Well I thought April had been wrapped up, but we had one more pretty cool memory to capture – The wild burros of Black Canyon.
During our weeks in the desert we would frequently hear the “heehaws” around camp but it wasn’t until we had a few camp raids that we actually saw the size of these big beasts. We never did get a picture of them, but Sam and Sidney Staebler provided us with one instead!
Tim riding a wild burro from Arizona to Montana. Nice Sombrero!
Back to the blog! We’ve had some interest in our tales from the blue Caribbean but first we want to catch up on April. Sea stories will be coming in the next 2 days, we promise…
Combine blue skies, bike rides and a few rattlesnakes and you’ve got April in Arizona.
Tim and I dedicated our Arizona April to one primary goal, training for the Whiskey Offroad Mountain Bike Race. After an awesome visit with the Weisers, we headed back our favorite campspot in Black Rock Canyon just north of Phoenix and settled in for a month of biking, work and low key living. BJ and Lisa joined us as well for long warm days in the desert.
As the temperatures rose, so did the snake sightings. Lisa spotted one off the trail, while Tim was chased by a sidewinding rattler on a technical ride in the hills. After two weeks of close encounters, it was time to head north to Prescott for cooler temperatures and less snakey terrain.
Friday, April 20th, we arrived in Prescott with BJ and Lisa and met up with Gretchen and Brad, just down from a week in Moab. At dinner with Dad at the Raven, Tim says to Brad, “So I’m going to ride a 65 mile bike ride tomorrow morning if you’re interested.”
24 hours later, Brad and Tim, dribble back into camp. This was no ordinary 65 mile ride…
Starting at 7 am Saturday morning, a loosely organized group of 50 riders set out to ride every major trail in the Prescott biking system. With 7100 feet of climbing, it’s long, hot and incredibly challenging. That night as we ate bratwursts around the fire, we had to coax Tim and Brad to eat. Now that is saying something.
By next day, the guys were perking up. We settled in to camp life with BJ and Lisa, Gretchen and Brad. Working, biking, and horseshoes kept us entertained. 2 days later, Steph, Clay and Ellery joined us from Jackson, completing our JH Jamboree.
But while Tim felt a bit better from the ride, he wasn’t recovering. Each morning he was more tired and by Wednesday, it was time to see the doctor. Pneumonia was back.
With only 5 days before we boarded a plane to Barbados, he needed to feel better fast. We settled into Dad’s house to get Tim healed. 2 days of antibiotics and he already was beginning to come around and was ready for a dinner party feast of lamb with Dad and Lisa, Lisa and BJ and Brad and Gretchen.
Though Tim was out of the race, the Whiskey Offroad was still on for Brad, Gretchen, Lisa and I.
Friday night Tim and I volunteered for the race and then slept downtown to get ready.
Brad set out first for the 50 miler. Lisa, Gretchen and I started 2 hours later for the 25. It was a beautiful day for a bike ride and an awesome way to start a vacation!
As Tim and I drove west, the long days and damp weather in Austin took it’s toll. Lisa and Carli both had a very nasty bug from Jackson earlier in the trip and by the time we’d driven over the TX / New Mexico border, it was obvious that Tim had gotten it too.
We hunkered down at City of Rocks State Park outside of Faywood, NM for some warm, dry weather and time to recover. Here we were surrounded by Stonehedge style monoliths in the middle of a flat grassy plan. There are only 5 similar rock formations in the world.
At night the show continues. With no nearby towns, the night skies light up with stars. The moon set early that week so we were treated with the full extent of the Milky Way. I went to a “Star Party”, where City of Rock’s resident astronomer showed us Jupiter, star clusters and nebulae millions of light years away through some impressively high-powered scopes.
When Tim’s birthday arrived, he was still under the weather, but that didn’t stop us from both enjoying a homemade no-bake, chocolate genache pie.
By week’s end, Tim was starting to feel better and we continued west towards Tucson. We called (brother) Brett and Peg to see what their plans were. They were headed out camping, but Tim and I dropped in on kids Brittany and Timmy for movie night at the Hunger Games. On Sunday when Brett and Peg got home, the four of us went to the Banff Film Festival.
The films are always awesome but Kadoma was the unanimous favorite. This story about 3 kayakers who attempt to be the first to run the Lakuga River in the Republic of Congo shocks you with life’s capriciousness. Another film which had played the night before is another of our favorites. Here’s a short clip to give you some flavor (watch it in fullscreen if you can):
After seeing more movies in 48 hours than Tim and I have watched in 4 months, we headed out of town and up to Old Pueblo for some work and biking. We spent the next week listening to the final games of the NCAA tourney, soaking up the 80 degree weather and shedding some of our extra Austin barbecue pounds.
By the weekend, we were driving north again and decided to stop for a bike ride on the Arizona Trail north of Oracle. It was a warm 85 degree day, but we felt prepared for the 30 mile ride.
I rode all of 4 miles before I knew that my butt was completely kicked. This remote stretch of the Arizona Trail is full of steep rocky switchbacks and sandy washes that sap speed and strength. Humbled, I climbed back up to Frank and gladly gulped down some ice cold water.
Tim made it a mile further than I did before a flat tire and the hot rocky hillsides got to him too. We were glad for showers that night.
The next day we decided it was time to rest. On our way to see Ann and Scott, we pulled over to Casa Grande National Monument for some sightseeing. We stayed for a fascinating tour of the ruins and Tim took these amazing images. It wasn’t until we posted them here that we noticed the many faces in the rocks…
That night we caught up with Ann and Scott and went to a delicious dinner at the Carefree Station off of Ho Hum Road (Arizona road names crack me up. Centered between Ho Hum Road, Lazy Lane, Rambling Road and Carefree Highway is Bloody Basin. What went on there?!?)
The next day we were off to town for Frank shock repairs and making our way further north. The Weiser Family was coming to Arizona for a Desert Vacation and we weren’t going to miss it. We drove up to Sedona for the NCAA Final Game and met up with the Weisers, BJ & Lisa and Sam & Mareike for burgers and beers.
Next day we were northward bound again on the way to Lake Powell.
While I worked the next day in Page, Tim, Mark, Casey, Brian and Brooke explored for the slot canyons in Wire Pass and watched California condors flying high above the Colorado River. That night we gathered back at Lone Rock Beach on Lake Powell for hot dogs, s’mores, chocolate covered strawberries and illuminated bocci ball with Sam and Mareike.
After 2 nights on Lone Rock Beach, we drove back down to Flagstaff where the Weisers joined their friends, Brian and Patty. After a final dinner at Oregano’s Pizza Bistro, Tim and I traveled south for warm weather and more biking. April has arrived and with a 50 mile bike race at the end of the month, it’s time to get serious!
March, Tim’s favorite month, is always a welcome arrival. With March comes Basketball Madness, SXSW, birthdays, friends and St. Patty’s day. There may be no better 31 days. We started March with a final ride at our favorite AZ campsite at Old Pueblo north of Tucson.
After a reward of Mi Tierra margaritas and showers at the quirky Wishing Well RV Park in Catalina, we began the long drive east across the Texas plains.
We arrived in Austin after a 3 day drive with stops in Las Cruces and Balmorhea Springs just in time to pick up Dan from the airport.
Austin hosts SXSW, a 2 week conference which brings together Interactive (geeky tech guys = Us) + Movies (Hollywood independents sprinkled with a few A listers for star spotting potential) + Music (hip hop, heavy medal, techno and jazz mixing in a single venue – you never know what your going to get).
The transformation of the city as each wave of the conference rolls through is worth ticket in itself. 50,000 diverse attendees combine knowledge, talent and ideas. And the other great thing about SXSW? Well that’s obvious: jalapeno bacon.
But SXSW isn’t just about the music and food. For the second year almost all of Alltrips comes to Texas in order to find out what’s going on in Tech trends. This year may have been the most inspiring yet.
Highlights included :
Peter Diamandis who focuses on Abundance in today’s pessimistic world. His results: The first privately funded space flight; a car that can go 180 miles to the gallon; a technique that can clean up oil spills 600% better than what was available at the beginning of the Gulf Oil Disaster. His next goals: a handheld consumer device that can diagnose disease with the same accuracy as 12 board certified doctors, a water purifier the size of dorm room fridge that can purify sewage to the quality of medical grade H2O with minimal energy; air cleanup technology which can decrease carbon emissions by 80%.
Interactive mobile apps that will change how people do business by combining location, social and the world’s enormous database of all our preferences and desires.
Business development that focuses on not just today, but the next 100 years.
And of course, how to doodle!
After days of this kind of information flow, we met up each evening to share and brainstorm. We started these meetups in town, but the awesome house that Carli had reserved turned into the ultimate place to unwind.
After our 6 o’clock sessions, it was time to eat. Barbeque Heaven never fails to disappoint with worldclass brisket and a mean Turkey Leg. We also visited the famed Nuclear Taco stand, though for some of us, wisdom won over ego and many people didn’t partake. I of course still needed to get a Nuclear Taco #3.
Some people never learn.
This year’s SXSW was also the year of Costume. I am not sure what this guy was exactly dressed as. But we all got inspired. It started small with mustaches and cupcakes to celebrate Tim and BJ’s March birthdays. But then we escalated….
Then after dinner comes the nightlife. Once the Tech winds down, the music kicks up. While Tim and I took one night off for March Madness at Bikinis, we all explored the town for amazing music. Friends, Amy and Bracken, also came down from Boulder, making it an even better week.
For BJ’s Birthday, we went big…and wigged. It also happens to be St. Patty’s Day so all of Austin celebrated with us. From noon on, it was a buffet of music, followed by Pete’s East Side Bar, more music, a late night cap of Hop Daddy and then music ’till 2am.
Sunday arrived too soon. We all loaded up in the van and headed to the airport for dropoffs. Then Tim and I began the drive back to Arizona. With March Madness on the radio, we covered the miles quick. There was still lots left to enjoy in March.
And so we continue our Montana escapades. After the honeymoon, Tim and I settled down to clean the inboxes and catch up after 2 weeks of the best times 2 people could have with their most loved friends and family.
Monday we decided to see downtown Whitefish (Stumptown) MT, and discovered the superb Montana Coffee Traders. With good coffee in hand, we worked throughout the day and then drove into the Flathead National Forest, a few miles from Tally Lake. Our goal was good cell service and we actually found passable connections high in the hills. Here we stayed for 2 days, exploring the backroads and the shores of fiord-like Talley Lake, the deepest natural lake in Montana at 492 feet.
By midweek, we returned to town for better cell reception for meetings. This time we settled down in Kalispell, Whitefish’s slightly more industrial neighbor. While here we made a regrettable mistake. We went to Verizon to upgrade our USB modem, the life blood of connectivity when we’re in the backcountry. We were talked into the new MiFi instead. My recommendation? Don’t do it. Run away. We are planning on returning ours as soon as we can.
With subsequently reduced bandwidth capabilities, we spent our next days in town and our nights in the mountains. Tim rode the rolling Ried Divide Trail and came out of the 22 mile ride grinning from ear to ear.
Friday, we called our new friends from Glacier, Leslie and Ryan, for a bike ride. They showed us the local Whitefish Trail which winds through the hills around Whitefish Lake. It was a great time capped off with IPA’s and burgers at Haskill Station. We are very much looking forward to their next visit to Jackson.
While we traded notes over dinner, they told us that we had to ride Big Mountain (Whitefish Mountain Resort) to get the best views of the valley. So Saturday morning, Tim and I got on our bikes and pedaled the 8 miles to the top.
As we cruised back down the much enjoyed downhill, we had to stop for Big Mountain’s most unusual trail marker. It brought to mind a favorite Montana quote….
“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ’s disciples being fishermen, and we were to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It
Apparently the confusion carries over to skiing as well. Jesus lives halfway up Big Mountain.
That night we got back into Frank to find another area lake. We drove miles of gravel road to reach Ashley Lake and some exceptional free camping at the Ashley Lake Campground. Here we settled in for a relaxing Saturday night off the grid with pressure cooker BBQ to celebrate the last days of summer.
On Sunday we finally bid goodbye to Northern Montana after 2 weeks of exploration and drove south to Flathead Lake. We’re now driving I90 on our way home towards Jackson – actually watching Monday Night Football live on our phone as we click off highway miles (ok I am watching, Tim has his eyes on the road). It’s a big leap from off the grid to total connectivity.