Welp, friends, this past weekend consisted of ticking things off the bucket list from left to right and every way sidewise. It was our annual birthday trip getaway for my birthday (if you’ll recall, we’ve made something of a tradition of heading out of town for both my and Chris’ birthdays. Last year was Great Sand Dunes National Park for Chris and Telluride for me), and we headed into the mountains — to Woodland Park, to be exact.
Woodland Park is charming in its own right, but really, the main attraction for people coming to this particular area is the drive up to the summit of Pikes Peak, one of Colorado’s (in)famous “14ers,” meaning a mountain whose summit is higher than 14,000 feet. This particular mountain reaches 14,115 feet … and I had no particular interest in heading there.
Until, of course, Chris mentioned it as a potential spot for my birthday weekend getaway.
Happy Monday, friends. I’m on to the last leg of our California trip, Yosemite National Park. We stayed in the most amazing cabin called the Birdhouse, which was part of the Scenic Wonders properties. It was right next to a babbling creek and had an awesome wrap-around porch with a grill and hot tub, plus a fully stocked kitchen, huge dining and living room area and a loft space with a King-size bed and two smaller beds, plus plenty of room for Lotte’s Pack and Play. It was perfect for our two-night stay, even if we did arrive a bit later than we expected to on Sunday night because things got confusing with closed roads due to a fire :/ Still, we arrived! And it was awesome! And we had a full day in Yosemite on Monday to explore, which included taking in the scene at Tunnel View, catching the Yosemite Valley Floor Tour (which takes place on a tractor!), seeing the Bridalveil Falls, having a picnic and checking out the Yosemite Falls, as well. Unfortunately two things we wanted to see — Glacier Point Road and Mariposa Grove with sequoias and Redwoods — were closed because of the ongoing fire.
Guess that just means we’ll have to come back 😉
^^ Our cute little Birdhouse, tucked away and secluded in the Yosemite woods.
^^ Our little fam at Bridalveil Fall. I was nervous about the trail leading up to the falls because it was marked as steep and dangerous, but really it was so short, it was no bother at all.
^^ Ridin’ along on our tractor tour strapped to dad in an Ergo — that’s the way to go! Lotte was pretty good on the tour, which lasted two hours. She fussed a bit but I think she really enjoyed the motion of the tractor and being outside, and she eventually fell asleep in the Ergo, which was awesome. It also helped that our tour guide was seriously amazing. You could really tell that she loves her job — she even sang to us at one point — and she made the whole experience that much more enjoyable.
^^ Checking out the scenery at Tunnel View. You can see the whole valley from here, and it’s so spectacular.
^^ The only family shot at Tunnel View that we were able to get 😉
^^ Ergo napping baby!
^^ It lightly drizzled on-and-off during our picnic (that’s Yosemite Falls in the background), but that turned out to be great, because no one else was around!
^^ This blurry photo of my babe and my hubs in front of the falls is one of my faves 😉 We didn’t do the actual Yosemite Falls hike, but you can take a short path up to the base, which was really beautiful.
^^ Oh hi there, tiny humans of mine!
Tuesday we had to head back to San Francisco to catch our flight home, but we took some time in the morning to head back to some of our favorite sites and snap some photos before leaving. Yosemite was so wonderful and majestic, and I’m so glad we got to take Lotte there. Even at her young age, you can still tell she’s noticing everything, and her favorite thing in the world to do right now is point and babble. She did that a lot along our California journey, and it felt great to be able to tell her exactly what she was looking at … just beautiful ole’ America, which is here for her to enjoy.
The day after Christmas we all packed up and headed to Keystone to spend a couple days in the mountains. We rented a cabin in Gateway Mountain Lodge, which was super close to the slopes and the little shopping area, so everyone was happy.
And while my day at the mountain was cut painfully short when my lovely daughter refused to take a bottle from my sister and stepdad, who were babysitting (long story short, it was actually my fault … lesson learned), I still had a lot of fun, and I think everyone else did, too.
^^ Ready for her mountain adventure!
^^ Could the back of these pants be any cuter?
^^ Darkest photo ever of our pit stop at Red Rocks on the way to Keystone.
^^ This window in our cabin … can I have one in my house, please?
^^ Although I missed out on snowboarding last season since I was pregnant, this was the first time I got on my snowboard and really just felt it all click. So. Much. Fun!
^^ Somebody had a five month birthday celebration at the mountains, surrounded by family. Not a bad way to spend a birthday, my friends.
^^ My stepdad bought all of us these New York shirts for Christmas and we wore them to dinner on our last night. How cute are we?!
^^ So long mountains, see ya in a couple weeks when we head to Breckenridge with some friends!
And that was our little mountain getaway in a nutshell. It was only three days, but it felt longer for some reason, which was nice. We’re off Friday to Philly and then New York to celebrate second Christmas with my Philly fam and then to attend a wedding in Central Park on Tuesday. (Ummmm … how much do I love how much we’re getting back to NYC with Lotte lately? A LOT, let’s just say!)
Bis bald, friends! I’ll just go ahead and leave you with this video of me rockin’ out on my snowboard 😉
After settling into our amazing tiny house last Wednesday, we woke up bright and early Thursday morning, ready to tackle the awesome splendor that is Grand Teton National Park. We got up around 6 a.m., made some coffee, and sat on our front porch overlooking the Tetons while we planned our day.
Here’s how the day went:
We started with breakfast at a cute little bakery right in the downtown part of Jackson called Persephone, where we ordered coffees, breakfast sandwiches and scones to go. It was busy, but we didn’t have to wait too long, and the food was amazing, so I’d highly recommend checking this place out if you’re in town.
After grabbing breakfast, we headed across the street to an outdoor store and grabbed some bear spray.
A note about the bear spray, people — it’s expensive, but it makes all the difference in terms of comfort level when you’ll be hiking (or even just standing!) in areas where there has been heavy bear activity, like there has been this year in both the Tetons and Yellowstone. For example — we ended up seeing four bears in Yellowstone … but that’s a post for another day 😉
Anyway, after breakfast and bear spray, we started the drive out to the park. The road we originally wanted to take was actually closed down due to bear activity (see!), but no matter where you drive around the Tetons, you’re sure to see some amazing stuff.
^^ After our hike, we stopped off at Dornans to have some drinks overlooking the mountains.
^^ Doesn’t get much more Wyoming than this.
On our way back to our tiny house, we stopped off at the grocery store to pick up some veggies and smores to grill and some wine to drink. Chris was dying to try out the outdoor grill that came with our tiny house, and I was dying to stare up at the stars all night long — so it worked out well for both of us!
We also decided to try out The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, right in downtown Jackson, which is about as cowboy/Midwest as you can possibly get. It’s definitely worth a stop-in for a drink if you’re in the area!
^^ You can’t really tell from this photo, but we’re actually sitting on bar stools that are saddles. Fun!
^^ Grilling for dinner right next to our tiny house. It was the perfect way to end our day full o’ fun at the Grand Tetons!
The next morning we would be up early (again!) to head over to breakfast at The Bunnery in Jackson before driving about an hour or so to start our Yellowstone adventure.
But more on that to come later, my friends. For now — bis bald!
^^ So I know it’s Sunday, not Monday, but Chris and I will be in the Galapagos all this week with no internet connection, so this post comes at you now or never, friends 😉 We just arrived back from the Amazon today, and it was an absolutely spectacular time. We loved the lodge where we stayed, and we saw so many amazing creatures and had tons of adventures. For example, the shower in our lodge was screened in at the back and offered a full-on view of the jungle, and the second night we were there I just happened to catch the little guy above and about a half dozen of his friends playing in the trees right outside. Can’t say that’s something that’s ever happened to me before! Much more to come on the Amazon in the upcoming weeks — bis bald friends!
Holy cow tomorrow is New Year’s Eve.
Holy cow tomorrow is the very last day in 2013.
Holy cow as of tomorrow Chris and I will have been married for one. whole. year!
Just … that’s a whole lotta holy cows!
So Chris and I had a lovely, action-packed holiday week last week, and the fun will continue this week with some anniversary activities. But last week …. let’s see. We spent Christmas eve into Christmas morning in New Jersey with family, then hopped to upstate New York to spend the rest of Christmas with my mom and stepdad, and drove the day after Christmas to meet up with my aunt, uncle, two cousins and cousin’s boyfriend for a little extra Christmas celebrating in Stowe, Vermont. My aunt had booked the place for us as our Christmas gift, and we stayed in a Stoneybrook cabin with a fireplace, huge kitchen and gorgeous views.
^^ The view from the back porch of our bedroom on Friday morning, after it had snowed all night.
My sister and her boyfriend, my uncle and Chris and I were excited to head up to the mountain to ski/snowboard. I would be taking another snowboarding lesson (I think after this time I finally got it down!), while the others went off and did their “we’re already good at this” thing.
Unfortunately we arrived too late on Friday for me to catch the lesson. (Word to the wise for any of you snow bunnies who might want to take a lesson at Stowe — they start at 10 a.m. on Fridays — maybe every day but I can’t say for sure — and they go for an hour and a half in the morning, then break and meet up again at 1 for another hour. And they’re expensive! With my gear rental and the group lesson, I ended up paying around $230. Ouch … but worth it!)
Anyway, since I wouldn’t be snowboarding on Friday, I did this instead:
^^Found the bar …
^^Had an extremely delicious Bloody Mary while I waited for everyone to meet me for lunch.
Saturday was different, though, my friends — Saturday I actually took a lesson! And let me tell you — by the end of it I wasn’t half bad 😉 It ended up being a private lesson when no one else showed up for the class, so that’s always a good thing.
Of course I never left the beginner’s hill but hey — I need to leave something to aspire to, right?
Saturday night we headed into town to the Vermont Ale House, which had awesome beers, amazing music and tables made of chalkboard so you could draw on them. It was pretty much the best.
We left yesterday to make the drive back to the city (in a snow and rainstorm, no less!), but Chris still got in a half day of snowboarding, I took a hike with my uncle and cousin’s boyfriend on the trails right near our cabin and Steph and I checked out a bit of the town.
I think it’s safe to say Stowe was a major success, and that we’d all love more than anything to make this trip an annual thing.
Bis bald, friends! I seriously cannot believe that tomorrow will be my lost blog of 2013. Time really does fly when you’re having fun …
So back in New York City things are … not so good. I mean, for myself and Chris–we’re pretty lucky. We never lost power or internet, our apartment was never flooded and things have pretty much gone on as usual. However, less than a few miles away we know things are much, much different. My heart just pours out to everyone who has lost friends and loved ones, valued possessions or entire homes. It’s just so horrible. Climate change–it’s really something to think about, isn’t it?
Chris has been working from home this whole week since the power is out at his office, but they hope to return on Monday. The New York City marathon, as of right now, will still happen Sunday and word on the street is the power will back on for everyone in Manhattan by Saturday evening.
In an effort to starting returning all things to normal, I thought I’d go ahead and blog about last weekend, when we were having a blast at JMU homecoming in Virginia.
So here’s to happy, warm weather memories …
Last Friday Chris and I set off to La Guardia to pick up our rental car at around 6:30 in the morning. We had about a 6 hour drive ahead of us to Stanley, Virginia, and we were eager to get started. Since we couldn’t check in to our log cabin (which was ahhhhmazing, by the way! More on that later!), the plan was for all of us to meet up at a local winery I had found, Wisteria, which was about a 10 minute drive away from where we’d be staying.
Chris, my cousin Alyssa, her boyfriend Jesse and myself were the first to arrive at the winery, and it was exactly as I would have wanted it to be. Cute. Charming. Low-key. Tasty wine. The owners–a retired husband and wife–opened the winery a few years back. Their two dogs, chickens, roosters and flock of sheep live on the property (which you know I loved), as well.
After our wine tasting ($12 per person for a tasting of 12 wines and a glass…gotta love VA!), we all congregated on a bench outside with some purchased bottles to take in the scenery and chat:
After our cute little vineyard tour, we all hopped in our cars and headed off to the cabin. Of course I had seen the photos on the website, and I had verified (multiple times) that the cabin we were getting was the one in the photos, but still, you can never be sure.
But let me tell you, my friends, we were not disappointed:
Our time at the cabin was mostly spent eating (we all took turns cooking), drinking, watching football, playing games in the game room, building fires in the fire pit, chilling in the hot tub (although somehow we only managed to do that Friday night) and playing beer pong and cards. It was an amazing time.
And on Saturday, Chris, Alyssa, Jesse and I headed to the JMU campus to catch the JMU football game and tailgate a bit.
Now I hadn’t been back to the stadium since my first year out of school, but I knew they had done some remodeling. It was actually pretty impressive (as was our defeat to Georgia State!):
After the game we went to the book store and took a quick walk around campus, then headed back to the cabin, where we ate delicious shrimp fajitas, made a fire, played beer pong and cards, and where my sister and her friend Jenna had made a birthday cookie cake for Chris, whose birthday was last week.
On Sunday we were all pretty eager to head back to our homes as early as possible, since we all knew the storm was brewin’. So that was about it–our Virginia weekend in a nutshell. It was really fun, and I’d recommend this cabin to anyone looking for a quiet little retreat in the woods.
A word of caution though: if you do stay here, beware that the firewood bundles are $5 per bundle to use. Don’t go ahead and use them all up on the first night assuming they are free. Like Chris did.
Bis bald, friends! And if you were in any way affected by the storm, we’re thinking and praying for you!