
Recently, I took a road-trip with my significant other from Upper Wisconsin to Superior, Colorado (just outside of Boulder). After two days each way in the car together and 4 days packed full of adventure and curiosity and little plans and some readjustments, we still desired to be together and continue adventuring the moment we returned home. That feeling of genuine happiness and presence and content is so powerful and beautiful and I could not be more openly appreciative.
So our trip began New Years Day off to Nebraska then onto to Colorado. As the government shut down skewed our path ever so slightly, we shifted towards some local state parks. And honestly, they created fonder memories. Our expectations were minimal for this trip. The main objectives were to spend time together; to spend time outdoors and reconnect with nature; and to discover new places and activities (like snowshoeing!).
Plot twist: All of the snow from the big snow storm that blew in the week before our arrival melted during our drive out west. We were greeted with sunshine, warmth (56 deg. F) and scarce patches of snow. But this was no disappointment.
2 Jan 2019
Immediately stepping out of the car, my blood sugar plummeted. After munching down 2 cliff bars, some juice and a running gu gel, we were off, on our way into the canyon. The river was frozen on its skin, but water flowed and bubbled beneath her top layer. Up and up we went atop a mountain side, greeted by trains roaring by on the adjacent mountain side. Pine trees welcomed us and boulders were treated as friends rather than obstacles.
Altitude always affects my blood sugar levels. Whether it be that my lungs need the extra carbs to breathe well enough or that my blood thins allowing the insulin to blood ratio to decrease or maybe it is caused by the pressure in accordance to my insulin pump, pushing more insulin than necessary into my body. Either way, I forgot to decrease my insulin intake prior to this outing and I had to account for it in the beginning. [*This is not a set-back. My “disability” does not hinder me or define my experiences.*]
To finish off this long, wonderful first day we stopped at Boulder Beer Brewery for some delicious vegan eats and some good beer!
3 Jan 2019
Red Rock Amphitheater and Park
Red Rocks is a pretty popular destination for tourists and workout enthusiasts. However, as a geologist in the making, I wanted to explore the rocks! The sedimentary structures were incredible and I loved examining the uplift and aligning layers with their relative ages (in other words, seeing how different rocks and their layers aligned and where the fault might have occurred).
We traversed Trading Post Trail (a whopping 1.4 mi). This trail kicked my butt! Coming from a home at almost sea level, any increase in altitude affects me. I experienced shortness of breathe, dizziness and some minor headaches from slight dehydration. Again, these set-backs did not hinder me, they were merely observed and mitigated so I could carry on my merry way.
After lunch, we headed back to our Airbnb to stroll along the open space trails behind our house. “Colorado Open Space Alliance is a statewide organization of publicly funded local and regional open space programs, working cooperatively to share information, create public awareness and foster partnerships needed to protect and preserve the special places of Colorado.” I think these spaces are similar in a sense to BLM land but with a focus on trails rather than free roaming and free camping. We were able to experience the food cycle actively as a coyote just feet away caught a mouse and snacked him down. We are a part of that food system.
4 Jan 2019
My first time in the Rockies!! What an incredible force and power I felt upon my introduction to this land-form.
On top of the many effective road-closures for the winter season, the government shut down also led to some less accessible points of the park. Our arrival was greeted by gate closures closer than expected to the formal east entrance of the park. No worries, though. A hike is a hike and a view is a view. We parked and walked along the road side into the mountains.
Our spirits rose with the lack of white noise civilization can create. However, we did not intend to run away and escape society. Nature is not there for our disposal, to take a simple break. It is a forceful reminder of who we are in relation to this earth; we are all individuals- the trees, the boulders, the blades of grass, the deer, the birds, the humans; we are interconnected with love, each with our own unique qualities, each providing a gift to our communities.
This hike led Morgan and I on an emotional adventure. We both experienced the happiness that comes with physical activity and natural beauty and togetherness; we were reminded of the ecstatic content we feel for sharing our lives with each other; we were vulnerable with our pasts and our present habits we are aware are not the best; and we experienced thoughts of our futures as individuals and as a partnership. We shared moments of silence, of awe, of laughter, of smiles and of love. We grew and gained individually and together. Self growth and self care are not hindered by the presence of others. We allowed each other to take care of our individual before one another.
5 Jan 2019
We left our wonderful Airbnb in Superior to head north to Fort Collins so Morgan (and I) could take a visit to his favorite beer company- New Belgium. Rather than day drinking before our 2 day trek back to Wisconsin; we agreed on a nice morning hike. Lory State Park was the closest and boy was it a nice one! We connected a few trails on our provided map which resulted in nice 3.1 mi. circular loop. Over an hour later, we hadn’t made it much more than 1 mile and that was incredible! There was so much rock to explore and climb and play on. We had one good ole continuous snowball war- every few feet compacting a new weapon. We were curious and playful and allowed ourselves to experience the child-like fun of exploring a new place.
As much as I am in support of our National Parks, state parks just seem to offer something so special and significant. They provide spaces that feel like a new home, not necessarily a significant feat or barrier. They provide spaces to ponder and stimulate our minds and be in love with other beings, with ourselves and with our nature closest to home. State Parks represent the capability of beauty and success at a small scale, that a difference can be impactful at a non-national level. We must start- our lives, our adventures, our intentions, etc.- from home.
Into town we drove to Tasty Harmony. This all vegan restaurant (also gf) gifted me the greatest meal of my entire existence. I ate: hush puppies with cashew creme cheese; BBQ jack-fruit sandwich with coleslaw and pickles; and mashers with mushroom gravy. To wash it all down, I sipped some good ole peach ginger kombucha. I cannot emphasize enough how amazing this place was, for its food, its service, its vibe. It was no ordinary bougie vegan restaurant. It was welcoming and loving and accommodating. I cannot wait to go back!!
After a quick hour plus nap, we headed on to New Belgium. We marveled over a flight of beers we had yet to try prior to our visit. We reflected on our time together over the trip and were just content to sit side by side.
6 Jan 2019
Our drive home led us through SD. Our original intention was to stop at Badlands National Park for some lunch views. However, due to both the government shut down and the winter time road closures, the entrance closest to our route was closed and I had not found this out in time to change our lodging reservation to make for a more reasonably timed drive home.
Oh well! We stopped for some bagels in Cheyenne, WY instead and that was honestly everything I needed in that moment!
Our drive led to more reflection and appreciation and excitement for the future. Together we set our intentions for our relationship while also talking about our personal, individual intentions. And some of these did not align in timing or location, but many of them did. We do not hold the answers for certain for either of our futures. But we know now in this moment we are happy and content and appreciate what we have together. No need to worry yet. Let’s just take this one hike at a time 🙂
This was a big trip for me! And I was so happy that I was able to plan most of it out all on own- an accomplishment in my travel abilities!
Whether your most recent adventure was a walk in the park or a plane ride away- what did you learn? What experiences did you take away? What did you learn about yourself and your relationships? Let me know in the comments below! And don’t forget to subscribe via email to follow along 🙂