Lizzie on Location

High Altitude Drinking

May 10, 2010
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Oh beautiful Breckenridge.  How I love you.  All of your high altitude goodness.

Breckenridge

My little brother and his girlfriend “met” me on my road trip in Breck, CO.  They were going snowboarding, I was going to check out another spot on the map.  My knee injury still being new in combination with the years it has been since I have snowboarded collided with the biggest mountains I have seen in my adult life to make me fear boarding myself.  There are a few things that should be known about Breck.  The town itself is located in a “valley” if you can call it that.  The elevation of the town is 9,500 ish feet.  And believe me you can physically feel the altitude difference.  They say that the average traveller to Breck gets 1/3 less oxygen than they’re used to while visiting.  Just walking to the car will wipe you out let alone a days worth of skiing.  Alcohol effects you faster and harder as well…. or so they say.  I was about to put it to the test.

One of the first things I wanted to do when I got there was contact our families long time friends who spend their winters in Breck.  They have a home there and know the local area very well.  Additionally, they enjoy a good time and always have something exciting going on.  We were fortunate enough to accompany them to one of their favorite restaurants, South Ridge Seafood Grill.  Gus and Jan have very good taste in food and believe me we were not disappointed.  Even Jacki (my little bro’s gf) enjoyed the seafood; something that is not usual for her!  (That’s one way you know its good.)  Additionally, after having been gone from my comfort zone for so long, it was really nice to be around people I had known my whole life.

Cam, Me, Jacki, Gus, and Jan (from L to R)

I didn’t have much time in Breck because we had decided to go to Denver Saturday (they were leaving Sunday morning) to enjoy the city together.  But I did get the chance to go out on the town with my brother and some locals.  Our bartender at lunch on Friday filled us in on the night life of Breck.

For the life of me I can’t remember this bartenders name, but we call her “The Amazon” lovingly.  This is because she is amazonionly tall.  I am 5’9” and she was like 6’1”.  It’s rare that I feel or look small next to a female, but she was HUGE.

Me and the Amazon

The Amazon told us how the bar above where we were lunching had Ladies Night that night.  No cover, free drinks for ladies between 9-11 pm.  Well, they obviously had never met this girl, or they may never have offered such a ridiculous deal.  The Amazon warned me of how easy it was to get drunk at high altitude.  My brother and I had been taking car bombs to the face already and it was 1 pm.  I was up for this high altitude challenge.  I could barely breathe, but I knew I could drink.

My brother and his girlfriend were down for the challenge at 2 pm.  But by the time 9 pm came around, they had lost all of their rally.  I made them go with me to the free drinks and told them depending on if the Amazon was actually cool or not I would go with her and find a way home later.

After an hour of freely flowing booze everyone was cool.  (She was pretty legit in reality too though.)

My little brother went home.  I went out with the locals.

Random Baltimore Boy in CO

The Amazon drinks Jameson.  Funny enough I drink Jameson.

We began taking shots on top of the 4 drinks I had delivered to me for last “free drink” call.

Around 11 pm we walk to the local “club.”

I am teetering on black out drunk and beginning to feel loose lipped.

I am trying to order a drink at the bar and a boy slams into the back of me.  I spin around and say “What the fuck dude?  You can’t apologize?  You almost knocked me over!”

He apologizes, and I feel bad because he looked kind of offended.  So then I apologize and introduce myself.  He responds with “I’m Tony.”

Throughout the course of the night, I begin to see this “Tony” all over the bar.  EVERYONE knows this mild looking bearded fellow.

In my drunken haze, I can tell his name is not actually Tony though.  People keep calling him Ira.

hmmmmm.  I get mad.

I yell at him about what a dick I think he is that he would tell me a fake name when all I was trying to do was be cool with him. I am drunk and my point is not being conveyed clearly.  Now  I am mad that I can’t talk.  Maybe this high altitude is the problem.  Maybe its the fact I have been drinking for 12 hours.  Either way, I am feeling vulnerable to my drunkenness.

The bar closes, the Amazon wants me to come with her to some party.  I agree.

The Amazon has ulterior motives to this party.  I can tell. We are waiting for someone outside the bar to go to this party and its been a long while.  I am cold.

We finally get in the cab to go to this party and she decides she wants to “stop” by her house.

Basically, I think she wanted alone time with a boy and the only way was to go to a party at his house.  But thought if she had the cab stop at her house then he would just hang out there.

This was not the way I wanted to party.

After a bunch of drunk girl drama I do get to this party.  And its not a party.  It’s some scumbag snowboarders and me.  The only girl.  And now I am ready to go home.

Oh did I mention that I had no idea where I was at this time?  Nor did I have a working phone or money for a cab.  But I am the beast of the east with the mouth of the south and I was going to find a way home.

In walks the asshole from the bar who lied to me about his name.  This fucking guy was everywhere.

I promptly begin to plan my escape via this dudes vehicle.  He was also the only sober one.  Doesn’t drink and is still an asshole, just my luck right?

I ask him if he is willing to drive me home (honey vs. vinegar you know?)

He grumbles about how he thought I hated him.  I explain I don’t hate him he’s just a dick, but I have money, food, etc. at the house which I will gladly trade for a ride up the mountain.  He grudgingly agrees to do it for free.

Lizzie- 1

Lying Asshole- 0

The hang overs at high altitude are especially bad.  I personally can drink the same at 9+ thousand feet as I can at sea level.  But I will never subject myself to the pure horror that is waking up in Breck after drinking for 14 hours.  Never.

The trip down from the mountains to Denver was one of the scariest and most hair raising drives of my life due to the nature of my hang over.

Taking Car bombs with the little brosef

The Gondola up the mountain

Cam and Jacks in Breck

Me and Jacks with Breck behind us

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The Proper Way to Visit a Denny’s

May 10, 2010
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After my long detour through Nevada and another trip into Arizona, I was excited to get to Utah to see what the heck all the commotion was about this state.  Everyone I know that has been there says its one of the most beautiful states in the union.  I had wanted to take some time and see more than just what the highway had to offer as far as views.  But I was well behind schedule and my extra cash had gone to gas from driving extra miles.

Also, and I am sure my friends will be sad about this, but after having been in the desert and/or arid climates for a few weeks I was not nearly as impressed as I probably should have been.  It really is beautiful though and deserves more of my attention some other time.

Beautiful Utah

The point of this entry is to share a kind of funny tale with you.  So I am exhausted from having been driving all day and taking a detour to Las Vegas.  It was dark, in the high 20’s temperature wise, I was alone on the road, the highway kept twisting and turning through the mountains, and there were signs for ice.  Basically, I was cold, scared, and alone.  And it was kind of late, so I called my navigation specialist Alisa (in Detroit mind you) for her to investigate further what I had ahead of me as far as a drive.  I was on my way to Breckenridge Colorado, which is like 16 hours from Bishop, CA.

She told me that I was about to get to the last town for 120 miles.  Basically, I had to either sleep there or commit to another 2 hours.  I decided to sleep in this little town called Salina.

I had blown my hotel budget on gas, so I found a Super 8 with a Denny’s in the parking lot.  Denny’s is open 24 hours a day so I knew there would be people near at all times.  Super 8 offered a semi secluded parking lot with plenty of spaces.  So I did what any reasonable American would do, I brushed my teeth in Denny’s sink, washed my face, changed into my pajamas and once finished I parked my car near a street light in the corner of the Super 8 parking lot.  Then I climbed in my backseat and got a full nights rest.  7 hours to be exact.

When I woke up I was quite surprised to be surrounded by trucks without their trailers attached, apparently I had not been the only one with this idea.  But I hadn’t been bothered, so I was good to go.  I went back into Denny’s to plug my phone in, have some breakfast, and of course brush my teeth and wash my face and change back into daytime clothes.  This was literally the only time in my life when I have been to Denny’s sober.

The waitress was really nice even at 530 in the morning.  She was an avid bowler and it seemed like the only traveling she had ever experienced was with the Denny’s national bowling league.  The locals were nice too, although a bit creepy.  I was glad for her company.

Long story short, the Denny’s in Salina, UT can be used as a safe haven if need be. 😉

Utah Sights


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Detours in the Desert

May 10, 2010
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I decided to take the road less traveled on my way from California to Breckenridge Colorado for two reasons.  The first was that it was the shortest route that my main navigation team of Google Maps (powered by myself,) Alisa, and MapQuest (powered by Alisa) could find.  The second was because why on earth would you not literally take the road less traveled when you are leading a “road less traveled” lifestyle right?  Well this road less traveled was called Route 6 and it found its origins in Bishop, CA as it turned out.

*On a side note Route 6 used to be the longest highway in America stretching from someplace in Massachusetts to some Pacific coast city in Cali.  Cali shut down the portion west of Bishop though so now that is its end, or beginning if you are heading east! 😉

Basically route 6 cuts across the upper portion of Nevada into Utah and has NOTHING there.  Every book or resource about it urges you to fill up with gas whenever you see it.  There is like a 300 mile stretch with NOTHING.  Like absolutely NOTHING.

I cannot comment on that because while I was updating my mom on my route and checking in with her I missed the turn off that route 6 makes in nowhere Nevada and ended up driving 90 miles out of my way towards Las Vegas before I realized the error of my ways.

I ended up driving through Las Vegas which was something I was really trying to avoid.  Not just because I hate Vegas, but because it was like 4 hours or more out of my way.  Fuck my life right?  I would usually say yes to a question like this.  But I saw a real live brothel.  With free parking for trucks overnight!! How exciting right?  🙂

A real Nevada brothel

Well and Nevada actually had beautiful geologic features along the way!

gorgeous striped rocks

And I totally forgot the best part….  I “got” to drive though Arizona again, which is exactly how I wanted to spend another day of my trip heading north east!  But actually it was one of the most memorable and beautiful drives of the trip.  I wish I could share in pictures what it was like but I was careening through canyons and felt like taking pictures simultaneously would be bad for my health.


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Californication

May 10, 2010
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Near Mount Whitney

My trip to Bull Head City ended in a hangover, which I drove off by way of a trip across the desert to California.  Not like Hollywood or even San Fran.  Nope.  My one and only stop in Cali was the Eastern Sierras.  Bishop to be exact, a small town just south of Mammoth Lakes in the Owens Valley.  This was the first time I had been to California and it was not at all what I expected.

The Inyos, the mountain range that runs east of the Owens Valley

First of all, after having spent what felt like weeks in the desert (in reality it was just barely one week) I was excited to get to Bishop where surely at 4,000 feet in elevation and nestled in the Sierras it would be green.  Well, not exactly.  It was MUCH greener than Phoenix, Bull Head City, Death Valley, and some of the other places I drove through to get there; but it was not a lush forest.  As I climbed north as well as higher in elevation I waited and waited for the tree line.  And then I was in Bishop.  And the tree line never came.

This was to be my first lesson in California topography and landscape.  I literally had no idea that it was an arid climate.  I expected trees everywhere.  I mean my friend works for the forest service and her friends fight wildfires.  It is easy to assume that there is a forest given the little information I was going off of.  Kim must have laughed at me a million times for my astonishment at the reality of Bishop.

As I headed north through the Valley I spotted what looked like salt flats to me.  Now, admittedly I do not nor did I know much about the geography of California; especially the Eastern Sierras.  However, I was pretty sure there were no natural salt flats, and the expanse of this particular one was alarming.  I had to find out more.

Owens Lake... Well what remains of it.

Upon my arrival one of the first questions I had for Kim was if I had indeed seen slat flats and whether they were indeed natural or not.  Kim explained that those salt flats are a huge controversy there in the Owens Valley.  What I had seen was the Owens Lake (Lake Owens?)  Apparently, the county of LA has been buying up property throughout the state for its adjoining water rights.  Long ago (pretty sure within the last 100 years though) they had purchased land (not sure how much) adjacent to the lake and began pumping the water out of the lake to provide drinking water to LA.  No surprise to anyone with some environmental knowledge that soon the lake dried up leaving a toxic salt flat in its place.  LA county continued to move north draining more of the valleys lakes until the local population had had enough and began fighting back.  However, the environmental damage of the draining of Owens Lake has been done and like the rest of the world’s fresh waterways that have dried up from human mismanagement, California is left with a huge disaster that needs to be dealt with.  And yet somehow, even though my degree is directly related to the study of this I had never heard of it. That is the true disaster of the situation, that informed American’s don’t know about this nor is it at the front of our concerns nationally.

Environmental Degradation of the Owens Lake CA

I arrived the Saturday before Easter and was welcomed into California with tickets to see the Banff Film Festival which was touring in Bishop that weekend.  Being that I was born just outside of Banff, it was exciting to see something from the area where I entered the world.  There were a ton of really cool short films, but the one that stuck out the most in my mind was a documentary done by a Brit who rode a tandem bike from the arctic circle in Alaska to the very tip of Argentina.  He chose the tandem bike for the opportunity to make friends while completing the challenge.  It took him 2 years.  I could understand some of the feelings he had experienced during the trek.  Like loneliness for example.  However, I would face like 11 hours of loneliness; he experienced 3 weeks at a time.  Oh and I was driving 10,000 miles and he was biking like 29,000.  But these are minor details.

Kim's Neighborhood in Bishop, CA

Bishop itself is a small town, with just 3,000 people.  But it is one of the cutest little places in the country and has tons of great local shops.  The population is also very passionate about shopping local and supporting local economy.  This was a refreshing change to much of the country where WalMart and big chains are the everyday places to go.  There are tons of great little restaurants that use local products as well as many thriving galleries.  The Owens Valley is so beautiful there are countless opportunities for artists to create beautiful interpretations of the surrounding landscapes.  There is also one of the best used book stores I have ever seen.  It’s reasonably priced and has a HUGE selection.  Oh and in typical style, it snowed while I was in Cali.  Yes, I realize I am probably one of the only people who would go to California not expecting to see snow and then have that happen (remember Atlanta?)

North end of Bishop CA (it had snowed while I was there)

Bishop is also home to cowboys and some major federal land management departments in addition to artists.  The Feds and the cowboys apparently are at opposing ends on the debate over how to properly use and manage land.  One thing they can both agree on though is that developing it or letting LA have their water is a non option.

Picturesque!

While in California I experienced minor dehydration and elevation sickness (probably due to the dehydration.)  I had no idea what was wrong with me.  It felt like I was car sick when I was still and not moving.  It was horrible.  But a little water and some sleep was all I needed to put me back in the game.  This was not the first time I had experienced dehydration while on a major vacation…. There is a running joke between my little brothers girlfriend and him that I always go so hard on vacation that I get deathly ill upon my return.  My sickness came on a day when I had planned to go to the Japanese Internment Camp in the area for a little historical lesson.  Unfortunately I missed out on that trip.

There is SO much to do in the Eastern Sierras between the natural setting and the historical sites that a person could spend years discovering it all.  I had a few days and made the natural hot springs in the area my priority.  I had never been to hot springs and know that many of them are too hot to sit in or have now been funneled into bath houses worldwide.  Kim and her friends took me to the hot springs down the road from them.  It was about 40 degrees out that night and I was under the impression that these springs would be deep like a hot tub and HOT.  In reality they were shallow like a bath tub and fairly warm but not as hot as the temperature I would have had drawn my own bath water to.  And while it sounds like I am complaining, I am not exactly.  It was really cold and windy the night we went and that didn’t help to make me comfortable in reality.  However, I have to say that if it had been 10+ degrees warmer I would have been as happy as a pig in shit there.  It’s amazing.  You drive not far off the main highway and bam, you are in the middle of hot springs that are free and open to the public.  The best thing is there really isn’t any signage so its mainly locals that go.  The backdrop surrounding you is amazing, but the water is diverted during the day to a bath house and you are charged for sitting in hot water that can be freely accessed after dark naturally.

Eastern California is beautiful and has tons to offer any traveller.  Don’t think you will be alone even south of Tahoe and Mammoth.  Bishop has so much to offer that people from all walks of life and interested in all types of activities come to Bishop, if just to stop for lunch on their way north for ski vacations.


Lions Fan’s welcome in Bullhead City

May 5, 2010
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After the Grand Canyon I drove to Bullhead City Arizona.  This little gem on the border of Nevada and Arizona is home to seedy motels, a Home Depot, and the classy “Chilis” restaurant.  More importantly it is the home of O’Leary’s Pub.  More on that later.

So I check in to this “value” motel.  Called the Nevada Club Inn or something to that effect.  I should have turned around and walked away when the front desk worker was an older man with a black eye.  What kind of 50ish year old man gets a black eye?  I suspect he was a victim of domestic abuse.  I should have again turned around and walked away when I asked if I could switch from the non smoking room I had to a smoking room and he gave me an ashtray and said “it’s cool.”  This was obviously not the upstanding place that I originally thought it was (for $50/night hehehe.)  Finally, I asked him if there was a place I could walk to and get a beer and some food because I do not drink and drive.  He replied that there was a Chili’s 1/2 a mile down the road.  I asked about O’Leary’s Pub across the street and his response was “Well Chili’s is a lot classier.”  Classy?  Chili’s?  Bitch Please!!  Should have again turned and walked out the door.  Instead I went to my room….

And here’s the reason I DID turn around and leave this scumbag motel:  I pulled the sheets back and I swear to fucking God…. there was a BIG bug.  Not big like roach big.  But big like beetle big.  Either way it was enough for me to turn around and gather my belongings and demand a refund.  Honestly though, and lets keep it real, is there any size bug that is acceptable?  Not for this girl.

The worst part is, oh and it does get worse, when I approached the domestic case at the front desk about getting a refund because I was not going to stay in this shit hole and when I explained to him the reason he made no argument.  He didn’t even try and comfort me to tell me that was unusual.  WTF!!!???  Moral of the story you ask?  Never go to the Nevada Club Inn in Bull Head City AZ.

I did end up in a gutter motel…. but at least there were no bugs.  For under $50 a night, you don’t get much.

Now, onto the fun part.

O’Leary’s is a darling little hole in the wall establishment is not fine dining.  It really isn’t even nice dining.  But for 7 dollars you get a Miller Lite and a shot of Jameson.  That’s a damn good deal.  Ask around.  People will agree.

I was hesitant to go into this establishment given the amount of meth addicts in the south west.  However, I needed a beer and some food and there was a truck with a Detroit Lions sticker on it in the parking lot.  I figured if there was a Lions fan than it had to be a pretty legit bar and I had happened to wear my Detroit Lions tee shirt that night (mostly because when you tell people you’re from Detroit they get a little scared…. even if you are a white girl and I like to play my strengths.)  I really enjoyed myself and the local population.  The bartender was from the Dee and she looked after me, something I needed given the fact that I was alone drinking in a city where I knew no one for at least 300 miles.

I began to drink with the locals and soon met the owner of the bar.  A dear old man.  He was an old Laguna Beach surfer.  Well before the times of “The Laguna Beach.”  Back when it was shacks and grungy surfers.  He also had grand kids my age so we chatted for awhile and he bought my shots and we tied one on.  I also drank with some other regulars who were quite interested in my travels.  One of them was kind of a dick, and I reveled in telling him so!  He told me I was loud and annoying (like he was the first person to say that.)  I like when people say what’s on their mind though, even if keeping it real can sometimes go wrong.  The other guy was very nice and said I could call him anytime between Cali and Iowa City if I was in trouble and he would come and help me.  Being a good judge of character, I took it as American kindness and not creepy old guyness.  Fortunately I didn’t need to call him.  Or AAA for that matter. 😉

Long story short, do go to O’Learys.  Do not go to Nevada Club Inn.  Bull Head City has a rubber duck regatta in the summer on the Colorado River.  Its a custom tube float and sounds phenomenal.  If I could continue back out west I know I would go. 🙂


Lizzie at the Grand Canyon

May 4, 2010
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The Beautiful Grand Canyon!!

The Grand Canyon is a place i have wanted to visit since I was a young child.  However, Disney World was also a place I wanted to go as a little girl and never made it there either.  That’s the beauty of being an adult.  Now I get to choose where I go, so I skipped Disney World and instead went to one of the seven wonders of the world.  And really, it was everything and nothing that I expected.  I don’t mean to make it sound less than it was.  Cause it most certainly is not something you could define as less than impressive and amazing.  I just didn’t really know what to expect I guess.

For starters, how do you border off a huge canyon?  I couldn’t figure that out to save my life!  Second, I could have never guessed there were pretty major differences between the north and south sides.  Third, the coordination of the National Park Service to shuttle all kinds of people around the rim of the canyon is somewhat of a miracle.  And for some reason I never really thought it could snow there.   For these reasons in addition to the wonder and amazement of the canyon itself I was caught off guard a bit.

Flagstaff AZ

I left Phoenix at 430 in the morning and the temperature was like 60 degrees.  Arriving in Flagstaff, AZ it was 27 degrees and 8 am.  The rim of the Grand Canyon never got above 50 degrees the whole time I was there. Oh and there was snow. lol.  Freaking snow.  The disgusting stuff follows me everywhere I go, I swear. I think a lot of northerners, like myself, (or yankees to you racist southerners) believe that no matter what time of year, anywhere in Arizona will be hot.  Like disgustingly hot.  I think we forget to factor in elevation and to realize how big AZ actually is.  I sure did and was royally surprised at the climate changes that happen within that one state.

Pointing out where I be at in the GC visitor's center

The Grand Canyon itself is not the biggest canyon in the world.  Nor is it the deepest.  But you can see 4 billion years of rock in that thing and that is pretty damn awesome.  I recalled from my experience in Shenendoah and discussing the finer points of geology with hill billys and religious zealots the amount of people who would combat the dates of the geologic formations.  To my surprise, I didn’t hear one asshole disagree with the park ranger about the dates of the Earth’s conception.  It was one of the prouder times of my American life.

However, I must say, if you have taken a college level geology class, then you have learned pretty much everything the park rangers are going to tell you about the geology…. which to me is quite unfortunate.  But whatevs…… they gear it for kids and dumb people.

Oh Grand Canyon. How I heart you!

My pride for the American people quickly ended once I got on the trail when a wretched and wicked young boy began running in inappropriate places, pulling plants out, hitting anything in sight and screaming.  Oh did I mention he was at least 9 years old?  Well he was; old enough to know better.  Best part, his bimbo mother calls him over to look at this “amazing huge black bird”  a bird “that must be rare cause she had never seen any such thing.”  The bird was a fucking Raven.  A God Damn Raven.  I am NOT a birder.  I am NOT a biologist.  However, I am familiar with the common birds whose native lands are the entire United States.  You know, like Robins, Blue Jays, Owls, and Ravens.  I almost threw up in my mouth listening to her and her terrorist spawn.

"hanging" out at the Grand Canyon

Back on the bus I made the trip to the points of the canyon where you can actually see the Colorado River.  On the Travel Channel and such, the Colorado looks powerful, huge, and surly.  From the rim, the Colorado looks like a creek.  But you actually can hear the rapids which is pretty amazing.

The Colorado... life blood of the Grand Canyon

The only unappealing thing about the GC is to hike to the bottom means you have to hike down first and up second.  That my friends is not how I like to roll.  I prefer to hike up and be rewarded for my labor by a lovely and much easier stroll back down.  But I would have done at least a little of it had I not destroyed my knee in Phoenix.

Whoa!! Don't be one of the 300 who fall in each year!!

Pictures are worth more than a thousand words….. well I have typed a few less.  But even my eloquent way with words can’t do justice to the pictures.  And the pictures can’t do justice to the real deal holyfield.

Geologist's wet dream


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About author

To begin with, this is not for baby ears or the weak. By baby ears I mean people with sensitivity issues and the under 18 crowd. I am crass and if you are easily offended by my language and/or opinions and/or comments and/or behavior, you can get the fuck over yourself..... (sorry mom and anyone else who loves me but wishes my mouth was less filthy.)

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