2019: One Hell of a Year!

With little less than three weeks to go in 2019, I’ve finally carved out some time to sit and reflect on the year. Now, I’ve started the below account of each month’s comings and goings several months ago, while on planes, recounting the past 11 months. It goes by quickly, doesn’t it?

My financial group, Money Minded Mavens, just met, as we do on a monthly basis, to reflect back on the year, recall how and if we accomplished our goals, or missed the mark, what trends we saw throughout the year, and to prepare for a new set of goals for a new year. It’s a beautiful exercise for anyone: What did I accomplish this past year? Did I hit my goals? What trends did I notice…..and so on. I’ll dive into all of that in my 2020 Goals blog. But for this one, well, it’s been one hell of a year, full of adventures in foreign lands, ski trips, business lessons, work travel, mindset adjustments, mountain towns and mountain bike trails and lots of adventures in the outdoors!

January

The New Year was brought in the most spectacular way…in a mountain town, after a day of skiing the backcountry, with great friends. Mike, Dusty, Holly and I headed to Steamboat for some backcountry and resort fun, mixed in with mountain town shenanigans.

Rang in the New Year in Steamboat!

It was awesome and a great way to start the year. Money Minded Mavens had our first outing in Denver, where of course we went to happy hour. Our investment property, Chase, still hadn’t sold, so we were going back and forth between our house and that property, short term renting it.to cover holding costs. I traveled to Horsham, PA at the end of the month to meet yet another new boss, won an award for going above and beyond for the team. While in my old home state, I got the sad news my Aunt Chrisy had passed away. It was devastating news, but I had so many beautiful memories. Then I headed to Jackson Hole for an epic ski trip.

February

A new month, a new adventure! I flew into Jackson hole February 1 for a long weekend with my ski crew in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Twelve of our closest friends crammed into a ski condo in Wilson, where we apres’ed at the Mangy Moose, skied deep deep powder, and had a grand old time.

Jackson Hole Crew

A few days after J-Hole, I headed to Orlando for a healthcare conference, and cut my time there short to head to Miami for my Aunt Chrissy’s life celebration, where my aunts, sister, mom and uncles gathered for several days to bask in the memories she left us.

Remembering Aunt Chrisy

Later in February me and my girls’ headed to Eldora for a fun-filled day of downhill & bloodies and we closed the month out by jumping on a plane and heading to France.

 

 

March

March came roaring in with us jumping on a plane and heading to Lyons France for the most epic 10 day European vacation of my life!

Wine Tasting, Lyons France

Mike, Dusty, Holly and I jet-set on a plane, train and got picked up in a van to spend a few days in the French countryside eating cheese and going to wine tasting, then shot to Chamonix for an amazing ski adventure.

Chamonix France

Our friend Kieran turned 40 and we were all there to pop the huge vats of champagne.

Chamonix France Crew

Plus, while we were there, our investment property, Chase, got under contract! We returned to beautiful Colorado and dad visited for some Eldora skiing then I shot to California for a Marketing meeting.

Taos Crew

The end of March, our ski crew shot to Taos, where we climbed Kachina peak, drank big steins, and danced the night away in the St. Bernard. Another great ski trip to close out the month. And the most exciting part of the trip was going under contract on our 6th investment property. March sure went in like a lion and out like a lamb.

 

 

 

April

April brought mild weather and the close on our Chase property. Whoo Hoo! Comedy night at breweries, hikes and beers, dinner with friends and a trip to Fort Wayne, Indiana to party with my high school girls. Pottsy had moved to the mid-west and when we all started chatting about a girls trip, we thought what better way to hang with each other, plus see Pottsy’s new digs.

My GIrls in Fort Wayne!

We did the town up, dinning at the finest Fort Wayne restaurants, booging down at the towns’ hot spots, and laughed our butts off. Directly after our reunion, I flew to Arizona for a Sales Meeting, then headed home to finish the month with family dinners, hikes with Winnie, ballet recitals….and ended the month at Loveland, ski resort for a pretty fun day of powder skiing and hiking to the steeps.

 

 

 

 

 

May

Garden season arrived and Mike planted lots of green goodies. I climbed on my mountain bike for a huge ride in Buff Creek, which would jump start a great mountain biking season. I spent a ton of time in the kitchen this month and was able to be the care taker for mom during her eye surgery (cataracts). She was a great patient!

Happy Mother’s Day!

The rest of the month included more hikes with beers, niece’s chorus concert, mother’s day with my momma. And on May 20 I headed out with Mike for some off-season spring uphill skiing at Loveland, where we skinned up the mountain.

This is why I love Colorado! Lots of hikes (Mt. Falcon), Frisbee Golf, and biking to Joyride Brewery for happy hour. The end of the month brought biking with our bike gang in Littleton, harvesting our Arugula and kale, and a Brewery Concert with Mary and The Weber Brothers.

June

Summer arrived, but I wasn’t ready to put my skis away. On June 2, Mike and I headed up to Mt. Bierstadt for the latest ski day and earliest 14’er climb I’ve ever done. A grueling uphill climb, with some boot pack up near the summit. The steep sections, with icy spring slush was really challenging and at one point I even had to take my skis to maneuver up.

Mt Bierstadt Views

It was a magnificent day and I was incredibly proud of myself. That same day, Mike and I headed to meet our cousin’s new baby, Harper. A big day!

Our 6th Investment Property!!!

On June 6th, we purchased our 6th investment property.  The layout, awful. The bathrooms had carpet. The attic was full to the brim of the past owner’s stuff. We couldn’t wait to dig in! Two days later, Mike headed to a bachelor party and I started demo….ripping carpet, filling dumpsters, clearing out cabinets….then headed to a street festival with the crew to listen to some live music and drink some craft beers.

Demo!!

Mid-June really brought the nice weather, so hiking and early morning mountain bike rides at Green mountain abound. Mike, Hayden and I decided to take a last minute road trip to Fruita, one of the Mountain Biking meccas.

Fruita Hills

We ended up camping at Road 18, right near amazing trails. Although it was extremely warm by mid-afternoon, the early morning rides were epic! Super flowy flows, a few steep climbs, and huge downhills (some I actually had to walk down). It was such a fun weekend, filled with great trails, beer, and Coloradical goodness. Back home, we dug deep into demoing the new investment, kept our early morning mountain bike rides up, pedaling by 6am, and I headed to Crestone with my girls, for a camping weekend full of river baths, hiking, and beautiful mountain backdrops.

Crestone Camping Gals!

Amelia, Stacia, Amy, Amy, and Aurora headed to the heady town of Crestone to camp at the base of N. Crestone Trail, a campsite right along the river. The weekend was full of lady love, champagne chilled in the river, puppy shenanigans (yes, Winnie came!) and campsite games. We even headed out into the small town of Crestone for some post-hike beers and grub at the Crestone Brewery. Stacia and I headed hiking on the way back to Denver, a beautiful trail near Salida.

Wyoming Camping Crew

End of the month, we headed to Wyoming for some Mountain Biking and camping with the crew.  We had a huge gang staying at Vedauwoo campground, which had a great trail for hiking or biking right from our camp ground.

 

 

 

 

July

July came and so did the heat. Record temperatures hit Colorado, but we kept on keeping on. Our investment property was in full swing and we worked most of the July 4th holiday weekend.

July 4th Demo!

What a way to celebrate our freedom by working on our Happy Homes business. Bike gang headed up to Granby for a weekend in July, to beat the heat and get some pedaling in. The kitchen layout was selected for our investment property and it was exciting to see the project taking shape. July’s big happening brought our South Carolina family out to the mountains, where we headed to Breckenridge for a week long family vacation.

Uncle Mike & Nora!

We swam, hiked to trolls, watched movies, rode gondolas, swam and slid down water slides, mountain biked, drank delicious beer, and rode chair lifts up to climb up Peak 8.

 

Troll Hikes!

It was a wonderful family vacation with our South Carolina family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August

August came and the investment progress continued….new windows, new drains in the backyard which lead to new landscaping and a whole lot of money! A work trip took me east, to Lewes Deleware, where I got to spend time with one of my oldest and dearest friends and her mini. I hadn’t swam in the actual ocean for quite some time, so it was a wonderful trip! Came back to work more on our Happy Homes investment property and also cooked a ton.

Next stop Lower Goose Island!
Maine Sunsets

The end of the month took us to my beloved Maine, where we’d spend a whole week enjoying Lower Goose Island. Kayaking around Casco Bay, having lobster, closing up camp for the winter, and enjoying time with family. Maine is truly the way life should be!

 

September

We celebrated our anniversary, September 4th, 3 years married, at our investment property, painting and working together. I truly have seen the way we work best and that’s when we’re both contributing to goals that move us forward.

Dudley coming together

Our investment property started coming together in big ways this month, with finishes happening, landscaping being complete and trim abound.

Dudley Investment comin’ along!

Paint, tile, more paint and lots of cleanup for me! Unfortunately, we had some vandalism happen to a window – a surface puncture and no other damage – and had to replace it. Mike headed to Wisconsin with a friend for a week long football extravaganza (horrible timing with our investment property not being done) so I hiked with friends (aimed for James’ Peak but it was uber windy, so only made it around St Mary’s Glacier) and looked after the investment, buying lighting fixtures, watering the grass, checking in on the tradesmen.

Dudley Painted!

I headed to Longmont to celebrate my mom’s birthday with some fun hiking and homemade ravioli. Mike got back and wrapped up the house (after lots of stressful moments moving in staging furniture and frantically trying to finish to get it on Dudley St. on the market!)

 

October

With our investment property finally listed, we could breathe a bit…and so we did, heavily, on bikes! A few rides in Lyons and Golden had our lungs burning this month!

Heil Bike Gang!

Our bike gang was out in full force and we hit up North Table, Heil Ranch, and Buff Creek. Quite a bit on the saddle! For an early birthday present, my mom got me a guitar, so I signed up for lessons, walked to them, and practiced quite a bit. Mike’s mom and our niece Nora came out to visit in October, right before my sister-in-law had her third baby.

Uncle Mike & Nora

Boy did we have fun exploring Arvada, having an adventure at the Children’s museum and walking miss Winnie. I had to head to Atlanta for work at the end of October, interrupting the last day with family.  A few days, a few presentations, and back home for my annual  plant-based soup swap! A fun beer tasting, then on to Moab for a gorgeous weekend to celebrate Halloween, ring in my 39th birthday, and celebrate two close friends’ 40th birthdays. And do some bad ass mountain biking!

 

 

 

 

November

I turned 39 in the beautiful dessert, surrounded by great friends. Really couldn’t have asked for a better birthday!

Moab Bike Gang!

Mike even rented me a bad ass bike, in which I felt truly invincible and was able to do some of the most confident riding of my life. We hit up the Sovereign Trails,Horse Thief, and a few of us ran Arches National Park on the last day, which was the coolest trail run I have ever done in my life!

Trail run in Arches

An amazing birthday indeed. A niece’s chorus concert, an offer on our investment property, and a trip to Orlando for my company’s user group meeting. Back home for Friendsgiving, selling a house, buying a house (on the same day!!!) and lots of demo!! Even got to ski before thanksgiving with the crew at Eldora, an adventure of a day.

Friendsgiving!

Thanksgiving brought my dad out to visit and spend the holiday, a really beautiful visit with snowy lake walks, great food, glow in the dark gulf, and lots of family time.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

December

The last month of the year has been a sad one. My Grandma passed away, a blessing really, as she had been in hospice for the past two years, and our old bulldog Haley’s health is going downhill quickly. Mike and I have made the really hard decision to schedule her time to pass on. On a fun note, we celebrated our friend’s 30th birthday by heading to Winter Park. I spent the morning today at our investment property, cleaning up debris. I love working hard on our business, putting in hours working towards goals that will eventually allow us to have passive income. It truly is a privilege to spend my weekends on these efforts.

 

With only a few weeks left, I’m continuing to reflect on the amazing, hard, adventurous year I’ve had and to prep myself for big things I have planned for 2020. I hope you’ve had an amazing year, full of meaningful things, friend and family. Cheers to next year’s bounty!

Re-Think, Re-Build & Re-Align – Reflections of 2018

This year has flown by so fast it’s been hard to recall what has happened, so much so that I found myself scrolling through pictures to jog my memory. And holy cow it’s been  marathon of a year! Personally, professionally, financially, socially, internationally…..every realm of life got majorly massaged by the events of 2018.

I’m writing this with a few precious days left in the year, having recalled most of the events on a plane ride in early December & am wrapping it up on the eve of my dad vising for the annual Nutcracker ballet my niece is in. This year has been much like this piece meal of a blog post – taking things as they come, sometimes with patience, often day by day, handling things with what I like to think as a practical mindset. I’ve had to rethink a lot of things, readjusting how I react and take things in. It was a year of rebuilding and realigning (or trying to!)  A few key phrases come to mind when recalling the year:

Do not stress about things you can not control.

If you make smart decisions and are willing to work your ass off, you will most likely, eventually, figure it out.

Healthy is the most important thing and having a healthy mind is as important as a healthy body.

Work life balance is essential and if you don’t have it, seek it out.

You must put in the work to get the desired outcome.

And so, I look back on 2018….in preparation for 2019….

January started with a whirlwind – three work trips (to PA for a Market Manager regroup, then to Atlanta for a Care Coordination Summit, then to Irvine for a messaging workshop). Our ski condo was in full force as well (after a slow start to the winter, thinking we wouldn’t get a condo cause there weren’t any reasonably priced we could find, then the property management company letting us know they were holding it for us….whhhhaaaa??), so weekends were spent with the gang.

We even had a January girls’ ski weekend while the dirty boys went to Jackson Hole.

February opened with an amazing trip down to Telluride with the Downingtown crew – the first time Mike and I had visited the amazing town. Unfortunately, the snow wasn’t cooperative and the mountain wasn’t as lush with snow as we would have liked (although I was only 9 months post ACL surgery, so it was definitely a recovery year)…

…but we did get to witness an Eagles Superbowl, so pretty amazing trip!

March came in like a lion, with work trips to Vegas for the HIMSS tradeshow, a work trip to Philadelphia at the end of March for an all hands Marketing meeting (that landed us in a blizzard!). I also put for an #eatplants challenge – where I posted recipes, tips on living the plant-based lifestyle. Our investment property, Chase St, finally started to move, with foundation work, reinforcement for the second story (we were adding 1,000 square feet to the existing footprint!) and demo city.

Dad came to visit, visiting the investment property carnage, and we went to Hops & Handrails, a craft beer/heady snowboarding/skiing event in Longmont – very Coloradical.

St. Patty’s Day came and to Aspen we went! Green mimosas, shot skis and Apres was enjoyed by all! Climbing up to the Highland Bowl was a highlight for sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April arrived with new birth, literally, and we headed to Charleston to visit our beautiful niece Charlotte Michael in Charleston. I ended up cooking lots of plant-based goodness for the family to enjoy during our stay and beyond.

Chase St really started coming together – and we saw the second story, stairs, a roof, siding, and windows went up and on our investment property. The progress was amazing, with Mike working his beard off.

 

Our ski gang headed to the Skinner hut for a backcountry ski weekend extravaganza – that ended up being a weekend we all won’t ever forget. We all experienced sweat, tears, fear, joy, laughter and breathtaking beauty. An amazing adventure.

Mid-April carried me to Nashville for some more work travel, to Nashville, and I was able to spend some time with my team and actually see my fabulous cousin and her baby Max.

May brought more work travel, with a trip to palm beach for our National Sales Meeting. A trip to Canon City kicked off summer – with mountain biking, fireside chats, friends and sunsets. The best way to kick off summer, really.

Sideing, stucco, installation, electric and yard work happened at Chase and the house was really coming along!

And then it was summer! June was full of concerts (Beet Box & Mottet and Avette Brothers at Red Rocks) LCUG (our Large Client User Group meeting in Chicago) and Telluride Bluegrass Festival – the most amazing Colorado weekend I’ve had to date!

Our professional gig was moving right along as well…The interior of our investment property came together with drywall going up, tile going down, and floors being laid. It was really amazing to see the progress once things were rockin’ & rollin!

 

 

 

 

 

Our garden was also in full swing and summer evenings were often spent on our beautiful patio, al fresco, with friends, good food and beautiful Colorado sunsets.

In July, we headed to our beloved Maine with the family – eating lobster, enjoying sunsets, swimming in Castco Bay and enjoying the way life should be…..simple and beautiful. It made us realize how much this beloved island, that had been in my blood, in my family for almost 100 years, meant to us and we vowed to make it up every year.

We spent many nights and weekends plugging along at the investment property, laying tile, picking out granite, putting together the kitchen, cleaning out basements, wood scraps, and being Mike’s helper.

Biking in Breckenridge was a July highlight – where the Peak Trail carried us flowingly through the mountains and we finished the weekend on the Green Mountain Reservoir.

A huge group of us hunkered down, floated in tubes, and enjoyed the Colorado beauty we were lucky enough to experience every weekend. And finally our Conshy house got a new tenant – so we had to go through the process of signing eases, coordinating credit checks, and managing house tours. Thank goodness for Mike’s Mom – who before moving to Charleston was able to help with all logistics!

In August, we put the final touches on our investment property, staged it, and put it on the market! This project, this amazing creation Mike had orchestrated, that we both had poured our hearts, souls, blood, sweat, tears, money (and money, and money) into…..had turned out to be the most pivotal experience, both professionally, emotionally, and personally, of my life. Never has a project taught me so much, thrown so much at me, tested us in so many ways. As I reflect on the accomplishment, the sheer beauty of the past year of work that went into making this what it is today, I am overwhelmed with emotion. It is hard to put the experience into words, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  A work trip brought me to Atlanta, and I was lucky enough to have the chance to bring my mom! My uncle, her brother, lives in Atlanta so we were able to see cousins and spend some quality time with our southern family.

The end of August was filled with mountain biking and celebration. Our gang flooded Poudre Canyon, of which we had visited last summer, to celebrate a 40th birthday.

The Mishawaka held a Nahko & the Medicine People concert, we soaked our feet in the beautiful river, and biked a wicked hard trail (that was absolutely gorgeous!). A wonderful way to officially close out summer.

September we celebrated! Celebrating our two year wedding anniversary in true Colorado fashion, we hiked and drank good beer, enjoying the life we had made together, the simplicity and beauty of where we are and how we got here. Mike also turned 40 – and after a quick work trip to Sand Diego (a marketing leadership meeting) we celebrated in true Colorado fashion…..good beer, a Chuggers show (a band of myself and two buddies….we are three Colorado misfits, who rock hard, and chug harder), and lots of Mike Smith stories.

 

His mom and sister even came out with the babies – and we got to enjoy some time in the mountains, zoo, and local flavor.

More biking (Alderfer/Three sisters), hiking & a trip to Steamboat, where our bike gang kicked ass and took names while peeping’ the Aspens’ fall beauty.

One of the major highlights of the year happened in October: Our trip to Portugal! I won’t go into much detail (because I did blog almost daily) but the trip was amazing and truly was one of the best trips we have been on! 10 days of amazing food, hiking, history, culture, weather, beaches, kayaking, relaxing.

We came back refreshed and ready to make some hard decisions on our investment property. August & September hadn’t brought much activity, so we decided to pull the listing, outfit the home with bought furniture, and short term rent it on Airbnb to cover our costs. Wanting to get the most bang for our buck (and cover the overhead costs that we had!) we decided to rent our house for short term rental at the same time. A stressful few weeks of preparing both homes for rent…..but another decision that moved our business, Happy Homes, Ltd, forward. We spent our first night at the investment property, living there as our home had rented for the weekend, and we were off to the short-term-rental races!

A few girlfriends of mine also started a hiking club, where we’d go out once a week and hike a local trail, in addition to a Money Minded Mavens group – where we discussed the path to Financial Freedom, opened up the floor to what we want to achieve in life, and share resources, podcasts and articles on how to get there. A whole new crew to share my extraordinarily frugal mindset and opinions with!

And holy cow, there’s only two more months in 2018! November arrived and so did my 38th birthday. I decided I wanted a bike gang birthday…..of which friends would hop on their bikes, go from bar to bar together drinking craft beer, and end the night with a Beetles cover band. On my actual birthday, I also hiked with my girls’ hiking club (a once a week hike all over the front range) and ended at one of my favorite breweries, New Terrain. Both events were amazing – full of some of the best friends’, doing my favorite things – truly one of the best birthdays ever. Mid-November brought me back to Nashville, where our annual User Group Meeting was held. A few events at the conference set off a domino effect that has ultimately added multitudes of stress, change, and has forced hard decisions to be considered. Thank goodness I live in a place with a beautiful escape….and the early snow allowed for a pre-thanksgiving weekend skiing in the mountains.

Thanksgiving came at the exact perfect time – a reset in gratitude, family gatherings, a remembrance of what is truly important in life….health, family, nature, giving, love and being present.  A pre-gathering hike, gender reveal party, and a plant-based feast allowed for a wonderful holiday.The enormous amount of anxiety, change, and re-alignment that my professional life has undergone has caused restless nights, a kidney infection (partially my own fault for ignoring and pushing off the symptoms due to the amount of work I felt I needed to prioritize over making an appointment to check-in on my health) and a few breakdowns. A month of lessons for sure – it’s truly made me re-evaluate things.

The last month of the year is almost over….and there is no slowing down in sight. My 4th annual Plant-Based Soup Swap finally happened – a bit later in the year then normal, but still the most successful yet! There were 10 beautiful souls gathered with homemade soup to share….a hit for sure! I headed to PA for a Market Manager – Solution team meeting, where more changes, workload shifts, and priorities have surfaced. Dusty had an ugly sweater Christmas Party, which put us in the holiday mood, and we skied and skinned our hearts out in Mary Jane and Dry Gulch (I’ve already hit the slopes 7 times!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later this month we head to South Carolina to celebrate Christmas with Mike’s family and I’m truly looking forward to spending time with family, re-charging, and setting intentions for the coming year.  I have a list of items I hope to accomplish during this time that will propel me forward, into the new I am thankful for all the beautiful friends, events, travel, new experiences, hardships, struggles, lessons and love that 2018 has had. I’ve traditionally looked forward in past blogs (here is my 2017 post and 2016 post ) but I’m not exactly ready to do so yet. I need to be intentional about what I want in 2019, realistic. Set SMART goals that I have thought through, have check-points in place to hold myself accountable to. Set up a plan, and a timetable on where I want to be and when. I have this on my Christmas list.

Cheers to the end of the year – a good one indeed – and let 2019 be absolutely amazing…..more to come on my intentions!

And DANG I Traveled A Lot!

Telluride (twice actually, in February and June!)
Vegas (March)
Philadelphia (4 trips!)
Aspen
Charleston
April
Palm Beach FLA
Chicago
Maine
San Diego
Steamboat (for MTB)
Portugal

 

Telluride Bluegrass Festival

Everyone knows the John Muir quote ‘The mountains are calling and I must go’ – especially if you live in Colorado. This year marks the 45th year of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, where the gorgeous San Juans are the back drop for a 4 day music festival with Bluegrass legends, camping and all the outdoor adventure you want. And we answered the call.

Our amazing crew has been true festivarians for years, knowing the ins and outs of navigating the festival and we were lucky enough to be included in the gang. Mike actually got a gig working backstage security, a paying gig where he’d work a 6-8 hour shift everyday/night and in return get two meals a day, a free camping & festival ticket, and $400. It was a no brainer! Planning started months before the actual event so we knew what to pack, although there’s nothing that actually prepares you for the amazingness that is the Telluride Bluegrass fest, especially the way Whitney (Queen B of camp TC) does it.

Our caravan headed out of Arvada late morning on Wednesday June 20, packing Mike’s F250 to the gills. Our girlfriends, Stacia & Anna, carpooled with us, making the 6 hour ride super fun, with car games galore! We stopped at Eddyline, in Buena Vista to break up the trip & grab some delicious lunch and beer. A citra IPA & quinoa salad hit the spot!

Telluride welcomed us around 5:45pm, the perfect lighting to unload. Our site was in Warner field, a converted baseball field that would serve as home base for the next four days. Navigating to left field with loaded wagons and wheel barrels, we shuffled back and forth unloading all the gear, food & booze. The views were absolutely amazing…We had arrived! Whitney, Dusty & Kelly had taken the gondola to mountain village for a free Little Smokies show, so we grabbed brews and set up our camp. The compound the early crew had assembled was nothing short of phenomenal. Complete with a kitchen, cooler tent, multiple hanging lights and decorative lanterns, our camp was by far the most impressive setup I had ever seen! The crew had come in early to line up at 6am Wednesday to set up shop and damn their efforts paid off! Instead of being crammed into a small patch, our compound spanned 25 by 50 feet, with 10 tents, 5 sunshades and an open space where the grills and kitchen was set up. Glamping isn’t even the right word to describe the fabulousness!

After our tents were pitched, we headed to get our wristbands (our tickets for all 4 days of camping & music) then headed to High Pie (where we had watched the Birds victory at this years super bowl). Huge pizzas were ordered, beers were drank & gratitude was felt all around for making it safe. Back at camp we found the early crew and decided to head over to Town Park, another campground that had authentic dirt, trees, rolling grounds and elaborate shanty towns set up. In a number of these were musicians strumming, picking and singing Bluegrass.

Small hippie dressed crowds gathered round to watch and sing along, creating a woodland concert. A really beautiful and unique night!

The next morning we arose early for the first tarp run. If you’ve never been to TBF, this is a foreign concept, but the seasoned veterans have it down to a science. You stand in line to receive a ticket, which gave you a spot in line later in the morning to run inside the venue to reserve your spot for that days’ lineup. The lower thre number, the better chance at reserving a good spot! Whitney had teamed up with another group to ensure we’d get the best position for the day.

This year they randomized the numbers, giving the first person in line just as much chance for a decent number as the 200th person in line. And they had 750 numbers! Once Larry (the ticket handler) arrived, the crowd arranged into a semi-straight line, we got our numbers (47 was the day’s winner!) and headed back to camp for more coffee and burritos. Whitney had made over 90 for the group (although I packed all my own plant-based food) so we munched and conversed about that day’s activity before the music.

A few of us decided to mountain bike on Telluride mountain, so headed to the gondola (which was free!) to ride up. The trail would take us all the way back to town, flowing mostly downhill. A super fun, not too technical, 11.6 mile ride, with some loose turns, rocks and roots to navigate. A wonderful way to spend the early afternoon, pre-music. Heading through town on bikes was super fun too and so convenient to be able to bike straight to camp without touching a car.

I got lunch together when we got back: Bahn Mi rice noodle bowls with homemade pickled veggies and baked tofu. Totally hit the spot! Mike had to work the 4 to 11:30 shift, so after lunch headed out while we got ready for the afternoon of music. Our campsite was a stones throw from the venue, making it extremely convenient to shuffle back and forth for more water, booze, snacks or reprieve from the music and sun.

Our tarp runners had reserved two clutch spots, one up front and a sun-shaded spot in the back, equipped with blankets, tapestries and chairs to enjoy the scene out of the Colorado sun. We had quite the hookup, courtesy of the TBG veterans in our group.

The Wood Brothers were the first set I caught that day & they did not disappoint! We saw them last summer in Steamboat for a free concert…they were awesome! I’m with Her followed, a beautiful women group with amazing harmony.

Throughout the afternoon, I’d pop over to see Mike at his post, which was at the entrance to backstage: total VIP. The crew headed back to fix some food before that evenings’ headliner Tedeschi Trucks Band…which was an amazing show! Susan has the most beautiful voice and with the lights, sky, and amazing crowd, it was truly a spectacular Day 1 of the festival.

The night was low key after the shows’ end, but some went to Town Park in search of strummin’ & pickin’. A day for the books!

Friday arrived with coffee, burritos & talk of another MTB ride. Holly, Jaime, Janine, Steve, Mike and I headed back up the gondola to headed down Village Way, to Jurassic Trail, to Meadow way. Well, while taking a loose turn, my back tire fish tailed, I braked and flew over the handlebars, scraping and bruising quite a few places on my body, including my chin, both palms, ankle, knee, inside of my elbow and upper thigh. A mess!

Shaken, but not defeated, I got back on the bike and we rode down, this time going a short ways to make it to the Telluride Brewery.

Oh sweet nectar to wash away the pain! This small brewery had over 20 beers on tap, including a kettle sour, Senor Gomez, that was absolutely thirst quenching. Thoroughly watered, we hopped on our bikes and rode the 4 miles back to town. In one of the pavilion areas we happened upon a beautiful sounding violinist. The beauty of the TBF weekend – music everywhere!

Back at Camp we decided to hit the river after our lunch, so changed into swimwear and jumped into the icy waters. Woah, it really wakes you up!

Refreshed and rejuvenated, we sunned ourselves dry & headed back to camp, where Mike changed for work, and I chilled with the crew until heading in for the Infamous Stringdusters, followed by Emmylou Harris. I headed up to the front for the legend Emmylou, who is still rocking it at 71. Back to camp for fresh libations & food before heading in to see Greensky Bluegrass- Whitney’s favorite!

Mike let me know that he’d be allowed to get 10 of us into the pit, which was the VIP section in front. So, at 10:15, a few of us were ushered to the front to watch the best act of the weekend! A total once in a lifetime experience!! We hung for awhile that evening, Mike having just gotten off his shift, then headed to bed to snuggle (it was 40 degrees out!)

Saturday was a little slower getting up, although Mike had to giddy up to work….so, Amanda and Kelly stood in line for the tarp run, Mike went to his security detail, and I hung in camp and drank coffee!  Afterwards, I headed into the venue, our co-team lugged in a couch & we all hung to listen to the tunes. The weather was phenomenal!

A few took a short hike up to some small waterfalls – so I joined, thinking I’d save my energy for the Via Ferrata we were planning to do later (unfortunately, we didn’t end up going, dang it!). That left me sleepy, so I headed back to the compound and laid about….in our amazing spread of a camp! The crew came back to grub, Mike got off work (although he went back to the VIP area to eat dinner, which was apparently gourmet, and he completely rubbed it in!) then we all headed back into the venue until about 8ish, when we headed back to give our girl Nicole a surprise birthday celebration.

She was ringing in her 30th, a new decade, in one of the most beautiful towns, with one of the coolest crews (ok I’m biased). A really remarkable night for a remarkable girl! We had some brownie cake then headed into the front row for Leftover Salmon – which Mike was able to get us dead center yet again. It’s good to know people with orange hats. The night was incredible!

Sunday morning was even slower than Saturday, as you can imagine after 3 days of bluegrass, early mornings, late nights, camping shenanigans and fumanchoos (don’t ask!). My girl Stacia and I headed to hike Bear Creek falls, a beautiful 5.6 mile hike to a waterfall, steep without being unbearable, and just enough to get the heart pumping, sweat dripping, landing us in one of the most beautiful valleys in Colorado just gorgeous!

Mike, Dusty, Jaime, Holly and a few others biked the same trails I ate it on….and all met back at camp, where another river bath ensued. Mike then left for work and I, beat with happiness, hung back at camp. I only made it in for a bit that evening, knowing we’d have to leave uber early, but with a happy, full heart. Monday morning we hit the road to reality….leaving one of the best festivals, best weekends, best feelings I’ve gotten from a group of people gathering in one place to celebrate life, music, love, and the beauty of nature. It was my first Telluride Bluegrass Fest, but won’t be my last!