South Park, Fairplay & Twin Lakes … Oh My!

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Happy Monday, friends, and happy almost July 4th! Chris & Lotte & I spent this past weekend in Fairplay, Colorado, so that we could hike the Interlaken trail around the Twin Lakes Reservoir (all of which is located along part of The Colorado Trail). We stayed at A Riverside Inn, which was about an hour away from the trail, but the hotel was located in the cute little town of Fairplay, which also happens to be part of the larger area known as South Park. South Park is an old mining town that has been wonderfully preserved, and although we didn’t get to go into the South Park City Museum (which is the coolest open air museum that you can glance at from the outside), we did walk around the town a bit on Sunday before we left.

This trip was full of good food, beautiful views and a baby who stole everyone’s hearts. (You know I had to sneak that in there.) Seriously though, Lotte was great, even if it was just a little difficult to get her to fall asleep in the hotel room both Friday and Saturday nights. (Sorry, nearby room guests :/)

Anyway, here’s a bit of what we saw …

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^^ We rolled into town around 4 p.m. on Friday and stopped off at Prather’s Market to pick up some goodies for our hike the following day, then had dinner at South Park Brewing, both of which were within walking distance of our hotel. The brewery was really nice — pretty large inside and definitely catering to family and kids, as you can tell from this table of toys that Lotte was quite taken with! The menu was Mexican, which you know I could get on board with (my tofu burrito was delish!), and although the prices were maybe a tad on the high side, we had a really good time here.

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^^ See what I mean … yum!

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^^ The next day we packed up and hit the road. I ended up picking Fairplay as our home base for a couple different reasons. For starters, it was only about an hour from our home, so essentially halfway between our house and the hike. I also thought Fairplay/South Park looked interesting to check out, the price was on the cheaper side of what was available in the area and they offered breakfast, a plus since we were trying to leave early Saturday for the hike. To get from Fairplay to the hike (located in Leadville) we drove through Buena Vista, which was another really cute looking town that was only about 20 minutes from the hike. This is probably a place we’ll check out at some point, but for the purposes of this trip, I still say Fairplay was the right place to stay.

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^^ Gettin’ hike ready!

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^^ So here’s the part where I admit that we tacked on an additional two miles (grrrr) to our already 5-mile long hike when we started off in the wrong direction :/ It was so frustrating, because we had even specifically asked another woman who was starting off the hike at the same time as us. She said yes, this was the Twin Lakes Trail, but failed to mention that you needed to veer off to the right at a small stake in the ground in order to get on it. Otherwise you would be stuck on an alternate, albeit beautiful, trail that was mostly traversed by mountain bikers. Oh friends … you live and you learn, right.

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^^ Heading off on the wrong trail.

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^^ Still the wrong trail.

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^^ Wrong way guys, turn back!

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^^ Oooohh … pretty. But still, the wrong trail. We got here when Chris (thankfully!) checked the map and saw we were headed the wrong way. I was NOT a happy camper, to put it lightly.

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^^ THIS SIGN! We failed to see THIS SIGN! Look for it, friends!

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^^ Once we were finally on the right trail, though, it made all the difference.

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^^ As you near the old 1800s Interlaken Hotel (which is approximately 2.5 miles into the hike and where we would be turning back around), you pass through a gorgeous aspen grove and the hike gets thick with lush trees and a small river. It’s really lovely.

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^^ Unfortunately my photos of the resort came out blurry (bright sun made it very hard to see what I was actually taking pictures of this day), but you can read all about it here. There are about a dozen old buildings on the property, most with signs to explain what they are. We sat on the porch of one of the buildings and had our lunch, taking in the view of the lake (and Mt. Elbert — the highest peak in Colorado!) in the background.

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^^ So dark, but otherwise I love this photo!

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^^ See, I was on the trip, too!

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^^ Thank you to the lovely couple who offered to take our photo for us. And see that first peak pretty much directly above my head. That’s Mt. Elbert 😉

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^^ You could climb to the top of a small observatory in one of the old buildings, which was somewhat claustrophobic, but still fun!

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^^ Heading back Lotte fell asleep for a bit in Chris’ arms. Simply the best ❤

And so I come to the end of my hiking photos, friends. All Trails calls this hike moderate, and while there were some ups and downs and it certainly is on the longer side, when compared with the easy (All Trails called it easy … I do NOT!) St. Mary’s Glacier hike we did on Thursday, this was a piece of cake! (Even considering the extra two miles we tacked on!) So put it on your bucket list, friends, because it’s a Colorado site worth seeing!

Anyway, we ended up back in Fairplay probably around 3:30ish, and we all took short naps and showered, then headed back out for dinner. We decided to check out Mason’s High Country BBQ this time (I had checked ahead of time and they did have a veggie sandwich option), and we were not disappointed! This tiny little hole in the wall was so fun and the food was so tasty, it was a highlight in Fairplay, for sure.

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^^ My veggie sandwich, which was onion, tomato, pepper and cole slaw, with a side of potato salad. Yum!

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^^ And Chris’ double-meat concoction, which he says was also delish. 

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^^ As I mentioned earlier, the next morning we got to check out South Park a little bit. The town can be walked in about 15 minutes, but the shops are so cute and eclectic (although most were closed early Sunday when we took our stroll), so it’s definitely worth checking out.

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^^ Breakfast on Sunday was at the Java Moose, where the breakfast sandwiches and Lattes were divine.

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^^ The South Park City sign is the entrance to the open air South Park Museum I mentioned earlier. It didn’t open until 10 a.m. and was $20 per person, so we didn’t actually go in (although I read rave reviews), but even seeing it from the outside was cool.

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^^ Chris and I were debating whether or not the people who actually live in South Park love or hate the fact that a crass tv show has the same name. (Of course the portrayal of South Park in the show is nothing like the actual South Park in real life.) I think the answer is a little bit of both. And of course it’s only natural to try to capitalize on the fame somewhat … why not?!

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^^ I sure do love this happy traveler.

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And that was the end of our trip, my friends. I hope you guys are all having a great holiday so far and have fun things planned for the 4th. Until next time … bis bald!

 

Pennsylvania, Brooklyn & NYC — A Tale of a 5-day Trip

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^^ Gussied up in our fanciest for a very pretty (if somewhat cold!) Central Park wedding.

Hi friends,

Well we just returned from a super quick and very fun trip over to the east coast. We headed out last Friday, arriving in Pennsylvania around 10:30 p.m. for a second Christmas with my dad and stepmom, sisters and their husbands and Rory and Jude. Nan and Aussie Poppa came, too, which made the trip a super lot more fun.

Second Chrissy was only one of our objectives with this trip — we also rented a car and drove to Brooklyn on Monday, where we stayed with a friend of mine in her gorgeous brownstone and attended a wedding in Central Park on Tuesday and the reception at the Wythe Hotel.

This was Lotte’s second trip out to the east coast — a trip that followed quickly behind her trip out the mountains at the end of last year — and she was nothing but a wonderful pumpkin full of smiles the whole time.

Something tells me we got super lucky with this kid of ours.

Anyway, here’s what we got up to, in photos 😉

01_flyingout^^ Super pumped for her second trip out east!

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^^ These two together … it seriously always warms my heart.

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^^ My family has a little tradition of doing a taste-testing competition for one holiday (usually it’s Thanksgiving), and although we’d already done wine in the past, we decided why not do it again 😉 After what was meant to be a tie-breaker using beer between the three wine-tasting winners (my dad and both my brothers-in-law), both of my brothers-in-law won the beer round. This was not in the least surprising 😉

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^^ Steph and I chipped in to get Rory an actual excavator toy that he can ride, and I think it’s safe to say he liked it. (Thanks Uncle Brian for setting it up!)

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^^ The chef — aka my brother-in-law — hard at work.

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^^ My delicious dinner plate. These shrimp with Kev’s homemade barbecue sauce were to die for.

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^^ At the sports bar the next day with the fam!

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^^ A poopy diaper explosion meant Lotte was taking photos with her cousins in pjs instead of her super cute daytime outfit. Oh well, still cute, though!

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^^ Yup. Parenting is tiring.

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^^ Sleeping on the ride from Pennsylvania to Brooklyn.

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^^ The gorgeous setting for Tuesday’s wedding in Central Park.

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^^ Almost four years ago, exactly, Chris and I stood under those very same arches and sat on those very same steps, taking photos of our own after we had just been married 😉

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^^ Meanwhile, my friend Carla manned the fort back in Brooklyn with both of our babies … and her dog Simon helped.

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^^ After a short hiatus, the reception took place at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, which was nice because I had never been before. The views of Manhattan were spectacular, and the food was super delish. All-in-all, it was a very fun wedding.

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^^ At one point during the night Carla sent me this picture, which I seriously adore. She even said Lotte went down super easy that night, which may have been because of …

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^^ This amazing sleepsuit! Have you heard of this?! Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit is, as promised, magic! Lotte simply loves it, and although I’m pretty sure I’m not meant to be using it anymore since she can roll over, for now I’m just grateful it’s helped get her to sleep after the disruption of her routine over the past couple weeks. Thanks Carla, for letting Lotte borrow Fiona’s!

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^^ Fiona and Lotte the morning before we left to fly back to Denver. It is my sincere hope that these two become good, lifelong friends. At least I know Carla and I will do everything in our power to help make that happen.

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^^ Home. There’s no place like it.

And that was our trip in a nutshell, friends. We’ve got a pretty busy couple first months coming up, with trips planned and visitors coming out. But busy is how we like to be 😉

Until next time – bis bald!

Another Birthday Celebration in the Books, This Time in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

thumb__dsc5111_1024^^ 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 …

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^^ 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!

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^^ 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.

03fullsizerender^^ Chris’s traditional birthday steak dinner … just one night early 😉

04fullsizerender_1^^ What you see here are parents who are ecstatic that their child slept through their meal!

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^^ The cute little town, all lit up at night.

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^^ Saturday started out with this adorable face … and some birthday present opening 😉

02_dsc5002^^ 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.)

03thumb__dsc5066_102404thumb__dsc5060_102405thumb__dsc5033_1024^^ The falls!

06thumb__dsc5064_102407thumb__dsc5082_1024^^ The rising sun was not my photography friend on this hike, but the falls are there, if you look hard enough!

08fullsizerender_7^^ 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.

09fullsizerender_10^^ 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! 

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11fullsizerender_12^^ Bloody Mary’s all around!

12fullsizerender_13^^ Under the table and dreaming 😉

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15fullsizerender_16^^ See? How cute is this back patio?!

16fullsizerender_8^^ 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.

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^^ 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.

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21fullsizerender_20^^ Cowboy boots for days!

22fullsizerender_21^^ They had ’em for kids, too!

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24fullsizerender_23^^ See what I mean about the fall colors? Glorious!

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28fullsizerender_27^^ 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! 

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30fullsizerender_29^^ 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.

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32fullsizerender_31^^ Again, ecstatic parents that their child is cooperating …

33fullsizerender_32^^ Lotte did wake up from a short nap here, which allowed us to take some silly pictures. Always a plus in my book.

34img_7208^^ Silly pic No. 1 …

35fullsizerender_34^^ And 2 …

36img_7202^^ And 3 …

37img_7207^^ And 4 … and trust me, there were many more, but I’ll spare you. You get the picture.

38img_7116^^ 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!

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02img_7254^^ 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.

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07thumb__dsc5106_1024^^ 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 😉

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09thumb__dsc5120_1024^^ 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.

10thumb__dsc5109_1024^^ Improvising when no ramp is available.

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14thumb__dsc5128_1024^^ 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. 

15img_7264^^ Multitasking at its best.

16img_7267^^ 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!

Bis bald, friends!

My Birthday Weekend Getaway in Crested Butte

01 Road Trip^^ 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 …

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^^^ 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. 

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^^^ Crested Butte views

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^^^ 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 … 

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^^^ This fizzy blueberry cream deliciousness that our awesome bartender made for me. I couldn’t finish it all, but it was sure fun trying …

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^^^ Chris’  spicy jalapeno drink. Not my ideal, but he seemed to like it.

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^^^ Just to prove that I was there too, since most of my photos end up being of Chris since I’m behind the camera 😉

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^^^ Early morning mountain views on our way to grab coffee and bagels from Camp 4 Coffee.

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^^^ 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!

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^^^ 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 😉

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^^^ Our little family of (almost!) three (can you believe that belly?!)

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Bye bye, Crested Butte! I have a feeling we’ll be seeing you again…

Countryside Trips to Kyoto

thumb__DSC3346_1024^^^ Here we are, all ready to hop our Japanese Bullet Train from Tokyo to Kyoto — yehaw!!

Hi friends,

Last Wednesday we were making the trek from Tokyo to Kyoto for the rest of our trip, but we were making it in style by riding the bullet train 😉 We had booked our JR Pass before we even left the states, and we decided to go ahead and upgrade to first class which, as I mentioned previously, turned out to be quite nice. I only caught a glimpse briefly of what the regular seats would have been like as the train whizzed into the station, and while I’m sure they would have been perfectly fine, for someone who had just run a marathon and another someone who was pregnant, we certainly weren’t going to complain about the extra legroom, foot rest and spacious seats.

One word of advice here — even when you book first class tickets ahead of time, you still need to go into a Rail Pass station and book in tickets for your exact seat and train time. I’m not sure what would happen if you showed up to a train where you hadn’t booked ahead of time, but luckily for us my father-in-law figured out before that happened that we needed to book, so we did so for our trip to Kyoto from Tokyo, to Hiroshima from Kyoto and then back from Kyoto to Tokyo to catch our flight on Sunday.

The ride was pretty glorious, friends. Lots of beautiful countryside to take in, and small towns along the way to peruse. I know I’ve shared this photo on Instagram already, but it’s just too good not to post here, too:

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^^^ See? Ooooohhhhhh … pretty 😉

Anyway, the 452 kilometer ride (aka 5 1/2 hr car ride) from Tokyo to Kyoto only took about 140 minutes on the bullet train, and it was far more comfy then any car ride would have been. In Kyoto the train arrives into Kyoto Station, which is such an amazing place I’d recommend checking it out even if you’re not catching a train. There are tons of restaurants (good restaurants!), bakeries and shops — there’s a lot to do there. The hotel we stayed at was the New Miyako Hotel,  which was literally right outside the train station and super convenient for exhausted, weary travelers who just want to drop their bags off in their room and take a quick rest before heading back out. (Not to mention how great it is to only travel a short distance when you need to hop the train to get back to Tokyo!)

Anyway, after resting up for a bit, it was pretty late, but we decided to hop on a city bus (again, thank you Chris Connor for showing us how to get around!), and went to check out the Gion District, which is Kyoto’s famous geisha district and is filled with shops and restaurants (and while we were unfortunately a tad early, I can tell you this area would be gorgeous with cherry blossoms probably right about now, too!). The Yasaka Shrine is also right next door to the Gion District, so you can easily knock both things off your list in one trip.

thumb__DSC3356_1024^^^ Entrance to the Yasaka Shrine. We thought the shrine closed to visitors at 5, and most of the stalls and things were closed, but you can still walk into the actual shrine area past 5, so seeing it at night (and then again later during the day) was special.

thumb__DSC3384_1024^^^ We were starving and decided to get sushi (no raw fish for me!) at a little place we happened upon in the Gion district. They had vegetarian noodles, so I started with those, and then gorged myself on veggie sushi, as well. Yum!

The next day we decided to hop back on the bullet train and head to Hiroshima and neighboring island Miyajima. I have to admit that I was hesitate to partake in the Hiroshima part of the trip. I knew it would be an emotional thing to see, and we only had a limited number of days in Kyoto and I just wasn’t sure how I felt about all of it, but after going, I’m so glad I did. Yes, the Hiroshima sites and museum are incredibly heartbreaking, but the area is so beautiful and there’s just so much history there, to go, you really feel like you’re a part of something, for better or for worse.

thumb__DSC3417_1024^^^ We caught the ferry from Hiroshima over to Miyajima Island first.

thumb__DSC3425_1024^^^ Chris & his dad about to chow down on some fried oyster donuts. Chris said this was one of his favorite things he ate the entire trip.

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^^^ The wild deer are indigenous to this island, and while they’re cute and friendly, they will try to eat any paper you have hanging around, if you let them!

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^^^ That’s the Itsukushima shrine on the island. It’s pretty incredible to see.

thumb__DSC3455_1024thumb__DSC3485_1024thumb__DSC3489_1024^^^ We also took the Miyajima cable car up into the mountains for the most incredible view of the area, including Hiroshima in the background. There’s also a beautiful walk that you can take back from the cable car area down into the village, which I would recommend. It’s a steep climb up, so we took the bus to the entrance of the cable car, but to walk down isn’t so bad, so that’s how I’d recommend doing it.

thumb__DSC3529_1024thumb__DSC3598_1024^^^ Back down on the island …

thumb__DSC3648_1024thumb__DSC3656_1024^^^ After Miyajima Island it was on to Hiroshima, where our first stop was this structure, now known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. As one of the only standing reminders of the atomic bomb, you can obviously guess why it would have been a controversial decision to keep it standing all these years later, but after much back and forth, the building was finally designated by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site and today is protected. There’s a really good explanation of this building and how it remained standing after the blast right here.

thumb__DSC3678_1024^^^ The city as it stands today. Incredible. While it’s obviously been a while since the attack, it’s still pretty amazing to see how the city has built itself up around the ashes.

Anyway friends, I didn’t take too many photos in and around Hiroshima, and I didn’t take any inside the museum, but I’d say if you are in the area (or in Kyoto), it’s worth a visit. Just brace yourself, because it’s as upsetting as you might imagine it would be.

After a pretty full day of touristing around, it’s safe to say we were pretty tired. So we headed back to the station, bought some food to eat on the ride home, and caught the bullet train back to Kyoto. The next day would be Chris’s parents last with us before they headed back to Australia, so you just know we had to jam pack that day full of goodies, too 😉 I’ll have more on that tomorrow, my dears. Until then, bis bald!

To Tokyo, With Love

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Hi friends,

So last Thursday we left for Japan, knowing full well that we would have quite the journey ahead of us. With Chris running a marathon on Sunday that he was not prepared for (an injury caused him to cease training almost as soon as he began), and with me and my preggers self, the 13-hour flight alone could have been problematic.

Luckily for us, it turned out to be okay. With my trusty pair of compression socks and tons of snacks packed away in our bags, we were ready! That’s not to say that the flight time just flew by, but it definitely wasn’t as bad as my worst-case scenario mind was imagining it to be. I will take a hot sec to complain about one thing regarding the flight, though, which was American Airlines’ inability to get me a vegetarian meal. Chris had signed me up for that option when we first booked our flight, and heading out to Tokyo they didn’t have any set aside for me (luckily for the first meal there was an extra laying around, but for the second there wasn’t, which meant I went without dinner, and preggers me does not like going without meals!), and for the flight home we called to double check about that and were told we had to sign up for it within a 24-hour timeframe of the flight leaving? What kind of craziness is that? So I didn’t have the veggie meal heading home, either. Major bummer.

Anyway, once we arrived (around 5 p.m. Tokyo time), we set off to find the apartment where we would staying with Chris’s parents, which was this cute little place in Shibuya, which really turned out to be a great location not only for the race (Chris said it was a short warm-up jog to the start line), but also for our general touristing later in the week, since it was close to two major subway lines.

About the subway. Chris had purchased our PASMO cards (for the subway) and our Japan Rail Pass tickets (for the bullet train to and from Tokyo and Kyoto, as well as between Kyoto and Hiroshima) ahead of time, so we had those in the mail to bring with us to Japan, and it was amazing having them. We even opted to upgrade to first class for the JRAIL Passes, and I’m so glad we did. The bullet trains travel at about 200 MPH, but we were still on the train from Tokyo to Kyoto for about 2 hours and 40 minutes and for 1 hour and 40 minutes from Kyoto to Hiroshima, so it was nice to have that extra leg room, a foot rest, and a nice quiet ride. Another note about transportation in and around Japan — subway is definitely the way to go. We took cabs a few times (and they are super fancy cabs, at that! The doors even open automatically for you!), but they are expensive, so it’s not really economically feasible to use them for all your transportation if you’re in town for a while, like we were.

Anyway, moving on! It was late when we arrived at our apartment on Friday, but we ventured out with the Connors for our first (of many!) noodle dinners in the cute little surrounding neighborhood. A town that loves noodles? I can get behind that 😉

Saturday and Sunday of our trip were marathon-themed, as we went to the Expo Saturday for Chris to register and get his race bib, and Sunday was the actual race.

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^^^ Vending machines are everywhere in Japan, and they dispense mostly (if not all) drinks, even HOT coffee and hot chocolate! They’re pretty amazing.

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^^^ At the expo, gettin’ geared up!

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^^^ Signing his name into history on the Abbott World Marathon Majors sign. As we would come to find out later, Chris is one of only about 600 or so runners to have completed all six world marathons in the World Marathon Series so far. Ummmm … you’re pretty impressive, my dear.

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^^^ Honestly, all credit for getting around during our trip goes to this guy. The Connors and I were all too happy to give up transportation control to Chris, and we were well taken care of in his hands.

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^^^ Our little family of three was ready on race day!

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^^^ Chris will tell you this wasn’t his best race (because it wasn’t a PR, and it was a struggle to finish since he wasn’t able to train at all), but he finished in 3 hours and 36 minutes, which for any normal person would still be an insanely fast time. He’s now a six-time World Marathon Series Marathon F.I.N.I.S.H.E.R! Way to go, Chris Connor!

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^^^ Unfortunately a lot of the restaurants we ended up eating at had Japanese names (obviously), so I don’t envision that my posts will be a lot of help in the food department. However, I think it’s pretty hard to go wrong with food in Japan, and we ended up using Foursquare a lot to find places to eat, which is fast becoming my food app of choice when traveling. It has yet to let us down! So for dinner after the marathon, we found this adorable hole-in-wall (thanks Foursquare!) noodle shop that sits about 15 people max and had the most insanely delicious noodles I probably ate the entire trip. We waited about 40 minutes to get seated, but they take your order while you wait, so pretty much as soon as you sit down the food was at the table. Pretty genius, if you ask me!

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^^^ One of the things I loved most about restaurants in Japan was that at pretty much all of them the chefs making the food — and particularly the fresh noodles — were on display to watch. So. Much. Fun!

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^^^ And … the delicious meal. Yum!

And that was our 2-day marathon experience in a nutshell, folks! It was perhaps the final time that the Connors and I will be marathon spectators for Chris (another reason the trip was emotional for me!) — although I would never say never with that one!

I’ll be back tomorrow to start chatting about Monday and beyond, when we got really down and dirty with the touristy part of our trip 😉

‘Til then – bis bald, friends!

Hello From the Other Side …

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Hey there friends! Remember me? Your friendly Weary Wanderer? If not, I don’t blame you, since it has been a while since I’ve posted. I’m sorry for that. I’ve been taking some time to reenvision what I see happening for this blog in the future (more on that later), to work on some other professional goals (I finally attended this amazing children’s book writing conference in NYC the other weekend — I cannot say enough how much I loved it and how I want to go to every single conference they offer!), and perhaps the most important reason I’ve been busy is because — drum roll, please — Chris and I are expecting our first little baby!! Hence the above photo, which my husband so lovingly took after schlepping into the backcountry mountains at both Keystone and Breckenridge to find the perfect spot for the photo opp — good job, love 😉

Anyway, besides all of the above, we have an amazing trip coming up to Japan, where Chris will be completing his sixth and final World Marathon series race in Tokyo THIS SUNDAY! We leave tomorrow, and I could not be more excited! (Except, you know, for the 17 or so hour long flight to get there :/ Normally I wouldn’t mind as much, but as a preggers, well this could be interesting. Stay tuned for a post on the things I (hopefully!) did to make it go smoothly.)

We’ll be back the second week in March, and I’ll be here to blog about everything we saw, but in the meantime, here’s a bit from this year, which has been both amazingly relaxing and crazy busy, all at the same time.

IMG_0253^^ Homemade cinnamon buns from my stepmom. Best. Gift. Ever! (And yes, they were every bit as delicious as they look … )

IMG_0327^^ So exciting getting this in the mail!

IMG_0358^^ Chris and I found out a few weeks ago the gender of our baby. We took the paper with the gender on it to our local bakery and had these cupcakes made up with pink or blue frosting inside to let us know. It was just the two of us, but it was really fun to find out this way, and I’m so glad we did. [I’ll keep it a secret on here for now … some things are more fun when you wait for them ;)]

FullSizeRender (1)^^ The most delicious (and addicting!) ginger cookies from Trader Joe’s, sent as part of a ‘first trimester in pregnancy’ package from a best friend and her (three-times-a-momma!) sister.

FullSizeRender^^ I mean … could these fortune cookies be more accurate?!

FullSizeRender (2)^^ A snowy day in downtown Denver.

IMG_0416^^ Chris and I planned to fly into Newark on our last trip back to New York because it was easier for my stepdad to pick us up there. Unfortunately that meant we had to have a layover at the Cincinnati airport, and when we landed we were given the unfortunate news that all flights into New York had been canceled because of weather. So that meant we spent the night at a hotel near the airport, which at first we were super bummed about, until my stepdad pointed out that the Cincinnati airport is actually in Kentucky, not Ohio (go figure!), and neither one of us had ever been to Kentucky before, so hello that totally counted and we can add it to our list of states visited! Of course we were so exhausted from the day (and our flight out to New York was at 6 a.m. the following morning), so we ended up doing nothing but relaxing, watching television and ordering in (which was delicious, by the way, see above). Still, we were in Kentucky for a night and a meal, so that counts!

IMG_0417^^ Not exactly the best picture, but flying into New York will always send my heart a flutter 😉

IMG_0429^^ Celebrating my grandmother and her twin sister on their 94th birthday. Could there be anything cuter than these two?!

IMG_0433^^ Still in love, after 94 years together. That’s some soul mate action, for ya.

FullSizeRender (3)^^ Although I spent the majority of my time in New York with family upstate, I did get to meet a friend in the city for a couple days (we stayed at The Paul Hotel, which offered these incredible views and was close to the Empire State Building, as well, which was a lot of fun for us as former-NYC-residents-turned-tourists). It was so much fun to eat good food, roam around the city (although it was frigid that weekend!) and to just catch up in person. Sometimes I forget how much I miss my friends until I actually get to see them.

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IMG_0457^^ Catching up with another preggers friend of mine was definitely a highlight, but it got even better when she had her baby on the Friday before I spent all weekend long at the writing conference, which meant I actually got to meet little baby Fiona, which was beyond amazing!
IMG_0463^^ Lisa likes to jazz up photos we take when we’re together, and I like to look at ’em 😉

IMG_0461^^ Ahhhhh, registering for baby shower stuff. Can we all admit that this is fun for about an hour or two, and then by hour three and four all you want to do is sit down and eat cake?

IMG_0526^^ Chris was only with me on this trip for the first weekend (for my grandmother and her twin’s birthday party), and not for my jaunt out into the city and for the writer’s conference, so when he picked me up at the airport when I flew back, he was waiting with these amazing flowers. What a hubby, am I right?!

And now we’re on to Japan, friends! We’re spending about six days in Tokyo and then four days in Kyoto, which I’m beyond excited for. Can’t wait to be back here with an update, and, oh, by the way, it’ll be March when I do! Crazy. How fast is this year going?!

Bis bald, friends!