Crested Butte

During our stay in Moab, we mustered the troops for a visit to Canyonlands National Park. I had always heard great things about it, and so we made the short drive to go take a look. I can’t tell you what a great decision that was. Truly amazing. I’ll let Alison tell you THE REST.

I should mention that while we were in Moab we were joined by another longtime Seattle friend, Jermaine. These days, she lives in Turkey where she is pursing her doctorate, so a visit with her – no matter how brief – was a real gift.

So with Jermaine in tow, we woke up one morning, said our goodbyes to the Peterson’s and headed back across the border to Colorado to meet up with Alison’s parents. But we weren’t just returning to Colorado. In route, we figured out that due to circumstances outside our control, we were going to be headed back to Crested Butte. This news was met with joyful ‘whoops’ by every Chino, because you see, Crested Butte is our very favorite. I anticipate that Alison will do more of the sharing here as well, but I leave you with just a couple photos.

This is taken from the Oh-Be-Joyful Campground and over the years I have had the pleasure of staring up this valley repeatedly. Coming to Crested Butte in many ways feels like coming home. We camp. We hike. We bike. We visit town. We go to Camp 4 Coffee. We go to The Alpineer. We go to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (yes, another one). We go to Teocalli Tamale. We go to the park. We ride the “bus that costs no money.” It always very familiar, very good, and we never get tired of going back – again and again.Who knows? Maybe sometime we could show you around.


vacation in Aspen for less than $50 per day

The recap of Chino summer adventures continues. Since Alison has already shared some about our time there, I’m going to try to come at this from a different angle.

There is so much that I appreciate about camping vacations. The cool clean mountain air. Drinking in the beauty of our surroundings. Being outside. Time with people I care about. Fires (when they haven’t been banned). Quiet. Good food. Hiking. Morning coffee. But there is a benefit to camping that sometimes doesn’t get near the recognition it should…

It’s cheap.

Aspen is possibly the most pretentious (and expensive) resort town in Colorado. If you need to be reminded of this, let me recommend seeing the time-honored classic, Dumb and Dumber. Most of Aspen’s vacationers are burning money in the streets and are proud of it. I haven’t a clue what four days of room and board for six people in Aspen would cost, but my guess is somewhere in the neighborhood of $2000.

Contrast that with the $21 a night scenic campground located 6 miles outside of town. It was far enough from town to make you feel like you were really away from it all, but close enough for daily forays into town to shop for groceries, use the internet, play on the playground, visit the library, and people watch. And did I mention… it was $21 a night.

Likewise on the food. Saving so much money on accommodations easily could have justified eating a couple meals in town, but  we didn’t.  And we really didn’t have much desire to. We were usually on the go around lunchtime and so picnic fare just seemed to make sense. Plus, our breakfasts and dinners back at camp were meals fit for royalty. I can’t imagine that food cost us more than $15-20 per day for our family.

While there are any number of places to part with your hard earned dollars in Aspen, there are only three establishments that will repeatedly suck us in.

1) Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory // This isn’t true only in Aspen. Any mountain town that has one (and they all seem to have one) is sure to get another $10-15 from us. Worth every penny.

2) Ute Mountaineer // This particular store caters to an addiction of mine that I am neither proud of – nor ashamed of.

3) The Thrift Shop of Aspen // The name itself seems like a oxymoron. And yet, there truly are bargains to be had in this funny little store.

So there it is. A four day stay in Aspen that ends up costing a couple Benjamins. Hard to believe… but true.

Next stop – Moab, Utah.


everywhere i go

Lissie – Everywhere I Go

It has been a week since Cole and I returned from Switzerland.  And while I’ve wanted to share about our experience there, the combination of not knowing where to start and entering into a busy stretch for the next few weeks has kept me from piecing together some spare minutes to do so.  To be sure, there is no lack of material to draw from.  The challenge is knowing what to share that would be of interest.

So, while I’m figuring that out, I’ll share a thought and some pictures (everyone loves pictures).

My time there was bathed in the recognition that simply being there was a gift.   And not just in some poetic sense of the word, but being in a foreign country with my eldest son is something I simply shouldn’t have been able to do.  In any normal reckoning of things, a colossal mistake on my part would have kept us from stepping foot on an airplane.

And yet, a tidal wave of grace came crashing down on top of us, as at least five make-or-break moments came together.  Any one of which might have been written off as coincidence or luck, but the cumulative nature of those “make” moments leaves little doubt as to whose hands they (and we) were in.

So for both of us, from the moment Cole stepped off his plane from Little Rock, until we touched down in the same, gratefulness permeated every minute of the trip.  Even when snow kept us from doing all that I had planned, it barely even registered that I might be “missing” anything.

We were…

grateful to be there.

Grateful for Cole.

Grateful for friends.

Grateful for warm homes.

Grateful for our health.

Grateful for the Word.

Grateful for food.

Grateful for hiking signs.

Grateful for cows.

Grateful for splendor.

Grateful for trains.

And yes, grateful for snow.



you are doing what?

It doesn’t quite seem real, but in a few days I’ll be waking up to views akin to something like this.  Whenever I tell people that I’m going to Switzerland to do some backpacking in the Alps with my thirteen year old son, I’m not quite sure how to respond to the look on their faces.  I think it is a mix of “you’re not serious-you’re doing what-how’s that possible-I’m happy for you-but I also sort of don’t like you” kind of look.  So I stare back with a sort of sheepish grin and say something like, “yup, crazy huh?”

I wish I had a better response.  It is honestly sort of awkward.  I’m not really sure what makes it so, but it just is.  The vibe I get is “who the &%^%&$ does he think he is?”  I mean really!  Who takes their thirteen year old to the flippin’ Swiss Alps for a little one-on-one time?

I guess the only answer to that is “I do.”  For a few years now, Alison and I have had this dream of taking each of our children sometime during their thirteenth year to a place in the world (somewhat) of their choosing.  She and I both love traveling.  And we want share our love for that with our children, even at the tender age of thirteen..  We want them to see the world and to realize that North Little Rock, Arkansas (while wonderful) isn’t all there is.

Of course, this trip bears all the marks of a classically Chino-esque sort of trip.  Heading to the mountains.  Hiking.  Eating great food.  Seeing incredible sights.  Lots of intentional time together.  That’s the plan at least, but who knows.

At first, I started planning every step of the journey, but eventually gave up in favor of a more flexible itinerary.  The basic plan is more or less intact.  Fly into Zurich.  Train to Luzern.  A good friend will drive us to Engelberg.  Stay a couple nights there.  Then we’ll head out onto the open trail.

At this point, I should explain that backpacking in Europe is a different animal than in the good ole US of A.  Euro-backpacking is often done walking from one mountain hut to the next.  When you arrive, there is a meal waiting for you.  And a bed.  The next morning, there’s breakfast.  Then you head out for another day of walking.  All this means that you don’t carry much.  No tent.  No food.  No sleeping pad.  Maybe a light sleeping bag.  Sort of feels like cheating.

Ok, so back to the itinerary.  After a few days seeing some of the Maker’s handiwork, we’ll hop a train back to Engelberg, and eventually end up back in Luzern for a couple days of hanging in town, then back to Zurich and back home.  Nutty, right?

And if all that weren’t crazy enough, there is also the small detail that that I’m returning to the very place my father and half-sister died about eight years ago.  While I continue to be the “most well-adjusted person I know,” there is no doubt that there are issues surrounding my relationship with my father that are still unresolved.  Not that a trip (even one as monumental as this one) is the cure-all for what ills, but I’m hoping that the adventure Cole and I have together in the mountains will in some way mirror our journey to wholeness.  And I’m glad that he and I are getting to do that together.

Obviously, I won’t be showing up much around here over the next several days, but if I come across any internet out there, there may be a Twitter or two that comes flying to you from across the Atlantic.  I’m tweeting at @taidochino.

See you on the other side.