Heaven is a Place on Earth 

  
Colorado. I could write you a love note every day. In my head, I do. And with my camera I try. Each weekday, each weekend, I fall a little more in love. I look past your flaws, ahem, insane housing market, and sing you song. It starts with a tune and includes the line, heaven is a place on earth. I don’t see this song ending anytime soon. 

Thank you for letting me live. Live fully. Live happily. Live wonderfully. Live blessed. Thank you, Colorado.

    
    
   

Same spot, different times of day. Twin Lakes, Colorado. Fourth of July weekend, 2015. Heaven.

We went up with a few friends, canoed to this spot and relaxed to celebrate America. A lot of beer later, we returned home thankful and refreshed. 

Pike’s Peak and Other Adventures in Colorado

I just went through all my pictures from 2014 when I was writing my year in review post and realized I have some major catching up to do! A favorite memory of the past year? When my girlfriends from college rugby days, Keebler and Audrey, came out to visit me! We hiked (and got lost on – scary) a 14er, ziplined, danced the night away to country music, and sampled tons of fantastic food.

First up – Pike’s Peak! From a late start, to getting lost driving to the trailhead, to rude guys at the trailhead (very un-Colorado-like), to getting lost on the hike up, to deciding we’d better take the train down instead of hiking due to timing – we made some mistakes, but we learned so much. This was our first real hike. Go big or go home, right? It is a relatively easy hike in that no technical gear is required. But it is 13 miles and 7,400 vertical feet up and no small feat if you ask us! The guide sites all say to avoid the trail at all costs the third weekend of August due to heavy trail traffic, but it wasn’t bad for us. We really only saw people during the first 3 miles, at the Barr Camp area and the last two miles. Some shots from the adventure!

Hit the trail an hour and a half later than planned, but got to see a great sunrise at the trailhead for Pike's Peak!
Hit the trail an hour and a half later then planned, but got to see a great sunrise at the trailhead for Pike’s Peak!
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And we’re off! To the rude gentleman that doubted us… pfsshhh! Get out the way.

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First of many breathers. You can still see the town below, we weren’t too high up yet.
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One more mile to go! The huge smiles were because this was after we got lost for almost an entire mile. The last mile is also one of the toughest, but after trekking 12 of the 13 total miles, this felt like a win!
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Golden doesn’t mean nice. Or enjoyable. And not sure where the 16 comes from. But it was awesome to see this sign close to the end.
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Those switchbacks didn’t seem like a big deal until we got up higher and realized how far we’d walked in about 45 minutes.
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We’re still smiling on the 16 Golden Stairs!
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Strained muscles were slowing her down!
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We made it! 14,115 ft above sea level. 13 miles up. #nobigdeal
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The joy of summiting a mountain is something the three of us ladies have talked about almost weekly since hiking this.
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Calm and collected as always. Success!
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Pike’s Peak was a good 14er for us to start with because the top is a total tourist destination. You can take a train up there instead of hiking, so we knew that if we got too tired, or the weather turned, or we got really lost, it is a popular trail. And there’s a way down. Oh – and donuts and hot cocoa at the top.
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These are the faces of three proud, happy, tired novice hikers who can’t wait do their next hike!

A quick drive through Garden Of the Gods on our way out of the area was a nice relaxing way to watch the huge storms that rolled in as soon as we can down off the mountain.

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So, the next day, to be sure we weren’t too sore, we went for a jog around a park here in Denver and visited the Denver Botanic Gardens. Sadly, the Chihuly exhibit is now gone, but it was such a neat experience!

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My unsure face says it all… these two are healthy as can be, and I’m dying after our jog!
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We don’t mess around with our picture perfect skyscapes here in Denver.

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We hit the Larimer Square dining on the square event that evening and enjoyed a bottle of champagne under the lights with dessert. Followed by a ton of dancing to country music and making up for our healthy decisions with beer!

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Retired rugby players clean up quite nicely if you ask me!

The next day, Keebler organized a zip lining trip. So into Idaho Springs we went! I highly recommend this for a fun family activity – we laughed a ton, had a great time with the guides and other families and generally enjoyed it.

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The weekend came to an end, and off the girls went back to Chicago and me back to my regularly scheduled Denver existence. But it was such a special weekend with these ladies! It also completely inspired me for the new year. More adventure, more nature, more getting uncomfortable.

When they first asked to hike Pike’s Peak because Keebler (real name Amanda, don’t ask) had a strange wish do it, I was skeptical. But, with a book in hand and a lot of reading online, I sucked it up. Thank goodness I did! We learned a ton about hiking, preparation, each other, and how to push ourselves. Can’t wait until the next one!

St. Mary’s Glacier and Lake

Good friends say yes when you text them all but begging to go for a hike on week three of your husband being away on business. And then you get lost, drive like a maniac, take beautiful pictures, and enjoy a few hours of beautiful fall day in Colorado. So thankful that my Colorado community is so wonderful.

Beautiful, no?

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Just a quick hike up a nice path and the view opens up to this.
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Alex and I trying to get the pup to pose with us. Because when the scenery is this pretty, you have to take a picture!
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This girl. Love her and her perfect pup!
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These trees are straight Dr. Seuss on a twisted hillside. So creepy. But amazing at the same time. Such a great morning with these kids.
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Greg, Alex and Elliott… and Bailey! Great friends who I am SO grateful for joining me on a Saturday morning hike.
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Here’s the beach at St. Mary’s Lake. This lake is absolutely the coldest body of water I’ve ever felt. My hand lasted in the water for about two seconds.
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Colorado does clouds right.
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One more for prosperity.

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That, my friends, is a glacier. With people skiing on it. In 70* weather. Normal.
That, my friends, is a glacier. With people skiing on it. In 70* weather. Normal.
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When you lose your keys, drive an hour and then find them… you take another hour to drive around on dirt roads by yourself . And then you found the most perfect little serene spot. This is heaven on earth.

Dropping my keys at the trailhead was part of the adventure. We got back to Denver, I dropped everyone off, got home, ready to walk in my door, and realized my house keys fell off my keychain. No bueno.

I felt completely defeated. So I drove back up to the trailhead – an hour away – and just kept saying, “they’ll be there. I’ll find them.” And I did. Thanks for playing a little trick on me world, I appreciate it.

Grand Lake with Grand Views

Earlier this summer Leo and I took a quick one day trip into the mountains to meet with some friends from Chicago. The cabin we stayed in was perfect. A family cabin built by the family in the 1970s was the perfect backdrop for s’mores by the fire and watching the moon come up over the evergreens. Absolutely wonderful for a quick run out of the city.

After we got in, we grilled up burgers, hot dogs and corn while sipping on ice cold beers and laughing with old friends. A needed taste of something slower for sure. Until the next time I’m in the mountains, this is what’ll I’ll be thinking of.

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Pretty skies over a pretty, but ice cold lake
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Side of the road sign scenery.
Driving out of Grand Lake
Driving out of Grand Lake
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Taking in the views on Grand Lake!

Mountain escape and the best of friends

I’m incredibly blessed to have the folks in these pictures as friends. A few old, but mostly new since moving to Colorado, these are just a few of the people that make this place home.

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We went up to Beaver Creek to stay in Tom’s family’s condo a few months ago and I just found these pictures on my camera, so I figured I’d share. Late but not lost! Lot’s of drinking, eating great food and playing games up in the mountains. So refreshing! 

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My favorite couple making breakfast for the crew. Cute in their robes, and what you can’t see is that most of the group was also in their robes. This is luxury. 

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The girls giggling – you’d be amazed how long it took just to get one semi-decent shot of us! Alcohol was obviously involved and can be blamed for any poor photos. 🙂 

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Even portraits on shirts needs a sip of the apple pie drink – the greatest cocktail I’ve ever had. 

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And then there’s there two – we all go way back and I love both of them like family!