Hiking a Colorado 14er: Quandary Peak

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My husband and his friend from New York have started a tradition of hiking 14ers, or mountains that exceed 14,000 feet in elevation, and this past weekend they took on the task of hiking Quandry Peak. Colorado has a lot of 14ers, and there are usually multiple ways you can get to the top, including hiking, mountain biking and, sometimes, even driving. (We did this for my birthday back in April when we visited Pikes Peak.) Needless to say, hiking a 14er isn’t on my Colorado Bucket List, so I’m glad that Chris has found a companion in Gavin to tackle these adventures.

I asked Chris to do a little write-up about the trip. Here’s what he had to say:

Continue reading “Hiking a Colorado 14er: Quandary Peak”

Lair o’ the Bear on a Glorious Thursday Morning

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Happy Thursday, friends! So my research for a fun new client continued today with a visit by myself and the girls to Lair o’ the Bear Park. We had actually tried to do this hike a couple months back, but by the time we got there, the parking lot was completely full and there were tons of cars waiting, and with two antsy little girls in the back seat, it didn’t make sense to wait it out.

Today, I had a plan.

Continue reading “Lair o’ the Bear on a Glorious Thursday Morning”

Father’s Day, Colorado Style

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Happy Tuesday, friends — and a very happy belated Dad’s day to all the amazing dads, grandfathers, brothers, and male caregivers out there in the world, doing what they do best.

This man above — my husband — has given me the two ultimate joys in my life, my babies. I’m grateful every day for his passion, compassion, sincerity, sensitivity and contagious love of life. These girls are lucky to call him dad.

Happy Father’s Day, Chris!

Continue reading “Father’s Day, Colorado Style”

Dinosaurs, Kayaks, Baseball, Glaciers … and all the Aussie Guests!

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Happy July, friends! Our summer of insanity is still in full swing over here! We’ve had guests upon guests upon guests … and we wouldn’t have it any other way! Over the July 4th holiday we welcomed Chris’ aunt and uncle and their three kids from Australia, while the fabulous Auntie Kate was still on the tail end of her trip out, as well. We did all the things while this troop was here, which has been a lot of fun. Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to lately …

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^^ We checked out Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison on what turned out to be a very, very hot day. It’s a bit of an uphill trek to reach the dinosaur footprints, but once you get there it’s actually really, really cool. There are tons of geological stops along the way, too.

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^^ I’m sorry, but Colorado backdrops are hard to beat.

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^^ We rented some kayaks on Lake Standley behind our house the second day after the family arrived. We did this last year with Lotte, too, and even though she still wasn’t too sure about the life jacket situation, this year she seemed to enjoy the overall activity much more!

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^^ We even took in a baseball game with the Aussie clan, and while the kids seemed to enjoy the game, it was mostly the junk food that kept them in the seats, I’d say 😉

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^^ Nothing more American than baseball and Coors Light!

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^^The day before July 4th we drove into the mountains to do the hike up to St. Mary’s Glacier. I was skeptical how the kids would handle it—especially 6-year-old Lucy—but they were all champs, which was great because this view is truly spectacular.

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^^ Our family selfie game needs improvement 😉

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^^ Ugh Auntie Kate, why did you leave us?!

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^^  By July 4th we were all pretty tuckered out. So we dressed up … and hung out! We played games, ate delicious food (including my homemade American Flag brownie, see below!), listened/watched the fireworks, and just generally enjoyed each other’s company.

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^^ American Flag brownie, courtesy of one of my favorite food bloggers 😉

We still have one of Chris’ friends in town until tomorrow, and then we’re done with visitors for a little while, which always makes me a bit sad. We do have Lotte’s 2nd birthday at the end of July to look forward to (which also makes me sad!), our trip to New York in August, Chicago in October and the grand finale of the year … Australia in December/January! Chris and I are still contemplating a separate mini-trip, just the two of us, to New Zealand while we’re in Australia. That extra adventure is TBD, but for now, there’s a lot more to look forward to, even though we’re halfway through the year already!

Hope you guys are having a great summer, as well! Until next time … bis bald!

Thursdays at St. Mary’s Glacier

IMG_2846Happy holiday weekend Friday, friends! I hope everyone is either already enjoying the long weekend, or has super fun plans to start doing so immediately.

Over in our neck of the woods, Chris is starting a new job next week, so he has a couple of days off and we have lots of fun stuff planned, starting with the hike we took to St. Mary’s Glacier yesterday. Mind you, the trail is only 1.4 miles (that’s to the lake and back, but you can continue the hike past the lake, which we did for a bit), and it’s labeled as easy on All Trails … but I call shenanigans! Listen, I’m no ninny when it comes to hikes, and we’ve done our fair share since we’ve moved to Colorado, but this was not easy. The altitude (you’re at 10,848 feet at the base of the glacier) probably has something to do with it, but the steady incline and slippery rocks don’t help, either. Now is it worth it? Spectacularly yes! The views are amazing and if your breath isn’t already taken away by your hike to reach it (which it likely will be), the lake and glacier will certainly do the trick. We had thrown Lotte in the Ergo and brought her with us, of course, but there were definitely times, especially on the descent, when I questioned how safe the whole thing actually was with a baby.

Chris, of course, felt perfectly safe the entire time. What can I say, it’s my momness kicking in.

Anyway, if you can push on through the altitude and rocky climb (if I can, you can!), here’s some of what you’ll be blessed with:

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^^ She looks so excited for another adventure, doesn’t she 😉

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^^ I mean look at that sky?! Have you ever seen anything so blue and clear?

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^^ After about 10 minutes of trying for a family photo with the self timer on my actual camera, we gave up and settled for this one with my iPhone. Not a bad runner up!

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^^ Lotte’s hat in this picture … it makes me so happy!

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^^ Dangerous indeed. In fact, the whole time we were taking a short rest and snack break at the lake before heading back, a team of about five or six rescue workers were trying to figure out how to get a snowboarder down who had injured himself up on the glacier. Yes, snowboarding is allowed on the glacier, but of course it’s entirely dangerous. Hence the injury.

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^^ So excited to get out of the Ergo, onto the ground and into some snacks!

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^^ See those two tiny little snowboarder flecks in the white snow and ice? Crazy!

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^^ After the hike — which probably took us about two hours all told, including our break — we stopped off in Idaho Springs on the way back for lunch at Tommyknocker Brewery. By this time Lotte had only taken about 30 minutes of a nap all day, and she had barely had anything to eat (snack was much less exciting than staring at everything going on around her at the lake … between that and trying to eat dirt, who had time for snack?!). Still, you couldn’t tell from her sweet little ‘tude. She’s simply the best.

And that was our Thursday, friends. Our Fourth of July weekend is off to a smashing start. We’re off tomorrow to stay in Fairplay Colorado so we’ll be close to our hike at Twin Lakes on Saturday. I hope my legs feel rested by then!

Until then … bis bald, friends!

Our Final Day in Arizona

Hi Friends,

So back to our last day in Arizona, which was last Saturday. (We caught the red eye home. There’s a story about that, too!)

We woke up around 7:30 a.m. all prepared for a hike up the Cholla Trail on Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale. Mina, however, had come home from her early morning run with her running club and was a bit worried. Everyone was telling her she was crazy, she said, that it was way too hot to take us out for a hike on that mountain … that surely it wasn’t a good idea.

Looking back at this now, I think it’s funny that I didn’t pay attention to their warnings. I mean … I HATE hot weather! I’ve never pretended that I like it. I do nothing but complain about it. Not liking something and allowing that to stop you from doing something are two different things, though, and I scoffed with Chris and Mina at the thought. “We’ll be totally fine!” I laughed.

Boy was I wrong. But I’ll get to that.

Anyway, we stopped off at the Gilbert Farmer’s Market in the morning to grab breakfast before we headed out. This allowed me to take some photos of the cute downtown area, as well:

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So that’s the downtown Gilbert area in a nutshell. I thought it was very cute, and all the people we met seemed to be super friendly. I give it an A+.

After our breakfast it was on to Scottsdale for this doomed-from-the-start hike. I think I need to not make a big deal out of what happened, because honestly it could have been a lot worse, and I think I caught it in just enough time before that happened. Essentially the hike is about 1.5 miles up and 1.5 miles back, so all in all, not too long of a hike. However, by the time we started at 10 in the morning, it was already 100 degrees outside.

Me no likey .. to say the least. The second we stepped out of the car I felt like I had been punched in the face by a heater. Dry heat, my you-know-what. It’s a myth, to me at least, that dry heat makes anything better.

But I digress. So as we started into this journey of ours, I was perfectly fine. I was taking it slow, stopping along the way to snap photos of our beautiful surroundings:

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Then, suddenly, at about 15-20 minutes into our (strenuous, if you ask me!) hike, I started to feel it. To be honest, I can’t even really describe to you what it was, exactly. I felt like someone had hit the ‘off’ switch to my body, and I simply could not go any farther.

Now if you know me, friends, you’ll know that I don’t like to give up. I’m competitive and stubborn (annoyingly so, some times), and throwing in the towel less than halfway through this hike is pretty much the last thing I wanted to do.

Which is why I knew something was really wrong … because that’s exactly what I did. Realizing that we had quite a while to go still in this upwards climb, I knew that there was no way that even if I made it to the top (which to be honest was highly unlikely), there was no way in hell I’d be making it back down. My legs were shaking. I felt like I couldn’t even be bothered to talk I was so exhausted.

And so we turned back around. And just as quickly as we started our last hike in Arizona, I ended it. Chris, in all of his loving husbandness, offered to run (RUN! In 100+ weather! If that’s not love, I don’t know what is), back to the car, turn it on, blast the air and drive to pick us up. The next stop on our list for that day was Mina’s parents’ house for lunch, and I laid in the back seat of Mina’s car for the 20+ minute drive there, just doing everything I could to cool down.

By the time we arrived at her parents’ house, I was starting to feel a bit better, but I have to say that I think that’s really because I made us stop as soon as I started to feel evenly remotely off. I never felt nauseous, or got a headache, it was just that my body felt physically unable to move anymore.

I suppose it could have been much worse, right?

Besides that bit of scariness, we ended up having a lovely rest of the day. Mina’s parents are Persian, and they cooked us the most delicious lunch. Then we went back to Mina’s place and hung out in the pool a bit, before heading out to Nando’s Mexican Cafe to have the final couple margaritas of our trip. (Oh, and a tequila shot, of course!)

Spending only two full days in Arizona felt like a bit of a jip, to be honest, but at the same time we managed to cram quite a bit in. Mina and I would love to do a little elementary school reunion of sorts in Arizona next year with a couple other of our close friends. Maybe do the Grand Canyon, or Fossil Creek, which was closed while we were there this time because of fire hazards.

And that was it, my friends …. the end of our little getaway! It was short but sweet (except for the heat exhaustion thing!), and we’d love to make it back some time soon for more hiking adventures.

Oh and so about the flights. Randomly, and for reasons that were never explained to us, Chris and I were upgraded to first class on our red eye back! It was sort of a waste of first class seats, since we pretty much slept the entire time … but still, I’ll take it! I’ve never slept more comfortably on a flight in my life! Maybe, finger’s crossed, this will happen to us on our trip to Australia in September?

What? It could happen ….

July 4 2013: Charlotte, N.C. and Arizona

View from our hike on our last day.
View from our hike on our last day.

Hi friends!

The few days since Chris and I got back from our trip have been a bit crazy, but I really wanted to take some time to post thoughts from our trip as soon as possible. So without further adieu, last Wednesday Chris and I were in a cab and off to La Guardia to catch our flight …

Continue reading “July 4 2013: Charlotte, N.C. and Arizona”

Arizona In Instagram Pics

Hi friends!

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!

Here’s a taste of what’s to come …

^^Rain made things pretty, but is not optimal for flying.
^^Rain made things pretty, but is not optimal for flying.
^^Bloody Mary's in Charlotte on our pit stop to Phoenix.
^^Bloody Mary’s in Charlotte on our pit stop to Phoenix.
^^Biscuits and grits. This is Charlotte.
^^Biscuits and grits. This is Charlotte.
^^Shrimp tacos=heavenly.
^^Shrimp tacos=heavenly.
^^Catching up with the person who is probably my oldest friend.
^^Catching up with the person who is probably my oldest friend.
^^Welcome to Sedona!!
^^Welcome to Sedona!!
^^Porous shoes on a 7-mile hike = lots of stopping to empty them out.
^^Porous shoes on a 7-mile hike = lots of stopping to empty them out.
^^Sedona hike--unbelievable.
^^Sedona hike–unbelievable.
^^Man and wilderness.
^^Man and wilderness.
^^Downtown Sedona.
^^Downtown Sedona.
^^Canyon Breeze views.
^^Canyon Breeze views.
^^Spinach enchilada with a mango margarita.
^^Spinach enchilada with a mango margarita.
^^Bye-bye Sedona. It's been real.
^^Bye-bye Sedona. It’s been real.
^^Gilbert Farmer's Market.
^^Gilbert Farmer’s Market.
^^Vegan quinoa breakfast bowl with strawberry scone and iced coffee.
^^Vegan quinoa breakfast bowl with strawberry scone and iced coffee.
^^99 degrees? Check. I will be hiking to the top of this mountain. Wish me luck. (Hint: this is where the heat exhaustion came into play... duh duh duhhhh!)
^^99 degrees? Check. I will be hiking to the top of this mountain. Wish me luck. (Hint: this is where the heat exhaustion came into play… duh duh duhhhh!)
^^View from about 1/4 mile up Cholla Hike, Scottsdale.
^^View from about 1/4 mile up Cholla Hike, Scottsdale.
^^Cheers to you, Arizona!
^^Cheers to you, Arizona!
^^Who got a free upgrade to first class on the way home? This guy! (And the gal he was with!)
^^Who got a free upgrade to first class on the way home? This guy! (And the gal he was with!)

So that’s it for now, my friends! I’ll be back soon with the full details of our (amazing and very hot!) trip.

Bis bald!

Making the Most of Summer … Starting With a Trip to Arizona!

Hello Fossil Creek Canyon! I think I will visit you, thank you very much ...
Hello Fossil Creek Canyon! I think I will visit you, thank you very much …

Hi friends!

Welcome officially to summer! I must admit something that I realize makes me relatively unpopular — I normally hate the summer. (My husband is either laughing or shaking his head right now. We have a running joke that he’s going to count the number of times I complain about summer this summer. If you’re reading this husband: This doesn’t count …)

I know, I know. Summer means visits to the beach and sleeping under the stars and spending hours outside in the sun. Problem is … when you live in New York City, it can be hard to fill your summer days with these activities, and if you instead end up spending most of those summer days within the confines of this concrete jungle (Jay-Z’s words, not mine), those days are actually nothing short of hot, sweaty and stinky.

I’m sorry, but it’s true. I have no illusions of what the city is like in the summer.

So my solution to my souring mood in the summer is to plan lots of exciting trips for this year. Next weekend my sister and I are heading to Bradley Beach while my sister-in-law (who’s visiting with her boyfriend from Australia … a wahoooo!!!) are in Boston, and then Chris and I fly out to Arizona to visit an old friend of mine for the long July 4th weekend.

In fact, said friend just sent me and Chris the itinerary for our trip. It includes a 4 a.m. wake-up call on July 4th so she and Chris can run this race, followed by a barbecue and swimming and lounging about with drinks in-hand. Then on Friday we’ll be heading to Strawberry, AZ, to hike Fossil Creek Canyon. I’m beyond excited for this outing … I just hope I can keep up with those two, who are, let’s say, slightly more in shape than I happen to be at the moment. Dinner Friday night will be in Old Town Scottsdale, which sounds lovely as well.

Needless to say, starting the summer out with some trips planned outside of the city makes me able to look forward to this season a bit more than I have in past years.

And speaking of trips … Chris and I have started working on what could potentially be some very exciting travel news in the upcoming months. I’m not going to share here just yet, since we’re only in the very beginning stages of planning, but let’s just say … I really, really hope we can make it all work! Promise to share more details as soon as we know more about what we’re actually doing.

Okay bis bald, friends! Hope you all have some amazingly fun plans for the summer, as well!

Photo courtesy of turnuptherad

P.S. Isn’t the tune for the Jersey Shore ads quite catchy? I kind of love it–go visit the Jersey Shore!

A 30th Birthday Celebration for the Books: Hiking in Breakneck Ridge

Breakneck Ridge, Cold Spring
Oh hey, Hudson River on a gorgeous, sunny day!

Hey friends!

So someone (ahem, me) just had a birthday, and it was a big one. That’s right, the big 3-0! So in honor of getting older, I decided to do something to make me feel younger–go on a 3-mile long, rock-climbing hike.

The place we picked was Breakneck Ridge in the Cold Spring area. It’s about 2.8 miles in total, and let me tell you — it is strenuous! 

Holy rock climbing!
Holy rock climbing!

I have some amazing friends who agreed to go on this hike with me!

Thanks for going along with my crazy idea, gang!
Thanks for going along with my crazy idea, gang!

We all packed some food (and my husband packed a 3 liter bag of boxed wine to carry the entire way … what a husband!) and drinks and sunscreen and took off for the day. I would say it took us about 4 1/2 hours to hike it, but that included about an hour stop for a picnic at the top.

A tasty assortment of goodies, including homemade baked cookies by a good friend from college and Trader Joe's brownies with a birthday candle from a former co-worker.
A tasty assortment of goodies, including homemade baked cookies by a good friend from college and Trader Joe’s brownies with a birthday candle from a former co-worker.
The 3-liter bag of wine that Chris took out of the box of wine he purchased, which he carried the entire duration of the hike. That's my man.
The 3-liter bag of wine that Chris took out of the box of wine he purchased, which he carried the entire duration of the hike. That’s my man.

There were many points of the hike that provided awesome and amazing overlooks of the Hudson, and it was the perfect day to hike—sunny and in the low 50s. Here’s a little bit of what we saw:

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We envisioned this point being somewhere near the end. It was not.

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And so, we all made it through, all the way to the end, and I was so proud of everyone…

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After the hike, before catching the train back to the city, we stopped at the Cold Spring Depot (which is walking distance to the train stop) for beers:

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And so that’s about it, my friends. I had such an amazing time. It felt nice to be outside, we had an amazing group with us and I’d recommend this hike for anyone who’s game for some awesome, strenuous rock climbing.

One other word of note: If you’re planning on catching the train from New York City to Breakneck Ridge, I’m told you can alert the conductor to the fact that you want to get off at Breakneck, and that sometimes they’ll stop there for you (otherwise there are only two stops directly at Breakneck a day). We thought we’d get off at Cold Spring and walk to the trail, but it turns out that’s about a 4+ mile walk. We were not game to do that before even starting the hike, so we had parts of our gang who were driving pick us up. Just something to think about.

Bis bald, friends! Off to London week after next! My lovely in-laws have purchased Les Miserables tickets for us for Friday night when we get there. I love London theater, and I’ve never seen Les Mis, so I’m really looking forward to this!

From the Archives: There’s no place like…

Hawaii with a friend.

While I await the upcoming adventures of Chris in Japan from this weekend (snowboarding with his best friend at the resort where he works -tough life!), I’ll pull some trips from my archives to post.

When a high school friend of mine decided to move to Hawaii after she graduated from college, sure, I knew I’d miss her, but also, I was friggin’ excited! Since Chris was away in Banff, Canada, at the time, I decided I’d treat myself to my own little Valentines day treat and I booked my flight to coincide with the ‘holiday of love.’

And I was in love. From the second I stepped off the plane and got “leid,” until the time I had to (unfortunately) board to go back home, I fell more and more in love with the island. We stayed on Honolulu and made a couple of treks out to Waikiki and some other touristy spots, but for the most part, the greatest thing was seeing Hawaii through the eyes of a person who lived there. Faye took me to local bars and her favorite restaurants. We went to a fancy hotel bar and saw David Beckham (not planned, just fate, I swear!), and we went on hikes and jumped off of waterfalls. Here are a few of the highlights:

Everywhere you go in Hawaii you want to take photos, but it’s so frustrating, because no photo ever turns out as beautiful as the scenery actually is. Since it’s now been a full two years since I was there (sob!!!), it’s hard for me to remember all of the tiny details of the trip, other than to look through my photos (another good reason to blog!). I think nobody really needs convincing to go to a place like Hawaii, but I have to admit, it was never really on my ‘must visit’ list until I knew I had someone to go there and visit with. Having gone now, though, I’d go back in a heartbeat. My trip with Faye was more on the adventurous side, which I loved. Next time I might spend more time on the beach, mixed in with the hiking and the waterfall jumping. Still, I love a vacation that has some sort of mix of the two.

Hopefully I’ll have an update next week or the week after from Chris’s trip to Japan. He’ll be there right during the Japanese New Year (it’s actually the night he arrives), so it should be really fun.

Until next time…bis bald…and see you soon!