Spientia et Fortidudo

         And welcome to the city that almost killed me. Mariah lost her wallet within the first hour of arriving in Rome, Italy, and it only got more fun from there. After spending a good amount of time in (and looking for the) polizia station, we were on our way to our hostel… except the buses to get there were shut down for the night and it was 30 miles away. We finally managed to get close to the hostel, but when we called to ask for directions from the intersection, the Italian speaking host tried very hard to convince us that it was imperative that we “stay;” he came to get us. Our later couchsurfing host, Christian, told us that the place were stay at was known for it’s high crime rate. We were there at 1:30 am. Oh bug. 

 

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

 

 

         Needless to say, we survived, but Rome had a few more tricks up it’s sleeve. After being silly and running around, pretending to be statues, I carelessly ran across what I thought was a one way street only to find out how wrong. 

 

Biomimicry at it's best.

Biomimicry at it's best.

    I now know that life does not flash in front of these eyes when death comes a knockin’. Okay, it was not life or death, but I did get hit by the car and I am still amazed that there was no real damage (save a tire mark on my leg). Oh well, we pressed on to day two.

 

The skylight of St. Mary's Basilica. It made delicious designs on the timeline laden marble floor.

The skylight of St. Mary's Basilica. It made delicious designs on the timeline laden marble floor.

     There wasn’t a lot of damage done on day two… until I decided to follow Mariah up a stick infested hill as opposed to taking the more sturdy stair route. I think the scar that is engraved on my leg might disappear in a year or so. 

 

Proof that Ancient Rome was better than the 2.0 version.

Proof that Ancient Rome was better than the 2.0 version.

         The sights of old Rome helped to heal the wounds, but I can only dream about what it would have been like to see these places on their own time. 

 

Made for Mariah.

Made for Mariah.

         I wasn’t the only one to cave under Rome’s pressure. The fellow tourists sure got a show as Mariah tripped and tangled her way through the Vatican City Museums. I saw this sign just before we made it to the Sistine chapel… and just as Mariah’s feet decided to take another step without the rest of her in tow. 

 

The Wrath: The Complete Series

The Wrath: The Complete Series

 

Adonis and Evelyn? Either way, they messed up.

Adonis and Evelyn? Either way, they messed up.

 

A favorite.

A favorite.

 

Even the Italian metro systems were covered in art!

Even the Italian metro systems were covered in art!

      The third day in Rome was much better and I almost got out scathe -free. The curb just popped up out of nowhere and attacked my ankle! At least it helped us to decide where to eat: I fell onto a restaurant patio.

 

Pocket-size-Ryan even got to join us on our adventures!

Pocket-size-Ryan even got to join us on our adventures!

 

Keep your panties on, and welcome to the Pantheon!

Keep your panties on, and welcome to the Pantheon!

         We learned some valuable lessons in Rome like ignore those who stare, ignore those who talk at you, ignore those who are rude… Oh, and that the Pantheon was created 5,000 years ago and survived the times because it was a pagan temple before Constantine altered the religious sway.

 

Raphie's resting room.

Raphie's resting room.

         At least I didn’t fall to the same fate as Raphael while in Rome. Rumor has it, the city was only trying to sabotage my stay because it wanted to keep me there (albeit six feet under…).

16 July 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Europe, Hiking/Backpacking. Leave a comment.

More Cow Bell!

         And here we arrived. In beautiful Geneva, Switzerland. The locals we so friendly and our couchsurfing host, Jullianne, was incredible. She fed us and kept us occupied as we explored the city. This was my first experience with couchsurfing, and I couldn’t have had a better host. On the first morning, we ate at the bakery where Julianne worked (delicious apricot cheese danish and some fresh fresh squeezed orange juice… yum!), and then headed into explore the city. Luckily, we were staying in the countryside, so we had a nice little walk to the bus stop on which we met these lovely ladies…

 

Cows. Bells. Switzerland.

Cows. Bells. Switzerland.

 

The wine vineyards just behind Julianne's apartment in the countryside. We never got to try any, but rumor has it that it's wonderful.

The wine vineyards just behind Julianne's apartment in the countryside. We never got to try any, but rumor has it that it's wonderful.

         On the last night, we got to take a walk with Julianne and Athos (her little Yorkie dog named after one of the three musketeers) and saw a beautiful lightning storm rolling over the Swiss Alps.  The clock below was one of several dozen we saw in the city. Some were sun-dials, some were brick, stone, yellow, black, artsy, expensive…

The world famous flower garden clock in Geneva's city center. It took us three passes before we finally found it. Turns out, all we had to do was look for the Chinese people. The gathered there in clustered hundreds, camera and case in hand.

The world famous flower garden clock in Geneva's city center. It took us three passes before we finally found it. Turns out, all we had to do was look for the Chinese people. They gathered there in clustered hundreds, stealthily wielding cameras and making peace signs.

 


Chateau de Chillon

This is the Chateau de Chillon just outside of Montreux. Historians say that the beginnings of the castle date back 1,000 years, but it's prime was in the 1300s. Lord Byron made this famous in his poem "The Prisoner of Chillon."

 

Me and Mariah on the bridge that leads to nowhere... but is connected to Chateau de Chillon. It doesn't look perilous, but the water was cold, the bridge was narrow, and we all know that I am less than graceful.

Me and Mariah on the bridge that leads to nowhere... but is connected to Chateau de Chillon. It doesn't look perilous, but the water was cold, the bridge was narrow, and we all know that I am less than graceful.

 

A vista of the quaint little city of Montreux, Switzerland.

A vista of the quaint little city of Montreux, Switzerland.

 

 

This gem of a tree lined the streets of Geneva. This isn't photoshop... it really looked like this.

This gem of a tree lined the streets of Geneva. This isn't photoshop... it really looked like this.

 

A hidden square in the city walls. We only found it because someone opened a door and we were rubbernecking.

A hidden square in the city walls. We only found it because someone opened a door and we were rubbernecking.

 

A mob of Laotians outside of the United Nations protesting government hostility.

A mob of Laotians outside of the United Nations protesting government hostility.

 

 

These are the flags of Geneva, Switzerland, and the Borough in which Geneva is situated. The span across the Mont Blanc bridge.

These are the flags of Geneva, Switzerland, and the Borough in which Geneva is situated. They span across the Mont Blanc bridge.

 

A beautiful view of the Swiss Alps as we rode the train through the mountains, across switzerland, and into Italy.

A beautiful view of the Swiss Alps as we rode the train through the mountains, across switzerland, and into Italy.

         Sadly, we had to say goodbye to the idyllic, peaceful  country of Switzerland, the witty, playful sarcasm of Julianne, and began our venture into the land where time has no meaning: Italy. Let the adventures begin.

26 June 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Europe, Hiking/Backpacking, travel. Leave a comment.

Away We Go…

What do you do with money you’ve been saving since you knew what saving money was? How about a grand backpacking adventure through the great continent of Europe? Sure, we only made it to 4 countries (five, I guess, if you count Vatican City as separate from Rome, but really, who does that?), but for two weeks, 4 was more than enough.  Because Mariah was in Europe already from a study abrpad program, I flew into Marsaille, France, took a bus to Aix-en-provence and thus began the roommate adventure. Mariah met me at the bus stop and took me on a short tour around her rainy “hometown” before we headed to her host partent’s house. (That was an adventure in itself as I speak no French, they speak no English… and they don’t see that as a reason not to talk to me… Words such as “tea” were a grand obstacle.) 

One of the beautiful gardens in Aix.

One of the beautiful gardens in Aix.

The ceiling of a church dedicated to Paul Cezanne. The University of Aix bears his name as well due to the fact that he painted much of his works in Aix (including his most famous, "Mont Saint Victoire"-- pictured below).)

The ceiling of a church dedicated to Paul Cezanne. The University of Aix bears his name as well due to the fact that he painted much of his works in Aix (including his most famous, "Mont Saint Victoire"-- pictured below).

 

 

Paul Cezanne, "Mont Saint-Victoire, 1904-1906, Oil on Canvas, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Paul Cezanne, "Mont Saint-Victoire, 1904-1906, Oil on Canvas, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

 

The open air markets in Aix. Believe it or not, the food was even better than it looks...

The open air markets in Aix. Believe it or not, the food was even better than it looks...

 

This is the famous Rotunda Fountain. A little research revealed that it was built in 1860 and three statues represent Justice, Fine Arts, Agriculture- the main activities of the city.

This is the famous Rotunda Fountain. A little research revealed that it was built in 1860 and three statues at the top of the fountain represent Justice, Fine Arts, and Agriculture- the main activities of the city.

 

This marks the end of the first round of Aix. We returned to gather Mariah’s suitcases on the way back to the States, but for now… it’s on to the beautiful Switzerland!

24 June 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Europe, Hiking/Backpacking, travel. 1 comment.

Young’s Gulch/River

As in most of my  backpacking experiences, this one did not follow the initial plan. We set out at about 5pm on Friday for a Steven’s Gulch but had to reroute due to an obvious “FOR DAY USE ONLY” sign in the parking lot. So down the Poudre we went until we hit a local bar. (I stopped in… to call our emergency contact and tell him the change in plans). Next stop: Young’s Gulch. I had hiked that same route in mid March and the half frozen stream that you cross MULTIPLE times was small and 80% frozen. No such luck on this trip. The “stream” was more like a small river and the stone crossings were hidden beneath the icy flow. Not wanting to get wet, the we-who-do-not-have-waterproof-hiking-boots kids chose the less obvious, less safe courses. I fell in on the third crossing. We lost a few others to the stream crossing nonsense, but the campfire at the conclusion of the day had us rejuvenated in no time. After too much food, off-key singing, and an abundance of campfire stories, my sleeping bag felt like a plush hotel bed.

The night held a storm of rain and snow and only Lauren refused to succumb to the peaceful sound. A reenactment of the morning hours:

3am  – Lauren: “Guys, what time does the sun come up? I can’t sleep.”

          – Me: “6am. Go back to sleep.”

4am  – Lauren: “What time do you think it is? Is the sun coming up yet?”

          – Laura: “Uh, ya, I think I see some light outside.”

5am  – Lauren: “It is not getting light! What time is it?”

          – Laura and I: *snore*

6am  – Lauren: “Ryan. Ryan! Are you awake?”

          – Ryan: “Mrphlph…”

           (Lauren wanders away from camp to our sleepy eyes’ delight)

9am  – Me: “Lauren, did you ever bring your bag in from the rain?” 

           – Lauren: “Too late now.”

9-9:30am: (We listen to Paul snore in the tent beside us.)

9:30am: Breakfast: the only thing that we desire more than sleep. 

———————————————-

That morning, we hiked back toward the car making a detour up a steep incline to get an awesome view of… whiteness. (See pictures below). Another great backpacking adventure for the CSU kids!

Laura assisting Lauren across the "stream." Paul nervously awaits his own fate.

Laura assisting Lauren across the "stream." Paul nervously awaits his own fate.

 

Not a bad view for a potty break :) Note the yellowish spot in the lower center. Home sweet tent!

Not a bad view for a potty break 🙂 Note the yellowish spot in the lower center. Home sweet tent! Note the white specks throughout the picture: Very unwelcome precipitation.

 

Who knew that Ponderosa pines smell like butterscotch and vanilla. Seriously! Go sniff one!

Who knew that Ponderosa pines smell like butterscotch and vanilla? Seriously! Go sniff one!

 

(Sorry, I can't make it straight) This is a funny one. Laura willingly offered up her potential dryness to try and find a decent crossing for us after we had wandered off trail. Little did we know that the rocks to her right were the trail crossing rocks. Oops.

(Sorry, I can't make it straight) This is a funny one. Laura willingly offered up her potential dryness to try and find a decent crossing for us after we had wandered off trail. Little did we know that the rocks to her right were the trail crossing rocks. Oops.

 

The Clan: Paul, Lauren, Laura, Jarrod, Ryan, and me.

The Clan: Paul, Lauren, Laura, Jarrod, Ryan, and me.

 

Gorgeous scenery even in the midst of mist.

Gorgeous scenery even in the midst of mist.

 

"Wow," says Laura, "What beautiful scenery we have today."

"Wow," says Laura, "What beautiful scenery we have today."

 

As luck would have it, the clouds began to part only moments after we began our descent toward the trail.

As luck would have it, the clouds began to part only moments after we began our descent toward the trail.

 

And the conclusion of another great backpacking adventure...

And the conclusion of another great backpacking adventure...

27 April 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Hiking/Backpacking. Leave a comment.