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Skinny Love

February 28, 2016
breckski

I am going to go ahead and admit something that will probably make me deeply uncool in outdoor circles: I don’t love skiing. Or snowboarding. Or pretty much anything that has to do with the big resorts.

That’s not to say that I hate it. I get a ski pass almost every year and I have some decent days. There are times that I finish up with a smile on my face but, more often than not, I feel like I’m just biding my time until summer comes back around and I can do all the things that I love again. Things that don’t involve expensive passes or waiting in lift lines or dealing with all those people. Skiing has always felt like a bit of a placeholder for me – something that gets me through winter.

But that was before I clicked in to a pair of skinny skis.

I have been wanting to start cross-country skiing since we moved here almost a decade ago but, for whatever reason, I never have. And, please believe, that was a big mistake!

The view from my skis on Boreas Pass in Breckenridge last weekend. I forgot my camera – the iPhone does no  justice to this view.

Finally this year we bit the bullet and took a lesson (and dragged my parents along with!) while we were up in the mountains for Christmas. And I was hooked. A few days later I came home, went for a run on a snowy day and saw someone skiing on my favorite running trail. Suddenly my run didn’t seem like nearly as much fun.

Two weeks later I had skis of my own.

I love that I’m not dependent on resorts and don’t have to stand in lift lines. I love that I get in a killer workout while also enjoying the outdoors. I love that, while I usually see people, I usually only see a few people. I love that when it snows I can go right in my neighborhood. I love that I can take my dogs and my camera. I just … love it.

It hasn’t been all fun and games. Despite taking a lesson (psst … if you’re new at this, take a lesson!) I’m definitely missing some of the skills I need to do well outside of the groomed nordic centers. I fall a lot. I have trouble getting up steeper hills and my descending skills on the skinny skis leave much to be desired. But I don’t even care. Because that’s how much I love it.

I said this was going to be the year of trying new things (stay tuned for a post about a workout that is kicking my ass in more ways than I ever knew were possible …) and it’s already paid off in spades.

Welcome to my new obsession.

 

Live, Play, Travel

What to do in Durango, Colorado

February 22, 2016
train4-7999

Hello out there in Blog-land! It’s been quiet around here lately (have you seen the tumbleweeds go rolling by? Because I certainly have.) but I have so much to share with you! First up … a recap of my recent trip to Durango.

Durango may be in Colorado but it is a LONG way from where I live and for some reason in nine years of living here I had never made it to that corner of the state. And then for Christmas this year my husband signed me up for a winter photography tour on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (tell me he’s not the best husband ever?!) and before I knew it I was off to the Four Corners region.

To be honest, I mostly winged this trip. The photography tour was planned and I had some vague ideas of what I wanted to do with my time but I left most of it up to chance – and let me tell you that it worked out just fine. In fact, I’m not sure that it could have gone better. So with all that in mind, here is the perfect long weekend itinerary for beer-loving outdoorsy folks!

Day 1: Arrive in Durango. Put up your tent/Check into your hotel/Show up at your AirBnB. Get the lay of the land … and then hit your first brew pub.

I typically prefer to camp when I travel in the mountains but seeing as I was by myself and it was the dead of winter in Colorado, I hotel-ed it. Since the main reason I was in Durango was to ride the train, the General Palmer Hotel was the perfect place to stay. If you love old hotels, this place will be right up your alley! The General Palmer is located right next to the train station in the hoppin’ downtown area, which means that you can walk to pretty much everywhere you want to go. The hotel is really nice and loaded with character. The rooms were pristine, the staff was super friendly, and the fresh baked cookies in the afternoons were (obviously!) much appreciated. The hotel had a nice continental breakfast and the coffee was surprisingly good. I am a bit of a coffee snob and rarely drink hotel coffee but I made an exception this time – their coffee was excellent! The General Palmer gets an A+ on all accounts.

Pro Tip: If the bellboy asks if you need help with your luggage, SAY YES. The hotel’s old elevator is super charming but totally impractical. You’ll see what I mean when you arrive!

Eat and Drink: On my first night in town I had dinner and beer at Steamworks which is right downtown. It was a Friday night and the place was packed but I managed to find a seat at the bar. I had the fish tacos and a Third Eye P.A. Both were very good.

Day 2: Mesa Verde and more beer!

On my first full day in town I made the short drive from Durango up to Mesa Verde National Park. I’m not sure what I was expecting but Mesa Verde kind of blew me away. Seeing the cliff dwellings of the Pueblo people was incredibly cool and gave me a new appreciation for this area’s history and the people who have called it home. If you go during the summer you can take a walking tour through the cliff dwellings but, because it was winter, I had to view them from afar. It was still totally worth it. Take the main road through the park, stop at the museum, and be sure to hit all of the sites along the roadside. Like many other parks in the southwest, this is a place where you will do more driving than hiking (think Arches vs. Glacier) but there is still some hiking to be had. It was hot and sunny when I was there but I really wished I had snowshoes or skis because attempted to hike and mostly ended up postholing on the soft snow!

Eat and Drink: On my second night in town I hit up Ska Brewing which was the one place I knew I HAD to eat while I was in Durango. Ska’s Modus Hoperandi is one of my all time favorite beers and I had to go to visit the Motherland where it is made. Ska has a super laid back vibe – it was the kind of place that we would go to all the time if we lived in Durango (and by the way, I could totally live in Durango). I had a grilled cheese sandwich with prosciutto and a flight. I wish I could remember what was in my flight (I blame the beer!) but it was all hoppy and delicious. If you’ve never tried Modus before you are totally missing out!

Pro Tip: Ska has limited hours and is outside of the downtown area so plan your trip accordingly! Trust me, it’s worth it.

Day 3: Ridin’ that train! And more beer.

On my second full day in Durango I got to board the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and spend my whole day riding around taking pictures. It was awesome and I highly recommend a train trip for anyone visiting Durango. Buy a ticket, grab a seat, and watch the scenery go by. Everyone that works on and for the train is exceptionally friendly and you can just tell that they LOVE sharing the old railroad with visitors. They only run the photography trains a few times a year (more about that in another post!) but regular train trips run year round. It’s well worth it.

Eat and Drink: For my final brewery stop of the trip I hit up Carver. I twas tired, cold, and hungry after being out in the snow all day and I desperately needed something to eat. I ponied up to the bar at Carver an hour or so before they closed for the night and ended up hanging out with a bunch of the staff for the better part of the evening. We had a blast (although by the end of the night I was feeling very, very old …). On the recommendation from my new friends I had the stuffed poblano, an IPA, and a Red Ale. So good!

Day 4: Pack up. Say goodbye. Start planning your return.

Durango is a pretty special place and I was sad to leave. I was there just long enough to hit some of the major sites (and a bunch of breweries!) … and to realize that I need to get back sooner than later!

Ok, travelers, who has been to Durango? What’d you think? What did I miss?!

 

 

Live, Play, Travel

A Christmas sleigh ride in Breckenridge

December 26, 2015
dadhorses (1 of 1)-2

Happy Holidays, everyone!

I hope you’re all having a good holidays with the people you love. Or the dogs you love. Or all by yourself with a big mug of eggnog if that’s how you like to spend the season. I don’t judge!

We’re up in the mountains right now soaking up some serious family time and not a lot of oxygen. There has been snowboarding and wine drinking and endless walks on snowy roads. Tomorrow the whole family is taking a cross-country skiing lesson (finally!).

I have all kinds of adventures planned for the New Year and lots of stories to share but, for now, I leave you with some photos from yesterday’s sleigh ride at the Gold Run Nordic Center. I’m not sure that it gets more festive than this!

Sundance and Cassidy – our steeds for the day.

Thumbs up for sleigh rides!

The whole crew! We were lucky that my mother-in-law flew in to join us in the mountains this year.

Hope your holidays were merry and bright!

If you go: We booked our sleigh ride through Nordic Sleigh Rides and had a great time! Warm blankets and hot chocolate are provided and shots of “holiday cheer” are available for purchase. Dress warm (duh!) and bring a camera!

Live, Play, Travel

A Ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad

November 30, 2015
santatrain

The itty bitty town of Georgetown, Colorado, is right on I-70 as you enter the mountains from the east. If you’ve taken a trip from Denver to the high country there’s a really good chance that you’ve driven past idyllic little Georgetown. Maybe you’ve stopped for gas or coffee. Perhaps you drove over Guanella Pass or used it to access the trail up Mt. Bierstadt. But have you ever taken a ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad? Because you really should.

Our Little Dude loves trains and I had been planning on taking him on a ride for a while. On our way up to the mountains for Thanksgiving we noticed the sign for their Christmas train ride with Santa. We mentioned it to my parents and the next thing I knew, we had tickets for the five of us Saturday evening. Thanks, mom and dad!

I had a feeling that this would be really cool … and it lived up to the hype. The ride would have been worth the price of admission even without all the Christmas festivities! Riding an old train through the snow covered Colorado mountains? It’s pretty great. Throw in Santa, Christmas lights, and some adult beverages and you’ve got the trappings of a pretty perfect mountain adventure that is fun for even the tiniest and least daring among us.

Watching for Santa!

Our seats were in the “parlor car” which was completely enclosed and therefore nice and warm. Snacks and non-alcholic drinks were provided and reasonably priced adult beverages (including craft beer and winter warmers) were available. The ride was around an hour long and passed light displays, old steam engines, rushing rivers, and snow-covered pines.

The highlight for the Little Dude was probably when Santa came by and asked what he wanted for Christmas (a tow-truck, apparently). This wasn’t just a quick stop to say hello. Santa actually sat down with us for a while and chatted up everyone in our group. Homeboy was in heaven.

Back at the station there were carolers, free hot chocolate, and some guys roasting chestnuts over a fire. Is there anything that says Christmas more than that? I’m not sure that there is.

If you go: Tickets can be purchased in advance through the Georgetown Loop Railroad‘s website. While the train itself was nice and warm (at least in the parlor car!), remember that Georgetown sits at 8,500 feet above sea level – the air outside will almost certainly be chilly. A lot of people had blankets, which seemed like a pretty good idea. This is a great way to break up the drive between the mountains and the Front Range but keep in mind that winter ski traffic along I-70 can be heinous so be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to get to Georgetown!

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

 

Live, Play, Travel

How to do Nothing in Crested Butte (And Still Have a Really Good Time)

September 8, 2015
CBstars

You know those people who hate not having plans? The ones who can’t deal with not knowing what is going to happen or where they will be sleeping that night? I am not one of those people.

Our initial plans for Labor Day weekend, hatched just a few days before, involved heading in the general direction of Leadville. And then we realized just how bad I-70 traffic was going to be and quickly changed our minds.. We decided to stay far away from I-70 and drive up Highway 285 for a while. We thought maybe we’d camp at Kenosha or Cottonwood Pass. I figured we’d figure it out as we went.

When we got to Kenosha on Saturday morning, everyone in the car was asleep and rain looked imminent so I decided to just keep driving. By the time we arrived at Cottonwood we were in a downpour and the world had turned to mud.

So, again, I just kept driving.

A few hours later we rolled into Crested Butte. It wasn’t really an accident.

Crested Butte is my favorite place in all of Colorado, and that’s saying something because it has some pretty stiff competition. The mountains? The town? The trails ? They’re the best around as far as I’m concerned.. The 4.5 hour drive means that we don’t get out there nearly enough … but it also makes it feel pretty special when we finally do.While the sky was dark and cloudy, the roads in Crested Butte were dry. We tossed aside the idea of finding a hotel for the night (setting up a tent in the rain with a kid and two big dogs? Not fun.) and headed up Kebler Pass in search of a place to camp. We found a nice campsite in the meadows above Lake Irwin, cooked some dinner, started a fire, broke out the whiskey and wine, and hunkered down for the night.

Things stayed blissfully dry until we climbed into our tent to go to sleep. And then the skies opened up.

It rained all night and into the next morning and by the time we rolled out of our sleeping bags, the ground was soaked and muddy. I saw the clouds building again over the mountains and started questioning my plans of riding the 401 trail that day. Maybe tomorrow, I thought.

With no big rides or hikes on the horizon we did the only thing there was to do: we hung out. We made breakfast and drank coffee and read books and watched the kid ride endless laps around the campsite on his Strider. We watched as the weather continuously changed it’s plans (rainy! sunny! rainy! sunny!) and hid in the tent when the sky opened up. I went for a little hike with the dogs (still hobbling around on a broken toe …) but other than that, there was no activity to speak of.

This isn’t how we usually do things but, man, it was nice.

The second evening was more of the same. A campfire under clear skies followed by dumping rain all night long. The five of us stayed warm in our little four-person tent despite the fact that the temperatures had to be hovering near freezing. When the sun came up, we decided to throw in the towel and go grab some breakfast.

We packed up the car, hit up Camp 4 Coffee for bagels and americanos, and hit the road. We mused about how, despite our plans being thwarted by the weather, this was one of the best camping trips ever. The kid had a blast and was a joy to be around all weekend long. The dogs were tired and happy. My husband and I were exhausted but content. Getting to slow down and just chill for a while? It might have been just what this family needed after a long, hectic summer.

Being so close to some of my favorite trails on the planet without getting to set foot on them was a bit of a bummer but I can’t call this weekend anything but a success. Spending time in one of my favorite places with two of my favorite people and the two best dogs that a girl could ask for? It will never be anything less than awesome.

I hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend!

If you go: 

Kebler Pass begins right on the edge of the town of Crested Butte and has some of the best dispersed camping in Colorado, as far as I’m concerned. There are loads of gorgeous spots up the road from the Lake Irwin campground and even on this busy holiday weekend, plenty were available. We didn’t have our paddleboards with us but when I saw all the people paddling around on Lake Irwin, I sure wished we did! Take lots of firewood with you – the stores in town seem to run out on busy weekends. We’ve learned this the hard way in the past! Crested Butte has some of the best mountain biking in the state – but that’s a topic for another post (one that’s not about doing nothing at all!).