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Camping in the Jemez

Brandon and Erin asked if I wanted to join them on a camping trip this weekend out into the Jemez. The area they were planning on camping is somewhere I'd never been before. The road out there is awesome. It passes through some tunnels and follows a river for quite a while.

We found a campsite that was a little hike off the road. It took a while and a decent effort to carry all our stuff from the car down to the campsite. It was pretty steep getting down to the area where the camping was. We got everything set up and got a fire going and then started dinner. I made some green chile cheese burgers with some roasted corn on the cob for dinner Friday night.

On Saturday we had breakfast and waited for the sun to come up a little bit more then started hiking up and through the river while drinking some beers. I was pretty amazed at how well Canyon and Wicket (Brandon and Erin's dog) did in the water. I was expecting Canyon to avoid it like the plague but after a while she was pretty happy to splash through the water following us.

We stopped a couple times to have a drink and just after the 2nd stop, Brandon went to put Wicket on some rocks since he was getting pretty cold and tired from the water. There was a huge rattle snake chilling there and Brandon didn't see it until he had almost set Wicket on top of it. He flew himself and the dog backwards into the water, fortunately avoiding any kind of bite. Erin and I could hear it going crazy with its rattle after that. The crazy part was that Canyon had just ran through there which is why we assumed it would be fine.

After that little shake-up we decided to turn around and head back to camp. Once back at camp we made some sandwiches and snacked. Dark clouds were rolling in and it started raining so we just hunkered up under the canopy and played a dice game called Farkel while we waited out the rain.

The rain eventually stopped and we started collecting some firewood for the evening fire and dinner. For dinner tonight, Brandon made some lemon chicken, beans caesar salad and some sausage. We were all pretty tired from being in the sun most of the day so we were all passed out around 10pm.

It stormed a few times through the night but it wasn't anything too extreme. We got up, ate a quick breakfast with eggs and some of the leftover hamburger meat and started packing up the campground. The hard part was carrying everything back up to the cars. Even though we had drank most of the water and ate a lot of the food, the coolers were still heavy and awkward to carry back up.

On the way out we stopped at one of the cliff tunnels and took some photos before heading back to Albuquerque. Back at home, Canyon is passed out and is in desperate need of a good wash and grooming. I'll be looking for a place this week to take her to.
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Canyon enjoying some river hiking
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Happy Camper while hiking in the river
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Chilling by the camp fire
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Highway 376 through some cliffs

Downhill Mountain Biking in Vail, Colorado

I'm writing this post a little late since I just uploaded all the photos from the trip. Scott called a few weeks ago to see if I was doing anything the weekend of June 28. I didn't have any plans yet so we decided we'd head up to Vail, Colorado and try some downhill mountain biking.

Scott booked a flight on Southwest to Denver which arrived on Saturday night. I drove up and picked him up from the airport and then we drove out to Vail. We didn't get into our hotel until around midnight since Scott's flight was delayed about an hour. One nice thing about driving that late was the complete lack of traffic on I-70 through the mountains.

We woke up pretty early on Sunday morning and headed into Vail to purchase our lift tickets and mountain bike rentals. We found out that we could buy a full day lift ticket that came with a half day mountain bike rental included for $73. The guys at the bike shop said they didn't really follow the half/full day rental schedule so as long as we returned the bikes before 6:00pm then we'd be fine.

We were given two Trek Fuel Ex 5 29ers to take up the mountain. The bikes are full suspension and seemingly ran over just about anything without a problem. We did a couple runs including some pretty steep blacks then went back to the car to make some sandwiches for lunch. Scott had a little trouble with his rear brake not working too well so he had to take it in a couple times to get it tightened up.

Our favorite run of the day was Radio Flyer. It had some really nice smooth curves, jumps and dips. It's basically what both of us were imagining when we booked the trip. Several of the other runs were a little too rocky or just plain too steep to feel comfortable on.

After a full day (9:30am-5:45pm) we decided to turn the bikes in and head back to the hotel to shower and find some food. All the riding really wore out my wrists... I think due to the vibration of flying down the hill. My right knee was a little banged up because it kept hitting the top bar of the bike and I think I smacked my left ankle on the pedal once. Other than that, it was an incident free experience!

For dinner we went to a place called Yellowbelly that did a modern take on soul food. I had some roasted chicken, citrus quinoa salad and "smashed potato fries". They also had some natural cane sugar sodas that were all pretty good. There wasn't much to do in town so we tried the hot tub and sauna but both seemed to be broken. The hot tub was cold and the sauna never started steaming. We were both pretty wiped out so we ended up just heading to bed.

I think both of us slept really well considering we didn't even wake up until our alarm went off around 8:30am. Our plan for the day was to check out of the hotel, head to Copper Mountain and take advantage of a lift ticket deal and do some hiking at the top of the ski area before dropping Scott back off at the airport.

We had a quick breakfast and then drove to Copper Mountain. The deal was if we showed up with a receipt that showed we spent $10 in the Copper village then we'd get a free lift ticket for the day. Rather than buying any unnecessary junk, we sorta scammed the system and each bought $10 worth of gas for my car. They didn't seem to have any issue with it so we got our free lift tickets and jumped on the lift.

We only had about an hour to spend up there before we needed to start our journey back to Denver. The hiking was nice and the air was thin. We were up over 11,000 feet and there was still plenty of snow around from the ski runs.

We hit a bunch of traffic on the way back to Denver since they're doing some major construction on one of the tunnels near Idaho Springs. It slowed us down by about a half hour but we still got Scott to the airport with plenty of time to catch his flight. After dropping him off I had the long 7 hour journey home. I stopped in Colorado Springs along the way to check out a liquor store called Coltrains. I always like to pick up some beers I can't find in New Mexico when I'm up in Colorado. Coltrains was right off I-25 which made it really convenient. I bought a bunch of stuff I'd never had and then drove home.

It was a lot of driving for such a short trip but I definitely want to do some more downhill mountain biking. Scott and I definitely made the most of our time on the bike but we both agreed that it would be nice to do a couple days and take our time and not ride all day. It was just too draining.
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On the gondola up to the trails
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Vail ski runs in summer
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A black run at Vail
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Hiking at Copper mountain