Denver for the Fourth

July 4th was on a Tuesday this year and for whatever reason my company gave us Monday off as well.  Makes sense honestly.  Lots of people would have taken Monday off anyway so why not just give it to everyone.  This resulted in a super long four day holiday weekend.  This presented a great opportunity to travel and get a descent vacation in.  After a lot of thinking I decided to head back to Denver for the weekend.  No specific reason this time, I just love Denver.

I found an early morning flight that would get me to Denver before noon.  So that meant almost a full day on Saturday and two full days before heading home.  I was so busy working and trying to put my life together that I honestly didn’t plan much for this trip.  Another reason I went to Denver is my familiarity with it.  I knew if I went I would have a good time. There is just so much to do I knew I couldn’t get bored.

This time around I didn’t feel much like jamming my day with a ton of activities. For the most part I was really lazy. There was no need to get up early and stayed up late every night. The only real plan I had was visiting the Denver Art Museum. I was sad we didn’t make it here in April so this time it was the only thing I made sure I put on my to do list.

A really great museum with a varied collection of works. One thing I quickly noticed was all the western and Native American art. I shouldn’t be surprised but for some reason I was. I was also surprised to see a Claude Mont The Coastguards Cabin (Customs House) hanging on the wall. I have seen Mont’s stuff all over the country at this point. Its kind of amazing when you think about it. All these different art museum all have a Mont in their collection.

Denver Art Musem north entrance

After a great day at the museum I walked out to what sounded like muffled voices and banging of drums. Across the street in Civic Center Park I found a protest. Not sure who organized it but it was definitely an anti-Trump rally. Maybe a few hundred people that marched from the park to the state capitol building. Surprisingly there were about a dozen Trump supporters who I thought were antagonistic but thankfully nothing happened. The police had a good present but were respectful with their distance. This is my third time to Denver this year and if memory serves me correctly I have seen a protest each trip. The locals are passionate and very vocal.

The rest of my time was spent just walking around the cities, drinking beer and eating. Brewery visits where limited this time around, only three new ones this trip. I have been staying at the Renaissance in Downtown and have already visited the closest breweries so much more walking is required now to see some new places.  Stopped by Beryl’s Beer Co., Ratio Beerworks, and Bierstadt Lager.  All around a good selection of breweries with Ratio being the best of the three in my opinion.

I love fireworks and was surprised to hear that Denver puts on a show in Civic Center Park on July 3rd.  Not sure how many years this has been going on but it’s a local tradition to head down to the park July 3rd.  After a long day of drinking and walking I eventually made my way to the park for the show.  I wasn’t interested in the pre-fireworks festivities so arrived about 30 minutes before the display.  Really cool display that was loud with lots of color.

God I love fireworks and while I might be biased I believe DC puts on one of the best Forth of July festivals in the nation.  With that in mind my return flight on July 4th would get me back at a reasonable hour in the afternoon.  My original thought was to arrive at IAD and head downtown before the fireworks start around 9pm.  It was a great idea but in the end I just went home when I got back into town.  It was a really long weekend filled with a ton of activities so by the time I landed all I wanted to do was go home and sleep.  What sealed my decision was I was flying to Birmingham the following day.  I was staying the rest of the week to train a new hire so felt no need to push myself to make it to DC.  The fireworks in Denver fulfilled my itch for fireworks this season.

Another great time in Denver thanks to the four day Jul 4th weekend.  As is usually my motive I drank some great beer and ate till I was full each day.  This is a city that always has something going on and never leaves me bored.  Already planning on going back over Veterans Day weekend to see LCD Soundsystem which will be awesome!  Still working on getting a new job here in Portland so that could screw up my plans Veterans Day weekend but oh well.  I would rather plan all this out then find airline tickets are to expensive or the show is sold out.  Most of their north American tour is already sold out so I wanted to get my ticket before it was to late.

Cross Country Journey Officially Completed

This past weekend I completed my cross country journey.  I know that technically I already made it to the west coast and have actually been here for a couple of weeks.  For me the journey wasn’t finished till I saw the pacific ocean for the first time.  While I was in Newport, the further east on my journey, I saw the Atlantic from Fort Adams.  This past weekend we headed to Cannon Beach along the Pacific over the Labor Day weekend.

Taken August 6th 2017. The Atlantic Ocean as it flows into Narragansett Bay. The Claiborne Pell Bridge is in the background.

This was just a day trip but a really cool beach town.  We along with a ton of other people got of of town for the holiday.  Traffic getting there was pretty bad but honestly it was expected.  The town itself is a typical beach town in my opinion.  It was packed with tourists, had little available parking, small hotels all over the place and typical beach shops.  What I found to be different was the beach itself.  Out here they are super wide and really cold.  The only people I saw in the water had full wet suites, everyone else was ankle deep.  The sand was also very different.  Very fine and didn’t stick to anything if it wasn’t wet.  The beach also didn’t have a lot of “junk” in it, just grains of sand which was refreshing.

Taken September 3rd 2017. The Pacific Ocean at Cannon Beach, OR. You can see Haystack Rock to the far left.

I spent all afternoon on the beach which was nice.  I was so exhausted and just happy to be there I just sat and watched the people.  When the sun was shinning the temps and breeze off the water was nice.  It wasn’t till late in the afternoon when the sun started to set that it got really hot which I am still getting use to.  Everyone keep saying it was not your typical Oregon beach weather so I feel I lucked out on the weather.  I didn’t leave my seat but there are tide pools and Haystack Rock to explore.  This beach was also used in The Goonies movie so there is that little bit of nostalgia for me.

I have seen the Pacific, mission accomplished, move complete.

Stats Across the Country

So after my recent move to the west coast I was curious about a few things.  Below are some random stats about my journey.

Number of Days 12
Miles Traveled ~4300 miles
Picture Taken 456
Cities Visited 10
New York (Phish@MSG), Newport, RI (The Roots at Newport Jazz Festival), Pittsburgh (layover), Cincinnati (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), Chicago (The Field Museum, Grant Park, and Band of Bohemia), La Crosse (family), The Badlands, Bozeman (layover), Yellowstone, Bosie (layover) and finally Vancouver my final destination.
Gallons of Gas 154.218 gallons
Average MPG 30.06 MPG
Nights in a Hotel 7
Nights Camping 3
Two nights in The Badlands and one in Yellowstone.  One night was spent camping in my car.
Miles Hiked* 10 miles or 20,200 steps in NJ and NY for Phish.
7.5 miles or 14,900 steps in Cleveland and late night in Chicago.
11.5 miles or 23,000 steps in Chicago.
15 miles or 30,400 steps in The Badlands.
12.25 miles or 24,700 steps Yellowstone Day 1.
10 miles or 20,300 steps Yellowstone Day 2.
66.25 miles or 133,500 steps hiking.
Concerts Attended 2
Phish 8/5 @ MSG & Newport Jazz Festival 8/6 to see The Roots
Breweries Visited 8
Departed Soles Brewery, Noble Beast Brewery, Empirical Brewery, Band of Bohemia, New Glarus Brewing, Ale Asylum, Side A Brewing, and Hopworks Urban Brewery
Spent on Gas $395
Spent on Hotels $1,412
Spent on Tickets $603
Spent on Food/Drink $830 total
$415 on breweries alone
Spent on Tolls $81
Spent on Public Transit $49
Total Spent $7,583
Most of this was shipping my stuff across the country and getting supplies for this adventure before I left Ashburn.

 

Note
* My iPhone recorded the steps I took.  With that number I then used the following conversion to calculate miles: 500 steps = .25 miles.  I used Temple University’s conversion chart to calculate miles which is based on Shape UP America.

Central Oregon for the Total Eclipse

After my cross country journey I arrived in Vancouver to my step-sisters house on Thursday.  The next day we packed up the car and headed to Walton Lake in the Ochoco National Forest for three nights of camping and to catch the total eclipse of the sun.  Central Oregon was suppose to have some of the best watching as it is higher elevation with clear skies.  With all the forest fires going on in the area I was surprised that besides Friday afternoon the entire weekend was clear of clouds and smoke.

We camped among some really tall pines which was cool.

Tracy and I arrived on Friday and the rest of the family arrived on Saturday.  Bobby and the kids had been on a three week journey coming up from southern California seeing the sites and camping all the way to Walton Lake.  It was great just spending the weekend hanging out and not doing much.  After my 12 day adventure across the country relaxing in nature was exactly what the doctor order.  I hiked up Round Mountain with Tracy and that had some spectacular 360 degree panoramic of the surrounding area.  Very impress.  We could actually see the music festival from the top of the mountain.  I heard that 30,000 people attended the electronic festival and witnessed the eclipse.  The rest of the time I spent sleeping, smoking cigar, cooking food, or down by the lake.  Really great time there with everyone.

Come Monday it was time for the show we all came to witness.  We secured a spot on the docks for our group and I spent all morning down there in anticipation.  The eclipse started around 9:20am and totality didn’t happen till around 10:20.  It was crazy seeing the entire area get darker as the sun was covered up.  The temperature dropped noticeably during this time as well.  You could feel the wind shift as the shadow tracked across the state.

I must say that during totality I had goose bumps for the entire 2:30 which was awesome.  it got so dark and so cold during totality.  We could finally take the glasses off and look directly at the sun which was awesome.  We could clearly see the corona jetting out from the sun.  I was impressed with how large it actually was.  It was probably switch the size of the sun.  As totality waned we got the see the diamond ring which another awesome aspect of totality.  I wouldn’t say this was a life changing event by any means but it was so cool seeing totality in all its glory.  Really made me appreciate nature and how wonderful it really is.

After the long weekend and 2:30 of totality it was all over.  We hung out at the campsite for the rest of the afternoon thinking traffic would be horrible as everyone tried to leave at the same time.  Thankfully there was no traffic so it just turned into a long drive getting home that night.  After four hours and stop for dinner we where home.  We all brought some stuff into the house and then I showered to clean three days of grim off me.  That showered was amazing, almost as amazing as totality I have to say.  Really an amazing experience and I was so glad I made it out to the west in time to see it.

Having a total eclipse cross the entire country is a rare event.  I believe they are often in the middle of the ocean or only in very limited populated areas.  Having it track across the entire country was a once in a few hundred years even from my understanding.  Not sure if I will ever get to see one again but if the opportunity arises I will certainly make the effort.  If you haven’t seen totality in person I would highly recommend making it at least once in your life.  Really amazing stuff and makes you appreciate nature even more.

 

Michelin Rated Band of Bohemia

As soon as I heard the first brewery in the US got a Michelin rating I was excited to see what the experience was like.  I don’t remember who reported or how long ago it was, but this has been on my list for a while.  Chicago was a natural stopping point on my cross country journey and since I was in town Band of Bohemia was at the top of my list for must do for the 36 or so hours I was in town.

Walking into the place it has a slightly strange decor to it.  The room is lite but it is dark.  Lots of dark colors and some small lights on the tables.  Very plush with some cool stuff hanging on the wall.  I took a seat at the bar which is right in front of the operations.  This is certainly a small operation but I was looking forward to their creative take on beer and extra attention to quality.  Everything on the menu looked so amazing and honestly it was hard to pick.  Then I saw the tasting menu option and without hesitation picked that.  I have found that if a tasting menu is offered, probably a good idea to take advantage of it.

I was not disappointed with my food that night.  Everything I had was fantastic and just fit together so well.  They offered a beer tasting along with the food but I decided to skip it this evening.  When it came to the beer I wanted to try what I wanted since this was my first time here.  I ended up having three different kinds and taking a four pack of large bottles homes with me that night.  With the food and beer pairing  the beers are more saison and farmhouse style beers.  Very creative tastes and palate feel on these beers.

If you love beer and food this is a must stop when you are in Chicago.  I can’t recommend this place enough.  It is expensive but I certainly feel you get what you pay for.  Definitely not a regular place but on those special occasions you want to celebrate Band of Bohemia nails it.  Impeccable service, attention to detail, food, and beer.