Travel Blog

St Johns Harbor

Exploring the Eastern Tip of North America

In the summer of 2017, my now wife, Anna, and I got married. We wanted to do it in a beautiful location but also somewhere we had never been. Somehow she found St. John’s Newfoundland. St. John’s is the capital city of the Canadian province of Newfoundland & Labrador. Home to roughly 200,000 people in the area, it is also one of the oldest English settlements in North America. For years St. John’s number 1 industry was fishing but is now and large oil and gas town that supports various off-shore rigs.

Houses along Jelly Bean Row
Houses along Jelly Bean Row

St. John’s is also home to the famous Jelly Bean Row and George Street. The houses along Jelly Bean row are all sorts of vibrant colors while George Street – a 2 block portion of George Street just up from the waterfront houses numerous bars and restaurants and can be pack full of people at 1 in the morning. If you’re looking to become an honorary Newfoundler, as my brother did, George Street is the place to “screech-in”. The process involves eating a small piece of “Newfie steak”, taking a shot of the local Screech, and kissing a cod fish!

Logy Bay near St. John's
Logy Bay near St. John’s

The area around St. John’s is beautiful and breathtaking. In the late spring and early summer, icebergs will make their way along the coast of Newfoundland and even come into the St. John’s harbor. During the summer you can also see whales off the coast and sometimes in the harbor. A short drive south of St. John’s and you will end up at Cape Spear, which is the most eastern point of continental North America. We very much enjoyed are trip to St. John’s and look forward to visiting again soon!

More Info on St. John’s:

City of St. John’s

St. John’s Tourism Website

Watch a Screech-in! 

Looking down into the valley below from the west side of Trail Ridge road

Rocky Mountain National Park

I’ve been going to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) since I was a kid. My parents built a house up near the park when I was a kid and it’s been great to have a place to go that is so close. The park is a great place to visit and is a short day trip from Denver. In the winter, Trail Ridge road is closed. During the summer its open and you can make a 5 hour drive starting and ending in Denver. Estes Park sits on the east side of RMNP and Grand Lake sits on the west side. Most of my time has been spent on the west side.

A bull elk near the west entrance of RMNP near dusk.
A bull elk near the west entrance of RMNP near dusk.

There are a lot of trails to explore in the park with a few taking you above timberline, which is roughly 12,000 feet high in elevation. Many people are not used to the low oxygen at the higher levels of the park but drinking lots of water helps. Being a native of Colorado and Denver, I am fairly used to the elevation although I start to feel it around 10,000 feet. The park is also full of wildlife. You can see elk, deer, moose, and various ground animals. When you get higher up in elevation, you will see the marmots that can be found just off the road.

A marmot sitting on a rock while a spring snow storm comes through.
A marmot sitting on a rock while a spring snow storm comes through.

RMNP is worth the day trip when but can get very busy on the weekends because it is so close to Denver.

More info on RMNP:

RMNP Official Website

Estes Park Website

Grand Lake Website

Taking in a Louisville Bats baseball game at Slugger Field.

A Louisville Slugger!

I enjoy baseball. I’ve been to many games in many cities. I’ve even attended games in Japan & Korea! Nothing is more American than taking in a baseball game on the 4th of July, which is what I was doing here. My fiancée Anna used to live in Louisville so a couple of years ago we went back for the 4th of July weekend. The weekend of the 4th is quite an event in Louisville. On this day we took in baseball, toured the Louisville Slugger factory, watched an airshow and the famous Thunder Over Louisville firework show. Louisville is a great town and definitely recommend a visit!

More info on Louisville:

City Website

Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory

Thunder Over Louisville

Looking out towards St. Sophia's Cathedral in downtown Kyiv

My first international trip… Ukraine!

Part of the Maidan, or square, in downtown Kyiv.
Part of the Maidan, or square, in downtown Kyiv.

My first international trip ever was to Ukraine. Talk about getting out of my comfort zone! I’d really only explored some parts of the US and outside of a trip to Calgary, I had never left the US. That all changed the summer of 2012. I happened to have a couple of good friends who work for the US government and at the time, were stationed in Kyiv, Ukraine. So I figured, why not! Let me say I was not prepared for the almost 20 hours of travel to get from Denver to Kyiv…

Standing in front of the Ukrainian President's office.
Standing in front of the Ukrainian President’s office.

 

I arrived in Kyiv to find the county of Ukraine preparing to host the 2012 Euro Cup. As part of this, the city was alive with all sorts of cleanup and construction. They were anticipating many football (soccer) fans in the capital city, along with the other hosting cities in Ukraine. The first few days of my stay I explored around downtown Kyiv which is rich in history and churches. The picture here is showing the giant half soccer ball that is covering a large window. 1 level below the street there is a shopping mall. Below the mall is the entrance to the metro (subway).

 

Workers restoring the cobblestone road that is the Andriyivsky Decent that leads from upper Kyiv down to the Podil neighborhood.
Workers restoring the cobblestone road that is the Andriyivsky Decent that leads from upper Kyiv down to the Podil neighborhood.

The upper town of old Kyiv sits on a hill. The river is down the hill in a neighborhood called Podil. There are a couple of ways to get from upper town to lower town. One of those ways is to take the funicular up and down the hill. It takes less than a couple of minutes and costs about .25 cents US. The other way is to walk the Andriyivsky Decent. The decent is lined with merchants during the day selling all types of items. When I was there, they city was rebuilding the cobblestone street in preparations for the Euro Cup.

I was fortunate to stay 2 weeks in Ukraine on this first international trip. In addition to exploring Kyiv, I was able to spend a weekend in Odessa, which is a port city on the Black Sea. Additionally, my buddy and I took a day trip to tour the Chernobyl nuclear site. That was quite an experience but the stories will have to wait for another post…

 

 

 

More info on Kyiv:

Wikipedia page for Kyiv

Kyiv Post Newspaper

Visit Kiev Website