Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope you all had a happy (and hopefully relaxing) holiday weekend. Chris & I took our lot to the mountains for a little getaway in Frisco, Colorado. We had only been there once before when we stopped for breakfast on our way back from Beaver Creek two summers ago, and I made a mental note back then that we would have to come back and stay for longer. Plus, spending one of the final summer weekends in the mountains seemed like a good way to top off a summer of adventures.
If you are looking at that above picture and thinking, “Stop it. Just ding dang stop it right now,” then you know how I feel about my new adorable niece.
Before I get any further, let me start this post by stating that I have a fabulous husband. As a surprise birthday treat, he booked a little New York getaway just for me — sans children! — for this past Memorial Day weekend. I flew in on Friday and got to spend a glorious three and 1/2 days with Steph and Ro and Brian (and a whole cast of other amazing people, as well), before flying back (and landing at 3 a.m. – thank you hurricanes, tornados, thunderstorms and hail … oh my) on Tuesday.
I mean, could this family be any cuter? The answer is no. No, they could not.
The day after Boxing Day, the Connor Clan headed over to a park in Bathurst to take some professional family photos. Of course waiting for professional photos to arrive really isn’t my thing, so you know I had to snap a couple of my own.
^^ All these cute Connor grandkids together makes my heart pretty happy <3
While there were a bunch of things that Chris and I were excited for when it came to this trip, one of them definitely was taking a night away, just the two of us. Believe it or not, Chris and I had not been away together just the two of us since we had kids, and I have only ever been away from Lotte for one night, and never from Grace.
In other words, some time away was definitely overdo.
So after our family photo day, Chris and I packed up and headed over to Mudgee, which was about two hours from Chris’ parents house. We stayed at the Parklands Resort & Conference Centre and took a wine tour with Country Escape Tours, where we visited three wineries, one distillery and a cheese making company. The town of Mudgee was so cute, and the wine tour was really intimate and fun. Unfortunately we did return to a pretty sick Lotte (the next day after we got back was when we brought her to Urgent Care), but sickness aside, it was really nice to take the time away.
^^ It’s not so hard leaving your kids when you know they’re in great hands.
^^ We headed out to Mudgee Brewing Co for dinner the night we were in town. They had live music and we ate outside in their pretty garden and I had a delicious shrimp salad. It was pretty great, friends.
After we returned and took a couple days to get Lotte checked out and feeling better, we spent our last couple of days in Bathurst ringing in the New Year with Chris’s parents and brother and his wife, taking laps around Mount Panorama with the girls and having a picnic in the lovely Cook Park in Orange with Chris’s grandma.
^^ This is potentially my favorite shot of the entire trip <3
And that takes us pretty much through what I think of as the first part of our trip. After Christmas and New Years in Bathurst and Mudgee, we packed up the car and headed back to Sydney to spend our final couple of days in Australia staying at Chris’s aunt’s place, and then his uncle’s, and touring around all the best parts of Sydney, according to us seasoned pros. I’ll take you through our final couple days in two more posts, but until then, bis bald!
So much amazing Aussie family goodness in that photo above, am I right?
Our Aussie Christmas Eve and Christmas were filled with good company, good food, and for the first time ever, no rain on my Aussie Christmas day! Seriously, though, this was my third time in Australia for Christmas, and it was the first time it didn’t rain 😉
Rain or no rain, we would have had a great couple of days celebrating Christmas with our family, anyway, We splashed around in the pool (well, Lotte & Chris did, while G and I spectated), cracked open some Christmas Bon Bons, and ate some delicious food.
Christmas was also the first day that Lotte & G got to meet all five of their cousins, which was only the most fun ever. Sophie was born three months before Lotte, and Jasmine was born only one hour after Grace! It sure was great finally getting all seven of these little ones together.
^^ Grace’s face in this picture cracks me up!
^^ Christmas morning with Auntie Sarah — is there anything better?
^^ I may or may not have purchased these Christmas outfits about four months in advance for way too much money. Totally worth it.
^^ Grace & Jasmine = all the cuteness you can possibly handle
^^ Lotte was a straight-up celebrity on this trip, and you just know she ate up every second of it!
Man, oh man — do those look like happy faces, or what?!
I can hardly believe I’m about to write these words, but our epic holiday trip to Australia is over.
Sad face times one million, for real.
But, if the above picture (and all the 5,000 that are about to follow) are any indication, you better believe that an amazing, fantastic, wonderful, memorable time was had by all.
I’ll break our trip down into a couple different posts to cover some of the best parts, but I wanted to start off with a little intro post to cover some of the major points that I learned about traveling with two littles all the way across the world:
Prep is great (and important!), but at the end of the day, you can never really know how your travel will go down. For example, I spent a small fortune on snacks and gadgets and toys for the kids, and while yes, we did use some of them, we didn’t end up using probably half of what we brought (clothing included). Still, I say it’s better to be prepared than to be without, and while the girls both ended up being pretty awesome on the incredibly long and taxing flights, I do think that having everything we had helped me relax a bit, since I knew we did all we could to make them comfortable. (P.S. When it comes to products, this Fly Tot inflatable cushion was pretty clutch when it came to Lotte’s comfort, since she is too big for a bassinet and too small to be comfortable just pushing her seat down to sleep. We were able to inflate it and put it between her seat and the back of the seat in front of her so she could put her feet up on it. It also worked well as a spot to hold extra toys. The LapBaby was also good for G, since we could strap her to our waist and she and we could both have our hands free. Other suggestions I found useful (even if not necessarily for us) were to bring along sugar-free jelly beans for little ones’ ears for take off and landing, as well as Pedialyte powder packs — which, turns out, Lotte doesn’t like much — to keep them drinking and hydrated.) One other thing we found useful with prep was to really hype the airplane aspect up ahead of time. We made sure that Lotte knew we would be getting on an airplane and flying really long and far to see Nan and Poppa, and that we would be eating and sleeping and playing and watching tv … all on an airplane! And I think that helped, because for both flights Lotte kept saying things like, “I’m eating dinner on an airplane!” “I’m taking a nap on an airplane!” I mean, how often in parenting do we get to call something a flat-out win? Like, never, right? So I’ll take this one!
Packing cubes rule the most. Especially if you’ll be traveling with a family, get some multi-colored packing cubes to throw everyone’s stuff in — they will change your life! You can keep everyone’s stuff organized by color cube, and you’ll be able to keep everything organized both in and out of the suitcase, as well.
Do some healthcare research ahead of time. Lotte actually did get sick on this trip — a chest infection that included a fever, which was her first — but we were lucky enough to be with family who knew where to go and we were in a country where we spoke the same language. If we had been in a foreign area or a place where we didn’t speak the language, the situation would have been much more difficult. A quick trip to urgent care (or Australia’s version of urgent care, anyway) and a prescription of antibiotics later, and Lotte was back to her bouncy self in about a day. I’m grateful we were able to get her feeling better so quickly. My advice would be to check out where the closest hospitals and urgent care (or equivalent services) will be where you are traveling, and to be sure you can get across the important information in the language you’ll need to know to make things right. Find out the best way to cover emergencies overseas, as well, since your American healthcare plan likely won’t help you much, there.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. No … seriously. At the end of the day, even the frustrating or silly or insane things that happen to you while traveling (within reason, of course) will be the funny stories you tell when you’re back home, or even more likely, they’ll be the things you completely forget. I know for a fact there were stressful times on this trip — how could there not be with a 2.5 and 1-year-old — but right now, I couldn’t really tell you what they were. Keep that in mind when you’re actually going through it, and remember to breath.
No, there is no such thing as too many pictures. Sometimes I wonder if I spend too much time documenting our travels through photos rather than sitting with them in the moment. I’ve come to the conclusion that no, there is no such thing as taking too many pictures.
What’s that you say — you’d like some proof? Oh, okay, twist my arm why don’t you?! Here are some shots from our first two days. Yes, these are just from our first two days. Many, many more photos and memories to come, my friends 😉
‘Til tomorrow … bis bald! And happy 2019!
^^ Pure bliss with Auntie Kate, who will be here in five days and is staying with us for two months! However did we get so lucky?!
^^ Did I deflate this ‘Welcome to Australia’ balloon and bring it back with us so that I could frame it for the girls as a keepsake of their first trip to Australia? Maybe, maybe not. You’ll never know. (Except that yeah, I definitely did.)
^^ That Auntie Sarah is some kind of special — she always, always got the smiles out of our girls <3
^^ Introducing the girls to Chris’ grandma was most definitely a major highlight of this trip <3
^^ There were lots of other family members eager and excited to meet our littles, as well.
^^ On the second day, we threw Lotte in the car and headed off to a place referred to as ‘the tip,’ which is essentially a big ole’ garbage heap where the kangaroos hang out. Gross? Maybe. Amazingly fun and exciting, especially when you watch your 2.5-year-old see her first live kangaroos? Most definitely.
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 ….
Well friends, amidst all the craziness of finishing up work for the year, prepping for our trip to Australia next week, and our BABY DAUGHTER TURNING ONE ON SUNDAY …. my stepdad made a quick trip out to see us over the weekend, and it was so much fun.
The girls always have the best time with him, and he really does adore them, so it’s very cute to see. We hit up the Denver Botanic Gardens Blossoms of Light Festival — Lotte has been every year since she’s been born — as well as the Thornton WinterFest — which was new to us but is sure to become a tradition because of how fun it was — attended a neighbor’s holiday party, opened presents, walked to the lake, watched some football, ate some delicious food … and just basically had an all around awesome time.
We hope you guys are really getting into the holiday swing of things, as well!
^^ This standing lady is ONE on Sunday, and I just cannot believe it!
I have a big ole’ Aussie prep post coming later this week, because I have spent — ahem — a lot on stuff for the plane so far in order to try and keep our two little ladies happy. We’ll mostly just have to cross our fingers and see how it goes, though, right?
Merry, happy, holly everything, friends! Well, it’s December 12th, and we’re all about waiting for Baby and making the most of our holiday time as a family of three while we still can over here! It’s been a whirlwind finishing up work and having visitors like my dad and stepdad in town, plus getting our house set up for the holidays, getting all our presents purchased … oh, and getting prepped for our baby, of course.
We’ve been using the past couple weeks to set up the nursery and do as many holiday things with Lotte as possible. We got our tree a couple weekends ago and decorated the house, and my stepdad was here this past weekend to help finish off the nursery and hang with us a bit. It’s been a really great (and somewhat wistful, at least for me!) time, but I feel ready for the next chapter of our lives. I’m so excited to meet Baby No. 2 and to introduce Lotte to her new best friend. Chris’ parents arrive on Wednesday, and we’ll be ready and raring to go!
I hope you guys are all having a great start to the holiday season, as well!
^^ My discerning little Christmas tree shopper (and my big ole’ belly!).
^^ Despite the fact that we had to start the ornaments halfway up the tree to keep them away from little hands, I think she looks mighty pretty.
^^ We love when Grandpa visits!
^^ At 38 weeks pregnant, I somehow managed to dress up and head out of the house past 7 at night for Chris’ office holiday party. It was nice to get out for a bit, but also very exhausting! We hit up another holiday on Saturday at our friends’ house, too … how fancy are we?!
^^ I can’t necessarily say I had as much of a vision for Baby Connor No. 2’s nursery as I did for Lotte’s, since a bunch of the furniture in here is recycled and the room was already painted, but in the end I think it all came together nicely and I’m actually super excited for her to be in it!
^^ Lunch at School House Kitchen in Old Town Arvada. It was our first time here and I was really impressed. The theme is super cute, and the food was great!
^^ She is not a barrette lover, which pains me to my core!
^^ Wearing our matching Kate Spade for Keds sneakers out and about on the town! Don’t worry – I got a pair for Baby 2, as well 😉
^^ Waiting in line to meet Santa … for the second time!
^^ This time we didn’t even bother trying to have Lotte sit on Santa’s lap by herself (it was way too close to the other weekend when she flipped out when we tried it in Colorado Springs!), so we all sat with Santa as a family. It sort of worked 😉 I look so pregnant here, and Lotte is unimpressed, but hey, what can you do?
^^ Grandpa couldn’t leave without spoiling both Lotte and Baby 2 for Christmas. He loaded them up with the sweetest clothes and books, as well as gift certificates for flights for all of us back to New York to visit, which of course made me cry. Thank you, Grandpa, your gifts were so thoughtful!
^^ On Monday night we hit up the Denver Botanic Gardens Blossoms of Light show as part of a holiday party thrown by our realtor, whom we love. We went last year when Chris’ family was in town and Lotte was only about five months old, and we loved it then, as well. It’s so pretty and festive – the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit!
^^ My loves <3 No one I enjoy holiday outting with more 😉
Okay, so now the wait for Baby is really on! Wish us luck, and I probably won’t be back until I have a new little cherub faced-photo to share with you all here! Until then … bis bald!
Welp friends, somehow it has happened — Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we are moving on to Christmas and the end of the year … and for this family, we’re gearing up for a brand new baby, as well!
Our Thanksgiving break started out great. My dad came out for a couple days to spend some time with us, we celebrated Thanksgiving over at my cousin’s house with her family, and then we spent the whole weekend (well, until Sunday), doing fun holiday things Lotte, since I’m obsessed with the fact that this will be her last three weeks (!) as an only child. Then, on Sunday, I unfortunately came down with the flu. My dad wasn’t feeling well when he left, and when he got home he found out he had the flu, which I promptly was diagnosed with the next day. Oh boy. We’re just keeping our fingers crossed over here that this goes quickly and that Lotte and Chris don’t get it as well. Please pray with us, friends, because we do not have a lot of time to spare before Baby C No. 2 arrives, and we have a lot to get done before then!
^^ Lotte, my dad and I took a walk to the lake on Thanksgiving morning while Chris finished off his dishes to bring to my cousin’s for dinner. (Seriously gotta love a man who cooks!) It was in the 70s here on Thanksgiving day … can you believe that?!
^^ I’ll be honest – this isn’t my favorite picture of me. But Lotte’s little had on my chest and her smile ?? I cannot.
^^ Lotte fell in love with this art easel over at my cousin’s house. Guess we know what a good gift idea for the near future will be 😉
^^ We didn’t have all the letters we needed for our message, but we made out pretty well with what we had 😉
^^ Happy Thanksgiving, from our little family to yours!
My dad left early Friday, and Friday night we bundled up (though not too much, because it was in the upper 50s!) and headed over to the Denver Zoo Lights, which was a lot of fun. We weren’t exactly sure what to expect because technically the exhibit isn’t even open yet — this was just a preview — but it was packed! Still, the lights were so pretty, and we saw a lot of animals, too. Lotte enjoyed it, but I think she’ll especially love it next year when she’s a bit older.
^^ Chris dressed Lotte like a candy cane to celebrate our first holiday event of the season 😉
^^ My blurry loves <3
^^ Lotte fell in love with the giraffes hard core, and it was kind of adorable.
The fun continued on Saturday when we checked out Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge in Colorado Springs. We played games in the arcade, ate dinner in a life-size gingerbread house (the proceeds of which go to the Ronald McDonald House charities), attended a dance party in the lobby with other kiddos and met (and hated!) Santa Claus. It was so much fun! I guess it’s just lucky that I didn’t start to get really sick until we got home, because I would have been super bummed to have missed any other part of our weekend plans.
^^ How cute is this life-sized gingerbread house?! You need to make individual reservations to eat inside, and while we definitely felt a little like we were on display (you know, since it was in the middle of the hotel and little kids kept walking in to ask us questions about it!), it still was super fun. You could pick to eat off the menu from one of the hotel restaurants or just do the buffet, and we went with the buffet, which was a lot easier with a little one in tow.
^^ Poor Lotte … and poor Santa! He was a good sport, though! I could tell this encounter wasn’t going to be great as I started to hand Lotte over and she gripped onto me like she never has before. Oh well … maybe next year she’ll love him!
And that was our Thanksgiving holiday bonanza in a nutshell, friends. Now I’m laid up in bed trying desperately to stay on top of work while Chris does the same as we juggle watching Lotte and trying to keep her from getting sick, all while getting ready for second baby to arrive in a few weeks. Life is crazy sometimes friends, am I right?
Yesterday was Lotte’s second Halloween. I cannot believe that we’ve entered the realm of second holidays with this Little, whom we are beyond lucky to have in our lives. Last year we skipped the whole family costume idea and just dressed our 3-month-old up in a ladybug costume (which, by the way, she rocked), but this year I couldn’t help it. At 8+ months pregnant myself, I wanted to come up with something that would be cute for a growing baby bump and also super adorbes for Lottes.
So, we settled on smores. Lotte went as the marshmallow, I was a Hershey’s Kiss and Chris [who really leaned into his costume, by the way, and made it, basically … so proud ;)] was a graham cracker. And while we only hit up about four houses on our block before returning home, it was still super fun and a memory I’ll never forget.
And now … happy November, everyone! It’s our last full month as a family of three, and I plan to soak it in as much as possible.
^^ Rocking her pre-Halloween outfit from Aunt Steph and a totally rad top knot before getting dolled up for the night.
Bis bald, friends! I hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween <3
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 😉
^^ You have no idea how long it took us to get this photo – and I’m obviously mid-sentence 😉 But what can you do … the good of the many!
Is it just me or does it feel like Christmas was years ago? Well, I guess technically it was last year … but you know what I mean!
Anyway, we had a lovely, relaxed Christmas at home, celebrating with Chris’s parents and two sisters, my sister and brother-in-law and my stepdad. It was lovely and perfect and exactly as I would have wanted Lotte’s first Christmas holiday to be.
Here are some shots from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We mostly hung out around the house (my sister even brought a pair of my mom’s pajamas for me and for her to wear on Christmas Eve) and ate and drank, which was actually quite perfect, since we packed up and headed to the mountains the very next day. (I’ll post about that tomorrow.)
Well friends, we had to miss a holiday party this past Thursday at the Denver Botanic Gardens (which is currently displaying their awesome holiday lights … at least we’ve heard it’s awesome, we haven’t been yet) because Lotte was pretty stuffed up and sick after we got home from our Thanksgiving travels.
The things you do when you’re parents 😉
Anyway, she was somewhat better on Saturday, and the weather was gorgeous (although as you’ll see from these photos, we still dressed our child like it was a snowstorm outside. Oops.), so we hopped in the car and headed off to the Christmas tree lot to find ourselves our first ever Christmas tree for our new home — and Lotte’s first Christmas tree ever.
^^ Still a bit grumpy and snotty, as you can see :/
Our home is definitely starting to feel festive for the holidays, friends. How early do you all get your holiday decorations up? It seems like everyone in our neighborhood had their trees up and the front of their houses decorated when we came home from Thanksgiving. I mean, I probably wouldn’t have minded doing that either, had we been home, but still, for some reason I was surprised.
Now I just have to wait for allllllll the decorations to come in that I ordered this past weekend, then we’ll be done. Man, I love the holidays.
^^ The meeting between Lotte and my grandmother was one of the biggest highlights of this trip. I’ll never, ever forget it.
Well friends, last Thursday was Thanksgiving. And while I can hardly believe it’s over, and that we’re on to December and Christmas now, I can say without a doubt that we had a really good one. As our first Thanksgiving without my mom, I’ll admit I was a little worried about how it might go. But having a baby and being constantly on the move kept me from dwelling too much on the sad part of the holiday and helped me to focus on how much I do have in my life, and how much Lotte is so loved by all these friends and family of ours.
The day before Thanksgiving we stopped by the assisted living place where my Grandmother lives to surprise her with a visit. It was my sister’s idea to do that, and I’m so, so glad she thought of it.
^^ Did I tell you about this child and her side eye?! I have tons of nice photos from my Grams and my daughter’s first meeting, but this one just makes me laugh every single time I look at it. Both of these ladies are too, too much.
^^ Chris just kept taking shots while we were moving around the room, and this totally candid and ridiculous one has got to be one of my favorites, too.
We stayed at my sister and brother-in-law’s new house the night before Thanksgiving, which is only about 15 minutes from my aunt and uncle’s, where we would be spending the holiday. It was nice to have a little down time in the morning and to not have to rush too much to drive somewhere far away.
^^ #parenting 😉
^^ Aunt Stephie and Lotte, in the outfit (shoes included) that Aunt Stephie bought for her for the holiday. Too. Stinkin’. Cute. Too bad a poop explosion caused her to only wear it for about two hours on the actual day. Oh well – at least we got a couple photos!
^^ Meeting the extended fam.
^^ My Grams and her two great-granddaughters – priceless.
^^ The meltdown post diaper blowout and pre-outfit change.
^^ You know a holiday was great when it ends like this 😉
It was really so great spending time with our family for Thanksgiving, and the following day we loaded up the car and headed to Pennsylvania to do it all over again with my Dad’s gang. Can’t complain about two Thanksgivings, that’s for sure!
I’ll be back tomorrow with photos from our final couple days back east. Until then – bis bald!
^^ A blurry view of the snowy trees whizzing by on our way up to the mountains on Christmas Eve.
As I mentioned yesterday, Chris and I headed up into the mountains for the holiday where we stayed at The Pines Condominiums in Keystone. The condo was splendid, with a fireplace, gorgeous mountain views from every window and a full kitchen with everything we needed to make a delicious Christmas dinner. I thought I’d share some pictures from our stay here.
^^Our dining room looking into what we came to affectionately refer to as our “Christmas nook”.
^^ Our Christmas nook, pre decorations.
^^ Chris spent most of his time stoking the lovely wood fire.
Well friends — my husband, sister and brother-in-law pulled off the best secret ever when my sis and bro-in-law flew to Denver last Wednesday to spend Thanksgiving with us. We had such a great time with them here, and while I was sad to see them go, it certainly helps to have the next visit planned (February, here I come!) before saying goodbye.
Here’s a bit of what we got up to:
^^ All geared up and ready to run the Washington Park Turkey Trot! It snowed … like a lot … on Thanksgiving, so Steph and I sat this one out in the car and chatted while we waited for the boys to finish 😉
^^ See what I mean — snow! From our rooftop, downtown Denver looked like a snow globe.
^^ Not a bad little Thanksgiving meal we made for ourselves, if I do say so myself!
^^ On our way to King Soopers to check out their tree selections (sad, I know), we passed The Big Wonderful night bazaar, and low and behold, they were selling trees! (Happy!) So of course we stopped and picked out a great one, which we affectionately named Esmerelda.
^^ Loaded on Mannie and ready to go home.
^^ Okay, so our tree is half icicle lights and half regular lights — I think it gives her character!
^^ We attended a going away party Saturday night at Mile High Spirits, where the couple that is moving actually got engaged, as well. It turned out to be a pretty special night.
^^ These two 😉
^^ We got mad love for you kids — you’re welcome back any time!
And that was Thanksgiving in a nutshell, my friends! Bis bald — and and hey … happy December!
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!)
Well, friends, it’s been quite the year! When I’m old and grey and looking back on my travels, this will certainly be one of my favorite years to reference. Here’s how our adventure-filled 365 days played out:
Yesterday I caught an early train from upstate into the city for the day to do a little Christmas shopping, catch up with friends and — you know I had to — go ice skating at Bryant Park.
Oh New York, I’ll miss you most of all at this time of year.
^^ Love, love, love everything about the holidays in NYC — especially the ice skating 😉
^^ Pardon the horrible reflection in this photo, but I caught the Lord and Taylor holiday window displays on Park during my walk from Bryant Park to Union Square, and how cute are they?!
^^ I stopped into Club Monaco on my walk to check out their selection of Strand books, and this door to their mannequin closet was open, so I had to snap a pic. It’s all legs and arms, yo.
^^ If I’m being completely honest, it felt a little weird going into the city, knowing I couldn’t go home to my apartment whenever I wanted, and knowing I’d be catching a train back upstate later that night to go home. It truly is the end of an era, my friends, and it felt just like that.
^^ Until next time, Grand Central.
Bis bald, friends. I’ll be back tomorrow with our Galapagos adventures!
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 … we’re back! Last week Chris, my sister, her boyfriend and myself all took off on Spirit airlines (hold onto your hats, friends, because I plan to write an article about the notoriously low-rated airline and link to it here!) to head to Denver. Our itinerary for the week included trips to Boulder, Breckenridge and Denver. This was a particularly important trip, my friends, because Chris and I are planning a potential move to Colorado in the winter — but we had yet to actually visit the great state.
So you see — important!
Anyway, we were contemplating both Boulder and Denver as potential new cities for us, and Breckenridge was thrown in there so the boys could ski/snowboard for a day. We hit up Boulder first so that we would end the trip back in Denver, where we would be flying out of on Saturday.
I think probably the best way for me to tackle this trip is to take it by city — so Boulder today, Breckenridge tomorrow and Denver the next.
So Boulder first it is! After landing at the Denver airport and being conned into upgrading our rental car to an SUV (well maybe not so much conned — having the sturdier car to drive in the mountains to Breckenridge turned out to be not so much of a bad thing …), we hit the road for our 50 minute drive to Boulder.
Boulder is …. so many things. It’s beautiful and open and entertaining and relaxing. It’s a lot of things all rolled into one — it’s just not a place that Chris and I can necessarily see ourselves living just yet. So as much as we liked it, I think it’s safe to say Boulder was ruled out as a place for us to take up residence in a few months.
Here’s a bit of what we did …
^^ The Twisted Pine Brewery is an absolute must if you’re in Boulder.
For as many breweries as we ended up visiting, Chris and I both say
this was our favorite. We got the sampler for starters, which had so many
amazing beers for tasting. The food was pretty fantastic, as well.
^^ Yummmm … beer!
Okay ya’ll — here’s where we have to discuss the big ole’ elephant in the room, and that elephant, my friends, is marijuana. So as anyone who’s from the U.S. and doesn’t live under a rock will know, weed is now completely legal in the state of Colorado. This is of course infinitely amazing to some, completely annoying to others, and neither here nor there to even more. Whether or not it’s amazing, annoying or neither here nor there to me wasn’t really the point (although I guess if I were forced to pick a category, I’d have to go with neither here nor there …), because I’m pretty intrigued by it. Like, how does it work? What’s it like to buy a drug that has always been illegal, legally? How much does it cost? How do they sell it? What kind of people go to these stores?
I had to know! So … we found one.
The experience of buying weed is, I guess I would have to say, a bit weird. For this particular store, we walked into the front room and were greeted by “security.” (I use the term “security” loosely and with quotation marks because these guys were so friendly and chill, I can’t imagine them ever actually getting security-ish about anything …). So we showed our IDs (you do at least have to be 21, after all), and headed into the small room where the weed was kept. There were, for lack of a better term, salesmen behind the counters whose job it was to point you in the right direction. How much were you interested in smoking? What type of weed were you interested in smoking? When was the last time you smoked, and how much do you think you could handle?
Completely and totally intriguing.
^^ Weed in the form of edibles. I still can’t get over it.
Our entire experience lasted maybe 15 minutes, and we were out of there. We went in. We saw.
I’ve had enough 😉
That night we drove downtown to check out the Downtown Boulder area and the Pearl Street Mall, which was very adorable. We ate at West End Tavern under heat lamps in their upstairs, lofted area. It was super cute, and very tasty — I’d very much recommend it.
After a long day of traveling we were pretty exhausted, so we went to bed early so we could rise early for our amazing hike of the Flatirons Vista Loop.