Thursday, June 23, 2011

From State Capitols to the National Capitol

We drove into DC just before the DC all afternoon rush hour.  We parked at my Rochelle’s house in Bethesda, but didn’t have much direction of what to do after that.  Rochelle was still at work, and we were going to meet her downtown for a drink later, but not for a few hours.  So, we wondered around a little, found the Metro station, got a map of the city from the Concierge desk at the Hyatt, and headed to the Capitol Building, naturally.  What else are you to do with a free afternoon in Washington DC?  The subway was fairly simple to navigate, and once we got off, metro information people were stationed to answer questions. 
The Capitol grounds looked a bit beat up, maybe is was the heat, maybe the recession; but the area looked dirty, there were quite a few dirt walkways leading to the capitol and the building looked tired.  We did go up to the front and hang out for a bit.  Found a random building that housed some drinking fountains that gave us a little relief from the heat and humidity.  We watched a hippie in an Uncle Sam hat protesting circumcision laws.  Then we met Rochelle and Jonathan at another metro station and walked to Church Key DC, a popular beer and cheese bar.  We got to catch up with Rochelle and Jonathan and hear their stories of the big city.  Then we went to another bar for a Vassar reunion.  (Rochelle and Jonathan are Vassar alumni).  This was an interesting event, free booze and food for the alumnus who had just returned from a formal alumni reunion at the school the previous weekend.  It was fun for us to meet people and hear their stories.  Lots of conversations were sadly about the (very tight) job market in DC.

Later, we met up with another of Rochelle’s friends, Charlene, who was interviewing for some overseas jobs that week for a quick dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery.  (This is the same chain as the Rock Bottom in Portland).   The day turned out to be much more of an awesome adventure than I had expected when we drove in.
Armed with our map from the Hyatt, we headed to the other side of the capitol mall the next day.  We walked up to the Washington monument.  Went up the stairs to the Lincoln monument (and reveled about the beautiful white marble that originated in Marble, Colorado).  Spent some time at the war memorials, the Vietnam memorial, in its simplicity, was the most powerful to Jarrett and me.  We were hungry and hot, so we aimed to find a Smithsonian that would fulfill both of those needs.  We found the Art Museum of the Americas, a small, and interesting museum just across from the mall.  It didn’t have any food, so our search continued.  We stumbled upon the Metro café to fulfill our hunger, which was more popular among the locals than the tourists.  We decided to spend our afternoon at the National Portrait Gallery and the National Art Museum, a combined building.  We made it through most of the first floor before we were completely exhausted.  There are 3 floors plus of exhibitions and collections.  We waited out a thunderstorm at the metro station back in Bethesda, where we met back up with Rochelle, Jonathan, and Charlene for a yummy dinner at Sweet Basil, a wonderful Thai place. (Congrats to Charlene for getting the position she wanted!).
The Vietnam War Memorial with a crowds reflection.

Even though there is so much of DC to explore and hundreds more museums, Jarrett and I decided that we would leave the next day.  We had a great time seeing what we did, and a wonderful time spent with friends.  So, we headed up the road towards upstate New York the next day. Thank you Rochelle and Jonathan for being such great hosts in DC!
Our favorite quote from the Korean War Memorial.

One Night in Madtown

After finding our new home in Des Moines we felt it best to visit my old home... state. Of course the famous New Glarus Brewery just happened to be on the way to our destination.
Good stuff made here.

After some delicious nectar of the gods, I stocked up on some for the road (of course all was gone by the time we left D.C.). I recommend the Wisconsin Belgian Red. Kristina was less enthused, but she got through it.

From there we rocked straight north to Mad Town, USA. School was out, but driving through the beltway you wouldn't have noticed (Kristina took that one on too). We had another brand new friend to meet. Elijah "Louie" is a quiet wide-eyed little guy and he's already got good balance. Of course our old friends were there too, Gerald, Lindsay, and Juna welcomed us for the night.

Lindsay and Louie

They treated us right for a night. Caught up over some catfish, quinoa and drinks (we've been eating a lot of fish lately). What a wonderful family! And dinner was splendid! One of the best parts had to be playing with Juna, she got a hold of our camera and went to town on the shoot button. Here is one of her best pieces:

A series I call: "Reverse Birth"

We were on the road by 10am next morning! Wisconsin we will be back soon!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Our new home.

Our first night in Des Moines and there were thunderstorms continuously throughout the night.  We decided to camp at a State Park just 7 miles out of the city to save money.  So there we were hunkered down in our tent hoping that nothing would happen.  We are pretty experienced with camping in the rain, somehow every time we decide to camp, it pours on us.  So, we knew that the storms were coming when we arrived.  We worked efficiently to set up camp, make dinner, start the fire (Jarrett had quite the time starting it in a puddle but was successful), and organize the car.  Just in case, we put all boxes and items into the front seat of the car.  This cleared out the back in case we needed to sleep in the car.  Maybe we should have, but we stayed in our tent that night.
Empty!  This may not seem like much,
 but the Prius is normally packed tight.
(We are, after all, living out of it for
 2 months).
Our second night was almost more exciting, we had dinner and went to a movie in town.  Found a great gluten free restaurant, Tally’s.  They used the best pasta we have ever had.  It is an Italian brand, Schar gluten free penne pasta.  Jarrett had the mushroom pasta, rivaling our GF pasta place in Portland, and I had chicken and mashed potatoes.  Both were super yummy!  Then we saw a late showing of Super 8, a cheesy movie in the theatre, to ride out yet another thunderstorm.  At this point our evening almost got more exciting than night #1.  We drove back to our campground at 12:30AM only to discover that the gates closed at 10:30PM.  As we pulled into the drive to think about what we were going to do next, a cop drove up.  He asked if we were lost, we told him our predicament, and he moved on.  Looked like we were going to walk (only about ¼ of a mile) but in the dark and with no flashlights.  The flashlights were all in the tent!  So, Jarrett decided to try the gate, and it wasn’t locked even though a padlock was hanging from it.  Whew.  We opened the gate and drove in!  Crazy adventure adverted.
Jarrett's successful fire
(a puddle of water was at
 the bottom of the fire pit).
The focus of our time in Des Moines was apartment hunting.  We set up as many appointments a day as we could, and if we got stood up we checked out one of the complexes that allowed pets.  Our 3rd day of appointments turned out to be the productive one.  Both places we looked at were super cute, decent price range and had different sets of perks.  We chose the less expensive place that was farther out of town.  Ironically, this place is just up the street from where we camped the first two nights.  I am looking forward to getting our things moved and setting up.  Of course, I have to wait until the last week of July for that… but that is coming very quickly.  We welcome anyone passing through Des Moines to visit us, we will have a 2nd bedroom and would love to see friends during the school year!

Me in a sculpture at a Des Moines park.
 Des Moines is smaller than we thought; it has lots of hills and lots of trees making it very pretty.  Many buildings are made of brick which adds to the charm.   The rivers were at capacity or slightly overflowing so some roads were closed.  Even with the closed roads we figured out the main ones to use to get around the city.  I have to say that the West side of Des Moines is much simpler than Portland to drive in J  The East side, where our hotel was the third and fourth nights, is composed of knots of freeways.  Each one connects large cities, Chicago, Kansas City, etc. and for some reason they all meet in Des Moines.  That is okay, we will be spending all of our time on the West Side between school and home.  

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Some Really Big Rocks.

Our first evening in Denver, we went to Red Rocks Amphitheater for music and a movie.   We saw 2 local bands including Matt Morris and the original Footloose.  Matt Morris has an amazing voice and he has been making a national name for himself lately by singing on talk shows.  Footloose was more fun than expected because the crowd really got into the movie.  They boo’ed the bad guys, cheered when something went right, and made jokes at the cheesey parts.  The star of the show, however, was the amphitheater itself.  There are red rocks jutting out of the earth hundreds of feet into the air.  Somehow they jutted up in just the right spots to make an amphitheater in the middle.  If you sit high enough, you can see the lights of Denver and amazing views of the entire valley.

We had a lot of fun playing and walking Kelley and Tim’s poodle mixes, Patton and Monte.  Another set of pets that we fell in love with!  The second day Kelley took us downtown to explore.  The light rail in Denver is widely used and the best way to skip the constant Denver traffic and parking issues.  We grabbed a quick, lunch at a café downtown.  Then we checked out the pianos on the street mall, the capitol building and the federal minting building.  Of course the mint had no tours available until the following week, but we tried to get on one.  My favorite place was the independent 'Tattered Cover' Bookstore. (By the way, the blog background is a close up of a strange statue we saw in Denver.  I think it is supposed to depict water balloons stacked into a tower, but I'm not sure.)
Kelley and Tim, our great hosts in Denver.
We spent lots of time relaxing on Kelley and Tim’s great patio.  They are in the process of landscaping their backyard, and it will be a masterpiece when it is done.  Their yard is completed by a beautiful garden that makes us miss our community garden in Portland. 
The last night in Denver, Jarrett and I took the light rail to Lo Do (lower downtown) to have a drink with some more friends who live in town.  We met Jarrett’s longtime friends Kelly and Trevor at Blake Street Tavern, a sports bar, for some wine and great conversation.  Then we headed to another bar to play flip cup with Jarrett’s friend Clint and his kickball team.  Playing flip cup in a bar felt the same as buying hard liquor from a grocery store, quite odd but convenient.  After we left the bars, we did get a bit lost trying to find the light rail again.  Eventually we did find a stop for the rail and made it home safe. 

Kelley and Trevor suggested that we hit up Boulder before we leave the area.  They said it sounded a little like Portland, had a different flavor than Denver, and was worth checking out.  So, on our way out of Denver, we drove up.  Driving into the city was magnificent; it was laid out with brick buildings, and set just below the grand Rocky Mountains.  We (of course) stopped at REI to gather our senses and a couple items we were running low on.  Then we went to Pearl St., the touristy street in Boulder.  (Not to be confused with “the Pearl district” in Portland. This is upscale, but not to that degree.)  The first restaurant we came to served gluten free pasta and pizzas, (AWESOME!).  So we did a little walking around and ate a quick lunch at that restaurant, the Goldolier.  There was a lot to explore, but we decided to head out since it was nearly 3PM and we still had a lot of driving to do.  Our next destination was Des Moines and we hoped to get about half way there that day.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Not out of the mountains yet....

Before we made our descent to the lowlands of Denver, CO, we had more mountains to climb. We made our way east to the resort city of Winter Park, CO. My friend Ryan is up there cooking for his daily bread (but probably doing more snowboarding, longboarding, biking and other great stuff). He's living it up in a natural paradise with his girl Valerie.

Kristina and Ryan before we hit the trail.

We did some walking to the resort, on the way we saw this little guy. He didn't seem to mind us at all.


After exploring the resort and town, we mostly hung out and drank some beer. Ryan and Valerie then hooked it up with a three meat trio: elk, halibut, and pork. Put some veggies on the side and it rivaled any trio put on this earth (sorry Larry, Moe, and Curly). We crashed maybe earlier than usual, maybe our brains went on vacation, maybe out stomachs weighed us like anchors to the mattress so soft. I don't know, but what I do know is call us satisfied and then some.

Either the water goes East or the water goes West, but it can't stay here.
(except for that snow, that will be there for a bit)

Thanks again Ryan and Valerie, you proved to be wonderfully entertaining hosts for our stop over in Winter Park. We loved the fresh mountain air!

Ryan and I.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Finding a Marble in the mountains

After the plural mountains of Utah, we had a revelation to return to Marble, CO for the 2nd time within a year. We visited our friends Hawkins & Chrissy. It was of course as glorious as we remembered. I had a testimony that this is a prophets' paradise.

View from the front deck

This time we met our new friend, Ellamae, only 7 weeks old. I got to hold her and everything, she is a bundle of joy!

Ellamae and me.

The first night we jammed out on guitars and got into an impromptu free-styling session (thanks Spencer for awakening old demons). We also caught up with chit-chat and tipped back a few drinks.

Marble's own -- Deja Blue

The next day we explored the bustling village of Marble, CO. We went up the road to the quarry, the only place that mines pure white marble. This marble was used to make the Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (both located in D.C. which is tomorrow's destination). We tried a couple of hikes to waterfalls but we were blocked by flooded paths. We did see this guy:

Hawkins and Chrissy made us feel more than welcome, we stayed in the loft bedroom. We awoke to huge windows with views on all sides. They made us some great dinners, and we had ourselves a nice campfire the last night.

Speaking of the last night, Tom and Marilyn flew out from Wisco and hung out too. The lot of us went down to the river, where yours truly mined for gold. Kristina showed me how to do it, showing me the Idaho method. I'm not filthy rich yet, but this blog is short. Check back for more of my millionaire scheme updates.

Dar's goald in dees mountins!

Check out this great bluegrass band at the local BBQ joint.

The "C" Band, or Carly's mom's band

Thanks again Hawkins & Chrissy, Ellamae, Sasha, Deja, Lucky, Clovis, and Jasper! Had another great time and we hope to make it to the Marble Symposium!

Hawkins & Chrissy

Hey everyone! Check out how good I look!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Millsite State Park, UT

We are a bit behind on blogging.  Lately the computer and internet have been used for one purpose only, apartment hunting.  We still haven't found the right one, but we think that we are close.

Back to the trip:  After Las Vegas, our next destination was Marble, Colorado.  Since this was a long drive, we decided to camp in Utah.  We wanted to see several parks like Zion, the Grand Canyon (AZ), or Bryce Canyon, but we didn't go to these because we were feeling short on time.  We just picked a park on the map and headed in that direction to camp.  It turned out to be a great choice.  We ended up staying at Millsite State Park, just off the banks of the reservoir.  This park is just West of Ferron, UT off highway 10.  We were surrounded by huge beautiful rocks and mountains.  The weather was a bit windy but still decently warm.  It is a grand place!

The pictures tell the story best:
Kristina setting up the table to make dinner.

Amazing rock structures.  We have tons of pictures of more structures as we were driving through Utah. 

Jarrett found his perch.

Just beautiful!

Our little set up, right on the reservoir.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Who needs the Academy.

Sorry we haven't been keeping up with the blog. Not much internet on the road, and the little we have is spotty. This doesn't include our gracious hosts of course. We've been too busy catching up to bury our noses in the computer while visiting.

So here's a quick shout out from Kristina's Android to the great friends that made this leg of the trip possible: (Please forgive any misspelled names)

San Francisco, CA: Bob & Lindsey. Cats: Puma, Weezer, and Vale.
Ventura, CA: Matt & Jess. Dog: Pepper. Mouse: Taco. Fish: Blackie and Whitey.
Encinitas, CA: Jeramiah. Roomates: Nate and Matt. Dogs: Duke and Cali.
Marble, CO: Hawkins & Chrissy & Ellamae. Dogs: Sasha, Deja, and Lucky. Cats: Clovis and Jasper. Special Guest appearances by Tom & Marilyn and Spencer too.
Winterpark, CO: Ryan & Valerie.
Denver, CO: Tim & Kelly. Dogs: Monty and Patton. Met up with: Trevor & Kelly. Clint.

Let your mugs never be empty and may all your viruses be computer related.

Jarrett & Kristina

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

We didn't forget San Diego

Kristina jumped the gun on Vegas. Blogging while still in the city is against the blogging code. Just read Gates 6:2 in the Book of Binary:

'Though shall not bloggeth while in the midst of thy blogging subject. I sayeth unto thee.'




We also went to San Diego! Well, Encinitas really. Visited my friend from college and beyond Jeramiah. As well as his 2 roommates Nate and Matt, and his dog Duke and Nate's dog Cali. DeMars, also from Stout, was also up for the weekend.

Just chilled out for the first night. Then we checked out San Diego. First, we went to Balboa Park, they were having an International Food Fair. The food smelled great, but we didn't want to risk the gluten intake. After strolling through the whole San Diego Museum of Art and the Botanical Garden. We got hungry and ate at Urban in downtown. I was pushing for the Croce Bar & Grill, a tribute to Jim Croce, but alas it was not open yet.

Later that night Jeramiah hooked us up with some amazing grilled halibut, asparagus, and some homemade salsa. Bomb. We chilled out and watched the movie 'The Rite', the wrong movie to watch if you want to watch a good movie.

The next day we got up early (in unemployment time) and Jeramiah took me out surfing. It was choppy and big, but it wasn't a complete loss, got to swim in the Pacific and tanned on the hot beach. We finished off with some more In n' Out burgers and packed up the Prius (minor delay with the back getting wet from me leaving the cooler plug open).

Thank you Jeramiah and company for putting us up for a couple of nights!

 Balboa Park
 Balboa Park Botanical Building


Just a quick note of our stay in Las Vegas.

  • Monday we ate a half a cow for dinner.  Okay maybe not a half a cow, it was a Kings cut prime rib, about 8 inches tall and the size of a dinner plate. Still huge and really tasty, I'm still salivating over it.
  • Tuesday I ate a half a chicken for dinner.  Who says you can't eat well on a gluten free diet?  I'm wishing I had the leftovers for breakfast.
  • We haven't gone clubbing or partying here, but did walk most of the strip yesterday to see the amazing lobbies of the casinos. Below are some of the textures we found.
  • We also gambled for an hour.  I spent $10 and left with $9 from the slot machines.  Jarrett did a little better at the Black Jack table, and won enough to cover our meals here.
  • The drive in was a little crazy, cars (with Nevada and Arizona plates) were passing us going 90 to 100 mph.  We stayed with the "slow traffic" going 80.  Most of the California plates must have been on the freeway headed West, which had stop and go traffic from the California boarder to LA (over 150 miles!). 
  • It is sunny and hot here (in contrast to Portland where I see it is still raining - sorry guys!) and we are having a great time but ready to get some camping in.