Category Archives: Boulder

Smokey the Bear and Tibetan Monks? I Must be in Boulder (Utah)…

UTAH: Boulder fence and shadow

Boulder, Utah will never be confused with the bigger Boulder (that would be the more substantial map dot in Colorado), but we found it to be a charming stop on our journey through southern Utah. Renegade cows, a Russian waitress, Tibetan Monks and Smokey the Bear all combined to make it a memorable over-night stay.

UTAH: Bryce Canyon National Park; Before the Hail
We arrived late in the afternoon, damp and mud-splattered (courtesy of Bryce Canyon National Park), with a strong desire for room service.

UTAH: Boulder Mountain Lodge; Anasazi

Our room at the Boulder Mountain Lodge was spacious with views of meadows and mountains and included a coffee table book that dissed “Smokey The Bear” in strong conservationist language.

This was actually a hilarious bonus for my group who had been terrorized by Smokey’s gargantuan remote-Smokey the Bear vs forest conservationvoiced presence at our Ohio State Fair in their younger years. Personal greetings from an over-sized and overly-friendly bear statue didn’t generate the warm “save the forest” feelings the Park Service was probably striving for. Which made the Smokey The Bear bashing book great environmental bed-time reading…

Our initial exploration took us to the fenced pasture across the road, alongside the breezy flowers of a vast meadow and on to a charming enclosure that concealed a 12-foot hot tub and patio. We gratefully soaked our feet after rinsing them in the adjacent shower and laughed over our afternoon’s adventure at Bryce Canyon. When we quieted down, the whole world was perfectly still. The pond just beyond the decorative iron fence hosted a bird sanctuary brushed by dozens of butterflies. And further out, mountains emerged from the rolling meadows.

As we crossed the drive to a restaurant, the Tibetan Monks were a bit of surprise. The purple-robed gentlemen arrived in minivans with minimal luggage and enormous smiles. The Drepung Loseling Monks were featured on the Hollywood soundtrack of “Seven Years in Tibet.” It seemed unusual to bump into them in southern Utah, but it turns out, Boulder, Utah is a yearly trek for them.

UTAH: Boulder; sunflower

We ordered surprisingly good carry-out from the Burr Trail Grill and chatted with another “Hannah” while we waited on our order. Home for the summer from school in California, she told us a little about growing up in an area canyon where they had to create escape routes with cut trees whenever heavy rains washed out the roads -and wear safety harnesses for the crawl above floodwaters to safety!

We savored our quiet evening. Hannah and I planned to run in the morning, and then we’d hike Lower Calf Creek Falls in the Escalante National Memorial.

Well, we got half of it right…

From September 2008.

Escalante Hotel Review

Next: The Cows…

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The Cows… Part Two (Boulder, Utah)

“Suddenly, we were the ones being herded. There was no backward route. No way forward. And there was no way we were going near those bushes.”  – “The Cows… Part One (Boulder, Utah)”

At this point of certain rural doom, a kindly lady drove up and whipped open her passenger side door. “Get in,” she said. “That new female is pretty aggressive.” The cows had gotten loose again; a fairly frequent occurrence we gathered, and the roads were no longer safe for walking. Our benefactor had moved to Boulder twenty years back, she said, and never wanted to leave her utopia. Cheerily, she drove us to the diner, instructed us on how to safely walk back to the lodge and rolled off in a cloud of dust.

The diner was closed. And now, of course, we were fairly hungry. We’d walked, faced death… we needed food. Our last option was the gas station down the road. We’d have to drive there, which meant we first had to get back to the lodge on foot.

What exactly had the warmhearted lady meant by “go back around that way?” There didn’t seem to be a “that way.” Walking down yet another back road, we became aware of dogs and potential chickens, and by now, I had developed a heightened suspicion toward any and all farm creatures. We encountered a man and dog and hopefully asked him where the “back way” might be -but he was as puzzled as we were.

It appeared there was no way back but the way we’d come. He suggested intimidating the cows, which conjured up all sorts of ludicrous imagery and would probably be quite amusing for bored residents with video cameras.  He also advised carrying a handful of rocks to wing at stampeding offenders. Seemed a bit weak, defensively speaking…

By now though, the diner was finally open. It was 8:30, and Boulder was stirring. Hannah and I had breakfast, hoping the cows would reorganize and remove themselves by the time we had to walk through their neighborhood again.

Our beaming waitress was in town for the summer to learn English and see America before heading home to Russia in another month. After encountering Tibetan monks the previous afternoon, this didn’t surprise us in the least. Boulder seemed to pull in people from all over the globe. The diner was a happening place that morning. I guess when you’re the only game in town…

I selected my weapons in the gravel parking lot and looked ahead down “cow alley.” The innocent looking calves were still there, which meant “Cowzilla” would be lurking nearby as well. I told Hannah to stay left and we shuffled down the road, alert to both the rustling bushes and our aggressor who was momentarily engrossed with nibbling a patch of grass. The plan was to sneak past her, but in a confident “we’re not afraid of you” manner. I didn’t want to have to get more intimidating than that, but I had my rocks at the ready.

In the end, we did a steady slide to the left, carefully avoiding the ominous cow-filled bushes as “Cowzilla” bellowed and blustered from the right, angrily climbing up to the road to enforce her point. And our only running that morning came in the adrenaline-laced sprint past “Cowzilla” -probably the only resident of Utah who refused to welcome us to the state.

If you’re aiming at “memorable,” I guess you can’t be too picky in how you achieve it.

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The Cows: Part One

UTAH: Boulder fence and shadow

It’s funny how we slip into routines, even when on vacation from our ordinary lives. We create different and more interesting schedules for ourselves, but there still seems to be a fundamental need to orchestrate “order.” During a week of hiking in Utah, Hannah and I began every morning with breakfast and a run, just the two of us (because the boys’ new morning routine was to sleep in as long as possible!).

UTAH:Zion National Park; trailWe ran the Pa’rus and Watchman’s Trails each morning we awoke in Zion National Park. At Capitol Reef, we ran through creek side brush and on a gravel road. In St George on the morning of our flight home, we ran up the mountain road outside our hotel parking lot and through a new neighborhood with some incredible views.

Breakfast always came first though. We knew our options would be somewhat limited our morning in Boulder, but set out on foot for an adjacent coffee shop that we’d spotted the night before.

It was closed. It was 7:20AM and the coffee shop wouldn’t open until 8:30. “8:30-ish” to be exact. We looked hopefully toward the Burr Trail Grill next door but found it also darkened. Remembering a diner around the corner, we walked on, hoping for the best.

It was perfect running weather, slightly cool, but with a glowing and growing sunlight that hinted at another gorgeous day to come. The countryside road was deserted, not a car in sight. I figured we’d just start running after breakfast, see what there was to see, turn back after twenty minutes or so, and then grab some sort of breakfast to take back for the guys.

UTAH: Boulder; cows at dinerThe first calf that wandered on to the road was pretty cute and about the same size as either one of us. As more and more emerged from the thick bushes however, we slowed down. Startling a herd of anything didn’t seem like a good idea. We could see the diner just ahead, however, so we edged forward in a semi-confident manner. I’m all about new experiences, and while I’d been around farm cows as a kid, we certainly don’t have them in our suburban Ohio neighborhood. I even smiled, knowing that Hannah would remember this morning. It was a little odd to fine cattle wandering at will across the roadway, but we’d encountered open range areas throughout Utah.

Their little cow noises were endearing at first. After all, we were walking amongst children. No doubt, fun little cow games would shortly ensue. But, suddenly we found ourselves in the middle of the “playground,” and a very large, solid, and annoyed cow began making steady progress in our direction. It was a bit of a dilemma. The calves had filled the roadway behind us. There were unknown bovines lurking in the bushes. Steady rustling only fueled the imagination as to the heft of these “invisible cows.” And the annoyed “Cowzilla” was quite insistent that we did not belong there. She made her way to the road, bellowing louder and louder, seemingly encouraging the whole gang into action. Suddenly, we were the ones being herded. There was no backward route. No way forward. And there was no way we were going near those bushes.

 “The Cows… Part Two (Boulder, Utah)”

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