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.
Well friends, somehow — and I’m really not sure how — this photo was taken on New Years Eve ONE YEAR AGO. 2018 is coming to a close, and since we leave for Australia the day after tomorrow, I figured I should put together my Year In Review post before we head out, and then just add Epic Australia, as I will from now on be calling it, once we’re back.
So without further adieu, here is a bit of what we got up to in the year that started with us expanding our little family ….
Happy Monday/Easter/April/My Birthday, friends! Wowza it was a busy weekend, huh? On top of all of that, today, my birthday, is my last day of maternity leave.
I don’t want to talk about that, though :/
To celebrate, Chris & the girls and I packed up the car and headed about six hours southwest to Telluride, CO. It’s a place Chris and I have been wanting to check out since we moved here (you’ll see why in the photos below), and we figured what better way to celebrate all of the above (not to mention Grace’s first big trip!) with a tick off our bucket list?
So that’s what we did! We all loaded into the car and left the house around 9 a.m. on Thursday, on the way to our destination – this amazing little apartment in downtown Telluride. A note about our place: it was really awesome. The price was unbelievable for the location, and even though it was a railroad setup (meaning we had to walk through our bedroom and what turned out to be Grace’s bedroom to get to the living room/kitchen), it worked well for us. Plus the amazing window seat looking out onto the river made for some pretty spectacular photo opportunities (not to mention heart palpitations, since the windows opened all the way up and there were no screens), and you know I love me a good photo opportunity 😉
Anyway, on this trip we took some amazing walks, rode the gondola to Mountain Village, checked out the library (which is a must-visit for anyone who has kids, in my opinion), had a picnic, helped Lotte participate in an Easter egg hunt on the mountain (sort of. we were late and the eggs were all scooped up by the time we got there, but two awesome people who worked there hid some for her anyway), and just soaked up all the family time we possibly could. Lotte was teething something fierce on this trip, and she had a cold and we think maybe the altitude was bothering her, but she took it all in stride. (Other than waking up around 4 a.m. every. single. night. See one of my photos below for a favorite memory of mine from the trip, all thanks to Lotte’s inability to sleep.)
Here’s some of what we got up to!
^^ These two never cease to amaze me. Like I mentioned before, it was more than six hours to our destination, and despite the long ride, they were both pretty amazing throughout the majority of it.
^^ See what I mean about the window? How amazing is that view?! It was definitely Lotte’s favorite spot in the whole place.
^^ Oh gorgeous Telluride – you really were spectacular.
^^ Picnicing amongst the mountains … is there anything better? (Besides picnicing with cookies amongst the mountains, that is!)
^^ As I mentioned, the library in Telluride is beyond amazing for kids. The kids’ section is humongous, with tons of toys and activities, and I think Lotte would have been happy to hang there all day.
^^ Tuckered out from her first day in Telluride 😉
^^ And here is the moment I mentioned earlier — my favorite memory of the trip. After struggling through the night with teeth that ached and a nose that wouldn’t stop running, my little boo woke up around 4 a.m. on Saturday and was, obviously, exhausted and frustrated and in pain. It took a bit of coaxing, but eventually I got her to lay down next to me on the window seat, where we promptly both fell asleep for about an hour and Chris snapped a shot. Oh man, how I love these kids. I feel so incredibly lucky to be their mom.
^^ On Saturday we hit up the gondola (G’s first gondola ride!) to check out Mountain Village, where we had lunch and took in the spectacular views. Bringing this easy-fold mini-stroller and the Beast was a stroke of genius courtesy of my husband. The Beast was essential for most of our mountain/trail walking, but on the paved paths in Mountain Village (and for riding on the gondola), this tiny, compact stroller (coupled with the Ergo for G) was definitely the way to go.
^^ Lunch at Tomboy Tavern was well deserved for this guy, who spent the majority of the day carrying G and the baby book bag and pushing Lotte in the stroller. Lucky me <3
^^ This face … turns me to mush every time. (Both of ’em.)
^^ Lotte has ridden in a gondola before, but this was the first time she was old enough to actually notice what was going on. I think a small part of her was skeptical and maybe even a little scared, but she did eventually turn around to take it all in.
^^ The Easter bunny made a stop by our little Telluride apartment!
^^ Even though the egg hunt was meant to take place from 9-10, when we arrived at 9:30, most of the eggs had already been scooped up. Two super-sweet workers hid a couple extra eggs for Lotte to find, though, and another little girl even kindly offered to hide a few of her found eggs (sans the candy inside, of course), as well. Lotte didn’t quite understand the concept, but it was still really fun!
And that was our trip in a nutshell, my friends! Of course there was way more that happened — like trying to eat out for dinner on Saturday night and being forced to do take-out instead due to a mini G freak-out. Overall, though, what I’ll take away from this trip, which encompassed a celebration of so many different things, is how amazingly close I felt to my little family afterwards. (More than 12 hours together in a cramped car will do that, I guess!) I’m lucky beyond belief to call these three my own, and I can’t wait to see what other adventures life brings our way.
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.
Happy Friday, friends! So last Saturday we hopped in the car to drive from San Francisco to a place I’ve been dreaming about for a while now — Sequoia National Park. Why exactly have I been dreaming about sequoias since I was a young girl, you might ask? Funnily enough, sequoia was actually one of the first words I ever learned to spell in my elementary school in Albany (I also took French there … super fancy, fancy), and I’ll always remember that because it was so hard to spell. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to go and visit.
Funny the things we remember from when we’re little, isn’t it?
Anyway, we hopped in the Jag around 7:30 a.m. on Saturday and drove about 4.5 hours to Sequoia, all with our little muffin in the back seat. We stayed at the Wuksachi Lodge, which was nice since it was right there inside the park. (This was much preferred to our lodging in Yellowstone which, although nice, was about an hours drive to and from the park each day. Definitely not recommended.) We originally thought we had a kitchen in our room and we had bought food to cook for the rest of the trip, but we didn’t, so we ate at the hotel restaurant. It turned out to be really nice, though, because the restaurant was in a separate lodge, which allowed us to explore a bit, and it was surrounded by windows which were surrounded by … you guessed it … trees!
So the sequoias are … absolutely everything I imagined they would be and more. We didn’t even have one full day to spend in the park, but we made darn sure to check out all the main attractions: The General Sherman Tree (the largest tree in the world by mass), The Congress Trail, the Moro Rock Trail (well I didn’t do this — too steep for my preggers self — but Chris did, and the views were spectacular), Crescent Meadow, and so much more. Chris even went for a run in the morning and came across a bear (he was trying to), so that made his trip!
Really, though, just to be there, walking among those beautiful, tall trees, that was all I needed to feel more relaxed than I’ve felt in … ummm… years?! It’s an amazing experience that I think everyone should make a priority at some point.
^^ Here we are, just the 3.5 of us, in front of a big ole’, ginorous tree 😉
^^ The bump was really out and about on this trip! Oh hey there, Baby Connor No. 2!
^^ That’s General Sherman I’m pointing to in the background there. Perspective is a funny, funny thing …
And that was Sequoia and King’s Canyon, in a nutshell. It was fast and furious through the park, but I really feel like we got to see a lot of it, and what we did see was glorious. Love you, sequoia trees. Thanks for being so amazing.
On Monday I’ll bring you the final leg of our trip — Yosemite National Park. Until then, bis bald, friends, and have a great weekend!
Happy Thursday, friends! Chris and Lotte and I are back from our trip to California, and can I just say that we really do have the most amazing little traveler ever. Lotte was so chill on this trip, which included staying in multiple different places overnight and driving for hours between destinations. She barely complained at all … except for the flight home. Luckily that was only two hours, and by then she more than deserved to complain.
Anyway, our kid is totally awesome, but back to the trip 😉 We flew into San Francisco around 8 p.m. on Thursday of last week and stayed with one of my oldest friends in her sweet apartment in Nob Hill. Seriously though, we couldn’t have asked for a better location to stay for our two night, one day visit, because we were within walking distance to pretty much everything, and the cable car (which I do believe was Lotte’s favorite part of the entire trip) runs right past her place.
With only one full day to see everything we wanted to see, we couldn’t waste a ton of time, but even with our jam packed schedule I didn’t feel like we did too much or pushed Lotte too hard. Needless to say, however, we would love to go back and see more!
^^ Chris got fancy on this trip and rented us a Jaguar to drive around California. I actually didn’t drive it at all — because Chris was nice enough to take on that burden for the entirety of the trip — but it sure was fun to ride shotgun in!
^^ Look at these two — could they be any cuter?! This is right outside of Mina’s apartment before we started our day on Friday. I snapped this shot before Lotte became fascinated with the cable car going by, a fascination that lasted through the trip.
^^ Our first stop was a walk to Lombard Street (which we returned to later with the Jag to drive down!), which was so beautiful. There’s a great view of the water and Alcatraz from here, and the blooms all the way up the road are gorgeous.
^^ After lunch at The Buena Vista Cafe (well-known for their Irish coffees, which of course I couldn’t have, but Chris and Mina did) we bought tickets for a ride on the cable car which, as I mentioned earlier, was definitely Lotte’s favorite part of our entire trip. We sat in a seat looking out onto the street and she just smiled and kicked her legs and squealed the whole time. It was absolutely the cutest thing.
^^ Look at this happy little cable car rider!
^^ After a short rest and change back at Mina’s place, we headed back out to check out the Golden Gate Bridge (or so we thought) and to grab dinner. (We ended up at the newly opened MAC’D, where you build your own macaroni and cheese dinner by picking from different menu options. I put shrimp on mine, and Lotte was a big fan.) On the way we passed by the Palace of Fine Arts and hopped out for a quick photo, because how gorgeous is it here?
^^ Sadly, Karl the Fog was in full force Friday night when we stopped down by the bridge, so we couldn’t get a complete view. Still, what we did get to see was pretty!
After a full day of touring we headed back to Mina’s to get ready to leave early the next morning for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. While I was looking forward to seeing the sequoias (more on exactly why in my next post), I was really sad to leave Mina. We had a great time visiting San Francisco, even for the short time we were there, and it was even better to have had Mina there to be our tour guide. I can’t wait to get back and do some more exploring (and maybe, just maybe, get a better shot of that bridge?!).
And that was our San Francisco trip in a nutshell, friends. Tomorrow, I’ll be back with Sequoia!
Welcome to Monday, friends! Do weekends seriously scream by, especially in the summer, or is it just me? This weekend was jam packed for us (as is most of our July, actually), but it was a lot of fun. Chris and I split parents’ nights out when he saw a concert at Red Rocks on Friday and I attended the same one Saturday. (Concerts at Red Rocks, by the way, are never bad, even when you have no idea what band you’re seeing, like we didn’t 😉 Luckily the band we saw — The Avett Brothers — turned out to be amazing!)
Saturday we also had a birthday party in Denver for our friends’ 2-year-old, and yesterday a friend flew into town from New York to stay with us for a couple days.
As I said … our weekend was for partying, friends 😉 Hope yours was great, too!
^^ This little girl certainly loved the birthday cake part of the birthday party!
^^ I could stare at Red Rocks views all day, every day. We headed over to the area a tad early so we could tailgate before the show started, which is always my recommendation.
^^ Love these ladies <3
^^ Not the best photo, and it’s really hard to capture the awesomeness of Red Rocks, but believe me when I say you’ll never look at another music venue the same after attending a concert here.
^^ Just making sure our guest Gavin is cool … he is!
Well friends, Lotte & I are home from our epic trip back east, and while it will likely take me at least a couple of days to go through all my photos, here’s just the slightest of tastes of what we got up to:
1. Lotte attended her first birthday party — it was for my nephew Rory’s 4th.
2. We traveled in the car a lot! Trips included from NY to PA, from PA to VA, back from VA to PA and finally from PA back to NY … not to mention to and from Newark Airport ;).
3. Lotte took her first trip into D.C.! We visited quite a few sites with Lisa (see above photo), but I’ll have more on that later.
4. CHRIS SURPRISED ME AND FLEW BACK TO NEW YORK ON FRIDAY TO HELP ME OUT WITH LOTTE & ATTEND THE BELOW EVENTS!!! If that’s not an awesome husband, I just don’t know what is.
5. My sister and I hosted an MS fundraiser this past Saturday in honor of our Mom, and it was awesome. We raised over $2,000 in total, and I think it’s safe to say everyone had a great time and our Mom would have been (is) proud.
6. After the MS fundraiser we went to celebrate my Grandma and her twin’s 95th birthday … how utterly amazing is that?!
I’m sure there is more I’m forgetting, but hopefully going through all my photos will jog my memory. For now, check out my one photo from the sad cherry blossoms in D.C. (a recent frost killed them all!), and a pic of Lotte checking out our landing back in Denver. That girl loves herself an airplane landing <3
^^ Have you ever seen a happier dog? Can you blame him — look at that view!
Well my friends, we made it back from our first road trip with the Little, and we’re all in tact and, what’s more, we all had an amazing time. Chris’s birthday was this past Saturday, so we decided to check out a new place — Steamboat Springs. At only a little over three hours away, it was the perfect place to get our feet wet when it comes to traveling with a baby, and Lotte obliged us by being pretty much amazing the entire time.
What can I say — she has travel in her blood 😉
For starters, we stayed at Nordic Lodge which, while totally bare essentials when it comes to amenities, was the perfect location, especially when you have a baby who needs feeding and/or a good nap every couple hours and you prefer to do that at a home base. They had a Pack ‘n Play that we were able to use for our trip, which meant we could skip taking up room in the car with ours, and they were willing to upgrade us for free to a larger room to accommodate the Pack ‘n Play, although we opted to pay an extra $50 for the weekend and actually upgrade to a suite with a separate bedroom, that way Lotte could nap in peace and we didn’t have to tiptoe around her and whisper the whole time.
I gotta say — for newbies, I think we did well!
Here’s what we three got up to …
^^ You know my child would have a onesie specifically dedicated to traveling, although I can’t take credit for buying this — it was all my sister!
^^ Our first night in town we walked to Mahogany Ridge Brewery for dinner which, while a brewery, was in my opinion probably a little bit fancier than you should bring a baby (and a huge stroller!) to. So we really have to give props to Lotte for sleeping through our entire meal! Great job, kid! That certainly made us feel more comfortable taking you out for more restaurant visits throughout the weekend.
^^ Chris’s traditional birthday steak dinner … just one night early 😉
^^ What you see here are parents who are ecstatic that their child slept through their meal!
^^ The cute little town, all lit up at night.
^^ Saturday started out with this adorable face … and some birthday present opening 😉
^^ After presents we made our way to Fish Creek Falls, a pretty little hike that was short enough to do with our 3-month-old strapped to Chris’s chest and long enough to make us feel like we actually did something — plus it was so pretty! (Bring $5 for parking! I had read that this place gets really packed, but during the off-peak season at like 7:30 in the morning, it was pretty much us alone on the trails — we only ran into two other (very small) groups of people the whole time.)
^^ The falls!
^^ The rising sun was not my photography friend on this hike, but the falls are there, if you look hard enough!
^^ Again, slept like a champ throughout the whole thing! We made sure to rug her up so she was nice and warm, all cozy-like against dad’s chest for the hike.
^^ After the hike we had a seriously delicious breakfast at Creekside Cafe & Grill, which just happens to literally be almost in the parking lot of the hotel where we stayed. Score! The back porch was closed for the season, but it was such a glorious day we could easily have eaten outside and been happy. Oh well — next time!
^^ Bloody Mary’s all around!
^^ Under the table and dreaming 😉
^^ See? How cute is this back patio?!
^^ After breakfast we went for a little walk in town to do some shopping and check out the fall colors. Although some things were unfortunately closed for the season (like back patios, for example, and the gondola), I would highly recommend traveling during this time. It was really quiet, which was nice, and the views were spectacular.
^^ If you’re looking for a quintessential Western shop with cowboy boots, hats and the like, check out F.M. Light & Sons. It’s sort of an institution in town.
^^ Cowboy boots for days!
^^ They had ’em for kids, too!
^^ See what I mean about the fall colors? Glorious!
^^ Elevated Oil is a fun place to check out if you’re an olive oil connoisseur. You can even taste test the oils, which I thought would be totally gross but actually turned out to be delicious!
^^ After shopping we hopped in the car for a (super) short ride to Storm Peak brewery, which was a really fun little brewery with tons of delicious beers on tap. Plus the weather was so nice they opened the garage doors, making it even more fun to hang.
^^ Again, ecstatic parents that their child is cooperating …
^^ Lotte did wake up from a short nap here, which allowed us to take some silly pictures. Always a plus in my book.
^^ Silly pic No. 1 …
^^ And 2 …
^^ And 3 …
^^ And 4 … and trust me, there were many more, but I’ll spare you. You get the picture.
^^ We tried to hang at Butcherknife Brewing after Storm Peak, but Lotte had had enough, which was fair enough — you did well little one! So we headed back to the hotel so she could nap properly, and Chris and I ordered take-out from Rex’s American Grill & Bar. In all honesty, we only ordered from this place because I thought it delivered (it does not, I had to go pick our food up), but it turned out to be delicious, so it was a win!
^^ On Sunday morning we had to get rugged up again (which someone was not happy about at first), because we took a walk down by the Yampa River.
^^ On the way back to the lodge to grab the car we stopped in Off the Beaten Path, an amazing local bookstore that I highly recommend, if you’re into that kind of thing 😉
^^ We definitely wanted to check out the area near the mountain while we were there as well. It’s really cute with lots of little shops and restaurants, and while you can tell it would probably be crazy packed in winter, again, at this perfect time of year, it was pretty empty, which is always amazing for a ski town.
^^ Improvising when no ramp is available.
^^ We grabbed lunch at Slopeside Grill before heading out and ate on their deck. Chris was a bit upset they didn’t have more local beers on tap, but their veggie burger was pretty awesome (although Mahogany’s was better, if you’re keeping score) and the views were unparalleled.
^^ Multitasking at its best.
^^ Views on the drive home.
And that was it, my friends — our first road trip with Lotte is officially in the books, and it was a great one. Her next big trip will be in November when we head back east for Thanksgiving, and that one involves a plane. Yikes. Wish us luck!
^^ Country road views on the way from Denver to Crested Butte
This past weekend just happened to be my birthday [;)], and my husband decided to whisk me away for a couple days to the adorable little mountain town of Crested Butte, which is about 4.5 hours away if you don’t get lost (aka we did on the way there, no biggie!). We stayed at the Elevation Hotel & Spa, which is the perfect spot for either snowboarding (because it’s super close to the gondola) or snowboard watching (because it’s right at the bottom of the hill everyone comes down). It was also the closing weekend of the mountain, which meant lots of costumed skiers and snowboarders, as well as some shenanigans that were fun to watch and not have to worry about even pretending to take part in (thanks pregnant belly!).
Chris also treated me to my first ever pre-natal massage while we were away (thanks hubby!), which was truly a little bit of bliss.
Ah, Crested Butte .. thanks for a relaxing getaway. Now it’s back to the real world …
^^^ We stopped for lunch in the cute little town of Salida on the way to Crested Butte. The Fritz had all kinds of tasty treats on their menu (and Shirley Temples were even listed on the menu!), plus they’re right across the street from the river, so it’s the perfect spot to stop for a while.
^^^ Crested Butte views
^^^ We stopped by The Dogwood before dinner at Marchitelli’s Gourmet Noodle our first night. The Dogwood is a craft cocktail bar, which is fun even when you aren’t drinking, because you can really push the bartenders out of their comfort zone by asking them to create a special non-alcoholic concoction for you, such as …
^^^ This fizzy blueberry cream deliciousness that our awesome bartender made for me. I couldn’t finish it all, but it was sure fun trying …
^^^ Chris’ spicy jalapeno drink. Not my ideal, but he seemed to like it.
^^^ Just to prove that I was there too, since most of my photos end up being of Chris since I’m behind the camera 😉
^^^ Early morning mountain views on our way to grab coffee and bagels from Camp 4 Coffee.
^^^ We squatted here for a while in the morning to drink our coffee, eat our bagels and take in the scenery. I like snowboarding and all, but this is seriously my favorite part of visiting the mountains. People watching!
^^^ After my pre-natal massage, we headed up to the rooftop restaurant next to our hotel to watch the skiers and snowboarders come down the hill in their crazy outfits. And we did see some crazy outfits — in fact, can you spot the hot dog in this picture 😉
^^^ Our little family of (almost!) three (can you believe that belly?!)
Bye bye, Crested Butte! I have a feeling we’ll be seeing you again…
^^ A little view on our way to Aspen last weekend.
So this past Saturday Chris and I decided to stop off in Aspen on our way to Glenwood Springs to hike the Hanging Lake trail. Aspen’s about four hours away from us in Denver, and neither one of us had been before, but it’s only about an hour from Glenwood Springs, so we figured Saturday would make the perfect time to do a little stop off.
At first we weren’t sure what to check out since we would have limited time, but after a little research, I determined that seeing the Maroon Bells was absolutely what we needed to do. According to some sources, these mountain ranges are the most photographed mountains in all of North American — and now we know why.
During the summer the trail into the Maroon Bells site is closed to individual cars from 8 to 5 p.m. (unless you have a child under 2, or a few other contingencies), but you can catch a bus for $6 per person from Aspen Highlands, and they have free parking for Maroon Bell visitors as well. The parking lot does fill up quickly though, so you kind of need to test your luck. We did get lucky, though, because we arrived around 2 and were able to find a spot right away.
It was meant to be.
Here’s a bit of the (spectacular) views …
^^ This lake on the way into Aspen was too pretty not to pull off to the side of the road and photograph.
^^ The Aspen Highlands, where we parked and caught the bus into Maroon Bells.
^^ Gorgeous mountain views.
^^ So about these mountains. The Maroon Bells are two peaks in the Elk Mountains — Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak — separated by about a third of a mile. You can hike them (they’re considered ’14ers’ — aka the name that Coloradans have given to certain mountains in the state that are above 14,000 feet), but the terrain is very difficult, so you should definitely do your research and train beforehand.
^^ There is another little hike, about 3 miles, running away from the mountains, that Chris and I will definitely be back to do at some point in the near future.
^^ Loved these wildflowers!
And that was Maroon Bells, kids. We spent a couple hours there, and then hopped back in the car to finish the hour drive to Glenwood Springs. I’ll be back tomorrow with more on our evening in Glenwood Springs and the Hanging Lake hike.
Ah, travel. The thought of upcoming trips can always bring a smile to my face. Chris and I have dubbed this our U.S. travel year, since by the end of 2015 we will have added Ohio, Missouri, Kansas, Utah, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Louisiana to our list of been-there states. (This is, of course, in no small part due to our partial cross-country drive out to Denver at the beginning of the year.)
In addition to that, we’ll be traveling to Japan in February of 2016 for Chris to complete his sixth and final race in the 6 World Marathon Majors.
Travel is, obviously, an important thing for us. And while I love collecting travel books, and I tend to keep most maps, tickets and other paraphernalia that we collect while we’re actually on these trips, I’d be lying if I said that technology wasn’t a huge help these days when it comes to traveling. So in honor of all you Weary Wanderers out there, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tech gizmos and goodies that make the road less traveled just a little bit easier.
Here goes nothing.
GasBuddy I’ve had this app for a while now, but since Chris and I just moved to a place where we needed a car at the beginning of this year, I haven’t had a ton of chances to use it yet. Still, I’m excited to use the app when we hit the road for our Wyoming/Montana trip in September. Just type in your zip code on the website or hit the ‘Find Gas Near Me’ button on the app and let the magic of GasBuddy do the legwork to find the cheapest gas wherever you are.
onTime and MyTix
While I probably won’t have a ton of use for these two apps anymore, when I was a New York City dweller, I basically lived by them to get home to visit family. The free onTime app from Metro North Rail provides real-time updates on train departures and arrivals, along with track information, for any route you plunk into its database, while New Jersey Transit’s MyTix allows you to actually purchase, activate and use tickets directly through your smartphone (finally!).
Foursquare Cool or creepy: Sometimes when I’m just walking around Denver, I’ll hear a little ‘ding’ from deep down in my purse, and I’ll pull out my phone to find that Foursquare is recommending a restaurant (or even a specific dish!) near where I’m standing. Okay, so maybe that’s a little creepy, but you actually don’t have to allow the location access on Foursquare to use it when you’re out and about to search for awesome restaurants, bars and shops near where you are.
Roadtrippers Ah, road trips — the staple of American travel, am I right? As I mentioned before, Chris and I only recently needed a car in our lives, but I’ll tell you right now that pretty much nothing about having a car excited me, except for grocery shopping and, of course, road trips! So of course I love the idea behind Roadtrippers and plan to use it a ton for upcoming trips. Plan out an amazing road trip by inputting your start location/end location and start date/end date, and asking the app/site to provide you with information regarding hotels, attraction, natural wonders and/or weird stuff. For example, when I use the app to set me up with a route from Denver to Glacier National Park, I’m told the trip will cost about $157 in gas, should take about 16 hours total and covers approximately 916 miles. Set your destinations, then click the little location icon off to the bottom left of your screen and select what you’d like to find (accommodations/attractions & culture/camping & rv/entertainment & nightlife/food & drink/outdoors & recreation/etc.), and the app will automatically pull up the best options on your drive. For example, on the way out to Glacier National Park Chris and I might stop at Bighorn National Forest, Teapot Rock, Yellowstone Art Museum or the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, among many others.
PackPoint Packing List Travel Companion If packing for a big trip stresses you out because you fear you may forget something super important, that’s where PackPoint can help. Download the app and start by picking if you’re a gal or guy. Then input where you’re going and when, then the number of nights you’ll be staying and the type of trip you’ll be having (business or leisure) and activities you plan to do (swimming, snow sports, working, camping, gym, photography, international, beach and baby are just a few of your options, and you can customize activities if you upgrade to the $2 app version, as well). Hit ‘repeat basics’ or ‘laundry’ if you’ll be able to do that on your trip, and the app will generate a suggested packing list for you. You can check off items as you pack and swipe to remove stuff you don’t need. For example, on my trip to Glacier National Park — where I plan to hike, take photos and do lots of walking — my packing list includes things like camera bag, memory cards, battery and my camera, as well as maybe a handheld GPS, water bottle, bug spray and sunscreen. I find the obvious reminders (things like chapstick, pain reliever pills, wallet, house key and reading glasses to be particularly helpful because, let’s be honest, if I’m going to forget something, it won’t be my camera!)
I know this post is about three weeks late, but sheesh 2015 started with a friggin’ bang, did it not? I feel like we’ve barely had time to sit at all since we arrived in Denver. I did want to throw up just a couple of photos of our halfway-cross-country trip from New York to Colorado, though, as well as give a little bit of info on some of the places we stayed and ate. We didn’t have a ton of time to spend in each place (I think the longest we stayed was about 20 hours in St. Louis, although many of those hours were spent sleeping), but I really feel like we still got a good idea what each place was about … and we loved ’em all!
Oh by the way, in case you were wondering, our route took us this way:
All the hotels were great (especially the Hilton in St. Louis — totally walking distance to the Arch!), and pet-friendly to boot.
So without further adieu … a bit of our cross-country trip in photos:
^^ We hopped into the car on Thursday, Jan. 8th, all four of us as a family. Everyone was all, “Oh my gosh, you’re taking your cat and your rabbit in the car with you? For four days? Across the country?” And we were all, “Ummm, yeah. They’ll be totally fine!” And guess what friends — they really were! Totally rocked it, is what this kitten and bunny did! Good job guys – we were very proud of you.
^^ Helloooooo Ohio! Unfortunately we only spent a couple of waking hours here, but when we checked out TripAdvisor for a suggestion on where to eat, it turned out the highly rated Flatiron Bar & Diner had received pretty great reviews and, wahooooo!, it was basically right in our parking lot! I ate a delicious fried oyster po’ boy and Chris had the gumbo and we had some beers — it was just what the doctor ordered after 10 hours of driving.
^^ Penny and Nugget had no trouble making themselves at home in our hotel rooms — especially the Hilton in St. Louis which was super swank.
^^ Like I mentioned before, the Arch was only a couple blocks from our hotel, so we just had to head out at night to catch it all lit up …
^^ And it did not disappoint!
^^ That night we grabbed some drinks at the Hyatt, which was right across the street from our hotel(we had cheated a bit and ordered room service for dinner, which was FABULOUS!). I got this beer based solely on its name (obviously), and it turned out to be totally delicious.
^^ We purchased tickets online the night before and headed out (in the frigid cold, I might add) the next morning to head up the Arch and see the sites. It really was a pretty fun experience, but be warned clustrophobes … this is maybe NOT the activity for you! I wouldn’t consider myself to be claustrophobic, but even so, the tiny little vessels that carry you to the top of the Arch had my heart racing — and Chris and I were in there alone! (On the way up we were alone at least … we shared with two people on the way down.) I can’t imagine how it would have been if the intended six people were squished together in there!
^^ But the views are pretty spectacular, so you kind of forget about the ride up (and down) once you’re up there.
^^ This is the Old Courthouse, where the slave Dred Scott sued for his and his wife’s freedom in 1846. This statue stands as a monument to the couple — and everything that historic case stood for — outside of the courthouse today.
^^ For lunch we headed to Schlafly Brewery, which was really super amazingly fun.
^^ Chris has poutine, beer soup and lots of regular beers for lunch. He was a happy boy.
^^ This is Pen and Nuggs making themselves comfortable in our Kansas City hotel. Unfortunately we didn’t take too many photos in Kansas City (or I tried, I should say, to take some of the adorable downtown area, but they came out horrible). But we really, really loved it here! The downtown area is super cute, and we ate dinner at Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue, which was so fantastic, even for me, a vegetarian. We ordered fried mushrooms and Chris had steak (obviously), while I got a salad and some of their BBQ shrimp on the side to add in. It was heaven on a plate. ^^ After four days of driving and 1,836 miles covered (plus lots of McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell and Subway for lunch), we had made it to Colorado, my friends, and our final destination — Denver — was in site.
And that’s it in a nutshell, ya’ll! It was a wild, fast and furious couple of days for us, but it was super fun, and we wouldn’t have had it any other way!
Bis bald, friends! Chris and I are off to the mountains again today — I hope everyone else is making the most of the lovely winter months, as well!
Denver. Ah, Denver. Our third and final stop on our short little tour of Colorado.
You see, we’ve heard lots of amazing things about this city. We have a handful of friends and family members who live here, and they just seem to love, love, love, love, love it.
Like … really, they love it a lot.
So we had high expectations, to say the least.
We started our tour of Denver with a quick drive around the city to familiarize ourselves with it. We drove through Cheeseman Park (so cute!), and stopped off in the Capitol Hill area to take in a few of the more touristy aspects …
^^ Cheesy tourist photos — they’re kind of a must … am I right?!
After hanging around on our own for a while, we met up Thursday evening with my brother-in-law’s sister and her fiancee. (Did ya catch that?) Anyway, Rachel and Steve have lived in Denver for a bunch of years now, and they are two of those people I mentioned before who just love, love love it there 😉
They took us to the Vine Street Pub & Brewery for dinner, which was super chill and relaxed. We went outside with beers from the bar and watched people playing Cornhole while we waited for our table … it was that relaxed.
And that was about it for Thursday, since we didn’t get into Denver until around 1 anyway. Friday, however, we had quite the touristy day. We woke up early so that we could head out to the Red Rocks Amphitheater, which was simply stunning.
^^ We were shocked at how much exercising went on here!
Seriously, people everywhere running up and down the stairs,
jumping the rocks, running every single row … fascinating!
I guess if you have to work out, you can’t have a
better backdrop then at Red Rocks, right?
Red Rocks was about an hour outside of Denver, and we spent a couple hours there just taking it all in. So by the time we made it back into the city, we were starving!
Thank God for Mexican food when you’re starving … am I right?! And Rio Grande in the LoDo section did not disappoint.
We sat outside under umbrellas in the 70-degree weather (hello, summer!), eating our burritos and drinking our margaritas. [A word to the wise: Watch it on the margaritas here. A single drink contains 3.5 shots of tequila! That’s why they have a three drink maximum on the margs, particularly. We should know, we asked ;)]
After lunch I headed across the street to buy an outrageously expensive tee from Patagonia (I was desperate! I hadn’t read the weather beforehand and was wearing two long-sleeved shirts … and I was sweltering!), and then we caught the free 16th Street MallRide shuttle over to Commons Park, where we hopped on bikes from the Denver Bike Share program and rode over the South Platte River to the section of Denver known as The Highlands.
And oh my goodness did we love it here, my friends! And it wasn’t just because of Little Man Ice Cream (although that did help a lot ….)
This whole area had a very relaxed, young, happening atmosphere. It was very cool, to say the least.
So after scarfing down some ice cream (don’t ask me how I did that after eating a ton of Mexican for lunch … I have a superhuman stomach, this is for certain), we hopped back on our bikes and rode as fast as possible back to the LoDo section to meet up with Chris’s old boss for drinks at Freshcraft before heading off to the Washington Park section of Denver to meet up with our cousin and her husband and baby.
Sheesh we really crammed a lot into one full day, didn’t we!?
Anyway, Courtney and Charlie’s place was adorable, and they were so lovely to get a babysitter for the evening so that they could come back out with us for dinner at the Ale House and a couple of brewskies afterwards at Denver Beer Co. (Which, by the way, might have been my favorite brewery of all the ones we visited. It was late when we arrived — in fact we stayed until closing at midnight — but the big garage doors that make up the front of the place were thrown open from the warmer weather earlier in the day, and everyone was hanging out on picnic tables with their dogs. Very fun.)
And that, as they say, was that, my friends. It was a lot to do in one day, but I’m really glad that we got to fit in as much as we did on Friday. I wasn’t convinced that we had seen everything Denver had to offer on Thursday (I mean that’s a stupid thing to even write, because of course we didn’t. It’s impossible to see everything any city has to offer in one day), but Friday gave me a better look at the Denver that I had heard so much about.
And that I really, truly, look forward to going back to.
So tomorrow is the big day — the day Chris and I fly out for his Super Secret 30th Birthday Trip! And yes, I somehow DID manage to keep the secret! (Well not the whole secret, I accidentally forwarded our flight information to him thinking it was information about a different flight. That was stupid.)
I put together these three envelopes for Chris to open when he got home tonight. Step 1 contained our boarding passes for our flight tomorrow. Step 2 contained our rental car information, becauseeeeeeee … Step 3 were our tickets to the Gentlemen of the Road St. Augustine Stopover Tour!
One thing I forgot to mention about our adventure with Rory yesterday was our cab ride that started it all.
Penn State isn’t exactly the easiest for us to get to from our apartment (6 train to E train [which never works] to Penn, or 6 train to 33rd and walking five blocks), and I didn’t want Kevin and Rory to have to wait there for us, so we decided to hop in a cab.
“Penn Station, please,” I prompted the driver when we hopped in at Lexington and 94th.
That’s when the fun began. The driver reached into the backseat and handed me a GPS system. “Can you plug it in for me, what you said?” he asked. “It’s my first day.”
Holy cow, you guys. Can you even begin to imagine how scary it would be for it to be your first day as a cab driver in Manhattan? And if this guy couldn’t even figure out how to get from the Upper East Side to Penn Station … let’s just say it was fairly obvious he hadn’t done any studying ahead of time.
So I told him we’d help him out, instead, and asked him to just head to 33rd and 7th.
First he stopped the cab mid-way in an intersection when the light changed from yellow to red, then proceeded to BACK UP, almost hitting a pedestrian (who let us know how unhappy she was with almost being hit, mind you) in the process. Then he turned left (aka East) on 33rd instead of the correct right (aka West), and proceeded to back up yet again when I told him he was going the wrong way.
To make matters worse, when we finally did make it to Penn Station, he stopped the cab and just sat there. Chris and I looked at each other. No one moved. Something was going to have to be done in order for me to pay him with a credit card.
“You have to hit a button or something so I can pay you,” I said.
After futzing around with a couple buttons, Chris and I thought we figured out how to pay with the card from the back seat, but it never went through.
“Never mind, it’s okay,” said Mr. New-Not-Very-Good-Yet-Cab-Driver. “I’m new, so this ride is on me.”
I felt terrible not paying, but there wasn’t anything we could do. I only hope that that poor cab driver didn’t go all day unable to figure out how to get the credit card machine to work.
I also hope that his other riders were as nice (and understanding!) to him as Chris and I tried to be.
So here’s to the Manhattan cab drivers who make our lives so much easier in this crazy city. It’s certainly not an easy job … but someone’s gotta do it!
Hope everyone had a fabulous holiday weekend! For reasons that I will go into in more detail in my full trip post, I ended up taking the majority of my photos on this trip with my iPhone … which of course meant posting them directly to Instagram.
So I figured I’d just post a quick preview of things to come in my full-on post by uploading all of the Instagram pics here. But before I do that, just some highlights from our trip:
We spent 12 hours in Charlotte after missing our connecting flight to Phoenix because of rain delays, but that’s okay because we got to eat a wonderful brunch and check out the downtown area because of it.
We went on amazing hikes, ate delicious food and drank lots of tequila.
I experienced a slight case of heat exhaustion … not fun, my friends! And after all that research I did to avoid it!
We did lots of swimming in my friend’s pool.
We were randomly, and for reasons still unknown to us, upgraded to first class seats on our flight back from Phoenix. Not too shabby!