On friends, relatives, national parks, and Adventure Bellies

Ten days ago, when I last updated the blog, we were in Music City, or Nashville, TN.  While we were there, we had the pleasure of spending some time with Christina and Zach (our fantastic hosts), and I was lucky enough to catch lunch with my old housemate from Holland (the city in Michigan, for you non-Michiganders out there), Ryan, and his wife Leanna.  The highlight of our visit there was most definitely the evening of music we enjoyed at the Loveless Cafe, including a band Zach plays with.  Good old Americana played by five bands in an old barn-turned-music-venue?  Yes, please!

Additionally, Anna and I were both able to go for a run two days in a row, continuing an effort that I mentioned in a few previous posts.  Remember the subject of the “Adventure Belly”?  Well, as it so happens, one’s belly evidently just isn’t content to stay the same once one turns 30 years old.  And, as I’ve had 30 years to get used to this lightning-quick metabolism of mine, I am still getting over this notion that it’s my birthright to be able to eat as much as I want (and sometimes as much as possible) without suffering any lasting changes to my belly’s overall girth.  Sadly, this just ins’t the case anymore, and when this new part of life is compounded with the fact that Anna and I are spending a significant amount of time sitting in a car these days (almost 11,000 miles’ worth on this trip so far), can you imagine where the term “Adventure Belly” comes from?  So, thanks to Nashville for providing a great riverside park in which to continue the ongoing battle against the growing Adventure Belly!

Between Nashville and Denver, we camped one night in surprisingly cold state of Missouri.

Missouri was beautiful and cold.  And still has affordable camping prices, unlike many other states!  Thanks, Missouri!

Missouri was beautiful and cold. And still has affordable camping prices, unlike many other states! Thanks, Missouri!

Then we drove through Kansas, pictured below.

Yep.  It got even colder, then it snowed.  Thanks, Kansas.

Yep. It got even colder, then it snowed. Thanks, Kansas.

When we got to Denver, we had a fantastic time staying with Anna’s cousin Christina.  If you haven’t yet noticed, we pretty much mostly hang out with people named Christina.  Well, in Denver we had fun just hanging out, walking around, and eating great food.  I ate a huge plate of nachos all by myself (remember, it’s my birthright to be able to eat as much as possible!), then, you guessed it, took a run the next morning.  

After Denver, Anna and I spent 5 days putting our National Parks annual pass to good work, visiting and camping in Canyonlands, Arches, Zion, and Grand Canyon National Parks!  I’ve always wanted to see the Southwest, but I’d never been.  In short, this part of our trip was one of the most awesome experiences we’ve had on the trip to date.  Personal highlights include our campground just outside Canyonlands NP, which was called Cowboy Camp, and was unanimously described as the best car camping location we’ve ever experienced, by far.  There’s just something about camping on top of a ledge in high desert country with few to no people around and watching the stars without the nuisance of light pollution that makes one appreciate the scale of the world we live in.

Cowboy Camp.  Unreal.  This photo just doesn't do it justice.

Sunrise at Cowboy Camp. Unreal. This photo just doesn’t do it justice.

As for the Grand Canyon, we unwittingly landed ourselves on the northern side of it, which has almost no visitors compared to the southern side (score!), so once again found ourselves an outstanding campsite right on the edge of the canyon.  While spending a few nights here, we balanced our time between hiking in the canyon and continuing our Harry Potter blitz.  We’re now done with book 6, and stuff’s getting pretty serious.

The view from the other side of the trees at our campsite at the Grand Canyon.  It's probably a good things Garrison doesn't have a flying squirrel suit.

The view from the other side of the trees at our campsite at the Grand Canyon. It’s probably a good things Garrison doesn’t have a flying squirrel suit.

Last night we spent a classy evening of sight-seeing and small-time gambling in none other than Las Vegas, Nevada.  And we took showers.  We’d like to thank expedia.com for helping us find this room at an affordable price, which happens to be just across the line where Las Vegas goes from “slightly shady” to “within walking distance of all the high-end hotel/casinos”.  We lost less than $10, but won a pack of nerds, a pixie stick, and three tootsie rolls, and ate some rather expensive and sub-par Mexican food.  And had a real bed to sleep in.  

¡Viva Las Vegas!

¡Viva Las Vegas!

The Adventure Map isn’t quite updated, thanks to Google not cooperating.  Updates coming soon!

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One Response to On friends, relatives, national parks, and Adventure Bellies

  1. Daniel says:

    Glad to see you’ve done some killer camping. Even though there are probably hundreds of campgrounds in Missouri, I’m pretty sure I stayed at that same one about 8 years ago on the way to and from a canoe trip to Arkansas; how crazy. Look forward to seeing y’all real soon!

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