Whistler of a View

Every job has its perks, mine of course is the travel. At least we see it as a perk. So many of our favorite places were tour stops. Often we don’t take all of our vacation time because the tours end up in a location that we find interesting and enjoy our downtime. Whistler is definitely one of these.

During our weeklong stay in British Columbia we took full advantage of surroundings. This world-class ski community becomes a wild mountain biking destination during the summer. Not that I was up for biking, but I did truly enjoy the life rides that are kept open for riders and tourists. Unfortunately the day we went to the top the peeks were socked in. It’s hard to show how vast the views are but I hope you still enjoy some of our shots.

The hiking at the peeks is fantastic but chilly.

The only wild thing I did was white water rafting, now that was fun. No pics from that.

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Monumental Montana

Each year I publish a list of all the states we visit and note when any are a first time. Next January there will be another one nocked off of list of 50. I have now been to Montana, stopping in Missoula. This leave just Alaska, Hawaii and Idaho for me: Josh has just Alaska left. It’s hard to believe that I have not been to Big Sky Country before; Josh has a handful of relatives here. We crossed to border in Northern Wyoming and the “Welcome” sign was too small to snap a picture but I did see it.

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Two days is not nearly long enough to actually explore Missoula but we tried. After meeting up with Josh’s cousin, Caleb, a visit to his neighborhood bar was in order. However, lucky for us it not just a bar but actually a microbrewery. The town is full of them; we have certainly not been to another town where you can hope on your bike and head a few blocks down for a local pint. The first one we visited was Drought Works packed with families. After a few tastings it was time to experience downtown and it’s unique nightlife. Just like us Caleb enjoys a good vino as much as a good brew. At The Red Bird Wine Bar we had the pick of delicious tapas and some featured wines.

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Even after staying up until the wee hours of the morning, to solve the world’s problems, day two had more in store for us. A favorite local activity for a lazy day was to tube on the Missoula River. Most of our compatriots back in Illinois have probably gone tubing before but this was my first time. Oh my was it fun, just bobbing around like a cork telling stories. A quiet dinner and more fellowship our time in Montana drew to an end.

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The best way to end our monumental trip to Montana was to exit into Idaho! I guess this leaves just two!

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Amsterdam Castle

While we usually stay at major hotel chains; every once in a while we will try something different. Usually this happens when the “different” is the only option in town. In our experience Bed & Breakfasts have small rooms and we can’t follow the meal times because of work schedule. The more fun places to stay usually don’t allow dogs either. When I was looking for a place to stay in Amsterdam, NY the options were pretty limited, America’s Best Inn or a place called Amsterdam Castle. Yeah, guess which one I wanted, the low-end chain or a castle!!!

While there was information about them being dog friendly to be found on the web I still wanted to make sure and a phone call later that was confirmed. What was also confirmed that the innkeepers would be away on vacation during the dates we wanted to stay. Now this is a true testament to the love The Phemister family has for their local library, knowing why we were in town they made arrangements for someone else to stay with us in the house. Amsterdam Castle is actually a former National Guard fort; this includes a huge gym, guess which room Pippi enjoyed most.

Ultimate game of fetch

Our suite inside the castle was HUGE! Not only was it two rooms but the living room actually had a small dining area. I wish we had been there for a week instead of just a few nights. Oh and the bathroom, total glam including a craw-foot tub to soak the stresses of a day away. Staying at a place like this was such a welcome break from our normal everyday routine. Gave us a chance to slow down and enjoy the beauty of this small town.

Can you have a castle without some dead critters?

On our way to Portland, ME we actually passed the Amsterdam Castle’s twin, a fort still use by the New York National Guard.

Billiards Anyone?

The main dining room

Whadda CAVE!!!

Now that we have gone fully “barefoot”, what I mean is that I no longer use tennis shoes anymore, just my Merrell Barefoot shoes; it was time for another test. As you might recall we somewhat foolishly took a 4 mile hike before we were ready, well weeks later our feet and muscles have been transitioned. This weekend we traveled to Mammoth Cave to take a four-hour, four mile underground tour. This was my first spelunking trip and we picked a “difficult” one to get a little challenge and exercise. I say difficult but we didn’t squeeze into any holes or have to crawl, just ducked once. The difficulty rating was from the elevation changes. We looked into one of the more intense tours but one required you to shimmy through 47 inch openings, which would be a little tight for Josh.

I’m going to be honest here, by the end I was ready to be done. The inside of a cave only has so much draw for me. I know many of my twitter and blog friends are going to hate hearing that, sorry Ree. The first half of the tour is a trek to the in cave dining room. Just a tip for Vegetarians, consider packing in your lunch. After a little breather we were back at it. Onto the harder part of the journey; the pace becomes faster, climbs steeper and closer together. We also transitioned into the wetter parts of the cave, with slippery rocks, bugs and oh so cool dripping water. The entire trip culminates with a walk up and down 46 steps to view an area called Frozen Niagara from all angles.

We had a great time trying to figure out how to take shots in the low light and not looking like dudes stopping to pose. Oh and the shoes, my legs are sore today but no more than they would be had I worn heavy stiff boots. Survey says, GO BAREFOOT!!!!!!!!

***This blog is not sponsored by or connected to Merrell/Wolverine Shoe company.  I simply believe in the product and wish to share my experiences.***

Doing Asheville

I feel like a bad blogger, I was so excited to talk about Asheville, NC that I lost a little focus on my Travel Tuesday post. I was planning to talk about how we sit around at times and imagine what it would be like to live in a town again. To have friends over, find a local bar, how we choose the towns that make our list. I also wanted to mention that we recently have thought about it more. It is just stress, we’re not leaving the road.

Asheville was crazy, so many good beers, so much music. We had unforgettable experiences there. I want to share with you all some videos and photos that other great folks from Asheville took. Not only did we dig the town but met some great folks.  I am still imaging hanging out with friends at Jack of the Wood or going back to the Wedge Brewing  Company on Sundays.  We miss you Asheville, we miss you.

While we were watching that amazing Abigail Washburn her bass player had a very tragic accident.

I want to extent a very special thanks to Gary Reckard for sharing links and images from that night!!!!!

In My Bare Feet

If you looked at the images here before reading, you’re probably wondering why I’m taking photos of shoes. Especially since I don’t often promote products here. This isn’t really a promotion but more of an explanation, we have started going Barefoot.

I’m sure you have seen those funky shoes that go between people’s toes around, yeah I think they are weird too. However we been reading a great deal about the Barefoot running movement and the recent availability of shoes. Think super lightweight compact-able shoes. Great for someone living from a suitcase.

After finding out more about Merrell’s new Barefoot running shoes we decided to at least try them on. That task alone turned out to be a little difficult. The shoes are not widely available, it took us about three weeks to be near a dealer. Oh and what a dealer we found, this amazing outfitter in Ocala Florida. Needless to say we didn’t just get the shoes. I digress; there is also a training program for the shoes, to get you used to the unique stresses.

We diligently followed the program until the hike that we took these shots at presented itself. Five miles was a bit too long for beginners. But who cares we had a blast trying to take “product” shots.

I’ve got to share with you how much both Josh and I love our Barefoots. He wears his all the time, after wearing dress shoes all day it feels great to slip into these. I am still amazed at how good my legs and feet feel, and how enjoyable walks are. Plus they take up so little room in my suitcase, less than slippers. Now we are still in training, but if you are at all interested in going Barefoot go try the Merrell variety.

***This blog is not sponsored by or connected to Merrell/Wolverine Shoe company.  I simply believe in the product and wish to share my experiences.***