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Vacation Pictures: Heidi, Jenni, Kelly

By Noveladventurers

Crossing Alborz
By Heidi Noroozy
Vacation Pictures: Heidi, Jenni, Kelly
Crossing Iran’s Alborz Mountains on the Chalous Road from Tehran to the Caspian Sea is sometimes breathtaking, often hair-raising, and always an adventure. The road twists in a multitude of hairpin turns, and I hold my breath as we scrape past rough rocky walls, swerve around oncoming cars that straddle the lanes, and seem about to plunge into endlessly deep ravines. The road runs through a multicolored landscape—gray and red rock on the Tehran side, white-capped peaks at the summit, and green valleys on the descent to the land-locked sea. Early in the journey, we pass the Karaj Dam with its lake of blue-green water. A village on the far shore, cradled by rocky cliffs, is accessible only by boat. Higher up, the road tunnels through the mountain, and avalanche shelters protect it from bits of broken glacier. Villages, farms, and restaurants crop up in places that seem too bleak to support human life. Roadside shops sell everything from cigarettes to yogurt strained through huge white cloth bags that dangle from the eaves. I always keep an eye peeled for the haft sheytoon (seven devils), cone-shaped rock formations that line the road. There are only five devils now, since two of them broke off and fell into the valley below, victims of an earthquake or the wrath of God, depending on who’s telling the tale. When I spot the deep blue expanse of the Caspian Sea peaking through the trees, I feel my muscles relax. Once again, I’ve survived the perilous journey across the Alborz Range.
Oregon Coast
By Jenni Gate
Vacation Pictures: Heidi, Jenni, Kelly
On home leave from Africa or Asia every couple of years, we traveled the U.S., visiting every relative my parents could think of. My earliest memories of the Oregon Coast are from one of these trips, when I was about 7 years old. We traveled from seeing family in Oregon down the Oregon Coast, through the Redwoods in Northern California and into central California to see more relatives. I don’t remember much about the family we visited, but the Oregon Coast made a deep impression. In California, the beaches were warm and inviting, but in Oregon they are wild. The rocks rising from the waters off the coast create a raw, stormy beauty matched by few other places. Its treacherous, rugged coastline inspires artists and photographers the world over. In college, I visited the Oregon Coast and fell in love all over again. When my son was about 3, we traveled with my parents to Brookings, and it was a joy to see my son experience the surf and sand for the first time. Now it is still my favorite place on the planet, one I have the opportunity to visit occasionally. Whether during a violent winter storm or a sun-kissed summer day, my favorite memories are of contemplating the vast ocean and hiking the cliff trails, sand dunes, and beaches of the Oregon Coast.
Snowy Mountains, Tripping Stream
By Kelly Raftery
Vacation Pictures: Heidi, Jenni, Kelly
This picture always garners the question, “Where in Kyrgyzstan was this taken?” It always reminds me why we chose Colorado as our home. Colorado, we are proud to call you home, for all that you are that reminds us of Kyrgyzstan, for all the opportunities you have given us. This photo was from a trip we took two years ago, just after my husband landed the job that brought us to the Front Range.
I remember this warm, sunny day, stopping alongside the road, walking in a mountain meadow and watching the stream rush by, washing our hands in the ice cold water. After three years of trying to escape Las Vegas’s severe economic downturn, we would be in our new home by the end of the month.
This photo marks a week when our lives took a new direction. Once in Colorado, my son was able to take dance lessons (he is now competing on the national level), my husband was able to find a challenging and fulfilling job and I was able to find time to pursue my passion for writing.
Those snowy mountains, that tripping stream, thank you for leading us home.

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