Breckenridge, Colorado — We’re in the U.S.

Snow-crusted Crystal Creek

Crystal Creek–cold, clean, and clear

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hi Everyone: You may or may not know, but at the end of the summer term at ZAFU, Barry and I flew from Shanghai to St. Louis on July 10. Since then, we have been having a wonderful time visiting family and friends, meeting great people through Servas, and traveling across the U.S. by car. Because I’ve wanted to finish the blogs I’d planned to do about our China experience (such as “The End of our ZAFU Year,” “Surprises We’ve Had by Living in China,” and “Let’s Get Cooking, China”), I’m getting further and further behind in sharing wonderful experiences we are having here in the U.S. So I’m going to jump to today, and as I have Internet connection and time, I’ll add other experiences, but they will not be in chronological order.

Going up: Roy, Tracy, Wendy, Dave, and Pat

Since Wednesday, August 17, we have been staying with Roy and Fran in Breckenridge, Colorado.  Barry and Roy knew each other from their swim team for Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. He is an investment broker; Fran, his wife of many years has been a vegan since high school. We love coming here to stay in their beautiful home, explore the wonderful mountains, and learn new tasty vegan recipes.

Today is a great example of why we love to be here. We were up about 7 with the sun streaming in our windows. At 8, Roy and I headed off for a special yoga and hiking morning. We jeeped to the base of Crystal Mountain with Wendy, a mom, an interesting brother and sister team, David and Pat, from Massachusetts out to meet their new niece, Tracy, our cheerful yoga teacher, Roy, and me.

My hiking boots still have the dust from the Harmony, Minnesota, roads

Where we parked the jeep after traveling over rutted roads with six of us in Roy’s jeep, the elevation was about 11,000 feet. We hiked up to the Lower Crystal Lake, an assent of about 1,000 feet, to 12,100 feet. The assent wasn’t too steep, but the altitude made me pant–we were higher than Haleakala!

These  gold and mineral-rich mined mountains near Breckenridge gave us magnificent views each direction we looked.

Meadow of wild flowers

Whereas many of the trees at lower levels have been killed by the pine beetles that have left the mountainsides dotted with brown patches of dead trees, we were above the beetle blight. The cool air, the pine scents, the many wild flowers, and rushing stream created a wonderful scene. Snow is still in the mountains and in fact, we climbed higher than some snow piles.  After a couple of hours slogging up hill, we came on a meadow and site of a now dilapidated miner’s log cabin.

Wild flowers

Tracy’s husband and son, Stu and Jeff, had driven to the spot and had their guitars ready. While Tracy led us in a yoga class after we spread our mats out over the meadow and white clouds swirled above us, the guys played their guitars for us during the yoga class.

Tracy, Stu, and Jeff -- Yoga and music in the mountains--Priceless

Each way we turned showed us magnificent views–magical.

Yoga near Lower Crystal Lake

Wendy, Roy, Pat, Dave, Tracy, and Stu at Crystal Lake

Abandoned miner's cabin - Pat and Dave

Going down was much faster than our upward climb..

Flowers, mountain peaks, fantastic cloud formations

Once we got to the trail parking spot, Roy again drove six of us back to the base parking lot and then the yoga studio in Breckenridge. After saying goodby to our interesting companions, Roy and I went in search of Fran and Barry, who had packed lunch for us and were at the Sunday Breckenridge Farmers’ Market.

Barry, Fran, Roy, and Breck listening to live music at the Breckenridge Farmers' Market

We met in front of the music stage where they were waiting with Breck, Roy and Fran’s 12-year-old golden retriever.

We sat by the Blue River that races through Breckenridge and had our lunch of tempeh salad on toasted bread with tomatoes, lettuce, avocado. I was hungry after our vigorous hike. Fran makes great meals of really healthy food.

Lunch on the Blue River in Breckenridge - Breck, Fran, and me

We explored the market, drank icy cold root beer locally made, Fran bought a purse, and I bought a hat at a fair trade booth.

Fair Trade - Fran and Barry

When a storm threatened, we hurried back to Fran and Roy’s just as the first raindrops fell.

That afternoon, Barry and I plotted out our next stop

For the evening, we all fixed another great — and healthy dinner together and ate and talked into the night.

Dinner at Fran and Roy's

Breck enjoyed dinner too

Barry and I had another wonderful day on our tour back to Maui.

My new thought is that I’ll give you current information, and then as I have more time, go back to share earlier information and adventures. “Hi” from Barry. We hope all of you are well.

Aloha, Renee

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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

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