Monday, June 25, 2007

I recommend hiking shoes.

This past weekend was relatively eventful. Despite the hot, hot heat we've been experiencing in Denver the past week, we ventured out from our cool(ish) first floor flat and away from the ceiling fan to go to one of three cultural festivals Denver threw (another one kind of passed by our window on Sunday as we ate breakfast (PrideFest), and the third one (Cherry Blossom (Japanese)) we were just too hot to try to attempt). But we did go to the Greek festival, which centered around the Gold Boob (as we call it), aka the Greek Orthodox Church that sits up on a hill here in Denver.

I put on a short-sleeved linen blouse and skirt because I knew part of the festival was the opportunity to see the inside of the church, something people who aren't part of the congregation don't generally get to see. I know from going into churches in Europe that tank tops and short shorts just aren't respectful, and it turned out that it was kind of cooler to wear loose linen clothing anyhow. The first thing we did upon arrival was make a beeline for the food (we shared a "combination plate" which, while expensive, was very tasty and contained a good representative sampling of Greek food). We watched some kids do some traditional Greek dancing. We wandered around checking out the trinket booths and bouncy castles of various types. Then we escaped the heat by ducking into the church, which was absolutely gorgeous and did not disappoint. My photos didn't turn out great, since the rule was no flash (which was fine), but we sat inside for a good twenty minutes or half an hour admiring the amazing paintings on the ceiling of the dome. Later, we checked out the cultural center and ate some dripping-with-honey baklava.

Sunday dawned hotter than Saturday, and we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast while watching participants in the PrideFest parade walk by to get to the parade route on Colfax. It was really really hot. We decided to escape the heat by heading up into the mountains and drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park, opting to purchase a year-long national parks pass (good for the whole country! for a whole year!) rather than just the admission to the park for Sunday. On the drive up, when we got to Estes Park (the small tourist town right next to the park) I realized that I'd remembered to bring everything for our hike but my hiking shoes. I was wearing flip flops. I decided I wasn't willing to buy shoes or boots I didn't need and that I'd just make do with the flip flops as best I could, and we chose a hike that was somewhat less challenging than we normally might have.

Rocky Mountain National Park has, in the last two years, implemented a park-and-ride shuttle bus system to get more parkgoers to the more popular trailheads, improved parking lots and conditions, and generally made things really easy to go hiking. We opted for the park and ride rather than chancing our luck with the trailhead lot, and shared our shuttle bus with a group of twenty middle-school-aged softball players from Chicago who were going on a different hike. Boy, were they loud and girly. We got to our trailhead after a short ride and I knew I would be OK; the hike was really quite easy and not especially long. It was cooler than Denver (though still quite warm) and the first part of the hike was mostly uphill (and at significant altitude) so we were winded pretty quickly, but we each had our camelbaks and snacks, and we enjoyed the views and passed a lot of couples, families, and other groups along the trail.
(If you look closely, you might find the native Nerdus GreatBiggus)

The hike we chose passed by one lake before ending at another, and just before the second lake there was a large patch of snow one had to cross. Yes, that photo above is my foot in my flip flop in the snow - it's not terribly often that one can say one has hiked across snow in flip flops. But I did, and it was OK. Luckily I'm in good enough shape that my leg muscles felt a little strange but mostly did what they were told. When we got to our destination, we pulled out the trail mix and shared an orange, and took in the amazing view while a greedy pika tried to get us to feed it. We didn't.

Eventually, we turned around and hiked back down to the trailhead, passing all kinds of pretty wildflowers and winded tourists along the way. We got back on the full bus, and when it stopped at the next trailhead it picked up the entire gaggle of softball players (and their chaperones) again, so the bus was completely packed. On our way back to Denver we stopped in to visit with Dan's parents and had a lovely dinner. It was a great Sunday, and hiking (though I did it in flip flops) was a good way to escape the oppressive heat. I have vowed that I will keep my hiking shoes in the trunk of the car from now on so I won't forget them again. The flip flops were an adventure I don't need to repeat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks like a gorgeous weekend.

And oh how I love the baklava and the bouncy castles of the Greeks! :)