2015: The Journey Unknown

The end of 2014 came and went, in a bittersweet and far too fast blur.  So many fantastically fun things happened and life got rather too much in the way to report on them!  I finished out my running year with 4 holiday themed races, 2 10K’s and 2 5K’s, and achieved my best 5K time yet: 30:21 at the ColderBolder (it wasn’t a high of 5 degrees this year like it was last year, so I was happy to run it this go around).  I’ll share more about these races later, as I think they’re worth posting about.

One of the most exciting things thus far: I was selected to be an Esprit de She Brand Ambassador!  I cannot wait to share the Esprit de She love and event information.  Although the Denver event won’t be until August, there are Esprit de She events throughout the US, which include running, duathlons and triathlons – something for everyone!  I participated in last year’s Esprit de She 10K in Westminster (there’s also a 5K!), Colorado and loved this race.  It is still my 10K PR, and I had a phenomenal experience throughout the entire process, from warming up with a workout dance instructor, to the cheering squad along the entire route, to the amazing after party at Lifetime Fitness.  It was an all-around awesome experience.  Besides, you end the night with a few glasses of bubbly, so what could be bad about that?  Check out upcoming races throughout the US – if interested, please use code EDS039 when you register!

Esprit de She take two in 2015!  This time as an Ambassador!
Esprit de She take two in 2015! This time as an Ambassador!

Another hugely exciting thing is that my darling friend, Danielle, asked me to be in her wedding.  Having moved from Maryland to Colorado three and half years

This gorgeous lady, and my ColderBolder buddy, will be saying "I do!" in October!
This gorgeous lady, and my ColderBolder buddy, will be saying “I do!” in October!

ago I never knew I could make such phenomenal friends to the point that I would be a part of their big day!  I have already been invited to a wedding in Colorado, which was a stunning and fantastic affair celebrating two of my favorite people, Peter and Ade, in October of 2013.  There is something different, though, about being asked to be a part of the entire experience!  I cannot wait for her and Scott’s wedding day this October in Vail, Colorado.  It’s sure to be a beautiful and memorable wedding.

This year the hubs and I are hoping to take a few more trips, including wine country in June, and a fabulous beach trip in September (this week we’re deciding

I miss Hawai'i!!  Maui is so stunning!
I miss Hawai’i!! Maui is so stunning!

between Hawai’i and Mexico… tough choices).  I realized I haven’t legitimately seen a beach, or really ocean, since Mrs. BakeNBurn’s wedding in March 2013!! That is ridiculous.  It needs to be remedied stat!  We have both been to Maui, and I have also visited Oahu and the Big Island, but know so little about Mexico, particularly the West Coast since it is easier to get to from Colorado.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Otherwise I will have a bachelorette party at an undisclosed location, a long weekend in Disney World with my family (I can’t stay away!), and potentially a conference in Vegas to look forward to!  I will also be attending my sister’s graduation in May, so I will be back in the DC area before long.

My last beach vacation - I miss large bodies of water!  Isn't Mrs. BakeNBurn beautiful?
My last beach vacation – I miss large bodies of water! Isn’t Mrs. BakeNBurn beautiful?

This past year was really a great year for me and the hubs.  I had a job I loved, we were both settled in our home in Denver, we have a fantastic set of friends

And this is only the beginning of our journey!
And this is only the beginning of our journey!

around us, and we had a ton of visitors throughout the year.  My own personal goal of showcasing my interior design initiative, very novice I admit, to the world was realized. Somehow a few of my Instagramable moments were regrammed by Pottery Barn, which is my home decor Mecca. Beyond that, the hubs and I were able to have 2 amazing vacations together, and worked on ourselves as a unit.  This was so successful that, and I have to brag here, the hubs lost 45 pounds!!  I had no idea he had that much to lose, but he looks and feels great, and I couldn’t be prouder.  Once he had shed somewhere around 35-40, we actually had my awesome friend, and photographer, Laura, take some family shots.  She’s the incredible owner and photographer of Red Mountain Studio, and if you’re in need of great shots around the north Denver area, definitely check her out!  It’s amazing to see the things we have accomplished, but even more so to have watched his transformation and how happy he is.

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Look at my happy, healthy hubby!

I know 2014 boasted so many great things, but 2015 is looking just as promising.  Here’s to the journey ahead and wherever it may lead!

2014: An Imperfect, Though Fabulous, Year in Review

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Looking back over this past year, I have been so blessed to have such incredible experiences, phenomenal friends, a job I love, and family that always supports me.  I had made myself a promise last year to work on goals to improve myself, my relationships, and my day-to-day.  Although I like to think we should always be trying to improve and never settle for just okay, I think 2014 was a pretty great year.

I had no idea when I wrote about my 2014 goals last January that I would have accomplished so much.  I am not a believer in resolutions simply because we are human, and if I am unable to do something I wanted to do, I don’t want to see it as a failure.  We are meant to adapt and change as our environments adapt and change around us.  That’s human nature.  As my dad used to say, “Semper Gumby, Always Flexible.”  But the goals I set out for myself ended up being a driving factor throughout this past year.

I can honestly say I curse less (I like to call it my Disney Princess speach – have you ever heard a Disney Princess curse?

Can I go back... please?
Can I go back… please?

No. Exactly.), don’t drink during the week (except during winter break and vacations, but come on, that’s me time!), worked harder on relationships, became more of a fitness nut than I have ever been, attempted to read more (I had a lull, I will admit), traveled to Disney (twice! I have a problem…), DC, Vegas and the UK, focused on broadening my cooking repertoire, forced myself to change my routine for the better, and ultimately worked on being a better blogger.  Again, life happens and all of these goals had to be assessed or readdressed at one point or another, but I made meaningful progress for myself.  That is really what matters.

When I started all of this, particularly the health and fitness piece, I had never even run a half marathon. I had actually only run a 10K and 5K in all of 2013.  I went to Zumba each week, jogged throughout the week, and worked out fairly regularly, but I wasn’t working towards anything.  I can happily say that I completed 15 races in 2014, including 5 half marathons, 1 15K, 6 10Ks, 1 4 miler, and 2 5Ks.  I didn’t anticipate doing quite so many, and thought folks planning to do 14 in ’14 were positively nuts.  Yet here I am, I have already completed my first race of 2015, and have 10 more planned during this year.

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Just some highlights from some of the races this past year!
I am so lucky to have this guy by my side!
I am so lucky to have this guy by my side!

My hubby and I are, thank goodness, often on the same plane of understanding.  He and I often make goals together.  We recently discussed that we both want to complete a marathon together.  I don’t know when, I don’t know which one, but at the end of my life I want to say I did it.  Will it be a 2015 goal?  Probably not, but I intend to train as though it were.  I also want to participate in a triathlon, partly for the fact that cross training is always a good idea, but also because they just look so gosh darn fun.  Of course I am thinking sprint distance, but after the year I have had, who knows what that will turn in to.

This past year taught me a lot about myself: what I am capable of, how hard I can push myself, and how great it feels being the best version of myself.  Can I be better, absolutely!  Always strive for perfection and allow yourself to realize you may never achieve it all.  That, however, doesn’t mean I will ever stop trying.  Let’s have a great year, no matter what life throws our way!

How was your 2014? Any goals you were most proud of accomplishing? Any new or exciting goals to add to the 2015 queue?

The Holiday Season, Magic Kingdom Edition

Can you believe that Christmas is only a month away?  It’s by far my favorite holiday, just the joy, the season, the songs and the décor all make my heart overflow with holiday happiness.  I have already started listening to “Holiday Traditions” on SiriusXM radio in the car, and I am fairly certain I sing along to every song!  I haven’t put up my tree yet, but that’s only because I am hosting Thanksgiving this year with some of my dear friends, and I want it to look like Thanksgiving.  The day after – well there are no guarantees!

Reminiscing from my first Disney Christmas experience!
Reminiscing from my first Disney Christmas experience!

However, for one of the most magical Christmas experiences you’ll ever have, Disney is the place to be.  I was blessed to be able to spend a wonderful weekend in Disney World with our friends Mr. and Mrs. BakeNBurn, and part of the Disney magic included Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party!  I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Disney World just before and directly after Halloween, but it’s a phenomenal transformation!  One day it’s Halloween, the next it’s a winter wonderland – MAGIC!

So I am finally getting around to talking about our wonderful holiday-filled extravaganza in the Magic Kingdom… I know, for shame.  But it’s never too late to reminisce about the holidays.  Friday morning, after the chaos of the Disney Wine and Dine Expo, we made our way merrily to the Magic Kingdom.  This day was all about fitting it ALL in, and boy did we.

Ears in tow and ready to go!
Ears in tow and ready to go!

Given that Samantha and I are no strangers to Disney World, we made our way quickly through the gates just around 1:20pm, and worked our way back towards New Fantasy Land.  If you haven’t been to Disney since the addition of New Fantasy Land, it’s worth a revisit.  They’ve extended the park to include the Be Our Guest dining experience at the Beast’s castle, the Under the Seas journey of Ariel, the Little Mermaid (along with Ariel’s grotto of course), the Seven Dwarves Mine Ride, and a plethora of other experiences.  One of my favorite additions is Rapunzel’s tower!  It’s all so charming and a constant reminder of Disney’s attention to detail.

Once in New Fantasy Land, we headed straight to Be Our Guest!  I am a die-hard Belle fan, possibly the brunette English

Belle fanatic? Yes indeed.
Belle fanatic? Yes indeed.

major in me, and since last February when I was there for the Disney Princess Half Marathon, I have been dying to dine at Be Our Guest.  We were so lucky to snag reservations, and made our way through the line, flanked by talking (and snoring) empty armor.  Once you confirm the meal you would like (in advance) and approve payment, you make your way into the most spectacular ballroom turned eatery ever seen.  It’s quite truly like walking directly into the movie, complete with the West Wing (on the west side of the building) with enchanted rose and torn painting, and snow falling gently on the evening balcony scene beyond the main room.  Unbelievably incredible.

It is completely like the movie - who is ready to be the Belle of the ball?
It is completely like the movie – who is ready to be the Belle of the ball?
Talk about Disney magic... the enchanted rose!
Talk about Disney magic… the enchanted rose!
Dancing Belle and Beast, tres magnifique!
Dancing Belle and Beast, tres magnifique!
The cupcakes!!  SO good.
The cupcakes!! SO good.

We found some seats and awaited our meals.  Cast members pushed elaborate carts around the room with meals in tow.  Like magic, our meals appeared, complete with delectable desserts (the men both got the Master’s cupcake, with gray icing [“Try the gray stuff, it’s delicious!”]), while Samantha had a lemon merengue and I had a delicious strawberry cream cheese cupcake.  I had ordered the hubs a croquet monsieur and I annihilated the braised pork.  It was a fantastic meal, and all I could think was that doing Disney as an adult may be even more fun than as a child… there, I said it.

After we gorged ourselves on lunch, it was time for fast passes!  Being the Type

The winning score, by Mr. RockyMtnPearls!
The winning score, by Mr. RockyMtnPearls!

A personalities we are, Samantha and I had set up everything in advance, coordinating as much as possible.  We dashed over to Tomorrow Land for our first ride of the day, the fantastic Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.  Imagine sitting in a rotating bench with a toy gun shooting lasers at Emporer Zurg and his army, with the added effect of “Pew Pew Pew” noises for each shot.  Ah-mazing.  You get points based on the number of “Z’s” you shoot, and my hubby was the group’s victor.  It was epic.

We may have had too much fun playing Space Rangers...
We may have had too much fun playing Space Rangers…
*Pew* *PewPew*
*Pew* *PewPew*
Our adorable group and the obligatory castle shot!
Our adorable group and the obligatory castle shot!

Following our Space Ranger expedition, we found the necessary photo stop and got some great photos with the castle.  One of the many parades were about to start, so we jetted across the circle in front of the castle and made our way to Jungle Cruise.  Now this ride is hit or miss and it’s all about the skipper and their ability to deliver a good joke.  Ours was a little wanting but had some excellent morose one-liners that made up for it.  And this time of year, it transforms into the Jingle Cruise, so who doesn’t love a good Christmas themed joke?

Afterwards we headed to separate fast passes, so the hubs and I went to Space

Can you tell how much I LOVE Space Mountain??
Can you tell how much I LOVE Space Mountain?? The couple behind me was less than enthused…

Mountain (amazing!) and Samantha and her hubby went to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid.  We met back up for Lefou’s Brew in Gaston’s Tavern, followed by Pirates of the Caribbean for us and It’s a Small World for them.  We met up again at the end, and managed to fit in The Haunted Mansion and Thunder Mountain before heading to a delicious dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern.  If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend it.  This restaurant basically boasts Thanksgiving dinner all year long!  It definitely makes ordering easy, and the spread is delicious.

Once we finished dinner we emerged into what had become Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!  This event required tickets, which we had purchased far in advance, and allowed us to stay in the park beyond the normal hours, surrounded by Christmas music, magical parades, and one of the best fireworks shows I have ever seen!  It also meant that rides were much easier to get on, and the one ride we had in mind was the brand new Seven Dwarves Mine Train ride – so fun!

Fireworks were about to start, so we made our way around the front of the castle to get a good view.  Disney has daily fireworks shows, so if anyone puts on a good display, it’s them.  Their Magic Kingdom Christmas fireworks show is no exception.  The coordination of music, lighting, fireworks, and of course, Tinkerbell, make the entire spectacle beautifully memorable.  See this fabulous video courtesy of Ms. BakeNBurn!

A Frozen castle in time for the season.
A Frozen castle in time for the season.
The phenomenal final about to begin!
The phenomenal final about to begin!

One of the perks of staying for the Christmas party was the stations throughout the park with free hot cocoa and sugar cookies.  In case we hadn’t had enough food that day, we headed to the Crystal Palace for our holiday snack, munched away, and then found an ideal viewing spot along Main Street USA for the Christmas Parade.  Basically the parade turned into the Frozen and holiday parade, but I was all about it.  This being my second time in Disney around Christmas, I was pleased to see they had altered the parade slightly.  The best part?  It was snowing on Main Street!  After the parade concluded, we headed back to the resort (and thankfully made it on the first bus there) and crashed for the night.  We ended the evening very excited knowing the next day was race day!

Ta-da! Christmas in Disney!
Ta-da! Christmas in Disney!
A float of princesses!
A float of princesses!
Cinderella in her carriage!
Cinderella in her carriage!
The tin soldiers were my favorite! An actual marching band playing their trumpets through the hole in the mask!
The tin soldiers were my favorite! An actual marching band playing their trumpets through the hole in the mask!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Have you ever experienced a Disney Christmas? What are your favorite attractions in the Magic Kingdom?  Can you ever be too old to wear Mickey Mouse ears and spend a day playing in Disney?

A Journey Through Time in Oxford

I spent a significant amount of time planning our trip to the UK, and although the hubs gave a lot of great input and did some helpful research, much of the ideas and implementation was up to me.  Having already traveled in England six years prior, I was the “expert” of the two of us.  I knew I didn’t just want to stay in London the whole time.  Using London as a home base, however, made for easy accessibility to a number of day-trip destinations.  With seven full days in England, four of which were in London, I utilized three of the days to explore 2 cities I had been to, and one other I had been longing to visit.

There are a plethora of day trips you can take from London, as my new travel buddy, Rick Steves, mentions in his guide book for London (aka my travel Bible).  Having been to a number of them already thanks to my incredible study abroad class, I picked two of my favorites: Oxford and Canterbury.  My third selection is a place my romantic British literature heart had always dreamed of experiencing: Bath.

Oxford is the quintessential origin of all Ivy-League schools, except that it is truly old.  The gothic style buildings, rather than replicas of past creations, were truly gothic.  The university itself is comprised of 38 colleges and 6 permanent

View from Christ Church Meadow.
View from Christ Church Meadow.

private halls, each of which are self-governing.  You don’t just go to Oxford – you go to a specific college in Oxford.  The university formed originally in 12th century, and the oldest colleges represented are University College, Balliol and Merton, all constructed in the 13th century.  Needless to say, it is delightfully old, in that “Wow, there is so much history around here my head may explode,” kind of way.

We took a mid-morning train to Oxford on September 2nd, and thankfully it was just over an hour to reach our destination.  Both Oxford and Cambridge are exceedingly accessible via train from London, and given that we could walk to Paddington Station from our hotel, it made the trip that much more simplistic.  We arrived in Oxford at about noon and walked our way into the city center in search for the local bookshop.  Rather than try to meander our way through the interwoven web of colleges, the hubs and I decided to take a tour.  We were thrilled (okay, maybe it was more I was thrilled) to find out that there was a literary tour of Oxford set to start in just about 20 minutes after our arrival at Blackwell’s Bookshop (as my professor put it, “The best bookshop in the world.”).

Our incredible and exceedingly knowledgeable guide, Peter, was a sophisticated older chap who loved regaling us with stories of his travels throughout America.  His literary knowledge, although daunting, was fascinating to listen to, and made my English major heart so happy.  Two other visitors joined us for the tour, one fiery woman from Scotland, and her British friend.  Our little group set off, first passing by Trinity College, where a number of period pieces (aka Jane Austen) have been filmed.  Instead we crossed the street and meandered through Wadham College.  The beautiful structure housed Sir Christopher Wren (St. Paul’s Cathedral, among many other incredible architectural gems), and boasts one of the most incredible English gardens I have seen, including another designated just for faculty.

Stained glass windows in the Wadham College chapel.
Stained glass windows in the Wadham College chapel.
Beautiful study gardens at Wadham College.  This is much better than the UMD Mall....
Beautiful study gardens at Wadham College. This is much better than the UMD Mall….

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The formidable Wadham College, honoring King James I.
The formidable Wadham College, honoring King James I of England (James VI of Scotland).
The infamous Turf Tavern, and an excellent spot for a pint.
The infamous Turf Tavern, and an excellent spot for a pint.

After touring Wadham, we moved on towards the original wall built around the city, as Peter put it, to “Keep out the rubbish and poor-folk.”  We passed the infamous Turf Tavern, where former President Clinton “did not inhale.”  We made our way onto the “right” side of the wall and worked our way through an alley to the Hertford Bridge (the Bridge of Sighs) which arcs over New College Lane, and into the “center” by the Bodleian Library (which boasts columns of each of the five orders in classical architecture), Radcliffe Camera (the gorgeous round reading room), and University Church.  This area is what stood out the most from our original trip, and it was surreal being back here.  The age of the buildings range from the 13th century to the 18th century, yet the styling works seamlessly together.

Making our way to the Turf Tavern.  Why is everything prettier here?
Making our way to the Turf Tavern. Why is everything prettier here?
Scoping out the site of our future beverage...
Scoping out the site of our future beverage…
Bridge of Sighs, so beautiful!
Bridge of Sighs, so beautiful!
Five pillars in one building! This is unheard of!
Five pillars in one building! The Bodleian Library is truly unique.
Loving the  Radcliffe Camera architecture and ambiance.  Soak up the smart!
Loving the Radcliffe Camera architecture and ambiance. Soak up the smart!
It's just such a stunning structure!
It’s just such a stunning structure!

We crossed over the High Street, which curves along Oxford with a number of other colleges, and wandered down Magpie lane to see the now-converted inn where Shakespeare would stay during his travels through Oxford.  Devastatingly enough the building is now a Pizza Express (think Pizza Hut), but the room he slept in has been mostly untouched (except for the tables and chairs running through the middle).  Finally we passed by the Bear, the oldest pub in Oxford, The Bear, established in 1242.  Finally, we passed Christ Church College, birthplace of “Alice in Wonderland,” and then entered the main square of Exeter College, the fourth oldest constituent college of Oxford.  Even with this incredible tour, we barely scratched the surface.

The original wall coverings and fireplace of Shakespeare's Oxford getaway.
The original wall coverings and fireplace of Shakespeare’s Oxford getaway.
The Bear Inn and Pub, established in 1242.  Inconceivable!
The Bear Inn and Pub, established in 1242. Inconceivable!

 

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Beautiful Exeter College.
Beautiful Exeter College.
The chapel of Exeter College.
The chapel of Exeter College.

After the tour, the hubs and I wandered back towards High Street to make our way to the beautifully peaceful Christ Church Meadow.  We made our way back to the Turf Tavern for cider and cask ale, grabbed dinner along the High Street, and ended the day with another beverage at The Bear.  You can’t go to Oxford without going to their oldest pub!  Supposedly there used to be bear fights in the basement, but I haven’t yet verified this information.

Just a little walk in the park!
Just a little walk in the park!
The back building of Christ Church College.  What a place to go to school.
The back building of Christ Church College. What a place to go to school.
Back to the Bear!
Back to the Bear!
A fond farewell to my beloved Oxford!
A fond farewell to my beloved Oxford!

After a fantastic end to a very productive day (we did take 22,103 steps that day…), we made our way past the Oxford Castle to the train station, and back “home” to London.

Have you ever been to Oxford – what’s your favorite pub there?  What is one day trip you’d recommend from London?  Anyone else just love getting lost in time in the history of the UK?

The Land of Sunshine and Gold: Weekend in Vail

Is summer really over?  It doesn’t feel like it here in Denver.  Supposedly yesterday was the first day of autumn, and although I hung my autumn wreaths on my front doors, and switched out my summer scented candles for those of cinnamon and spice, it still doesn’t quite feel like fall.  To get more in the spirit of the season, however, the hubby and I spent the weekend in Vail with our dear friends Peter and Ade, at Peter’s parents’ home.  Nestled in the valley, East Vail is truly picturesque mountain living.  Surrounded by towering mountain sides covered in now-golden aspens and evergreens, it is a perfect escape from the hustle of Denver.

We left around 4pm on Friday afternoon and battled a little traffic to get to the home of Betsy and Arlen, Peter’s folks, around 6pm.  We beat our friends, but had a great time catching up with their family (they are very much our home away from home), drinking wine, and smelling the delicious home cooking wafting from the kitchen.  Peter and Ade arrived about an hour later, and we all sat down for a great dinner, chatted about everything going on, and planned the next day’s activities.  Ade and I planned on doing a substantial hike, while the gents were going to play golf at Red Sky Ranch and Golf Club (one of the most stunning courses imaginable).  Betsy had done a hike a few days prior on the Bighorn trail, about 10 miles total from where we were staying, and this would be prime time for the changing aspens.  With that decided, we finished the night with delicious chocolate mousse, and hit the hay.

The next morning we got started around 8am with a hearty breakfast and we ready to go for the hike around 9:30am.  It was in every way the perfect day for this hike: the sun was shining, barely a cloud in the sky, high of 72 degrees… all around ideal.  The trek up to the “top” of the trail (you could make this hike longer by connecting to the Gore Creek trail for about a 6-8 hours round-trip hike), was steep in a few sections, but I could feel it more given I am hiking at an even higher elevation than normal.  The five miles up from the house felt like they took forever, and for Ade and I, both recovering from a cold, seemed fairly slow in spots, but that allowed us opportunities for amazing pictures and taking in the view.

Perfect day for a hike.
Perfect day for a hike.
The aspens were amazing. I'd never seen them like this!
The aspens were amazing. I’d never seen them like this!
This trail followed a stream throughout, and boy was that some clear water!
This trail followed a stream throughout, and boy was that some clear water!
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We were going up for quite a while…
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Hello beautiful golden aspens!
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Straight up snow melt: cold, clear and refreshing.

By the time we reached the cabin, which everyone on the trail was using as a landmark, we reached 10,788 feet in elevation and hiked a little over 4 miles from the trail head.  The infamous cabin was very old and on the verge of collapse, but as the Forest Service website said, it could be used for hikers as shelter during inclement weather.  Thankfully, no such weather occurred during our hike.  Ade and I walked around it and crossed the stream to sit at the base of the peaks to the right of the cabin.  We brought grapes and nuts to snack on while we chatted and basked in the gloriousness of this perfect day.

Some of the rock fields on this hike were intense.
Some of the rock fields on this hike were intense.
"The hills are alive" anyone?
“The hills are alive” anyone?

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So beautiful it looks fake.
So beautiful it looks fake.

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This is where we sat and had our snacks.  Doesn't suck.
This is where we sat and had our snacks. Doesn’t suck.
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She could totally be an outdoors sports model.
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I could swear I’ve seen this in a magazine…
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Aspens as far as the eye can see!
I was tempted to never leave.
I was tempted to never leave.

We ventured back down, taking significantly less time to get back, and started chatting with a local who lives at the base of the trail and has hiked all of the 14-ers in Colorado at least once, if not twice.  I was wowed, not having hiked a single one… yet!  My goal for next summer, needless to say.  After returning home, and following a most delightful shower, we made a quick salad lunch and went for an early evening yoga class at the East Vail Racquet Club.  We got home, and shortly afterwards our men arrived, and we ended the evening with steaks, grilled veggies, and oven roasted potatoes.

The next day was cloudy and rainy, so rather than a short morning hike, we decided to hit the road around noon and stop by the outlets in Silverthorne on our way back to Denver and Boulder.  I will never say no to outlet shopping, and we

What's a post without a picture of my pup?
What’s a post without a picture of my pup?

even got great items for the hubs (he was so excited about the deals we got, I may have converted him to the dark side…).  Before reaching home, we picked up our pup from my hubby’s parents and then got back, made a great dinner, watched the Bronco’s game (alas…) and called it a day!

Thankfully this week I am finally back into the routine of work and workouts.  This week kicked off the LacyFit Fall Fitness Challenge (of which I am SO excited, more on this later), and I finally feel like I have regained my sense of normalcy post-vacation.  Maybe every vacation should end with another vacation!  This weekend should be a fun one for spending it all at home, given we have dinner plans on Friday and Saturday!  Friday the hubs and I are getting dinner with his folks at a steakhouse I haven’t yet tried in Denver, Grace and Guard.  Saturday we will meet up with our foodie friends Scott and Danielle (our typical Foodie Friday couple, but on Saturday, oh my!) for dinner at Lower48 Kitchen.  We’ll definitely fit in some long runs, given that our first half marathon of the season is only 25 days away (eek!).  But for now, let’s just get past Wednesday!

What are your favorite signs of autumn?  Where do you go for an easy weekend getaway?  What are your weekend plans (it’s never to early to think about the weekend)?

Post Vacation… Vacation? UK Trip Part I

You know that feeling you get after an incredible, phenomenal, epic vacation?  It’s like a punch in the gut type of sensation when you return to reality (especially as an adult… with responsibilities).  Well I am trying my hardest to avoid that feeling by following up my adventures through the British Isles (and Scotland is still part of the UK!) with a mini mountain retreat.  This afternoon the hubby and I will be making the drive up to Vail to stay with our friends and their folks (thank you, Betsy!) for a relaxing little getaway weekend.  I adore Colorado in the “fall,” which is really like a two week whirlwind of beauty in this state, so I finally really get to take advantage of it!

I do feel that I should finally comment about the amazing holiday the hubs and I were able to take in England and Scotland.  About six years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to study abroad with ten other students in the United Kingdom.  We lived in London, but traveled to numerous other parts of the country over a month long excursion.  My husband has not really left the country, except to go to Canada and Turks and Caicos (for Mrs. BakeNBurn’s wedding!), so for years we have been planning this trip to the UK, knowing it’d be a great gateway to European travel.  Being the anglophile I am, I could not wait.

We left on Saturday, August 30th to begin our 14 hour journey to London.  We flew from Denver to Dulles, outside of Washington DC, and then took a red-eye to Heathrow.  We arrived in London around 10am local time (after both of our flights arrived EARLY – when does that happen??), after maybe 2 hours of sleep… but we gathered ourselves, made our way to our charming hotel north of Hyde Park, cleaned up and hit the London streets.  We walked first through Hyde Park southeast toward Buckingham Palace.  Of course we took some obligatory photos of the palace and the guards.  We then followed the Princess Diana Memorial path towards Westminster Abbey and the Westminster Palace (the Parliament building).  We crossed the Thames and meandered along the bank for some time through a festival taking place, then crossed back over into Charring Cross, worked our way to Trafalgar Square, and stopped for a quick bite at one of my favorite chains, Pret a Manger (yum!).  We had walked this whole way, got our bearings, and appreciated the absolute gorgeousness of the day.

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Gates to Buckingham Palace.
Necessary photo op in a red telephone booth!
Necessary photo op in a red telephone booth!
Big Ben and the Queen's Clock Tower.
Big Ben and the Queen’s Clock Tower.
Beautiful day wandering around the Parliament building.
Beautiful day wandering around the Parliament building.
The ever-beautiful Westminster Abbey!
The ever-beautiful Westminster Abbey!

We ended the day by taking the Tube back to Paddington, one of the two conveniently located Tube stops, and had a filling pub dinner at the Pride of Paddington.  Of course I ordered fish and chips and my first Bulmers of the trip.  Let me tell you, the ciders of America will never compare, even the imported Magners and Strongbow are bottled in the US, and the essence of true cider is lost.  I will step off my soap box, but just know, if you go to the UK and want a great cider, Bulmers is a true delight.

Really, try a Bulmers.  SO GOOD.
Really, try a Bulmers. SO GOOD.

The next day we arose, after a lengthy night’s sleep, to our only rainy day of the entire trip.  We decided it was the perfect morning to spend at the British Museum.  We took the Tube to Tottenham Court Road and wandered towards the

Who doesn't love a rainy day at the British Museum?
Who doesn’t love a rainy day at the British Museum?

beautiful wrought iron gates of the museum entrance.  We made our way through ancient Greece and Rome, ancient Egypt and Cleopatra, and ancient China, with a good long look at the Rosetta Stone and the Pantheon freezes.  Occupying much of the morning, we found a quaint little eatery, Salt and Pepper, to grab a sandwich and cup of tea.  I realized the Brits love sandwiches and toast.  I haven’t had that much bread in a long time.

 

Glass ceiling surrounding the round reading room.
Glass ceiling surrounding the round reading room.
Freeze from the Pantheon in Greece.
Freeze from the Pantheon in Greece.
The incredible Rosetta Stone.
The incredible Rosetta Stone.
Moai!!
Moai!!

That evening we had dinner at a restaurant recommended by the friends we are visiting this weekend: The Gay Hussar.  It’s a tiny, obscure, and nondescript Hungarian restaurant on Greek Street full of history, political drama, and some of the best caricatures I have ever seen!  After an incredibly delicious dinner, we strolled down the street to the Queen’s Theatre for a show of Les Miserables.  Overall, it was a fantastic start to our trip.

The hubby's first live performance of Les Mis!
The hubby’s first live performance of Les Mis!

On that note, I must ready myself for the weekend ahead.  I anticipate a lot of R&R mixed with hiking, running, and enjoyment of this beautiful state in which I live.  Cheers!

 

Let the Journey Begin!

I’m sitting in the Denver International airport counting down the minutes until we board the plane for the first leg of our journey to England and Scotland. First the hubs and I fly to Dulles, our old airport stomping grounds from our DC days, and await our flight to Heathrow. It’ll be a long day of traveling, but I am just too thrilled to care!

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We will arrive in London around 10:15am on Sunday, August 31st, and after dropping off our items at the hotel, plan to spend the day wandering the city, exploring some of my favorite places, and reacquainting ourselves with our new temporary home. Pictures and adventures to follow. But for now, Bon voyage!!!

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