Saturday, July 20, 2013

Missouri canoe trip

Last weekend I had a ridiculously great time with a group of ladies on a canoe/float trip.  Three of my friends from my running group in Wichita were part of the trip but I knew no one else.  It was a blast to let loose with these gals.

We stayed at "Dawt Mill" which was a small resort with multiple cabins.  I'm used to always camping when canoeing so it was nice to have a warm shower and bed after a day on the water.  They had a restaurant (that had so-so food) and bar as well.


Halfway through the float trip we stopped at a riverbank that was near a road.  A short jaunt away there was a beautiful waterfall that we all took pictures in front of.  It was so cold though!  The temperature of the waterfall was significantly colder than that of the river.  Regardless, it was a gorgeous spot.

The only bad part of the trip happened after the waterfall.  As we were walking back down the gravel road to the boats, a guy came running by really fast.  He almost sideswiped me, but he came up behind me and threw me off balance.  I slid down the side of the gravel road and got a bad gash on my elbow and knee, as well as completely skinned my left hip.  I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt.  But once we got back on the water and I had a beer in my hand, my mood improved quite a bit.  I cleaned up my leg back at the cabin and pulled out all the little pieces of rock from my wound.  Once week later, my leg and elbow are still healing, but the wounds are doing well.

Other than my gravel injury, it was an absolute blast!  On the drive back home, everyone stopped at a tourist trap just outside of Branson where they had a zip-line you could do.  I was much too chicken to give it a try, but everyone else (except 3 of us) went for it.  It sounded like a blast but I was happy to lounge in the shade on the deck ;)

This coming weekend, I'm headed to Vancouver with my parents and John and Laura.  We're going to visit a special tea room that Mom has always wanted to visit as well as enjoy some of the other tourist things in the area.  Should be a blast!!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Colorado Grim Reunion

Last weekend was an absolute blast!!  I travelled with my family to Estes Park, Colorado for a big family reunion with all the the Grims.  I drove with Mom and Dad, and we stopped in Fort Collins for an evening before continuing on to Estes Park.  I was so excited to find a restaurant called "Avogadro's Number".  For those of you that aren't science people, Avogadro's number is 6.023 x 10-3, and also the standard number of atoms or molecules within one mole (basic science standard).  Not only did the restaurant have an awesome name, their food was pretty terrific as well.  It was kind of a vegan deli - we loved it.  And the artwork inside was so creative, very much like a Garden of Eden.

The next morning we enjoyed lunch at Black Bottle Brewery and then did an afternoon tour of Odell's Brewery.  Fort Collins is definitely the place to be for brewery tours, so I was glad that we made time to enjoy it.  I was a little sad that we didn't get to do New Belgium (who brews Blue Moon), but I was really happy to do the tours that we did.

Once we arrived at Estes Park, we were so excited to see all of the family!  There was a great turnout, I'd guess about 50 Grims showed up for the occasion.  The group had an entire cabin reserved for the weekend, including a very large communal area with couches and dinner tables, as well as a giant kitchen.

First of all, the view from the back deck as well as the front deck was amazing!

We enjoyed relaxing with each other and catching up, but there was also lots to do as well.  Everyday there were multiple activities planned: fishing, hiking, horseback riding, zip-lining...  I certainly made the most of the opportunities for activities.  One of the hikes we did was a 2 mile hike to a pretty lake halfway up the mountain.  The hike wasn't too hard, so a bunch of the kids could some along.

At the lake at the end of the hike there were a bunch of ground squirrels and chipmunks that were begging for snacks.  It was pretty adorable to see how tame they were, but I refused to actually give them food.

The next day we did a really serious hike up to Flattop Mountain.  We started really early in the morning, driving to Bear Lake and hiking up from there.  The hike itself was about 10.5 miles round trip, but it felt a lot longer.  I wore shorts and a windbreaker, and other people in the hike were dressed similarly too.  We soon discovered that we were very unprepared.  Once we got above the treeline and kept heading up it got colder and colder.  Reaching the top, Bobby's thermometer said 60 degrees but with the wind it felt like 35-45 degrees.  I was happy to reach the top quickly and then head back down to warmer weather.  I nearly lost sensation in one of my hands - it was that cold!

The group for the long hike


Even though the hike was really rough (I'm in good shape, but the elevation was killer.  I was struggling for air at the top) both in the elevation and the temperature, it was absolutely worth it to reach the top.

Almost at the top, another mile of bouldering to go
Made it to the top at 12,632 ft!!!
Not only did we enjoy some amazing hiking, we also saw some spectacular wildlife.  Near the top of the mountain, there were Pika all over the place (  They were so adorable, and as we hiked we could hear them doing their little "squeak yell" every once in a while.  We also saw some sort of marmot creature - he was fun to watch and didn't seem to mind us getting quite close to him.  On the drive to Bear Lake, we were lucky enough to see a mother Grizzly with her two cubs.  The mother was sitting on a fence post (almost looked like she was waiting for the bus) while her two cubs played in the tree.  Later that morning, we saw a beautiful bull elk with velvety antlers.  I was so ecstatic to see so much wildlife!

Momma Bear waiting for her cubs
(This photo is really zoomed in - we were safe in our cars)

The next day I did fly fishing in the morning and horseback riding in the afternoon.  I woke up terribly sore from the hike, but a bit of stretching helped me to get up.  I went with Dan and Mike to fish in a stream with a fishing guide.  Fly fishing was a lot harder than I remember it being, but I did my best and had a blast.  I caught about 10 fish - at least 2 of them I caught on the line but they escaped before I could get them in the net, but I was still satisfied with my fishing adventure.  Honestly, it was so enjoyable to be outside and near the water.  Kansas water is so muddy but the river in Colorado was clear and beautiful!  I was still in a great mood when I slipped near the end of the trip and fell into the water.  It was so cold that it took my breath away, but really nothing could ruin my mood :)

Dan and I caught a double!
This is probably the largest one I caught.  I also caught a sucker fish later that morning - exciting!
I'll be honest - horseback riding was a bit lame.  The only redeeming feature was that the trail we took was through the mountains so it was quite scenic.  But the horses were slow and we travelled in a single-file line.  I'm used to galloping across fields in Kansas, so the pace of the mountain horses was disappointing.  But the good thing is that everyone else had a great time on the horses and I got to enjoy some beautiful scenery in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Of course, we weren't away from the cabin the entire time.  We had huge family dinners that Mike made (thanks again Mike!) and enjoyed eachother's company in the evenings.  Even Runt Grim stopped by for a short performance ;)

Runt talking about his time in the military

Overall, the reunion was a blast.  There was talk of returning to the same place in three years.  Hopefully I'll be stateside at that time and I can join in :)

Rachel was only able to stay for a short while
After the baby shower for Elizabeth
With Gabrielle
Last but not least - my uncle Scott and cousin Josh have told me about geocaching, and in Colorado I went along with them for my first cache!  I'm really excited about it now, and I hope to do more in Kansas :)