Cactus Consequences: Ojo Caliente, Sante Fe, and Albuquerque

Ojo Caliente


During our stop in Ojo Caliente, we headed up the road behind the hot springs and found some nice gnarly roads to bike on with Zag. We ended up by a neat mica mine. I had never seen mica grow that thick before. Zag also got a couple minor lessons about what cactus are and what he shouldn’t scratch his back with (he’s okay).

Santa Fe


In Santa Fe, I did a quick route up the Dale Ball loop to see if it would be something we would want to do the next day. It was a bit too gnarly so we moved on.

Albuquerque


Keya had the bright idea to head down to the river and do a bit of longboarding on the path in the evening light.

We then hit up the Elena Gallegos central loop the next morning. There were plenty of “cactus consequences” along this trail.
Photos by Keya and myself.

My best photos from 2016

Here are my favorite photos from my travels this year. Not all are the best, but I think I caught a few gems. I recommend opening the gallery and just scrolling through. They should all have a comment and location. Let me know what you think!


 

Fall River mountain biking

This morning I headed with Jeff Golenski to¬†the second quarry I’ve visited in the last few weeks in two different states with two different modes of transportation. To put that in perspective, I can’t recall going to any quarries before these two. We ended riding 15.5 miles in about two hours. It wasn’t particularly hard, but had tons of fun puddles to jump around a few nice steep gravel climbs and descents.

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Copicut Reservior


Seven cities in seven days

Last weekend feels like a month ago. I started in Twin Falls, Montana on Saturday and in seven days made it all the way to Memphis, Tennessee on Friday. while staying in a different city each night.

The cities

Saturday night: Twin Bridges, Montana

I had been staying in Twin Bridges when in Montana. I wrote a post all about it. It was about an eight hour drive to Rapid City so I ended up leaving super early on Sunday morning to arrive in Rapid City before it was dark.

I rode my bike around a few times. It's a large ranch.

I rode my bike around a few times. It’s a large ranch.

Sunday night: Rapid City, South Dakota

When I got there, I immediately headed to the nearby mountain to hit the trail before it got dark. It wasn’t the greatest, but had some nice flowing bits toward the end.

Monday night: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Sioux Falls had a great coffee shop to work from called Black Sheep Coffee & Roasting. It was low key with high internet speed and really interesting customers. I would definitely head back there at some point. Before I left for Sioux City, I tried to get in a bike ride and found a spot nearby. I had all sorts of trouble there. I had to reinflate my tire after the core of the valve came out. Also, it was insanely hot at that time of day. Also, I was low on water. I ended up with a short, but beautiful ride. It was not super fun mostly because of the heat.

Tuesday night: Sioux City, Indiana

Later that day, I went on another bike ride when I got to my camping spot in Sioux City. It was much more pleasant out by then.
Also, if you happen to be in Sioux City, definitely check out La Juanita. It’s a fantastic little Mexican food place.


 

Wednesday night: Kansas City, Missouri

To continue the trend, it was also very hot in Kansas. I spent all day working from various coffee shops, but nothing I went to was particularly notable. I did find some entertaining restroom graffiti and had a construction crew working in front of me.


 

Thursday night: Springfield, Missouri

I camped out again here, but this time, it was not very pleasant because of the heat. I did get a surprise light show from some fireflies, though, making it worth it. After setting up camp, I went riding around. There was a nearby empty public golf course that made for a great little practice ground for me.
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Friday night Memphis, Tennessee

I arrived in Memphis around 9:30PM and immediately made it to the best ribs place I could find that was still open. I ended up at¬†Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous which, while wasn’t the best ribs I had in Memphis, was definitely a fantastic start. It’s a charming place you find in an alley downtown. It was a perfect welcome to Memphis. I had a blast there.

Traveling and working

My employer, Automattic, is fantastic in that it allows and, to some extend, even encourages nomad living. We all work remotely so if I have a good internet connection, I’m good to work. I’ll elaborate on this in a future post, but wanted to mention that I’m still working full time while traveling around. It’s why I spend most of my day in a coffee shop or someplace with good wifi.

Last weekend feels like a month ago

I just wanted to reiterate that with this pace, it’s hard to have a good reference of time. With all the constant moving, finding places to work, finding places to sleep, finding places to bike, a single day can feel like several.

Montana

Last week, I had the fortune of spending a week on a ranch near Twin Bridges, Montana. It is an incredible and beautiful¬†ranch right on the Big Hole River. Oh, and I had absolutely no internet or cell reception on the ranch. 📵
We took two days to get there so we could drive up through the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks on the second day. The drive though the parks was worth the extra day of travel.
We stayed at Dubois, Wyoming before we got to the parks. There, I went for a quick bike ride at a shorter trail near town and was pleasantly surprised at how fun it was with a range of jumps and some crazy steep ultra-sharp wall turn switchbacks. The switchbacks were almost a half pipe. Super fun. If you go there, definitely stop in at the Cowboy Cafe for some good food and fantastic pie.


When we headed through the parks the next day, the weather was perfect and the parks were mostly traffic-jam-free. The drive though the parks was definitely worth the extra day of travel. There were plenty of giant birds, some deer, and even a big ol’ bear. I did not attempt a hug.

After Yellowstone, we passed Earthquake Lake (or Quake Lake) near where we saw the first of several massive bald eagles. I found out later Earthquake Lake was formed in 1959 when an earthquake caused the side of a mountain to come down on and kill 28 people who were camping along the shore of the river. It essentially created a dam and formed the lake. Now I’m worried about bear attacks while biking and sides of mountains falling on me when I’m in Montana.
Once we finally made it to the ranch, I ended up fishing all day and listening to stories at night. It’s a pretty great way to spend a week off of work. I ended up catching quite a few fish, but nothing gargantuan. I think the largest trout I caught was 16 inches and the largest whitefish was 18.
There were moose hanging out right where we were fishing so we had to be pretty alert and keep an eye out for them. They are unpredictable, fast, and might charge anyone nearby. When I was fishing in a particularly good hangout for a moose, I had the good sense to make some noise every once in awhile and listen. Sure enough, a big ol’ dang¬†bull moose poked his head out from behind some trees not fifty feet from me. I slowly backed away until I was safely across the fence and no longer keeping the attention of the moose. Fun times.

We did adventure off the ranch one day to fish at a secret spot up a canyon. It was pretty fantastic fishing and we got to hang out with a bald eagle and a wood duck up close and personal. On the way back we took a “shortcut” that put my Jeep to the test on roads that haven’t been maintained or used regularly in years. I discovered an old dilapidated cattle guard (big metal grate over a hole in the ground to keep cows from crossing) that, for some reason, had a six foot deep hole under it and was partially falling in. We went around.

Though, I didn’t take any great photos of wildlife, I¬†did end up seeing three bald eagles, a moose each day, dozens of deer, a wood duck (super cool), several hawks, a field mouse, ten bazillion mosquitos, and a few fish here and there. I’ll try to be better at that in the future, but in the meantime, here’s a picture of neat bugs (mayflies, I think):
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All in all, the trip to Montana was a ton of fun. Now I’m headed southeast to find some good barbecue and will be in a different city every night this week. Heck yeah.
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Last weekend: midnight grilling, mountain biking, July 4th camping

Kelly and I started Saturday morning with an epic ride up Buffalo Creek. We took the Mini Buffalo Creek¬†loop which didn’t feel so mini at 15.5 miles and 1700+ feet ascent. There was a four mile ride up a road to the start of the singletrack trail which was pretty easy. It meanders next to the creek the whole way. After that, the initial climb was fairly unrelenting. Take a look:

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data via MTB Project


The way down, though, was pretty phenomenal. It was filled with large rock faces that were absolutely a blast to play around on. We also spotted some pretty wild mushrooms that looked like they materialized out of a Mario game.

Saturday evening, I went up to Nederland to meet Josh and Jeremy at our favorite asado spot. Any time Jeremey offers to cook, you should take him up on that offer. He’s a fantastic chef. We had a several course meal, all of which was grilled over the fire. We had mussels, spicy Italian sausage, cuts of beef, and cuts of lamb. I didn’t think to get many photos of the actual dishes because we ate them so quickly. We hung out until well after midnight before cleaning up, packing up, and heading out.

Early Monday morning, Emi, Kelly, Joe, and I headed up to Nederland again to camp out for the fourth of July. We were hoping to get a good spot to catch some fireworks and hang out all day and we definitely got to do all of that. We set up camp fairly early and then just relaxed for a bit.

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Jeeps & tents & mountains

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We set up camp fairly early and then just relaxed for a bit. Joe and Emi broke out their ukuleles and noodled around for a bit.


In the afternoon, we did a leisurely hike up to the tippity top of Sugarloaf Mountain. We saw some pretty gnarly burned trees from a forest fire some time ago and had quite the view from the top.

In the evening, despite Joe’s insistence that we wouldn’t get rained on, we went through a pretty epic thunderstorm with a bit of hail. We dashed over to Joe’s tent and played Spades while we waited. We never finished, but I believe Emi and I were winning when the storm ended.
We grilled some brats, corn, and Joe’s special Veggie mix for dinner. So dang good. We had some leftover veggies that we turned into an omelette in the morning.
Once it got darker, we¬†ended up seeing some fireworks¬†from way off in the distance. They were just tiny little glowing flashes of light.¬†After the shows ended, we just hung out and relaxed to Joe’s ukulele. I didn’t get any photos after dark because I had drained my phone’s battery playing music on my Jambox earlier in the day.
For those of you in the US, I hope you all had a great Fourth of July weekend. For everyone else, I also hope you had a great Fourth of July weekend.
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Last weekend: Nederland, Eldorado, and Leadville

Well, not really¬†last weekend, but I like the idea of posting about my weekends every once in awhile. About a week and a half ago, on¬†Friday, I went camping with Kelly and Emi in Nederland. We Jeeped in and found a pretty dang good spot and the weather couldn’t have been nicer.
Interesting things:

  • Kelly and Emi had two amazing hammocks that took no time at all to set up. Definitely on my wish list.
  • Emi and I made the fires with a magnesium block and flint steel (my favorite method¬†so far).
  • We heard¬†strange low growl-ish noises for most of the evening, but nothing too close to camp.

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Weekend

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The next morning, we set out to find a good mountain biking trail after some eggs and bacon. It turns out some trails are closed to bikes on Saturdays and Wednesdays. We ended up heading over to Eldorado to ride a fairly short and easy trail.

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Nice view of the Flatirons

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After biking, I headed way over¬†to Leadville for my friend, Devin’s, birthday. It turns out, I have no data in Leadville (T-mobile), but I had some maps and some luck. Devin had sent me a pin where we were meeting near on the lake using Google maps via text. Google first sends a small image map of the location which ended up saving the day for me. Thanks, Google.
The beach was a pretty great place to hang out. Beach chairs. Beer. Dogs. Interesting people. So good. Also, the weather stayed fairly nice until we decided to pack up and go set up camp.
Unfortunately, when we got to the camp site, we had about 20 minutes to get a fire going and set up our tents before it started raining. It never rained particularly hard so it wasn’t too bad and we had one heck of a sunset because of it.


All in all, I’d say it was a pretty great weekend. Next weekend should be good, too. I think we’re going to hit some high elevation ghost towns. 👻