In the Cold and Beautiful Silence of Bear Lake- Rocky Mountain NP, CO

The goal was a nice morning, a good start to the day ahead of us before we headed down to the Garden of the Gods and ended the day in the San Juan Mountains. To that end, we didn’t push ourselves to wake up before the sun, knowing the lake would probably be filled with many a photographer hoping to catch that beautiful early morning light. We packed up the car just a little after 630am, checked out of the hotel we were staying at in Estes Park (which I highly recommend as your home base if your going to be spending time in Rocky Mountain NP) and headed on up into the park at a leisurely pace.

A couple of wild animal crossings later, we made it to the parking lot of Bear Lake, which just two days prior we had driven to just a little before midday and found absolutely packed. That morning however, only a few cars remained. We slipped (and I do very much mean slipped, neither one of us had the forethought to pack yak trax and the short trail was covered with snow that had iced over) our way out to the lake and found it completely frozen over and beautifully quiet. It was cold, the sun still making it’s way up and our hands stupidly bare and freezing, but it was so incredibly beautiful to the point that it made us forget the discomfort.

Only two people remained, both slipping their way back towards the parking lot by the time we started to make out way around the lake, leaving us with the place all to ourselves. Neither the bf or I had ever seen a completely frozen over lake before, never mind actually walk out on the surface of one, so the whole experience was full of adventure and discovery. Somehow neither one of us actually fell, though we came close a couple of times, and we ended up sitting on some rocks jutting out near the edges of the lake, watching the light come up.

It was very cold, very quiet and above all, incredibly breathtaking.

~m

Bear Lake Rd and Many Parks Curve- Rocky Mountain NP, Pt. 1



We woke up a bit later than we wanted on our first real day in Colorado, at the bf’s parents home in Loveland, but after doing a 14+ hour drive we could hardly be blamed for that. (I love roadtrips, truly I do, but they can really take it out of your sometimes.)

The plan was to head on out to Rocky Mountain NP and just take in the sights that might be open (about 70% of all roads where closed for the season, which was sometime we had actually anticipated in advance) and stop at Bear Lake per recommendation from the bf’s family. About two hours later found us rethinking these plans because apparently even in the off season you should probably get to Bear Lake earlier than 11am if you’d like to score a parking spot. This ended up being the best thing that could happen however as we quickly rearranged plans to come back just after sunrise the next morning when there were no people to see us slip and sliding around the frozen lake but …thats a story for a later post.

My recommendation if you’d like to visit Rocky Mountain NP would be to visit when  Trail Ridge Road is open (seems to usually open late in May) as that’s pretty much the #1 attraction at the park. If just you’re in the area like we were though, definetly take the opportunity to at least stop by for a few hours, it’s more than worth it.

~m

Roadtrip 2017- Frozen Lakes, Sandy Dunes and Unexpectedly, Paris















The one thing I thought, as I was sorting through the literal hundreds of photos I took on this trip, was that I need to learn restraint when it comes to pressing that shutter button (and not only because i’m a paranoid weirdo and capture Raw + JPEG formats).

But anyways, thats a lesson i’ll have to learn later, somehow. For now, my favorite way to breakdown a road trip,

the List of Numbers:

2- National Parks visited (Rocky Mountain and Great Sand Dunes)
4- the number of times I sang/played/hummed/annoyed the bf with Hotel California
3- horrifyingly awkward conversations that made me want to rip my left arm off just to have an excuse to escape (or pass out)
6- times we passed through Creede, Colorado (there and back)
2- times we had tacos/burritos at Qdoba (WHY CAN’T WE HAVE THEM IN TEXAS)
3- books bought at gift shops that I probably didn’t need to buy
1 1/2- ghost town explored
4- times the weather completely screwed us over
2- birds I saw fighting viciously over cracker crumbs in Rocky Mountain NP
1- time I tried to play Wonderwall by Oasis and had the bf give me a death glare
5- slices of INSANELY huge French toast that I gave the side eye to
3- chapters of the Good Omens audiobook listened to
1- ticket to Paris bought (it was too good of a deal to pass up even if I have literally no solid plans yet)
Countless- selfies taken, times I ooohed over the landscape and mountains, cheese and cracker combo’s munched on, time spent marveling over exactly how large and diverse the US can be. 

Here’s the semi-organized breakdown of the posts to come ( with actual photographs vs these iPhone shots) :  Rocky Mountain NP (x2 or 3), Caribou Ghost Town, Denver Museum of Nature and Science (x3, there were just too many amazing exhibits I’d like to share here) , frozen Bear Lake Sunrise, Garden of the Gods, South Fork/Creede, Bachelor Tour Loop, Great Sand Dunes NP (x2) , Ponderosa abandoned structure. 

~ m 

Art Journal Monday- When the Road Gives You Lemons

” … you take them with you and don’t let them hold you back for long.” 

I’ll be going on a roadtrip this coming weekend, though I guess compared to my last one, it could hardly be called one. This time we’re headed up to Colorado only, instead of the last coalition of states and national parks that eventually ended with my Jeep a little worse for the wear. It’s doing just fine now of course, though I can’t help but think it’s probably heaving a giant sigh of relief this weeklong vacation will actually be closer to an actual “vacation” than the last adventure.

Or at least thats what i’m saying now.

Apart from a vague list of places i’d like to see and explore in and around the Denver area and a loose handful elsewhere (Trinidad, Great Sand Dunes, Garden of the Gods) , there’s really no set plans for this trip. Which is both par for the course when it comes to me and also terrifying when I think I could end up wasting a week in beautiful Colorado if I don’t plan things out to the last second. Life has a funny way of always messing with my plans though, so maybe for once not having any real ones will be to my benefit.

Either way- wish me luck, good light, halfway decent weather and an abundance of coffee to keep me going.

~m

Giant Van Gogh Paintings, Gas Station Dinosaurs and Texan Wreckers- American Southwest Roadtrip Outakes

Fablesandcoffee Roadtrip SW 2016 Collage

I’ve already written buckets and buckets about this trip (as you can see below) but I didn’t really get into the logistic of the actual road trip itself, the misadventures found on the road and all the little side trips. I’m definetly one of those people that believes the journey is just as important as the destination, and with roadtrips that couldn’t be more true. If you don’t genuinely enjoy being out on the road, then whats the point, no? Generally we’ve had really good luck when it comes to the trips we’ve taken, no flat tires to speak of and no running out of gas while on some sketchy highway at night. And honestly, considering the horror stories i’ve heard, we’re still pretty much in the goodbooks of whatever gods or saints watch over the USA highways.

For better or worse though, the defining feature of this roadtrip was, detours.

We left Texas late at night to drive up north through Kansas before turning west towards Colorado, and the only reason we did that is because I really wanted to stop by Goodland, KS. And why you might ask, did I want to do that?  Mainly because the first roadtrip we ever took together (and my first roadtrip period) we passed by Goodland and I saw the oddest thing rising up towards the sky above the seemingly endless rolling hills. A giant….painting? Yup, a giant reproduction of Three Sunflowers in A Vase. Its magnificent, larger than life and utterly unexpected, definetly worth a detour if you’re just this side of nutty like me.

Goodland, KS van Gogh Painting

The drive through Colorado towards Utah was…difficult, to say the least, until me and the bf got our second (or third at this point) wind and made a quick detour into Grand Junction to get tacos at Qdoba because i’d seen so many billboards for this eatery we just had to try them. They tacos were excellent and after being on the road for what felt like days (13 hours at that point) it was the perfect thing to keep us going to our final destination, Green River, UT.

After leaving Utah and it’s beautiful parks behind, we headed towards Las Vegas. Technically we were headed towards our next hotel in Pahrump, NV but neither one of us had ever been to Las Vegas before and we figured we would stop by and take a gander. This plan was shot to hell when I decided the best thing to do, as we were passing nearish Zion National Park, would of course be to detour to Springdale for Pizza. Specifially at the Zion Pizza and Noodle Co. The pizza had been amazing the first time we had visted, back in March and it was VERY much worth the almost 2+ hour of a detour we took to enjoy it again. The gas station dinosaur glimpsed before getting back on the highway was just the cherry on that sundae. Of course this meant that by the time we hit the corner of Nevada that holds the shiny glittery decadance that is Vegas, me and the bf only had the energy to make a quick trip to a local Super Target to refill our cooler with foodables and drinks, and then take a dizzying drive around the heart of the strip. I pointed out all the casino’s I could name, marvled at the glimpse I got of my favorite (Luxor) and then broke all the speedlimits to make it to the comfy bed waiting for us at Pahrump.

Fablesandcoffee Death Valley Collage

So, at this point in the trip, detours had been treating us pretty nicely, bringing with them lovely moments to add to the general roadtrip experience. Taking a detour to go check out a big sand dune just on the outskirts of Death Valley NP was to be the one detour that wasn’t so lovely. A dirt road, a setting sun and a rather distractingly large sand dune all convened to end with us slamming the Jeep rather hard into an unmarked ditch in the road. Neither one of us was hurt and after checking the car over and pulling off a couple of looses pieces from the wheel well, the car seemed relatively unharmed as well.  We made the rest of the drive from Death Valley NP to Twenty Nine Palms, just outside Joshua Tree NP where we were staying, easily enough…though the uneasy pit in my stomach would bother me well into the next day.

Fablesandcoffee CA Roadtrip photo collage Joshua Tree Sunset in October

No more detours after that last unexpected adventure, just Joshua Tree NP, Salton Sea and Salvation Mountain before making it back to the hotel to eat tasty tacos for dinner while I penned postcards to send to friends. The car seemed fine, apart from an odd little whine it would make every so often but we kept our plans to make the drive from Twentynine Palms, CA to Carlsbad, NM. It was an arduous drive, though the pitstop we made in Las Cruces right as the sun was setting was yet another surreal experience to mark down on a trip full of them.

We visted Carlsbad Caverns NP, grabbed breakfast and were on our way home that Sunday. Everything was going to plan, the road opening up smootly before us, and then. The unexpected and utterly gut wrenching, just four hours from home. The check engine light came on juuust as we were about to pass a picnic area and I pulled us into it, just as the car decided to pretty much die. Something had been punctured or had imploded was the verdict, at least judging by the oil dripping out of the bottom of the car, and we settled down to wait for the towtruck, watching the sunset over the fields and wind turbines. We got the car towed to Abilene, checked into a Holiday Inn, grabbed all of our stuff out of the car and proceeded to shower and decompress, glad that at least we hadn’t be stranded on the side of the road somewhere much further from home.

I’ve never been to Abilene before but I have to say, people in that town are incredibly nice, at least as far as we experienced. Early the next day the bf got in touch with a Budget car rental place and the super nice and understanding lady there sent her husband to come pick him up from the hotel, where we still hadn’t heard from our insurance company on where the car needed to be towed, and checkout time was creeping up on us. At this point yet another incredibly wonderful person saved the day, as the front desk clerk had us join some kind of rewards club for the hotel chain, which extended our checkout time till 1pm,saving us from having to pay for an extra night.  After that the insurance company came through, the car was towed and we loaded up the new car and headed to the mechanic that had our much abused Jeep. There we met what has to be the nicest and most down to earth mechanic in all of Texas, who calmed our fears and advised that they would probably have everything fixed by Thursday. We were super happy to hear this, but told him we wouldn’t be able to make the four hour drive back from Dallas until Saturday…at which point he advised that the shop wasn’t open on the weekends, but he had a workshop in the area that day and could stop by whenever we got there and hand over the car. Seriously, what did I say? Nicest people.

So while we didn’t plan to break the car and end up staying an extra day in Abilene, everything worked out in the best possible way and because our insurance actually covered most of the damage, even financially we ended up coming out on top somehow. I know our luck might run out one day if we keep pushing it, but thankfully this trip wasn’t it.

Masterlist of Post From This Trip For Your Perusing Pleasure:

First Teaser Post

Arches:
Delicate Arch
The Windows
Courthouse Towers
Arches, Goodbye

Canyonlands:
Cayondlands, The Needles
Canyonlands, Island In the Skye
Green River Overlook
Goodbye Utah

Death Valley:
Dante’s View
Badwater Basin
Devils Cornfield, Golfcourse and Artist Drive
Skidoo Abandoned Stamp Mill Pt.1
Skidoo Ghost Town Pt.2
Abandoned House Settlement Ghost Town of Rhyolite

Joshua Tree/Southern California:
Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree At Sunset
Salton Sea
Salvation Mountain

Carlsbad:

I love  epic roadtrips, really I do, but after this last one I definetly need a good breather before the next one.

That isn’t to say this last one wasn’t amazing, wonderful, life changing and fantastic but dear gods in heaven I went on it in October and it’s not just till now that i’ve finished editing all the photos from it. We packed in so many places in the span of less than 10 days (seriously LESS than 10 days) that i’ve honestly been wondering to myself how we managed it all without just collapsing on the side of the road in weariness after the first 4 days.

General disregard to rationality and lots and lots of coffee.

Theres a reason it’s in the title of blog after all, I don’t think I could do half the things I do if it wasn’t for a steady stream of it. So thats basically how it works, I make up the crazy plans for these trips and the bf keeps a steady head on his shoulders and pushes me to not pass up opportunities just because i’m either sleep, grumpy  and/or under caffeinated. It’s a partnership that works and keeps us both alive and happy and ready for the next adventure, whatever it might be.

~m