BrandonoBrien.com

Brandon O'Brien

Travel and Adventure Journal

I wanted a place to journal all my travels and adventures around the world. I always enjoy going back and reflecting on my past travels and getting to relive them through my words and photos.

Just some fun trips

These are my short trips that don't fall into any of the other sections. Most of these take place around the Southwest, many of which are adventures on my motorcycle

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A Weekend in Salida, CO for FibARK

A Weekend in Salida, CO for FibARK

Sunday, June 19, 2022 @ 6:00 PM in General Travel

Even though Sam is eight month's pregnant, we still wanted to get out for one last adventure weekend while we could. Greg, Mattie and Aaron were all planning on going up to Salida for the FibARK festival (First in Boating on the Arkansas) so we joined up with them for the trip. The festival takes place on the Arkansas river in Salida where there are activities all weekend. The one even we were really excited for was the Hooligan race which is where people build their own rafts and try to float down the river without their craft falling apart.

Sam took Friday off from work so we packed the truck up with all our camping gear and a ridiculous amount of food and then left Santa Fe around 9:30 in the morning. Greg, Mattie and Aaron had gone up there on Thursday to secure a camping spot, so we weren't in a rush to try and take care of that. We rolled into Salida a little before 1 in the afternoon and decided to get lunch there. We had pizza at Amicas, where Aaron and his buddy Steve met up with us.

After lunch, we met up with Greg and Mattie by the river and watched some of the activities taking place. There were a lot of kayakers practicing for the freestyle event which would take place on Saturday. It was pretty neat watching them do flips and rolls in the big rapid right in town. We had some beer by the river and watched Greg take his inflatable kayak out so he could try and ride a smaller rapid. The boat ended up getting filled with water and flipping. Fortunately there weren't really that many people around to witness it, lol.

It started to thunder and lightning so me, Sam, Aaron and Steve decided to bail and head back up to the campsite so we could get our setup put together. We somehow fit Aaron and Steve's bikes on the truck and got them in the cab as well. On the drive up to the campsite, it started raining really hard. Steve remembered he left a window open in his camper (directly above his bed), so we booked it up there so he could get it closed. Fortunately his stuff wasn't too soaked.

We set up our camp and then had dinner while waiting for Greg and Mattie to come back from town. It got pretty cold and windy so we hung out in Aaron's truck for a little while. When Greg and Mattie showed up, they started a fire in their Solo stove and we hung out there until we were ready for bed. It got really windy and rained a few times that night which meant I didn't get great sleep. I still woke up around 6:15 in the morning so I got started with coffee. We brought stuff to make breakfast burritos which was really nice on a chilly and damp morning.

There wasn't a real plan aside from Sam and I trying to squeeze a hike in. We decided it would be easiest to head into town and hike around there. That way, we could park the vehicles somewhere near town so we wouldn't be too far from the festival. Aaron and Greg rode to town on their mountain bikes while we drove down. We parked right next to the river and set out to do a hike up and down S Mountain. The hike was only about 3.5 miles but got you some really nice views of the town. While up hiking, it sprinkled on us a little bit but nothing too bad yet.

We had lunch at the cars by the river when Aaron text me and told me to come to the Boathouse Cantina for a birthday shot (my birthday was going to be in two days). I went over there and had a shot of Mezcal and a beer. While there, it started to down pour again so we hung out there for a few while Sam and Max were in the truck. When the rain let up slightly, I ran out to the truck where we waited until it was sprinkling enough to feel OK about going and hanging out by the river again.

Greg had a spot he really wanted to watch the Hooligan race at, so we got situated there around 3pm (the hooligan race didn't start until 5:30). We left a few times to drop Max off, get some ice cream and more booze. The last time we returned with some booze, it had really filled up and people started giving us the stink eye even though we'd been there for a few hours already.

We watched the freestyle kayak competition which was taking place before the Hooligan race. Before the Hooligan race started, they brought out a gigantic bike ramp so BMXers could do tricks off of it into the water. Some of the people were able to pull off some extremely cool tricks. The Hooligan race had several heats of four rafts each. Most of them fell apart long before they hit the rapid we were waiting by. It was still really funny to watch what was left of the rafts try to navigate the rapids. I took an obscene amount of pics during the hooligan race, so be sure to check out the full photo gallery for all the action.

After the race ended, we met up with Maggie and decided to go back to the campsite for dinner instead of having it in town. Steve has a really cool camper which actually has a microwave in it, so he was able to warm up our lasagna for dinner which was very cool. It started raining again so we went back into Aaron's van and hung out for a while before finally calling it an early night. We had a lot more wind come through overnight (fortunately no real rain), but the wind was really blowing our canopy around and kept me up for most of the night.

In the morning, we had more coffee and breakfast burritos before slowly starting to tear down camp. Greg and I decided we'd ride down to town and meet up with everyone else before heading home. Our campsite was right next to a really nice trail system that went right into town. We rode Beasway, Rumba, Cottonwood and Chicken Dinner. It took me a little while to shake the lack of sleep and hangover, but the trail was really fun.

Sam and I had lunch at the Boathouse Cantina before driving home. Greg and Aaron had left a little bit before us in his van and we joked that Greg was bad luck and Aaron should be careful with his van. Greg has had a lot of issues getting stranded in his camper van in the past. Unfortunately, we got a call from Greg when we were about 20 minutes outside of Alamosa. Aaron's van shut down when they got to town and it wouldn't start back up. Greg had work travel on Monday so couldn't afford to miss it. We picked up Greg and loaded up the truck with all his stuff while Aaron was waiting on a mechanic to get back with him.

He was pretty sure the alternator had given out which was causing the battery not to charge. This meant there was a cascade of errors and problems. Aaron was ready to spend the night there while waiting for mechanics to show up, but fortunately found an alternator in town and was able to install it himself. This probably saved him a day of wasted time and several hundred dollars!

We got back to Santa Fe in the midst of a huge monsoon storm. We had to wait to unpack a little while, but were definitely not going to complain about any rain. The trip as a whole was a lot of fun. It was a lot of things rolled into one (almost Father's day for me, my birthday weekend and our last outing for a while due to a baby almost here). If we do FibARK again, we'll probably aim to camp in town so we don't have to drive back and forth so much.

Teaser photos:

Hanging out in Aaron's van
Hanging out in Aaron's van
Camping spot near Salida
Camping spot near Salida
Hiking S Mountain in Salida
Hiking S Mountain in Salida
Tired Max at the festival
Tired Max at the festival

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Tags: colorado, camping

Posted from: United States

Overnighter on the Conejos River in Southern Colorado

Overnighter on the Conejos River in Southern Colorado

Sunday, June 5, 2022 @ 4:00 PM in General Travel

On Friday, Sam had the urge to get out of town for the weekend. Unfortunately, most of the National Forest in NM is currently closed due to fire danger so we had to widen our radius slightly. We were looking for somewhere that was within about a 3 hour drive from home, had water nearby and wouldn't be slammed with people. After talking with some friends, we landed on the Conejos River between Antonito and Chama. One of our friends mentioned she had some friends who were planning on camping up in this area so we figured we'd try it too. We actually did a several night backpacking trip up in this area several years ago and remembered it being really beautiful.

We packed up the car and were out the door by about 9:30am on Saturday. Rather than try to prep any food, we just went to Market Street and bought some premade meals for food. We bought a salmon salad with pasta salad for lunch #1, some fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans for dinner and some more fried chicken for lunch #2. The drive up to the campground was pretty uneventful and surprisingly lacking any real traffic aside from one area near San Antonio Mountain where the road was under construction and down to one lane.

We got to the campground a little before 12:30 and found a nice spot directly across from the river. We pulled out our coolers and camping gear and had lunch before heading out for a walk down to Spectacle Lake and the campground there. There were several people fishing for trout in the lake and we actually saw a few people catch some fish. The lake definitely looked stocked since you could see a ton of fish just swimming around.

After getting back to the campsite, we relaxed in some shade and read books for a few hours before it was time for dinner. Some motorcyclists pulled up to hang out by the creek and snap some pics. I went over to talk to them and snapped some shots for them. Turns out they weren't staying the night but just making a little detour while they were on their way back to Taos for the night. We shared some quick stories of our various trips before they took off. To reheat dinner, we just used our camp stove and a frying pan with some foil, which worked surprisingly well. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing before we finally called it an early night and went to bed in the back of the truck.

Due to some combination of white noise from the river, the temperatures being on the cooler side and having tall cliffs all around us, we actually slept in until about 7:30 which is "late" for us. We ended up with about 10 hours of sleep which felt amazing. Breakfast was some coffee, a muffin for me and some overnight oats for Sam. We packed up camp after drinking our coffee and drove up the road about 10 minutes to the South Fork trailhead.

There was a little debate about whether this was the same trailhead we started our big backpacking trip from, and it turns out it was. We hiked about four miles and enjoyed being in some greenery again. Near the trailhead were a few stream crossings. On the way out, we tried picking our steps carefully to avoid getting wet. On the way back, we just sloshed right through the water since we could put sandels on when we got to the car. When we had just crossed the river, we saw some people from Santa Fe (the friends of friends who were staying in this area which spurred our idea to camp here). We chatted with them for a bit before getting back to the truck and having lunch.

The drive back home was equally uneventful aside from the one section where the road was down to one lane.

Teaser photos:

At Spectacle Lake
At Spectacle Lake
Max after a dunk in the Conejos river
Max after a dunk in the Conejos river
Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans for dinner
Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans for dinner
Hiking on the Roaring Gulch trail
Hiking on the Roaring Gulch trail

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Tags: camping, colorado

Posted from: United States

Camping in the Jemez

Camping in the Jemez

Sunday, July 27, 2014 @ 1:00 PM in General Travel

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.

Teaser photos:

Canyon enjoying some river hiking
Canyon enjoying some river hiking
Happy Camper while hiking in the river
Happy Camper while hiking in the river
Chilling by the camp fire
Chilling by the camp fire
Highway 376 through some cliffs
Highway 376 through some cliffs

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Tags: jemez, camping, canyon, new mexico, river

Posted from: United States

Downhill Mountain Biking in Vail, Colorado

Downhill Mountain Biking in Vail, Colorado

Monday, July 7, 2014 @ 4:18 PM in General Travel

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.

Teaser photos:

On the gondola up to the trails
On the gondola up to the trails
Vail ski runs in summer
Vail ski runs in summer
A black run at Vail
A black run at Vail
Hiking at Copper mountain
Hiking at Copper mountain

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Tags: vail, colorado, mountain biking, downhill, copper

Posted from: United States

NMOHVA Sipapu Shindig

NMOHVA Sipapu Shindig

Saturday, May 31, 2014 @ 2:48 PM in General Travel

Callie text me on Wednesday and let me know that the New Mexico Off Highway Vehicle Alliance (NMOHVA) was doing their annual meetup in Sipapu this weekend. It's a huge group of adventure riders that get together and do various rides, time trials and races. I wasn't planning on participating in any of that but I thought it would be a good excuse to get out of town for the weekend and also get a nice motorcycle ride in.

Rather than participate in some of the group rides (since they were pretty much all extreme off-road stuff), I said I'd go up for Friday night to hang out and camp. Callie and I met in Pojoaque around 4:30pm and rode the High Road to Taos up to the Sipapu camping area. The views along the ride were amazing and fortunately the roads weren't too crowded.

We got to the campground and met up with a bunch of other people who were there for the event. I got my tent ready and ate some food that I had brought up. All of the other people had tons of food so I got to sample a bunch of theirs as well. After a few beers and sitting by the campfire for a couple hours I was tired and got ready for bed. It was extremely cold and took me a while to fall asleep.

I woke up, made some coffee and had some instant oatmeal while everyone was getting ready. Everyone hung out for a little while and gave me some advice about how I should get home. Rather than backtrack the way I came in yesterday they said to take NM Route 518 to Mora and then cut down to Las Vegas. From there, I'd take I-25 for about an hour before getting on some more back roads and cutting over to the Turquoise Trail. The idea sounded good so I packed up my tent and got my motorcycle ready before having a breakfast burrito and heading out.

The ride from Sipapu to Mora was amazing. It reminded me a lot of riding in southern Colorado with all the trees, streams, winding roads and amazing views. I lucked out again and avoided any real traffic so I was able to enjoy the ride a lot. I fueled up in Las Vegas, NM and then hit I-25 until I reached US 285 and took that down to NM Route 41 to Galliesto where I caught NM Route 42 to take me to the Turquoise Trail.

I stopped a few times for photos but wished I would have stopped earlier in the day between Sipapu and Mora since the views there were even better. I made pretty good time and got home around 1:30 this afternoon. That ride really made me want to get out and do more day trips around the state!

The entire route I took can be found here: https://goo.gl/maps/taf3f

Teaser photos:

A small group of motorcycles
A small group of motorcycles
My Triumph Tiger 800 on NM Route 42
My Triumph Tiger 800 on NM Route 42
My motorcycle on the Turquoise Trail
My motorcycle on the Turquoise Trail

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Tags: sipapu, nmohva, motorcycle, camping

Posted from: United States

Memorial Weekend in Portland Oregon

Memorial Weekend in Portland Oregon

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 @ 9:09 AM in General Travel

I spent Memorial Day weekend up in Portland, OR with Luiz, Bethany, Seth, Ashley and Marjorie. We all got on the same flight up there on Friday morning. Once we got to Portland we had a beer in the airport then met up with Mike who took us out to a really good breakfast place, Pine State, that's known for their biscuits. I had a chicken biscuit with cheese and bacon, a beer and a cold brew coffee.

After breakfast the weather cleared up and we started exploring the city. We hit up a few places for drinks and food and also checked out the rose garden. One of the cool places we checked out was the Portland City Grill that's located at the top of the largest building in Portland. We had some really good views of the city from up there. After a few more stops we went to a place called Hair of the Dog for some Chuck Norris duck wings. They were extremely spicy but tasted really good.

The next morning we got ready to head out to Mosier to camp. Along the way we stopped a few places along the Columbia River Gorge to take photos. We stopped at the Vista House, which I'd been to before with Ryan on our huge motorcycle trip in 2012, but it wasn't nearly as crowded this time. In Hood River we stopped at a pub to watch a soccer match and eat lunch before heading to meet with a bunch of people for the campout.

The place we camped in Mosier has some amazing views. There was a lot of beer, food and relaxing. It was nice being able to sleep in a tent without having to worry about it getting filled up with dust like you do here. The next morning we made some breakfast burritos for breakfast then went to check out a winery called Analemma. They had four different wines to sample, one of which was a really dry Gew├╝rztraminer that was great.

Back in Hood River we stopped for lunch and a drink at an up-and-coming local brewery called Pfriem. The food and beer were amazing and the brewery itself was very clean with a really nice location near the river. I think the general consensus was that it was one of the best stops on the trip.

We got back to Portland and set up for a big cookout at the place we were staying. We did some food shopping then had a little down time before everyone showed up. While we were out we wanted some coffee to wake us up so we stopped at a place called Coava. Whenever you order a coffee they grind your beans on-demand and heat the water up to a specific temp and individually brew your coffee. It was definitely one of the coolest places I've had coffee at. Before the party we did another wine sampling at a place right around the corner from where we were staying. The party was a lot of fun and there was more food/drink than we knew what to do with.

The next morning, Seth, Ashley and I got up early and walked down to Voodoo Donuts. The line wasn't too bad so we ordered some donuts then got some coffee and came back to the house. When we got back we found out we were heading to an early lunch at a Vietnamese place that only has two soups per day. After breakfast we went to the Mississippi neighborhood to meet up with some other people and have some more drinks. The area was really nice. There were more restaurants, bars and breweries in one place than I've seen in a long time. We spent several hours in that area before we split off to a soccer bar called 442 to watch the end of the game we started watching on Saturday in Hood River. The game went into overtime and we had to get to the campout so we weren't able to finish it then.

The soccer bar had some really good Bosnian food. I had some sort of meat sandwich and fresh cut fries along with my bloody mary. We walked around a little more before we all decided all the beer we'd been drinking over the last few days was way too filling. We stopped at a place called Coopers Hall for wine and had a great time there. We went through several bottles sampling various reds and roses. After that we we went for dinner at Nostrana, a really good Italian place a couple blocks from where we were staying. They had a late night happy hour with food marked down to really low prices. I had a margarita pizza and some of the other people split some other food. The restaurant was really nice inside with low lighting and wood everywhere.

It had been another long day so all of us came back to go to bed. In the morning we packed everything up, ate breakfast at a place called Zells and then got on our way to the airport. At the airport we lost track of time walking around and got on the plane after general boarding so we got some pretty bad seating, but I was so tired I slept pretty much the whole way to Las Vegas where we had a short layover before landing back in Albuquerque.

All of us had a great time, we had a lot of good food and drink and experienced some amazing weather. All-in-all, the trip was a great success!

Teaser photos:

Columbia River Gorge
Columbia River Gorge
Camping in Mosier, OR
Camping in Mosier, OR
Voodoo Donuts in Portland
Voodoo Donuts in Portland
Freshly brewed coffee at Coava in Portland
Freshly brewed coffee at Coava in Portland

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Tags: portland, coffee, green, camping, mosier

Posted from: United States

My motorcycle is back in Albuquerque!

My motorcycle is back in Albuquerque!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 @ 4:49 PM in General Travel

Last May I dropped my motorcycle off with Ryan up in Denver so he could keep it locked up safely in his storage unit while I was traveling around Europe. I thought I'd be moving up there right after I got back from my travels but due to the housing situation I wasn't able to get rid of my place, so I'm still here in Albuquerque.

That created a little dilemma when I wanted to ride since my bike was still up in the storage unit. Between my schedule and Ryan's schedule we were both pretty booked through early June so rather than wait until then I decided to do a mid-week one-way flight up there to get my motorcycle and ride it back.

The tires were in pretty bad shape so I had to order some of through a bike shop up there so they could install them before the ride back. I took care of the ordering last week and then on Monday I got on a flight to Denver. I actually found out I can take buses from my house all the way to the ABQ airport for $1. Much better than trying to park my car at the airport and then figure out how to get it back later.

I got up there on Monday night, rode my bike (for the first time in almost a year) from Ryan's storage unit to his house. On Tuesday morning I had an appointment to get the new tires installed so I had that done, then rode around Denver and up to Red Rocks to make sure there weren't any issues with the bike before a 7 hour ride back to Albuquerque on Wednesday morning.

Everything went fine even though it was extremely windy up in Denver. I was on my motorcycle by 7am on Wednesday morning, in the freezing cold, but I was on my way back home. It never really got warm for the duration of the ride back to Albuquerque. I hit a lot of wind, a lot of cloudy skies and even a little rain and snow north of Santa Fe.

The roads were basically empty since it was the middle of the week so I made pretty good time. I'm back in Albuquerque now and I'm just crossing my fingers this crazy wind stops soon here so I can get out and enjoy my motorcycle again!

Teaser photos:

My motorcycle at Red Rocks in Denver
My motorcycle at Red Rocks in Denver
My motorcycle at Red Rocks in Denver
My motorcycle at Red Rocks in Denver

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Tags: motorcycle, red rocks

Posted from: United States

Easter Weekend in OKC

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 @ 8:15 AM in General Travel

This past weekend a group of us piled into my Volvo and headed out to Oklahoma City to visit some friends and check out a city none of us had ever done anything but pass through before. It was me, Luiz, Bethany, Moses and Kevin that ended up going.

We left at 7 on Thursday night and stopped in Santa Rosa for dinner at Carls Jr. We stopped for the night in Amarillo, TX with some friends who were helpful enough to stay up until 12:45am when we finally rolled up. After showers and coffee we went for breakfast at a local Mexican place. I got some skirt steak with eggs and beans which ended up being really good.

It was a 4 hour drive from Amarillo to OKC. The drive was uneventful and we made it to OKC in pretty good time. The first thing we did was stopped at a bar called Skinny Slims in Edmond. We met the GM of the local Hash House Harriers group there and hung out for a while before dropping our stuff off.

Friday night we went bar hopping and tried several local beers or at least beers we couldn't get in Albuquerque. At the end of the night we stopped at a hole in the wall taqueria that had some great food. Even at around 1am it was still packed which shows how good it was.

We took it pretty easy the start of Saturday. Once we all got up and moving we went to find some coffee and ended up at a really new and fancy Whole Foods where they had cheap coffee. After that we went for a late lunch / early breakfast for some birria at a place called Birrieria Diaz.

Luiz wanted to meet with an old friend in the afternoon before the running/drinking event at 3 so we drove quite a ways outside of town so he could spend some time there. While they were catching up, some of us went to a local liquor store and picked up some local beers to bring back home.

The Hash House Harriers there were having their Easter run that afternoon so we went there and I checked in my 500th distinct beer on Untappd! The run was pretty short but it was a nice one. We ran through mountain bike trails searching for Darth Vader head shaped easter eggs that were either filled with candy or if empty, you'd get a tiny shot at the end of the run.

After the run they were having a big party at the GM's house so we went there with some wine and hung out for a while. We were all pretty tired since we had several nights of less sleep than normal so we headed off to sleep. In the morning we got up for breakfast at a local place that served good food and then hit the road.

The drive back went pretty smoothly. We hit a few rainy patches but other than that it was easy going. We stopped for lunch at the Big Texan in Amarillo. Unfortunately no one was doing the huge food challenge. I had a buffalo burger since all the steaks were really expensive and I didn't really want something that heavy.

We got back to Albuquerque just in time to meet up with some more friends and watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones. It was a fun weekend but I think all of us were glad to be back home and get a good night's sleep.

Tags: easter, oklahoma, big texan

Posted from: United States

A long weekend in Denver

Monday, March 31, 2014 @ 8:56 AM in General Travel

I went up to Denver last weekend for Colt's (Ryan's son) first birthday party. The wind has been ridiculously strong the last few times I've driven up and back and this time was no exception. The last few times the dust has been so bad near Pueblo you could hardly see the road in front of you. Luckily this time the dust was pretty thin and didn't cause any delays.

The party went well. They rented their neighborhood clubhouse for the night and had about 40 people show up. I was really hoping to get new tires put on my motorcycle while I was up there but the bike shop didn't have the ones I needed in stock so I'll have them order some and get it taken care of in a few weeks. I'm really getting eager to ride since the weather has been pretty nice here in Albuquerque. I'd be scared to ride back home on the existing tires since they're at the end of their life and had been sitting unused in Ryan's storage unit while I was in Europe.

On Saturday we went to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge Park. The government used to do a bunch of weapons testing there back around WW2 but now it's converted into a giant wildlife park. Unfortunately we didn't see any animals aside from a few prairie dogs and some bison. It was still a little too dead there for there to be a bunch of animals around.

On the way back home yesterday I stopped and bought a bunch of beers in Denver that I can't find here in Albuquerque. They had four different kinds of Dogfish Head beer but I only got one four-pack since they cost around $17 each. Some friends and I are going to try all the beers this week or next.

Tags: beer, denver

Posted from: United States

Grand Canyon & Flagstaff, AZ - Pre-Europe Travels

Grand Canyon & Flagstaff, AZ - Pre-Europe Travels

Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 7:59 AM in General Travel

I've been living in Albuquerque, NM for seven and a half years and hadn't been out to see the Grand Canyon yet. Two of my friends, Luiz and Orville, tried to go last year but ended up being in Flagstaff during the local college's homecoming festivities and ended up partying instead of seeing the canyon.

We decided that before I took off for Europe I should at least see some of the sights closer to home so we planned a trip to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. We packed up my car on Friday afternoon with plenty of beer and some lunch food and started the drive. With the time change, we made it to Flagstaff around 9:30pm, checked into Hotel Monte Vista, had a beer in the room and then went out to get some beers at the local places.

The first bars we hit were the ones in the hotel. They were a little crowded so we had our beers and moved on. We ended up making it to Flagstaff Brewing Company to have our final beer of the night. It seemed that on Friday night, FBC was a little more geared toward a different type of crowd than we were expecting for a local brewery. We went back to the room around midnight and went to sleep.

Tyler ended up waking up at about 5:30am so he got the rest of us up at 6. We had a morning beer in the room and decided we might as well get breakfast and head out to the Grand Canyon to get an early start for the day. We ate breakfast at a place called Mix. The food was all really tasty and a great way to get the day started.

The drive up to the Grand Canyon is pretty scenic and goes by quickly. When we got to the Grand Canyon we got stuck in the slow line to pay our $25 entry fee, but once we got past that we headed to the Mather Point Rim Trail to get our first glimpses of the canyon. We couldn't have asked for a better day. It wasn't too windy, there were no clouds, it wasn't overly hot or cold and the haze was at a minimum. We walked the rim trail and took a bunch of photos and then decided we'd drive East a little bit and find a more secluded spot to have some beers and eat lunch.

After a 10 minute drive along the rim we came to a really nice and empty overlook area that had some unofficial trails along the side. We grabbed our cooler and found an absolutely spectacular area to chill and have our Grand Canyon beer. The beer we decided on was the Oskar Blues Dale's Deviant Ale. It was a really good beer and tasted even better with the awesome views we had. The wind started to pick up a little bit so we enjoyed the view and finished our beer then headed back to the car to eat lunch.

Tyler packed about 5 different kinds of lunch meats and a few different kinds of cheese. We had some delicious sandwiches and opened a bomber of Laughing Dog's Rocket Dog Rye IPA. I had higher hopes for it but none of us were really digging the flavor. It could have been that the strong Dale's was messing with our taste buds though.

After eating we got back in the car and headed back to Flagstaff. Once we got back into town we started hunting for some Coconut water to help re-balance our systems a bit before starting the real drinking activities. We finally found a Safeway and got to use the restrooms (we all had to go really really bad) and got our coconut water and then went back to the hotel.

After another couple of beers in the room we started our adventures around Flagstaff. The first place we hit was the Madrid Tapas y Sangria bar where we each got a beer and split some tapas. Next we went over to Mother Road Brewing Company for another round when we decided we needed a pick-me-up. The bike shop next to Mother Road was selling espressos and coffee. We ended up trying some of the cold-drip coffee and it definitely did the trick. After that we headed over to Lumberyard Brewery where we had another round and something resembling poutine to snack on.

It was starting to cool down a bit so at this point we went back to the hotel to get our jackets. We got there and finished off the last of the four bombers we brought (a nice oatmeal stout) and then headed over to Uptown Billiards where we played some pool and had two more rounds. We were all in the snacking mood again so we took off and ended up coming across a sign for $9.99 one-pound buckets of shrimp at San Felipe's Cantina so we stopped and got a couple of those and another beer.

We were all feeling pretty good so we asked the waitress where we should go and she mentioned Hops on Birch being a chill place, so that's where we set off to. They had a pretty good beer selection so we got another round there and hung out for a bit. By now we were starting to fade a little bit so we thought we needed some more food before another rally. We tried to get into a Thai place but they were closed so we found another one and ordered some appetizers and waters.

That helped a bit so we went to the hotel bar for another round. Luiz and I ended up hitting our walls and couldn't even finish our beers so we headed up to the room to pass out. Orville and Tyler stayed down for another 15 minutes or so before heading back up. It was a long day but we did and saw a lot.

On Sunday morning we woke up, started packing everything up and then got some breakfast at Criollo Latin Kitchen. I had a really good breakfast burrito and everyone else liked their food. After having some food in our stomachs we got in the car and headed home. We were hoping to hit a liquor store on the way out of town to pick up some Dogfish head beers but we couldn't find one that had it. The drive home was pretty uneventful. When we got back, Luiz and I swung by a new Vietnamese place and got some Pho to go.

It was a really quick weekend but everyone had a lot of fun. Flagstaff is definitely a cool place to go if you want to see some cool sights and hang out in a really chill town.

Teaser photos:

Grand Canyon South Rim
Grand Canyon South Rim
Grand Canyon South Rim
Grand Canyon South Rim
Luiz, Tyler, me and Orville
Luiz, Tyler, me and Orville
Enjoying a Dale's Deviant Ale
Enjoying a Dale's Deviant Ale

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Posted from: United States

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