Buff in the Boat: A Steamboat extravaganza!

July in Colorado, especially in the Denver area, is typically dry, hot and a bit browned out. The past two weekends have been spent, in the heat, around Denver, so when I recently found this blog draft about our adventures last July, where we took to the mountains, I jumped on reliving our adventure.

Last July, we headed to Lake Dillon when my dad came to visit from Philadelphia, to play in the cooler air and boat on the lake….

image
Swan Mountain, Breckenridge

Lake Dillon, Dillon Colorado

Boating on Lake Dillon!

image
After our 18 mile bike ride – Broken Compass Brewery!

 

…then Crested Butte with friends, to bike and hike the heck out of this gorgeous area. I really feel we’ve made the most out of the summer months thus far, trying to experience different mountain towns and the unique beauty in all of them. The last weekend in July was meant to be spent in Salida, a beautiful town Mike and I had spent time in a few weeks prior, but rain threatened the areas in the southern mountain ranges….no bueno! When Steamboat Springs, 3 1/2 hours North West of Denver, was offered up by our crew, we immediately boarded the train to mountain town!

Our girlfriend Stacia is a teacher, so with school still out for the summer, her and two other friends set off early on Friday to set up shop on Buff pass, an area 20 minutes or so outside of Steamboat that boasted beautiful views and dispersed camping. Score!

image
Buff pass, Steamboat Springs Colorado

 

Mike and I headed out on Friday, July 28th after work, pulling up to a pretty amazing view of the valley. These girls really knew how to scout a campsite! The area was crowded with campers, with cars rolling by our spot until late in the evening, so we thanked them profusely for reserving such a money location!

image
Taking in the views on Buff Pass, Steamboat Colorado

 

After pitching tents and cracking beers, we decided to head into town for the free concert happening in town. The Wood Brothers were playing and we rolled into the festival after a bite to eat, ready to jam out. They were amazing, soulful and poetic with beautiful guitars that mesmerized our buddy McFadden, who had rolled into town a bit later and met us at the base of the mountain where the festival took place. It was a wonderful night!

Wood Brothers, Steamboat SpringsOur Crew at the Festival!

The rest of our crew, Nicole and Dusty, rolled up to the campsite around 10, after we had settled in from the show.  The campfire welcomed them with open arms.

The morning broke and Winnie and I were up early, wanting to explore. Ok, she wanted to explore and dragged my arse out of bed. Little Scallywag! After I made some coffee though, I was extremely pleased with the quiet morning that I was privy to, and we explored the area together, wandering through the wildflowers and down the Buff Trail. What a gift to be here in this beauty!

image
Winnie and I exploring Buff Pass Trail

Wildflowers in Steamboat Colorado

The rest of the campers began to stir, so Winnie and I headed back to camp to start breakfast and decide the plan for the day. The boys (Dusty, Mike and McFadden) wanted to mountain bike, so the ladies decided to head out for a hike. But first, campfires and guitar solos…

Breakfast scramble: peppers, tofu, hashbrowns & veggie sausage!
Breakfast Scramble: Peppers, tofu, hash browns & veggie sausage!

image

What a lovely, relaxed morning. Really, this is what the mornings on weekends should entail….great friends, beautiful views, exploring, soft guitar music strummed by McFadden, scrumptious breakfast!

But alas, it was time to make moves, so the guys headed out on bikes, the girls to the hills, with a plan to meet in town later. Two cars were driven down from the Buff, so guys had the luxury of taking the buff pass trail all the way into town. What service we provide!

The ladies headed to a popular spot, Fish Creek Falls, and when the parking lot was completely full, we had to make a game time decision to hike elsewhere. When in Steamboat in the summer, hike up the damn mountain!

image

We parked & headed up to a glorious trail with a bit of everything: uphill climbs, aspen groves, great views and buena vistas, shots of the gondolas, shady groves to protect us from the beating sun….a great little 5 mile out and back trail that left us sweaty and satisfied.

image
Hiking in Steamboat!
image
Views of Steamboat
image
Gondolas in Steamboat

Heading down the hill was a bit rough on my knee (since the ACL injury, I’ve had a tough time hiking, but trying to push it!) but we made it down and heard from the guys just as we got to the car. Perfect timing! They were headed into town for post post-biking beers, and our group was just as thirsty from the climb, so we headed into town.

The town of Steamboat sat right on the edge of the Yampa river, a beautiful backdrop to have lunch. The group decided on Sweet Pea Restaurant, the cutest little farm to table spot ya ever did see. Happy hour beers flowed, veggie goodness was ordered and we chowed down after a day of adventure!

image
Steamboat crew!

 

Steamboats’ Strawberry hot springs were calling our name, but before we headed to steam, we popped into Sunpie’s Bistro, a super heady lunch spot right along the river. A perfect ending to our mountain activity.

Next stop: Strawberry Hot Springs! We soaked, we steamed, we waited in line quite a bit to get in and drank some tailgate beers. It was fabulous and such a relaxing afternoon. Heading back to the campsite that evening, we sang Kenny Loggins into the night.

The next day, we mountain biked our hearts out – Stacia and I heading down an easier trail, while the boys headed out for the harder one.

Flowing through aspens, gorgeous scenery, wildflowers, I had a smile plastered on my face for the whole downhill. Until I popped a tire….and didn’t have a spare tube. Huge lesson learned to never leave on a Colorado adventure without extra supplies!

A kind man and wife team stopped close to the entrance to the trail to lend me a tube, just in time to see Mike ride up from town with a fresh  tube to give back to the man.

Steamboat Gang

Kindness is all over the mountains. After a quick lunch, we headed on our way home, with lots of memories tucked away.

Happy Re-Thinking

I’ve been listening to a number of podcasts lately that have inspired me beyond the normal amount a podcast usually affects me and radically changed the way I’ve looked at a few things in my life. So much so, I was inspired to write about them, because I truly feel like they could be of use to someone, hopefully help someone reframe the way they view things that they may of thought stressful or negative. It’s hard to reframe something you’ve had boxed up, or hell, haven’t even thought about before.

These people I’m mentioning are great minds, out-of-the box thinkers and unconventional doers. And isn’t that what we’re all striving for? At least, I know I am. To be someone that can truly state they’ve taken the path that has beckoned them, a path they have mindfully chosen, or made the best of, instead of the path that someone else led them down, or even worse, a path they have no idea how they ended up on.

Paula Pant interviewed Nomadic Mat, a man who’s been traveling the world for the past 13 years. He doesn’t have a ‘home’ base and his story is unique, as in he used to be in the corporate grind with the rest of us, but decided to take a year, and travel. Well, that year turned into almost two and when he came back, he realized he wanted to continue. Mike and I love to travel, and within the past seven years we’ve explored Costa Rica (2012), Amalfi Coast & Naples (2013), Vieques (2014), Ireland (2015), Belize (2016), Portugal (2018) and Chamonix & Lyon, France (2019. The thought and idea of traveling more appeals to me, so loved how the conversation unfolded and here are a few things that wowed me:

  • Think about your day-to-day spending in terms of how it affects your ability to travel (of whatever your ‘IT’ thing is). Want to go to that concert? That may be ½ of a plane ticket. Going out a few times a week to restaurants, where lots of craft beer is consumed? The equivalent could get you a week in an Airbnb in Portugal. When you start putting a price tag on your NOW, you start reframing where you’re putting your dollars and the value you start placing on what you really want. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy yourself, it just may alter some things. Have some friends over who can jam. Pick a new recipe to cook and drink some craft beer in the backyard.
  • Travel slow. This concept resonates with me and is how Mike and I typically travel. As much as I’d like to see absolutely everything, every nook and cranny, every part of a new place, that’s not only not reasonable in the allotted vacation time I get, but it’s not enjoyable. Being able to explore one area thoroughly is a true gift. For example, when we went to Portugal, we spent 3 full days, in the off-season, in a small beach town where we hiked a portion of the Rota Vicentina. There really wasn’t much open, a few great cafes, but not a lot of night action at first glance. Looking back though, we did a ton! Hiked all day, went to a local market to shop like locals, visited several different cafes, went to a vegan friendly lunch joint, meandered through the sleepy town, watched the sunset on the beach…..we enjoyed the slowness.

Tim Ferris interviewed Seth Godin and it was one of the best interviews I’ve listened to, maybe ever. He was insightful, humble, truthful, blunt (in a non-abrasive way), real, but in a ‘you’re way cooler than me’ kind of way….if you know anything about Mr. Godin, this isn’t surprising. What he made me think about though is how we approach things and how we present things. A few things that stood out from the interview:

  • You have more power than you think you do. This. This all day every day. The control is within. Stop searching elsewhere, stop relinquishing. Make a decision, even if it is to take a deep breath and go a different way. Having a crap day? Choose to be in a good mood. Having an argument with your husband or wife? Take it upon yourself to let them have it and move on. Ready to blow a gasket at work? You have the control to let it affect you the rest of the day or remind yourself it’s just a job. This is something I’ve embraced in the past few years, although I’m still a work in progress.
  • Scrolling mindlessly on Social Media isn’t conducive to your end goal and not aligning to your mission. This struck a chord and lately I’ve been extremely mindful on how much time I spend on Twitter and Instagram (I deleted Facebook off my phone six months ago). If I find myself mindlessly scrolling, I realize it’s most likely due to boredom or the need to distract myself, so have tried to replace this with the statement ‘Go do something productive.’ Whether that’s taking the dogs for a quick walk, putting dishes in the sink, anything that HAS to be done. Because social media isn’t something that has to be done for me.
  •  Methods and tools don’t matter as much as the ritual of doing. What time of day you write or workout, what apps you use to be productive, what kind of pencil you use. These things are distractions and will be different for everyone. Just start. If you want to workout, do so when it works for you. But do it. Do not let a ‘method’ or having to do so in just the right way get in the way of putting the time in to actually get your physical activity on.

I’ve recently gotten interested in Ramit Sethi, author of ‘I will teach you to be rich’. At first glance, some of the principles he talks to are diametrically opposed to some of my core beliefs. For example, he tweets a lot about forgoing on lattes isn’t going to make you rich. He also advertises the luxurious clothes, shoes, vacations, he has, which from first glance looks unnecessary to someone who is trying to retire early or think different about money. Listening to a recent Tim Ferris podcast, I’ve changed my tune. Here are some of the nuggets I really took away:

  • Define yourself by what you want, not what you don’t want. This speaks to the core of how I try to live – focus on the positive, move forward with purpose, fill your life with things that have meaning and bring you joy. Stop thinking about things you don’t like, things you WILL NEVER do again, things you CAN’T do. And really think about the former. What DO you want?
  • Spend more money on things that bring you joy, and cut back elsewhere. From someone who lives frugally, with savings on my mind, ummmm always, this is a novel concept. If I’m slicing back in areas that don’t bring me that much meaning or happiness makes total sense. What I’ve never thought about is putting a bit more money into those things that I love or at least shifting my mindset that when I do spend money on those things, it’s a good thing. I’m going to try to do more of this, mindfully.
  • Identify on a scale from 1 to ten, identify with your partner the things you absolutely love doing around the home (or at least don’t mind doing) and the things you hate. Divide these things up and never think about having to ask the other person to do, again. This is brilliant. If you have a serious conversation with your partner, and are honest with yourself, you can stop wasting energy on keeping score of household bullsh*t. There’s no resentment, there’s no, ‘But I do X,Y, & Z….what are YOU doing!!!???’ Maybe you don’t have that problem……but when it’s discussed and assigned, it’s not a problem. Full disclosure, Mike and I had this conversation and it was actually fun….and it brought light to some things he was doing that I, when I was honest, didn’t really want or like to do.
  • Create and strive for a Rich Life. Now, initially this concept didn’t sit well with me, because I truly think there is a consumerism plague that has infiltrated and needs to stop. But as I learned more about Ramit’s philosophy, I realized he’s not advocating for you to blow your money on designer brands (unless you love them). He’s simply asking people to think money differently, as the vehicle that allows you to have joy. Whatever joy is for you. And it’s different for everyone, so this has reminded me to stop being judgmental of those who choose to spend money in different ways than I.

Finding motivation, different ways intelligent people  look at things truly excites me. Discovering ways to become a better version of myself, well that is hopefully a lifelong journey. I hope you find the above helpful and would love to hear other podcasts or people that dish out happy thoughts and insightful ways to look at things.

Happy Homes: 40 days on Dudley Court

39 days into Happy Homes’s (our real-estate investment company) 6th fix n flip property & we took the weekend off on an impromptu camping trip to go play in the mountains. The first few weeks were spent on window demo and lots of cleanup, and it’s been a productive few weeks, with Mike tackling some big hurdles. Here’s the break down of what we’ve done over the past two weeks….

  • We got the HVAC Bid: $7,800. Mike has had the same guy work on the past several houses we’ve flipped and he’s good. Really fair & trustworthy.

  • Removed the kitchen walls & built a beam system. This required engineering sign off (we used DL engineering who were amazing!) Mike building temp walls, pouring concrete pads to carry the load (I personally mixed 1280 lbs of concert & carried about 6 80lb bags down into the basement). This took us several hours on July 5th, my day off, and it was hard, dirty work. But so glad I was there to help!

  • Had another electrician out. This first bid we got was $17k – wayyyy too high, so Mike contacted someone who is a good friend of a good friend. We’re still waiting, but will most like be a lot lower and will need to get him started.

  • Plumber started work. There’s not a bid here. We trust the guy who’s doing the work (has worked on several other properties & does great work for a fair price).

  • Removed all doors & door frames (9) from the house. I took on this and managed to complete it in about two hours total (between multiple days)

  • Removed the flue work from the wood burning stove & the old furnace and water heater. The wood burning stove flue was attached from the master all the way to the basement, so Mike had to finagle it until it broke loose. The furnace & water heater was more complicated, as they are both located in the crawl space. He ended up cutting that out with a grinding wheel.

  • Sold the washer & dryer. They were like new and we didn’t need them – we got $450 for them. A great deal for them & a bonus for us!

  • Sold the scrap aluminum. Having gut 14 metal windows, we wanted to see if it would be worth it to scrap it for money. So, we ended up getting about $90 from the windows & doors, plus the two ladders left at the property. 100% worth it seeing as we would have had to dump this ourselves.

  • Negotiated & purchased a new stove for $539. A screaming deal for the stove we purchased! Mike saw it as a return at Lowe’s & asked if they’d knock $100 off. And they did! The lesson: the answer is always No if you don’t ask.

  • Bought 8 flush mount light fixtures, faucet hardware for all of the bathrooms, bought the kitchen sink & faucet, and two vanities for the two bedrooms. All of this came to just over $2k – a great deal for really nice finishes.
  • Filled up a third dumpster. The attic is empty and 95% of the shed is cleaned out. That is a huge load off considering how much stuff the previous owners left.
  • Mike patched and laid the subfloor. When we removed the wet bed tile, there wasn’t any, so had to lay new. Some areas got cut when the beam system was built (needed to build supports that would run down into the crawl space).

Quite a bit has been accomplished, much due to the fact that we worked July 4th holiday, taking advantage of the days I had off to help, and working late into the evenings on a few weeknights and Fridays. I don’t consider giving up that time as a sacrifice; I consider it a privilege.  To work towards something I helped create, to sweat and literally bleed for my own company, well that is truly something I am grateful I’m able to contribute to.

Our mountain weekend has been wonderful & Monday greets us full of possibility. Happy week!