Since sites like Instagram have become a mainstay for social media the popularity of snapping and sharing the “perfect” photo from your travels has exploded. I can’t tell you how many shots I see that are this: a pretty girl wearing a maxi dress and sun hat, back turned to the camera, standing in front of a mosaic wall. It sometimes feels like you are not a “real” traveler unless you have been photographed standing in front of some kind of wall in Southeast Asia or somewhere in the Middle East. That said, I think any person who has the chance and the ability to travel somewhere wonderfully different than their homeland is lucky and I would jump at the chance to take a boat around Ha Long Bay or see the hot air balloons rise into the air at dawn in Cappadocia. The oddball girl in me, the one who has never been quite on-trend, and the one who would rather by riding in the hot air balloon than watching it, rebels against falling into the same old pattern as everyone else.
I love posting my latest photos on IG. I also love digging up old memories (Ireland 2006? Hell yeah, I rocked that Guinness sweatshirt in the mossy old castle we visited!) and posting them. I have been wondering lately though, is my eagerness to capture the perfect picture on my trip stopping me from just experiencing the moment? I have caught myself watching things- once in a lifetime moments- through my camera lens rather than just watching them. I do end up with pictures I am proud of. Does that make the moments any less special?
Some people would say yes and complain about selfie sticks, Instagram filters, blah blah blah. These are the ones that hate “selfies” and ridicule the people who take them. I find that I don’t side with them on the whole. As a frequent solo traveler I often use my Nikon’s self timer to take a picture of myself. After all, I want to be in at least some of my travel photos.
On the whole, I think it comes down to a delicate balance between taking the time to smell the proverbial roses (or the fresh mountain air at dawn, or rich aroma of roasted coffee beans at a small cafe, or the exotic spices in a marketplace, etc), and being comfortable with pulling out your camera to try and capture a beautiful moment on your journey. I, for one, love my camera, and I don’t plan on putting it away any time soon.
Dog and I went camping again yesterday in the mountains (where else?). I am normally and early riser anyway, but especially when I am camping and haven’t slept too well anyway. I am excited to see the morning after a long night in the tent. I was much warmer on this trip (thanks to a better sleeping bag, kindly lent by my roommate), and extra blankets. Dog was perfectly comfortable, sans blanket. Still, when I woke up and saw sun creeping across the sky and heard the birds chirping away in the cheerful morning chatter I was glad. The air outside the tent was coooooold and I regretted my decision to leave my blanket nest, but Dog was ready to go so I didn’t have much of a choice. April in the city of Denver is much warmer than April in mountains, and the air had a special spring chill. Refreshing and sweet, but cold. Anyway, I layered up, and after a hasty breakfast Dog and I set off on the trail. Here are some reflections on early morning hiking.
1) You will meet a whole different set of birds. I WISH I WISH I WISH I hadn’t left my new Rocky Mountain Bird identification book at home, but I could tell even without it that the birds I was seeing and hearing in the morning were different from the ones I encountered in the day and evening. For one thing, the woodpeckers- a species different from the kind I was used to in Wisco- were voracious, and their pecking echoed all around the forest. Dog and I had a good time watching all the early morning birds swoop around and call to one another.
2) If you prefer the trail to yourself, you’ll have it. I did see two trail runners go past, but apart from that we had what felt like the whole mountain to ourselves. Most of the other campers were still asleep, and the day trippers weren’t in the park yet. The stunning views of Panorama Point were OURS, muahahaha. I also felt less inhibited about sitting down in sunny patches to catch my breath or to snag a snack.
3) The freshness of the air and the sun coming up behind peaks and trees is unbeatable. Yeah, I’m sure the air is always fresh up there, but something about the brisk temps and bird chatter just made the scent of the trees and chipper mountain streams fresher. It was a joy just to breath. Stopping to take great big lungfulls of air I was also in awe of the views of the sun rising from behind forested peaks. It wasn’t dark when we set out from camp, but there was definitely a sharp contrast between the places on the trail where tendrils of sunlight had sneaked in and where it hadn’t.
4) The feeling of accomplishment when you saunter back into camp having completed a somewhat grueling hike while everyone else is just starting their day. I took a one hour victory nap in my tent to celebrate. So did Dog.
I drove up to Boulder, CO today to do a little thrifting and hole up at a cafe. I found Laughing Goat Cafe on Pearl Street and I’m enjoying the warm spring afternoon at a table outside with an IPA next to me. This area is clearly geared towards tourists, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t exciting little boutiques, cafes, and eateries here. I stopped in nearby Red Letter Books (used books crammed floor to ceiling with only the barest hint of organization), found some comfy pants at Common Threads, and picked up a birthday gift for a friend at a boutique called Bliss.
But back to Laughing Goat-
It is very lively here, even though it’s a Monday afternoon and ostensibly most people are at work or school. Inside the cafe most tables are full and everyone seems to be working on their laptops. I guess I fit right in. The vibe is cozy pub and their selection on coffees is impressive. They keep two beers on tap (both are IPA), and have a long list of bakery and sandwiches. I saw about half a dozen different kinds of kombucha in their refrigerator and my mouth fairly watered. One was called ‘Rowdy Mermaid’ and I nearly bought it just based on the name. The crowd looks to be mostly young professionals and students, but sitting nearby is a woman and two young girls practicing their reading.
I’m not sure if this cafe could accurately be called a neighborhood spot, since Pearl Street is not exactly a neighborhood street, but there is an eclectic mix of clientele, as well as a variety of food and drink options that could keep just about anyone happy. Boulder is a popular spot for visitors due to it’s reputation for ritzy mountain living. Let’s just say Whole Foods is big here. It’s a bit of a haul from Denver, but perfect for daytrips. Plus, you can’t beat the thrifting options at Common Threads. I like this cafe, and even though I don’t spend a whole heck of a lot of time in Boulder, I would come back again.