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Fall In the Mountains 🖤

Updated: Nov 30, 2021

Story time left off at the beginning of September and boy, has a lot happened! We visited Estes Park, Jaime and Aiden came to visit, got to see the Great Sand Dunes, soak in some hot springs, see some Bighorn Sheep, and take a UTV from Ouray and Telluride. We’ve begun discussing our next adventure, planning holidays back home, and celebrating Halloween here.

Estes Park was as beautiful as we’ve been told. I didn’t have as many details as I probably should have before we left for our trip there, however we enjoyed touring Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) nonetheless. The problem was that I didn’t realize that the exit to RMNP does NOT end in Estes Park, and there is less than zero cell reception in that area. So, instead of being able to explore Estes Park after our RMNP drive, we came out in the middle of nowhere and just decided to head south toward “home” so we didn't get any more lost.

The next week my sister Jaime and my nephew Aiden came out to visit! We had the best time making memories and enjoying the mountains together. We were able to fit in mini golf, pool time, grilling out, dinner with our Uncle Scott, hiking at Garden of the Gods, the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, a trip on Gold Camp Road, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and a trip to visit our cousin Michael, his wife Tara and their two boys. We even got to go to Olive Garden to visit our favorite waiter and Aiden gave him a run for his money; holding out the "tell me when" while Dave nearly cranked the wheels off that grater on top of Aiden's spaghetti. It was tough saying goodbye but the memories and time spent together was invaluable and brought a little slice of family to Colorado which was wonderful.

Next, we planned a trip to Southern Colorado. There we were able to spend a night in Crestone at a crazy Airbnb that looked like it was constructed by aliens. We were blown away by the beauty of the Great Sand Dunes here, I told Dave I kept getting “Aladdin” vibes. The dunes were like nothing I’ve ever seen before and I kept waiting for the Cave of Wonders to magically appear. I wish we could have spent more time here but unfortunately we got there a little later, the weather was freezing and windy, and we weren’t dressed appropriately (I was wearing shorts like an idiot and getting my legs sand-blasted… which is not a comfortable way to exfoliate if anyone was wondering). However, on our way back to the Airbnb we stopped at the Sand Dunes Recreation area in Hooper, CO. There, we were able to soak in the 110͒ F hot springs, play chess, have a few drinks, and some delicious food. If you’ve never soaked in a hot spring, I HIGHLY recommend trying it if you’re ever able to. My legs felt like I had gotten an hour long massage afterward, it was lovely. The next day we packed up the boys and headed West to Montrose. Our Airbnb here was my absolute favorite. The snow capped mountains were visible through our enormous bay windows in the living room, the deck was beautiful and we got to grill out with our dogs, play Rummy, and enjoy the views. The next day, we rented a UTV in Ouray and took it through one of the most dangerous passes in the Rockies to get to Telluride, one of the most beautiful mountain towns! The fall colors were absolutely incredible, we spent 8.5 hours on the UTV just exploring the mountains. Imogene Pass was the name of the trail we conquered to get to Telluride, it takes you to the peak of one of the San Juan mountains for an elevation of 13,000ft. On the way to the pass, I was ambitious and told Dave while he was driving that it was okay to splash through puddles and get “a little wet”. Dave interpreted this as, “give ‘er hell” and instantly blasted through the first puddle he saw, which was far deeper than it appeared. I got waterboarded by my gaiter and soaked through to my skivvies. Which happened to be extremely convenient considering the rest of our journey to the top of Imogene Pass was roughly 0 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -1000. Thankfully this was our only hiccup during this insane drive, and I thawed out when we got to Telluride.

*Hot Springs Disclaimer: After freezing all day, we decided to check out the Orvis hot springs in Ouray. This location is clothing optional, which I thought would be no big deal. When I entered the sauna and the body odor stench hit me, I realized this actually IS a big deal. The hot springs here also weren’t very hot so that was also a disappointment.*

We finally made it up to Pikes Peak, cheating using the Cog Railway but still amazing! We celebrated Halloween by kicking a** at beer pong dressed up as the infamous “Jager Bomb”. Dave was sweet enough to bring legit Wisconsin cheese curds to the party for our host (who is originally from Rice Lake, WI) and those were a huge hit. Playing beer pong really made me miss Wisconsin, I'm not going to lie. One of Dave’s best friends and his girlfriend came to visit last week, which was nice, until I decided to go all “Evil Knievel” and tip our side-by-side in the middle of the mountains... Woopsy. Thankfully everyone is okay, with some minor bumps and bruises, the only serious injury was to my pride.

A challenge I’ve become acutely aware of and that weighs on me with this adventurous lifestyle, is that it’s far more difficult to plan trips home to see my family and friends than I anticipated. I struggle with letting down my loved ones when I’m not able to be there for the “big things” and even the little ones. I’m starting to prioritize that more and find ways to communicate regularly with my loved ones back home but it’s definitely not easy to coordinate schedules. Just know, I love you all and I'm trying ❤

What’s next?

We’re in the midst of deciding where we’re off to next, but should have something nailed down in the next week or so... The temp is dropping, time to migrate! This assignment seemed like the coworker bonding took a little bit longer to happen, but I have since made some wonderful friends here and have already begun to miss them while beginning the bittersweet search for my next contract.

Next up on the list: Laura is coming to visit! The boys and I are very excited for another visitor. I’ve got lots of shenanigans and adventures planned so it should be a great time! With even more crazy stories to share. I'll be able to spend a few days home over Thanksgiving to see as many loved ones as I can! Dave and I have two more big plans to tackle while we’re still here for the next month, including mastering the Incline, and spending a long weekend in a little mountain ski town with the boys.

Stay tuned! Lots more adventures to be had 😊

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