Welp, friends … there goes another year. As the photo above indicates, we’ve had our highs and lows. I think the year didn’t quite pan out the way most of us were hoping it would,… More
I’ve never pretended to be a lover of the summer, but this year I feel like we definitely made the most of it! (See posts about our cross-country drive and trip to the beach, visits from east coast besties and water activities out on the lake for proof!) Still, I’m never sad to see summer go.
Blasphemy, I know 😉
Now that fall is officially here, and the weather (for the most part) is changing, I’m looking forward to all things fall and cold-weather related. I’ve already got this this fall festival booked for us for next weekend, along with a trip out Paint Maines Interpretive Park to celebrate Chris’ birthday. We’ve had our Halloween costumes planned since the beginning of September (there’s no shame in my game), Lotte has a season ski pass and lessons awaiting her, and our flights back east for the Christmas season were booked months ago.
In other words, we’re ready!
I won’t lie, there is a small part of me that feels an inkling of sadness when I compare this year to last. As Halloween and Thanksgiving rolled around last year, I was very pregnant and we were very excited to meet our little nugget (and find out whether she was a boy or a girl!) at the end of the year. There is no excitement that can equal that of waiting for a baby to arrive.
But this year … she is here! She can celebrate with us, and that, I have to remind myself, is even more fun.
I hope you guys are all gearing up for a super fun (and super safe!) fall and winter season, as well. I don’t know you personally, but I can say without a doubt … we all deserve it <3
Bis bald, friends!
P.S. I started an Instagram account for Chris’ culinary shenanigans — if you’re interested, check it out @the_au_chef !
Chris and his friend from New York have made it a tradition to climb 14ers in Colorado together, and while the pandemic derailed any plans for that tradition last year, they were back at it in full force this year! Below, Chris shares all the deets!
While 2021 is far from fantastic, thank goodness there are some freedoms restored from 2020. One of my best friends from New York traveled out to Colorado in early September and joined me for two days of hiking 14ers in the Sawatch Mountain Range. We had our eye on three 14ers, specifically:
*Mt. Elbert, which we tackled on Friday with some fellow running club teammates
Here’s our itinerary, in case it helps anyone else interested in doing something similar:
I picked Gavin up when he flew in on Wednesday and we drove straight to Buena Vista, a little town that’s about 2.5 hours west of Denver. Buena Vista is a great central location that gives you access to a wonderful mountainous playground. It was fun to spend the time in the car catching up and making up for lost time. We stayed at this great one-bedroom Airbnb (I crashed on the couch), and we checked out the Eddy Line Restaurant, a local brewpub I had remembered from a birthday lunch years ago. We prepped for the hike on Thursday by getting our food, drinks and gear ready and went to bed early. The AirBnB actually didn’t have a smart TV (the horror!) but they did have one of the best DVD collections I have come across, and we were able to rewatch some classics like Snatch, Fight Club and Dogma.
We woke up at 4:30 am and left to hike at 5:00 am. The trailhead for Mt. Belford and Mt. Oxford is just a 33 minute drive from Buena Vista. The road to the trailhead is a pretty intense dirt road, but the All Trails directions got us directly there. We were hiking by about 5:45 am, which is way darker than I remembered. Still, a lucky flashlight in the car made it less intimidating (bringing a headlamp or flashlight is a must).
This hike was IMMEDIATELY hard. Usually, there is a gradual climb or a chill portion, but this hike was pretty hard the entire way. It also didn’t help that we somehow got off the trail and ended up semi-rock climbing up a waterfall and steep, rocky surface of a mountain. It was hectic, to say the least. Finally, we were able to find the trail, and almost kissed the ground when we did.
The rest of the summit was a slog made up of steep switchbacks, as it goes with 14ers, and we reached the top … only to see a thick, heavy cloud cover and some light sleet.
Feeling a little defeated by what we dubbed “the situation,” and seeing the sleet/cloud cover, we decided to bail on Mt. Oxford, the second peak we had planned to hike. Luckily, there was a truly mellow trail off the back of the mountain that was a Godsend. There was even a pretty magnificent rainbow that showed up around 13,000 ft.
The rest of the way down did feel never-ending, but it was very rewarding when we got back to the car.
Details: All told, we hiked 9.5 miles. This was the hardest 14er we have hiked to date (and it is only a Class 2). I would also do this later in July or early August to help avoid any cloud cover. We have unfinished business with Belford and Oxford, so we will be back!
We packed up and left the apartment at 4:30 am and made it to the Mt. Elbert parking lot by 5:20 am Friday … and it was already packed! We were lucky to snag the last parking spot (!) and began hoofing it with our running team friends, Joe and Zach.
Mt. Elbert was two miles longer than Mt. Belford, but the trail is better marked, and is very easy to follow, some hikers refer to it as the ‘gentle giant’. The weather was also incredible on the way up, chilly but sunny. We hit the summit by 8:50 am and took the obligatory pics, though there was some cloud cover that had rolled in.
After that we booked it back down, and we made it back to the lot by 10:50 am. From there we drove to Idaho Springs and stopped at Westbound and Down Brewing for some delicious (and well-deserved!) sandwiches and beer.
Details: All told, we hiked 11 miles and it was well worth it. It is certainly long, but the effort is paid off by the achievement.
After our hikes, Gavin hung out for some fun adventures in our hood including a pool and barber visit, a tap house, and a canoe ride. Overall, these hikes were hands down the hardest we have done to date (we’ve now done TK), but it was terrific to spend some time in nature and catch up on life after 2020.
Bis bald, friends!
Happy Labor Day weekend, loves! I hope you were all able to find some kind of rest and relaxation over the past few days.
Chris had a friend visiting from New York and the two of them hiked a couple of 14ers over the week (more on that, later!), then came back to hang with us for a couple of days before Gavin flew back. On his last day, we all headed over to our local lake — Standley Lake — to rent some canoes and take them out on the water. We had been making this a tradition of ours each summer, but last summer they were closed because of the pandemic.
This summer, however, they were back open for business, and it was better than ever! We met some other friends of ours over at the lake and got one canoe and one kayak and spent two hours out on the water. The big girls loved it, while Em loved hanging out and supervising.
Rentals were $40 each for life jackets and the kayak and the canoe, and you get two hours out on the water. It was time well spent, friends!
Happy Labor Day, friends! Sending all the sunshiney, mellow vibes your way!
Friends. How is it that no one told me how hectic life gets when you have kids in school?! And in activities?!
Lotte started kindergarten a few weeks ago (sob!) and Grace is back in preschool, while little Em continues to delight us from home. Lotte also started ballet/tap, and Grace is starting up with swim lessons and music classes in the month of September. And honestly, at this pace, I’m not sure how long I can handle it!
I mean, I know we’ll get used to this as our life, and so-on-and-so-forth, but sheesh, I’m way more exhausted than the kids. I think the fact that we’re still coming out of a pandemic (which is so not over yet) adds to the exhaustion.
Anyway, I’m rambling. The point is, life is crazy busy right now, so when we get a chance to break away from the madness, I’m all-the-more grateful. This weekend we took a day to head into the mountains. We hadn’t been to Frisco in years, and I’m dying over the photos of itty bitty Lotte and Grace in this post! It was Em’s first trip to Frisco (only second trip to the mountains ever, actually, with this trip to Granby being her first), and it was an all-around success, I’d say.
After hanging in the bay for a while, we walked into town and headed straight for our favorite outdoor lunch spot, right next to Foote’s Rest Sweet Shoppe (because ending a trip to the mountains with ice cream is a must, obviously).
After our busy Sunday in Frisco, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about actually getting out the door on Monday with all three girls like I planned, but Lotte happened to have the day off, and I was determined to make it work. So we packed up the car, and I headed to the Denver Zoo with my girlies.
We had our ups and downs on this little outing, but overall, I’m so grateful that I have a flexible job that allows me to do fun and spontaneous things like this with my girlies.
Anyway, a very happy and healthy start to the week to you, my dear friends! I hope whatever craziness you’re getting up to right now, that your able to take a beat and enjoy the little things, too.
Bis bald, friends!
I used to think that it was preposterous to even think about school/fall/the end of the year before Labor Day, but as Instagram has taught me, it’s actually fairly common for schools around the country to start before then. Here in our little slice of Colorado heaven, Lotte will be starting kindergarten (SOB) and Grace will be back to preschool starting next Tuesday.
Le sigh. Summer, where did you go?
Besides our big ole’ road trip and Lotte’s 5th birthday, this summer has been but a blink. We’re looking forward to the girls getting back to school (even though they loved summer camp!) and seeing all their old friends, and we’re hopeful that this school year will see some semblance of normalcy. There will be masks, of course, but if we can just keep the kids in school, that would be such a blessing.
Again, le sigh. The world we live in these days.
Anyway, we had one of my good friends and her daughter — Lotte’s best NYC friend, she informed me — visit last weekend, and today was the girls’ last day at summer camp. We’re soaking it in, and keeping our fingers crossed for the fall future.
Bis bald, friends!
What is it exactly that you feel when your firstborn child turns five? Is it wonder at the amazing little person she is becoming? Is it sadness for missing the baby that was so sweet and cuddly?
Whatever the feelings are that you’re supposed to have when your first child turns five …. I’ve got ’em! I have all the feelings, friends! Lotte turned five this past Tuesday, and while she’ll probably never, ever read this, I just want to say … it’s not possible to love someone more, little muffin. You are sweet and sensitive, smart and silly. I cannot wait to see everything you have in store for this world.
Lotte had a “no rules” night on Monday night — aka a campout in the basement with Dad! — while we set up her bedroom for her birthday surprise. She got a big-girl bed for her birthday, and I set up all the gifts from family and friends in her room, as well. It was the most fun to see her come in and have everything laid out, and I dare say we’ve created a new birthday tradition.
We hit up the Denver Botanic Gardens — and the accompanying Mordecai Children’s Garden across the street — that morning, and it was so much fun. I had been to the children’s garden with Lotte and Grace years ago, but heading back with them at these ages was great. I think there’s probably a limited amount of time that I have left before Lotte starts to grow out of these things (or perhaps not … what do I know?!), so I’ll be soaking it all in as much as I can!
Bis bald, friends — I hope you’re all having amazing summers!
After a glorious farm wedding on July 3rd, we were back in the car on the 4th to start our trip home!
As you can see from that first photo, most of us were unhappy about this …
Actually, Chris and I went back and forth quite a bit about extending our trip. We had booked refundable places to stay on the trip back, exactly for this reason. Ultimately, though, we decided to keep things as they were. We had jobs and summer camp and track practice and a home to get back to, as much as we would have liked to have stayed for longer.
The Long Road Home
Rather than driving straight through — like we did on the way out — we planned for three stops on the way back home. We stopped at a Comfort Suites in DuBois, PA, an Airbnb in Vandalia, Ohio and a Sleep Inn in Oakley, Kansas. We would also be making some touristy stops throughout, to break the trip up even more.
After saying goodbye to our family (we hope to see you soon!), it was a “short” four-hour trip to our hotel in Pennsylvania. Even though we arrived late, a super-wired Grace caught some fireworks at the end of the night with Chris. The next day we took advantage of the awesome indoor pool and grabbed some breakfast before heading out.
After pool time and breakfast in PA, we loaded up the car again and headed to our next stop — a playground/picnic and then a splash pad, both in Ohio.
World’s Biggest Things — The Stop We Never Knew We Needed
The rest of the trip — about four hours — to our Airbnb in Vandalia — was a bit rough, if I’m being honest. We were all pretty over the car, somehow both tired and wired, at the same time. Luckily, about an hour outside of Vandalia, we saw a sign for some of the Big Things in the Small Town of Casey, Illinois, and made the split-second decision to pull over.
Man, oh man am I glad we did … because how much fun are these?!
Coffee, Dragons and Arches
After our pit stop in Casey, we still had a couple hours to our Airbnb in Vandalia, but luckily the stop did what it was meant to do — wear the kids out! They all fell asleep on the ride to Vandalia and, luckily, this Airbnb was glorious. Three bedrooms, two full bathrooms and a fully stocked kitchen with drinks and snacks. It was exactly what we all needed after a full day of travel.
After our Arch pit stop, it was back in the car for a few hours, until we stopped for gas and went for a quick detour for treats at the Ozarkland General Store…
After dinner we had a couple hours to our hotel in Oakley. We picked that particular hotel because it was just a few hours from there to our home in Colorado, and we needed to leave early Wednesday to get back.
And that, as they say, was that, friends! After countless miles, five hotels/Airbnbs and 11 states, we were back where we started! Being home felt lovely and completely odd, all at once. We are so grateful that we were able to have this experience, to see our people and to check out so much of the U.S.
At the end of the day, we wouldn’t have done anything differently … except maybe pay more attention to the rules of Dramamine earlier on in the trip. Sorry, Grace!
Here’s a quick look at all the places we stayed, visited and ate at during this leg of our trip:
- We stayed at three different places in three different locations: This hotel in DuBois, PA; this (wonderful) Airbnb in Vandalia, Illinois; and this hotel in Oakley, Kansas
- We stopped at a number of tourist spots along the way: World’s Biggest Things in Casey, Illinois; Shimoji Coffee in Vandalia, Illinois; the Kaskaskia Dragon, also in Vandalia, Illinois; The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri; Ozarkland General Store in Kingdom City, Missouri; The Pennant Topeka in downtown, Topeka, Kansas
Now for the super fun part … the money! We likely would have spent less money on this trip had we flown, even factoring in the cost of the flights. Gas is incredibly expensive right now, which was one factor. We also decided ahead of time that we didn’t want to scrimp on this trip. After not traveling for more than a year, we wanted to stop where we wanted to stop, eat what we wanted to eat, and stay where we wanted to stay.
And it worked out because, like I said, we wouldn’t have changed a thing. Here’s how our finances broke down. We spent:
- Hotels: $1581
- Gas/Tolls/Parking: $770
- Food/Groceries/Entertainment: $1112
- Miscellaneous: $250
The grand total on this trip was almost $4,000 which, of course, is a lot of cash. Considering everything we did, though — including places stayed, food ate, things visited — for five people, it really wasn’t all that bad.
Plus, as the kids say, YOLO, my friends … YOLO.
And that was our trip! I hope each and every one of you — who has made it this far in this post! — has something equally as adventurous and amazing planned for the summer. Until next time, friends … bis bald!
The night before we started our trip home, we attended my brother-in-law’s sister’s wedding at her fiancee’s family farm.
Wright’s Farm is the sweetest little family run farm in Gardiner, New York. They don’t typically hold weddings there, but they do have a brewery, apple and pumpkin picking and a farmer’s market. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area.
Cute as it is normally, attending a wedding there is next level! Unfortunately they don’t normally do events, but fortunately for us, we were able to attend this one because the bride just happened to be my brother-in-law’s sister. Lucky us!
That, my friends, was the farm wedding in a nutshell. There were so many more amazing details I could have captured, if I weren’t too busy having fun 😉
Bis bald, friends! I’ll be back tomorrow with this road trip finale … our 3-day car ride back home!