The mountains are calling.

My rest day was amazing and very well needed. I did spend almost five hours trying to find somewhere to stay near Yellowstone though, wow that place is popular. The only place I could find was the Four Seasons, and I would have to pay $15000 for four nights. I wish I was kidding… so that was not an option. After looking through all the websites I could think of, I finally found a place not too far from the north entrance. For a moment I thought I’d have to skip Yellowstone, so I’m just SO happy that I found somewhere to stay. I’ll be there from Wednesday until Sunday, I actually extended my intended stay there just because it was so hard to find somewhere to stay! So I’ll have three full days of hiking, I’m very excited about that.

I also managed to do some food shopping which was needed, as I planned to go hiking the next day. And hiking I did. Kathleen had told me when I was at Jeanie’s house that I should hike up to Bluebird lake, and when someone recommends something I usually try to do it. I did some research on the trail and of course it was marked as strenuous but when has that ever stopped me before?
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Beautiful blue moon morning as I was heading towards the mountains.

So at 6:15 I was in my car, driving towards the trailhead, which was about an hour away. Such a beautiful drive up in the mountains, even if the cars behind me were a bit too anxious to get up there. I don’t understand why people feel the need to speed when they’re driving in one of the most beautiful national parks in the US, but each to their own I guess. I never speed, I’ve seen sooooo many cars pulled over by the police here during my two months that I would never dare! When I got there at around 7:30, the main parking lot was already full. Luckily I found a spot not too far away, but I felt sorry for the other people arriving later, they had to walk a long way to get to the trails.

Anyway, I set off on the hike, it was pretty cool but still warm enough to only have to wear a t-shirt. It was going to be 6 miles/10 km up the mountain to the lake, and then the exact same way down again. I had prepared with a brand new pair of hiking shoes, new socks and new hiking poles. Because everyone knows that a very long, strenuous hike is the best way to test new gear… but I can luckily tell you all that it went without a hitch! The woman who helped me at REI when I bought the shoes took one look at my Keen sandals and guided me towards the Keen hiking shoes, and luckily they were just as comfortable as my beloved sandals. Not a single blister! And I’m so glad I had the poles, because there were a lot of rocks on the trails, and I even had to walk across some snow so they were nice to help me keep my balance.
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Not exactly a smooth surface to walk on! Yes, that’s the trail.
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Halfway to the lake. 

There weren’t a lot of people on the trail which was nice. I think only one couple passed me during the hike, and I walked past just a few others. About two thirds into the hike I met the first man coming down, so we stopped for a chat. He was a local and he was super nice, I think we talked for almost fifteen minutes before we continued in each direction. The hike was really starting to get to me by then, and when I hoped I was getting close I met another man coming down. We also stopped to chat and I asked how far I had left. He told me about an hour, I just stared at him hoping he was going to tell me that he was joking. I had no idea walking 1 mile/1,6 km could be that hard! But the last part was really steep and you had to climb over rocks and snow like I said before. But I finally got to the lake and could dip my feet and wash my face in the ice cold water. It was so beautiful and definitely worth the pain of getting there!

I took so many photos, let’s take a look at some of them.
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This was the very last part of the trail, just up that snow-covered hill and then you were there. Once again, glad I had real hiking boots and not my sandals, and very glad for the hiking poles for sure. 
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Yay, finally there! And the lake was just as beautiful as I had hoped. 
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A man from Denver sat not too far away, we were the only ones at the lake at that point so we started talking. He was really nice, as everyone else I seem to meet in this country. After cooling down for a while and having a lovely picnic, I was ready to tackle the hike down again.
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There were a lot more people coming back up after me, and every single one asked me how far they had to go. It wasn’t just me that was struggling that last bit. But those views of the mountains and the lake was worth it, the Rocky Mountains are so beautiful that no pictures can convey it.
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I think this might just be my favorite picture that I have ever taken. As I was walking down I saw this and just had to stop and just stare. How is the view even real? Colorado is so beautiful, I really love it here. 

On the way down I finally saw my first animal that wasn’t squirrels. I was told before starting to watch out for bears, elk and mountain lions, but the only big animal I saw was two deer eating in the forest. Well, I was just very happy that it wasn’t a bear, I would have freaked out. I know enough not to run, but who knows how you would really react if you would actually come across one?
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I was pretty tired when I got down to the car, so I didn’t do much else except drink lots of water and eat a lot of food. I love the exhaustion good exercise brings you.
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I cleaned up my boots too, this is what a 6 hour trail hike does to your shoes…

This morning I woke up at 7:30, and the first thing I did was to FaceTime my nephew to wish him a happy 7th birthday. Luckily I had been warned before that there would be a lot of people at my brothers house, because almost half of all my relatives were there! Even my cousin who lives in Spain with his family that I haven’t seen for more than 10 years. It’s so weird being stuck inside a phone just getting passed around to all the people at the party. But it was so much fun getting to talk to them, the wonders of the internet…

I have been in desperate need of a haircut for months now, so I took care of that today as well. She chopped off almost 2 inches, which was well needed after all that sun and water.

Hairdresser: How do you usually style your hair?
Me: I wash it occasionally and sometimes comb it.
Hairdresser: …okay.
(Later)
Hairdresser: We offer a complimentary touch up of your makeup.
Me: Oh no thank you, I never wear makeup.
Hairdresser: *looks at me like I’m crazy* …okay then.
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I realize that it’s not only my hair that’s getting lighter, where have my eyebrows gone?! 

As I walked out of there I had planned to go up to the mountains and go for a smaller hike, but the rain clouds had already gathered over the mountains so I decided against it. Instead I just happened to come across a movie theatre, so instead I went and saw Ant-man. It was so funny, I loved it.

After some more food shopping I took Cherry Bomb for a wash, that was a first for me. I’ve never owned a car in my life, so I’ve never had the chance to go through a wash before. It was fun! She definitely needed it.
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Tomorrow I’m heading north to South Dakota, and Mount Rushmore. I’m very excited about that! Though I’ll definitely miss Colorado, this place has been so amazing and I’ve loved every moment of it.

I’ll definitely come back. 

New friends and old mountains.

Time goes so fast, I just can’t believe that it’s almost August! I can’t believe I’ve been here for almost 2 months already, but I’ve seen so many things that I hardly can remember it all. I’ve said it before but I’ll keep saying it, because life is so incredibly good. No, good is not the word I’m looking for. Life is great. Amazing. Fantastic. This is how life should be, simple as that.
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This is approximately how I have travelled so far. I cycled up until the third white dot after Wilmington, and then I’ve been driving the rest. Still so much left to see! I need to come back, that’s for sure. 

I left Zion on Monday, and drove towards Arches National Park. It took me a few hours, but I got there right after lunch time and drove into the park. It’s a park filled with these natural stone formations, and most of them were really cool. But it’s mostly famous for the arches that nature has formed though, so I set out to see some of them.
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This one was called the double arch. 
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This was either the south or north window. 
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Can you see me up there, with a halo of blonde hair? I don’t think I’ve been this blonde since I was 12, but I’ve barely seen a cloud the entire time here and the sun is strong.

To get to the Delicate Arch, which is also the most famous one and the symbol on Utahs license plates, I had to go for quite a hike. It was very hot but it was so pretty. 
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I wish I could do that…
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I expected to at least see a snake or something while walking this trail, but nope, just some tiny lizards and that was it. Disappointed.

Right across from the Arches national park is Canyonlands, which is where I went the very next day. I picked a trail I wanted to do, which went up on top of one of the rocks there. It was pretty steep though, so when I was sitting there sliding down on my butt to get down I just thought “I’m so happy my mother can’t see me right now, she’d freak out”. But I got up and down in one piece, so no worry. And the trail was called Aztec Butte trail, I don’t know how to say butte or what it means so I just figured it means you need to slide down some parts on your butt. (I googled, it means “an isolated hill with steep sides”. The more you know…)
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Since it’s mostly rocks they put these tiny little formations so you know where to go. 
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Up at the top I found this. I couldn’t find a sign or anything indicating how old it is, but I’m guessing that it’s pretty old… 
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If at first you don’t succeed… 
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…try again!

After the hike I got back in the car, and was finally headed for Colorado. I’ve been looking forward to that state for so long. I was almost immediately rewarded with the most amazing views, as the landscape soon shifted from the red rocks, to a lush green with high mountains showing up far, far away.
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I think I startled the guy on the bike as I shouted “do you want water, peanuts, nectarines or cherries?” (which was everything I had in my car) as he rode by… he didn’t though. I also stopped next to every other cyclist I saw along the road and offered them the same things, Colorado has a lot of cyclists! I’m jealous, but not really, because this state has too many mountains for it to be fun…

I got the Salida in Colorado late that night, and spent the night there. The next day I got to sleep in for a bit, before I was back on the road, heading to a very, very small town called Westcliffe. There I had been invited to spend the night with Jeanie and Mike, all through the wonders of the internet. Oh, I love the internet… After a luckily very small wrong turn I got to their house, and it was just gorgeous. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, with an amazing view of the mountains right in their backyard, and their house was so beautiful too.
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Ceffie the lagotto! It’s the same type of dog that my parents have. They had the exact same mannerism, it’s so fascinating. 
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Just an hour after I had arrived, so did two of Jeanies friends, Cindy and Kathleen. I had the absolute best afternoon getting to know them, they were just hilarious. I’m so thankful that I get to experience things like this, what other tourist gets to do that? This trip has just turned into something so much better than I ever dared to dream of.

When I arrived I was told that there would be gifts waiting for me, but that most of them would be gag gifts. This is everything I received:
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Socks, sandals, a chocolate moose, candy, a bunny pin, a necklace, bracelet, a Colorado cup and a bottle of wine. Not too bad! Though I had sworn I would never wear Crocs in my life, I guess that’s about to change. But I promise that I will never ever wear them with socks again!

We spent the entire afternoon talking and drinking some wine, before Mike cooked us an amazing dinner and Jeanie made a coconut pie that was delicious. I fell asleep as soon as I laid down that night… which was good, because the next day we were hiking up to a waterfall close to where they live. But not before sitting on their back porch drinking coffee and talking for a few hours. This place is just too beautiful. IMG_5186It was a fun hike, and I enjoyed both that and actually having other people to talk to, not just myself for once.
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After a while we got to the falls, and they were amazing! I took the chance to get me feet wet.
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I got some pretty nasty mosquito bites, can you see the one growing on my arm?
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Ceffie and Mike hiking ahead, they were fast.

As we got back to the house I took a quick shower, had a fruit smoothie and was on my way towards Loveland, Colorado. I left at around five in the afternoon, and got to the hotel at almost nine thirty. But I stopped just outside of Denver to have dinner and buy some real hiking shoes at REI. That place is just great, I could easily spend so much money there. As soon as I got to the hotel I started researching where I was going to hike today in the Rockies, but I quickly decided that I needed rest. I’m constantly moving around and doing things, and I’m in desperate need of both a mental and physical break, so that’s what I’m doing today. Well mostly, I do have some minor planning that needs to be done as well but other than that I’m in need of a down day.

Thank you so much Jeanie and Mike for taking me in, you’re the reason why I love this country so much. And Cindy and Kathleen, it was such a pleasure getting to know you! I can’t believe how I got so lucky to get to know such amazing people during my journey across this country. And Colorado is just amazing. I even asked the ladies if they could find me someone to marry, just so that I can stay here. I know I’ve said it before, but Colorado really is my favorite state so far. Might even be my favorite place on earth.

I’m such a lucky woman.
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