Posted on July 5, 2016
Glamping. What is it? Glamping is short for “glamorous camping.” It takes the splendor and isolation of camping and combines it with hotel-like creature comforts like real beds, furniture, and modern plumbing.
Or, if you do it Tom Haverford style, it is this:
I don’t recall where I first heard about glamping, but it has been on my To Do list since I learned that it exists. For our glamping experience we spent the 7th night of the 3,000 mile road trip at Moab Under Canvas. (Stay tuned for a post on the road trip next week).
Moab Under Canvas is located just minutes from Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse State Park. The glamp grounds are separated from everything else around so all you see are tents and nature (and tiny fluffy desert bunnies).
When we got there we were immediately taken by the mellow vibe of the grounds and the people who worked there. It was clear our stay was going to be special.
I booked a deluxe tent for a little extra space, privacy, and an in-tent full bathroom. (I had tent number 4 on the map above). When I fist saw the interior of the tent, my reaction was essentially this:
The tent was gorgeous.
The furniture was simple, but classic and cozy. There was no power in the tent so it came with 3 lanterns, which I largely used to not bump into things as I wandered the grounds at night.
The best part of the deluxe tent was my own private bathroom. It felt a little weird to bathe by lantern light behind a sheet of canvas, mainly because I am pretty sure the lanterns cast shadows on the tent for passersby to see. But, the water was piping hot and that is really the only thing I cared about.
The view from the tent was breathtaking. The front of the tent overlooked the desert and Arches National Park in the distance. The shaded porch provided the perfect spot to kick up my feet and just enjoy my surroundings. This was particularly nice because, unlike the East Coast, there are basically no bugs to bother you in the desert so you don’t have to worry about mosquitos or other insects flying in your face while to try to relax.
At night, Under Canvas hosted a bonfire complete with s’mores. Yum!
As the sun set, the landscape and night sky were transformed. Somehow, almost impossibly, becoming more beautiful than before.
Under Canvas also had two common areas. One (pictured below) in which you could relax in front of a fire or play board games and another where you could charge your devices or connect to their ethernet.
Finally, it was time to retire via lantern light. I really think their bed was the most comfortable one I’ve ever slept in. At first, I had a little trouble falling asleep. Every time I heard a noise I wondered if someone was walking toward my tent. However, within a few minutes I was fast asleep.
I got up at 6:00 the next morning just in time to watch the sun rise from my front porch. I think this may have been the first time I have ever just sat and watched this occur. The sun delivered.
I was able to order breakfast through Under Canvas which was both delicious and extremely convenient. It saved us an extra stop before our morning hike in Arches National Park.
There are two other Under Canvas locations in Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. If you can make it to one of the locations, don’t hesitate, just do it. But a warning, they sell out quickly, so plan early.
Special shout out to Sam, our hostess with the mostess, for making our visit extra fun. While the experience itself was truly unique, this was one of those occasions where the people who worked there set the mood for our entire stay.
Posted on July 2, 2016
Adventure makes life more interesting. It also makes road trips more interesting. I wanted to make the most of my time in the Denver area so I jumped at the chance to add some whitewater rafting to the itinerary.
We went to Rocky Mountain Whitewater Rafting in Idaho Springs, Colorado for an afternoon of rafting on the beautiful Clear Creek. The weather started out a bit dicey and thunderstorms were predicted all afternoon. In fact, we received a flash flood alert en route to Idaho Springs.
Me: Should we be in a river when there is a flash flood warning?
Jill: It’s ok, we’ll be in a raft.
Magically, our weather luck continued and the rain cleared just as we prepared to depart.
We started with a series of Class II and Class III rapids before hitting the more dramatic Class IV rapids. I was a little nervous about my prospects of staying inside the raft after my disastrous kayaking experience, so I dug my feet into the raft as deep as possible to secure myself. I even used one foot to kick the other one to wedge it in as far as it could go. I was determined to stay put.
We rafted down the river for approximately 8 miles and ran rapids called the Hemorrhoids, Deliverance, and Outer Limits, among others. We got thrown around a fair bit, but we all managed to stay in the raft.
Just in case things got a bit too wild, there was a safety guy in a kayak who stayed ahead of us in case we needed fishing out. On the more intense rapids, a guy with a rope (who you can see in the video below) stood on the shore to drag us in.
It was a chilly day in the 50s but our wetsuits kept us pretty warm and dry. That was a pleasant surprise. A few times icy water managed to make it inside of the top of my wetsuit . . . which definitely woke me up.
When we weren’t paddling or navigating the rapids we got to enjoy the scenery of Idaho Springs.
We passed beautiful hills, dramatic cliffs, gold mills, water wheels, and waterfalls.
If you are visiting the area, I definitely suggest enhancing your stay by experiencing a little white water. If you choose Rocky Mountain Whitewater Rafting, ask for Steve.
You can watch a video of one set of rapids here:
Posted on June 28, 2016
I am currently on a 2500-mile cross-country road trip with my best friend (more on this in a post next week). In addition to visiting new cities and states, I wanted to incorporate a few New Things into the journey (more posts on this later too). One of our first stops was in beautiful Kansas City, Missouri. While planning our visit we discovered a Segway tour of the town and we thought it would be a fun way to see the city and cross something new off of the To Do List.
I presented the idea to my friend Jill, and upon looking at photos of the tour she said, “Awe. We have to wear helmets like a bunch of dorks.” When the trip was threatened with rain, she voiced another concern. “If we have ponchos and helmets we are going to get beat up by somebody.” Fortunately, the storms passed us by and nobody got beaten up for being a dork.
The tour began with a brief video and riding lesson. It took me a few minutes to get the hang of it and to not spin in circles when I was trying to stay in one place. But, I eventually got the hang of it. It is pretty easy to maneuver and it moves with the weight of your body: lean left to go left, right to go right, forward to go forward, and back to go backwards or stop.
The tour took us through Westport, Country Club Plaza, and past several art museums.
At one point in our journey we headed down a quasi-steep hill in a park. We took it a bit fast and I could hear Jill struggling behind me. I am not sure what happened next, but I heard the distinct sound of Jill falling and a Segway crashing. This is how I picture it:
Somehow Jill flew off of the path and her Segway went into a tree.
Jill: Don’t take my picture you f***ing b****!
Me: ::Laughing and taking pictures::
Jill: I can hear you laughing!
Me: ::Laughing harder::
Jill: Stop laughing at me! You are so mean!
Me: ::Laughing even harder::
Jill: You better not put this on your f***ing blog!
Me: ::Laughing and crying::
I was laughing so hard that this was the best picture I got. Don’t worry, she’s fine.
Other than Jill’s tumble, the tour was a lot of fun. Whoosing around on the Segway created a nice breeze on an otherwise hot and humid day. Not to mention the joy of zooming down the sidewalks past all the bipeds who haven’t yet experienced the Segway life.
I also learned Segways have an added value. If a creepy guy starts hitting on you, you can just quickly scoot away. No more awkward uncomfortable conversation with strangers, ladies!
Overall analysis: Walking is for the birds. Segways are the way of the future.
Posted on June 20, 2016
If you are itching for something new and crafty to do, I highly recommend a basket weaving class. In just a few hours you can create something completely unique.
I went to Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary for my class with basket weaver Janet Lanier. Owl’s Hill is an 160-acre nature and animal preserve in Brentwood, Tennessee. I didn’t have time to explore the property, but I did see a beautiful deer grazing right outside of the window as I made my basket. It was a very peaceful afternoon.
We started out with a wooden handle and the spokes that would make the frame of the basket.
The base of the basket was formed by interweaving the wooden spokes.
Once the base was formed, round reed was woven through the spokes to secure the frame. The wooden reed had to be kept wet to make it flexible and easy to manipulate without breaking.
I decided to add in a little color to the basket, so every few rows I added maroon reed and seagrass. Seagrass is actually a grass that is hand twisted into cord.
The alternating over-under weaving process was repeated until I reached the desired height. Or, more accurately, I ran out of time and had to make it to a hair appointment.
Eventually the shorter spokes at the bottom were trimmed and tucked into the weave to finish the bottom of the basket.
The top of the basket was finished with half round weed lining the rim and smaller reed was wrapped through the open holes in the basket. To get it a little extra flair, I added some of the maroon seagrass to the top.
Voilà! A completed wine basket! It took a few hours and a little hard work, but I am pretty happy with the final product. Plus, I am now ready for life on the prairie. I can’t wait to return to Owl’s Hill for another class or for when I have some time to explore.
Posted on June 16, 2016
Two things you should not do: (1) Attempt to run a 5K when you literally cannot remember the the last time you ran, and (2) attempt to do so when it is 90 degrees outside. But if you are going to do it, it might as well involve a dozen or so awesome inflatable obstacles. Last weekend the Inflatable 5K visited by town and I took that opportunity to tackle my first obstacle course race.
The race started with a climb up inflatable steps and a slide down the other side. Game on.
All of the obstacles were a little bit different. The one pictured above (“Big Balls”) was full of, well, giant inflatable balls. You had to push your way past the 5-foot orbs to make it through to the other side.
There were volunteers at every inflatable offering encouraging words. Considering how hot it was outside, I am really not sure who had it harder, the people running or the volunteers standing in the sun. Either way, I really appreciated having them there.
The “Slingshot” was the first obstacle (of several) with a rope climb. This probably would have been a little less difficult had I not also been attempting to carry a GoPro.
It was only 9:30, but the blaring sun made some of the obstacles a bit scorchy on the skin. It was definitely motivation to get up quickly and keep moving.
Some of the obstacles were surprisingly difficult, like the “Mad House.” There was something about running up and down a a moving surface that made each step simultaneously more fun and more challenging.
When I signed up I intentionally chose a wave that had fewer people in it. However, in hindsight, I wish I’d picked a fuller wave.It was a lot more enjoyable when there were several people scrambling on an inflatable at once.
The finish line had the biggest slide of the day. It towered over the starting line next to it. I slid to victory, anxious to collect my first medal and sit down to a delicious carb-filled breakfast.
Walking in to the event I overheard a woman exiting say that it was the hardest 5k she’d ever done. At the time, I thought to myself that it couldn’t be that bad and it was just a bunch of bouncy houses. It turns out she was right. The 5k was surprisingly exhausting. I keep telling myself it was the heat and not the excessive amount of time I spend sitting at my desk each week. Either way, I am looking forward to the next one.