Monthly Archives: October 2011

An anniversary trip to Wine Country

Back in August, Tara and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary.  Since we did not have any thawed wedding cake this year, we decided to take a mini vacation. Last fall we had the idea to go on a weekend trip to Grand Junction, CO for wine tasting.  A year later, that idea came to fruition.

We waited until mid-September so it wouldn’t be too hot and the fruit would be peaking.  At 3:30 Saturday morning, we boarded an eastbound Amtrak train with our bikes stowed in boxes and everything we needed for the weekend in our backpacks.

After a somewhat fitful sleep, we awoke to sunlight streaming through the train windows and enjoyed breakfast in the dining car before arriving in GJ at 10:30.  We unpacked the bikes, shouldered our packs, and started pedaling towards wine country.


Tara at the train station


The tour we embarked on that day was admittedly a little more than we had intended, but was worth every hard-earned mile.  In the end, we rode about 27 miles before rolling into the Bed & Breakfast.  All I can say is, our asses were sore.




We stopped at 4 wineries in total, each offering free tastings.  Consequently, each stop increased the weight of our packs—we’ve been needing to stock up on wine for a while.  Rolling up on our bikes with our packs was quite the conversation starter.  The response is almost always: “We should look into riding the train”.  It feels good to promote Amtrak because it is so awesome!




In the late afternoon, after a wild ride down from atop the bluffs, across the river, and into Palisade, we stopped for a break in the riverside park.  We spread a blanket out in the shade of the tall cottonwoods and lay on it eating peaches and honey sticks.  It’s fun to play vagabond every once and a while.




After 6 more miles and 1 final tasting, we arrived at the B&B.  The host couple was super nice and suggested a Mexican restaurant which we walked to—a welcome change in transportation.  Dinner was good, but the best part was the full-strength margaritas.  You can’t get them like that in Utah.




The next morning, we exchanged stories with the other couple at the B&B who also happened to be cyclists, and then, much to our hind-quarters’ dismay, climbed on the bikes again and rode back towards Grand Junction.  It was 9 miles in total and we arrived before noon.  We explored downtown and a hit a brew pub for lunch.  The micro brew completed the CO trip for me.





The train was supposed to leave at 4:30 that afternoon, but was delayed an hour, so we dropped the bikes and packs off at the train station and did some exploring on foot.  Needless to say, we were very ready for dinner on the train that evening, which turned out to be very awkward because the two guys we go seated with never said a word.  We arrived back in SLC around 12:30 that night.  All told, it was an amazing trip.  Highly recommend it.



Backpacking Granddaddy Basin

For Labor Day weekend, Tara and I went on a backpacking trip in the High Uintas in Granddaddy Basin.  We managed to cover 25 miles in 3 days—our longest trip yet.  This is what happens when you live close to tons of backpacking.  You inadvertently become a weekend warrior and never take a trip longer than a few days.  It is a blessing and a curse.

The day temperatures were perfect for our trip and dipped down enough at night that we could actually make use of our new sleeping bags.  To follow is an oddly specific guide to hiking Granddaddy Basin.

Day 1: 8 Miles

Hike from the trailhead (TH) up over the pass into Granddaddy Basin.  Laugh at girl in pink jogging outfit that exclaims to her husband: “SHIT!! This just keeps going up!”.  Reconsider plan to make Governor Dern Lake that day when another hiker, who happens to be very vocal about using his yellow lab to haul his alcohol, scoffs at the idea saying that it is one hell of a push.  Then get reassured by a friendly ranger that the lake is easily achievable.  Make the lake by 6:30 to find not a single other soul there on “busy” Labor Day weekend.  Set up camp out of sight on the far side of the lake amongst a grove of pines.


Looking down into Granddaddy Basin from the pass



Governor Dern Lake


Day 2: 9 Miles

Pack daypacks with lunch and snacks and make for Four Lakes Basin, 4 miles and 700’ vertical above camp.  Take your pick of the four lakes to dip your feet in before eating lunch and taking a short siesta on the soft, grassy bank.  Reluctantly hit the trail again and make for the Highline Trail which gains a little more altitude and offers stunning views of the entire basin and beyond.  The remaining mileage to Lake Pinto is a bit of a slog, but still plenty pretty.  Enjoy Clif Bars at this lake before completing the last mile back to camp.  Dinner from atop a large boulder in the lake might as well be a high-end restaurant.



Lunch at 4 Lakes Basin



View from the Highline Trail


Day 3: 8 Miles

Break camp and start the journey back across the basin, this time taking the Eastern leg of the loop.  Pass several more postcard lakes before arriving at Granddaddy Lake in time for lunch.  Make for a long peninsula that is so narrow that it might as well be an island.  After lunch, own the pass and the 2.5 miles down the other side, mouths watering with anticipation of the margaritas you’ll enjoy with dinner that evening.



The namesake of the area: Granddaddy Lake