Monday, September 24, 2012

Colorado Fun 2012

Jennifer and I recently returned from a week long trip to Colorado. Unfortunately I think both of us are still there mentally. We were able to do it on a short budget thanks to the help of some amazing friends. The first half of our stay was with an old high-school buddy, Jamie Walbright. He welcomed us into his  house and gave us an amazingly relaxed stay in Denver. Walbright gave us our own room with our own private bathroom and all the relaxation we could handle. Halfway through the week, we ventured up to Steamboat Springs to meet with Farley and Jess. We would be staying with Jess' cousins, who we never met before. It was very generous of them to welcome us into their house as complete strangers. Jennifer and I couldn't be more thankful to both Walbright and the Gatton family.

We arrived early on Sunday morning, and met Walbright and Michelle at the airport. Immediate we stopped for a bite to eat at a local mexican sports bar / restaurant with rooftop party area. It's amazing how big of a football town Denver is. The entire restaurant was all watching the Buffalo Bills game vs. New York Jets (ie. Tim Tebow's new team) and it was PACKED!

We hung around that day and just relaxed. Later that evening, Walbright took Jennifer and I to a Denver Bronco's game... Yeah, THE Denver Bronco's game... The one where Payton Manning started his career as a Bronco. Yeah, the season opener against the Steelers! Apparently, tickets were a pretty hot item and we were there! Walbright totally hooked us up! His buddy had season tickets and wasn't able to make the game, so he sold them to us at face value. Whoever you are, thanks man! We had a blast! It's a memory that we will have forever.

On Monday, Jennifer and Michelle did a little shopping while I worked at a local Starbucks. Around 5pm we got our rental car which we would have for the rest of the week: a Fiat 500 (aka: The JLo).

Tuesday was pretty fun. I worked until noon at a local coffee shop, then Jennifer and hoped in the car and headed up to Estes Park. We had a BLAST! We saw a herd of Elk overtaking the town. They started in the grassy area of the Stanley Hotel (ie. Stephen King's - The Shining), and meandered their way down toward the local shopping center. Jennifer and I spent the afternoon shopping for souvenirs and just enjoying the drizzly day. It was a lot of fun, we just took our time and had no real schedule. The sites and scenery was simply remarkable. Nothing like Ohio!

Jennifer and I have spent the last 9 years decorating our house to mimic a cabin in the woods. Here we were consumed in it. It was all around us. We were in our element. Every store we went into was filled with trinkets and decor just for us. We shopped til around 7pm, then made our way back toward Walbright's house in the rain. When we arrived back at the Walbrights, Jennifer went to bed and I hung out with Walbright, watching TV and hacking on my laptop til around 3am.

Wednesday morning was very fast paced. Jennifer and I packed up the Fiat and began our journey to Steamboat Springs to meet up with Farley and Jess at Jess' cousin's condo. I let Jennifer drive while I hacked all the way through the mountains. It was a perfect mix. Jennifer took her time through the mountains and I had my laptop open debugging code. I got an amazing amount of work done which meant we didn't have to dip into "fun time" in Steamboat Springs... and we had a blast! Of course we stopping at various spots along the way to take pictures and smell the fresh mountain air.

We arrived in Steamboat Springs around 1pm or so and immediately hit a Starbucks so I could check in my code and be done with work for the week. Upon upload, I rejoiced and began my stressless vacation with my wife. Jennifer and I did some shopping and dropped some money on some fun items. Later we met up with our friends at a local sports bar and had some drinks. We finally got to meet Joe and Debra (the couple who is opening their house to us for the next 3 days).

Thursday was yet another fun day. We all headed to Leadville for a fun hike. Actually, Jess and Jennifer did some shopping in Vail while Joe, Debra, Farley, and I all headed to Leadville to summit Hope Pass. It was a bit adventurous, but we made it to 11,000 ft before turning around and heading back down the mountain. It was one of the most beautiful (and challenging) hikes I've ever done. At times, I found it quite a challenge to catch my breath.

After our hike, we all met back up with Jess and Jennifer for some delicious Mexican in Vail. Around 7pm we headed back to Steamboat Springs (a 2+ hr drive) on a beautiful starlit night. On our way there, we stopped out in some remote area deep in the rocky mountains and turned off the cars. We could see every single star in the sky... Yes. Every. Single. Star. :) Ok, we saw a lot though... It was a moment I won't forget for a long time, I'd never seen so many stars at once in my whole life. Amazing.

Friday was an easy day. We woke up early so that we could all get a good nights sleep that night. We headed down to the starting line of Run Rabbit Run so that we could see the 100 milers start their race. It was amazing to see the spread of runners of all different levels. Some were young, some were old. Some were tall, some were short. All were anxious to get started... The "tortoises" took off at 8am, and it was neat to see them all take off knowing that slowest of the runners had until that next night at 9pm to finish their race. We came back to see the "hares" start their race at 1pm. These runners were all eligible for the $10,000 cash prize for the first place finish.

After seeing them start their race, we all split up and did our separate things. Farley and I got some lunch and did some running around. Jennifer, Debra, and Jess went out for Margarita's, and Joe did "Joe things" somewhere (?). :) After lunch, Farley and I prepared our "race do's" for battle! I have this weird thing where I have to have a mohawk for my big races. It's weird, but it's my thing... and my girls like it too; they think their Daddy looks cool. :)

Later that night, two more of Joe and Debra's friends showed up to join us in this huge house party. Scott and Susan drove up from Boulder and were going to be working the aid station with the girls.

Saturday was race day (wait for the next blog post).

Sunday was Funday with Jennifer. Her and I travelled to Breckenridge to do some site seeing and shopping at a leisurely pace. We were in no hurry and just took our time enjoying the beautiful weather. The weather was absolutely perfect! It was mid 60's and sunny. Jennifer and I went from shop to shop and found a few bargains. I hobbled mostly everywhere and I'm sure people were talking, but I just did m'thang... slowly.

Best yet, it turned out that the day we were there was their Octoberfest and we got to enjoy some street partying in between shopping. We ate pork sandwiches and bavarian pretzels. The streets were alive with party people Couldn't have asked for a more perfect day. Just look at the views of our shopping day:

Monday was travel day. We got back into Ohio around 11pm after a full day of travel and just hanging out. This trip was supposed to be a huge race trip, but it really turned out to be a second honeymoon with Jennifer. We got to hang out with friends and enjoy beautiful Colorado with each other. Family vacations are one thing, but every now and then Mommy's and Daddy's need Mommy and Daddy time.  This trip was long overdue for us. We vowed that we won't wait for another 12 years to do this again. Next time... maybe Vancouver? San Diego? Tahoe? :)

A HUGE thank you goes out to Jamie Walbright and the Gatton family for welcoming us into your homes. You were both amazing hosts and we learned quite a lot about what it means to be good hosts. If any of you ever venture to Newark, Ohio to fulfill your dreams of seeing a large basket building, you have an entire 1,100 sq ft basement all to yourselves! We'll never forget your hospitality and generosity during our stay in the beautiful state of Colorado.