Our First Fourth of July in Arvada

MountainGoat^^^Mr. Mountain Goat says ‘Hi!’

Happy July, friends. I can’t believe that July is here, and even more so I can’t believe that with July comes the fact that my baby is due next month. I can barely even say that without getting my heart racing.

But for now, friends, Baby is safe and sound still where she still belongs, and we had a visitor over the Fourth of July weekend in the form of my stepdad, who tacked on a couple extra days out to Colorado to a business trip in Arizona. We did a lot while he was here — to include a pretty rockin’ backyard revival, which was totally unexpected but awesome — so it was nice having him visit for a couple of days.

One place I knew I had to take him was the Eagle Sanctuary at Standley Lake, because in college my stepdad actually used to raise baby Bald Eagles, so obviously I knew this was something he would enjoy.

And, luckily, he did😉

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^^^How completely adorable are these tipis which, by the way, you can rent to camp out in!?

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^^^ It seriously took my stepdad maybe about 7 minutes to spot an eagle. Then another. Then another. Of the four Bald Eagles that live at Standley Lake, we saw three … not too shabby!
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^^^ The cattle dog coming down the pathway should have tipped us off to what was ahead, but we were still caught off guard by this heap of goats in the field by the lake. So fun to listen to them chat to each other😉

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^^^ These geese, however … not so much fun! We tried sitting at this picnic bench by the water for a hot second after eagle spotting, but clearly the geese had other ideas. If we didn’t have any food for them, they made it pretty clear that we weren’t welcome!

9_BaldEagle^^^ I love that we also found where you can rent kayaks, paddle boards and the like at the lake … that seems like it would be so much fun!

On Friday night we ventured out into Denver to eat dinner at the Buckhorn Exchange, Denver’s oldest restaurant. While I’m not a meat-eater, I can still appreciate a fun steakhouse when I see one and this, my friends, was about as fun as it gets.

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^^^ Cheers’ing with my iced tea … always a good time!
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^^^ Not my meal, obviously (although the salmon I had seriously melted in your mouth, it was that delicious), but the boys really seemed to enjoy their meat which, I guess, is the most important thing at a steakhouse, right?!
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^^^ Grainy photo, but they had a live singer upstairs who was just about the cutest old man you ever could see.
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^^^ Again, not the best photo, but how funny is this sign outside the restaurant?

The boys left bright and early Saturday morning to check out Mount Evans, the highest paved road in North America at over 14,000 feet. When we went to the mountains a couple weeks back I found the altitude really affected me during pregnancy, so I decided to beg off on this adventure, but after seeing the photos, I definitely plan on making it out myself at some point.

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Despite all the hubbub, we did also manage to have Robert help us out with our backyard …

1_MannieFlowers^^^ All of these flowers are now officially in our garden!

… and we took a couple pretty nice walks around the lake, to include a sunset one the night before Robert left

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Robert will be back in August with some other family to meet our little baby girl, but until then, it was great having you, my dear!

Bis bald, my friends – I hope you all had lovely and safe July 4th weekends, as well!

A Final Weekend in June

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Hi friends,

Long time no write:/ Sorry about that. To be honest, 2016 has been a bit challenging so far, to say the least. Despite some of the biggest “ups” of my life [preparing for our first baby, for example], there have also been some of the lowest of the lows, like losing my mom. I haven’t felt much like writing here over the past three months, really, since that happened, but I’m trying to come out of my funk a bit, and this blog has always meant so much so me, so I figured I’d give writing here a shot and see how it goes … at least for now.

In other big news, Chris and I moved out of our downtown Denver apartment and into our first home in Arvada near Standley Lake, which is about 15-20 minutes from downtown Denver. So far, we’re really liking it out here in the ‘burbs, which is something that has come as quite a surprise to both of us [and our friends and family, too!]. Having the lake so close by certainly helps — Chris runs there multiple nights a week and it’s about all I can manage to drag my pregnant self on about a 10-20 minute walk most days, but whenever I do get out there, it’s simply gorgeous.

Like Saturday morning. We grabbed some coffees [decaf for me, of course ;)] and walked the five minutes to the lake entrance, then walked about 1.5 miles around the lake and back. It was the perfect length for me, and I really needed the change of scenery …

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^^ This photo is blurry because I zoomed in, but just look at those Flatirons! Gorgeous.

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We’ve definitely lived in some cities with some pretty spectacular views before, but I have to say, it doesn’t matter how many times we walk around this lake … it always stuns me with its beauty.

For Christmas my sister got me a membership to the Denver Botanic Gardens, and on Saturday we were finally able to get out there for a visit, which was really quite lovely.

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GardenGoddess04BotanicGardens05BotanicGardens06BotanicGardens^^ Just the three of us, out for a day at the gardens😉

On Sunday I met up with my cousin at Sassafras back in Denver for brunch, where I had the most delicious beignets and shrimp & grits that I’ve had since New Orleans!

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So friends, those outings — coupled with lots of outdoor porch time — made for a pretty nice weekend. I hope yours was as lovely … or that you’re at least finding some way to stay cool in the heat! My stepdad will be here for a visit starting Wednesday, so we’re really looking forward to that.

Until next time, friends … bis bald😉

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…

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!

A Holiday Getaway In the Mountains

IMG_0109^^ A blurry view of the snowy trees whizzing by on our way up to the mountains on Christmas Eve.

Hi friends,
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.

_DSC2710^^Our dining room looking into what we came to affectionately refer to as our “Christmas nook”.

_DSC2711^^The kitchen

_DSC2716^^ Our Christmas nook, pre decorations.

_DSC2720^^ Chris spent most of his time stoking the lovely wood fire.

_DSC2725^^ Our Christmas nook, all decorated and lovely.

IMG_0132^^ Christmas Eve dinner was at the Black Bear Grill.

IMG_0139^^ Christmas eve entertainment was a roaring fire and some Christmas classics.

_DSC2731^^ Christmas morning Christmas nook views.

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_DSC2741^^ I thought this photo was artsy, with the Christmas lights in the foreground, but Chris just said it was confusing.

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And that was our lovely, snow-filled Christmas holiday, friends! I hope you all had a relaxing, fun time filled with friends, family and lots of delicious foods … now on to New Years!

A Final Two Days in New Orleans

_DSC2583^^ We sure do love a good bike tour😉

Sunday in New Orleans was a great day, because we actually hopped on a bike tour with Buzz Nola that took us into some really gorgeous parts of the city that we hadn’t seen yet. We stopped at P.J’s for coffee first (because we saw locals drinking this, so we figured, why not?!), and then met up with our tour, which covered:

  • The French Quarter: Where we learned about the city’s founding in 1718, the architecture, Jackson Square and the history of the French Market.
  • Esplanade Ave.: A historic oak-lined boulevard where the Creole elite live.
  • Faubourg Treme: A centuries old neighborhood, home to artists, musicians and history makers.
  • Louis Armstrong Park & Congo Square: The heart of New Orleans’ jazz tradition (and where the jazz festival was being held that we stopped by the day before).
  • Lafayette Cemetery No. 1: One of the many above ground cemeteries in New Orleans, where we learned about the tradition of interment and New Orleans’ funeral traditions.
  • The Lower Garden District: Where the original city of Lafayette, LA begins. Americans were the first to begin building their homes here when the they weren’t welcome in the areas where the French were already living.
  • The Mansions of the Garden District: Gorgeous homes abound in this area, and many architectural trends influenced the whole neighborhood.

Here’s some of what we saw …

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_DSC2609^^ This is Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, which has a really interesting history that you can read on their site. We came back here later Sunday night to grab some drinks.

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_DSC2634^^ Look at this beautiful mansion in the Garden District part of our tour. We saw Sandra Bullock’s house, the house where Eli and Peyton Manning grew up, John Goodman’s house, and a whole bunch of others.

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_DSC2668^^ Lafayette’s Cemetery. It’s a somber experience to be taking a tour through a cemetery, but just look at these gorgeous structures. It’s really a nice way to be remembered.

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_DSC2695^^ This sign was pretty much across the street from our hotel, and it made me laugh when I first saw it, so I figured I should take a pic😉

IMG_3681^^ Sazeracs at Dominica in the Roosevelt hotel for happy hour before heading out on the town.

IMG_9752^^ Hurricane’s at Lafitte’s on Sunday night before catching an Uber to dinner.

IMG_2801^^ This. A very scary creepy statue of Jesus that projects onto a church in the French Quarter at night. 

IMG_9760^^ Dinner Sunday night was at Baccanal Wine, which is totally off the beaten path, and totally worth it! The first part of the store is a wine and cheese shop, then you can go and sit in the backyard under the twinkle lights, listen to live jazz and order drinks and food from the little window over there to the left. It has a really laid back, low-key, homey type of feel — exactly what we were hoping for on our last night.

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Monday was our last day in New Orleans, and we were lucky that we had most of the day to hang out. We went back to Cafe Du Monde for breakfast, and this time we actually sat in the cafe, which was a lot of fun.

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Then we walked over to Canal St. and caught the Streetcar back to the Garden District, where we would be having lunch at Commander’s Palace.

So remember the other day when I said the Streetcars were cute, except for when you want to ride them? Well the truth is they’re pretty unreliable in terms of timing (ours showed up about 10 minutes late and took about 20 minutes longer than we thought to get us to our destination). If you aren’t strapped for time, though, it’s a pretty fun (and cheap) way to ride around the city at least once.

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IMG_9770^^ Us, totally badass after a delicious lunch at Commander’s Palace. My mushroom risotto was some of the best I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.

And that, my friends, was that! New Orleans in four days in a nutshell! It was fun and funky and splendid and wonderful — and I’d highly recommend it for history buffs, music lovers, those who enjoy fine food and/or drink, and party revelers alike.

Bis bald, friends! I’ll leave you with this – one last video of the amazing orchestra due we fell in love with and who we lucky got to see twice before we left. P.S. I do realize this is the same song as I posted before, just a longer version. I thought we taped them both nights, but unfortunately we didn’t. Oh well — it’s still a damn good show.

Day 2 in New Orleans: Food, Frenchman’s Street & Fun Outdoor Markets

_DSC2484^^ Ahh New Orleans … could you be any prettier?

Saturday was a splendid, exploratory day for us in New Orleans, my friends. We decided to walk the distance to try brunch (which was actually more like lunch, by the time we got there) at Elizabeth’s, followed by a stroll along Crescent Park (the photo above) and a wander through the French Market, where we bought some really amazing art work and I got a new pair of sunglasses and a fun face mask (hey, when in New Orleans, right?!).

On our way back to our hotel, we were trying to find St. Louis Cemetery (which we did, although unfortunately it was closed for the day) and we stumbled across Basin St. Station (definitely worth a look on your way to the cemetery for information on the evolution of transportation in New Orleans) and the New Orleans Jazz and History Festival, which was really fun.

Here’s a visual journey through our day …

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_DSC2472^^ We don’t have a dog, but I need this sign!

_DSC2473^^ Walking through the Marigny section of town to get to brunch.

_DSC2476^^ Beads are everywhere in New Orleans — be sure to  look in the trees, too, that’s a favorite spot for them to hang.

_DSC2481^^ Well deserved Bloody Mary’s after a long walk to Elizabeth’s.

_DSC2482^^ My eggs florentine, which were good, but I definitely had food envy over Chris’s …

_DSC2483^^ Crabby eggs (basically eggs florentine on top of crab cakes) and cheesy grits. Yum!

_DSC2488^^ Walking along the Crescent Park pathway, which gives you some amazing views of the city, and pretty much brings you right up to the French Market.

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_DSC2511^^ These kids playing right near the French Market were so awesome, we just sat and listened to them for a good 15 minutes.

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_DSC2548^^ Another second line parade that happened along our path.

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_DSC2564^^ Basically there are brides and bridal parties everywhere you turn in New Orleans. And who can blame ’em … what a backdrop!

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_DSC2579^^ A bit of a view from the Jazz and History Festival.

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IMG_9714^^ You can’t help but love these guys, right? They aren’t even getting married — they’re just celebrating life.

After a quick rest back at the hotel, we headed back out onto the town for some food, live music and art. We had been hearing great things about the po boys at Verti Marte, so we obviously had to check it out, and they did not disappoint. If you can get past the super sketchy feel of this place (it’s basically a small convenient store with a deli at the back where you order), you’ll be impressed with their po boy options, and even more impressed with the taste. Plan to either get yours delivered or eat it out on the street while you people watch on your way to your next destination (which is what we did).

After dinner we tried to get into Three Muses, but they weren’t taking any more people for the night. This is supposed to be a really fun place for tapas and live music, so if you can make it work, I’d recommend trying it. Lucky for us, though, there was a fun bar about two doors down (30/90) which had good drinks and a live band. So we snuck in there for a while, then wandered around Frenchmen Street for a bit, including the Frenchmen Art Market, which was so romantic with its white string lights and tables and tables of local artists selling their wares.

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FullSizeRender (97)^^ This picture doesn’t do it justice, but we walked home along Bourbon Street that night, and you can only imagine the insanity that ensues here.  Bourbon Street is not for the faint of heart, my friends. Keep that in mind😉

And that was our Saturday! I’ll be back tomorrow with Sunday and Monday (since Monday was a short day). Sunday included a bike tour, which was so much fun, and checking out a new section of town, as well.

But for now … bis bald, friends!

Let’s Talk About Amazing New Orleans: Day 1

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Well friends, we’re back home after a crazy couple of days in the Big Easy! We landed late Thursday and really hit the ground running Friday through Monday night, when we flew back. I feel like we got a good lay of the land from just those couple of days, but New Orleans is definitely a place I would say I’d like to head back to.

I figured the best way to go about blogging for this trip is to break it up by days. Friday morning we really wanted to just take our time and meander around the city, being sure to hit up some of the spots our many, many friends who have been before suggested we see. Here’s what we got up to:

Breakfast was take-away beignets and coffee from Cafe Du Monde, which we ate by the river while we listened to some locals jam away. Chris kept saying how the one thing he really loved about this city was how it seems to have a soundtrack of its own, and I couldn’t agree more.

_DSC2334^^ The Streetcars that ran along Canal Street were so cute — until we took one! More on that later, though …

_DSC2338^^ I took a lot of pictures of buildings people, because … I mean … come on! So gorgeous!

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_DSC2348^^ We decided to do take away from Cafe Du Monde Friday, but we were able to sit down at a table on Monday morning, and it was fantastic. The people watching alone is worth it, but to sit at a table and dunk your beignet in coffee — you’ll think you died and went to heaven.

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_DSC2381^^ Check out the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral in the background. Our tour guide on Sunday told us that Walt Disney modeled the Magic Kingdom castle after it, after coming to New Orleans and being blown away by its beauty. I could definitely see that.

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_DSC2395^^ There are no open container laws in New Orleans, which makes for a pretty interesting time. You can’t have glass bottles on the street, but there’s a lotta paper baggin’ it happening around here!

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_DSC2407^^ Look at this little kid, just playin’ his drum as he crosses the street. This is quintessential New Orleans, if you ask me.

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After breakfast we wandered around the French Quarter, down Bourbon Street and happened upon Cafe Beignet, where we sat to get some drinks and listen to the live band.

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_DSC2420^^ The first of many Sazeracs😉

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Lunch on Friday was at Lüke’s, which was close to our hotel but also happened to have some amazing food. We had oysters (but of course), Court-bouillon with redfish, crab, shrimp, oysters and Louisiana popcorn rice. Chris also had the seafood gumbo, while I opted for the Lüke salad. It was a spectacular lunch, to say the least.

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After lunch we took a quick rest back at our hotel. I should take this chance to talk a bit about where we stayed — The Whitney Hotel. This former bank has kept many of its old banking structures, which makes it super quirky and fun, and its location is enough removed from the madness to be quiet, but also just blocks away from where all the fun is. I’d highly recommend it for anyone’s stay!

_DSC2450^^ The front lobby.

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Our Friday evening consisted of some more exploring, with stops at The Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone (an actual spinning carousel — don’t worry, it’s sloowwwww — and live music make this place so. much. fun!), drinks at The Golden Lantern [which Chris says was his favorite bar out of all those we visited … even if it was a gay bar ;)] and a bit of a walk to Mimi’s in the Marigny, which is, as the name suggests, in the Marigny section of town. We had some delicious tapas for dinner there.

FullSizeRender (94)^^ One of the many second line parades we saw while in town. Anyone can register with the police department for any reason to have a parade, and they will be given real police escorts and everything. Of course you have to hire your own band, though — but those aren’t hard to come by in New Orleans. See the bride in the back? So much fun!

FullSizeRender (93)^^ Checking out the scenery at The Carousel Bar.

IMG_9652^^ So much fun!

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IMG_9665^^ The band in the background could be heard all the way up the carousel part of the bar, which was really cool.

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^^ Delicious dinner at Mimi’s. Tapas rock.

IMG_9695^^ My husband, up to something at Mimi’s, that’s for sure.

And that was our first jam packed day in New Orleans friends! I’ll leave you with this, amazing orchestra duo which we went back to see the following night as well, because they were just that good. Bis bald, friends — and I’ll be back tomorrow with more!

A Quick Trip to South Dakota to Visit Mount Rushmore

01_SouthDakota^^ Holy cow does it look cold or what?! Well it was!

Well friends, unfortunately it’s been about two weeks since we actually made the trek out to South Dakota to visit Mount Rushmore, but I’m only now getting the chance to post some photos from our little adventure. After arriving back into Denver late Monday night with Chris’s parents from New York after my sister’s wedding, we hopped in the car early Tuesday and headed off to add a new state to our list of visits this year — South Dakota. We booked a hotel in Rapid City called Adoba, which was awesome for its proximity to Mount Rushmore and also for the fact that it had a bar right across the street that afforded us the chance to watch the Mets game while we chowed down on some grub after a long day of checking out the sights …

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03_OregonTrail^^ Passing by markers for the Oregon Trail during our drive brought me right back to my American history days!

04_CrazyHorseMemorial^^ Our first stop in South Dakota was the Crazy Horse Memorial. Can you kind of see the face carved into the side of that mountain on the right? This landmark has kind of a crazy story in that it’s pretty much being entirely built by one family who refuses to take contributions from the government. You can read more about the monument here, but essentially the memorial is meant to protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of North American Indians. If you’re in the area, I’d recommend checking it out, if only for the museum and the awesome amount of information you can find there.

05_MountainGoat^^ Yes, these are mountain goats, my friends, and guess who was super excited to add this animal to our list of animals we’ve seen this year …

06_MountainGoat^^ My husband was … that’s who😉

07_MountRushmore^^ Entering the Mount Rushmore area was a sort of out-of-body experience for me at first. I mean you spend your whole life growing up, knowing that this place exists, seeing photos of it in history books and reading about what it represents, and then you see it in person … and you’re just blown away.

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11_HotelSunrise^^ The sunrise view from our hotel Wednesday morning certainly wasn’t too shabby.

12_TrailView^^Wednesday morning we drove through Custer State Park and took the Wildlife Loop Road, which was amazing.

13_TrailView^^ We saw bison — hey bison!

14_TrailView^^ A vulture …

15_TrailView^^ You can’t really see it too well in this picture, but there’s a coyote a little right of center in this photo …

16_TrailView^^ There he goes, off to the right and into the woods!

17_TrailView^^ Prairie dogs!

18_TrailView^^ And more bison, super up close and personal.

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21_TrailView^^ Look at these little cuties! We sure do miss them when we’re not with them.

22_TheNeedles^^ We also got to quickly check out Needles Highway on our way back to Mount Rushmore on Wednesday (we didn’t have much time to check out the museum the day before), which was pretty stunning.

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30_MountRushmore^^ And then it was back to Mount Rushmore one more time to finish up with the museum and check out the monument again before heading back to Denver.

It was a super quick little two-day trip, but totally worth it. We were hoping to hit up the Badlands as well, but we definitely didn’t have time for that. Oh well, it’s on the list, still!

And we’re off to New Orleans tomorrow, friends! I cannot wait to check out this city that I’ve heard so much about. Be sure to follow me on Instagram for daily updates, and I’ll be back next week to post an update on the blog.

Until then, bis bald, my friends!

My Sister’s Wedding

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^^ Check out the amazing cabins that my parents rented for the weekend of my sister’s wedding. [They were in Fishkill, New York, by the way, and they’re called Willow Lake Vacation Rentals, if you’re looking for an amazing fall getaway in the Hudson Valley for next year ;)] We stayed there Friday night, got ready for the wedding Saturday and had a big family breakfast there Sunday before everyone headed out. The following couple of photos are all from the weekend of my sister’s wedding, including a tour of West Point that my dad was kind enough to give Chris’s parents on Sunday after everyone had left.

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12Cabin^^ This was a ladybug on Brian’s jacket, which we all determined was very good luck😉

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Life Lately: The Fall in Upstate New York Edition

Hi friends,

As much as fall has been a whirlwind, I was predicting that to be the case, and therefore I’ve been able to (as much as humanly possible!) stop and — to paraphrase — smell the changing leaves😉

Here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to in the past couple (crazy/insane/amazing) weeks …

01_Snooze^^ Snooze with some Aussie visitors before I left for my east coast adventure.

02_DenverCapital^^ Checking out the Colorado State Capitol as part of an expert (not) tour while our friends were in town.

03_PeekskillBrewery^^ Hitting up the Peekskill Brewery for dinner the first night I was home.

04_IthacaLakehouse^^ We rented a lake house in Ithaca for my sister’s bachelorette a few weekends ago, and it was the definition of heavenly.

05_IthacaLakehouse^^ Getting the party started!

06_IthacaLakehouse^^ Cayuga Lake in all its glory.

07_CiderTasting^^ Stopping at the Finger Lakes Cider House on our winery tour.

08_CiderTasting^^ These ladies.

09_IthacaBars^^ I bought these little party hats for our gang to wear out the night of Steph’s bachelorette, and I cannot lie, I kind of love them. What else can I wear this for?!

10_Gorges^^ Checking out the gorges in Ithaca before heading out Sunday. Oh fall — you just get me.

11_Ranger^^ This pup is soooo happy to have me home😉

12_BKWAterfront^^ I headed into the city for a couple days last week for a press event and to visit some friends. This pic was taken during  a walk along the river in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

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13_StatueOfLiberty^^ There’s our Lady Liberty, standing all tall and proud!

14_BKNeighborhood^^ It doesn’t get more quaint Brooklyn wonderfulness than my friend’s adorable neighborhood.

15_FayeAndMe^^ Blurry  photo fun down in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

17_BryantPark^^ One of my all-time most favorite places in the entire world — Bryant Park. This little slice of heaven lives amidst all the crazy hustle and bustle of Manhattan, and it really is something special. I appreciate it even more now that I don’t live in NYC anymore …

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19_230Fifth^^ My press event last Thursday took place on the rooftop bar of 230 Fifth.  This place is pricey, but in my opinion it’s absolutely worth it for this view …

19_EmpireState^^ I mean …

20_FlatironBuilding^^ I had some time to kill before the event on Thursday, so I hung out in Madison Square Park for a bit and snapped this pic of the Flatiron Building on my way out.

21_BKPumpkins^^ Pumpkins in Brooklyn.

22_ProspectPark^^ A friend and I walked through Prospect Park in Brooklyn on Sunday before I headed home. Coming back to visit this city — and all the people I love who still live here — is bittersweet now. Still, this was the first time back since we’ve moved away that I thought, “I’m actually okay that I don’t live here.” As much as I adore New York — and I do! — this place can also be exhausting and stressful. Who knows where my life will bring me in the future, but it was a good feeling this trip back to be able to say that for now, I think we made the right decision leaving. Leaving the people there, of course, is a whole other thing …

23_AussieCousin^^ This Aussie cousin of ours is amazing. When he found out a trip he had already planned to New York was happening just days after my sister’s wedding, he rescheduled to be able to attend. Then he found out about our other cousin’s wedding that took place this past Saturday, and he rescheduled again! What a trooper.

24_Wedding^^ A glorious wedding venue.

25_Wedding^^ These two cuties are next!

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27_NewPaltzFall^^ Sunday was frustrating to me, with an unscheduled, unplanned and thoroughly annoying last-minute trip to an Urgent Care Center. The drive out there, however, was splendid in all its fall loveliness, so I rewarded myself with a stop directly in the middle of the road to take this photo.

IMG_8891^^ And this, from a walk around the neighborhood with the dog. Le sigh.

IMG_8574^^ Chris and I haven’t been together all of October, since I’ve been east coasting it — so sometimes we just have to cheers each other virtually, ya know?!

IMG_6118^^ Oh, and he sends me these, too, to melt my heart a little bit😉

And that’s been it so far, my friends! I’m off to the Poconos with a friend this Thursday, and I’m sure there will be plenty more to share with you in the coming weeks – so stay tuned.

Bis bald!

Yellowstone, How We Love You

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After spending a full day with the Tetons on Thursday, Chris and I packed up our belongings from the Tiny House and hopped back in the car to head over to Yellowstone National Park, where we would be spending the next day and 1/2.

A word first about where we slept — the Kings Inn Cody Hotel in Cody, Wyoming.  While there’s a lot to love about this hotel (the eccentric decorations in the lobby and stairwell and the free continental breakfast come to mind), and the town of Cody appeared to be really adorable and quaint and quintessentially mid-western (although we didn’t really get to explore it), Cody is actually quite a distance from the park (about an hour after you make it out of the park, which can take a while depending where you are), so I’d recommend trying first to find somewhere closer, if that’s possible (which it wasn’t for us).

Anyway, it doesn’t matter where we stayed, because we spent full days in the park anyway, and only made it back to the hotel on Friday and Saturday night to pass out. (We made it back so late on Friday that everything was closed for dinner! We had to order pizza from Dominos and save some for the following night, since we knew that would be a late night, too!)

So Yellowstone — oh, Yellowstone. Where do I begin? There’s just so much to love. For starters, it’s important to recognize that it’s been an incredibly active animal season in Yellowstone this year, which is amazing and also a bit scary. There have been some pretty terrible bear encounters, and even a couple of bad bison encounters at some of the parks recently. So we took our bear spray with us again everywhere, tried to hike only when we were with other groups of people and made lots of noise whenever we were in bear territory … the last thing you want to do is come up on a bear and scare or surprise him. Luckily we were safe the entire time, but it’s important to be smart and stay vigilant every single time you visit a park with wildlife. These are wild animals … and no matter how tame and calm they may seem while you’re watching them from afar, things can change in an instant and you really need to stay on your toes.

Okay — enough of that! Once you have properly educated yourself on the way to handle wild animal encounters (!), there is no end to what you can see and do in Yellowstone!

Here’s what we got up to:

_DSC1687^^ One of our first views upon entering the park — you see this and you just know it’s going to be awesome!

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_DSC1706^^ Our first animal sighting in Yellowstone — an elk!

_DSC1709^^ Overlooking Old Faithful from our hike up Observation Point.

_DSC1721^^ Old Faithful erupting! So cool.

_DSC1743^^ Walking around all the different geysers in the Old Faithful area was amazing — they’re so gorgeous and unique.

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_DSC1777^^ Bison!! The first time we saw one we were like “Woah! Look at that Bison!” Then we quickly realized that they are everywhere in the park … still cool though!

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_DSC1806^^ Big-horn elk!

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 ^^ Bear footprint! We saw this about 20 minutes before a black momma bear and her baby walked right up to our car as we were driving home. Chris and I spent about 10 seconds yelling at each other to “grab the camera! grab the flash flight!” before just sitting back and enjoying the sight. Ah, nature. Perfectly lovely, when you’re safe in your car and can watch from a distance😉

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_DSC1841^^ Guys, there’s a coyote in this picture, I swear! The park was especially active with coyote and wolves around this time, too. Unfortunately we were about 5 minutes too late to catch the wolves on our last night, but we saw some amazing pictures from people who did get to see them!

_DSC1845^^ See that big ole’ grizzly lumbering off to the right side of the photo! We were lucky enough to catch this sighting about 10 minutes after we got into the park on Saturday.

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_DSC1860^^ The Mud Volcano — there are a bunch of different geysers to see around this part of the park, as well, definitely worth checking out!

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_DSC1893^^ The Lower Falls as seen from our ridiculously steep Uncle Tom’s Trail hike.  You guys, this hike is absolutely worth it — if you’re feeling fit enough to do it. It’s definitely not a joke. Yellowstone is over 7000 ft. above sea level, which is pretty high, even for me, coming from Denver at 5280 ft. The hike itself covers a span of about 500 feet, and includes hundreds (I’m not exaggerating) of steps. If you take your time and acclimate before attempting this hike, it’s totally worth the view at the end, though. For those afraid of heights, the open metal stairs might pose a small problem, too. I’d recommend just holding onto the railing and looking straight ahead … not down!

_DSC1897^^ The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

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_DSC1909^^ See? Stairs … and lots of ’em!

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_DSC1943^^ This mom and baby big-horn sheep were grazing right next to the side of the road, totally oblivious to the cars and people.

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_DSC1966^^ Views on our Trout Lake hike. This hike is gorgeous (as you can see from the above photo), and it’s relatively short to get to the lake, but it is steep, and it’s deep in bear country, so do not do this hike without bear spray and lots of other people to make noise!

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_DSC1974^^ Not sure where this skull came from, or what kind animal it is, but let’s just say it was a bit unnerving to come across it while walking around such a serene, beautiful lake!

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_DSC2019^^ Dipping our toes in Lamar River, where tons of people were fly fishing, which is so fun to watch!

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_DSC2035^^ The prong-horn antelope in this picture practically blend right in — can you see ’em?!

_DSC2036^^ While the momma and baby bear was my favorite bear sighting, this was Chris’s. There’s a big ole’ grizzly in the middle of this photo (find him!), which some kind fellow watchers were nice enough to let us borrow their telescopes to see closer. He stayed in this field for hours, eating berries, chasing bison and just generally having a grand old time. It was really something to see.

_DSC2051^^ Another prong-horn antelope.

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_DSC2065^^ This bison and a friend of his wandered super close to our group while we were watching out for the wolves on our last night in Yellowstone. I was a tad scared, to say the least, but no one else seemed to mind, and he did end up minding his own business. Still, it was definitely a bit closer than I normally like to get to wildlife, unless I’m in my car. (Makes for good pictures, though!)

_DSC2086^^ There was a fire that had been started by lightening the whole time we were in the park, but it was far enough away that it didn’t pose any real threat to the visitors just yet. The park has a “let it burn” policy, actually, as this type of thing is nature’s way of rejuvenating the land.

_DSC2096^^ Final, farewell Yellowstone photo — gosh darn you’re amazing!

And that, my friends, is it. Our trips to Jackson, the Tetons and Yellowstone, in three succinct blog posts. Here’s what I’ll say — you could spend weeks here and probably see something new every single day. It’s an amazing, amazing place, and I hope to be back again in the future.

Bis bald, friends!

A Day in Grand Teton National Park

Jackson Lake, Wyoming

After settling into our amazing tiny house last Wednesday, we woke up bright and early Thursday morning, ready to tackle the awesome splendor that is Grand Teton National Park.  We got up around 6 a.m., made some coffee, and sat on our front porch overlooking the Tetons while we planned our day.

Here’s how the day went:

We started with breakfast at a cute little bakery right in the downtown part of Jackson called Persephone, where we ordered coffees, breakfast sandwiches and scones to go. It was busy, but we didn’t have to wait too long, and the food was amazing, so I’d highly recommend checking this place out if you’re in town.

After grabbing breakfast, we headed across the street to an outdoor store and grabbed some bear spray.

A note about the bear spray, people — it’s expensive, but it makes all the difference in terms of comfort level when you’ll be hiking (or even just standing!) in areas where there has been heavy bear activity, like there has been this year in both the Tetons and Yellowstone. For example — we ended up seeing four bears in Yellowstone … but that’s a post for another day😉

Anyway, after breakfast and bear spray, we started the drive out to the park. The road we originally wanted to take was actually closed down due to bear activity (see!), but no matter where you drive around the Tetons, you’re sure to see some amazing stuff.

Here’s what we got up to and saw:

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_DSC1591^^ Jenny Lake

_DSC1595^^ The views on our Hidden Falls hike.

_DSC1597^^ Jenny Lake as seen from the Hidden Falls hike.

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_DSC1650^^ After our hike, we stopped off at Dornans to have some drinks overlooking the mountains.

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_DSC1675^^ Doesn’t get much more Wyoming than this.

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On our way back to our tiny house, we stopped off at the grocery store to pick up some veggies and smores to grill and some wine to drink. Chris was dying to try out the outdoor grill that came with our tiny house, and I was dying to stare up at the stars all night long — so it worked out well for both of us!

We also decided to try out The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, right in downtown Jackson, which is about as cowboy/Midwest as you can possibly get. It’s definitely worth a stop-in for a drink if you’re in the area!

FullSizeRender (84)^^ You can’t really tell from this photo, but we’re actually sitting on bar stools that are saddles. Fun!

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_DSC1670^^ Grilling for dinner right next to our tiny house. It was the perfect way to end our day full o’ fun at the Grand Tetons!

The next morning we would be up early (again!) to head over to breakfast at The Bunnery in Jackson before driving about an hour or so to start our Yellowstone adventure.

But more on that to come later, my friends. For now — bis bald!

The Allure of a Tiny House for Vacation

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Well friends, Chris and I just returned from a four-day trip in Wyoming. While there we visited Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park, all of which was amazing, breathtaking and incredible — and we probably wouldn’t have done it at all without the generous courtesy of Fireside Resorts, which invited me out to try out their Caboose Cabin rental in the town of Wilson, about 10 minutes from downtown Jackson.

Now, I’ve heard a lot about these “tiny” houses over the past few years, but to be honest I hadn’t paid a ton of attention because Chris and I have managed to live in cities where, for the most part, our living spaces have been what can only be described as “tiny”. Having said that, there is something altogether different about the likes of the Wheelhaus tiny house that we were lucky enough to stay in through Fireside Resorts. These houses, while tiny, are not only beautiful and state-of-the-art, but the views simply couldn’t get any better.

Here’s a bit of what the inside looked like:

_DSC1521^^ We arrived Wednesday after dark, so our first impression of the campground was through the soft lighting of the resorts. That, plus the incredible starry sky, was all the welcome I needed to know this place was going to be amazing.

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_DSC1526^^ The master bedroom had a closed-off porch attached, which was right next to the grilling area and a babbling brook. Talk about idyllic!

_DSC1528^^ The loft upstairs held two beds.

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_DSC1546^^ The next morning we were able to see what the view from our cabin truly was …

_DSC1547^^ And take advantage of the coffee machine, of course😉

_DSC1549^^ Ahh, tetons. I could stare at you all gosh darn day!

_DSC1555^^ The brook next to our cabin.

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_DSC1564^^ Our first morning at the cabin was happily spent sipping coffee on the front porch, overlooking the Tetons, while planning our trip to the National Park that day.

_DSC1569^^ When the keys to your rental come attached to a Swiss Army knife, you just know your stay is going to be bad-ass!

_DSC1570^^ A side view of the house.

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I have more to say about this amazing place, but I’ll go ahead and talk about some other things we loved about it in future posts. For now, I’ll just say that if you have ever considered renting a tiny home in lieu of a regular hotel in the past, now is the time to do it. Seriously, do it! You won’t regret it — I can promise you that😉

Bis bald, friends! I’ll be back tomorrow with everything Grand Teton related!

Baseball and a New Brunch Place

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Last Friday Chris and I took advantage of his boss’s Rockies season tickets to take in our first baseball game at Coors Field. This was especially meaningful for us because the Rockies just happened to be playing … drum roll please … the Mets! Amazing.

And it was an amazing game, as well. (Go Mets!)

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On Sunday we decided to hit up Snooze (which is consistently ranked among the top places to get brunch in Denver). There are two locations near us — one in Union Station and another on Larimer. While the original plan was to get up early and head to the stand-alone restaurant on Larimer to hopefully avoid the (always present) crowds, let’s just say that didn’t happen because of someone (ahem … it was me. All my fault.), so we hit up the Union Station location instead, since there were places we could grab a coffee and hang out outside while waiting.

As a side note: I would highly recommend this course of action for anyone attempting to eat at Snooze on the weekend. We were told our wait would be an hour and 45 minutes (although I think it actually ended up only being a little over an hour), but we barely noticed because we grabbed coffee from Pigtrain and sat outside in the gorgeous weather watching the little kids and dogs run around in the water fountains.

Not too shabby.

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Our waiter was some kind of wonderful. He felt pretty strongly that, since this was our first time at Snooze, we should get to experience some form of delicious pancakes, and because we both ordered from ‘the art of hollandaise’ section of the menu (hello, eggs benedict!), he sent one over for us to try on the house.

And it was … spectacular!

07_Snooze Pancake^^ Behold, the Blueberry Danish pancake, friends. Commence drooling now.

08_Snooze Bennie^^ Chris and I both picked the ‘Benny Due Can’t Decide?! option from the menu, which allows you to mix and match two half orders of eggs benedict options (mine, above, was the Caprese and Bella! Bella! Benny with the prosciutto removed).

All told, while I have to say that there will always be a special place in my heart for The Delectable Egg, I can certainly see why people say Snooze is a must-hit when in Denver. We’ll certainly be back here again in the near future, that’s for sure.

Bis bald, friends!

A Saturday Spent at Rocky Mountain National Park

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Hey friends,

On Saturday, Chris and I hopped in the car and drove out to Rocky Mountain National Park, a 415 square mile park that encompasses some of the most beautiful landscape I’ve seen yet in Colorado — and that’s really saying something.

So to start, we decided to bite the bullet and purchase an America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass for $80. An individual car entrance for just one visit to Rocky Mountain National Park is $20, and we’ve already been to Arches National Park and have plans to visit Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park (we plan to visit Mount Rushmore as well, but there’s no fee to get in to see the monument there, and the parking fee isn’t covered by the annual pass) — so we figured it will probably be worth the cost.

Now let’s talk a little bit about the Trail Ridge Road, which was the first thing we tackled on our visit … holy cow, friends, it’s insane! From the park site:

Covering the 48 miles between Estes Park on the park’s east side and Grand Lake on the west, Trail Ridge Road more than lives up to its advanced billing. Eleven miles of this high highway travel above treeline, the elevation near 11,500 feet where the park’s evergreen forests come to a halt. As it winds across the tundra’s vastness to its high point at 12,183 feet elevation, Trail Ridge Road (U.S. 34) offers visitors thrilling views, wildlife sightings and spectacular alpine wildflower exhibitions, all from the comfort of their car.

The drive up to the visitor’s center is absolutely stunning, with plenty of places to pull off along the side of the road and gawk. If you’re lucky — like we were — you might even see tons of animals, like deer, marmot, groundhogs, squirrels and chipmunks and, our all-time favorite, the bighorn sheep.

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_DSC1488^^ Bighorn sheep! And if you look very closely, you can see a little groundhog trailing him …

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While the views here are unlike any you’ll find anywhere else, you will need to pay attention to signs of altitude sickness. At over 12,000 feet in spots, I definitely wouldn’t recommend taking visitors here on their first day in Colorado. You’ll need to give yourself time to acclimate to the higher altitude, drink plenty of water and take things slowwwww. There’s no shame in taking your time on hikes around here — no one wants to have to deal with the effects of altitude sickness … blech!

Oh and one other word of wise — wear pants and bring a coat! Chris and I were total rookies and didn’t even think about the fact that high altitude brings chilly weather (we’re talking 50s and low 60s here, people), so we were forced to buy sweaters from the visitors center just to be able to make it through the rest of the day!

We took a couple of hours to see everything we wanted along the ride (I would recommend driving all the way up to the visitor’s center first, checking that out and doing the short little hike near the center, then driving back down to make your stops), and we even pulled over at one particularly gorgeous spot to stop and have some lunch we had packed. After we headed over to the super simple Bear Lake hike, which is only a .6 mile loops with no incline.

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We were going to attempt the Alberta Falls 1.2 mile hike, as well, but at that point we were getting a bit tired and felt like we had jam packed a lot into our first ever trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.

But don’t worry, Alberta Falls — now that we’ve got our annual pass, we’ll be back for ya!

Bis bald, friends!

 

Checking out Glenwood Springs and Hanging Lake

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Hi friends,

So last Saturday, after checking out Aspen and the Maroon Bells, Chris and I got back in the car and finished up the hour drive over to Glenwood Springs. We would be hiking the Hanging Lake trail early Sunday morning, so we thought staying in town (we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott, which is about a 15-20 minute drive out to Hanging Lake) would be a good idea so we could get an early start.

A little bit about Glenwood Springs — umm, it’s adorable. The downtown area is super cute, and we had a lot of fun meandering about Saturday night. We ended up having dinner at Grind, where Chris said he had the best burger of his life, and my falafel sandwich was pretty spectacular, as well. There are also a ton of hot springs in and around Glenwood Springs (hence the name), including the new Iron Mountain Hot Springs, which Chris and I plan to visit when we make it back to the area and have more time.

 

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03_Grind^^ Falafel sandwich with cole slaw … yum!

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07_GlenwoodSprings

We grabbed a bottle of wine and headed back to the hotel for an early night Saturday, since we’d be getting at up 5:30 for our hike the next day.

So a little bit about this hike. I had read a ton of reviews on TripAdvisor about it, all of which say that this hike is incredibly beautiful … but incredibly difficult. Like, every single review says how prepared you need to be and how rocky and hard it is. So, needless to say, I was a little nervous. Having now completed said trail, however, I can tell you — yes, it’s difficult … but not too difficult. Of course my idea of difficult has been increased dramatically (thanks in particular to this hike, and this one and this one), so I’d say that my idea of difficulty might be a bit higher than others, but all I would say is, if you’re interested in doing this hike, don’t let scary reviews keep you from it. Yes it’s steep and yes there are lots of rocks to climb, but there’s plenty of room to take breaks, and there are plenty of flat bits to catch your breathe, as well.

The other note I’d have to make is about the parking lot. It’s tiny, friends — as in not much room for a ton of cars. Chris and I arrived just a little after 7 a.m. to start our hike and probably got one of the last 10 or so spots to park. And when we finished (around 9:20) there was a line of cars waiting to get in, which probably would have been at least an hour or so wait, if not longer. So my advice would be to get there very, very early, so you can avoid all that waiting nonsense.

And when you finally do make it to your hike, you’ll be rewarded with some pretty amazing stuff, friends …

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_DSC1314^^ There was something tantalizingly pretty about this moth … even though if I look at it too long it totally grosses me out …

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_DSC1344^^ After a mile of uphill hiking, we reached the beautiful Hanging Lake. Quite serene, isn’t it?

_DSC1345^^ The water was so crystal clear and beautiful, and see the fish?!

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_DSC1392^^ There’s a short little extra hike that runs up above Hanging Lake that brings you to this pretty waterfall. Definitely worth the extra one minute it takes to get there.

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And that was our nice little Sunday, my friends. I would highly recommend every single piece of our weekend. From Aspen to the Maroon Bells to Glenwood Springs to the Hanging Lake trail … it’s all absolutely wonderful.

Bis bald, friends!

A Day Trip to Aspen to Check out the Maroon Bells

01_RoadtoAspen^^ A little view on our way to Aspen last weekend.

Hey friends,

So this past Saturday Chris and I decided to stop off in Aspen on our way to Glenwood Springs to hike the Hanging Lake trail. Aspen’s about four hours away from us in Denver, and neither one of us had been before, but it’s only about an hour from Glenwood Springs, so we figured Saturday would make the perfect time to do a little stop off.

At first we weren’t sure what to check out since we would have limited time, but after a little research, I determined that seeing the Maroon Bells was absolutely what we needed to do. According to some sources, these mountain ranges are the most photographed mountains in all of North American — and now we know why.

During the summer the trail into the Maroon Bells site is closed to individual cars from 8 to 5 p.m. (unless you have a child under 2, or a few other contingencies), but you can catch a bus for $6 per person from Aspen Highlands, and they have free parking for Maroon Bell visitors as well. The parking lot does fill up quickly though, so you kind of need to test your luck. We did get lucky, though, because we arrived around 2 and were able to find a spot right away.

It was meant to be.

Here’s a bit of the (spectacular) views …

02_RoadtoAspen^^ This lake on the way into Aspen was too pretty not to pull off to the side of the road and photograph.

03_Aspen^^ The Aspen Highlands, where we parked and caught the bus into Maroon Bells.

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_DSC1224^^ Gorgeous mountain views.

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_DSC1257^^ So about these mountains. The Maroon Bells are two peaks in the Elk Mountains — Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak — separated by about a third of a mile. You can hike them (they’re considered ’14ers’ — aka the name that Coloradans have given to certain mountains in the state that are above 14,000 feet), but the terrain is very difficult, so you should definitely do your research and train beforehand.

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_DSC1264^^ There is another little hike, about 3 miles, running away from the mountains, that Chris and I will definitely be back to do at some point in the near future.

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_DSC1304^^ Loved these wildflowers!

And that was Maroon Bells, kids. We spent a couple hours there, and then hopped back in the car to finish the hour drive to Glenwood Springs. I’ll be back tomorrow with more on our evening in Glenwood Springs and the Hanging Lake hike.

Until then, bis bald, friends!

The Coors Tour, Backyard Breweries and Bird’s-eye Views in Golden, Colorado

Hi friends,

So this past Sunday, Chris and I decided to make the short drive out to Golden, Colorado. Chris had never been before, and I had only been once when Lisa was visiting, so there were still a lot of things I wanted to try out in the area.

First on that list: A Coors Brewery Tour.

These tours are free, and if you’re lucky you’ll get a fun driver like ours who takes you for a quick loop around Golden and gives you a bit of historical info about the area before heading over the factory. Lisa and I had wanted to take the tour when we were there together, but the line was over an hour to wait, and we felt we could make better use of our time. This time, though, Chris and I went in knowing we’d have a bit of a wait, and it didn’t end up being too bad (probably a little under an hour) after all. A shuttle bus picks you up from the (free) parking lot and drives you over to the factory, which is humongous. The tour is unguided, and you just pick up a headset and press corresponding numbers to display cases as you walk through yourself. I think I probably would have paid more attention had the tour actually been guided, but as it was, the tour was free and it comes with three free beers per person at the end, so really it’s worth doing if you’re trying to kill some time in Golden. (Or if you happen to love Coors beer, of course.)

01_Coors_Sign^^ Waiting in line to catch the shuttle to the factory.

02_CoorsLine_View^^ Everywhere you look in Golden you’ll see gorgeous mountains and blue skies. It’s pretty breathtaking.

03_Coors_Brewing^^ Some barrels during the tour.

03_Hops^^ Delicious beer ingredients.

04_Coors_Mascot

05_Coors_Drinks^^ The beers available each day are on display as you get down to the cafeteria area. Chris and I collectively tried the staple Coors Banquet, Batch 19 and the Colorado Native. Batch 19 was my favorite, while Chris was partial to the Native.

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07_Coors_Factory^^ The reservoir surrounding the factory is used to cool the machines used by the plant.

After the tour (which took us about an hour and a half), we drove over to the adorable Golden City Brewery. This brewery is essentially in a back yard, with picnic tables and wrought iron benches, flags and soft white lights hanging everywhere. The vibe here is so laid back and casual, it’s impossible to not feel like you’re just drinking some beer in your own backyard with friends. I’ve heard there’s usually a food truck parked outside, but there wasn’t one the day we were there. The brewery sells a small assortment of food (hotdogs, pretzels, a meat & cheese plate), but I would definitely recommend eating before you come if you’re hungry.

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09_Chris_GoldenBrewing

10_Golden_Brewing^^ Nothing but blue skies, friends.

11_GoldenBrewing_OutdoorShot^^ How cute is this place?!

After the brewery we took the 15-20 drive up the Lariat Loop National Scenic Byway, past Buffalo Bill’s Museum & Grave, to take in some of the breathtaking vistas.

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13_Lariat_Loop

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15_Lariat_Loop^^ We drove up the loop for quite a while, and you can see different things from different stops. That’s the city of Golden down there, and in other spots you could even see Denver in the distance.

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And that was our lovely little Sunday, friends. The Coors factory, a brewery and a scenic walk/drive? I’d say a weekend doesn’t get too much more Colorado than that😉

Bis bald, friends!

A Sunny Day Spent at Lake Minnewaska

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Hi friends,

This past Saturday when I was still in upstate New York, I had a wedding to attend in Tarrytown that didn’t start until 7 p.m., and my sister had slept over at my mom’s the night before … so … we decided to go on a little adventure. We hopped in the car and drove about 40 minutes from Newburgh, through New Paltz, to Lake Minnewaska. Located on the Shawangunk Mountain ridge, the park has tons of hiking trails for any level hiker, waterfalls, places to have a picnic, swim, fish, or even rent kayaks or a canoe.

Steph and I decided to first hike the smaller loop around the lake (probably about two miles in total), and then hang out by the lake for a couple hours to relax.

The views are pretty spectacular, my friends …

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It really was a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

That night it was on to Tarrytown for what was one of the most beautiful weddings we have ever been to at the Tappan Hill Mansion.

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Until next time — bis bald, my friends!

Warwick Foot Spa and Tea Bar — Plus Some Italian Food to Top It All Off

Happy birthday, Mom!

Last night my sister and I treated our mom for her 60th birthday to the full session, 50-minute foot reflexology treatment at Warwick Foot Spa and Tea Bar, followed by dinner at Grappas Ristorante right down the road.

Full disclosure: I’d never had a reflexology treatment before. Having said that, I do think I’ll be trying to get a few more of these in from time-to-time from now on. The foot reflexology treatment is basically all of my favorite stuff about a massage, without having to actually take all my clothes off, which honestly I just can’t be bothered with. They massage your shoulders and neck, your arms and hands, feet and legs, and cover your eyes with a delicious-smelling warm towel during the whole thing.

It’s pure loveliness.

Dinner at Grappas was Italian, which is of course our favorite. Pasta. Wine. Boston Creme Pie. Grappa. What could be better?

01TeaBar

02TeaBar

03TeaBar^^ You get tea before your reflexology treatment, too — so cute!

04TeaBar

05GrappaRestaurant^^ Whatever in the world kind of cheese this was, I would like it in my life every day, please.

06GrappaRestaurant^^ Eggplant rollatini appetizer.

07GrappaRestaurant

08GrappaRestaurant^^ This linguini with clams is exactly what everyone needs. Trust me.

09GrappaRestaurant^^ Complimentary shots of grappa at the end of the meal was icing on the cake, so to speak.

10GrappaRestaurant

It was a successful outing all the way around, my friends. I highly recommend if you’re in the Warwick area!

Chris heads into New York tomorrow (yay!), and we’re hitting up my second wedding in as many weekends on Saturday in Tarrytown.

I can’t wait.

Bis bald, my friends!

Life Recently: The Upstate New York Version

Hey friends,

So I’m back in upstate New York right now, and life has been hectic and totally laid back at the same time here … is that possible? I’m here for two weddings, to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday and to get some stuff done for my sister’s upcoming bridal shower in August, so all of that is definitely hectic. But when I’m not busy running around, I’m pretty much hanging on the back porch as much as I possible can.

Here’s what I’ve been up to lately:

01Union_Station^^ A gorgeous Union Station the day before I left Denver.

02Grand_Central^^ And an even more gorgeous Grand Central Station the day I arrived back in New York!

03Mom_Porch^^ Views from Mom’s porch.

05Newburgh_Vintage^^ My mom and I had to make a pit stop into Newburgh Vintage Emporium for some stuff, and can I just tell you how much I’m loving this place? If you happen to be in the Hudson Valley, and you like vintage goods, this place is a must-see.

06Newburgh_Vintage2^^ More Vintage Emporium prettiness.

07Abany_Views^^ Saturday’s wedding took place on a rooftop overlooking the Albany skyline. Not too shabby for a fireworks view, eh?

08Me_Steph^^ Me and sissy.

09Steph_Brian_Sparklers^^ My sister and her fiancé — these two.

10Steph_Jenna^^ With the gorgeous bride.

11Baby_Ari^^ Meeting my cousin’s baby for the first time was definitely a highlight of this trip, as well.

12Butternut_Risotto^^ Soon-to-be bro-in-law made me a delicious butternut squash risotto for dinner one night … yum!

13Sister_Photo

 

15Lobster_Roll^^ Lobster and crab roll at The River Grill in Newburgh.

14Newburgh_Waterfront^^ The Newburgh Waterfront, aka the glorious Hudson River.

Still left to do? A couple bridal shower errands, mom’s 60th birthday excursion (I’ll blog about that later) and another wedding in Tarrytown on Saturday.

Bis bald friends!

Denver’s The Kitchen Is Great for Dates

Hey friends,

So last Friday Chris and I kept up a promise we’ve made to each other to try a new place in Denver at least once a month by having dinner at The Kitchen, which is conveniently located right on the 16th St. Mall. I wasn’t sure what to expect, since I didn’t know too much about the place other than that friends had said it was good, but we were not disappointed. I may even go so far as to say that it’s one of my favorite places to eat in Denver now, and it’s definitely a great place to bring a date.

Here’s what we had …

01Kitchen_Muscles^^ Appetizers started out with organic mushrooms on toast, Maine mussels with grilled bread and the goat gouda gougère (basically a tasty fried cheese puff), pictured below.

02Kitchen_Cheese
03Kitchen_Drinks^^ And of course we had drinks. I decided to stick with white wine and Chris had — can you guess? — a Manhattan! Surprise, surprise.

04Kitchen_Menu

05Kitchen_Pasta^^ This picture simply does not do my house made capellini with ramps, house ricotta & micro basil any justice, friends, because it was, in all honesty, some of the best pasta I’ve had. Ever. And I’ve had pasta in Italy. The ricotta was the perfect compliment to the capellini, and the basil was so fresh, I felt like they had just gone out back and picked it before they put it on my plate.

06Kitchen_Dessert^^ Dessert was cappuccino and the sticky toffee pudding.

I love the feel of community that’s so important in this restaurant, too. In fact, The Kitchen restaurants all donate a percentage of sales to help plant Learning Gardens (which are actual gardens created in schools across America to help teach kids about the importance of real food) in their local communities.

So basically — hit it up, friends! Good food. A good cause. What’s not to love?

Bis bald!

When Friends Come to Visit — Part II

Hi all,

I’m back today with the final two days of Lisa’s visits, which were filled with quintessentially amazing Coloradoan vistas, Bloody Marys and, of course, more Mexican food.

Here’s what we got up to:

Monday:
The start of Monday saw us heading to The Delectable Egg, which has slowly become one of my favorite breakfast places in Denver. Afterwards we headed out to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, and then into Manitou Springs — the cute little old-fashioned town right outside of the Garden of the Gods park — for a Mexican lunch at The Loop Restaurant, which happens to sit at the foot of Pikes Peak. Pikes Peak is a 14,115 ft fourteener—”fourteener” being the nickname given to mountains exceeding 14,000 ft above sea level in the area.


21Garden of Gods

22Garden of Gods

23Loop Restaurant

Tuesday:
Since Tuesday would be Lisa’s last full day, I had tried to find something fun that we could do around Denver that would be somewhat different. In the past, it has sort of become a tradition for Lisa and I to find a spot to kayak on trips we’ve taken together, and I wanted this trip to be the same. Unfortunately the past months’-worth of rainy days made it dangerous to do so in an actual lake, and when we finally did arrive at City Park (the alternative I came up with), we decided to rent paddle boats from Wheel Fun Rentals, instead.  The park turned out to be very nice, actually (I had never been before) and the paddle boating was super fun! There was even a patch of land in the middle of the lake with tons of birds, most of whom were nesting or had just had their babies, so that was fun to see, as well.

We started the day with Bloody Marys at Terminal Bar  in Union Station (naturally), and went for lunch at Acorn in The Source after paddle boating, as well. I’d never been to The Source or Acorn before, either, and I’m glad we made it here because it had been on my list of places I really wanted to show Lisa, and it turned out to be just as cute as I’ve heard. (Beer and fried pickles helped make it worth the visit, as well.)


24Terminal Bar

25 Terminal Bar^^ Post Bloody Marys.

26City Park

27City Park

28City Park^^ Look at these ladies … they sure do love an adventure😉

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30City Park
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32The Source^^
The Source is an artisan food market that occupies a former 1880’s brick foundry building in Denver’s River North District. Vendors include Acorn, Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe (pictured above), Boxcar Coffee Roasters, Crooked Stave brewery and The Proper Pour, among others. I like to think of it as Denver’s Chelsea Market, except much smaller.

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34The Source
35Acorn

36Acorn^^ Ahh … beer and fried pickles. Is there anything better?

Dinner Tuesday night was — can you guess it? — Rio for Mexican again, of course! What can I say, we are creatures of habit.

Anyway, friends, that was Lisa’s trip in a nutshell. I had an amazing time with her here, and I really think I’m starting to get it down in terms of showing people around this town. There’s no end to the number of things you can do with people here, whether it’s food, drinking, hiking, walking, snowboarding or skiing — there’s pretty much something for everyone in good ole’ Denver.

Bis bald, friends! See you soon …

When Friends Come to Visit — Part I

Happy hump day, friends.

So I just dropped Lisa off at the airport. Gosh golly I hate good-byes! We had a ton of fun while she was here, though, and I’m eternally grateful for that. I actually ended up doing a whole bunch of new stuff while she was in town, as well, which I wasn’t expecting, and that was a nice little added bonus.

I figure I’ll break her visit up into two posts, since we did so much, and I’ll cover things that were new to me more in depth than those things I’ve already talked about here.

So buckle up, friends — you’re in for quite the ride.

Lisa arrived late on Thursday, so we basically chilled for most of the afternoon, and then headed to Rio for dinner that night. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — if you’re in Denver and you like Mexican, Rio is a must-hit.

Friday:
On Friday we headed to Red Rocks in the morning (which is always an amazing time), and then drove the short distance from Red Rocks to Golden, a small, cute little Colorado town where the Coors Factory lives. They give free tours there during the day, but the wait was about an hour and we thought our time would be better used by exploring the town a bit via car, which turned out to be pretty stinkin’ cute. I’ll come back for ya, Coors tour! We ate lunch at the Old Capitol Grill, too, and the waitress assuaged our fears of the tornadoes that were touching down in towns all around both Golden and Denver. (They ended up heading out East, so both Golden and Denver were spared.)

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We had Slice Works pizza and garlic knots for dinner that night, which is always a hit.

Saturday:
Saturday turned out to be a day filled with new adventures. Lisa had discovered that one of her favorite brunch places from Louisville, Kentucky— Wild Eggs — also has a restaurant in Denver, so we hit that up for breakfast, and then while driving Lisa through the Capital Hill neighborhood and Cheesman Park, we drove right by the Botanic Gardens and decided to just stop on in. It was a gorgeous day, and Chris and I had never been to the Gardens before, but it turns out this little piece of heaven is quite the quiet sanctuary, and I think it’s safe to say I’ll be back.

05Wild Eggs^^ My Bennies Gone Wild with wild mushrooms and a side of biscuits. Yum.

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07Botanic Gardens

08Botanic Gardens

09Botanic Gardens

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11Botanic Gardens

Sunday:
Sunday morning found us walking along the Platte River (at least the areas where we could, since sheesh she was raging with wild waters!), checking out Union Station and then Tattered Cover Book Store, and then heading out for a little Wynkoop Brewery time before walking over to the Highlands neighborhood for some Little Man Ice Cream, followed by our Paint n’ Sip class and dinner at The Truffle Table — a wine & cheese bar — afterwards.

12Wynkoop^^ We celebrated combined missed birthdays with beer and birthday hats at Wynkoop. There’s nothing even remotely silly about this photo, right?

13Little Man
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15Little Man

16Little Man

17Paint n Sip^^ Our paintings came out pretty darn good, if I do say so myself …

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19 Truffle Table

20Truffle Table^^ For our cheese plate at The Truffle Table we ordered Avalanche Goat Cheddar from Basalt, Colorado; Brillat Savarin from Normandy France (a cow’s milk cheese); Tete du Moine from Switzerland (another cow’s milk cheese); Cana de Oveja from Spain (a sheep’s milk cheese); and Quatizo Gouda (a water buffalo and mixed milk cheese). Of course we had no idea what any of these cheese meant, but our waitress was fantastically knowledgeable and we were all extremely happy with what she thought we might like.

And that, my friends, is where I’m going to leave you regarding this visit, for now. I’ll be back later this week with our shenanigans for Monday and Tuesday, Lisa’s final days in Denver.

Bis bald, friends!