Staycation in Breckenridge: Part II

Traveling and experiencing new things is a huge part of my DNA, what I love to do and a major reason I work so hard! Having moved to Colorado back in December of 2013, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed traveling to new places….Ireland, Vieques, Amalfi Coast, Belize, Jackson Hole, Park City, Moab, Oregon…to name just a few! That being said, there are literally thousands of places to travel, trails to hike, mountains to climb, beers to drink, rivers to raft on, paths to bike on in the glorious state of Colorado.

So, when we bought a time share at the Grand Lodge at Peak 7, the idea of spending a week up in the mountains, in our own backyard, was exciting! Although we typically head to Breckenridge in the winter for the glorious skiing….that’s pretty much why we bought the timeshare to begin with, so we would have ski-in, ski-out access. It’s been great. Our week approached (we have odd years, in the summer) and we packed up, hit the road, and headed for the mountains. The first half of our Staycation was incredible…..biking, great restaurants, gorgeous sunsets, craft beer, and that was just through Tuesday!

Part II of our Staycation began on Wednesday, with a gorgeous morning walk on the mountain with the doggies…coffee in hand. Working on East Coast hours allows me to wake up early to enjoy the morning before most people have even stirred. It’s really a gift to get up with the sun, especially when you’re in the mountains. By 6:30 am I was back in the room working, while Mike planned another mountain bike ride. The plan was that I’d wrap up my morning and head to meet him, riding my bike down into town. It was a wonderful afternoon and I was pumped to get back on my bike.

We finished our ride and headed back up on the gondola so I could finish up my day. The gondola drops you off right at the top of peak 7 – so convenient! Our bikes fit in the gondola car, so we could avoid riding up the steep hill. So nice! After I wrapped up the work day, we headed to another private movie in the Grand Lodge, brought snacks too, watched Bad Moms (which was horrible!) then headed out to soak in the hot tub to overlook the mountains. It was officially a perfect end to a glorious day.

I took Thursday and Friday off, so when we woke up on Thursday, I was so excited! It was Breck Bike week and there was a women’s beginner mountain biking clinic from 10 am to noon so I got dressed like it was Christmas. To fuel up, we headed down to town to somewhere we’ve not ever been, Mom’s Baking Company. A European style bakery, with cozy seating and beautiful decor.

Mike ordered a burrito with french cheese and caramelized onions while I had a spinach & mushroom pastry. It was perfection! I rode over to the Blue River Plaza where the clinic was meeting. The ladies who gathered were at all different levels – some had never mountain biked ever, some were recovery from injuries (myself included) some had been out of the saddle for awhile. Our instructor Kat was awesome, a chill mountain chick who had great pointers and took us to the pump track then the B n B trail where we practiced uphill and downhill skills. It was an amazing day – my first time taking a bike clinic and boy was I a fan!

Mike met me back in town where I poured over the details of the day. We headed to Park & Main for lunch (again!) where we got beet sliders and a huge arugula vegan salad and Mike got the zucchini parm (again!). It was delicious! I was wiped afterwards, so we headed up to the lodge where I promptly showered the sweat off and took a rest before meeting a girlfriend for happy hour at the Blue Ridge Bistro. Although I had a pretty bad experience there early in the week, their happy hour is great (2 for 1 appetizers) and $2 off drafts. Plus, my girlfriend could walk there, as she worked in Breckenridge. We had a blast catching up and after BRB, headed to RMU for some drinks and ski shop shenanigans. Great bartenders and a hipster vibe….Mike has quite a few Manhattans while chatting up the owner, who he claims wants him to be a sponsor. Fun, fun night!

Friday morning came a little slower and after we awoke, got coffee and walked the pups on the hill, we got our bike gear on and headed out, down the four-o clock run trail, through the construction they’re doing to create a traffic circle through town, and to the Bold Restaurant for breakfast.

Mike ordered the huge breakfast burrito with veggie green chili and I had an quinoa & egg white frittata with citrus salsa. Oh yes, we were fueled!

After breakfast, we hopped on our bikes and headed to the pump track. A crew of little kids were there, ripping, so Mike and I jumped in and tried not to let them beat us. I had done the track yesterday, so was very pumped to show him the ropes, although he smoked me.

It was a blast! We climbed up above the course to a small track that took up up and down and around, back to the road, where we headed to the B n B trail. Instead of following the trail I did in my women’s clinic, we took V3 to Barney Ford to Barney Flow to Carter Park….oh man, if you’re ever in Breckenridge and want an amazing ride, do this one! Nothing crazy hard, definitely some climbs and rocks (that I walked my bike over, as technically I wasn’t supposed to be mountain biking at this level with my ACL recovery) this was a great ride!

And the VIEWS!!! It couldn’t have been a better day! Biking back into town, we both felt wonderful and hungry! Heading to Mi Casa, an incredible Mexican restaurant with the best margaritas I’ve ever had, where we ate our faces off! Guacamole, sweet potatoes tacos, homemade chips….oh my! Our cousins were heading our way that evening, so after paying the check we headed back up the gondola, took showers and rested before our guests.

The evening brought grilled veggies, good beer and hot tubbin’! The cool mountain air was perfect, so we stayed outside late, talking, soaking and enjoying being in Colorado.

Saturday, we awoke and planned our hike…Spruce Trail to Mohawk Lake. The hike was amazing, with several lakes and waterfalls, it was the perfect end to a wonderful Colorado staycation. At 11,300 feet & 6.5 miles I have to say, my knee was back!

All-in-all, we had such a fabulous time in the mountains, exploring the wonderful trails, town, and mountains. Make sure to get outside and enjoy the wonders of summer, especially those you find in  your backyard!

 

Staycation in Breckenridge: Part I

Two years ago, we bought a time share. Yup, we were those suckers who thought they’d go and get a free weekend, do the tour, and leave. Nope. We bought. The Grand Lodge at Peak 7 has atually been quite a treat these past two ski seasons….parking on peak 7 (ski in/ski out), hot tubs afterwards, spa access, grills, bonus time, oh my! The winter is a playground in Breckenridge, so why not have a spot to make playing easier. So when we selected the week in the summer, every odd year, we laughed, thinking it was a means to a fabulous end: parking for skiing in Breckenridge!

Well, our week approached and I was actually super excited! Colorado is amazing in the summer and while we’re avid hikers, we rarely extend our stay past a night or two in the mountains….and never stay in a fancy resort in which we are 1/5,000 owners! So, we packed the car, the dogs, the beer, the bikes and headed to Breck.

The trip kicked off with a stop over Loveland pass, all the way up to the Continental Divide. The views were spectacular, super windy, but gorgeous! Heading into Breck, we could tell the town was jumping! We were able to check into the lodge at Peak 7 as soon as we got there, so we unpacked and took the babies (Winnie & Haley came too!) for a small hike up peak 7. The mountain looked so odd not having a ton of snow on it, but it was beautiful.

After the jaunt, we got cleaned up and headed into town to Mountain Flying Fish Sushi for a fabulous dinner followed by an evening stroll around the town, where the mountain views took our breathe away. We stopped at Mountain Top Cookie Shop to get a carmely, crunchy decadent cookie to kill our sweet tooth. Strolling through town, we appreciated how the air is different here, more crisp. I was in heaven.

Sunday Funday arrived and it opened up with a gorgeous sunrise on the mountain. I didn’t quite make it for sunrise, but Winnie and I headed out for a morning stroll. Breakfast was avocado toast & coffee in the room followed by the both of us suiting up for my first mountain biking ride since my ACL surgery! I was beyond excited to get out there, even though I was only 11 weeks, I felt great in the biking department. We mapped out a route, keeping it on the easier side, as I didn’t want to push it too hard. Leaving from Peak 7, we headed south across peak 8, through switchbacks and down into town. Mike took the more aggressive route down 4 O’Clock trail, while I veered off towards the road. We met down at the bottom of town and headed towards the Sunday market. Local vendors were selling their ware, SUP rentals were sending folks out on the small lake, and the tourists were out and about. Strolling a bit, we chatted up a local chocolate dealer, whose chocolate nibs came from Honduras. Of course we bought a bag!

The market had us thirsty, so we biked through town to get to the Rec path that would take us to Broken Compass Brewing, one of the best mountain breweries I’ve ever been to.  They have a coconut porter that literally melts in your mouth!

Plus, this had been the furthest I’d ridden on a bike since my ACL surgery and I was extremely excited to celebrate. After two glorious pints, we headed back to town, up the gondola to the Grand Lodge at Peak 7 and had some lunch in the room.

I had made chick pea salad with carrots & artichokes for one of our meals and it hit the spot after an active morning. Topped with peperoncinis and homegrown spinach, the nutritious plant-packed lunch was delicious.

After taking the dogs for a small hike around the mountains (this was the most exercise the dogs had gotten in a LONG time as well!) we got rinsed off and put on our nicer mountain attire for a beautiful dinner out at Blue River Bistro. They had a great happy hour from 3-6 and live jazz music. Score! The drinks and bartender were lovely, ambiance absolutely perfect, but unfortunately, my meal turned out awful! I had to send it back twice as the croquets were frozen the first time around, fish was raw the second time. Truly disappointing after a gorgeous lead into the evening….the salad and appetizer were amazing! They did take off the entree and glass of wine I had, so they should have, but the meal was still $105 dollars, so left a bad taste in my mouth for the place. Oh well, the evening had still been delightful, so we called it a night, as I had to work in the morning, and took the complimentary shuttle back up to the Grand Lodge.

Monday morning came bright and early, and while I worked the day away (after greeting the day with a morning mountain stroll with the pups), Mike took a long bike ride on Peaks Trail into the town of Frisco. The trail was full of sharp rocks, roots and curves and when I went to pick him up later that afternoon, his knee bled with proof of how hard it was. Thank goodness he was ok, as he had been ridding alone!

I work on east coast time, so after scooping Mike up in Frisco around 2pm, we had a late lunch at Park and Main, a delicious vegetarian friendly restaurant with veggie loaded options and a heady staff. I got the salted sweet potato sandwich and Mike ordered the Zucchini Parm. Both were delightful!

After we wrapped up lunch, we headed back up to the Grand Lodge so I could wrap up my work day and Mike could wash the trail off. He took a rest while I typed away. That evening we planned to watch the Sunset on Boreas Pass. We packed a picnic dinner (a Thai noodle dish with sauteed veggies and sriracha) strapped the dogs into their harnesses and we were off!

The pass road is quite bumpy, but the views throughout are spectacular! Heading all the way up to the continental divide, we parked the car and strolled around. At 11,481 elevation, we had a beautiful view of the sinking sun.

The several small cabins used to be part of a town, then workers quarters, who would clear the water lines during the dead of winter. We spread out our Thai picnic and snuggled in for the show.

It got chillier as the sun dipped, so once the last rays tucked into the mountains, we packed up and headed back to the lodge. The beauty of the mountains, the stillness of nature were something to truly marvel and the awesomeness that we were so lucky to have just witnessed was not lost on us. It was another spectacular day in Colorado.

Tuesday arrived with a glorious amount of sunshine and I took Winnie for a small sunrise hike. Grand Lodge on Peak 7 is right at the base of independence chair on Breckenridge resort and has trails right out the door. Winnie absolutely loves the outdoors and will scamper through the woods sniffing for critters. After logging a few work hours after an early rise, we biked down town for a quick breakfast at Clints. They have fabulous bagels, coffee and a cute atmosphere. I headed back to work and Mike headed to the spa to de-compress…several hours later (yeah, he fell asleep!) he came back up to the room, I wrapped up work and we headed into town on the gondola for a late lunch/early happy hour.

Modis, right on Main Street, has a phenomenal happy hour and delicious bites to nosh on. We chatted with two locals who lived in Alma, about 30 minutes north of Breckenridge, on 10 acres of land. Boy did that sound like an amazing set-up! We ordered oven-baked fries with gourmet dipping sauce and some Shrimp Ceviche & Blue Corn Fritters….amazing! That evening we had reserved one of the private screening rooms at the Grand Lodge, so we gondola-ed up to the lodge, cooked some pizza & made a salad and headed to watch a movie in luxury. The night, day and mountain staycation was everything we had hoped to be an more up to this point!

 

Summer Camping

I have found myself letting go of making plans lately. With my ACL injury, I’m not able to do much in the activity spectrum, so plans seem silly. So a few weekends ago, with Friday & Saturday stretching before me, I jumped for joy at the the last minute plan to camp near Leadville, in the San Isabel National Forest near the clear creek reservoir. A group of friends were heading to the sand dunes and wanted to break up the trip (it’s almost 5 hours to sand dune national park). Another friend planned to climb or hike. And Mike and I wanted to escape the city, head to the mountains and be amongst nature. Despite my knee injury keeping me on the Colorado activity sidelines, I couldn’t wait! It had been a full two months since I had ventured west, into the mountains so I was ready.

Friday afternoon, we packed up the car with our camping gear (including our big fancy chairs & extra blankets, as we were car camping) and hit the road. Because we didn’t have to hike in with our gear, we brought the big tent that could have easily fit 6 adults comfortably. Because we brought the big tent, we brought Winnie and Haley (our furry babies).

Driving westbound, away from the city, we left 80 degree weather and watched the temperature drop every 15 miles. Past the small mining towns that now were filled with craft beer and tourists, the road slicing into the rocky hills. The views of the mountains as we crested over the hills still took my breath away.

We stopped in the overflow parking lot at Copper Mountain so the dogs could run around. The sky shoots mocked me from across the street, taunting me to come avenge my ACL. Next year, next year I’ll be back.

A ways passed Copper, we drove by Mayflower Gulch where Mike and I headed several months earlier as part of our AIARE I certification. Memories of a 4 degree day came flooding back, where fresh powder stretched for miles, and we trudged up the gulch to practice digging out beacons in case of an avalanche. What a beautiful weekend that was!

Leadville came into site and after stopping for water at the grocery store, we headed to the local watering hole, Periodic Brewing. Boasting the highest craft brewery in the world (elevationly speaking) we drank out delicious barrel aged porters and cold crashed IPAs and reveled in the facts: great beer on the way to the mountains to camp with friends was an amazing start to the weekend.

Sufficiently watered, we headed to our camping destination, just passed clear creek reservoir. There were multiple dispersed sites and we found a large one that fit the bill: secluded, by a creek, view for days. Last summer, we headed up the same road to the Missouri Gulch trailhead that leads to Mr. Oxford & Mt. Belford. The camping scene was a bit different for that trip, my ACL being in tact, so we hiked in several miles to the camp site.

That evening, several friends joined us, and we sang, drank and cozied up be the fire. After the hustle bustle of city life, work life, daily life, the mountain escape is a much needed oasis.

 

This past Memorial Day Weekend 2017, we found ourselves planing another mountain getaway. The weather forecast for Denver looked bleak, so we postponed the BBQ we had planned & got out of dodge, heading to Salida, a mountain bike mountain town, full of heady people, great views of the Arkansas River, and great campsites.

Heading out on Friday afternoon, we found ourselves drawn to the mountains, going high up into the San Isabel National Forest to one of the most spectacular camping sites I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time in. The views were spectacular and the dispersed camping was plenty. We pitched our tent, unfolded our car camping chairs and made a fire pit. Afterwards, we headed into town for some exploring, beer & grub. The town, situated on the Arkansas river, is full of boutique stores, cafes & restaurants with farm to table food & lots of bike friendly people!

We landed at Moonlight Pizza and brewpub, where the local beer flowed and veggie toppings were piled high. It hit the spot and we headed back up the gravel road to our campsite with full bellies and happy hearts. The sun was setting and the light was absolutely glorious.

Back at the campsite, we collected fallen sticks for the nights fire. It turned out to be a beautiful night, clear and exploding with stars. Around 9, we watched the embers burn out, climbed in our 2 person tent with an additional 2 fur babies, and snuggled into our sleeping bags.

It was a cold morning, so when Winnie woke me up, I resisted, wanting to stay in the snug cabin of the tent. But, alas I got up and started the morning ritual. Breakfast ended up being spectacular, an experiment with skillet cooked biscuits, peppers & onions, avocado & vegan cheese topping the mess. Holy cow it was delicious!

Post plant based breakfast feast, we took our babies for a walk around the campsite and surrounding area. The views were spectacular and I gave thanks to this beautiful place. After 3 1/2 years I’m still blown away by Colorados’ beauty.

Mike spent the day biking, while I read and soaked in the spectacular views. I drove the truck into town about an hour and a half after he left, met him down in the town of Salida for some refreshment and lunch at the Boathouse Cantina, a lovely restaurant Sitting on the bank of the Arkansas review. It was a perfect afternoon!

That evening a few more campers were around, but the views were definitely not compromised and the night was spectacular. A bit colder than Friday, our fire was the perfect end to a gorgeous day.

The next morning we woke after a cuddly night with the pups and made french press coffee.  There’s nothing quite like a cup of coffee, next to the love of your life, with views of the mountains.

With my bum leg (due to the ACL injury) I still wasn’t able to bike, so we decided to head into town for breakfast before Mike headed out on his mountain bike. We went to Amicas pizza & microbrewery where we had a delicious breakfast: avocado toast topped with arugula for me & a huge breakfast burrito. It was phenomenal.

Back to the campsite where Mike suited up for mountain biking and I packed up. The sun was absolutely glorious and I cranked the tunes while putting away our little tent. I soaked up one last view of the mountains and drove the truck down to meet Mike. I snatched him up, his bloody knee and all, and we headed to Soulcraft Brewing before hitting the road to home. It was a phenomenal ending to a glorious weekend.