Back in Stuttgart and done with Stuttgart-Lauf 2014

Home, sweet home! Smiley Even though our trip through the US was absolutely stunning, it feels good coming home again after 5 weeks on the road. Plus, I had an appointment to keep: before we had left, my friends talked me into signing up for the Stuttgart-Lauf (only the 7 km, not the 21 km!!). At first, I thought it might not be a good idea participating in a run 3 days after we come back from another time zone. But then, I thought I simply try it. What can I loose? Not to forget, we did a lot of hiking in our holiday so that should do for a training.

I was quite a bit nervous in the morning – don’t get fooled by this picture, the penguin from “Stuttgarter Kinderzeitung” that sneaked up into my pic, made me laugh Smiley

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But once we started, it felt great. Moreover, the track is very easy, too. You only have to cross two bridges, the rest of the street is flat.

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We were also very lucky, weather-wise. It rained cats and dogs before we started but then stopped and stayed dry and fresh.

And that’s me, after the run, exhausted and happy and very satisfied with my time of 46 minutes! Smiley

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Did anyone else participate in the Stuttgart-Lauf or plans to do another run in or around Stuttgart this year? I would love to do one more. Maybe the Charity run “Secretary Run” which I did last year and liked very much.

More information about:

Stuttgart-Lauf 2014

Stuttgarter Kinderzeitung

Last stop: Denver, Colorado

Well, everything has to come to an end, I guess. This is also true for our 5 weeks trip from Seattle to Denver. Because now, we have arrived in Denver… well, not without stopping at Buffalo Bills Grave on the way. Here it is:

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OK, back to Denver Smiley

We arrived there around noon and had thus half a day to explore the Mile High City. That’s how we walked:

We started at the Capitol, …

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…checked out the art museum and the artworks in front of it…

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…walked down 16th street, the Mall of Denver with lots of shops and restaurants…

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..until we arrived at South Platte River. We walked along the river until we found a place where locals where swimming and even floating in rapids… in the middle of a city!?! Well, that’s special! Smiley

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We headed back to 16th street to have dinner at 5280 Burger Bar.

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On the way back to our hotel, we quickly said “Hi” to the curious blue bear, looking through the windows of Denver Convention Center…

Hi, bear! Smiley

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Well, and that was it. But what a great trip it was! We’re at the airport right now, waiting for our plane. And I will use the remaining time, clicking through the articles I wrote for this blog about our great holiday. Thanks for following, guys! See you in Stuttgart! Smiley

 

More information about:

Grave of Buffalo Bill

Denver

5280 Burger Bar

Rocky Mountain National Park – an Eldorado for Hikers

Our next stop after Moab was the Rocky Mountain National Park. We took Scenic Byway 128 in order to follow the Colorado River and enjoy some of the beautiful scenery…

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…and accepted a detour through Colorado National Monument, a plateau with canyons and great views. We didn’t go hiking here but stopped at several lookouts.

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A special place is Upper Ute Canyon View because here you can create the best echo I’ve ever experienced! Smiley

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We arrived at the west entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park in the late afternoon and stayed in Granby for one night. On the next morning, we entered the park and did some short hikes on the west side. We started with Green Mountain which leads through a forest up to a meadow which is apparently a good spot to see moose. However, we didn’t get lucky up there on that day.

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However, on the way to our next hike, we got extremely lucky and saw a mama moose with her baby! Smiley

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We then walked on the very easy Coyote Valley Trail

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…and along Colorado River:

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After those two walks, we drove on the famous Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in the US. We had fantastic views of the alpine scenery…

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… as we passed the tree line and the Continental Divide.

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There is a visitor center at one of the very high points of the road from where you can hike up to a point that is 12.000 feet above sea level.

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When we came down again, we found the east side of the park as pretty as the west side: Green valleys, flowers blooming and stunning, snow covered summits everywhere you look.

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However, the east side, with the town of Estes Park (where we were staying for 4 nights, too) is more famous amongst tourists so it is also much more crowded!

 

Instead of talking about all the different trails we did during these 3 days, I would like to introduce you to my favorite ones:

I definitely liked the Bear Lake Corridor Trails the most. We started with the 1.8 miles one-way trail to Emerald Lake. On the way, you pass three other lakes:

Bear Lake

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Nymph Lake…

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and Dream Lake

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…before you arrive at Emerald Lake.

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The elevation gain between the car park at Bear Lake and Emerald Lake is 605 feet. And remember, you’re already pretty high up when you start this hike. Even though it is the end of June, we had to pass several snow fields between Dream and Emerald Lake.

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On the amount of the jackets I was carrying you can see, I was prepared for every kind of weather! Smiley mit geöffnetem Mund

Unfortunately we couldn’t do the round-trip via Lake Haiyaha and Alberta Falls back to the car park, but as the trail to Emerald Lake has been so beautiful, we didn’t mind hiking it back again.

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When we arrived back at the car park, we hit the loop from the other side in order to see the Alberta Falls and Mills Lake. This was a 2.8 miles one-way hike with an elevation gain of 750 feet. There was a lot of up and down walking included…

The Alberta Falls were nice…

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… but way to crowded. I liked the next part of the trail, up to Mills Lake, much more.

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My favorite spot on this trail was however not Mills Lake, but a place just before you see the lake, up on a rock, overlooking a stream, with the mountain tops in the background:

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Perfect spot for a picnic! Smiley

Next to the Bear Lake Area, there is one more place I really loved: Lily Lake!

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We met this little fellow (who really wanted me to take a picture of him…)

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… and I saw the cutest, well, rat, I’ve ever seen! A muskrat:

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Looked like a smaller version of a beaver, only with a slim tail. Too cute Smiley! It was very busy collecting leaves for its nest.

Another good place for wildlife watching by the way is Sprague Lake, where we saw another moose:

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And it’s also a beautiful lake with stunning mountain views in the background:

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Well guys, those were my highlights of Rocky Mountain National Park. Of course, there are many, many more trails and areas to explore. Simply come for yourselves and check them out! Smiley

 

More information about:

Colorado National Monument

Rocky Mountain National Park

Canyonlands National Park – the small brother of Grand Canyon – and Dead Horse Point State Park

Next to Arches National Park there is another great park you can visit when staying in Moab: Canyonlands National Park.

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Canyonlands is apparently the largest national park in Utah and offers a great variety of scenic highlight and natural beauty. One of them is definitely Mesa Arch.

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With the view in the background, for me Mesa Arch was the most beautiful arch I have seen in the area. It must be stunning visiting it during sunrise or sunset, the colors must be amazing.

And did  I mention the view?

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Next to the arch, there are the canyons. I liked the lookout at Grand View Point the most. Here you can also walk along the rim for one mile and enjoy the view from different perspectives.

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And there is also Green River Overlook that offers great views:

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A very special sight is Upheaval Dome. It’s a crater with lots of salt in the middle:

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It is still an unsolved mystery what created this crater. Geologists debate whether  it was the impact of an meteorite or an ancient salt lake… Either way, it looks very special.

Then you can find places that proof that humans have lived in this area a a long time ago. At Aztec Butte you can still see well preserved stone storages. And the hike up there is also very nice.

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Canyonlands National Park is a very beautiful park and I can highly recommend visiting it when you’re in the area. I have to admit, I liked it even better than Arches National Park.

On the way back from the park to Moab, we drove through Dead Horse Point State Park. The park is actually very small but it is famous for it’s view of the Colorado River. And here it is:

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OK, it is a nice view, but 10 Dollar entrance fee is a bit too much in my opinion. Wouldn’t include it into our travel itinerary next time… Smiley

 

More information about:

Canyonlands National Park

Dead Horse Point State Park

About Goblins and Arches

We left Capitol Reef National Park in order to see some more red rocks and canyons. Our next destination was Moab with the Arches National Park and the Canyonlands National Park.

It takes 2.5 hours to drive from Capitol Reef to Moab. We stopped at the Goblin Valley State Park and stretched our legs a bit amongst these funny looking rocks:

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This state park isn’t very big and offers only three short hikes, but due to the unique rock formations, it is definitely worth a visit.

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These rock pinnacles consist of different layers of sandstone and erosion forms them over the decades to mushroom shaped formations or little goblins! And you can totally see little dwarfs and gnomes in them! Those were my most favorite ones:

The big nosed dwarf:                                      The double headed, happy and sad goblin:

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And the five mushroom headed gnomes… wait a minute…! Smiley mit herausgestreckter Zunge

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We arrived in Moab in the early afternoon and drove into Arches National Park straight away as we knew that one section of the park, Devils Garden, will be closed for a while from the next day on.

As the name indicates, Arches National Park is famous for its natural arches. More than 2000 can apparently be found within the boarders of the park. No worries, we didn’t visit all of them Smiley.

There is an easy trail that connects the arches of Devils Garden. The most favorite arch is Landscape Arch, apparently also the widest arch in the US.

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You will also pass some more arches, like those two for example:

Pine Tree Arch                                           Tunnel Arch

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If you follow the road a little bit back, you can visit Skyline Arch.

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My favorite arch on our first day in the park was Sand Dune Arch. It’s hidden behind these rocks…

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and you have to follow a narrow corridor in order to find it.

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Tatatataaaa: Sand Dune Arch!

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As the afternoon light makes the red rocks shine even more pretty, we made sure we got some nice shots of Balanced Rock…

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… and Park Avenue:

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Today was our second day in the park and we hit the rest of the sights. Unfortunately we had a lot of clouds today, so the red rocks didn’t shine as bright as yesterday.

We started with the Windows section where you can visit several arches:

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Can you guess where this part of the park got it’s name from? The next picture might help you solve this mystery… Zwinkerndes Smiley

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Next to the windows we found what I think is the most stunning arch in the park: the Double Arch…

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Awesome, right?

We have saved what is said to be the main highlight of the park till last: Delicate Arch. We didn’t just look at it from the viewpoints, we hiked up to it from Wolfe Ranch.

Wolfe Ranch belonged to a settler named Wolfe who lived in this area in this very primitive house…

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The hike up to Delicate Arch is not very long (3 miles round-trip) but climbs steadily on slickrock so it can be called strenuous.

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However, you get rewarded with great views on the way…

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… and when you’re on top it’s not far until you peek around a corner…

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…only to find Delicate Arch! Smiley Definitely worth the effort!

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OK, but now enough about arches for today! Smiley And tomorrow, we will visit Canyonlands National Park.

More information about:

Goblin Valley State Park

Arches National Park

From Vegas to Capitol Reef on the Scenic Byways 14 and 12

We left Vegas after three crazy days in order to enjoy some more of the natural beauty of this country. Our next destination was Capital Reef National Park, which is a 5.5 hour drive away from Las Vegas. However, if you have a little more time, the best thing to do is to leave the Interstate at Cedar City and to follow the Scenic Byway 14, later 12.

This route leads through stunning landscape and you can even visit Bryce Canyon on the way.

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We arrived at Capitol Reef National Park in the afternoon and enjoyed the sunset from our balcony (we were staying at the Best Western Hotel).

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Nice, hum? Smiley

On the next morning, we set out to explore Capitol Reef.

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Capitol Reef is the heart of the red rock country and famous for its cliffs, domes and canyons. The rocks reminded the first settlers of a huge reef so that’s where the name “Capitol Reef” comes from.

The first hiking trails we hit was a combination of the “Grad Wash” and “Cassedy Arch Trail”. We started at the parking area on the main road and followed the canyon for 2.5 miles.

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A few meters before the end of the trail (another parking area), a sign pointing upwards indicated where the Cassidy Arch Trail started.

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This trail led upwards for 1.5 miles. Make sure you bring enough water when you’re doing this hike, it get’s really hot in the sun and you climb up 1000 feet!

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And this is the purpose for this grind: Cassidy Arch. Legend says that the outlaw and train robber Butch Cassidy hid in this arch for a while…

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Both trails make a great 7 miles hike and I can highly recommend doing them. Both, the wash and the hike up to the arch guarantee stunning views and impressions.

It was around noon when we came back to the car and thus time for lunch. We drove to “Gifford House”, nowadays a gift shop, museum and bakery. It was one of the houses of the first settlers in this area. It is a really cute place and their pies and ice cream is delicious! Smiley

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Behind Gifford House a hiking trail leads along Fremont River, up into a canyon.

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And there are some sights I would like to mention:

-the petroglyphs, etched in rock walls by Indians centuries ago

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I actually think some of them look like little aliens… :-0

-the rocks

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You can see many of these fascinating formations simply by driving through the park.

I have to say, Capitol Reef is truly a hidden treasure. If you get the chance, go visit this amazing park!

More information about:

Scenic Byways

Capitol Reef National Park

Back in Vegas!

Well guys, what can I say? We couldn’t resist. We’re back in Las Vegas!

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Those of you who follow my blog for some time might know that Moritz and I got married in Vegas in 2012 so this crazy city will always be very special to us. And even though we tried not to include it into our trip this time, we ended up here Smiley.

It was our third visit to Vegas and we did – I have to put it like that Zwinkerndes Smiley – “the usual”… Smiley mit geöffnetem MundIf you want to read more about my top five things to do when in Vegas, check out my article about our last visit in 2013. In order not to repeat myself too much, I will make this a quick, photo based post.

For us, “the usual” Vegas program means…

-enjoying our hotel pool (we were staying at Tropicana again)

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-walking up and down the strip and visiting different hotels

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-spending one morning in Red Rock Canyon (it just get’s too hot after 11 am!)

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-enjoying some of the free evening entertainment programs of Vegas (my favorite are definitely the fountains of Bellagio! Could watch them forever!)

Volcano in front of Mirage Hotel:               Lake of Dreams at Wynn:

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The fountains at Bellagio:

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-gambling a bit and winning (whole 26 Dollars!! Wooohoooo!)

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Aaaaaah, I love Vegas! Smiley

 

More information about:

Las Vegas

Tropicana Hotel

Red Rock Canyon

Lake of Dreams