Friday, September 30, 2011

i haven't killed him yet!

Let's take a walk down memory lane and recall that just about one year ago Aubie Cat came into my life! That's not to say its been an easy year. I wanted to give him back on many occasions in the beginning. Actually, I've wanted to give him back often throughout the year! But we've had some fun, cuddly times regardless. My bites and scratches eventually heal and I try to make an effort to feed him when he is hungry. We are quite the team.

Just so you remember, this is what the baby looked like way back in September 2010.

And this is how the wise old man looks now. (Am I late to the Instagram party?) Thankfully his kitten rambunctiousness has settled a bit, but he is still a pretty feisty guy. Come visit us sometime. Aubster would love to see you!

western wanderings: part iv (the final installment)

We're finally onto the last day in Utah. Our schedule was kind of loose but we decided we wanted to do some exploring in Salt Lake City before we flew out the next morning.

After a leisurely lunch at the coffee shop we decided we needed to make a quick stop at Swasey Beach on the Green River. For the record, Christian would have rather gone to the "swimming hole" which includes a 40 ft cliff dive into the water. Sadly, it was too far away and the rest of us were too chicken to try it anyway.

The water was pretty chilly. Christian was the only one determined enough to get in.

The road to beach was also the same way we reached Melon Nights the day before. These signs are the only markers to get there.

If you look really closely you can see some campers parked way in the distance. That is where the party was held. Crazy, right?!

Watermelon fields

Stopping for a photo op at a watermelon stand on our way out of town.

We said our goodbyes to all our lovely Green River hosts and newly made friends before hitting the road. The drive was a little over three hours which we passed with trivia, mainly about the state of Utah and Salt Lake City.

Right before you enter Provo, Utah, there is an amazing grouping of windmills. 

They are truly enormous and its a shame we don't see them more often.

Finally we rolled into SLC and found a hostel for the evening. 

We stayed at the Avenues Hostel in a really quiet and peaceful neighborhood. It seemed really safe and clean, was within walking distance of downtown, and was really cheap. We even got the "executive suite". I would highly recommend it if you are ever in SLC.

We barely threw our bags in the room and set out exploring and to find some dinner.

The gang + photographer Erik. Doesn't Kurt look nice in a cardigan?

Headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They have an overwhelming presence in the downtown on a 10 acre plot called Temple Square.

Kurt made a really interesting observation that Salt Lake felt a lot like a European city in that a church and accompanying plaza was the centerpiece of the city as opposed to a municipal building. 

The city was pretty interesting. It felt relatively dense although we did notice a lot of parking garages. At least a garage is better than a flat parking lot.

Unfortunately we were there on a Sunday and the city was absolutely dead. They take their "day of rest" pretty seriously here in Utah. We walked by business after business (restaurants included) that had "Closed on Sunday" signs in their windows. We started to get worried we wouldn't find dinner!

They do have some nice, old buildings and a pretty slick looking transit system.

We were hoping to have dinner at the Salt Lake Brewing Company, also known as Squatters Pub, but they were closed for an employee party :(

So then we considered P.F. Changs to get our chain fix...well, not really. It did make me think of BStar though :)

Instead we joined the masses at Redrock Brewing Company.

I was surprised to see so many breweries in a city/state with such strict alcohol regulations. I guess they are making do somehow. Our food and drinks were pretty good!

We thought we might do some more SLC exploring and maybe even make it over to the University of Utah campus to get a taste of the nightlife, but we were so exhausted after dinner. We were lucky to make the walk back to our hostel. Along the way we saw this sculpture installation and a few interesting historic sites.

For a city of less than 200,000 people, I was really impressed with Salt Lake City. It can go suburban really quickly but the dense city center has a lot going for it. Plus, it seems pretty bike friendly and the public transit seemed reasonable.

Come to find out our hostel was only a couple blocks from the Governor's mansion! Not too shabby, eh? 

The next morning we packed up and headed for the airport. We saw several Mormon pairs headed off on their two year missionary journeys but I don't think we had any on our flight. Here we are going over the Great Salt Lake. We briefly considered checking this out (on the ground) but heeded the advice "it smells bad and there are lots of mosquitoes" and steered clear. Thanks for the tips!

And here we are going over the mountains.

We had a long layover at Chicago's Midway so we got some food and beers to pass the time.

The guys got really interested in my Real Simple magazine for a short while.

We finally embarked on the last leg of our journey. I think at this point Erik was regretting sharing a row with Kurt and me.

Bye, Chicago!

Phew. Back in NYC. We were exhausted but it was an amazing trip.

Thanks to my travel buddies, Kurt, Erik, Christian, and Uel. You were all troopers. Next time I propose the gang goes somewhere I can just sit on the beach with a fruity drink. Okay?

Thank you to our lovely Green River hosts. We very much appreciate all the hard work you put into organizing the weekend, giving us a place to stay, and showing us a good time. Continue all the good work you are doing for the community there. I'm truly in awe of your dedication.

And finally thanks to Kurt and Erik who provided me with many images from the trip. I am jealous of your fancy cameras.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

western wanderings: part iii

Our second night in Green River we were lucky enough to stay at the Robbers Roost Motel. The accommodations were modest but more than enough for our needs. Plus, it was free. Thanks for putting us up!

This was the view out of our window in the morning. You would never believe this place is quite close to downtown (in the other direction, of course).

We walked down to the coffee shop to get breakfast but they were closed for the duration of the Melon Days Parade, so we decided to enjoy it as well.

I'm pretty sure the entire town (and even neighboring towns) came out for the parade and the Melon Days fair.

There were several marching bands from around the area.

Pretty much every single float was throwing candy to kids watching the parade, but this one had a candy cannon!

This inflated dinosaur typically sits outside of a local gas station/hotel/restaurant and made an appearance in the parade. They had to deflate him momentarily to limbo under the power lines. 

The Melon Queen (from last night's pageant) even made an appearance. I considered booing but thought that would be mean. I will count my lack of cheering as a tacit objection.

The float for the Green River Community Center. Lindsay and Blair's hard decorating work paid off and they won 3rd place in the float competition!

The Epicenter crew made an appearance on bikes.

Unfortunately there was a chain malfunction, but Taylor was a trooper and kept on riding without it.

Rafting instructors shooting the crowd with water guns. When I visited Utah back in 2009, we went rafting on the Green River with these guys.

Mom, this one is for you. Horses! Haley (Auburn Alum and Epicenter crew member) is on the spotted horse in the center.

Once the parade wrapped up and we got coffee and breakfast we decided to check out the Melon Day vendors set up in the park.

It was a pretty typical fair with booths of junk and crafty items.

But there were also stations sprinkled around handing out slices of watermelon and cantaloupe. Honestly, I'm not a big melon fan (I know! Crazy, right?) but the boys enjoyed several free pieces in my honor. 

Check out these guys tossing humongous watermelons like they are softballs! You don't want to get in the way of that!

After some perusing the fair, we toured around town a little. There are some great, vintage graphics left over from the 50s and 60s around town.

The Mexican restaurant. One evening Kurt, Erik, and I had a late dinner here. The Chile Relleno was excellent!

Not sure if this repair shop is still functioning or not. It reminded me of Marfa, Texas. They shoud turn it into an art gallery!

Another coffee shop in town. Every time we tried to go they were closed :(

Ray's Tavern. One of the few restaurants in town.

An old hotel. Rumor has it that a porn star bought the entire thing and lives there now.

Yes, the train does stop here! The route is the California Zephyr which travels from Chicago to the west coast of California. That would be an incredible ride!

Finally, the musical extravaganza of Project Green River got underway. It took a little while to get warmed up but all the bands were pretty good.

Wherever they go they have to show some Ohio love.

Not to be outdone, some Alabama representation.

Along with musical performances, there were a few art projects and gallery set up around the Epicenter. Check out all those volunteers in blindingly green shirts.

Here I am manning the merchandise table. I like to think I was the days best seller even though I was unable to convince anyone to buy the "Sampler Pack" (one of everything) for $80. Such a deal!!

In between bands while the equipment was being swapped, the band Magpie agreed to play an acoustic set inside the Epicenter. So utterly amazing. They were really great. They were accompanied by Bonnie Jeanne (I think! Correct me if I am wrong!) and aside from her beautiful voice and excellent ukulele strumming, she told some pretty funny jokes. I've adopted them as my own, so if you want to hear some jokes about hipsters, come find me. I've been perfecting my delivery.

There was a slight time gap where we took a break from PGR to partake in some college football. It was a bad news week. Not only did Auburn fall to Clemson, but Ohio State also lost against Miami. Good thing we had lots of other things to distract up from the sadness.

Namely music and dancing! The dance party got started later in the evening. This band invited the crowd to join them onstage. Front and center you can see some of Christian's moves. We weren't able to get a picture but Erik's imitation of every musician on stage was hilarious. His air guitar and air drumming are really top notch.

The bands played until around midnight and then we helped clean up and pack the equipment. You would think we would be done for the evening but you would be wrong. Our next stop was Melon Nights a little outside of town. 

I can't even begin to describe how crazy this place was! The best description I can come up with is "hippie rave in the desert". We drove to what seemed like the middle of nowhere and came upon all these camp sites. Once we parked our car, we followed the techno music to the party.

There was a huge set up for a DJ and lots of people were dancing. There were laser lights and crazy little buildings spread around. Tons of people were in costume, including the DJs. The music was really good for dancing. I even got Kurt to dance!

There were also fire artists? I don't know what to call them. One girl had a flaming hula hoop that she performed with. Make that "hippie rave and circus". If that's not enough to blow your mind, these hippies are all about solar power. I'm not entirely sure but I think the entire party (or maybe just the DJ booth) was powered by the Solar Saucer.

We stayed at Melon Nights waaaay too late but it was such a crazy experience that I will not soon forget. I don't think we could have possibly fit more exciting things into our trip if we tried. Stay tuned for the recap of our last days!

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