Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gerenser's Exotic Ice Cream in New Hope

We're visiting my parents and Mabel had a craving for ice cream. We headed to New Hope.

I remember Gerenser's from elementary school and they've been around forever. Mabel has never been here but she always sees people eating ice cream on the nearby bridge and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. They have flavors like African Violet and Wasabi Almond.

Dave got Puerto Rico Banana and Mabel got Moose Tracks in honor of our attempt to see moose in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Gerenser's Exotic Ice Cream
22 S Main St
New Hope, PA 18938

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rocky Mountains, Day 13: August 13, 2012

We woke up hoping to go to the top of one of the local summits to have breakfast, but the road traversed private land and a fence blocked our way. Foiled, we went to a scenic viewpoint by the highway instead and had our oatmeal and coffee.

We saw a small rabbit.

Dave was obsessed with the fact that we were in South Park.

We packed up and took a scenic byway through Guanella Pass.

It was a good day to be driving - it was rainy and cold. We passed by a waterfall on the way. There were some male mule deer in someone's driveway. We passed by thinking that it was some cheesy lawn decoration, realized that people don't do cheesy lawn decorations in the mountains and drove back to double check (they were real). The national forests are administered by different folks than the national parks, and the campgrounds seemed occupied by more locals and a little more laid back. We drove through, passed a reservoir and dam, and ended up on a local street in Georgetown. We got on I-70 and drove to Denver, checked into a hotel, took showers, and marveled at how good it felt to be clean and in clean clothes. We then went on our own beer tour based on a package that the hotel gave us.

It felt great walking around - the city was full of fancy pit toilets that flushed and the trail was very flat and marked every few steps! We passed a sad looking dog that was looking for a chance to escape outside.

We went to Rock Botton, Wynkoop, Denver Chophouse and Brewery, Breckenridge, and back to Great Divide. Hands down, our favorite was Great Divide.

At Great Divide, Mabel ended up doing a tasting of the Yetis, although she did feel like the Blueberry Girl afterwards. She really liked the Belgian-style Yeti; Dave like their wheat beer.

Wynkoop was our next favorite; they had this really delicious Cow Town Milk Stout. Dave really liked their ESB. We got back to the hotel room at 6 pm and Dave passed out while Mabel looked up national parks to go to for the next five years. This vacation was drawing to an end - it was another good one!

Rocky Mountains, Day 12: August 12, 2012

Mabel and Shelli took Fleurise to the airport early in the morning. Chris and Shelli made David and Mabel a wonderful breakfast of scrambled eggs with swiss chard and their awesome home roasted coffee. I felt pretty sad about driving off after such a fun weekend. We got to Kenosha Pass in about an hour but then frustratingly passed it about 5 times over 2 hours because:

1) We drove past it accidentally looking for the campsite.
2) We back over it to have lunch at Al’s Pits in Grant (town before the pass)
3) Decided to get gas at Jefferson (town after pass)
4) Realized Mabel forgot her purse at Al’s and went back to get it
5) Came back to campsite. Ugh. I guess this technically doesn’t count as going over it a 5th time, but we were tired of crossing the pass!

Lunch at Al's felt pretty random.

There was a funny little park beyond the BBQ pit that Al and his wife had set up. We sat at a picnic table next to a nice creek.

Al and his wife recycled cans. Mabel used the can crusher for the first time.

Being Sunday night, Kenosha Pass campground felt pretty empty. We sat around for a bit.

The water supply was via hand pump.

We did a short hike on the Colorado Trail where we found a vista of the landscape beyond the pass.

The pass was beautiful. We could see what Walt Whitman meant:
I jot these lines literally at Kenosha summit, where we return, afternoon, and take a long rest, 10,000 feet above sea-level. At this immense height the South Park stretches fifty miles before me. Mountainous chains and peaks in every variety of perspective, every hue of vista, fringe the the whole Western world is, in a sense, but an expansion of these mountains.
We came back and did an interpretive trail across the highway. 

We went back to camp, had soup, hot chocolate, and a roaring fire where we roasted marshmallows, and went to bed.

Rocky Mountains, Day 11: August 11: 2012

We all woke up and caught up with coffee in the backyard. It was still really surreal that the three of us were all together!

We headed to Lucille’s for a creole brunch. There was a little bit of a wait, but it was fun watching Calder play in the grass next to the restaurant.

We had beignets covered with powdered sugar (delicious!), biscuits with homemade jam (yum!), and then creole-inspired breakfasts.

Mabel and Fleurise had the Eggs Rockefeller, which had fried oysters. Amazing! Fleurise and Chris had Bloody Marys, which were really good and came with toothpicks spiked with a shrimp and an okra. We rolled out of the restaurant and rested back at home for a while. Chris’ parents came over to babysit Calder and we went on a brewery tour. Our stops were Renegade,

 Great Divide,

and Strange.

It was super fun going to the different breweries and tasting the different kinds of beers. Mabel learned that she really loves bitter IPAs and the flavor of hops as well as stouts. It was amazing to taste flavors like coffee, vanilla, and cherry in the beers. At Great Divide we sat down outside with 2 guys from out of town; Fleurise chatted them up as we munched on tacos and bahn mi from a nearby truck. We touched base at home and then headed back out for dinner at the Cherry Creek Grill, where David got his Colorado trout and Fleurise got her steak. We had a fun desert of banana cream pie and tres leches cake. We again rolled back home and chatted late into the night.

Rocky Mountains, Day 10: August 10, 2012

We had breakfast at the top of a small rocky hill near our site (coffee and leftover smoked cheddar; I had a banana nut Clif bar, as well). Packed up in a little over an hour. Hiked 5 miles in a little over 2 hours. Not bad. We were relieved to see the car hadn’t been broken into by any bears. We headed over to the Alpine Visitors Center to buy a pika stuffed animal for Calder, but they were out. There were a whole basketful of them at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. We had BBQ again at Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ and Taphouse, returned the bear cannister to The Warming House

and found out why there were so many dead trees in the national park (the pine beetle). On the way to Denver we saw this truck delivering rocks.
Once we got to Denver, we saw Shelli and Chris and Calder! Calder was super-cute and it was great catching up with Shelli and Chris. We were also welcomed pretty enthusiastically by Lily and Diamond, the dogs. They (Shelli and Chris) gave us a tour of their home (!) and then fed us well with delicious grilled eggplant/tomato/mozarella, grilled beer-boiled bratwurst on homemade pretzel buns, pasta salad and beer. Shelli and Mabel took naps and then picked up Fleurise at the airport. It was so fun to be all together in the Mile High City!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rocky Mountains, Day 9: August 9, 2012

We woke up extremely stiff. Our 16 mile day yesterday (and 7 days of straight hiking) really tuckered us out. We had a lazy morning. Some of it involved getting rid of a particularly persistent squirrel who seemed very hungry. Our bear canister was actually a squirrel cannister.

The smell of salami was driving it crazy. We sat at the edge of the meadow. No moose, but it was quite beautiful. We followed a small trail and discovered a creek. We sat on our foam mats and listened to it course by.

We took a plunge in a deeper area and felt refreshed.

We took our time packing up, and then hiked up the 3 miles to the Granite Falls camping site. We were tired. It took us a while. When we got there, Dave was inspired to work on his NICU cover letter.

Then we collapsed for a few hours. Finally, we got up and got water at a secret set of falls higher up than Granite Falls. We cooked another Backpacker’s Pantry dinner (beef stroganoff) and ate by the secret falls and then called it a day.

Rocky Mountains, Day 8: August 8, 2012

We drove to Green Mountain Trailhead. We saw a red fox coolly trotting around on its spindly legs.

We set up camp next to Big Meadow, an extremely large Serengeti-like plain of grass. Big is an understatement - it should be called Ginormous Meadow. Ran into some illegal campers who hiked in at 9 pm the night before without a permit; they were nice, but we were just mutually annoyed to have company. Hiked around Big Meadow, sat by Granite Falls and got a little lost due to poor cartography in the region of interest; we were looking for a trail to Haynach Lake, but could not find a sign. We finally just followed the sign to the campsite; the trail extended beyond the site. We followed it and fell into ridiculous valley after forest after creek after ridiculous valley.

We saw a mule deer. I felt like I was in Narnia - the weird version as described in book 6 or 7 of the series. We suddenly came upon a gorgeous alpine lake surrounded by mountains with a sister lake just down a ridiculously beautiful valley.

There was total solitude. It was amazing. We both plunged into the icy water and felt great. After we had a snack and refilled our water, we reluctantly left this isolated paradise. We saw a small herd of elk cows on the descent back.

We booked it back - after 7 miles, we were spent. We had our first meal from the company, Backpacker's Pantry - dehydrated macaroni with meat chili sauce.

It was decent, but amazing in its convenience - just boil water, cook in situ, and eat with spoons, no dishes! Night fell, and we saw the brilliant night sky, almost like we hadn't seen since we were kids. Every other trip had a night sky with clouds or a full moon, but not tonight - it was gorgeous. We slept without the tent cover.

Rocky Mountains Day 7: August 7, 2012

We woke up to a nice, sunny day. Because we were on a rocky ledge, we were able to spread everything out and dry all our gear.

It was really nice. We packed up and hiked back out to trailhead with a short stop at Copeland Falls.

There were hoards of people getting started on hikes. We were still thankful to be alive with all of our limbs intact. We headed to a place called Smokin' Dave's BBQ and Taphouse where we feasted on barbecue and burgers and excellent local Colorado beer.

We noticed that the view from the BBQ place and the illustration of the Rockies on our license plate looked pretty similar:

After lunch, we decided that we had such a good time backcountry camping that we would see if it was possible to do that for a few more days. We visited the backcountry office again at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. We met a great ranger who advised us on a few hiking gems on the west side. Luckily, there were two sites that were open on consecutive days, so we booked them right there. We headed back to the KOA campground, shopped for food, and had excellent steak and grilled zuchini and tomato. We were excited for the adventure to come.

After Mabel fell asleep, Dave woke up a little later to the sound of the KOA camp "mom" loudly scolding the cabin next to us. Quiet hour was at 10 pm, and apparently the guys were still up outside chatting at around 1:30 am. She was making her rounds, and she told them, "I could hear you guys when you were inside your cabin but now you are outside, this is unacceptable." The guys apparently said, "But we're not bothering anyone, no one has complained." "It doesn't matter, it's the RULES, this is quiet hour, and you are breaking the rules." After a little back and forth, the camp mom apparently won. Hilarious.

Rocky Mountains Day 6: August 6, 2012

We woke up famished. We cooked up a chicken and broccoli rice meal, which we hydrated with water and supplemented with cheddar cheese instead of butter (a last minute improvisation, which turned out beautifully). It was pretty good, except it turned our plastic cooking spoon from grey to green. Hmm. There was something toxic in that meal. However, it was actually kind of delicious, like risotto, and very filling. We garnished the meal with half an egg.

We sat by Ouzel Lake, which seemed more beautiful now that we were alone with it.

Dave took a plunge into the alpine waters. We hiked around the lake and sat looking at the mountains and the red bellied cutthroat trout. Dave wished he had his fishing rod.

We packed up and hiked to the Tahosa site, which was on a nice ledge. It looked like a good place to set up a yoga platform. We were happy.

It started raining, so we hurridly set up our tent and waited out the rainfall. It was warm, dry, and cozy in our little tent. After the rain stopped, we were still hankering for some adventure, so we decided to cross country our way to the Twin Lakes, which was maybe 0.7 miles from an established trail. We started in by following faint deer trails and checking our compass frequently.

We climbed over some rocks, and ducked under underbrush and between the branches of pine trees, walking through quite a bit of cobweb. We kept looking for faint trails. Finally, we actually happened on a cairn, which Dave got excited by and Mabel got slightly spooked by. We continued on, and suddenly came upon a secret lake!

We were really hoping to take a dip, but the side we were on was kind of marshy with lily pads. We made our way to the rocky side; as it was getting late and started raining, we decided to quickly look for the other lake. We hike around and even followed a lone cairn, but came up to a ledge, and could not find the lake!

Where was it? Dried up? Swallowed up by the other lake? By this time, we were both getting kind of concerned about the amount of light we had left. We started heading back, and at one point, had a cool vantage point where we saw a drop off on our left and the lake on our right. We kept heading west, and came back upon the trail outlined by the cairns. It became clear, however, that the cairns were leading us in a northwesterly directly while we really needed to head due west. So we left the cairns and struck out again on the deer path. As we were going through dense forest, Mabel stepped over some scat. It looked kind of big. Like the kind a bear might make. We kept going; Mabel was getting pretty concerned - we were really racing against the dying sunlight. Suddenly, something was throwing pinecones at us and making noise. We were really freaked out. Dave started yelling, "Hey! Hey!" to let the bear know that we were there. The angry chattering continued. We both peered up looking for the animal that was throwing down the pinecones. Thank God, it was just a squirrel, and not a bear. Boy, we were pretty scared. We hightailed it even faster; at one point, we were drifting northwest again, and so we corrected our direction.

Amidst the growing panic, we popped out upon the established trail. Mabel was pretty happy, but we still had 1.7 miles back to the campsite. Even though it was pretty easy going, dusk was falling and it seemed that every bend might reveal a bear or mountain lion. About the last 0.4 miles, we were really losing visibility. We almost kissed the ground when we made it back safely to our campsite. It started raining again; we warmed up the leftovers from breakfast with boiling water and comforted ourselves with hot chocolate. So happy to be alive!