Arches National Park: Because Utah isn’t just Salt Lake City.

After we left Denver, Mike and I made the fatal mistake of thinking we could mosey into Moab, Utah on a Saturday and actually find an affordable place to sleep. In our simple, naive minds, Moab was just a little sleepy town that was conveniently located near Arches National Park, but boy, we were wrong. Every single hotel, campground, and hostel was booked or had such inflated prices that our minds were blown. As such, this led to our first night spent sleeping in the car. Not an amazing start to this adventure, but we made due by waking up before sunrise and rolling into Arches National Park in time to see a breathtaking view of the sun rising over the rocks.

A poor image of what our eyes encountered.
A poor image of what our eyes encountered.

The red rocks were truly a sight to behold. The beauty of this park is that it is open 24/7/365, so you can roll in whenever you want for all sorts of views. I have been told by many that if you can get camping there to do so, because the stars are incredible, but during the day was definitely not too shabby.

One of the first rock formations on the drive.
One of the first rock formations on the drive.

When you enter the park, the road is pretty straightforward, which was really convenient. It is straight for about an hour, ending in a loop to take you out of the park, with a shit ton of trailheads, roundabouts, and viewpoints scattered along the way. You can stop at as many or as few of the viewpoints as you please, but I must warn you: However long you think you want to take in this park, double it. Since Arches is just littered with trails of varying degrees of effort and mileage, and there are more sights to see that one can see in a week, it is easier to just take as much time as your trip will allow and do all that you can. Mike and I only allotted one full day here, and we already made a promise to ourselves to come back. This was one of the first points in our trip we were awed, wowed, stunned by the scenes that laid before us. I know I sound like a giddy schoolgirl rather than a travel blogger, but some things are hard to put into words.

One of the park's famed, well, Arches.
One of the park’s famed, well, Arches.

I would recommend to visitors to stay in or as close to in the park as possible, seeing as Moab does not have a whole lot to offer except for various trip tours through the Arches. If you are into Jeep tours, helicopter tours, or the like, you won’t be hard-pressed to find one that fits your wants and needs. The only time we spent in Moab was at the brewery for a nice post-hiking beer, but alcohol drinkers beware: Utah has a tricky little law that requires all of the beer on tap (drafts) to be watered down to 3%, so get your beer bottled. Their beer was decent, but no reason to spend money on that alcohol content. You have been warned.

Moral of the story is: Visit Arches National Park if you are a fan of beautiful scenery that isn’t quite like anything else in the world, for a very cheap cost. You will not be disappointed. And for a bonus, if you go in before the park rangers get there and it is a busy day, they won’t collect your fee on the way out. The sheer volume of people they have to deal with every day makes it near impossible to collect your paltry ten dollars when you are leaving the park. They are also a little lax with checking the parking lots viewpoints, so if you are really pressed for a place to sleep, just cover yourself up with a blanket in the back seat. With luck, the rangers will think you are just luggage and that you are actually just hiking overnight, which is not an uncommon occurrence at Arches. Enjoy!

Gratuitous park images.
Gratuitous park images. (I apologize for the crappy lighting)
For scale, Mike is 6'4".
For scale, Mike is 6’4″.

A short blurb about Denver, hipster capital of the US and Mile-High City.

Again, I apologize for my horrible blog upkeep. We just spent three days at a “book hotel,” a wonderful place with a huge library and no wifi. A delight for me, but it definitely makes me a bad blog-mom.

We set sail from The Great Dunes of Colorado to Denver, the mile-high city. I met up with an old friend of mine and her boyfriend, and they showed us the ropes around Denver. First, we had dinner at Breckenridge Brewery, one of Denver’s more famous breweries. The beer was on-par, and they have an awesome Thursday night trivia night that was loads of fun. If you are into a more relaxed city scene, enjoy beer and food, or just don’t want to get sucked into the corporate nonsense, LoDo is for you. The downtown portion of Denver is almost like the hipster capital of Colorado, but in a less obnoxious and in-your-face way.

The next day, we had lunch with our friends at an awesome little British food pub in the ‘burbs of Denver. Denver food may not be “iconic,” but it is one of the few places we did not have ANY bad eating experience at, and most of their restaurants offer beer, which is awesome. Affordable as well, which was a great discovery.

Denver view from the ‘burbs, pretty nice.

That night, unbeknownst to us poor NY folk, was the Colorado Rockies opening weekend. This fun, quiet little city becomes a rowdy drunken orgy during this weekend, apparently, and we had a bit of trouble finding an bar that wasn’t packed to capacity. The people-watching was amazing, of course, but damn, Denver, you go hard. We had a good time at World of Beer though, which is just off of the LoDo strip to make it bearable.

Next stop was the dispensary. For those that don’t know, Colorado is one of the very few states that allows the purchase of recreational marijuana. Not being much of a smoker myself, I still needed to check it out and see what the buzz was about. Once we walked in, the man at the desk took our IDs and led us into the waiting room. Even on a Tuesday afternoon, the place was packed with all sorts of people from all walks of life, from businessmen to stereotypical stoners to elderly. The group was divided into two groups, recreational and medical users. While we didn’t buy anything, Mike and I did take a fun souvenir photo in the window. Moral of the story: Colorado is a trailblazing state, and we applaud you.

This is actually in their window front. Very cool, Denver.

Our last Denver stop was at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science for a super cool exhibit that I had to go to, Mythic Creatures. I am a science fiction and fantasy buff, and this was a necessity. What a beautifully situated museum! It overlooks a park and is in a more historic district of Denver, one in which you can see miles away the industrial portion while being surrounded by beautiful homes and luscious trees. The exhibits were all fun, not just the one I went to go see. This museum was wonderful for people of all ages, having historical exhibits, speciality ones, and futuristic ones, like those that discussed our future in space travel.

My crappy dragon photo; don’t let the quality fool you.

Thank you, Denver, for giving us science, history, good friends, and copious amounts of beer. And thank you Ali and Andrew for showing us a kick-ass time in Denver. We salute you.

Next Stop: Arches National Park.

Colorado: “I take her all the way to Colorado and she finds a sand dune to play in.”

After we left Santa Fe, our next major destination was Denver, CO, but we didn’t know what to do in between the two destinations. We could go to Colorado Springs for more fun city adventures, or we could find something a little more natural to break up the urban monotony. It took one brief look at the atlas to discover the Great Sand Dunes, pretty close to the Colorado-New Mexico border. Being the obnoxious beach girl that I am, sand dunes that you can go sandboarding and sand sledding on sound perfect to me, so off to the sand dunes we went.

The first surprise was how out of the way the park is from any main road. It took a good forty miles down an off track to find the dunes, but when we found it, the scene alone made the trek worth it.

Yup, that's a person at the bottom.
Yup, that’s a person at the bottom.

The dunes are open at all times, so even though we didn’t arrive until 6 pm, we decided to make our way up to the top of the dune. The sandboard rentals were closed already, however, so my dream of gliding down the dune like a gazelle was short-lived. Note to other sand sport junkies: Rental places seem to be 9-5 type of joints. 

The other consideration that neither Mike nor I accounted for was the horrendous wind. The climb up the dune was a bit of  nightmare from the cold water at the base to the wind up top, but the view was stunning. We quit pretty close to the top, more for fear that we would topple off the side of the dune than any other reason.

Freezing water rivulets are all that stand between you and sand dune glory.
Freezing water rivulets are all that stand between you and sand dune glory.
Note to self: When the options are sit or fly away onto lower dunes, you sit.
Note to self: When the options are sit or fly away onto lower dunes, you sit.

This was definitely the most photogenic of our stops to date, taking dramatic Arabian Nights-esque shots in the middle of Colorado. However, for any amateur photographers out there, a word of caution: My lens was making fun sand-grinding noises for days after this excursion. Invest in a water/weather proof casing for your DSLR, or just take pics with your phone.

Makes you want to sing the Aladdin theme song.
Makes you want to sing the Aladdin theme song.

We ended up camping there, which seems to be a pretty popular option. The lots are only fifteen a night, and the stars are to die for. We practiced our “star-shooting,” and tried to find bears. Please note: NO flashlights allowed while walking around, so please don’t be that dick.

We would love to come back here during the summer, since we came in the spring when the weather was still a bit nippy and the moon didn’t rise until 4 in the morning. The website for the park actually includes a full moon schedule, so you can plan your trip according to how beautiful the moon rises over the dunes. I’d recommend this stop to anyone into a little bit of an unusual stop during your travels, and a good place to get your ass outside and moving.

Next stop: Denver!

New Mexico: Do YOU know the way to Santa Fe?

I apologize for the delay (yet again). I am with family in lovely California, and needed time to catch up before sitting down to write again. And so, I present to you, New Mexico.

We first drove into New Mexico after a fun day in Amarillo painting the Cadillacs (see here) and the first gut impression was, “Whoa.” The plateaus and mesas were everywhere on the side of our otherwise flat road, and the farms stretched for hundred of miles in between.

Hello, random land mass. What is your purpose in life?
Hello, random land mass. What is your purpose in life?

My partner and I didn’t have a plan to stop before our ultimate destination in Santa Fe, but we weren’t in a hurry so we kept an eye out for fun roadside attractions. The first we found was something called Conchas Dam, and it was off of our beaten path. We got onto the exit, assuming it would be sort of right there… an assumption that should not have been made. This dam was actually many miles down, and it took us about 20 minutes going down a remote road with no cell service to find another sign for it, our only roadside company being the cows and their horsy handlers.

And a good neigh to you, dear sir.
And a good neigh to you, dear sir.

Another turn or two later, passing by a one-plane airport and abandoned fireworks seller, and we found  the massive state park (go check it out!) and recreational center that the dam sat upon. The dam was actually situated on a beautiful lake of the same name, filled with fishermen and water sports lovers. Out in the middle of desert-like conditions. Yup, pretty cool.

This does not do the dam or the lake justice, but you get the gist. Pretty blue water, big drivable dam.
This does not do the dam or the lake justice, but you get the gist. Pretty blue water, big drivable dam.

We walked down the the water over a rope that kind of looked optional, looked out, cracked open some geodes, and went on our way.

The roads in Santa Fe were probably the most precarious that we’ve encountered, and there was much cringing at the multitude of “Falling Rock” signs that we passed. However, the scenery is beautiful, in a stark and rocky sort of way. We didn’t see much civilization after the park until we got into the Santa Fe border.

Mike and I were pretty confused when entering Santa Fe. We were meeting up with an old family friend of mine, and she had us meet her at a cafe in what she claimed was “close to the city center.” Walking around a bit, neither Mike nor I could see the city. Where were the tall glass buildings, rushing cars, and loud noises? When Rachel met up with us and asked if we explored the city, we both asked her where the city was.

“Right here, of course. You must have walked right through the plaza,” she said, amused. Apparently, Santa Fe ordinance only allows adobe buildings, and none of them over four or so stories. It made for an entirely different aesthetic, one that is both pleasing and unnerving, given that Santa Fe is the state capital.

The next few days were one of food and fun drives. Rachel had us over for a lovely Easter dinner that made being home a little less painful (she’s a killer cook, just check out Rachel’s Bakery on Fire Island if you don’t believe me!), and then spent the next couple of days showing us some of the wonders of New Mexico.

A la Rachel Ray (created by Michael Williams)

After taking in Santa Fe, our next stop in the land of enchantment was Los Alamos,  a place that has always piqued the curiosity of my engineer companion. For those that don’t know, this is the city that the government commandeered in the middle of the desert to do nuclear testing, and where the two nuclear bombs were created that we sent to Japan. As such, the city has a secretive and kind of dark past.

The museum situated in it details everything that happened, peppered with quotes from men and women who lived in the pop-up town. For those interested in alternative history, it is very interesting and an iconic visit.

Our next stop was of course to see the Rio Grande in all of its glory. Probably one of my favorite stops so far due, and one of the most fun. We went into Taos after a harrowing ride on cliffside roads (I love not driving on these occasions,) we came upon the Rio Grande Bridge with a bang.

The view from the bridge.

The heavy winds that day, along with the call centers strategically placed along the bridge that immediately connect to the Suicide Hotline, made the walking experience a little more gut-wrenching. However, I would not recommend NOT walking the bridge. Too beautiful and austere to pass up.

A quick stop at the Taos Mesa Brewing Company (mediocre beer, but awesome ambiance and fun hangout spot) and our New Mexico experience was officially complete. My only regret: missing out on Roswell, because who doesn’t need a hefty does of aliens and suspension of reality in their diet?

Another special thanks to Rachel for making it happen, and on stay tuned for the next installment of Mike and Sam’s Great Adventure: Colorado!

Thanks, Rachel!
Thanks, Rachel!

Four days of Texas: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Hello, folks, sorry I’ve been absent. We went through another wifi dry spell, and doing a blog in a McDonalds parking lot didn’t seem appealing. I am currently in New Mexico, but have a LOT of retroactive talking to do.

We began our Texan excursion in the lovely San Antonio, which was by far one of our favorite spots, if small. The Alamo, of course, was the first destination. Anyone, American or foreign, with an interest in history will fall in love with the Alamo. Our first impression was, “Wow, this is smaller than I thought. And wow, there’s a garden.” It was beautiful, in an eerie way.

Pretty Alamo.
Pretty Alamo.

The whole area is free to explore and read about the history on your own, or you can pay for a guide or audio tour. I loved the atmosphere and how all of the spaces are clearly marked so you can do the tour on your own. There was facts around every corner. Even the monument in front of the Alamo on the street was beautiful, if a little graphic.

The other main attraction of San Antonio is, of course, the River Walk. I highly recommend doing the little boat tour (it’s not expensive and takes you about a half hour) so that you can see it all, learn about it all, and help you decide where to eat along the strip.

You have to admit, it looks like fun.
You have to admit, it looks like fun.

One caution, however: Beware of the ducks. They have full reign over the walk, and WILL land near your food if you don’t shoo them away. Don’t let that stop you trying to food; most of the restaurants have good deals, especially killer lunch and Happy Hour specials.

Alas, our time in San Antonio was short; we had places to be, people to see. One such person was Mr. Martin of Tumblr fame, in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The first impression of Dallas was unfortunately rough, just because of the horrible traffic. Truck drivers drive like maniacs here! However, the rest areas are beautiful and we felt extremely safe. Upon entering the Dallas area, Mike and I were planning on staying at the hostel (Wild Wild West), but felt a little uncomfortable as a couple. It was also late, and one of the regular residents had to let us in. I would recommend this hostel to lone travelers or groups, since it was affordable and had a huge amount of extra amenities, but not for couples traveling.

The first thing we did upon actually getting into the city was viewing the Nasher Art Sculpture garden. Anyone into are should visit this entire area of the city, where you can find almost ten art museums including the Sculpture Garden, Dallas Museum of Art, and the Crow Collection of Asian Art.

My favorite sculpture.

After bouncing around the art district, we met up with Martin and his wife Shelly outside of the city. We had a lovely time with them, lunch and long discussions about gun laws in Texas. I must admit, I am jealous. Guns are not easy to own in New York, and our laws are getting stricter by the minute. I just wish Texas was on my coastline and maybe less big. Either way, they showed Mike and I true southern hospitality, which made mid-Texas feel better than it had.

From Dallas, we were at a bit of a loss, since our next concrete destination was Santa Fe. So, we took out our trusty Atlas and looked up what was on the way, and found Amarillo.

Amarillo was such a trip. First, we quickly realized the road was part of the original Route 66, which was super cool. We finally felt like real American Road Trippers. Second, the first thing we found in Amarillo was the Big Texan, a bar with a food challenge that was featured on Man vs Food. While we did not eat the challenge of 72 oz steak, salad, baked potato, and shrimp cocktail, we did watch four men try it and fail while enjoying our own perfect steaks and on-site brewed beer.

You can't beat the T-Rex in the front, either.
You can’t beat the T-Rex in the front, either.

The campsite we stayed at was wonderful and had a huge pool, and it was a wonderful first night of tent camping we’ve done on this trip.

The next wonderful surprise was Cadillac Ranch. I found this little roadside attraction referenced on a random road trip website, and it was damn hard to find. Located on the side of the road in Amarillo, this is a free private site for people to walk up to rusted Cadillacs and spray paint your mark on them. Can’t beat it!

My little mark in the world.
My little mark in the world.
It's like a beautiful Cadillac graveyard.
It’s like a beautiful Cadillac graveyard.

I would say that driving through Amarillo was worth it just for this, no exaggeration. You’ll never see anything like it.

So long, farewell, Texas! It has been real. Next stop: New Mexico!

Road Trip, Days 6-7: New Orleans, the town of day drinking and ghosts.

So where we last left off, Mike and I did a mad dash across three states to get into New Orleans the morning after being in Savannah. We left Savannah around 9:00, and got into New Orleans by 6:30, a little before sunrise. The argument was that it would save money for a night at the hotel, and there was nothing in particular we felt like seeing in between. It also gave us another full day and most of a night in Savannah.

Needless to say, we are hoping to never repeat the experience. Beyond all of the sights we missed (I don’t know how much is missed in mid-Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, but it’s the fact that there may have been stuff to miss) the drive was absolutely exhausting. We divided the drive, each doing about five hours and change, but car naps just don’t suffice for sleep. Pulling into a parking garage and sleeping as the sun rose was sort of romantic, though. (Note to road trippers: If you don’t mind sleeping in the car, car garages are the way to go. $10.00 for twelve hours at the heart of the city, bam.)

Sunrise over New Orleans from a parking garage roof. Not too shabby.
Sunrise over New Orleans from a parking garage roof. Not too shabby.

When we finally woke up at 10:00 ish, we decided to wander the French Quarter until we could go to the hotel at 3:00 pm and sleep the travel off. The two of us were like zombies walking around (how very NoLa-esque), and it took us a little while to realize every adult of any age was either drunk or hungover walking around us on Bourbon Street. And the streets stank like beer. From what I’ve gathered, we stumbled onto Spring Break-ridden Saturday Bourbon Street, and 10:00 am is prime drinking time. It wasn’t a hugely favorable first impression, except for finding out we could drink on the streets again. (Spoiler Alert: daiquiris all morning in NoLa heat results in debilitating headaches until late afternoon, in time for happy hour.)

That first day in New Orleans included a lot of walking and getting a lay of the land, just observing. We found a cute park called (no joke) Washington Square, which had a fun jazz statue, and listened to a traveling band. That was a huge plus for New Orleans: there is music on literally every street corner. Jazz and blues, mostly, but a lot of folk and beat box as well.

Traveling bands, apparently, aren't uncommon here.
Traveling bands, apparently, aren’t uncommon here.

We stumbled upon the New Orleans Food Festival rather conveniently as we were starving, got our cheap beer and overpriced food samples. I recommend the Gator sausage. After that, it was to the hotel until day two.

Day Two included a ghost tour with Jonathan of Haunted History Tours. Now I will be the first to admit, I hate tours of any kind, being more of an off-the-beaten-track kinda gal. However, Jonathan was lively and gave us haunted tales that you can’t just Google to find out about. Also, New Orleans has so many ghosts, it would be almost unjust not to give them some credence. The most interesting part of the tour, in my opinion, was the stories from the Great Fire of 1788. This was a whole chunk of history that I had never learned about, and the thought of the whole city burning and the lives lost was eerie. I also enjoyed the stories of Madame Dauphine Lalaurie, whose general story is given on American Horror Story: Coven,  but not to the extent we learned. If anything, the show played down her atrocities. The only disappointment was finding out that her house is privately owned and not open to the public. That was a tiny letdown. (Hope this serves as a warning to any avid AHS fans such as myself, hoping to see inside of Lalaurie’s house.)

The tour also gave us a chance to go into Marie Louveau’s Voodoo Shop, which was fun and quirky, if a little mixed in its beliefs. I am all for capitalism, but felt a little wrong about having pagan, buddhist, and voodoo religions all mixed up in one shop.

The next sight we saw was the beautiful walk along the river, which showed off the bridge and huge barges. It is also a beautiful view of the Catholic church and its gardens, right over the trolley tracks.

I have a thing about pretty churches, even if the grounds were the site of lots of killings for severe crimes like stealing apples.
Hello, pretty river.
Hello, pretty river.

Our last day in New Orleans was taken up by cemeteries and trolley rides. The cemeteries were absolutely spectacular, and we weren’t even in the oldest one (this one was mid 1800’s to present). If nothing else, southerners know how to honor their dead. The mausoleums were all grandiose and beautiful, even the ones that weren’t cared for. The trolley ride into the cemetery district (a disturbing concept… the city has a whole area cut out just for its cemeteries) was also fun, since Mike had never ridden a trolley. For $1.50, you can see a huge chunk of the city, which is pretty legitimate. Thank you, New Orleans, for your ghosts and your alcohol. Until next time.

Last thoughts: Love the food, love the booze, love the ghosts. Hate the racist and segregationist attitudes, the unclean feeling of the streets, and the slow pace that people seem to adopt, even in speed-needing situations (like hotel check-ins… a half hour to check five people in? Come on now.)

Next stop: San Antonio!

Road Trip days 4-5: Georgia on My Mind.

I am going to preface this portion with an apology, and an explanation. The apology is for my absence; for those good at math, you can see I haven’t written in four days. The hotels we have been staying at, while cheap and a decent place to lay your head, don’t exactly provide the best WiFi. One place we stayed at in New Orleans didn’t even have WiFi at all, just wired internet. I have been spoiled my whole life.

The explanation is for this entry, will be taken up mostly with a glowing recommendation of Tybee Island, Georgia. I am an island girl, always have been, having spent the first 21 years of my life on Fire Island, NY. I only left my hometown after Hurricane Sandy, which devastated me. To find a beach so like my beloved FI, and to find out they rarely get hurricanes, is a dream come true for me. So there it is.

First, the drive to  Savannah GA from suburban South Carolina was scenic for a little while, but pretty boring as time went on. When we finally got into Savannah, Mike and I immediately needed dinner and a beer to unwind from the five-hour drive. We found a little brewpub called Moon River Brewing Company. The food was perfect, and the beer was sufficient enough to make us happy. A long sunset walk down River Street made the night perfect. Savannah is like Williamsburg NY in how hipster, up-and-coming, and gentrified it is. The native population seems to be a mix of gentle thugs and southern belles, which is being infiltrated with college-aged artists and craft-beer drinkers, and somehow the two groups are mingling just fine. At no point wandering around the city did we feel unsafe, and everyone’s happy drunkenness was welcome instead of rowdy.

Pretty southern trees added to sweet southern air; it's almost enough to convert a cold Northern heart.
Pretty southern trees added to sweet southern air; it’s almost enough to convert a cold Northern heart.
The boyfriend finds tall places for me to stand to make me seem even shorter. Love the scenery though.
The boyfriend finds tall places for me to stand to make me seem even shorter. Love the scenery though.

Oh yeah, that. Who knew that most of the southern cities allow you to drink in the streets? What an amazing discovery.

Anyway, the next day was spent on Tybee Island, which is a twenty minute drive out of the city down a long road into paradise. If anyone is remotely in the area of Georgia, they should see Tybee. The buildings are cheerfully painted, the sped limit is 10 miles an hour, and the air tastes of salt and happiness. They even have an Optimist’s Club, like seriously this place is happy. And on top of being happy, they have a pretty beautiful lighthouse with a bitchin’ chunk of southern history.

Tybee Lighthouse, which looks closely enough to the Fire Island Lighthouse to make me homesick.
Tybee Lighthouse, which looks closely enough to the Fire Island Lighthouse to make me homesick.

You see, this lighthouse was taken by the rebels during the Civil War, then burnt down so that the Union troops couldn’t use it. What they didn’t factor for some bizarre reason is that the building is half stone, so really, they just burned the stairs and their chances of the North not having a lookout. Then you have the fort Screven next to it, which has a hell of a history to it as well that I can’t even begin to explain. Needless to say, when it was still a defensive military fort, they used to disguise it as a sand dune. Yup, bye bye fort, just a huge lump of sand that seems a little out of place.

So of course being on an island and being a homesick island girl, I needed to see the beach. I needed sand between my toes and Atlantic licking at my ankles and wind to make my hair a crow’s nest. And a pocket stuffed to the brim with shells.

So many shells, such little room in the car.
So many shells, such little room in the car.
Look, they're suggesting you stay a while, how nice.
Look, they’re suggesting you stay a while, how nice.

And I got it all, and then some. We now have shells rattling around in most pockets of the doors, and it makes me ridiculously happy. I will retire here one day, fifty years give or take.

The only other thing we did in Georgia was get the hell out of Dodge, leaving at 9:00 PM and getting into New Orleans at 6:30 AM. I don’t recommend this drive to anyone. Night driving is already not fun, but when you have hundreds of miles of unlit roads and no rest stops, and the one rest stop you finally find in Mississippi is surrounded by “palmetto bugs” (C’mon, southerners… They are cockroaches) it just adds to your misery. The sunrise over New Orleans was lovely, though, and the promise of a new adventure for my travel partner and I.

But that adventure is for another day, and another blog post. Keep reading!