Tuesday, August 6, 2013

City Market

I keep finding wonderful new places here in Kansas City, thanks to recommendations from friends.  This past weekend, I ventured into KC to visit City Market.  If you've ever been in the DC area, it's very similar to Eastern Market.  They have tons and tons of produce vendors, flower stands, and more.  Additionally, they have a multitude of foods to try from cultures around the world!  It was packed with people on Saturday, but I had a great time weaving my way around and asking questions about some of the strange looking produce being sold.

Produce here in KC is extremely expensive, regardless of where you shop.  So I was quite pleased to find that this produce was reasonably priced and fresh.

They had rows and rows of spices for sale, but the lines were super long, so I only took pictures!

I ended up buying some zucchini, yellow squash, white squash, oriental eggplants, swiss chard, bread, and some tea.  Then I came home and roasted most of the veggies and sauteed the swiss chard.

I believe that a trip to City Market might become a weekly thing...I need to find out if they still have it in the winter!

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Traveller's Lessons Learned

I had an absolutely amazing time on my trip, but I thought it would be good to share some lessons learned with everyone.

1) Have a plan...and then toss it out the window when you find something cool along the way!  Plans are necessary if you're on a strict timeline, but if you get to wrapped up in the "plan," you could possibly miss out on something amazing!

2) Make friends with the locals - they know all of the hidden spots that don't show up on the map!  Stop by a local restaurant and sit at the bar.  Bring your map inside with you if you want to ask for places to visit.  People love to talk about where they live and share ideas with you.  If you don't have time to grab a drink, stop by the ranger station and ask them for information.  They are a wealth of information!

3) When a local tells you that a hike is "easy" and will only take you two hours...bring your walking sticks and plan for a three hour adventure!

4) If you are driving down the road and see a sign for something interesting - STOP!  If you don't, you'll never know what you missed out on.  If it turns out to not be as cool as advertised, oh well, no harm done.

5) Remember that no matter how awesome you are with the camera, you will never be able to truly capture the awesomeness of what you see.  I wish I had half the skills of my sister, Jen, but I'll settle for the few good pictures I did get and the memories I will always have!

6) If you have the available vacation days, add 10 more than you think you need.  You will be glad you did in the end.  Sometimes you just want one extra day to explore something!  

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Day 9: The Long Road to Missouri

I woke up on the final day of my journey and new that I had a LONG drive ahead of me.  I wasn't expecting much, so I was super excited when I saw signs for "Prairie Dog Town"...who wouldn't be?  I'm a sucker for signs on the side of the road that draw passersby to tourist traps.  I always feel that if I do not stop, I could be missing something totally amazing!  So about 2 hours into my drive, I decided it would be worth it to pull over to check it out.  This was both one of the coolest and saddest things I've ever seen.  It was a sorry excuse for a zoo and the animals were very poorly treated, but it had some neat things and there really were prairie dogs all over.  If you are saddened by animals in not continue to look at the pictures.  I'll try to put only the non-sad ones up.

The pigs looked like they were having some fun!

Yup, every good zoo has a raccoon!

I'm pretty sure this cow was having heat stroke...

These next two are sad, but not really.  These cows each have an extra leg growing out of their backs!  The reason I don't see it as being sad is that I think if they were on a normal farm, they would have been killed at birth.  

And now for the stars of the show!!!  These guys are super cute!

That was pretty much the highlight of Day 10...the rest was just a long drive up and down the rolling hills of Kansas.  As soon as I arrived I drove to see my new apartment building and the community and then found a hotel to crash in.  

Overall it was an absolutely amazing PCS trip.  I learned some key lessons, which I'll post tomorrow.  I only wish I'd taken 30 days of leave vice 10, but I can do that next year when it's time to move yet again!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Day 7 & 8: Leadville and Colorado Springs

On the morning of July 6, I woke up early, packed up camp and got back on the Independence Pass to head to Leadville, CO.  It was only a few hours on the road and when I arrived I grabbed some breakfast at a neat little cafe.  Afterwards, I wandered around the town and visited a nice little camping store, where I purchased my JetBoil stove!  I only spent about an hour and a half in Leadville and then hopped back on the road.  My friend, Leonie, told me about a place called "Garden of the Gods" that was on my way to Colorado Springs, and was a welcome break from the road.  The place somewhat reminded me of Arches and it was beautiful.  I wandered around the park for a little while and snapped some pictures.    

After a few hours at Garden of the Gods, the weather started to look pretty ugly, so I hit the road to find a campground outside of Colorado Springs.  First I tried the KOA...full.  Then I went to one of the state parks....full.  Luckily, the lady at the state park told me to check out Golden Eagle campground and they had plenty of room!  As I pulled into the campground, I caught a break in the rain, which gave me just enough time to get my tent set up.  After about 30 more minutes of rain, the weather cleared and I had a chance to try out my brand new Jet Boil stove!  It was super easy to use and I was so glad not to be eating Goldfish for dinner again!  
The next morning I woke up early, packed up camp and headed up one of the local trails.  No fancy names for this was just called Trail #2.  

Gorgeous views!

After my hike I drove up to the United States Air Force Academy and toured around it for a while and then I visited the Olympic Training Facility.  Both were quite impressive.

The chapel is one of the most amazing buildings I've ever seen!

After several hours of exploring, I headed east to find another campground.  I didn't quite make it to the Kansas border, but I was close.  I ended up staying at a KOA site (way more expensive than it should be! $28 for this tiny patch of ground and a place to park, haha).  It's still cheaper than a hotel and way more fun too!  

The next morning I packed up all of my stuff and hit the road to my new home, Kansas City, Missouri!  It was a long 9 hours in the car, but tomorrow you can also read about one of the highlights of the involves prairie dogs!