Summer, jump started

Finally, a completely sunny weekend filled with summer-y activities!

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Got in our first sail of the season on Friday evening, and realized that we still have 8 more hours on our punch card from 2012 because we only went out one measly time last year! It was a perfect evening to be out on the water too: decent steady winds of 10-15 knots, calm waters, beautiful late afternoon light. We took turns sailing down to North Avenue beach and back.

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On Saturday, we joined S+E out on the Des Plaines River Trail for a bike ride. We’d attempted the same route last year, but had to give up 15 miles in because Jeff got a flat tire and no one thought to bring a patch kit. This year, we were armed and ready, but didn’t have need for it and managed a good 31 mile round trip cycle. Earned that dinner and wine after! :)

Sunday, we made it to the climbing gym for the first time in erm, 2 months. Hehe. Got in two solid hours of climbing, though my stamina was clearly lacking after the long hiatus. Earned that delicious lunch at Ginger and Garlic after though. Heh.

In all, mighty pleased with the weekend’s shenanigans. This next weekend, we’ve plans for some biking and canoeing, but so far the weather looks like it might act up again. Fingers crossed!

Second Chances

Last Thursday, we opened a bottle of the 2008 Spring Valley Vineyard Uriah from Walla Walla Valley, to go with some leftover bibimbap. I didn’t like it. The wine tasted green – closed, too full of tannins that coated my mouth and masked any hint of fruit. Abrupt finish. I don’t think Jeff fancied it much either. We shared a measly glass between the two of us, and consigned the rest of the bottle to the fridge.

On Saturday, we opened a bottle of Esporao Reserva 2011 ­($20) at L+M’s. Initial reaction – what was that funky, cheesy nose that reeked of stale pee? I didn’t really want to taste it, but gamely gave it a sip. Urgh. It was awful. I shifted the glass far, far away from my plate of delicious Alaskan halibut that M caught and L seared.

Ten minutes later though, Aaron urged me to give it another go again. Gingerly, I brought it to my lips, preparing to grimace. But it had softened, quite considerably, now reminiscent of a creamy, oaky and lemony Chardonnay. Now, it nicely complemented the fish.

Too often, I’ve judged wines – and people and situations – too quickly, and harshly. Here was the perfect example of giving a second chance, and being pleasantly surprised.

Taking that lesson into account, I took out the leftover Uriah from last Thursday tonight, to go with some homemade baked trout. To be honest, on the way home from work with my fish, I had seriously entertained the idea of using the rest of the wine in stew, but then I determined to give it another try. And was I happily surprised again! The wine had mellowed out quite a bit, and not was beautifully round and fruity in the finish. Jeff and I quite easily polished off the rest of the bottle. :)

Chicago Cityscape Sunset

Biked down to North Avenue Beach this evening to play with my new 10-stop ND filter. I wanted to take a long exposure shot of the city skyline, to get a sense of the passage of time. Earlier in the day when I checked the forecast, it said partly cloudy skies – perfect for my needs. But by the time we biked down, it had started to drizzle a little. The rain let up in minutes, but it remained very overcast.

Came away this this 2 minute shot that I think sort of works, but I’m not that in love with it. Oh well. Just have to go back for another try.

From Travel, a Journey through Time

Wines of California – Napa and Sonoma

We’ve come to the end of the road of our California tasting classes. And what a way to end the series. So many stunners in Sonoma and Napa! I’m itching to go back out there to taste again. I’ve only been a couple times to Napa, and not Sonoma, but now that we’ve had some years of wine appreciation behind us, it might be fun to go back again, nevermind the crazy tasting prices. :)

Some of the favorites:

Sonoma County
11 wines in the line up: 6 whites, 5 reds

2012 Inman Family Wines Brut Rose Russian River Valley $52
Apples, strawberries. Nice minerality and acidity

2012 Amapola Creek Chardonnay Jos. Belli Vineyards Russian River Valley $50
What an amazing nose! Freshly mown grass, honey, round finish. Someone said “drawn butter” and would pair it with scallops. Yums

2011 Hanzell Vineyards Chardonnay De Brye Vineyard Sonoma Valley $90
Big nose. Not as lemony as the Patz and Hall chardonnay we had right before this. Minerals, but of wood. Acidity in the back of the mouth, but not razor sharp like that Patz. Overall, a very nice wine (we’d tasted this before in another tasting), but hard to justify that price tag

2011 Three Sticks Winery Pinot Noir Silver Eagle Vineyard Russian River Valley $60
“Full of shist”. Tobacco, cherries, mint, cola. Soft, round, juicy. Loooong finish.

Bill’s quote of the night: “Il descend dans la gorge comme le Bébé Gésu en pantalon de soie.” Or, in English: “Goes down the throat like Baby Jesus in silk panties.”

2011 The Donum Estate Pinot Noir Estate Vineyard Carneros $70-$80
Not one of the favorites that evening, but I included it here because Donum has otherwise been consistently one of our favorite Pinots. We’ve really enjoyed labels from their 2008, 2009, 2010 vintages. However, this one disappointed – much more tannins, higher acidity than we expected from this. Metals, some stinky cheese in the nose, with hints of strawberries and tea in the mouthfeel. Bill explained after that 2011 was a bad year for them. They tried to hang the fruit on the vines a bit longer but got hit by rain. So they actually declassified all the lots except for 2.

2009 COBB Pinot Noir Joy Road Vineyard Sonoma Coast $66
Minerals, acidity, stinky cheese. Orange and sea. Tannins

2011 Dashe Cellars Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley $30
Hot, toasted marshmallows. Pretty tasty.

Napa Valley
10 wines in the line up; 3 whites and 7 reds

2013 Flora Springs Sauvignon Blanc “Soliloquy” Oakville $25
Metals, minerals, mint leaves, melony. Nice acidity with long finish

2012 Nickel & Nickel Chardonnay Truchard Vineyard Carneros Napa Valley $60
Cheese in the nose, little bit of lemon. Beautiful nose. Round, fresh. Light in the mouthfeel but long finish

2000 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Vine Hill Ranch Oakville $100
Someone in the group, Robert, not of the wines, donated this bottle from his cellar. It’d cost just a fraction of the price when he picked it up eons ago, which is super cool. Someone said “Wrigley’s spearmint gum” – spot on description! Metals, fruit, soft. Delicious

2005 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley $90-$105
Someone said, “Dirty in a good way”. Yup, can definitely get the earth in that one. Along with spices, plum, cassis. Sweet finish. Just a hint of cigar and spice in the back of the nose.

2011 Newton Vineyard Merlot Unfiltered Spring Mountain $60
Bright, soft. Can definitely get that structure of Cabernet in this one (21% CS). Lots of acidity

2009 Au Sommet Cabernet Sauvignon Atlas Peak $250
Initial taste: pretty good. Fruit, fruit, fruit! Bright, smooth tannins. But at that $250 price tag, not something I’d be excited over.

But a half hour later: POW! OMG. So much more complex in the nose and mouth. Layers of soft stem smells, premium tobacco leaves, earl grey tea. Oh my. I still can’t get over the flavors in this one. Definitely worth that price tag now.

Winemaker – Heidi Barret of Screaming Eagle fame

2010 Quintessa Red Blend Rutherford $150
Before the Au Sommet fully opened up, this was the favorite of the evening. Sex, seductive. Tomatoes.

A quick tour of Finger Lakes

Over the fourth of July long weekend, we did a road trip with Jeff’s parents and Joe. After our epic road trip out west a month earlier, we should have been seasoned, but the 6 hour plus drive from NYC still felt pretty long. I guess the Infinity isn’t nearly as comfortable as our Lexus SUV. Everyone complained of cramps and sore asses haha.

We lucked out with the weather though. It was the same weekend where Hurricane Andrew was pounding the coast. Although our flight into NYC was delayed some 5 hours, the weather in the Finger Lakes was gorgeous.

Hit up 4 wineries over the 3-day weekend: Hermann J. Wiemer, Anthony Road, Dr. Konstantin Frank, and Ravines. Our favorite was the last. Even though the tasting room was the most crowded and our host appeared harried trying to pour for 4 different groups at once, the wines were delicious. Alsace style – more lean and dry than the semi-sweet versions so favored in the other wineries. I steered clear of the reds, sticking to just the rieslings and dessert wines. Just can’t get past how extracted the reds are – I didn’t even want to taste some of them after just sniffing at the glass. We’d bought a couple of the rieslings though, but didn’t want the hassle, and just contented with tasting.

We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast in Keuka Lake, Robertson Inn, a house that was built in the mid-19th century. Genial hosts who made simple but delicious and hearty breakfasts. :) The house itself is in town, away from the lake. And because most of Keuka Lake is surrounded by privately owned houses, we only had glimpses of the lake from the road. Ah well. But we did have much more scenic views of Lake Seneca and Lake Ithaca on our drives.

Visited Jeff and Joe’s alma mater, Cornell. What a beautiful, sprawling campus! It was Jeff’s first visit back after graduation, and he was excited to revisit his old haunts, and check out sights that he’d never been to too.

From Travel, a Journey through Time

So happy we managed to squeeze in a quick stop at Watkin’s Glen early Sunday morning, and that we went right at dawn – not only did we not have to pay, it was so quiet and peaceful and I could set up my tripod wherever and snap to my heart’s content. Made it back to our B&B in time for breakfast with Jeff’s parents

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Another highlight of the weekend – driving back from Watkins Glen to Keuka Lake on Sunday morning, we passed what seemed like the state’s population of Amish on the move. Girls in long flowery dresses and bonnets, boys in black bowling hats, white shirts with suspenders on black slacks, all riding along the side of the roads. And horse carriages with the elderly and young children. We felt like we were transported back in time – or had wandered onto the set of Downtown Abbey. :)

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We didn’t really have much time to spend in the city itself, but we did have just enough time after we’d returned the rental car to stop by Misoya Ramen for dinner. So good!

France and Italy 101

Some favorite wines from recent tasting classes with Bill, better for reference purposes when we’re in need of inspiration on what next to buy hehe.

France 101
One of the coolest infographic showing the different wine regions in France

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2007 Lamiable Blanc de Noir “Cuvee Meslaines” Champagne $60
Mmmm – yeasty, bready. Love the acidity. Perfect accompaniment to high tea

2012 Chene Bleu Viognier Vaucluse $40
Beautiful nose of peach, apricot, brioche.
Not sweet in the mouthfeel though; bitter notes on side

2012 Domaine Weinbach Gewurztraminer “Reserve Personelle” Alsace $35
Lychee! But not the super ripe type. Orchids. Elegant.

Alsace Tasting
10 wines in the line up. Tasted on July 1st – apparently a “fruit day”, so the better to taste wines on
NV Camille Braun Cremant d’Alsace Brut $20
Sparkling made the champagne method. Lemon Bread! Clean finish, fresh, yums

2011 Meyer-Fonne Riesling Reserve $20
Green apple, lemon, classic riesling nose, granite, some petroleum. Nice acidity

2009 Rene Mure Riesling Vendage Tardive Clos St-Landelin Grand Cru Vorbourg $75
Petrol stink, sauteed onion? Peanuts?

2011 Domaine Erhart Pinot Gris “Im Berg” $20
Lychee-like, earth, talcum powder. Almost bitter finish

2010 Domaine Weinbach Gewurtztraminer Cuvee Theo $40
One of our two clear favorites of the evening. While the Domaine Erhart Pinot Gris had some lychee in the nose, the fruit was so much more prominent in this wine – but not overwhelming. Such a gorgeous bouquet. Someone in our group generously brought along some cheese to share, and the munster went soooo beautifully with this wine.

2009 Hugel Pere & Fils Pinot Noir “Jubilee” $77
Other favorite of the evening. Sensuous nose of ripe strawberries. Sexy mouthfeel – waves of silk. Someone in our group wasn’t a fan though, and said that the “nose was like someone poured vodka into it”. I don’t know – while the wine was a little hotter than some of the best pinots we’ve had, I thought it was a well made wine.

Italy 101
2011 Fontana Candida Frascati Superiore Riserva DOCG “Luna Mater” Lazio $22
Blend of grapes: Malvasia di Candidia, Malvasia di Lazio, Greco, Bombino
Taste of honey in the mouth, nice and bracing acidity. We brought the leftovers home, and it went so well with homemade laksa – rounded out in the finish, softer

2010 Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG “Bellezza” Toscana $35
Spice, pepper, dark fruit – nice nose! Red apples in the mouthfeel, down to the tannins of the red apple skin. Lean in profile.

2008 Boroli Barolo DOCG Piedmonte $40
Brownish red hue. Raisins, dark cherry. Smooth tannins, chewy

2011 Tasca d’Almerita Nero d’Avola IGT “Lamuri” Sicilia $20
Compared to the rest of the other 11 wines we tasted, this was the most non-food friendly wine. Rounder, softer finish, not as lean and acidic.

2010 Terra di Monteverro Toscana Rosso IGT Toscana $135
Bordeaux blend in Italy! 45% CS, 10% Merlot, 10% PV, 35% CF. Sweet wood, smooth, tannins

Wines of California

We’ve spent the past three weeks exploring, with Bill, our intrepid guide, the history, philosophy, and wine making sensibilities of wine in California. Two more weeks to go – where we’ll get to steep in the wines of Sonoma and Napa Valley.

It’s been a fascinating journey – we began by charting the route of the Spanish missionaries as they wended their way north on horseback, up along the California coast in the late 18th century, as the Continental Army were beginning to fight for their independence against the British on the east coast. California was still part of the wild west, up for territorial grab. And as the Spanish established missionaries in what we now refer to as San Diego, San Carlos, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz etc, they also helped kick off a fledging wine industry.

Over the course of the class, we also explored the philosophy of wine making in California. We looked at the effects of Prohibition on winemaking, as well as the differences between wine making sensibilities in America vs. France. It’s no accident that the term “winemakers” was invented in the US. Whereas American winemakers take inordinate pride in crafting their wines in the laboratory, the French winemakers refer to themselves as vignerons, people who cultivate vineyards to turn into wine.

We even got a 101 course on the different types of soil prized for growing wine grapes. Or to be clear, the different combinations of soil that are best. Clay, by itself, is dismal – too high in acid, too cool, holds too much water. But pair it with limestone, a baser soil which lets water seep through more easily, you’ve a winner. Other types of soil conducive to wines: Granite/shist (granular, ie. breaks down over time; acidic rock good for acidic grapes like gamay, pinot noir – the higher acidity in the soil slows down maturation, which helps the grapes retain their acidity; holds heat); Basalt (highest in nutrients); Slate (like granite, holds water in its fissures and is like a heat amphitheater).

Favorites from Tasting #1
12 Samplings from Santa Rita Hills, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Arroyo Grande Valley, Edna Valley, Paso Robles. What a lineup – so many favorites, and at prices considered a steal compared with Sonoma and Napa!

2012 Alta Maria Vineyards Chardonnay Rosemary’s Vineyard Arroyo Grande Valley ($50)
Melon-y, crisp, smooth and dry finish

2005 Talley Vineyards Chardonnay Rosemary’s Vineyard Arroyo Grande Valley ($50)
Smells like smores at a campfire. “Wedding-band gold color”, as someone eloquently put it. Stewed tangerine. Honeyed but also tart

2012 Melville Estate Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills $35
Metallic, cherries, oolong tea, tannins. Beautiful deep pink color. Fresh tomatoes

2012 Dragonette Cellars Pinot Noir Radian Vineyard Santa Rita Hills $54
Round finish, darker fruit. Beautiful long end

2012 The Ojai Vineyard Grenache/Syrah John Sebestiano Vineyard Santa Rita Hills $38
Very soft texture, more floral than fruity, rose petals

2004 Tensley Wines Syrah Colson Canyon Vineyard Santa Barbara County $35
Bah kwah (chinese bbq pork with honeyed glaze). Beautiful. Liquid silk. Ooh my

2010 Justin Vineyards & Winery Red Blend “Justification” Paso Robles $44
Cherry tomatoes. Almost chewy – thick and dark

2001 Epiphany Cellars Petite Sirah Rodyney’s Vineyard Santa Barbara County $30
Big stinky earthy nose. Gorgeous mouthfeel. Enveloping tannins – not rough, but coats your mouth. Big, dark, powerful

Favorites from Tasting #2
2012 Han Estates Pinot Noir “SLH” Santa Lucia Highlands $35
Beautiful, gorgeous, sensuous nose. Hint of metal, spice, wood. Silky tannins, with mint at the back of the palate

2010 Steven Kent Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Home Vineyard Livermore $50
Ketchup, dark fruit, smooth tannins, long finish

2010 Steven Kent Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Folkendt Vineyard Livermore $65
Nice nose; sensuous, more grounded. Smoother tannins, bigger heavier wine than the former Steven Kent. What’s interesting is that they were made in exactly the same way, differing only in clone and vineyard

2011 Michael David Petit Verdot “Inkblot” Lodi $40
BBQ potato chips. Super dark. Sweet, elegant, complex. Someone said it was like “400-pound linebackers – big but light on their feet”

Favorites from Tasting #3
Gosh. We plowed our way through 15 different wines this night. Bill originally started off with 10 wines, but found a bottle of Edmunds St John Bone-Jolly 2011 that he wanted to add to the lineup. One of the people in the class also brought along 4 bottles from Scribe Winery that they’d opened and tasted at work a couple days before (ah to work for a wine distributor!).

Fulcrum Wines Pinot Noir Anderson Valley $54
I love me a good pinot, and this was up there. 777 and 115 clones. Black cherry, leather, anise, rose. Hamburger. Perfect cool summer evening’s wine. Brought the leftovers to Rickshaw, an Indonesian Restaurant down the street, and just luxuriated in its mouthfeel.

2011 Brassfield Estate Red Blend “Eruption” Volcano Ridge Vineyard High Valley $24
Mouthful of tannins. Somewhat citrusy, but with a minty lift at the end.

2010 Terre Rouge Syrah “Les Cotes de l’Ouest” CA appellation $20
Not bad, light-ish and bright. I wanted to pair it with some blood sausage, for some odd reason.

Honey Moon

harbor

I think it speaks to how brutal and unfriendly the weather has been in Chicago that when X came into town for the weekend, everyone she met remarked repeatedly – and I mean repeatedly – how lucky she is to have come in when she did. For the weather was absolutely beautiful. 70 degrees, cloudless brilliant blue skies.

X spent the day Friday exploring downtown and the river by herself. I met up with her in the evening after work, and we took a quick stroll up Michigan Avenue just so she could check that off the bucket list. But the highlight of the evening was, after dinner at La Ciudad – our staple Mexican joint – we went by Montrose Harbor to watch the sunset and the moon rise. Happily and fortuitously, the honey moon of June was rising, just 20 minutes after the sunset. A big group of people setting up their gigantic telescopes kind of clued us in.

We stuck around, alternately swatting off the bugs that descended on our bare flesh in the deepening twilight, and alternately snapping pictures of the skyline, until at last, we collectively spied a sliver of red creep up over the horizon. It was a beautiful sight to behold. There were half a dozen sailboats out on the water, and they flitted in and out of the glow of the orange moon as it slowly but surely rose higher and higher into the sky.

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So glad we got to share in that moment, especially after a week where the rain clouds hung obstinately low over the city, and on an evening when our friend was in town and we could properly showcase the city of Chicago. The group of folks with their huge telescopes, it turned out, were from the Chicago Astronomers Society, and they very kindly let everyone peek through their telescopes at the moon.

The skies were still a brilliant blue the next morning when we awoke – a perfect time for a spot of slack lining and flying trapeze. X was game enough to let me drag her into whatever I thought was cool, hehe! A couple other friends joined us for their first experience on the flying trapeze as well, and we passed two very pleasant hours on the lake front swinging into the net.

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I had a really lovely weekend in all; it’s always fun when friends visit, especially old friends like X who visited all the way from Thailand. We may have but few opportunities to catch up over the years since middle school, but thanks to social media, we’ve managed to keep more or less in touch with each other so that time seems to melt away. Hopefully we’ll have more such opportunities to meet up again in the future!

Journey to Middle America

Apart from the drive through Wisconsin and Minnesota, I think we quite enjoyed the rest of the driving. Which is fortunate, given that we did a lot of it. Through the width of South Dakota, much of Wyoming, a small silver of Idaho, and the width of Utah, Colorado and Kansas, and a portion of Missouri. We passed much of the time on the road listening to audio CDs: 1776 by David McCullough, a riveting account of how George Washington lead the Continental Army to war against the British; A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, a much entertaining take on how we and the world came to be; and Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham. That last audio book is nearly 19 hours long, and we reckon we still have about 3-4 more hours of it to get through, but it’s been a very detailed and insightful look at nearly every aspect of Jefferson’s fulfilling and long-lived life.

South Dakota

From Road Trip to Middle America: WI, SD, WY, ID, UT, CO, KS, MO

The landscape got more interesting once we hit the Badlands. We zipped through the park in a few hours. Because we had crammed so many destinations in, we never really had the luxury of spending much time in any one place but contented with a taster, if you will, of each. It was so hot and humid in the Badlands though, that we weren’t too excited about long walks anyway.

From Road Trip to Middle America: WI, SD, WY, ID, UT, CO, KS, MO

Visited Mount Rushmore National Monument in time for the evening video about the four presidents gracing the the face of the mountain. Apt, considering we’d just finished listening to the 1776 adventures of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

From Road Trip to Middle America: WI, SD, WY, ID, UT, CO, KS, MO

With just a couple of hours to spare before we had to hit the road towards Wyoming to get to K&D’s wedding, we did a quick drive through of Custer State Park, where we spent happy minutes photographing the herds of bison and burros clogging up the roads.

Wyoming

From Road Trip to Middle America: WI, SD, WY, ID, UT, CO, KS, MO

Made it just in time for the wedding. It was super fun and intimate and we enjoyed catching up with old college friends

From Road Trip to Middle America: WI, SD, WY, ID, UT, CO, KS, MO

Yellowstone National Park. Driving into the park from the west entrance, we passed Yellowstone Lake and were struck by how iced over the lake was still. We were caravaning with two other friends, H&P, who had also gone to K’s wedding and had three days to spend in Yellowstone and Tetons. Put our walkie talkies to good use, finally.

From Road Trip to Middle America: WI, SD, WY, ID, UT, CO, KS, MO

Easiest way to spot wildlife – look out for cars randomly parked by the side or the roads, or clumps of photographers with gigantic zoom lens staring intently into a same spot in the distance. Heck, we’re pretty lousy at spotting the animals ourselves otherwise – unless they walk right in front of our car…

From Road Trip to Middle America: WI, SD, WY, ID, UT, CO, KS, MO

As did this bull elk in the twilight

From Road Trip to Middle America: WI, SD, WY, ID, UT, CO, KS, MO

Everyone said while Yellowstone is teeming with wildlife and bubbling with geyers, it is the Grand Tetons that is the more stunning park. How true. The snow capped peaks rise sharply from the ground, and catch your eye where ever you are in the park. It was more fun – and satisfying though – to climb and close and personal to one of the peaks. We hired a guide and hiked up through swarths of snow covered terrain into Cascades Canyon. The serenity was startling. We saw a marmot basking in the sun, and another scamper across a treacherously steep gully that just minutes later we saw a mini avalanche of rock and snow roar down. The climbing, 6 pitches of it, was awesome

From Road Trip to Middle America: WI, SD, WY, ID, UT, CO, KS, MO

Glad we caught this (P and I did, while our partners continued to snore in bed)

From Road Trip to Middle America: WI, SD, WY, ID, UT, CO, KS, MO

Next stop, Utah. First through my 46th state, Idado! Yippee. Utah was super fun. M put us up in his roomy town home and brought us into the canyons nearby to climb. On the first day, we did a 4-pitch slabby 5.9+ route that I would have wet my pants had I tried to lead it, but it was super fun climbing. Most areas, we didn’t have any hands, but had to trust that the rough surface of the granite would be friction enough to see us up the wall.

From Road Trip to Middle America: WI, SD, WY, ID, UT, CO, KS, MO

In the evening, upon hearing that I’d still not yet seen a moose despite the past few days spent in Wyoming, M brought us into one of the many canyons for a sunset drive and hopefully moose spotting. As the sun dipped below the horizon, so did our expectations, but suddenly, M screeched his car to a halt by the side of the road and beckoned us to follow him. This young bull moose. :)

From Road Trip to Middle America: WI, SD, WY, ID, UT, CO, KS, MO

We wished we could have spent more time in Utah. Not just SLC itself, but definitely, most definitely, also Moab, home of the famed Arches National Park and Canyonlands. I see why Eug and all the other crack climbers are so hopelessly addicted to this place. And we had all of one evening and one early morning. We made the most of it though. Drove into the park right before sunset, and stayed till we couldn’t see anything anymore. And the next morning, drove back in again before the sun rose. I love summer.

From Road Trip to Middle America: WI, SD, WY, ID, UT, CO, KS, MO
From Road Trip to Middle America: WI, SD, WY, ID, UT, CO, KS, MO

Night photography fail. I used 400 ISO. Note to self – bump it up. Way up. Follow the 500 rule. Nonetheless, after the half moon set in the middle of the night, the blanket of stars and milky way was stunning to behold, especially when we rose bleary-eyed from our tent in the early hours of the morning

From Road Trip to Middle America: WI, SD, WY, ID, UT, CO, KS, MO
From Road Trip to Middle America: WI, SD, WY, ID, UT, CO, KS, MO
From Road Trip to Middle America: WI, SD, WY, ID, UT, CO, KS, MO

And then it was time to drive east again. Through the gorgeous Rocky ranges in Colorado, and into the flats of Kansas. We had been dreading the drive through Kansas, after the stunning geography of the past week, but a major storm system was passing through, and we had just the most spectacular cloud formations to behold. I felt like I was on the set of Twister.

From Road Trip to Middle America: WI, SD, WY, ID, UT, CO, KS, MO

Double rainbows – a wonderfully apt way to end a really fun road trip. Couldn’t have asked for more, really.