New York Newbie

Before visiting New York City for the first time ever (yes, at 32 I’d never been to the Big Apple) I heard so many things – “you never forget your first visit to New York City” or “there is no place in the world like New York City” or ‘insert cliché heartwarming quote’.  I was skeptical.  I thought – I’m more of a small-town guy.  I prefer wide open spaces and the fresh morning air of the North Cascades. It will be fun to see NYC, but it won’t have the prolific impact on me that it seems to have on every person around me who has been.

Well, I can say with complete certainty that every sentiment, every sparkle of excitement expressed by friends and family and every corny little tidbit I endured, is absolutely true!! New York City is awesome!!! It sounds ridiculous, but New York City reminded me of how extraordinary life is –  who would’ve guessed?  I reacquainted myself with the parts of humanity that I value so much – spending a morning (well, my mornings began at noon) at the Museum of Modern Art.  Slowly making my way through the multiple floors of 20,000 pieces of contemporary photographs and abstract paintings.

Gazing out over some of the tallest buildings in the world, beautiful parks and impressive infrastructure in Manhattan from the 102th floor of the Empire State Building. The habitat we’ve created for ourselves is undeniably remarkable.  Amazing feets of engineering, urban development and human ingenuity are on display from this astounding view.

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South view of NYC’s financial district from the Empire State Building

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North view from the Empire State Building

 

Sitting in the heart of the concrete jungle is Central Park.  Beautiful, lively and 834 acres of admired urban park. Where else in the world does this exist in the middle of a concrete jungle? I was fortunate enough to stay 2 blocks from Central Park south where I could easily make my way in for a 5-mile run, which could have easily been extended another 10 had I felt the determination.  The scenery certainly presents a case for continuation.

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Looking east over the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

Beyond the sites, my travel companion and I embraced the authentic vibe of the city.  New York is a place you can truly let loose.  I’ll spare you the juicy details, but we went out in Hell’s Kitchen every night.  Not returning home until after 2am.  The energy of New York City’s night life is a captivating one.  Real people, inviting bars, and street food that’ll have you emptying your wallet for more.

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Flat Iron Building – Chelsea

 

I planned this trip with the preconceived notion that being a tourist in the city is not my jam.  That it will be interesting, but ultimately something I can check off the bucket list and move on.  It was not the case.  I came away knowing that New York City is no ordinary city. It’s thriving with entertainment, art, culture and ingenuity. New York City left me feeling like I was experiencing life, in a way life is meant to be experienced – with complete appreciation for the creative, fun and beautiful things human being are able to create. I love New York City.

A weekend at Mt. Bachelor

Last month I made the snowy journey south from Seattle to Mt. Bachelor.  Situated within the Deschutes National Forest in the scenic Cascade Range of central Oregon.  I cannot emphasize enough how treacherous the roads were this trip, especially because we first stopped in north eastern Oregon to see some family for a delayed Christmas gathering.  This positioned us back tracking west along the Columbia River Gorge and then south on highway 97 through central Oregon. Fortunately, I’m traveling in what some have described as a house on wheels. The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon has been outfitted with a wench, steel bumpers, auxiliary lighting and a pop up camper top accessible from inside or outside the vehicle (soon to have additional water storage, built in cabinetry and I’m sure many more fun additions.  The camper top is equipped with built in mattress, battery power lighting and USB plug ins.  The canvas sides zip open much like a tent where you can choose to let fresh air come through the screens, or keep them up, which is pretty much how they stay in the chilly winter months.

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Highway 97 – Mt Hood 

After safely driving almost 460 miles (Seattle -> Hermiston -> Bend) we finally reached the Deschutes National Forest area. One place I look forward to visiting every year is the town of Bend, Oregon.  Located approximately 23 miles east of Mt. Bachelor, Bend is a wonderland of craft brewing.  It is home to such breweries as 10 Barrel Brewing Co, Deschutes Brewing, Crux Fermentation Project and Boneyard Beer Co.  Craft beer makes my heart happy and Bend has the best of it.  After a frothy beverage at a new favorite – Good Life Brewery, it was time to find the perfect place to camp for the night.  Given the sun had already set and the icy road conditions, we decided to drive about 3 miles outside the city to a trail head parking lot.  Any access to hiking trails were buried in several inches of snow and had to yet been traversed by hikers or snowshoers.  As there were no signs of life, traffic or company in the area we decided to pop the top and turn in for the night.

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The Jeep parked at the trail head, first morning

 

The following two days were devoted to hitting the slopes.  The mountain is 9,065 feet high and totes 4,300 acres of skiable terrain.  Central Oregon is known for having numerous sunny winter days, so we were graced with gorgeous 360 views.  Looking north offers views of both South Sister Peak and Broken Top Peak.  With 101 runs one can always find new runs to explore.

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Mid mountain east view

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South Sister, North Sister & Broken Top 

With great weather, unlimited outdoor entertainment, and the best beer in the region, the Deschutes National Forest is a place I never want to leave, in fact, it’s where I hope to retire.  But until that day comes, I’ll keep trekking to this beautiful treasure of the Pacific Northwest.

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Sunrise at Mt Bachelor snow park, morning 2

 

 

Christmas in Kicking Horse

What can I say about Kicking Horse other than: IT WAS AMAZING.  My boyfriend and I took a road trip from our hometown of Seattle, to the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden, BC. about 160 kilometers east of Revelstoke and about 90 kilometers west of Banff National Park.  Some of Canada’s greatest outdoor treasures surround this charming resort nestled along the north end of the “Powder Highway.”

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Kaine and myself.  Two dudes in a big red chair.

For 3 days we took on Kicking Horse.  I on my snowboard, my boyfriend on his skis.  We experienced some of the best powder my board has ever seen.  The runs were long.. like several miles long, resulting in some truly sensational hillside shredding.  My biggest gripe about snowboarding is that the runs are too short.  You spend 30 minutes standing in line and riding to the top of the mountain, for say, 10 minutes of bombing down the hill.  Sure it’s fun, but I want like, 3 times that amount of time! Or more! And Kicking Horse certainly delivered.

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About to hit the Flying Dutchman

The views are definitely those that make you feel like a tiny speck of dust in comparison to the enormity of everything around you.  If you ride the Golden Eagle Express to the top of the mountain you’ll see Blue Heaven Peak to your right and Terminator 1 and Terminator 2 to your left (T1 & T2).  T1 is behind me in the picture above and T2 is to its left out of the shot.  These slopes require some hiking to reach the appropriate drop in point as not to go over large mountain rocks, but they are apparently the cat’s meow of the inbounds skiing at Kicking Horse.  Unfortunately for you and me, I was way too timid to strap out and make the trek into T1 & T2’s precipitous shadow to hit these runs.

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Looking east to the Canadian Rocky Mountains at the top of Eagle Eye.

Kicking Horse is 60% intermediate or advanced level ski and snowboard terrain.  With 120 runs, 48 of them are black or double black diamond.   This means we never got bored, even after 3 days on the mountain we were still finding new runs to explore.  Another surprising and overall exciting fact of our time at Kicking Horse is that we’d go out for a few more runs after spending an hour or so warming up in the lodge over lunch and a jug of beer (not necessarily warming) and we would still find bowls, basins and tree skiing that were untouched and serving up that “champagne powder” at 2pm.

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As the title states, while we were here Christmas was happening, therefore the soundtrack to our Canadian snow adventure includes Idina Menzel & Michael Bublé’s Baby, It’s Cold Outside and Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You. These were played over the resort’s sound system all over the outdoor space.   And that it’s, basically. Those two songs will forever be engrained in my head as the Christmas in Kicking Horse songs.

We enjoyed a Christmas Dinner Special at the Eagle Eye Restaurant located atop the mountain. The idea was cool, the food wasn’t memorable and the Gondola ride to the top and back down was FREEZING! But, all in all, it was a Christmas (dinner) I’ll always remember, so it was worth it..and I’ll be dreaming Canadian champagne powder for weeks to come.

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