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I had already known that the train trip on the California Zephyr would be phenomenally beautiful. But what I hadn't appreciated was how it would be beautiful in a different way because of the change in seasons.



On the first day, the trip begins with an expedition along the Sacramento River Delta, which is familiar but always interesting because of the boats and bridges and structures along the waterway. Past Sacramento, the train ascends into the Sierra Nevada mountains as it heads towards Truckee, so one gets all of the enjoyment of heading into the mountains with none of the obnoxiousness of fighting traffic to get there. From there, it crosses over into Nevada, and one gets to take in the completely different austere scenery and wide skies of the high desert. The sun went down, and we were treated to a phenomenal sunset vista.

The next morning, I woke up in Utah as the sun came up, and was once again treated to new, amazing scenery, like this:

Amtrak Zephyr views

Except photos really don't do justice to the full dynamic experience of moving through the landscape. Oh, and at one point in Utah, I spotted a badger from the train. A bit surprising given how dry and barren the Utah desert seems.

From the incredible rocks and clouds of Utah (this stuff always makes me think of [personal profile] bluepapercup), we then transitioned into the big climb across the Rockies in Colorado. The train takes a different route from the Interstate, winding alongside the Colorado River. In the summer, the river is full of river rafters. This time there were no river rafters, but there were a handful of stalwart fishermen.

And oh! the fall colors. I didn't photograph any of the bright-yellow aspens, but there were still many large trees holding onto their leaves for just a bit longer. Even without them, the landscape was incredible. Here was where we waited for the return train to pass by, for instance, with all shades of gold and brown and red:

Amtrak Zephyr views

We saw two large herds of elk as we progressed along, but my efforts to photograph the first herd mostly just demonstrate that cell phone cameras can't do justice to such things when traveling by train at speed.

As usual, it was awesome to reach the point where the train pops out of the mountains and offers a sweeping view over the plains. Then we descended down the mountains and made it to the Denver station (gasp) early. As I disembarked, I overheard one conductor telling another, "Yeah, it's a good day to buy lottery tickets."

-

Friday evening, I had a wonderful time catching up with my friend A and trying out a tapas dish prepared with crickets, grasshoppers, and ants. I'm fairly certain Colorado has been the epicenter of the growing edible insect movement in the U.S., so it was fun to see what the Coloradans have been doing with them. (I should point out that, on the other hand, I don't think there's anything especially amazing about insects - they're just a food trend, like kale.)

Saturday morning, I got up and found my way over to the closest coffeeshop for some breakfast and to stock up on coffee beans for the week. The coffeeshop summarizes a lot about the mid-town Denver experience:

Denver sights

Note the exposed brick, the Edison bulb, and the table made from reclaimed wood. The area behind the bar was also done up with white subway tile.

...I mean, the food and beverage were wonderful (though there was actually slightly too much almond paste in the croissant). But somehow, the formulaic nature of the decor made the whole place feel like it could have been a boutique coffeeshop in any big city, anywhere. And at that point, is the whole thing all that different from visiting a chain store?

Anyway. After all that, I set out to meet up with [personal profile] randomdreams and [personal profile] threemeninaboat for what R bills as one of the biggest bicycling highlights of his year: VeloSwap. And VeloSwap did not disappoint. On the other hand, my smart-o-phone camera greatly disappointed. It's horrible in anything less than perfect lighting! However, I think the photos can still give you a feel for the event.

VeloSwap 2017
Sock booth!

VeloSwap 2017
Score! Some wool socks buried in there.

Interesting bikes galore!

VeloSwap 2017
Wacky tandem

VeloSwap 2017
Metal choppah

VeloSwap 2017
This vendor was anxious to sell this interesting pool cue modded frame. Uhh, better not...

VeloSwap 2017
Teeny-tiny road bike. So cute!

VeloSwap 2017
Shiny Ludicris octopus bike that made me think of my sister and also my friend K and her late pup Ludacris

VeloSwap 2017
Lugged Colnago for [personal profile] scrottie

VeloSwap 2017
Old vintage bike that reminded me of the Italian guys doing a historic-style Paris-Brest-Paris

VeloSwap 2017
Argh too blurry! A medium-tall "freak" bike with a pentagram welded in the middle. This whole section included bikes from the Old Bike Club, and they had a lot of cool stuff in addition to this custom project. The builder said he used a hoop from a clothes rack for the circle. Cool stuff.

VeloSwap 2017
Done-up his-n-her Bianchis looking so cute for a bike tour

VeloSwap 2017
I will always admire a bicycle with good cargo capacity.

In addition to the bike ogling, we also had a lot of fun looking for parts and accessories that seemed like they might appeal to [personal profile] scrottie. As with many of us, he has really specific bike saddle preferences that err towards minimal padding. While we found a number that might technically fit that description, I suspect all of them would make him wrinkle his nose and shake his head.

VeloSwap 2017
Pure plastic NOPE.

VeloSwap 2017
Tiny saddle for the real minimalist, or ventilated plastic? How about more NOPE.

VeloSwap 2017
We were too late to buy this one, but not too late to get a nice photo of it.

S likes to ride with oval BioPace chainrings. So, how about this oval beauty? (wow no)
VeloSwap 2017

I did get him a set of Campy 8-speed shifters. Vintage Campy components are growing increasingly hard to find.
VeloSwap 2017

We also saw lots of different kinds of recycled bike part accessories, including so many styles of belts that I couldn't possibly choose among them.
VeloSwap 2017

After that and some tasty lunch, we also paid a visit to the Chocolate Spokes Bike Shop, where we got to check out their awesome but tiny framebuilding/shop space.

Chocolate Spokes Bike Shop VeloSwap 2017 VeloSwap 2017

I love this recycled bike parts chandelier for its extensive use of bike chain:
VeloSwap 2017

A lovely, bike-filled day. I was also happy to get to meet R and T's pup, Montmorency, who is a big, adorable goofball. Yay!

Okay, now time to head to the Entomology conference. There's a busy week ahead.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1185150.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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